Sunday Streaming :: The Hole (2009)

Look under your carpet! Chances are something worthwhile is swept under there. I would have passed this one right by if I had not found out it was directed by the great JOE DANTE (GREMLINS). Even with that information, I admit to being a little hesitant. Who wants to see a movie about a hole? I guess it’s admirable to keep a sense of mystery afloat but talk about hiding your light under a bushel! Folks, if your movie features a diabolical harlequin doll, lead with that! The evil doll is always your selling point! You can’t say, “Oh, this movie is about a hole in the ground” and leave it at that. That’s crazy. So now, please allow me to rectify that slight and tell you first and foremost that THE HOLE has an evil doll in it and it looks like this…

…nuff said… but I’ll say a little (spoiler-free) more. In truth, this semi-dark fantasy isn’t any more about a doll than it is about a hole. It’s about three young people facing their fears and childhood traumas. If you are a fan of DANTE’s GREMLINS, his surreal, superior segment in THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE or his lovable penchant for DICK MILLER cameos, you’ll want to jump into this pit. We’re not talking new territory by a long shot but if you grew up delighting on the likes of THE GATE, POLTERGEIST, PAPERHOUSE or DREAMSCAPE , the familiar places THE HOLE takes you may produce a frothy nostalgic buzz more valuable than innovation. I certainly wish the climax was better played for more impact (our mostly likeable lead freezes up during scenes with the most emotional potential) but that’s a small gripe considering the fun had throughout. Like DANTE’s best work, it can be appreciated by folks of various ages and any remarks that it may be too dark for children I’ll translate to mean it doesn’t condescend. One thing is clear, THE HOLE deserves much more attention than it has garnered thus far and even though it sometimes feels like half the film it was meant to be, it’s still worth a spin, if only to catch DANTE once again relishing how small things cast large shadows.

The Possession (2012)

The ads for OLE (NIGHTWATCH) BORNEDAL’s THE POSSESSION were so painfully generic that it wasn’t difficult for me to decide it was less worth a two mile walk to the local theater than it was a three block walk to my nearest Red Box five months later. The signature image of a hand clawing its way out of someone’s mouth was so yawn-worthy it easily nullified the SAM RAIMI “presents” credit. As much as I am happy to support horror films while they’re braving the box office trenches, I don’t think I was wrong reading this one as something more appropriate for a home viewing. At the risk of sounding cheap, the spending of $1.20 as opposed to $15.00 dollars undeniably puts me in a more forgiving mood, a mood that is only heightened when watching a flick alongside best pals beer, cats and quilt. This mostly standard movie deserves mostly standard complaints, clichés abound, predictability reigns and why oh why the soggy CGI? Still, I found it entertaining enough and there were a few elements that were genuinely satisfying. To focus on how unoriginal it ends up being is unoriginal in itself, so instead I decided to pick out five things that I enjoyed…

THE POSSESSION tells the tale of a little girl named Em (NATASHA CALIS) who buys an ugly wooden box at a yard sale and gets taken over by a demon that was trapped inside it. Before making her purchase, Em looks inside a window and sees a woman lying on a bed, bandaged head to toe, frantically shaking her head and pleading with her eyes, while her wailing warning of, “No!” is muffled by the glass. This scene is both totally creepy and completely hilarious to me.

CANDYMAN-like aerial shots, which I dig because I imagine they signify God looking down upon the happenings in total apathy.

JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN as dad Clyde is hyper-sympathetic and who is this MATISYAHU fellow? Apparently he’s known as “The Hasidic Reggae Superstar.” Anyway, I thought he really brought something unique as the Rabbi who the family turns to for help. He’s so unaffected and counter Hollywood that he added an almost seventies vibe. He and MORGAN click well together and it’s always nice to see such relatable folks on screen. KYRA SEDGWICK has her work cut out for not coming off as a joy killing drag and she succeeds well, particularly when she and her ex giggle through home movies representing happier days. The kids are fine too and don’t delve into the obnoxious zone they easily could have. In fact this ensemble could have been trusted to carry the weight of the film a little bit more. For example, there’s a scene where Mom confronts Em in her dark kitchen and we view the kid’s face distorted through well placed glass jars and it’s way more eerily effective than any of the less natural CGI manipulations to come.

THE POSSESSION doesn’t seem confident enough in itself to blaze more of its own trail because when it leans toward its own path it walks taller. I’m also taking off points for never showing the raccoon that invades the kitchen in CGI form or otherwise. See, there is a message for all of us here! Follow your individual strengths and never skimp on the raccoons!

Name That Trauma:: Ren in Texas on a Haunted Cowboy Boot

Hey there Folks,

Just stumbled across your great website and thought I would add in my two cents. There’s a movie that’s been floating around in my head since I was a little tyke…but I can’t remember what the heck it is. It may even be a TV show.

All I remember is a room that is on fire (possibly) and a creepy red cowboy boot moving across the floor on it’s own. I seem to remember it killed people or something stupid like that. I just can recall a lady in a room on fire, with a red boot passing by her, as if the boot has caused this mayhem. That might sound incredibly stupid, but it has been in my head for years. Think you guys could help me out?


Dallas, Texas

Name That Trauma :: Reader Charles N. on a Mud Monster Cabin Attack

Hi folks,

I’ve been visiting your site for a couple years now and really enjoy it. I was hoping you guys could help me with the name of a movie.

It was a mid-to-late ’70s movie with people in a cabin being attacked by a mud monster. During one point in the movie, the front door is opened and the monster is there. They shut the door on its arm and cut if off. It comes toward them and I think one of them throws it against the wall. Plans for “building” the monster are found.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

UNK SEZ: That’s a good one Charles! You’re thinking of another Kindertrauma favorite, the 1978 TV movie THE WORLD BEYOND, which also aired as simply THE MUD MONSTER! It featured a pre-POLTERGEIST JOBETH WILLIAMS and was a follow up to another TV flick called THE WORLD OF DARKNESS, both were produced in hopes that a series might follow. Oh, how I wish one did! Check it out below!

Traumafession:: Grayson K. on There’s a Nightmare In My Closet

Hello again!

For a few years now I would on and off again recall a picture book that really scared me as a child. It was about a pink and purple spotted cartoon creature that was rather silly looking and it lived in a little boys closet. I must have been pretty young when I had this book, probably 5 or under, because I could barely remember any details about it… I do, however, strongly remember it scaring the shit out of me. Just like any thing else that frightened me around that age, it was really interesting to look at the book during the day when my parents were around, but as soon as it was bedtime and I was on my own I would sincerely regret that books publication.

Well, just today while cleaning my bathroom–out of nowhere, it hit me. The name of the book was “There’s A Nightmare In My Closet.” A nightmare indeed! A quick “Look Inside!” on reveals that this “nightmare” was no silly cartoon creature as I had remembered it. No, what we have here is a monstrous atrocity that could only be described as deformed Maurice Sendak character spawned from a bad acid trip. The purple and pink spots (normally fun and playful on a children’s character) only added to the grotesqueness, as if it would not only devour you whole but possibly give you some sort of plague as well. The Edward Gorey style hatch-mark shading added to the ominousness of an otherwise playful boys bedroom turned demon lair. I could completely relate to those paranoid fear-crazed eyes of the young boy under the covers with his pop-gun at the ready… except I had no pop-gun. I was on my own.

PS: Please visit my website for a collection of creepy and strange things from all over! —

Grayson K.

Traumafession:: Eddie Quist on an elusive Monster Squad Music Video

Longtime reader Eddie Quist here. HUGE fan of the site. You guys did me a solid awhile back by identifying the movie-of-the-week FANTASIES for me, and I’m still grateful.

This isn’t really so much a Traumafession as a cry for help–some way to confirm that I didn’t dream this bizarro memory up. See, like many of your site’s regular readers, I’m a massive fan of Fred Dekker‘s THE MONSTER SQUAD, and, also like many of them, I discovered it in not in theatres but on cable (You guys had HBO but up here in Canada, we had First Choice and The Star Channel. Same diff. But I digress).

Anyway, some time before I saw SQUAD in its entirety, I became aware of its impending release from a segment on Entertainment Tonight. Now, my memories of this are a bit fuzzy, but I would swear that, from what I remember of it, the ET camera crew visited Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, and the gang while they were shooting a music video to promote the film. It likely would have been for Michael Sembello’s awesome end-credits rap, but I don’t know for sure. What I DO know is that no trace of any kind of MONSTER SQUAD music video seems to exist, outside of the fan-made variety. It’s not on YouTube, it’s not a special feature on the DVD or Blu-Ray…any evidence of its existence is as elusive as Abraham Van Helsing’s diary

So here’s the thing–did I imagine it? Did I remember that segment incorrectly? Does anyone other than me actually remember seeing that ET segment? Has anyone affiliated with Kindertrauma, or any of your readers, ever heard of such a video? I suppose it’s possible that they started production on a music video to tie in with the film but cancelled it some time after Mary Hart or John Tesh or whoever visited the set. But I swear on my “Stephen King Rules” t-shirt that I saw the monsters dancing in unison before a camera crew. Am I delusional? Help me, Kindertrauma! You’re my only hope!

PS: The stupidest thing about all this is that I actually met Tom Noonan at this past year’s Festival Of Fear during Toronto’s Fan Expo and I didn’t think to ask him about it. As Frankenstein’s Monster would say, “BO-GUS!”

Sunday Streaming :: Stake Land (2010)

Hey, remember back in the good old days when every Sunday we’d spotlight films on Netflix Streaming and we called it STREAM WARRIORS? But then it stopped happening because I was half lazy and half hated the name STREAM WARRIORS. Well now here it comes again, except I’m calling it something else and instead of forcing myself to focus on three movies a week, I plan to just do one. One is enough. I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m doing on the Internet. I’m not a chatty person.

Hooray STAKE LAND is available on Netflix Streaming! This is a perfect flick to talk about because it’s a movie I would never have taken a chance on unless someone told me to. The reason I would have probably stayed away is because who needs another vampire flick and who needs another apocalyptic road movie and who needs to see everybody running around trying to act cool? I don’t. I’d usually much rather watch a movie about a talking doll or pissed off animals that have gone crazy. Meanwhile everything I prejudged about STAKE LAND based on its packaging and subject matter was way off. This movie creates an impressive, believable world and occupies it with people that you can’t help grow to care about. It’s a grounded in a way that movies rarely are anymore and it leaves you feeling like you’ve actually experienced something. Plus KELLY McGILLIS is in it. Aren’t you in the mood to see her today? I’m telling you, it’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon so believe me. There, I’m done. That wasn’t so bad. See ya next Sunday! Also: Do let us know if you’ve caught any good fish in the Netflix sea yourself!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Kaina in N.C. on Kindertrauma Ground Zero!

Hello! I only found your site a few days ago, but have already trawled through pages and pages of NTT. I am incredibly impressed with the answers you guys pull from obscurity and tiny clues, and so hope you can help me with a movie that I still remember giving me the utter creeps as a kid.

This would have been sometime in the early ’80s on TV, in my memory of the movie it feels like late ’70s production/design etc., but this was 30 years ago so I could be wrong on that. It involved a ship/yacht/boat that ended up being lost and having something evil show up, kill people one by one and pretend to be them. It ended with the last survivor(s) escaping, only then we go back to the empty boat and we see the body of one of the people who just escaped (I want to say it was hanging upside-down from the rigging, but that might have been an earlier death–that’s the big image that sticks with me though).

For years I thought the name was ‘The Devil’s Triangle‘, but that doesn’t seem to be a movie that actually exists, and searching for variations on that has proven to be not a fruitful source of inquiry.

Is there any chance you guys can help me? I really enjoyed the spooky movie, it wasn’t til later when I tried to go to sleep that the creeps got me, but I’d at least really like to know what the movie was.

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Kaina in NC

UNK SEZ: I’m so glad you found us Kaina! The movie you are searching for must be 1975’s SATAN’S TRIANGLE! I spent years looking for that one myself. It scared the crap out of me as a kid and the very first thing I did once I had access to the Internet was track that darn thing down! It had such a profound effect on me that I was actually scared to watch it again. In fact, wondering if others had similar experiences is what led to KINDERTRAUMA being born! I’m happy to tell you that currently SATAN’S TRIANGLE is available to watch on YouTube. Be careful though, it’s still as creepy as it ever was!