The Relic (1997)

Okay, so it’s zero o’clock in the nothingness and I want to watch a movie but my brain is begging for a low impact workout and not to be needlessly jerked around. I can’t afford another highly praised slab of nonsense that leaves me feeling like I’m the last bitter survivor of a dead world. Hey now, what’s that crusty object I see hidden and tucked away beneath a pile of army blankets in the HBO On Demand drawer? Why it’s 1997’s THE RELIC and in HD no less! Hmmm, I have not seen this one in ages and my previous experiences with it teetered on semi ho-hum and yet…it’s perfect for right now.

See, this is why I’m never too hard on semi-successful monster flicks with dubious plots; I know one day, sooner or later, I’ll need it more than it will need me. I want to see some heads roll, some doors banged in. I want a creature feature mashed up with a disaster flick. I want the monster to time his attack during a posh museum gala that the mayor has an invitation to! The Mayor of Chicago no less! Somebody somewhere at some time had the bright idea of casting a 60 million dollar production with PENELOPE ANN MILLER, TOM SIZEMORE and LINDA HUNT and that person owns a piece of my heart forever. No time for popcorn. Where’s that half eaten bag of goldfish crackers?

I know I’d struck gold when I saw that four people wrote the screenplay. THE RELIC is about a box of contaminated leaves that gets sent to a museum and the monster that wants to eat those leaves but will eat people’s brains instead if he can’t. I’m sure the book it’s based on is more complicated than that but that’s of no concern to me now. SIZEMORE is a cop with hokey cop dialogue, MILLER is a evolutionary biologist who takes her heels off when necessary and LINDA HUNT is the no nonsense head of the museum who gets laughs by cursing and firing people when shit goes down. There’s even a nemesis character of MILLER’S who acts all snidely throughout until he’s chomped on and, as if God really does love me, AUDRA LINDLEY shows up as a coroner in need of a drummer to punctuate her observations with rimshots. I pray that some day I stumble across a decapitated corpse so that I can steal her joke, “Don’t you hate people who take head and don’t give it?” If only there was a way to know which of writers involved was responsible for that! That’s just too rich!

THE RELIC comes courtesy of director PETER HYAMS who somehow directed both OUTLAND and STAY TUNED. It’s got a unique look to it as there are a zillion light flares hitting the camera and it could actually be the darkest movie ever made this side of HUMONGOUS. I found that resisting the darkness got me nowhere, so I decided to embrace it and then ended up pleased. People’s faces just dissolve into the scenery and sometimes you get the sense that you are either going blind or your T.V. is on the fritz. Still, not being able to quite make everything out adds a kind of nightmare quality too. VHS and standard DVD probably did this joint little favors but this shit’s slick in HD. I recall thinking that the creature effects were too vague when I first saw this in the theater but they seem much more solid now. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the more showy CGI work holds up less well than STAN WINSTON’s practical interpretations. There’s a show-stoppy galloping beast on fire bit that looks borderline terrible now but it’s hard for me to care when the movie is so much fun.

THE RELIC is a wonderfully flawed disaster movie throwback, a drive-in monster on the loose flick hiding in the trunk of a big budget epic. The disaster elements, which include panicked folks trampling over each other to escape the mayhem and a group trudge through a dank subterranean tunnel that recalls THE POSIEDON ADVENTURE are hysterically engaging even as the film pushes a near two-hour running time. Whatever borderline ludicrousness curbed this films reputation back in the day only serves to make it that much more entertaining now. This is exactly how cheese should age my friends and I’m kinda surprised that a film released in the wiseacre late nineties is this level of puppy dog eighties adorable. I’m very happy I woke up and found it waiting for me. You don’t have to turn off your entire brain to enjoy it, just the part of your brain that ruins everything!

Name That Trauma:: Jeremy L. On Blondie Blood

Hi guys! Love the site!
I’m wondering if somebody could help me with this. For as long as I can remember everytime I hear the song “Rapture” by Blondie I think of blood. When I was a kid it really freaked me out. Does anyone know if that song was ever used in a horror movie or tv show in a bloody scene? It’s always bugged me that I can’t remember what caused me to think this when I hear that song!

Slashers 101

UNK SEZ: If you happen to be a slasher fan or a comics fan or a fan of people who get creative and make stuff, I need to point out something special to you! Stacie Ponder of the perennial hot spot FINAL GIRL has gone and made a mini-comic called SLASHERS 101 and it is a hysterically informative primer on, let’s face it, the best movies ever made.

Ponder knows her stuff after racking up years in the VHS salt mines and her illustrations are wonderfully expressive. For one Abe Lincoln (five bucks) you get the comic alone and for two Abes (ten bucks), Ponder will illustrate the back for you with an original drawing of your request (within reason)! For more details on how you can get your hands on this little treasure just jump on over HERE!

We The Animals Squeak!

A long time ago I had a “Name That Trauma!” of my own solved in our comments section. I can’t find the thread but thanks again to the kind person who identified “We The Animals Squeak!” as the cartoon I was trying to recall. I’ve decided I must give this animated short a spotlight post of its own because it’s always reappearing in my brain for some reason. “We the animals…” is not scary or creepy but it does capture an awful feeling that I wish there was a catchall word for. What is the opposite of Schadenfreude? “Sympathy” and “pity” are too passive to cut it. I’m talking about an aggressive anguish when witnessing the misfortune of another, a weird nausea of some sort. You know that video of the news lady falling down while stomping on grapes? I know I’m meant to find that amusing but I can’t make myself do it. It only makes me wince and grit my teeth and recoil. What’s wrong with me? I want to have fun at the expense of others too! It’s not because I’m a nice person! I don’t feel any remorse for Miss Collins collateral damage death in CARRIE and I only recycle begrudgingly.

“We The Animals squeak” is a radio show hosted by Porky Pig and what a good fit radio is for a guy who refuses to wear pants. After a fluffy bunny finishes reminiscing about killing a hunter with his own gun to unanimous applause, we are introduced to Kansas City Kitty, a mother cat with an Irish brogue and a tale of woe. Kansas tells us briefly about her childhood and her rise to notoriety as an unstoppable mouser. Of course, for every successful person there are dozens of vermin plotting to take them down and in this case, it is a clandestine Mafioso mouse clique that devises a despicable plan. They kidnap KCK’s newborn and threaten to slice its throat and shoot it with a machine gun if she raises a paw to thwart their nightly fridge raids. I know mice gotta eat too and there’s a possibility that the threats of infanticide were of the empty kind, but what happens next is an atrocity. Not content with their new carte blanche privileges, the mice torment, psychologically torture and openly mock KCK’s pain in an orgy of depravity. To the tune of “playmate” the frenzied mob even have the audacity to use their prisoners tail as a make shift jump rope knowing that she must yield as her child’s life hangs in the balance.

I guess I was not exactly a happy-go-lucky kid because I took this scene clearly intended for comedy literally and it disturbed me. I must have associated Kansas City Kitty with my own mother (or cat) because it also made me angry. Is there anything grosser than exploiting somebody’s concern for those whom they care about? I hate these mice. They’re gluttons and clearly racist and how dare they. By the end of the cartoon, Kansas City is presented with a mouse gift (wha?) and I think we’re meant to think she made the whole thing up when she jumps on the chair and screams, but my take is that she is simply having a well earned psychotic episode triggered by the creature. Do you blame her after what appears to be hours of humiliating torture while her child’s life was at stake? I know I sound ridiculous but the truth is I can’t watch a home invasion flick, the kidnapping of the baby in THE HILLS HAVE EYES, or any kind of torture/prisoner schtick without flashing back to the scene described in my head. Really, this is the same dynamic that made Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR so appalling. Brutality is one thing, but using your victim’s humanity as leverage is a whole other level of sadism.

In other words, I love this cartoon. It may sound like I don’t like the things that strike me as horrendous but I absolutely do. Negative behavior enforces my appreciation for positive behavior and this cartoon represents one of my earliest memories of being outraged and disgusted by the deeds of others; mice though they may be. Plus like any revenge flick worth its salt “We The Animals…” provides a nice slice of comeuppance for its miniature terrorists. It’s not exactly a high school in flames, but it will do.

Traumafession/Name That Trauma!:: Reader Dave P. on Angus, Gargantuas and Blood sucking Spiders


I came across your website doing a search for Angus from “Lost in Space”. My brother and I were just talking about Angus and how that terrifying scream scared us as kids.

The green monster in “War of the Gargantuas” also creeped me out as a kid. The scene where you see him looking up from under the ocean water has stayed with me all these years. Of course, watching him grab a woman through a window, chomp on her and then spit out her clothes was not easy to forget either! Again, the SOUND the monster makes is unique and unforgettable.

I vaguely remember watching a black and white movie on TV back in the 1970’s where (I think) people were being drained (of blood?) by spiders or some type of creature. Do you have any idea what that movie could be?

Thanks, and pleasant dreams!

UNK SEZ:: Thanks for joining us here at Kindertrauma Dave P and thanks for bringing with you an excellent traumafession! I’m sure one of our readers will recognize your blood sucking spider trauma! In the meantime, let us all fail to enjoy what I consider the most upsetting part of WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS! It’s the nightmarish tune “The words get stuck in my throat”!

Traumafesions :: Reader Dasklyer on Friday The 13th: The Series

The FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES show was recently mentioned and I finally got around to finding a show that I watched religiously for thrills in the ’90s. I’m talking about FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES. No, Jason Voorhees wasn’t in it, but it was a darn good show about cursed antiquities. It was low budget and a bit…um…’80s at times, but very dramatic and the special effects seemed really good for the time and money.

The show is about two cousins who inherit an antique shop whose stock was cursed by the devil. It was their job to recover all the items and store them away for good in order to keep people from harm. Usually a piece was already raising hell, causing the owner destruction, possession and sometimes death. I remember specifically one about a cursed compact mirror and a fashion model. I look forward to revisiting these stories.

The pilot episode featured a possessed doll who could talk and was stolen by a cute little girl. Mayhem ensues of course. Little girl: “You can talk”?!, Evil doll: “I can do a lot of things”…in a chill inducing whisper… I had an antique doll collection thanks to Dad that became a collection of fear. I had him move them to the glass cabinets in the living room.

This show was very scary to me as a kid, my Dad was and still is, an antique dealer. Our house was FULL of old curiosities. After watching this show I was terrified of some of the objects in the house. My dresser was from the early 1800’s and became highly suspect. I had become scared of ghosts and curses attached to old things. We had some strange things happen and to this day I don’t know if I was just imagining it. Light would turn off and on, TV would switch on full blast and once to my dismay the toilet flushed by itself. THE HORROR! Didn’t stop me from watching the show everyday though. I think if anything it fed my lifelong passion for all things spooky.

I have been thinking about this show for awhile now (it was also recently Friday the 13th). I looked it up on Netflix and was happy to see the DVDs available to rent. Someone had suggested to me a newer show called WAREHOUSE 13 that sounded very similar to this one. I will re-watch this first.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (if memory serves) was on after school on the Sci-Fi channel in re-run or perhaps the USA channel? BEYOND REALITY came on before or after and was liked but not as much.. I watched every episode without fail, I was glued to the TV set.I’m of the opinion that both series seemed like early versions of the X-FILES. I think a few ideas were lifted from these shows. Can’t wait to see this again. Might try to find BEYOND REALITY too. They are both available on DVD. Only FRIDAY THE 13TH is available on Netflix. Come to think of it, kinda reminds me of SUPERNATURAL too!


Name That Trauma:: Becca V. on a Blood Splattered Bedroom

Hi, there –

Becca V. here again. I’ve got a whole new trauma to request (you’ve solved my previous four)!

This is the hardest one yet because of how little I remember of it.

All I remember was that there was a scene with a family talking pleasantly, followed by a shot of a pink little girl’s room …. only in the pink room there is one of those spinning musical light carousels, and blood splashed across the wall. I don’t know if it was a movie or TV movie, but I saw it on TV.


Sorry to be so vague!

Becca V.

Traumafessions :: Spooky Sean on Stephen King’s The Boogeyman

When I was around twelve years old, I first read the STEPHEN KING short story collection NIGHT SHIFT. In the collection, there is a tale entitled, The Boogeyman, which had a literary device in it which has since scarred me well past the point it should.

The story deals with a man who tells some sort of mental health professional (I’m assuming psychologist), an account of how his three young children died. Officially, the young ones all died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), but the father knows the truth. It was The Boogeyman that killed them all. I won’t spoil the rest for you, except to discuss the part of the tale which traumatized me so utterly. For, you see, every time one of his children died, the father would find the closet door open…just a crack. Just a tiny bit. And that’s the hate joke; STEPHEN KING knew that when closets are left open, it’s always just an inch or so!

Since the age of twelve, I have not been able to deal with a closet in my bedroom open. Especially not open…just a crack. I associate the open closet door with death, and while I’m way past the point of dying from SIDS, I can’t help but feel like it’s still dangerous to keep the closet open. The fear lost a lot of its power when I left home to go to college around eighteen, but I’d be lying if I said it had gone away completely.

UNK SEZ: Thanks for the traumafession Spooky Sean and thanks for building the wonderful blog SPOOKY BLOGGERY which everyone should stop by and visit often HERE!