Traumafession:: Cessie Adair on Don’t Look in the Basement!

UNK SEZ: Happy Halloween! Recently our good pal Stacy Pershall gave her students a special Halloween homework assignment and got them all to write some traumafessions for Kindertrauma! Here is the first one out the gate, a very scary memory of one Cessie Adair! Take it away, Cessie!

Uncle Jed and his new wife, Fran went to bed early, leaving Brad and I upstairs to stay up late watching TV. I had been doing aerobics after dinner so I was still wearing my tan leotard that mademe look like I was naked. At twelve years old I was already concerned about body image. Even though I was muscular with a dancer’s body, I was already concerned about being fat.My brother was sitting on the couch against the wall directly across from the open stairwell that led to the bedrooms downstairs of my aunt and uncle’s town house. I had a hard time sitting still so I was stretching and pirouetting all over the living room carpet that was the same colour as my leotard.

The television was on the top shelf of one of those flimsy rolling type stands with wheels on the bottom. “Don’t Look in the Basement” was on. I think part of the reason I couldn’t sit still was because the movie was scaring the crap out of me. Even though I loved scary movies, I was driving myself mental with some kind of morbid desire to scare the daylights out of myself.

Not only was I driving myself mental, I was also driving Brad mental, getting in his way so I could do a handstand without breaking any thing if I fell. “SIT DOWN!!” he yelled at me. “No! I’m doing my exercises and working on my dance, numbnuts!” He kicked me in the leg so I sat down hard on the floor and glared at him. I decided I would just do my stretching on the floor and pay more attention to the movie.

The movie was getting more intense and I remember the new nurse in it finally discovering that there were bodies in the basement. As she was going down the stairs I started to freak out because in the window directly to the right of the television I saw a shadow of what looked like curly hair.

Pause. I felt someone spying on me. Perverts and creeps from before this day had already caused paranoia in a child who really should be too young to know that someone wants to rape her.As the innocent nurse was finding bodies and the other nurse who was crazy was doing everything she could to stop the new nurse from escaping, I suddenly jumped up without thinking and ran to the kitchen to scope out the knives. I paced quickly on my tippytoes, back and forth in the galley kitchen. The vinyl floor felt so cool compared to the rest of my body. As I looked at the knives I thought that getting a knife was too dangerous and he could kill me with it. Just as I decided to not grab a knife I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. They were soft but quick and just before he tried the door handle to get in, I locked the door.

Then I saw it again, that shadow of a man’s curly head outside the window in the living room. He wanted to hurt me. My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what to do. Terror coursed through my veins like speedballs. Quickly, I was high on adrenaline. My brother was oblivious on the couch. He was used to me running around being a spaz. Then I saw him. The man was coming up the stairs. That’s when I jumped up and down, pounding both feet as hard as I could with the weight of my fit, twelve year old body into the carpeted floor. I felt on fire with fear. I pounded as hard as I could. My aunt and uncle’s bedroom was directly below us.

I screamed, “THERE IS A MAN IN THE HOUSE!!!” pounding the floor until I might pass out. Just as I finished screaming the man disappeared and my uncle came running up the stairs yelling, “What the hell is going on?” I was pointing at the window beside the TV yelling jibberish and pointing some more. Jumping from one foot to the other like I had to go pee right now. My uncle thought I was freaking out about the movie. “It’s just a movie.” He tried to calm me down. I said, “NO! There is a man in the window!” “He’s coming up the stairs!” Uncle looked perplexed and said, “There is NO ONE there!” I cried again, “There is a man trying to get into the house!” Uncle ran down the stairs and into the bedroom across the hall from his room. I could hear him from upstairs. “Jill! Call the police! Someone broke in!”

When I timidly went to the bedroom my brother and I were staying in during our visit, I saw a moccasin on the floor. The guy lost it when he took off. The amazing thing is that he had to crawl under the patio to get into the window. It was a narrow space. How he got out so fast I will never know. What I do know is that I will never be able to think about or see “Don’t Look in the Basement” without recalling that night.

Name That Trauma:: Reader J.V. on Two Tall Gliding Witches

Hey. I have been wondering forever about this Japanese horror film from the 50’s that I saw when I was a youngin’. All I remeber is that two witches who were quite tall came into the bedroom of a brother and sister and glided towards their bed. They had melty noses and black garb on and the set outside had drawn trees and lighting and a crescent moon. I have never found it. Any help or knowledge would put my insane mind at ease a bit.

Name That Trauma:: Reader Jose’ on a Haunted Bermuda Triangle Doll

A friend told me to seek you out, after I shared my traumatic horror movie memory with him, and so, here I am. I’m afraid, though, that my trauma might be too esoteric to be pinned down, but I hope I’m wrong.

It was a movie I saw in Puerto Rico as a kid, it was in Spanish, so it’s quite likely that it was a Mexican/Latin American production. The setting is a boat in the Bermuda Triangle–I remember the ad campaign cashing in on the “mystery” surrounding the region. On that boat is a family, including young boy and girl siblings, and her doll. Naturally, the boat eventually becomes adrift at sea, and the family comes across some survivors from another ship. These are merchant marine types, who quickly hatch a scheme to take over the family’s boat for their aims.

But the thing about the area they are in is that some malevolent spirit(s) reside there, and it(they) take over the will of those who are morally and mentally weak, and, somehow, the doll. Here’s where the trauma comes in, there are numerous sequences where the doll threatens the kids, and is even responsible for the deaths of one of the kids and a couple of the adults…

That’s if I remember correctly. It’s been almost thirty years since I saw the flick, and I’m sure it left an impression despite being a cheap z-grade movie because of that damn doll. I can’t be more specific than I’ve been however…

Good luck,


UNK SEZ: I think I do know this one! I believe our pal Francisco once wrote in about it (HERE)! Could it be 1978’s THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE directed by RENE’ CARDONA JR.? There’s definitely a creepy doll in that one!

Halloween, it’s Not Just for Halloween Anymore!

UNK SEZ: A couple years ago I listed ten of my favorite movies that took place on Halloween (HERE). There’s probably not too many surprises on that list but hey, I had a relatively limited barrel of apples to bob from. This year I thought it might be better to pick out ten films that have NOTHING to do with Halloween but that still somehow carry something that feels like the Halloween spirit to me. These movies don’t involve the holiday itself, but their tone or subject matter is simpatico and regardless of their aspirations or taste level, they all share a healthy respect for the eerie unknown.

BURN WITCH BURN (1962) Behind every great man is a great witch. Skeptic Norman Taylor learns the hard way which side his bread is buttered on when his life goes to pot after he forces his wife to can her craft. BURN (aka NIGHT OF THE EAGLE) earns extra charm points for allowing me to cram THE INNOCENTS into the conversation as its star PETER WYNGARDE appeared in that classic as the menacing Quint!

CURSE (NIGHT) OF THE DEMON (1957) (not to be confused with NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988) which does take place on Halloween) When will science ever learn to take its hat off when black magic is in the room? You’ll find some kids cavorting in spooky masks in this non-Halloween tale and I swear the holiday itself makes a cameo in the form of a chillingly ominous windstorm. Non-believers beware!

THE EVIL (1978) What Halloween is complete without a visit to a haunted house and what better time period to dress the excursion in than the late seventies? Subtly is refreshingly kicked to the curb and any thoughts that you’ve seen all this before are swept away by a surreal eleventh hour house-call call by old scratch himself!

ONE DARK NIGHT (1982) Staying overnight in a haunted house is one thing but who would have the nerve to camp out in a psychically animated corpse occupied mausoleum? Possibly tame by today’s standards, who can complain when the company you are keeping includes MEG TILLY (PSYCHO II) and more importantly the one and only E.G. DAILY? Keep an eye out for my favorite tunnel (Los Angeles’2nd Street), which has also appeared in BLADE RUNNER and THE TERMINATOR among others!

WITCHBOARD (1986) If you’d like to know what it’s like to be the best Ouija board-centered horror move ever made, you’ll have to ask this one! I don’t know what’s more awesome, the first glimpse of bearded, axe-wielding evil spirit Malfeitor or seeing music video vixen TAWNY KITAEN dressed in drag. Extra points for yanking a still feisty ROSE MARIE and quirky character actress KATHLEEN WILHOITE into the mix!!

GHOULIES (1985) Silly though it may be, there’s something so weird going on in this movie that I have to give it a nod. I find the titular creatures more adorable than scary so I’m placing blame solely on “Greedigut,” the lady little person with the ill-fitting demonic voice (the late great TAMARA DeTREAUX) for my inexplicable unease. Joining the kooky chaos is JENNIFER’s LISA PELIKAN, KILLER PARTY’s RALPH SEYMOUR, TWIN PEAKS’ JACK NANCE and good lordy, MARISKA HARGITAY!

STIR OF ECHOES (1999) You’ll find a career high performance from KEVIN BACON here and even more impressively, a truly unique and refreshingly un-flashy presentation of the supernatural. What sets this flick apart is its sense of loss, after the scares have dissipated, there’s a rank tragic vibe that’s a little bit harder to shake. Extra points added for recruiting both ILLEANA DOUGLAS and the unnerving nightmare LIDSVILLE to take part in this spooky RICHARD MATHESON-penned mystery.

THE GATE (1987) Aw, remember the giddy fun it was when your parents would take off and leave you alone in the house all night as a kid? Makes me want to pop corn and watch QUINCY M.E. This movie is tons of fun and the stop motion monsters are super cool yet how flipping scary is it when the folks return home but are not acting quite themselves? SPEILBERG would be proud (if he was drunk). Extra points rewarded for upgrading the usual dusty book with a heavy metal record played backwards!

DOLLS (1987) Knowing that killer dolls inhabit this film should be enough for anybody. This creepy compact dark fantasy takes place on “The longest night ever” and when it’s not fulfilling your requirements for biting bloodshed, it’s making you chuckle like hell. The opening scene that involves a teddy bear’s grizzly revenge is too good to be true and the moral warning that if you don’t keep the kid inside you alive, you’re likely to end up a puppeteer’s plaything, is one we’re always happy to back up here!

DEMONS (1985) O.K., now it’s time to get a little rowdy. Who can say no to a free ticket to a horror movie? Not me. The premise, about a demon outbreak occurring during a movie show while the audience is trapped within the theater is wildly out there, so how come whenever I watch this flick I believe every thing it tells me as if it were the gospel? Ack! Maybe it’s my claustrophobia and fear of crowds that takes over, but I can never help putting myself in the place of the characters and noting that I would be a shivering wreck hiding under a chair looking for a way to kill myself and praying for a helicopter to land on my head. DEMONS has no time to explain itself. You’re already dead.

THE FOG (1980) While everybody and their brother was scrambling to duplicate HALLOWEEN’s success by lifting the more obvious stalk and stab aspects of the film, its co-creators took the less crowded route and delved head first into the uncanny ambiguity that really made the flick tick. What they came up with is the ultimate ghost story that is THE FOG. It may take place in April, but this telling of a night when the supernatural world collides with ours is arguably just as appropriate for the holiday as its predecessor. Plus you get to see what really happened to Laurie Strode after the night he came home, she changed her name to Elizabeth and went hitchhiking!

Traumafession:: Anthony of Evil Puppets on The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, Teddy Ruxpin & More!


My name is Anthony Sant’Anselmo and I wanted to thank you for the labor of love that is your website. I, too, have yet to put away ‘childish’ things – and it all started with ‘The Dark Crystal‘ back in ’82… But before I delve into that, I should back up about twenty years when my father started a business to make an interactive child’s toy, partnering up with Ken Forsse and Teddy Ruxpin was invented. Of course, it wasn’t until 1985 that it finally came to fruition and was on the shelves just before the holidays. Already having a love of puppetry with ‘The Dark Crystal‘ and ‘Gremlins‘ – it was seeing the killer doll movie craze come forth a couple of years after Teddy’s debut, that I couldn’t turn back and I began making stop-motion animated puppet horror movies. I’m 35 years old now, animate for ‘South Park‘ (a low-tech form of stop-motion puppetry) and I run a traveling exhibit of screen-used and replica puppets from horror movies of yesteryear called, ‘Evil Puppets‘ – with an exhibit that includes Gremlins, Ghoulies, Critters, Trilogy of Terror, Troll, Monkey Shines, Meet the Feebles, Puppet Master and lots more. I have an online shrine (HERE) dedicated to these wonderful pieces, but the facebook page is really where the interactivity is.

We have a show this weekend at Spooky Empire in Orlando – should be a great time.

Just wanted to introduce and say thanks – I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from your site.
Anthony Sant’Anselmo

Because I Could Not Stop for Death :: Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Kyle Kuchta of Fantasm: Season of the Con!

It’s a Horror to Know You: Kyle Kuchta of Fantasm: Season of the Con!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

The first film that ever scared me was Child’s Play when I was about 8. Well, I guess I never saw the movie, but Chucky scared the hell out of me. I remember having a dream where Chucky was going to kill me, but then Beavis and Butthead saved me. And then I remember going to a Haunted Hayride where they were showing the Boogeymen: Vol. 1 documentary before the ride, and I was convinced that Chucky was going to be in there, and I started crying. Years later, I’ve only seen the first Child’s Play and Seed of Chucky. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

2. What is the last film that scared you?

It would probably be Session 9. Honestly, that movie freaked me out beyond anything I thought could. I still regard it as the scariest film I’ve seen. I also am a wuss sometimes, so people get disappointed when I show them. But I think it’s great. Ti West’s The Innkeepers spooked me quite a bit, too. For whatever reason, I thought it was a good idea to watch at night by myself. I’m also one who gets VERY scared of sounds more so than images, so when the disclaimer comes up about watching it with loud volume, I was already tense. So I spent that film with the volume remote in hand, and it was probably the only film in a while that I had paused because I was scared.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

1) Tourist Trap: One of my all time favorite horror films. That score, those mannequins, it had everything I wanted in a late 70s horror movie. It’s SO damn creepy. Why did I want THOSE things? I don’t know, but it was AWESOME.

2) The Signal: I was absolutely blown away by this film, and I wish that other people knew more about it and/or would give it a chance. I’m a fan of anthologies and, while it wasn’t necessarily an anthology, the “transmissions” were a nice touch, and a great way to not just make it another crazy-zombie-possessed human movie. I dug it.

3) Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: While it may not be so underrated in the horror community, I can’t help but add this gem to my list. Any time anyone asks me to recommend a horror movie that’s “not too scary,” whatever THAT means, I suggest BTM. I actually recommend BTM for almost everything. I saw this film at a used video store for $4, and I wasn’t sure whether to be sad that this DVD was regarded as a lower price used DVD, or happy that someone was going to buy it for cheap and love it as much as I do.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

1) Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth: This chapter in the Hellraiser series gets a lot of shit, but I absolutely love it. I think it’s so fun, and the cenobites are some of the BEST. They’re so ridiculous I can’t help but to enjoy myself every time I watch it. All I ever wanted was that cenobite sculpture. Actually, nah, that’s probably a horrible thing to have.

2) Shakma: My biggest regret was not having Amanda Wyss sign my Shakma VHS. I love watching this because I’ll start the movie, and it’ll be awful. And then it’ll keep going and keep being awful. And then when I have 30 minutes left I’ll be yelling at my TV for the movie to be done, like that’s going to change anything. It’s sort of an amusingly vicious circle I submit myself to, but I can’t help it. Shakma is outrageous.

3) Ticks: Growing up in East Lyme, Connecticut, we had to be very aware of ticks because Lyme disease could cripple you, or whatever Lyme disease does. So ticks always BUGGED me. Lololololol. But seriously, the fact that this movie has Seth Green, Alonso Ribeiro, Clint Howard is reason enough to watch it.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

1) Fright-Rags: Some of the best shirts a boy like me could ask for.

2) Outside the Cinema: One of my favorite podcasts.

3) VHShitfest.

4) Death Waltz Recording Company.

5) Fantasm: Season of the Con: My upcoming documentary on horror conventions.

Halloween (1978):: Death and the Maiden

The first time I saw Michael Myers’s face (mask, really), I turned (sprinted, really) away. It was during a review for HALLOWEEN on SISKEL & EBERT and it was just a clip but I had to leave the room and shake his visage from my mind by jumping up and down. His image is now so familiar (especially this time of year) that it takes some effort for me to recall just how alien and menacing it was upon first view. I had no knowledge of whom or what he was within the story, no idea of how iconic his likeness would become and certainly no inkling of his countenance’s debt to Captain Kirk. I saw a white face with hollow black eyes and it almost appeared as if it were floating in the darkest of space. He was a levitating skull and skulls don’t have to speak to say loud and clear, “Poison, death, run.” Some primal million years old memory stored in my DNA awoke and manipulated my legs as if they were connected to marionette strings. (My cat feels the same way about the vacuum cleaner). Some movies are bigger than movies; some movies unknowingly chant ancient spells. I never wanted to see that face again so I began to seek it out.

To best understand HALLOWEEN (both the film and the holiday) it helps to be a certain age, somewhere between bright summery childhood and cold mature winter, somewhere on the cusp of adulthood lazily observing the world transform with a crisp mix of excitement and apprehension. It helps to be a teenager in autumn. It helps to be knee-deep in change. Here comes Laurie Strode! She’s carrying a wall of books in front of herself like a shield. She’s different than her friends, more cautious, structured and on guard and those who reductively sum up her identity by her level of sexual experience, are evaluating a universe based on one dying star. Here we have one of horror’s most beloved and identified with protagonists. She is a hero and earns the right to be called one. This status does not fall into her lap because she abstains from sex throughout the course of the film. HALLOWEEN is often cited for forging the spurious template that demands only virgins survive a slasher film and that all those who dabble in sex and drugs must die, a condescension that ignores not only Laurie’s internal journey but also the fact that she gets stoned before showing up at her babysitting gig.

Of more pertinence than Laurie’s presumed “purity” is the way in which she interacts with others and the things that she says about herself. We get the gist that she is considered a “good girl” but it appears she achieves that recognition by fulfilling the wants of others while her own desires are shelved. When she bumps into young Tommy Doyle her reply to his every request is a quick, “Sure, sure, sure” but she has no real answers when he bombards her with, “Why, why, why?” She runs errands for her father; she picks up the slack for her friends, and when she jokes about being a “girl scout” it may have less to do with her moral standing than it does the accommodating, nearly subservient position she holds. More pressing than her love life is Laurie’s subtle struggle with her own acquiescence. HALLOWEEN is a classic that is highly regarded by people of various ages but it’s notable how the film tends to strike a firmer, more formative and enthusiastic impact with audiences members roughly Laurie’s age, young adults naturally beginning to wonder if they are mapping out their futures for themselves or based on the expectations of those (parents, friends) around them.

What is the cost of subverting yourself in order to facilitate everybody else’s goals and agendas? Laurie sees, intuits death. While giving a prompted answer regarding fate in class, death appears; while being goaded and chided by her pals on the sidewalk, death appears; while staring out the window at the drooping result of domestic chores, a full clothesline, there stands death again. The paychecks for not rocking the boat become fewer as the taxes for bottling her true self pile up. Laurie admits she’s interested in a guy named Ben Tramer but as soon as proactive pal Annie clears the path towards him, she recoils and coyly cowards. C’mon Laurie! Really? You know what? If you keep neutralizing and diluting yourself, the invisibility you are conjuring is going to manifest. Do you know what that will be like? It will be like running down the street as shades are drawn and porch lights extinguish screaming “Can’t you hear me?!!!”

HALLOWEEN is frequently made to fess up its debt to BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) but the blank-faced yet somehow accusatory dark figure, the central challenge haunting its heroine to fully take form and the overall poetic, uncanny atmosphere favor even more so CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962). Feel free to toast the late BOB CLARK for the P.O.V. shots and the holiday setting but when it comes to the death-and-the-maiden motif, we’re dealing with a theme so firmly rooted that you wouldn’t be off base high-fiving EDVARD MUNCH and EMILY DICKINSON either.

Laurie is locked in place but her tango with mortality will bestow traction, this dance with death is not new. It’s Halloween night and we’re celebrating the end of summer (Halloween is linked to the Celtic “Samhain” which is derived from “Sumuin” which literally means “Summer’s end”). It’s a night when it’s said that the supernatural world and our world overlap and ghosts from the past return (home). It’s a night that honors the dead but more importantly here, in turn, celebrates the bounty that is change and renewal.

“Why won’t anybody help me?!” Poor Laurie, always happy to lend a hand but when she needs one herself she’s own her own. She’s found her voice but nobody is listening. There is a panicky “Boy Who Cried Wolf” element afoot as Laurie discovers how easily she is overlooked and forgotten. She reenters (thanks to a half asleep Tommy) the Doyle house and things markedly change. It’s unfair to say Laurie transforms, rather, she finally allows herself access to what was available to her all along. She stands her ground. We’re about to find out her commitment and responsibility towards others is a vulnerability easily flipped on its head to become a source of power. With two children counting on her, Laurie drops the wavering and amasses control. It’s a struggle, as well it should be, but this “day of reckoning” has been brewing for some time. For the audience, the battle is as cathartic as it is suspenseful. We’re watching someone not assessed too grandly by her peers carve some turf in the world and refuse to roll over. We’re witnessing a rite of passage. Laurie is accepting the challenge to move ahead toward autonomous adulthood. Who would understand that something so benign and mundane seeming as a knitting needle could be a devastating game-changer? Laurie.

Sheriff Leigh Brackett: A man wouldn’t do that.
Dr. Sam Loomis: This isn’t a man.

Is there really such a mystery to the “The Shape”? The very first thing we learn in HALLOWEEN is who he is. He’s that mouth-breathing scamp who severed his sister from her rightful adulthood in the very first scene of the film. He’s frozen in time. He has no voice. You can paint him in as many dark shadows as you want but he’s still the poster child for arrested development. (He even hangs out in the wreckage of his boyhood home.) I’m not saying he’s not scary (nothing is scarier than a dullard with a sharp knife and nothing to lose), I’m just saying we tend to deny that we’ve all seen behind this mask. Haddonfield residents may have molded him into “The Boogey Man” but even as such, he’s chained to the fears of childhood and that is where he belongs. He is something to be outgrown (“Well, kiddo, I thought you outgrew superstition”). Laurie is purposely moving away from Michael a.k.a. “The Shape” (a voiceless shadow linked to the past) and toward Loomis (an outspoken eccentric who follows his own compass forward). Although the Myers monster was consciously conceived to be a “blank slate” that audiences could project an infinite amount of fears upon, for Laurie, being a “blank slate” could be, in and of itself, the ultimate fear and the ultimate death. The creature she is battling is the void she might become.

So yeah, I see a coming-of-age film lurking in the shadows of HALLOWEEN. Instead of “The Shape” conservatively punishing the characters for premarital sex and alcohol consumption, I see him raging against the common rites of passage that lead toward adulthood that he has denied himself. Laurie does not live due to the magical power of prudence, on the contrary; she survives because she loosens the grip on her own reigns. I’ve heard it said that HALLOWEEN is a throwback because Laurie must wait for Loomis to save her, a comment that makes me want to partake in a killing spree of my own. It’s an insult to Laurie’s cavalry, the universality of the tale and the fact that this movie, by my estimation is the greatest cinematic collaboration between a man and a woman…ever. We’re talking JOHN CARPENTER and DEBRA HILL (CARPENTER readily identifies the film as “a 50/50 collaboration”.) If you understand HILL provided Laurie’s essence and CARPENTER Loomis’, it’s only fitting that in the end, they team up not to destroy, (You can’t kill the boogeyman!) but to push the destructive darkness back into the night. Loomis has been struggling to be taken seriously too why should Strode have all the (redemptive) fun?

HALLOWEEN hardly needs any endorsement by me. Its artistry is well observed and the long-standing devotion its characters have garnered in fans says everything you need to know. Still, as the years pass, I have become more in tune with just how succinctly the movie captures the spirit of the holiday itself (regardless of the conspiratorial green trees that wave from the horizon). Maybe phantoms don’t actually cross over into our world on All Hallows’ Eve, but I for one can always count on being visited by the ghost of my youth. Halloween and autumn stand responsible for many a child’s earliest awareness of the fleeting stages of life and who didn’t feel the wasp sting the first time they heard, “You’re getting too big for trick ‘r treating!”? (Oh, if only I knew then that adulthood would also mean no one ever telling you again what costume to wear, how late to stay up watching horror movies, what candy to throw away or what demons to dread.) Getting older may include leaving certain things behind but I’ll never let go of Laurie, Loomis and Tommy all trying to make their fears heard, Bob and Lynda both trying to get laid, sarcastic Annie trying to get that butter stain out of her shirt, and her poor good natured pop just trying to keep things in order. And I’ll never lose sight of “The Shape.” He’s not as enigmatic as he once was but maybe that’s because he’s moving closer. That empty, vacant face still scares me, and everyone, no matter their age, is entitled to one good scare.

The Ring (2002) Anniversary Guest Post by Father of Tears

October 18, 2012 is a milestone anniversary in horror. Ten years ago “The Ring” was released in theaters.

The movie was an American remake of the classic Japanese horror film “Ringu“. In fact, this would be the first of many controversial “J-Horror” American remakes (“The Grudge“, “Pulse“, “Dark Water” etc). Of that whole group “The Ring” would get the most favorable reviews. The basic premise of the film is a mysterious videotape that, when viewed, shows disturbing grainy green tinted black and white images. After the tape ends the viewer’s telephone rings and when it is answered a girl whispers “seven days”…which means you will DIE in seven days! After several teens die mysteriously one of the kid’s mothers has her younger reporter sister named Rachel go out and investigate. The reporter (Naomi Watts, fresh from her breakthrough role in “Mulholland Drive“) hears about the “killer videotape” after her niece’s funeral from one of her friends. Early on Rachel goes to a cabin where her niece Katie and her friends stayed at seven days before they died. While chatting with the innkeeper she learns he keeps a bunch of videotapes for the guests as the TV reception is bad (no cable?). Rachel notices a black VHS tape with no label and she takes it to her cabin. She plays the tape and gets the phone call…and the fun begins!

The Ring” had a gloomy atmosphere that was noted for not relying on gore and violence. There was a great slow building tension to this film as the main characters, Rachel and her ex Noah , were racing against the clock to solve the mystery of Samara and the “Killer Videotape”. When the climax to the film happens you are scared….but you are not subjected to blood splatter. Certain horror directors may use a specific color to enhance the film’s overall mood. Dario Argento used saturated reds in “Suspiria” to a great effect. “The Ring‘s”director Gore Verbinski used the color green in many of the scenes. In fact many of the outdoor scenes, especially those in rainy weather, had a murky green tint (the film does take place in the Pacific Northwest) to enhance this moody feeling. I am positive those green tinted scenes in “Twilight” were influenced by the outdoor scenes in “The Ring“. By the way, Hans Zimmer‘s music was also great for the film’s soundtrack. That haunting sad piano, those quiet bells and those deep sounding orchestral strings!

I have the soundtrack and when I want a break from my usual stash of 70’s prog-rock, Nine Inch Nails & St. Vincent I’ll play the CD. Hell, I used it to break in my Polk tower speakers!

The Ring” did have the obligatory sequel in “The Ring 2” which, despite having big name stars Elizabeth Perkins and Sissy Spacek, was weak when compared with the original. Still, “The Ring” would be the movie that would make Naomi Watts a household name. Amber Tamblyn, Rachel’s doomed niece Katie, would star in “The Grudge 2” and TV’s “Joan of Arcadia“. Also, the Samara character would become a horror film icon. It also should be noted that a younger Pauley Perrette would be in this movie playing Beth, the assistant to Noah in his video and photo workshop. Who’s she? Well, a year after being in “The Ring” she would be part of the hit TV show “NCIS” playing the goth forensics specialist Abby Sciuto! Not a bad legacy!

Now for those who have Blu-ray players “The Ring” was released in that format back in the Spring. The sequel, however, is not out in Blu-ray as of this writing. Oh, and that song heard in the background of the “Cursed Videotape”? It’s sampled from this Kindertrauma favorite: