UNK SEZ: Christmas is right around the corner and the kindertrauma Castle is still not fully decorated. I’m off to see how many blinking lights I can buy with a dollar seventy five. Thankfully our Good pal Mickster has graciously volunteered to host today’s festivities. Mickster has selected ten images from ten non-horror holiday films for you all. How many can you identify? Good Luck!
I’d like to share my very own kindertrauma with you!
It might sound funny, but it’s about E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL.
I’ve first seen that movie when I was about 4 years old, E.T. himself didn’t really freak me out at first, I remember crying cause I was so afraid of the people in the white “space suits” who locked up the house when E.T. got sick.
I had nightmares about those faceless people breathing heavily and hunting me down.
When I was 5 or 6, my sister told me about alien abductions. She was older than me and very interested in that kind of stuff. She made me watch documentary films about UFOs, aliens and abductions. The only alien my little kid’s brain knew was E.T., so I made a connection between alien abductions and E.T.
It gave me terrible nightmares about E.T. landing his UFO in our garden, abducting my family and abuse them for medical tests. In my mind, E.T. wasn’t that nice, tiny alien anymore. He was taller than me and wanted to harm us.
The next time, I saw E.T. on TV, I was terrified. That movie turned into a horror movie. I could barely watch it and I was hiding under my blanket all the time. From now on, I was scared, whenever I saw E.T.… on TV, in a magazine, whatever.
I remember having a magazine from Toys ‘R Us with a picture of E.T. in it. You know what I did? I put a sticker on that picture so that I could look at this magazine without being scared. Oh, and I remember that my sister used to have an E.T. keyring. I hid it all the time because I was scared of it.
Today, I’m 26 years old. I tried to get over it and watched the movie some time ago. But I had to look away all the time and wasn’t able to watch that movie like a grown up. I still jump when I suddenly see E.T. on TV or somewhere else… My friends find that very funny…
— Claudia K.
UNK SEZ: You guys remember our pal the multi talented DANTE TOMASELLI (Interview HERE). Well, DANTE has just concluded scoring his latest film TORTURE CHAMBER so I asked him what movie scores were his favorites and influenced him the most. Below are his favorite top ten scores alongside some fresh images from his forthcoming film (Check out the official site HERE)! Thanks for sharing this with us Dante, You’ve got great taste!
I experienced Halloween in theatres at my birthday party in 1979. I just turned 10. My childhood friends were petrified and some of are still traumatized. It’s hard to describe the impact of this movie to the younger generation because you really had to experience Halloween in theatres. It had a ferocious grip on audiences. I haven’t seen anything match its power. To this day, most critics and fans declare Halloween the ultimate horror film and I wholeheartedly agree. The music is 50% of the film’s equation. Halloween’s heart-pounding, anxiety-inducing theme is so powerful. It’s become the anthem for classic horror films, and definitely something you can’t escape around October. I can’t escape it. It’s been the ringtone on my phone for years. Analogue synthesizer music was popular during the 60’s and 70’s in sci-fi and horror films but Halloween took that kind of sound design to a whole new level. This is a landmark horror soundtrack. Flickering and glowing like a devilish jack-o-lantern, the music is sinister and playfully evil. I’m forever influenced by this motion picture and its soundtrack. Thank you, John Carpenter.
I saw this film in my late twenties, during post production of my first feature, Desecration. How did I not ever see it? I remember the commercial on TV when I was 7-years-old. There was a seductive woman brushing her hair…her back to the camera. We hear her child-like voice. Roses are red. Violets are blue…She’s telling a poem. She swings around. Her face is a skull. Then a man’s voice says, ‘You can run from Suspiria…but you cannot escape…Suspiria.’ It was a whispery, evil voice…S-U-S-P-I-R-I-A. Somehow, where I lived in New Jersey, Suspiria wasn’t distributed. Eventually, though, I do remember seeing the title in video stores, and oddly ignoring it. I guess I was in my own fog at the time. When I finally watched the film, I felt like it was a religious experience. The same feeling I got while watching The House with Laughing Windows. It’s the kind of movie that must be properly viewed at night, in darkness, in stereo. Any other way diminishes it. The music by Goblin is so dense and multi-layered. Synthesizers, rhythm guitars, real instruments, all kinds of drums. You can get lost in its labyrinth design. Especially the beginning of the Suspiria theme. It starts off with a child’s lullaby, actually beautiful and soft but then these obscene whispers crash in and the drum beats more insistent.
3.) THE FOG
My mother and I saw The Fog in theatres in 1980. I was 10. We were already fans of Carpenter’s Halloween. The theatre was called Totowa Cinema on Route 46 in Totowa, New Jersey. My father owned a Jewelry and Bridal Store in the mall where the movie played. I remember my mother was slightly disappointed by The Fog, I guess because she was comparing it to Halloween, but I absolutely loved the film. Everything about it. I was electrified. I was completely obsessed with the images and sounds and murky ghost storyline. The Fog. I’d illustrate the title, in its own special font on my grammar school notebooks. I always loved typography. The music in this film totally jumped out at me…just like Halloween…and there’s a mysterious knocking at the door. TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP. I used to mimic that all the time on different doors….There was a wood burning stove in our garage and I used the stoker to strike the door, pretending I was one of the ghouls. Around this time, I played an electronic organ. I’d sit home and fantasize. Low tones. Also, I played the pounding beat on electronic drums in my basement. I’d pound the drums, in a trance, over and over. It’s that section of the film where the fog is chasing everyone through the streets. Ahhhh. I love that. Nothing beats the Moog synthesizer analogue soundscape. It just pushes my button. When I purchased the soundtrack to The Fog I listened to it non-stop. You get the feeling that something is chasing you…and it’s coming closer and closer….The film has state-of-the-art moody electronic sound design.
4.) HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
It was 1982. I was 12 and I couldn’t wait for its release. The commercials on TV were striking with a spider crawling out of an old hag’s mouth accompanied by nightmarish music. I was so excited. The Night No one Comes Home. Perfect tag line. Then I saw the film. I already read the tie-in book, so I knew what to expect…Robots. I liked the film but didn’t love it. Still, I admired its fresh approach and loved its Dean Cundey widescreen cinematography. Mostly, mainly, I was ecstatic about the music. What perfect electronic horror music! I bought the album and listened to it endlessly. I still do. While nothing beats the theme to the original, overall as an album, this is definitely a better listening experience…and with the widest selection of doom-laced worlds. To me, it sounds like it would be a very dark solo album from Greg Hawkes, the imaginative keyboardist from The Cars. For example, Drive to Santa Mira…it has the distinct John Carpenter low toned vibe while incorporating a new dreamy organ with lots of reverb. Every single track stands out as an example of haunting mood music. John Carpenter and Alan Howarth created magic here. This is synth horror heaven and should probably be number one on my list. I could just listen to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch until the end of time.
5.) SOUNDS TO MAKE YOU SHIVER
This is actually not a movie but a horror sound fx album. It was played around Halloween in the 70’s and 80’s…and in many different funhouses as background music. Halloween was every day for me, so I’d listen to Sounds to Make You Shiver all the time, especially from 1st to 6th grade. The album consists mainly of moans and screams and thunderstorms. First we hear a woman groaning in pain and a man sadistically laughing with a chain clanging in the background. You feel like you’re in a dungeon. I got lost in the howling wind and thunderstorms and creepy, thick atmospheres. In a trance, I would listen…My imagination lighting up. Side 2 has variations of screams, witches cackles, cats, growling dogs and more moody and violent storms. Midway through, the sounds morph into an ambient, almost experimental piece with dreamy piano, guitar and bells…mixed with echoed footsteps…and a chain dragging on a castle floor.
6.) THE SHINING
At times you can hear devils giggling. I used to scare my younger brother just by playing the music. This spine-tingling score by Wendy Carlos, a pioneer in electronic music, has an almost demonic power. I swear it’s transmitted straight from hell. The opening theme is expertly constructed…so delicately woven…It’s bone-chilling. Atmospheric, psychedelic, macabre and surreal…It floats on another plane. There is nothing like this Moog synthesizer music, it creates its own space. I love Wendy’s score for A Clockwork Orange too. Her sound is so otherworldly….
7.) ALICE, SWEET ALICE
My cousin, Alfred Sole’s film, doesn’t have a soundtrack that’s released and it should. Stephen Lawrence conjures one of the most dreamily sinister themes I’ve ever heard. I’m referring to the sparkling lullaby mixed with the menacing tones and breathy vocals. It’s cold and sleek and evil as can be, just like the movie. The swirling violins are unnerving and in-your-face. I love all the small interludes with haunted piano and reverb. The opening titles music is surprisingly reserved and reminds me of a warped version of The Godfather. Very Italian…family tragedy….On the DVD copies, you can find a montage of the film’s old stills…and the music playing over these images is the breathy, ice-cold theme to Alice, Sweet Alice…extended. I loop it over and over….
Howard Shore scored The Brood and Videodrome, also favorites. He’s an expert in somber, deadly serious soundscapes. You don’t just hear them, you feel them. The trancelike electronic music here is percolating, staccato, moaning in pain. He captures emotional violence. In fact, my first short film was called Emotional Violence. It got me into Pratt Institute, the film department. It was a non-linear montage about a suicidal girl with an abusive boyfriend and mother. My mother, an actress, played the mother. I had Scanners music throughout. How could I resist? I know I could never sell it. I can’t find the film now.
9.) THE THING
This soundtrack reminds me of being in high school and listening to the cassette on my walkman. I’d get completely lost in this gorgeous, classy horror music. It’s amazing how Ennio Morricone was channeling John Carpenter, intentionally or not. Sometimes it really sounds like him. I love Morricone’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage too. That should be on this top 10 list. The Thing’s theme, with its pulsating electronic tone, is genuinely hypnotic. I can play it over and over and over. There’s something off-kilter, almost avant garde in its repetitiveness. It’s minimalist. But not all of the soundtrack is like that. There are violin compositions that are spacious, warm, lush and eerie. There are also some screeching violins that are all-out terrifying.
Cold and pristine, John Carpenter’s Christine score is embedded in my psyche. Just like the soundtracks to Halloween, Halloween 2, Halloween 3, The Fog and Prince of Darkness, Christine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A bit clipped, which makes for a jumpy listening experience. But it’s not really meant to stand on its own, even though it does. John Carpenter is all about scoring to picture. It’s thin and glacial and it works. The throbbing baritone employed throughout is pure old-school Carpenter. I love it. The scene where Arnie says, ‘Show me’ and that electronic bell pierces through the atmosphere…followed by the galloping low tone…cinematic magic. It takes my breath away and sometimes brings a tear to my eye. I’m in awe of the way the music changes the environment, how it completely elevates and transforms the scene. The chase compositions are melodic. There’s that propulsive beat that feels like all early Carpenter themes wrapped into one.
I was on your site, led there by a Google search as I was trying to find the name of a movie that traumatized me as a child. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the name of the movie.
When I was young (in the very early 1970s), my father let me watch a movie on TV. I don’t remember it that well, but it was a black and white movie, and the men seemed to be on some kind of spaceship. There were plant people attacking them (and the special effects were bad because the plant people were people with ivy draped around them). The plants would grow and reach out from the plant people, and sometimes when someone wasn’t looking, or was asleep, then the plants would turn the normal person into a plant person.
I was so traumatized that I had trouble getting to sleep at night, and I kept waking up my parents with my nightmares. My father eventually came up with a plan: if I slept with my covers completely over my head, then when the plants dropped out of space, they wouldn’t be able to get to me. (I don’t know why I trusted my blankets more than I trusted the ceiling and walls.) I slept that way every night for years. Then in the early ’80s, I had to read about the “Bell Witch” of East Tennessee for a school assignment. According to the book, she liked to go through the house and pull the covers off people while they slept. I was again traumatized, haunted by the thought that some witch could come along and pull my covers off, and then the plant people would get me. I was in high school by this time.
My children would like to see the original movie that has caused me so much trouble. (They are hoping that it will be on MST3K since the visual effects were so bad.) If you have any ideas what this movie could be, I would appreciate your help.
Thank you for a great web site and blog.
By the way, I’m now almost 50 years old, and I still sleep with my covers over my head.
When it comes to delivering horror, in many ways, Christmas has Halloween beat. Halloween may come with all the obvious dark gruesome imagery but when all is said and done it usually only inspires creative, light-hearted fun. On the other hand Christmas marches with a “Be merry or else” goosestep, casting about insincere niceties while emptying out your wallet and stuffing your stockings with stress and anxiety. You don’t hear about the suicide rate going through the roof in late October do you?
The best way to let off a little steam during the high pressure holiday season is by watching Christmas-themed horror movies. No matter how desperate your lot in life may be, it is pleasing to note that at least you are not being impaled on deer antlers like LINNEA QUIGLEY in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.
Tragically though, Netflix Streaming appears to not understand the necessity of Christmas horror films and their selection of said fare is horrendously devoid of the classics that we all know and love. But don’t worry my kiddies as per usual your Unkle Lancifer has your back! I have put together a night of Netflix Streaming X-MAS horror just in case you need it. So double dose the rum in that eggnog and remember every time someone screams, an angel gets its wings!
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: SANTA CLAUSE
Let’s start out with something terrible shall we? Are you all alone this year? Have you been rejected by your friends and family because your nose glows? Well who needs real human company when you have hosts Mike, Crow and Tom? They are happy to supply fellowship and snarky commentary without eating you out of house and home and asking you pesky questions about your personal life! In this episode of the long running series the gang takes a look-see at a craptacular Mexican holiday film involving an outer space Santa and his war with a pajama clad Satan. You all know whom I’m voting for!
DEAD END (2003)
A car trip to Grandma’s house for Christmas morphs into a voyage into creepsville in this movie that I recommend often. (Review HERE) The ending reveal isn’t exactly as original as a snow flake but the atmosphere is denser than a fruitcake and spending time with RAY WISE (TWIN PEAKS) and LIN SHAYE (INSIDIOUS) is more fun than hanging out with any relative you know.
SIX FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE: A CHRISTMAS TALE
Here I was all excited to recommend this segment of SIX FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE (Review HERE) involving a bunch of tykes who find a Lady Santa in a pit only to have her escape and try to kill them with an axe- when I discovered it’s not available! That’s right! Turns out only select episodes of SIX FILMS ETC. are available for streaming and this ain’t one of them! Way to screw up my post Netflix! Ugh, for reasons unknown I try to help you out Netflix Streaming but you always do me wrong… Damn you, you fickle and ungrateful mistress! Eat a bag of coal.
I’m not so easily foiled Netflix! I have a last minute substitution! I was just checking out our AVALANCHE OF CHRISTMAS HORROR! list from last year and noticed that kinderpal David Fullam suggested HARDWARE in the comments section. Yes, the robot head in HARDWARE was indeed a Christmas present and that particular movie is available on Netflix Streaming so there you go. Thanks DF, you saved my post!
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT/ CHRISTMAS EVIL
If you should happen to not have Netflix Streaming there is no need to worry. Public Domain is here to save the day! If you are ever experiencing a Christmas horror movie deprivation emergency just break the glass that has MARY WORONOV and FIONA APPLE’s dad behind it! I’m talking of course about SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT and the hilarious CHRISTMAS EVIL, both of which are at your disposal any time you like! Check out my full reviews HERE and HERE and ogle the full-length videos below. There’s no reason why everyone can’t have a scary Christmas!
I have been trying for many years to find the black & white thriller about a woman trapped in an apartment with many ways to commit suicide, but no way out. Probably made in the ’50s, I remember watching it on TV in the early ’60s. But I don’t even remember the names of any of the players. I just remember watching a woman try to find a way out, only to find several ways to kill herself.
Does this sound familiar to anyone at KinderTrauma?
Sure would appreciate any thoughts you might have to help me find this flick.
— Ed B.
I know you hear all the time about traumafessions that have been nagging people for years, and this is no different. I was ready to submit it as a “Name that Trauma” segment but blissfully found my answer and have been able to put 36 years of hunting behind me. Being a kid in the ’70s, I was obsessed with all things Bigfoot and airplane disaster movies, so I remember being thrilled to find a repeat of a movie that was based on real-life events of a horrific plane crash with one lone survivor.
The film is called MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN (1975) and tells the tale of Juliane Koepcke who was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest. It has the usual suspense and expected terror of your typical plane crash movie, but the real excitement starts when poor Juliane has to trudge through the jungle to find help. After 10 days of solitary drudgery she finally finds some loggers who help her and eventually get her to civilization.
Right when you think all is well and you can eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the unthinkable happens: They start squeezing bugs out of her wounds. The entire theme is bad enough when you consider the horror she must have experienced, but then we’re subjected to live maggots in bloody wounds, and that’s all she wrote folks. All I kept thinking was “I wonder if they missed one and it’s still living in her system?”. I have no idea if this movie is available, and I doubt I’d want to watch it again. But at least I found it and can rest easy knowing she got all the bugs out all those years ago.
Here’s a twisty-tense thriller that deserves more attention. I mentioned my admiration for 2005’s Canadian psychological thriller THE DARK HOURS a while back in our SNOWBOUND HORROR post. Now, I am happy to tell you that the film is available on Netflix Streaming. To make sure that this flick did not appear larger in my rear view mirror than it actually was, I recently gave it a second gander and found myself just as taken with it as I was before. The amazing thing is that THE DARK HOURS takes on several story elements that I am usually in no mood for and somehow makes me enjoy it just the same. Do I want to see a home invasion flick where people are made to crawl around and grovel while the attacker acts like a morally superior smarmy know it all? No, I hate movies like that! I myself would rather be killed than lectured by a psychopath. Still, somehow against odds, THE DARK HOURS works for me.
KATE GREENHOUSE stars as cool as a cucumber popsicle Dr. Samantha Goodman. If you think the glare she delivers her patients is frigid, check out how she robotically scans an X-ray of her very own brain tumor. (GREENHOUSE deserves big credit for remaining likable while aloof.) When her boss suggests she needs to chillax before she splits at the seams, she heads out for a weekend at her secluded cabin. Once there she finds her caught-off-guard husband and younger sister acting post-screw shady… or is she just being paranoid? A game of Operation does much to lighten the mood but soon the trio are unhappy to learn that they have uninvited houseguests in the form of one of Sam’s sadistic ex-patients (piercing AIDAN DEVINE) and his creepy tag along disciple (JASON X’s DOV TIEFENBACH.) Terrible things happen. So much so that I want to turn the movie off but I can’t. I’m not a fan of involving pets in home invasion festivities. It bums me out.
It ain’t what you do though, it’s the way that you do it and THE DARK HOURS is never nasty for empty shock value alone. The set up may feel familiar but the theatrical way it’s presented is impressively layered. Miniscule details are ten months pregnant with meaning and the coded dialogue weaves together a persuasive anxious mood. The cabin itself becomes a map of Sam’s own troubled mind with mice scratching around in the attic and a fruit cellar built for hiding and denial. Eventually the surfaces of things are scratched away and we are made to realize that not only are several characters misrepresenting themselves but also, thanks to Sam’s scrambled viewpoint, nothing may be what it seems. I know what you’re thinking. I’m kind of over the “what is reality?” crutch casually kicked around in films these days too, but THE DARK HOURS is so intricate with its tinkering of appearances that it reminds me how effective the concept can be when handled with care.
THE DARK HOURS may be too unnerving to be called “fun” but if you are down for something with a toasty fireside parlor game atmosphere and you can appreciate a more adult approach to horror this is worth your time. It has all the right screws loose and it actually earns the right to lie to you.
AUNT JOHN SEZ: Special thanks to reader gingin for closing the case on a Name That Trauma submitted many moons ago by the unsinkable Senski!