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Entries from February 2011

Traumafessions :: Reader Grimpressions on Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone” Video

February 9th, 2011 · 3 Comments

The video for MICHAEL JACKSON‘s Leave Me Alone was in heavy rotation on MTV when I was a kid. I wasn’t old enough to be in charge of the remote yet so whenever I heard the music start for it, I knew I had at least a minute to get away from the T.V. and find something else to do. The part that freaked me out about it when I was a kid was when MICHAEL dances with the Elephant Man‘s skeleton. My Mom had told me that M.J. bought the Elephant Man’s bones which she said was pretty morbid. At 8 years old, I also thought it was very strange.

I didn’t know who the Elephant Man really was. The only frame of reference for a man that resembled an elephant I had was my Snout Spout figure from the HE-MAN/SHE-RA cartoons. To think that there was an actual 6-foot-tall man with the head of an elephant walking around at one time and now MICHAEL JACKSON had his bones at his house really disturbed me.

Years later, I saw the movie THE ELEPHANT MAN with my Mom. I remember feeling sorry for him and thinking how silly I felt believing the Elephant Man actually had the head of an elephant as portrayed in the video for “Leave Me Alone.” It also turns out JACKSON never actually purchased the bones, although he did make an offer to buy them.

Grimpressions

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Tags: Traumafessions

The Visitor :: Five Favorite Things

February 8th, 2011 · 7 Comments

The OVIDIO G. ASSONITIS (TENTACLES, MADHOUSE, BEYOND THE DOOR)-produced THE VISITOR from 1979 is just too much for your Unk to handle all his own, so I have elicited the help of both AUNT JOHN and our good pal AMANDA BY NIGHT of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM. As far as I’m concerned, the movie is spectacularly daffy enough to be absolutely critic proof so the question I posed before them and myself was simply, “What are your five favorite things about THE VISITOR?” All three of our answers are below…

First up, AMANDA BY NIGHT‘s FIVE VISITOR FAVES:

1. JOANNE NAIL – this enticing actress’ portrayal of the put-upon mother with the crazy ass womb is one of sympathy and grace. And her wardrobe is simply to die for. When you think about it (I mean, really think about it), has anyone else made being thrust through glass look so elegant? I could say the same about her chain swinging badassary in SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, but alas I shall save that for another day!

2. Ice Skating as the Deadliest Sport in the World – In a movie almost all about whacky set-pieces, one of the most fantastic scenes features our creepy little traumatot Katy luring some slightly older boys into a game of survival of the fittest. They fail on every possible level but it’s so much fun to watch!

3. Crazy Cameos – From GLEN FORD to SAM PECKINPAH, someone had the goods on a few of the more prominent people of Hollywood society. Also, there hasn’t been a pairing as cool as JOHN HUSTON and SHELLEY WINTERS since, well, since they were first featured together in TENTACLES just two years before! Wow, were those guys an item?

4. The Power of Pong – Not only is the game shown often, it’s used as a device to create suspense… and it works! All of this terror is brought to us via the crazy 1979 version of awesome home theater. Remember those curved large screen TVs which flooded images with the help of those giant red, green and blue lights coming from something called “front projection.” Yeah, 1979 ruled! You had to sit in just the right spot to actually see anything, but it reminds me of the first high-tech store my childhood town had. It was called Video Concepts (which was eventually bought by Radio Shack and closed down… lame) and this odd, curvy TV was all the rage. They make good use of it in THE VISITOR and it brought back every single little kid mall memory I ever had… now that’s scary!

5. THE VISITOR as a symbol for the chaotic incoherence of life – No, I am not joking. Is THE VISITOR in any way reminiscent of real life? Even ’70s high-tech real life? Nope. But I think sometimes confusion in films works because confusion has to work in our everyday lives. I mean, we’ve got a little girl who is driving her mom nuts and hates her babysitters. Sound familiar? I guess that’s the core of this movie and through the warped bewilderment of film as a mirror of our lives, we also get straight up escapism. I guess if you needed to write an academic paper on THE VISITOR, you could pull all kinds of crap out of it (especially with that ending!), but you can also completely shut down and watch the pretty lights. It’s nice.

Now let’s talk to AUNT JOHN:

1. THE HAWK
What was it about the ‘70s and the falconry fad? It seemed like everyone and the their mother had one of those padded leather hand mitts and a scary bird to match, but in THE VISITOR, Squeaky the hawk (or was it a falcon?) had free range to fly all over the place. Who in their right mind let’s their child keep one of these things in the house?

2. THE HOUSE
From its railing-less, open back stairs to the strangely ornate cement work surrounding its pool, the Collins’ house is truly something to behold. Bonus points for the incongruous 7-Up Tiffany style light fixture hanging in the kitchen.

3. THE HOUSEKEEPER
SHELLEY, SHELLEY, SHELLEY! She is in maybe three scenes, and she steals everyone last one of them because who can really compete with the force of nature that is WINTERS? Was it W.C. FIELDS who said he would never work with kids or animals? Well, kids and animals should probably never work with SHELLEY WINTERS based on the masterful bitch slapping she delivered to PAIGE CONNER.

4. THE HUSTON
Throughout the film, it looked to me like JOHN HUSTON knew less about what was going on than I did, but there is one scene towards the end where he makes the strangest face after conducting an impromptu light show on the top of a skyscraper. The eye roll says it all.

5. THE HOTTIES
Bald is beautiful and the brigade of follicly challenged bruisers were like a big bag of confusing eye-candy. Apparently they are angels but you would have never known it from the menacing looks on some of their faces.

Last up UNK:

1. THOSE GLASSES!

I’m not one to be too observant when it comes to fashion but these are some spectacular spectacles and if I understand the movie correctly, they have the power to manipulate basketball players like KAREEM ABDUL-JABAR by remote control. O.K. I admit it, I did not understand the movie correctly.

2. LANCE HENRIKSEN

HENRIKSEN followed up roles in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and DAMIEN: OMEN 2 with his part in THE VISITOR which is kind of like starring in peanut butter and then starring in jelly and then starring in GOOBER GRAPE. It’s always nice to see early HENRIKSEN and note how even at a young age, he stood out of the pack as an offbeat presence. If I were speaking of any other movie besides THE VISITOR I would be able to say that he was the most otherworldly effect in the entire film, but this is a movie that throws a blonde wig on aquamarine-eyed FRANCO (DJANGO) NERO and sells him as Jesus Christ.

3. AHEAD OF THEIR TIME VISUALS

I realize now that logic and sense can go peddle its papers elsewhere for all I care if a movie can stun me enough with its visuals. THE VISITOR’s arresting surrealism not only looks cool but also foretells the direction that movies will steer towards once music videos become popular in the early eighties. The bit on the rooftop with the nonsensical shadow hands flapping behind sheets seems ripped right out of a MTV mainstay years away from THE VISTOR’s 1979 release. Let’s hear it for proper presentation too, this title may have seemed like a throwaway on VHS but given the space to reveal all of its charms on DVD it transforms into a keeper. Strangely enough THE VISITOR’s director GIULIO PARADISI was the assistant director on FELLINI’s 8 1/2 !

4. THE SCORE

Holy crap FRANCO MICALIZZI’s score is utterly fantastic and better than Earth deserves. It’s epic and galaxy dwarfing and in complete denial about the nonsense unfolding on screen.

5. PAIGE CONNER

Little PAIGE may have been in over her head starring in this insanity but she fares no lesser than the seasoned professionals that surround her. Foul-mouthed tots are a post EXORCIST horror staple, yet CONNER’s Georgian accent adds an extra kick to her profanities. CODE RED’s recent DVD provides an interview with PAIGE today. She’s looking damn good and shares that STRASBERG-trained SHELLEY WINTERS didn’t hold back when slapping her across the face within the movie. Why does that not surprise me? PAIGE may not have gotten laurels thrown at her at the time of this film’s release but all I know is that when she reacts to accidently shooting her own mother in the movie with a shrug and a “shit happens” grimace, I totally believed her.

Thanks to AUNT JOHN and AMANDA REYES of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM for helping a rendered nearly speechless bro-ogger out! THE VISITOR, you really are something else.

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Tags: Five Favorite Things · I Have No Idea What This Is · Kindertrauma Coffee Klatch

Name That Trauma :: Marie of Agent Lover on a Patchwork Man

February 7th, 2011 · 9 Comments

Hello comrades!

I have always thought about writing you guys about this certain movie I saw when I was probably ten or so (I’m 29 now) that really weirded me out. I’ve Googled until my hands have bled and asked numerous people everywhere, even via my blog if they know what the eff I’m talking about but NO LUCK! I’m beginning to think I dreamed this up…but I know I haven’t!

So here it is…

It was this movie where a man was locked up in some kind of room for observation. He skin was stitched up of all kinds of different shades, sort of like a Patchwork Man (which is what I always thought this movie might be called but my research has come up with NUTHIN’.) If I remember correctly he was supposed to be “the answer to racism.” I think he was screaming or crying in this mental hospital looking environment.

That’s all I remember! I hope you guys can help put my mind at ease after ALL THESE YEARS!!

Marie

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Unk has this one sewn up with MR. STITCH!

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Stream Warriors: Cold Prey, Suspended Animation & Spellbinder

February 6th, 2011 · 2 Comments

UNK SEZ: It’s time for that new feature that tells you for better or for worse the stuff your Unk finds appealing on Netflix streaming!

COLD PREY (2006)

I may have mentioned my love for 2006’s COLD PREY (FRITT VILT) a couple zillion times before but I’m going do it again because now is the perfect time of year to watch it and right now it is on Netflix Streaming. All right it’s the dubbed version, which is not preferable, but I doubt you will care a lick in the end. COLD PREY illustrates everything the slasher film is still capable of achieving if given half a chance; it’s thrilling, provides the scares and delivers a believable human element as well. In my book, lead INGRID BOLSO BERDAL as Jannicke is worthy of walking the same horror halls as biggies WEAVER and CURTIS. Geez, just talking about it makes me want to watch it again and I’ve seen it at least a half dozen times. It’s just one of those reliable movies that gets better the more you visit it. Seriously if you’re a fan of old school slashers, it’s a crime to miss this one and don’t even get me started on the equally sharp COLD PREY 2. More HERE!

SUSPENDED ANIMATION (2001)

Holy crap, this movie is already ten years old, how’d that happen? I feel a smidge sorry for this one, its title must throw people off and its advertising art is a bit useless. Wait I get it, this is one of those hard to categorize films and so everybody wants to beat it up. Directed by JOHN D. HANCOCK, who was swell enough to concoct LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, this is a movie that changes major gears mid way through and perhaps that can be blamed for some viewers’ frustration. The set up will have many anticipating a WRONG TURN meets MISERY flick but instead we dive into the aftermath of violent crime and the obsessive reaction of a victim trying to process what they’ve experienced. It’s a sharp turn but I personally enjoyed not knowing where I was being led and was truly shocked by one of the film’s surprises. Also it’s got scary old ladies in it which always works for me and it stars that guy from the PAPA DON’T PREACH video who murdered everybody in WILLIAM FRIEDKIN’s RAMPAGE. If you’re the type who enjoys psychological thrillers just as much as straight-on horror, this one is unusual enough (and snowy enough) to be well worth the trip.

SPELLBINDER (1988)

I’m so happy to see this one available on Netflix Streaming because it never made it to DVD and I want all my fellow humans to see it. This movie just perfectly captures the frivolous spirit of late night eighties cable viewing to me and it brings to mind all the fine couches and remote controls I have known in my life. From what I can tell the way that cats feel about tuna is how I feel about witch-cult movies and finding a post seventies witch cult movie is a joy in and of itself. I’m enamored with the entire cast and although this is miles from a success in the serious scares department, it is always fun and dark-camp entertaining. Maybe it’s trash but life without trash is garbage. I was wondering if I could get through this recommendation without mentioning AUDRA LINDLEY and I guess the answer to that is no, I can’t. Read more HERE!

Now it’s that time again to close out the show with a smash pop hit!

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Tags: Stream Warriors

Name That Trauma by Proxy :: Frank via John Kenneth Muir on a Tar Beast

February 5th, 2011 · 4 Comments

UNK SEZ:: In Kindertrauma‘s mail bag we discovered a letter from one of our favorite people, JOHN KENNETH MUIR of the excellent REFLECTIONS ON FILM/TV, check it out:

Dear Unk,

I recently received this intriguing reader e-mail at my blog, and frankly I’m stumped. It’s from Frank and reads:

“I wonder if you could solve one of the great mysteries of my life. About 1978, I saw the scariest show I’ve ever seen. I was 14, and the next day I asked if anyone had seen it.

No one had, although one guy had said that his brother had seen it and that he had told him his hands had been shaking the whole time. So had mine. It was on CBS at 10:00 Eastern time on a Friday night and I never heard of another episode being shown here in Miami.

I’m pretty sure the name was THE NEXT STEP BEYOND. I read your interview with JOHN NEWLAND. He didn’t seem to have much good to say about this series. It begins with a man telling how he had died and been brought back, but now had a connection with the dead who sometimes sent him to help their survivors. He finds his way to an isolated cabin (on an island?) and, I believe with the help of a diary, figures out how the scientist who lived there came to a violent end from a man he had created out of tar. It then comes after him. Does this ring a bell for you? I’ve looked up synopses and never come across this one, although it’s been a while since I really gave it a good shot and certainly more and more information is come out on the net. That’s how I found your site. I’ve only seen two of the original ONE STEP BEYOND‘s. They were on a video CD. One was with CHARLES BRONSON as a boxer. They were great.

I’d sure love to know if what I saw was indeed The Next Step Beyond, and if there was any way to see it again. I’ve even thought about making a pilgrimage to NY to check out the Museum of Television and Radio to see if I could find it, or at a least reference to it.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Frank…”

Anyway, does that sound familiar to you, Unkle Lancifer? There is a NEXT STEP BEYOND episode entitled “The Return of Cary De Witt” (September 13, 1978) set on an island, involving a man coming back from the dead following surgery…and astral projecting. But nothing about a Tar man, or helping other survivors. And the show aired in syndication, I believe, not on CBS.

So if you can, please help Frank and me figure out what the heck this was. I’ve ruled out, I think, QUINN MARTIN‘s TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED (1977) and GHOST STORY/CIRCLE OF FEAR (1972) and THE EVIL TOUCH (1973) as well. All too early for Frank‘s remembrance; and no synopses appear to fit on first blush.

Thank you,

John Kenneth Muir

UNK SEZ: Thank you JKM! I’m happy to say that I actually do know this one on account of we’ve gotten a Traumafession on it BEFORE. It’s gotta be the THE WORLD BEYOND/ THE MUD MONSTER from 1978 starring GRANVILLE VAN DUSEN and POLTERGEIST‘s JO BETH WILLIAMS. As soon as I learned about this frequent traumatizer I had to track it down and you can find my full review of it HERE!

I found it pretty darn effective and had no problem understanding why it left such an impression on folks. Thanks for sending Frank’s inquiry to us JKM and all you other folks out there make sure you drop by REFLECTIONS ON FILM/TV!

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Kindertrauma Funhouse

February 4th, 2011 · 17 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Screams of a Winter Night

February 3rd, 2011 · 17 Comments

Crudely directed, under written, poorly acted… say what you will, SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT casts a long shadow in my psyche regardless. Slinking out of Louisiana circa 1979, this micro-budgeted, PG-rated horror anthology may be amateurish in its execution but I think it exudes a strange dark aura as well. My slant may be stained by sentimentality but even as I chuckle during a re-watch at its dated hokeyness and ragged edges, behind my condescension lays a bubbling feeling of unease. This oldster caught SCREAMS in the theater at a young age and it did something more exotic than yank-scare me with the grotesque, it quietly contaminated me with the serious creeps. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the rules of horror echo the rules of real estate… location, location, location.

Plowing ahead of many a future horror film to an isolated cabin locale, SCREAMS also paves the roadway in anticipation for the type of open canvas, paint-your -own nightmare horror of THE BLAIR WITCH. Perhaps budgetary restrictions are to thank but this is a movie that shows you very little and lets your imagination do the maniacal math. The opening credits establish the schema; we are shown a black screen and hear terrors unfold with howling winds badgering in the background. Much of what we witness throughout the rest of the film is almost equally vague, elusive or inconclusive. Fittingly the tales in this anthology are not preoccupied with physical violence but spiral around the dread of insanity. Death takes a back seat to losing your mind.

Five couples hit the woods for a weekend. Gas station loitering locals (including a young WILLIAMFRIGHT NIGHTRAGSDALE ) do their best to shoo them off with scorn and warnings. Once snug in their crusty cabin abode the couples entertain themselves swapping stories of the uncanny. The stories get the best of them and some elemental Indian wind demon comes to pay a visit. I know it’s very slight and to be honest the stories exchanged are pretty weak but they’re just weird enough to bite. The first is a hoary urban legend crossed with a Bigfoot tale, the second a standard haunted house bit with an unnerving payoff involving a green light bulb (?!) and the third is an antiquated, sexual repression makes ladies bonkers riff. Still, as presented, with the cabin dwellers playing double duty performing in the vignettes, an accelerated tone of dread is subtly established. The wrap around story’s conclusion, complete with whipping leaves and screams weaving into howling winds, makes for a chaotic lingering close.

Horror tends to be a lot like humor. You can claim your tastes and try to sophisticate your palate but there’s a knee jerk response that bypasses the intellectual. What I really think it comes down to is identification. Why do I find BLAIR WITCH hypnotic and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY a snore? If I take a step back my best guess is that I recognize the people occupying BLAIR and the characters in P.A. may as well be holograms from another planet to me. When I went to go see SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT back in the day, I did so with a group of my older cousins and with their large glasses, plaid shirts and wonky seventies hairdos; they resembled the characters that I saw on screen to a tee. No, I did not want an iron chandelier to fall on my cousin Audrey’s head like what happened to the Audrey avatar in the movie.

Another element of SCREAMS that I appreciate is the anecdotal aspect and the way it understands how a well-spun tale can alter the air in the room. My father was (and is) a great storyteller who could leave you hanging on his every word and he took some joy in freaking me and my brothers and cousins out with his nutzo ghost yarns. Even as an adult I am hyper aware of the way a group of people can whip themselves into a paranoid froth exchanging ghost, U.F.O. or local mugging and crime stories. You get to the point where you are afraid to walk home or if you are home, you might find yourself having to watch a sitcom to settle down to Earth before you hit the sack. Oh, I love that feeling. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more likely to change the subject and whistle past the graveyard thinking, “If we keep talking this way, it’ll happen to us! We’re attracting disaster! We’re next!” That’s what I think this movie captures that I love, frumpily tacked together though it may be, it ensnarls that weird feeling you get when you’ve freaked yourself out over nothing…

SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT has sadly never materialized on DVD and I’m thinking most VHS copies have probably found permanent homes. Luckily it is available on the YouTubes as we speak but for who knows how long. Stand warned though, this bargain basement production is a gritty watch and its PG-scares are more implied than all up in your grill. On the other hand if you have an inclination towards seventies era drive-in fare and can look past the cracks in the plaster, it warrants a dipping. I can’t guarantee you’ll feel the same unease that I did way back when (not to mention two days ago) but maybe it will bring back to your mind a scary story of your own.

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Tags: General Horror · My own personal Jesus · The Seventies mushed my head

Name That Trauma :: Reader Chris on Tots Terrorized in a Disturbing Dreamworld

February 2nd, 2011 · 7 Comments

Dear Kindertrauma,

While I saw the film I’m inquiring about around the ripe old age of 23 (I’m 31 now – sigh), it does involve kids getting terrorized and therefore I believe it qualifies for a KT Name That Trauma. I caught the film on the IFC channel one lonely evening in the dead of winter, and for the life of me I cannot remember the name even though it returns to my thoughts at least once a year and gnaws at my brain like a rat gobbling rotting cheese.

I believe that I caught it from about halfway through, and am not positive about whether it was a standalone film or part of an anthology or original T.V. series, but it seemed long enough to be a movie. I really can’t even describe the plot fully, so I just have some images/scenes that I remember, but they were powerful and indelible enough to encourage me to write to you guys for help.

Hopefully this jogs someone’s memory: I remember two kids in a hospital, a little girl and boy aged 8-10, and the girl had the paranormal psychic ability to pull the little boy into her dreams. It was within this dream realm that much of the disturbing imagery I remember resided. Within the dream world there was a solitary house on a grassy hill near cliffs bordering an ocean. The kids were being terrorized by an evil man (possibly the little girl’s stepfather or something) who had a very deep, sinister voice and I believe his eyes were gouged out and he was chasing the kids with a hammer. He was one of the creepier villains I’ve seen.

The atmosphere in the dream was bright and sunny until this man approached and the sky turned black and the house appeared broken down and barren. The girl at one point runs outside and the ground begins to shake and break apart, almost as if there was a volcano underneath or something. The final thing I remember was that the little boy was killed in the dream, and when the little girl woke up in the hospital, he had died in reality too.

It might sound ridiculous and I know I haven’t given much to go on, but even the crude recollections I have of this film creep me out to this day and I would cherish the opportunity to find it and see it again.

Thanks in advance for you and your readers’ help.

Chris

UNK SEZ: Great description Chris! We actually have gotten a traumafession on that one BEFORE. That has got to be and I’m NOT wrong this time I swear, 1988’s PAPERHOUSE! That kindertraumatic classic was directed by the same kind fellow who brought us all CANDYMAN, BERNARD ROSE! Mr. ROSE, we at Kindertrauma love you big time, please make some more movies!

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Traumafessions :: Reader Tim on Bionic Bigfoot

February 1st, 2011 · 7 Comments

I just discovered your website and I can’t stop reading it! I’m reliving a lot of childhood horrors seeing THE EVIL HULK, MAGIC movie trailer, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE opening, and so many others. But the thing that scared me the most as a kid (and I was quite the scaredy-cat) was Bigfoot!

Although I grew up in New England, I believed Bigfoot would come cross-country from the Pacific Northwest to get me in my sleep. The blurry black and white film clip of him trudging along in the woods was my first introduction, followed by what seemed like a never ending series of movies, T.V. shows and commercials throughout the mid ‘70s that would keep me up all night. The IN SEARCH OF episode featuring Bigfoot certainly didn’t help. But I didn’t know true terror until I saw the ultimate monster: Bionic Bigfoot!

There were two versions. The first was played by ANDRE THE GIANT, the second by TED CASSIDY. Both were slightly different but equally terrifying. I was a huge SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN fan and had all of the action figures, except for the hard to find Bigfoot. Despite my utter fear, I had to have him. My parents went all over Massachusetts and Rhode Island trying to find him in time for Christmas and had him under the tree Christmas morning. However, I was not only terrified of the T.V. version, but the action figure also scared the hell out of me too! My parents went to all this trouble to find the damned beast and I couldn’t even look at it!

In the end, Bionic Bigfoot became friends with Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers. They may have grown to love him, but I never could. He will always be my childhood nightmare.

Tim

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Tags: Traumafessions