The bean sí puts me paralytic with fear to this day, and as an atheist scientist that says something fierce. Back in Ireland in the ‘80s, when I was very little, my mother was attempting to brush my long and very unruly hair, and I would wail, oddly enough, much like a banshee. There was a particularly spectacular uproar about it one day (it hurt ffs!), so she had my Uncle Ernie scratch at the window behind me outside and told me it was the banshee coming to match my wails. That put the fear of God into me. Years later my cousin Derek would tell me he’d heard the banshee around my house, which meant someone at mine was going to die. None of this would have been particularly fearsome, I, to this day imagine, had it not been for that bloody banshee in DARBY O’GILL.
My name is Ryan Clark, and I write a blog over at thrill-me.blogspot.com.
As I was trying to come up with a Traumafession, I realized that an inordinate number of my childhood traumas dealt with surreal imagery or people transforming, especially facial transformations. Many are actually music videos rather than horror movies, because I used to watch MTV a lot in the early-to-mid ‘90s; you know, back when they were still MUSIC television.
There were a few videos that scared me, but I think the one that terrified me more than all others was the video for “Sledgehammer” by PETER GABRIEL. Something about his twitching head transforming into various objects via claymation absolutely scared the CRAP out of me, and I would run screaming from the room every time that video came on.
As with many of the music videos that once had me paralyzed with fear, the song and video are among my favorites, and now I’m an avid PETER GABRIEL fan. I think if I ever met the man I would have to tell him how much his innovation frightened me — in a sense, he was MY boogeyman. I’m just thankful I didn’t see his “Shock the Monkey” video until I was older!
I’ve written to you before, and that “Name That Trauma!” has been successfully resolved, thanks to you. However, this one is much more puzzling, because the problem is that I’m not even sure I haven’t dreamt it.
I think it was a late ‘80s-early ‘90s music video. I remember that there were worms, or something that looked like worms – dark-greyish, thick, and quite short (about 2 feet long), and resembling burnt meat in colour and texture. They were crawling around in some kind of a sandpit, and the whole setting was in dark colours. The worms might have been animated puppets, or stop-motion figures, or whatever technique could be applied in the ‘80s to make these revolting things move.
Oh, yes, the most disturbing thing was that these worms had human faces. The only thing I remember about the music was that the voice was very monotonous, with nasal intonations. I wonder who could possibly make such a music video. I mean, what is SO wrong with this person?!
I clearly remember telling other kids in the neighbourhood about it. If I’m remembering this correctly, I even wanted us to play go-round-the-playground-not-touching-the-sand-or-else-the-worms-will-eat-you game or something. It didn’t work out – apparently, the mere assumption that huge worms with human faces could ACTUALLY exist, burrowed in the sand somewhere, waiting for some unfortunate kid to come near them, turned out to be wa-a-ay too disturbing to mess with it.
So, now that I have told you about it, I wonder if anyone has any ideas, because I haven’t found anything resembling this video. If it turns out that the loathsome thing never existed, I’ll give up and make an appointment with a psychiatrist!
1979’s THE DARK is notoriously terrible and I guess it has a right to be. At some point midway through production the producers (one of whom was DICK CLARK) decided that the film’s central Earthly menace might attract science fiction fans if it came instead from outer space. I wish I could jump in a time machine and stop them. It’s not a good idea. You can’t shift gears like that. These things need to be decided before the filming starts! I know WOODY ALLEN completely overhauled ANNIE HALL from his original concept but he did not have DIANE KEATON shooting lasers beams out of her eyeballs and bookend the movie with a rambling narration that basically shrugs its shoulders and says, “I don’t know what’s going on either.” THE DARK really didn’t have a fair shot because of said tampering; most everything you learn in the first half is negated or contradicted by the second. It’s not completely without interest though, a few scenes do work nicely and even though it’s chock full of nonsense, its biggest sin is not that it is crazy, its biggest sin is that it is often blindly milling about and
verging on boring.
What’s left of the plot concerns a “mangler” who beheads anyone foolish enough to walk alone at night in the streets of LA. In fact he kills one person each and every night, which is somehow established night two. CASEY KASEM shows up to imply that the killer is some sort of zombie but as that was part of the original discarded plot I don’t think we should listen to Shaggy. WILLIAM DEVANE’s daughter (played by KIM & KYLE RICHARDS’ sis KATHY) was the killer’s first victim so he’s teamed up with plucky, but not plucky enough, newscaster CATHY LEE CROSBY to get to the bottom of things. The excessively random cast brings a great deal to the wobbly table. KEENAN WYNN is hilarious as CROSBY’s boss, RICHARD JAEKEL is equally so as a grisled cop and same goes double or triple for VIVIAN BLAINE as a kooky psychic. Cameos include the likes of a young PHILIP MICHAEL THOMAS as a guy named “Corn Rows.” When it’s in motion THE DARK is lovably bonkers in a similar vein to THE MANITOU or THE VISITOR but when it’s stagnant, it’s dishwater dull. It actually looks pretty amazing in all of its Panavision glory on DVD but there’s no escaping the frustrating, unfocused, half-hearted pace.
Most semi-rational adults will point the blame solely on THE DARK’s preposterous monster (Who is proceeded by whispered chants of “The dark, the dark!”) but frankly I kinda like the guy. He gets at least one exceptional decapitation under his belt and even the dumb laser eyes can’t hide the fact that he enlivens the proceedings whenever he appears. I can’t explain his gargantuan hobo wardrobe but I love how he smashes through walls and throws people around. If he was just allowed to be a mutant, I think he could have gone places. If you stick around for the film’s end you will rewarded with the wondrous sight of the creature taking out a bunch of cops in a ludicrous fashion but will undoubtedly be disappointed in the puff of smoke lame way he is conquered.
Bad movie fans will find a smorgasbord of seventies flavored insanity to chew on but those who don’t suffer fools easily should wait for the next train. In any case, I believe there are lessons to be learned here. Don’t second guess yourself and don’t bend your vision for the fads of the day. Every monster deserves a chance to live up to his full potential and what’s so bad about being from Earth anyway? I should add for those concerned that THE DARK’s director JOHN ‘BUD’ CARDOS (who replaced TOBE HOOPER who was ironically dropped for being too slow) has at least one worthwhile contribution to the world of horror on his resume as he previously helmed the equally nutso but at least never draggy kinderfave KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS.
UNK SEZ: Today’s Stream Warriors is hosted by none other than JOHN SQUIRES of FREDDY IN SPACE! He’s got some killer picks for you kids today, so lend him your ear!
Like peanut butter and jelly, some pairings were just meant to go together, as if by a decree handed down by God himself. If ya ask me, Claudio Fragasso and a video camera is one of these divine pairings. Just a few years before creating his masterpiece, Troll 2, Fragasso lensed a little gem called Monster Dog, an Alice Cooper star vehicle that saw the Coop battling off a horde of vicious dogs … and a bunch of hillbilly dudes … and a giant werewolf monster. I don’t know how the Italian director and the American rock god ended up in bed together, but I’m sure glad they did.
In the film, a dubbed over Cooper plays Vince Raven, a rocker who returns to his hometown with some friends to film his latest music video, only to discover that the grounds are hunted by a pack of killer dogs (aka a bunch of friendly looking pet pooches dubbed to sound angry.) Turns out they are ruled over by a giant Monster Dog, which may or may not be Cooper himself given his father may or may not have passed on the weird heart condition he had that made the townsfolk think he was the titular monster, which he may or may not have actually been.
Flirting with the zombie movie, the werewolf movie, the killer dog movie and even the spaghetti western shoot ’em up flick, Monster Dog is rife with that same peculiar and even otherworldly quality that makes Troll 2 so gosh darn lovable. It’s admittedly not as compelling as Troll 2 throughout much of its runtime, but there’s some real tasty morsels in there including a couple highly catchy faux Alice Cooper music videos as well as his transformation into a werewolf at the end, which is worth the wait in and of itself. What’s not to love about Alice Cooper wearing makeup and a ruffled sleeve jacket while talking in someone else’s voice and blowing off hillbilly heads before ultimately turning into a monster dog himself? If you answered “absolutely nothing,” then you should the hit play button on this one as soon as possible.
Few people are more captivating to watch, both onscreen and off, than the late German actor Klaus Kinski; a pariah to all those who worked with him and a real treasure to those of us who just get to sit back and watch from afar while he does his thing. As deranged Nazi landlord Karl Gunther, who loves nothing more than to stalk his beautiful female tenants, kill them with D.I.Y. traps that would make John Kramer jealous, talk to his imprisoned and tongueless friend and play solo games of Russian Roulette each night before bed (with a bullet with his name literally etched into it), Kinski is at his most captivating and utterly creepy best.
I first discovered the film when I found a copy of it on VHS at a yardsale several years back and instantly fell in love with its totally off the wall and completely original vibe. It’s fast paced with a weirdness scale that escalates by the minute and it’s frankly unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen. The majority of that praise is all thanks to Mr. Kinski, who brings to the proceedings one of the most interesting and unsettling killers in all of ’80s horror, a mix between Dr. Kevorkian and Adolf Hitler himself (who Gunther delights in watching footage of while prancing around with lipstick smeared all over his creepy little face).
Maybe I’m biased given that I could sit down and watch Kinski watch paint dry for an hour and a half and be completely amused and interested, but I’ve gotta say that Crawlspace is one of the best little known horror flicks circulating out there. The coolest thing about it being on Netflix Instant is that the only DVD release of the film, which saw it paired up with 1980’s The Attic, is long out of print and fetches upwards of $40 these days. So be sure to check it out before its instant status is revoked. Oh and you also might want to watch “Please Kill Mr. Kinski” afterwards, a nine minute little short documentary the director of Crawlspace made after Kinski‘s death as a sort of oddball tribute to the notoriously volatile actor. It can be watched in full over on YouTube.
AFRAID OF THE DARK
Imagine being completely blind and living in a city that is being stalked by a slasher who is targeting … blind people. This is the premise of Afraid of the Dark, a fascinating early ’90s export from Britain that sees a curious little boy taking it upon himself to investigate the attacks and ensure that the blind community in town, which includes his own mother, is kept safe. Unfortunately, that’s just about all I can say about the movie because it’s the kind of film that’s best to go into without knowing a lick about it. The whole movie basically shifts gears about halfway through and it’s a completely disorienting and thought provoking journey into the psyche of both children and blind people and to really comment much on it would spoil some of that mystique. What I will say though is that this film is a perfect example of why I love Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature so much. It exposes you to films you’ve never seen and oftentimes have never even heard of before, films that you probably either wouldn’t add to your queue or wouldn’t even know about to add to your queue, but ones that you will be more willing to delve into when they’re right there in front of you for the taking. Afraid of the Dark is one of those movies that I had never even heard a peep about before and I’m thankful to Netflix for introducing me to it. It is films like this one that make me a bona fied Stream Warrior, loud and proud!
UNK SEZ: Thanks for the excellent recommendations! Kinderkids, make sure you stop by JS‘s home base FREDDY IN SPACE very soon and very often! SQUIRES‘ enthusiasm for horror is pretty much unmatched so there’s NO chance you won’t enjoy yourself THERE!
I have a question regarding a horror film from at least 25 years ago. My mother has described a single scene from a movie and all she can remember is a trail of blood being dragged behind a high chair, its occupant having fallen victim to something big and hungry. She thinks it’s RETURN OF THE ALIENS: THE DEADLY SPAWN, but I don’t think so. It’s been a long time since I saw that movie, but I don’t remember a scene like the one she described in it. She also suggested CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, but I know for sure that isn’t it.
I figure it might be FOOD OF THE GODS, but again, it’s been too long since I saw it, I can’t find a copy in my area and can’t be sure.
I don’t suppose you might be familiar with the film with the munchable baby? It’d be great to finally know what she’s talking about. To be honest, I’m a little appalled at myself for being one horror movie behind my mom.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
UNK SEZ: Shannon, I suspect I’ve got this one! I’m thinking you are thinking of 1982’s DEADLY EYES aka RATS (which is based on a novel by JAMES HERBERT) ! Check out the video below and the action right around 15:22. We’ve got giant rats which would explain your FOOD OF THE GODS hunch, a baby in a high chair and finally, a long streak of blood on the kitchen floor! Tell me I am correct! It’s the only happiness I know!
UNK SEZ: Reader bdwilcox said it best in the comments section for our post on THE HORSEMAN, “There are few things quite as satisfying as a good revenge flick.” With that in mind, today’s Funhouse shall be all about making the bastards pay! Good Luck kiddies!
The Kindertrauma Castle just got HBO in anticipation of TRUE BLOOD, I have a stack of unwatched DVDs acquired from a horror convention and Netflix Streaming continues to taunt me with its well of obscurities so why do I, when the world’s asleep, continue to slide down the YouTube flume? It’s just that there is so much hiding out in that joint that you can’t find anywhere else! Physical copies of many of these gems are hard to come by and I’ve learned the hard way that anything found on YouTube must be quickly viewed as it could disappear back into the nowhere zone forever without warning. Now that so many once elusive titles are just a click away from your door, YouTube is like the last uncharted forest for those of us who remember and mourn the thrill of the hunt. Television movies especially sing to me like sirens and stumbling across a good one that I’ve missed is like stepping into a comfy time portal.
Going into DEADLY MESSAGES (1985) all I knew was that it stared that lady from ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? (KATHLEEN BELLER) and it involved a Ouija board. No gamble there, by merely existing this movie poured milk on my flakes. How could I resist such an innocuous title? DEADLY MESSAGES is just too perfect. BELLER is Laura Daniels, a deliciously spazzy sprite who witnesses a murder and is routinely dismissed by the police. No matter how many times a guy with a hunting knife attacks her, there’s just never enough evidence from the encounter for anyone to not think she’s a hysterical nut. Confiding in her Ouija board provides little solace, as the planchette seems to side with her stalker by saying, “I am going to kill you!” All of this is pretty routine and vaguely hilarious and thankfully takes place during the Christmas season.
Then things take a turn for the amazing. Laura is fired from her job when none of her references pan out and then her long-suffering boyfriend Michael (MICHAEL BRANDON) is told by her doctor that during a brain scan it was discovered that she has been the recipient of shock therapy! Michael confronts her with this info in a restaurant decorated with ROBERT LONGO paintings but she, with her shirtsleeve dangling in spaghetti, insists she has no idea what he is talking about. Next, at a bookstore Michael discovers a series of Nancy Drew like mystery books with a heroine named Laura Daniels. All of the fictional character’s exploits resemble the stories he’s been told by Laura and it appears her entire identity is a big fat lie! Laura insists that she is on the up and up but when her investigation leads her to a mental hospital and the head nurse greets her with “Welcome home!” it’s obvious that the person who knows the least about Laura is she herself (the revelation in considered alarming enough to warrant the coveted HITCHCOCK zoom. ) There’s an explanation of sorts but you’re not getting it from me.
What can I tell you, DEADLY MESSAGES is as silly and implausible as the day is long. I don’t care because it’s damn entertaining too. It makes perfect sense to me that the director (JACK BENDER) and writer (WILLIAM BLEICH) went on to do the superior T.V. movie THE MIDNIGHT HOUR too. Both films have a very cinematic feel for something made for the small screen and are host to loads of splendid atmosphere. As DEADLY MESSSAGES plows towards its climax it’s all howling winds, blowing leaves and over the top musical cues and who can ask for more? It neatly transforms into a different type of movie altogether and I was kind of stunned that something so typical at the starting gate ended up so wonderfully off the wall and quirky. Considering its somewhat hokey woman in peril premise it impresses with several aggressive set pieces, a sneaky sense of humor and a penchant for keeping the viewer guessing. Cliches abound (including DENNIS FRANZ showing up as a cop!) but DEADLY MESSAGES is most fun when it refuses to go by the book.
NOTE: For even more on DEADLY MESSAGES jump on over to TV movie central, our pal AMANDA BY NIGHT‘s MADE FOR TV MAYHEM!
This is one of those Traumafessions that does NOT involve scary images on T.V. or book covers. This involves a sci-fi story called THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN and it starred GEORGE C. SCOTT & his wife TRISH VAN DEVERE as scientists who are working on dolphin intelligence. If fact, some of the dolphins are taught to speak through their blowholes. Sounds silly but that’s how they “talk.” Well, what happens is that the backer of the research group works for a Right Wing organization that wants the Left Wing U.S. President dead. They kidnap two of the dolphins (named “Fa” and “Bea”) to accomplish this. The dolphins are trained to carry bombs on their backs, swim under the President’s boat and then have the bombs attach themselves magnetically to the bottom of his boat. Somehow PATTON and co. manage to get the dolphins to go back to the President’s boat, take back the bombs and place them on the bottom of the assassin’s boat. Of course they are blown to bits.
Right, so how is this traumatic? Well, as a kid I watched FLIPPER reruns on T.V. and when I saw that this was to be broadcast, I begged my mother to let me stay up late to see this (I think this was shown in the summer when school was out). Well, she a first said no but after some prodding she let me but she said that I’d regret it.
Well, at the end of the film, GEORGE and TRISH decide that they have to cut ties with Fa & Bea as other conspirators are going to show up at the research base to either use them again or even kill them. Now the tear jerking begins. GEORGE tells the dolphins to just eat, swim & play but not to talk while the dolphins are squeaking, “Fa love ma! Fa love pa!” He starts yelling at them while TRISH is just about crying knowing that she losing her “kids.” GEORGE then tells her to stop talking as she keeps saying, “Ma loves Fa. Ma loves Bea.” Finally they get up to leave. He tells her not to turn around. As they walk away there is the image of one of the dolphins sticking its head out of the water squeaking, “PA! MA!”
At this point I was losing it! The poor dolphins are being abandoned by their “parents.” This is triggering some major separation anxiety issues in little 8-year-old me! To make things worse after the movie was over upset me ran over to mother for comfort. She just stood in the room & said, “I told you so!” and she walked out! Talk about tough love!
Here is the ending:
UNK SEZ: Critters, check out this stunning short from Directors RODRIGO GUDINO & VINCENT MARCONE! Look closely. It shall curl your toes!