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Entries from April 2011

Name That Trauma :: Reader Anna on Raining Intestines & a Frightful Fight

April 20th, 2011 · 11 Comments

Hello, KinderTrauma!

There are two episodes that I can’t get out of my head. Both of them are fragments from some animated film (or films??). Could be anime. It was about 15 years ago, and I was very young at that time, so it’s more of describing my impression the fragment has left than describing the actual fragment. Anyway, the first scene takes place in some kind of a cave or a high-ceilinged underground hall with walls of dark grey stone. One of the characters is standing on the floor (he or she is unimportant), along with the spectator’s POV, looking up, at the other character, a woman wearing some kind of khaki coveralls, who is hanging high under the ceiling with no visible ropes or straps around her – something or someone is holding her there. And then she says – I don’t remember the exact wording, but the idea is that, uh… “Invisible pincers are tearing her apart” – she is squirming and groaning and then she bursts apart and her intestines fall down, towards the spectator.

The other fragment is preceded by a short scene in an ordinary apartment. A girl and a guy are chatting, and then the girl goes to the bathroom and starts undressing, because she’s going to take a shower. And in the mirror there appears a silhouette of some pale, dragon-like creature, which the girl does not notice. The traumatic part is the fragment of a fight between a guy with black hair and dark eyes (the one from the apartment, I guess), and a creature (could be the one from the mirror) with very pale, bluish white skin. The creature is anthropomorphic and looks effeminate and somewhat artificial – as if it was made of rubber. They fight either on the roof of a multistory building or in the air. And I think it is night time. At some point during the fight the creature tears the black-haired guy’s hand off. This moment is depicted with relish, I mean, it’s grotesquely vivid – the bones crunch, the blood is gushing from the wound, and the guy’s writhing with pain… In addition, this image is contrasted by another one that either precedes or follows it (memory fails me here) – the black-haired guy hacks the bluish creature’s hand off with some sharp tool – and the stump doesn’t bleed – the cut (also bluish) looks nice and clean, and tastefully raw, like a piece of fish in a sushi roll. And the creature looks… nonchalant, really, utterly unimpressed.

I didn’t wake up at night after seeing this, I had no bad dreams connected with these episodes, and I don’t even remember being actually scared. But I do remember the feeling of, so to say, temporary emotional numbness – like it happens when you see something very disturbing and fall into a stupor for some time.

Also, since it’s been a long time, I wonder if these episodes are exactly the way I remember them. Probably not. I guess it would be quite a surprise to find out how much my memory and imagination have distorted them.

So if anyone, by any chance, recognizes these fragments, I would be very glad to know, because they have been bothering me for many years.

Thank you!

Anna

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Thanks to Reader RedDevil for solving it with Devilman.

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Scream 4

April 19th, 2011 · 8 Comments

The WES CRAVEN directed SCREAM 4 gets off to a rocky (Is this a SCREAM or SCARY MOVIE sequel?) start with a parade of patience pushing film-within-film parodies concerning personality free white girls left alone in personality free white houses. The joke aims to poke fun at the redundancy of sequels but comes across more as the pot texting the kettle to call it black. Let’s just say DREW BARRYMORE’s savage demise in the first flick needn’t ever sweat about being dethroned as the strongest opening in the series. Happily though, once the marshmallow fluff commencement scene is scraped from SCREAM 4’s windshield the movie plows forward and starts getting down to business and that business centers on characters with plenty of mileage on them in a setting we’ve been kept away from far too long, the town of Woodsboro.

Series survivor and “celebrity victim” Sidney Prescott (NEVE CAMPBELL) is back in her hometown on a book tour supporting her well received self-help tome “Out of the Darkness”. Dutiful Dewey (DAVID ARQUETTE) has graduated to town sheriff and his once tigress wife Gale (COURTNEY COX) currently climbs the walls of her suburban cage declawed and uninspired. The audience and the denizens of Woodsboro are well aware that Sidney’s homecoming can only mean one thing, that a new batch of grisly murders are about to ensue. It’s notable that Sidney has mellowed to the point of accepting her lot in life. The reality is that no amount of ass-kicking will ever transform Prescott into a warrior/ hero. It’s common knowledge that she’s a cursed figure, an “Angel of death” who is followed by a wave of blood wherever she goes. She can attempt to write herself “out of the darkness,” but it’s only a matter of time before KEVIN WILLIAMS or worse, EHREN KRUGER writes her back in.

SCREAM 4 overloads its plate with zeitgeist gruel. Besides forcing the usual useless reductive “rules” down our throats, it blasts the current plethora of horror remakes, notes the rise of facebook and twitter and finishes things off with a somewhat biting critique of the ever-blurring line between unearned notoriety and legitimate fame. All of that is well and good, if not particularly fresh. Perhaps the movie itself is trapped in the same schema as once-was character Gale, desperately trying to convince itself of its own relevancy and meanwhile needlessly overlooking its own obvious natural charms. The movie battles with itself, tossing about terms like “meta” and “self aware” while struggling to find a balance between the then and the now. It wants to come to terms with its own age, to find meaning in its characters’ struggles, to define the difference between “old” and “mature,” but someone keeps forcing it to make stale celebrity jokes. (The idea that someone might sacrifice their last moments on Earth to utter an out of place punch line I’m assuming came from the aforementioned KRUGER who contributed a script “polishing”. I’ve decided to indiscriminately scapegoat the guy for everything that smacks of hack in the film.)

More shocking than the truly surprising killer reveal in SCREAM 4 is the fact that I loved it regardless of it faults and I don’t mind saying it’s my favorite since the first. It’s not exactly terrifying but it is suspenseful and goddamn it, I love sequels…especially slasher sequels. You can just carve that on my tombstone so there’s no mistake. Sequels offer us a chance to observe characters as they change and grow and the decade plus fermenting period between SCREAMs 3 and 4 allow a type of novel ripening not witnessed since HALLOWEEN H20 (also penned by KEVIN WILLIAMS). If you ask me, age compliments the trio of SCREAM regulars well. Sidney has stopped wincing and rubbing her neck, Dewey has shed his mascot persona and Gale has grown into and certainly earned her trademark crankiness. Sid’s annoying “specialness” is addressed (and then some) as is Gale’s inability to garner appreciation for her invaluable contribution to the saga. SCREAM 4 picks up all the trash that SCREAM 3 impolitely left on the picnic table and that alone makes me a happy camper. Indeed, when we finally uncover the person or persons responsible for the new batch of knife slaughter they dump a bowl of crazy on the floor that easily rivals that which graced the first installment.

Being a bitter hater, the one thing I was not looking forward to (besides enduring a freshening-up on the always spurious “rules”) was getting to know the new younger generation cast. Call it Cousin Oliver Syndrome but I’m always a bit skeptical when youngins are trotted out and expected to be welcomed into the fold without question. Imagine my surprise when EMMA ROBERTS as Sid’s young cousin turned out to be one highly memorable and multilayered slasher “good girl” and HEROESHAYDEN PANNETTIERE, with her raspy voice and Peter Pan hair cut, nearly walked away with the entire film. As messy as some of the generational collisions are executed, these two stand outs (particularly plucky PANNETTIERE) really add a nice dose of effervescent energy to counteract the grounded, near melancholia of the adult players. Faring far less well is MARY MCDONNELL taking over for a “Count me out!” LAUREN GRAHAM in the uncoveted role of “Mom who gets stabbed after bringing in groceries.” (Please tell me she has a deleted scene somewhere that explains why she exists.)

So, SCREAM 4, is a crazy stew of missed opportunities, sometimes trite dialogue and random pointless characters that also miraculously yields a powerfully enthralling villain reveal, some genuine intestine enhanced bloodshed, several good jolty scares and a rare chance to visit with characters that have gotten even more interesting with age and even a few snappy new ones. It may have two left feet under its robe at points but at least there’s nothing as alarmingly embarrassing as certain moments in Parts 2 and 3. (Unless of course you count the clunky BRUCE WILLIS joke.) Most importantly, it does finally offer up one golden glorious “rule” that can actually be put to good use… “Don’t fuck with the original.” There’s a better movie begging to break free for sure and I don’t blame LAUREN GRAHAM for jumping on the first bus out of town, but I’m certainly happy I got to spend some time in Woodsboro again.

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Tags: General Horror · Trauma Au Courant

Traumafessions :: Reader Raine McG. on Ernest

April 18th, 2011 · 9 Comments

When I was little I used to watch those ERNEST movies and sometimes he would dress up as an old lady and this scared the crap out of me ever time that she came on screen I would shut my eyes. JIM VARNEY was suppose to make you laugh not cry.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Stream Warriors :: Hosted by Pax Romano of Billy Loves Stu!

April 17th, 2011 · 4 Comments

UNK SEZ: This is turning out to be a SCREAM-centric weekend! Hosting STREAM WARRIORS today is everybody’s pal PAX ROMANO who oversees the blog worth yelling about with the SCREAM inspired name BILLY LOVE STU! Check and see what kind of cutting edge candies PAX has carried into our Castle today & then jump on over to his flashy joint BILLY LOVES STU!

1952’s DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK is one of those films that I truly love. Any movie that would feature the greatest cinematic sex goddess of all time as a deranged babysitter is aces in my book. Marilyn Monroe was still in the early stages of her career when she landed the role of Nell Forbes, a young woman recently released from an institution due to a failed suicide attempt. When Nell lands a job as a sitter for a couple in an upscale hotel, all is well, until she catches the eye of a lovelorn guest and starts flirting with him. What’s so mesmerizing about this thriller is the way Monroe morphs from a seemingly naive young lady, to a simmering sex pot, to a full-on loon in minutes. Whoever claimed that Norma Jean Baker was not a good actress, has never seen this film.

For sheer chills alone, the scenes with Marilyn and the little girl she is watching (Donna Corcoran) are not to be missed – Monroe’s seething intensity when terrorizing the child is nothing short of unnerving.

Knowing what we know now about Monroe and her lifelong struggles with depression, much of DBTK is disturbing on a whole other level. A terrific cast rounds out this one including Jim Backus, Richard Widmark, and a very young, very gorgeous Anne Bancroft.

Director David Kittredge‘s PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER is a David Lynch-like nightmare of a film about a gay porn model who vanished in the mid ’90s, and a present day writer trying to piece together the mystery of the missing skin flick star. With nods to Vanilla Sky, Eyes Wide Shut and Mulholland Drive , Pornography: A Thriller demands the viewer watch closely and hold on tight as they are dropped down a rabbit hole into a world of double (and triple) identities, voyeurism, and insanity.

As puzzling and manic as the story-line becomes, the piece holds together due to some terrific acting and brilliant directing. Honestly, I’ve watched this film several times, and every time I do, I see something new and find another clue to the mystery. If you’d like to read my original review, you can find it HERE!

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Tags: Special Guest Stars · Stream Warriors

“TV Movie Inspired: Insidious” by Amanda Reyes

April 16th, 2011 · 1 Comment

UNK SEZ: We seldom have two reviews for the same movie going on around these parts but after hearing pal AMANDA REYES‘ personal take on INSIDIOUS that had to change. I pleaded and eventually bribed her to jot her thoughts down so that all you fine folks could check them out and the results are below. Enjoy and remember to visit AMANDA MADE FOR TV MAYHEMREYES at her home joint frequently HERE!

Being the retro film/television nut I am, I tend to be a little late to the game. Luckily, I was only off by days, as compared to years, when it came to catching Insidious. It was a fittingly rainy night and with plans for drinks afterwards, my evening was set. I wasn’t particularly surprised by how much I enjoyed Insidious, but I was definitely taken by what I felt were some nifty TV movie references.

I should say that there may be some spoilers here. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet… go now!

I won’t speak for either Leigh Whannel or James Wan, the superb crafters of a ghost story that employs the whole less-is-more strategy so well it can’t help but give you the willies, but I am pretty sure I felt a little small screen love in the theater. Perhaps the more obvious nod to the wonderful world of T.V. movies came attached to that creepy old woman. Appropriately named Old Woman (and played by Philip Friedman), she was eerily reminiscent of that spine-chilling gal from the 1989 British chiller The Woman in Black. Sure they added a veil and made her, like, more dead, but that detached feeling of inexplicable dread permeates both characters in much the same way. It’s pretty interesting then that both movies deal with children. Well, Insidious deals with the calamity of everyday parenting while the Woman in Black deals with the lack thereof (and eventually Insidious heads in that direction). Theories abound that the black-clad, T.V.-movie mistress and high child mortality rate are not coincidental (and it’s probably no mistake the lead character’s last name is Kidd).

While both stories are about saving a child and then paying the price for it in the end, the filmmakers behind Insidious give a deeper connection to the Old Woman and the family she terrorizes. There are small scenes featuring Josh (Patrick Wilson) plucking gray hairs and applying eye cream to those sexy fines lines of his. Josh’s repressed memories appear in the most innocuous moments in the film, adding a nice kick to my post film coffee talk discussion! It’s been years since I’ve seen the excellent Woman in Black, but it’s hard to deny the resemblance of those two characters. Black has recently been remade with Daniel Radcliffe and should hopefully be hitting our shores soon. I can’t wait!

The other hit-me-over-the-head reference I got regards the overall film. I believe James Wan and Leigh Whannel were inspired more by Fox’s 1991 tele-pic The Haunted than Poltergeist. In some ways they are noticeably similar, but I was most struck by the association with the baby monitor incident in Insidious and that creepy talking pillow in The Haunted. The 1991 film is based on the Smurls, a devout family who are haunted by some less devout manifestations. And perhaps it’s simply by the very nature of small screen horror that Insidious’ deftly intimate atmosphere can’t help but to harness good vibes from any audience member heavily reared on television terror, i.e. me!

Made for very little money, Insidious manages to creep inside and wring your guts. There are so many touches, such as the constant ticking sound beginning with the grandfather clock, moving to the metronome to the EKG machine and finally back to that dang metronome, that prove those fabulous men behind the curtain were meticulous with crafting what I think is the best damn horror film to come in far too long. The atmosphere alone makes it a fine companion with such small screen fare as The House That Would Not Die (1970), Something Evil (1972), The Possessed (1977) and Don’t Go to Sleep (1982). Wherever the inspiration arose from and whatever I am putting into it myself, I was pleased to finally come across a new horror movie that wanted my imagination to work as hard as the filmmakers’.


 

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Tags: Amanda By Night · Telenasties

Kindertrauma Screamhouse!

April 15th, 2011 · 19 Comments

Holy crap, national SCREAM Day has arrived! I have to go see SCREAM 4’s very first showing today. It’s senseless for me to try and fight it. I just want it to be better than Part 3, that’s all I’m asking. That’s not too much to ask is it? In celebration of the opening of SCREAM 4 we have a very special ghost-face infused Funhouse! Can you guess which image is from which of the the three installments? Give it a shot! Somebody with a correct answer will be given a prize! Take your time, its not about who is first! The winner will be randomly drawn so make sure your guess is present and make sure you see SCREAM 4 so that we can talk about it later!

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse · Kindertrauma Prize Patrol

Traumafessions :: Reader Binrow the Heretic on Equinox

April 14th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Hey, Unk

After reading several Traumafessions from the 1990s recently, I figured I’d send in one from the late ’70s just to help balance things out a bit. It also doubles as a personal Name That Trauma that was finally solved a few years ago.

As an easily-scared kid who watched a lot of movies on T.V., one absolutely terrifying movie (did I mention that I was an easily-scared kid in the late ’70s?) stuck with me for years. I only caught the last third of it or so, and it included a bunch of teens trapped in the woods by a demonic force, talismans made out of twigs, and an almost surrealistic, shambling monster. The lone survivor gets to the car and manages to escape, only to have the steering wheel mysteriously spun out of control, causing the car to crash.

When I saw THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT much later, images from this earlier film came leaping back into my memory, but nobody I described it to had any idea what I was talking about. In the days before the mighty Kindertrauma, the internet was of no help at all in identifying it.

You’ve probably already guessed which movie this was, and I finally discovered the answer after Criterion released a special DVD of…yep…EQUINOX!

Kind of embarrassing to realize EQUINOX scared the bejeebus out of me back then, but such is the stuff Kindertraumas are made of. It might, however, be the reason I always felt WKRP‘s Herb Tarlek to be something of a tragic figure.

Binrow the Heretic

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Tags: Traumafessions

Night Gallery Tale :: Brenda

April 13th, 2011 · 10 Comments

I just caught another NIGHT GALLERY segment that I found just as intriguing as the brilliant “Silent Snow, Secret Snow.” It’s not particularly scary but it ended up building a little nest of perplexed disquiet in my head anyway. It’s called “Brenda” and it is the second half of the seventh episode of season two. It’s based on a short story by female sci-fi author MARGARET ST. CLAIR. I point out her gender because during a time when most female genre writers hid behind gender neutral pen names, Margaret was all like, “Aw hells no!”



“Brenda”
is about a fruit loop named Brenda who could write a book called “How to Lose Friends and Aggravate People.” The girl is a brat, such a brat that she purposely destroys a sandcastle and not just any sandcastle, mind you, but a sand castle constructed by America’s sweetheart PAMELYN FERDIN. Who the hell is obnoxious enough to do that? Brenda is, that’s who! Although I somewhat hate Brenda, her zero concern about popularity and the perceptions of others I find absolutely thrilling to behold. Actress LAURIE PRANGE is way too old to be playing the part but that just makes her behavior appear more outrageously asinine and underlines the aggravated arrested development that fuels the tale.

One day while strolling in the woods and basking in her own awfulness, Brenda bumps into a creature more horrific than herself, is frightened and then profoundly captivated. In fact, she meets my all time favorite type of monster, a shambling pile of mossy tethers who skulks around like Bigfoot. I love swamp monsters! I’m not sure if it stems from the KOLCHAK “Spanish Moss Murders” episode, D&D, or SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT but my admiration is such that I have painted many a portrait of these amorphous archetypal beasts. In other words, Brenda and I are remarkably on the same page at this point of the story. At first Brenda traps the creature in a giant hole and sparks a realization that everything going on here kind of resembles the Kinder-fave movie entitled THE PIT (1981). Eventually she aids in its escape and devilishly leaves her front door open so that the weird thing can follow her home and terrorize her parents in the middle of the night. Hey, I’m starting to like this girl!

After a night of wreaking somewhat passive havoc across the island community Brenda and her parents are vacationing in, the monster goes back to the pit, covers itself in a stony cocoon and hits the hay. Brenda is heartbroken by the creature’s retreat and the knowledge that her family will be splitting soon and may never return. Seasons come and go, a year passes and Brenda returns more mature and less impish and scampy. You’ll find no shocker twist here, just Brenda hugging the stones that represent her once animated friend and declaring her eternal love and affection. I don’t know what to think except that the monster is a physical representation of the self-alienated Brenda’s charged relationship with her own crazy imagination. It goes into hibernation as she becomes more adult but she is thankful and secure in the knowledge that it lies waiting if needed.

In a way I feel this entry is a perfect companion piece to the previously mentioned “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”; I can’t be 100% sure about the address of its final destination but I know it’s on the corner of Lonely Lane and Insanity Street. I love this type of horror/fantasy storytelling; it backs up my theory that if you want to learn what it means to be human, your best source of information is a monster.

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Tags: General Horror · Kinder-Spotlight · My own personal Jesus · Telenasties · The Seventies mushed my head · Tykes in Trouble

Traumafessions :: Reader David O. on Night Gallery Pilot Tale “The Cemetery”

April 12th, 2011 · 12 Comments

Being a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s I was raised on T.V., so plopping down in front of the tube for hours on end was nothing out of the ordinary for me. One afternoon I noticed there was a rerun of a scary movie called NIGHT GALLERY scheduled in the T.V. Guide. This was the original pilot movie, featuring one of the last performances by JOAN CRAWFORD and STEVEN SPIELBERG‘s directorial debut. From the get-go I knew it was possibly going to be a bit much for my seven-year-old eyes to take; the opening music, ROD SERLING‘s creepy voice, the paintings. But I was intrigued so I continued to watch it.

All three vignettes were outstanding but one in particular creeped me out and stuck with me through adulthood. It was entitled “The Cemetery” and featured RODDY McDOWALL as a scheming, lying, all-around loser of a nephew wanting his uncle’s fortune all to himself. RODDY ends up speeding his uncle’s death and ensures that he is the sole heir to the fortune, while the faithful butler (played by OSSIE DAVIS) is retained for a measly amount of cash. While enjoying his new wealth, RODDY realizes that one of the paintings on the wall of the entry hall has changed – the painting of the cemetery adjacent to the mansion. A new grave appears on the ground, which of course befuddles poor RODDY, but he proceeds to bask in his new wealth while continuing his asshole-ish ways.

But RODDY continues to see the painting change: The grave now appears disturbed, then a coffin is seen sticking out of it, then the coffin lid opens to reveal his uncle. This goes on for a while, driving poor RODDY to the brink of insanity, until he sees that the painting now shows his uncle approaching the front porch, then he’s on the steps, then he’s at the door. Suddenly, he hears someone -or something- knocking on the front door, wanting in.

In his freakoutedness he runs to the top of the stairs and pulls down another painting of his uncle, tripping and killing himself on the stairs. The front door finally opens, and standing there is… OSSIE DAVIS. He was responsible for the paintings changing and for driving RODDY insane. Turns out the estate would be left to him should there be no surviving heirs, and since RODDY is now worm food, it turns out to be a pretty sweet deal for OSSIE, who goes from respectable, clean-cut working man to swarthy, debonair nouveau riche HUGH HEFNER-ish cat.

However, before he can sit back and finish his brandy OSSIE notices the painting on the wall has returned. But this time it changes right before his eyes, and it’s RODDY heading for revenge, not the uncle. A new grave, a coffin, RODDY‘s corpse, at the steps, at the door… By this time I’m nearly peeing my pants and preparing to run out of the room, just in case. As OSSIE is left screaming we see the front door open slowly to reveal… no one. The ghost of RODDY gets his revenge!

I love NIGHT GALLERY and found myself watching it often after that. All three stories in the pilot movie are quite good and worth a look, especially the one titled “The Escape Route,” which deserves its own confession. After having settled down from the scare, I found myself often checking paintings throughout the house to be sure they weren’t changing. But the effect this gem had on my psyche still holds solid to this day, and for that I thank Mr. SERLING. The NIGHT GALLERY pilot show is definitely worth a visit…

David

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafessions :: Reader SSOD on The Waltons ep. “The Changeling”

April 11th, 2011 · 6 Comments

As an adult, I almost cannot believe this episode went the way I remember it. I had convinced myself the doll thing never happened along with some of the other items that moved. I was really afraid after this – especially since it aired right before Halloween the year I was turning 12! I was scared the whole year this would happen to me as 13 approached!

What an odd move for a normally benign show!

Still Scared of Dolls

UNK SEZ: SSOD, I could not agree with you more! That episode freaked me out as well. How could something like this happen on Walton’s Mountain and how did Elizabeth ever get over it? This episode effected me so much that it is actually the subject of the very first Kindertrauma post HERE! Thanks for the great traumafession and know that you are not alone in your ongoing suspicion of Raggedy Ann!

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Tags: Traumafessions