Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks by Propagatrix

Strange Behavior (1981) — not-bad story, nice work by Dey Young, and great Tangerine Dream soundtrack.

Death Mask (1984) — Farley Granger, based on Philadelphia “boy in the box” case

The Night Walker (1964) — so much to love here — William Castle, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, a blind Hayden Rorke (!!!), Lloyd Bochner and his voice, and music by the composer of the Addams Family theme

Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) — two words: “kitten eating”

Dracula’s Widow (1988) — directed by Nicolas Cage’s brother and starring Emanuelle and Harold from “Twin Peaks”

The Dark Crystal: Director’s Cut

Have you heard about the so- called DARK CRYSTAL “Director’s Cut”? A bunch of folks have already written about this wonderful thing and now I’m going to as well on account of it’s just too specifically kindertraumatic for me to resist. Once upon a time, it seems there was an earlier version of THE DARK CRYSTAL. It was shown to a preview audience to get their reaction and their reaction was mostly stuff like, “What was that?”, “Huh?”, “Come again? “ and, “I want my mommy!” The movie had to be altered in order to more likely receive wider acceptance and so rambling scenes were chiseled down and explanatory dialogue and clarifying voiceovers were added. Finally the movie was deemed ready for popular consumption and this new easier to digest version was released to the masses who reacted mostly with stuff like “What was that?”, “Huh?”, “Come again?” and “I still want my mommy!”

Yay, THE DARK CRSTAL (shaking Kermit arms above head)! It’s beautiful, obtuse, crazy-making, corny, gorgeous, mystical and as disturbing as a bad dream. It’s a truly singular visionary work that gets better with each passing day. It’s awesome and freaky and sometimes boring in any form but yeah, a few nips and tucks do make a big difference. Hey, movies, or any art for that matter, are incantations and of course you can’t alter a speck of the spell and expect the exact same results.

The big news is that some guy by the name of Christopher Orgeron had access to a ratty old copy of the original version and like a saint, decided to painstakingly craft it back together as best he could. Nicer still, he wants to share his accomplishment with us! What he did from the best of my ability to understand is, keep the original soundtrack in place, leave in everything that was later removed and spackle on top the better picture of the standard version wherever possible. So sometimes the picture and the sound can get wonky but it’s the closest you’re likely to get to JIM HENSON’s original, preview audience disapproved stab. It’s pretty cool.

The biggest difference is that those horrifying plucked rooster demons, the Skeksis, now speak their own language and we are not privy to their words. It works great because you can kind of guess what they’re going on about but the language barrier makes them all that much more alien and off-putting.

The other thing is, and this is just me, I’m totally fascinated by the (minimal) scenes that are of the shoddy quality that Orgeron would probably prefer to do without completely. Content wise they are inconsequential but wow, they come off like bizarre radio signals from another planet (or BEGOTTEN or some super early episode of DOCTOR WHO). They are so hauntingly strange, I half wanted to watch the whole movie in this vague, craptastic static-o-rama style. Which makes no sense because DARK CRYSTAL is so pretty and nice with the purple but whatever. Is this version any more kindertraumatic? Hmm. Yeah I think so, but it should be mentioned that the most disturbing parts of DARK CRYSTAL are front and center in both versions. Still, the estranging effect of holding the audiences’ hands to a lesser degree does make a difference. Fans of the film should check it out below or download it HERE. Thanks Christopher Orgeron! What a noble endeavor!

Name That Trauma:: Josh M. on a Forceful Forest & an Imploding Music Box

Seasons Greetings Kinderdudes!

Let’s get right to it.

I recently saw just the intro of a movie, that I never ended up watching the rest of….follow me?

This young girl is walking home from school (most likely) and she is strolling down a forest path. She either hears something or senses something, and then all I remember is the ‘forest’ literally pulling her in! Then the camera closes in on either a music box or record player as it seems to crumble/slowly implode.

Ok, WHAT!?!?!

Please help, I’d love to see the rest of this movie.

Awesome site as always!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974) By Mickster

Loyal readers of Kindertrauma know that the Mickster loves Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. In fact, my very first traumafession in 2007 was about Frosty the Snowman. Over the years, I have also written about The Year without a Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. This holiday season I share my feelings on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Junctionville has a problem. The people of the town have just received their letters to Santa unopened. Unfortunately, Santa is quite perturbed about a letter he received that called him a “fraudulent myth” that was simply signed “all of us”. Now, the townsfolk must devise a plan to make Santa happy again before he passes them by on Christmas Eve. Egad! What a traumatic thought!

This special is one of many (Rudolph, Year Without a Santa, The Grinch, etc.) that convinced me that Christmas could be canceled due to some unforeseen problem. As a child, I found it especially troublesome that a child (Albert the jerk-head mouse) would write a letter saying that Santa was not real. I speculate it is sour grapes on his part because contrary to the signature on the letter he, in fact, has no friends. Little Mickster did, however, find it heartwarming that two adults would try to make things right with Santa. Joshua Trundle, the clockmaker, decided the solution was to make an enormous clock that would play a special song for Santa on Christmas Eve, and Father Mouse attempted to convince his troublemaking son that Santa was indeed real.

The music in TTNBC makes it quite special. “Give Your Heart a Try,” sung by Father Mouse to the doubtful and arrogant Albert is catchy and fun. I have noticed that this song is cut when it airs on ABC Family. That is just unacceptable. “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand,” sung by Joshua Trundle to his sad children to raise their hopes simply makes me smile with a hint of a tear. “Christmas Chimes are Calling Santa,” played for an annoyed Santa on Christmas Eve brought relief to me as a child because I knew Santa would forgive the town and come after all.

There was plenty of suspense in TTNBC for me as young child. Would the town stop blaming Mr. Trundle for the clock not working before he and his family starved for lack of work? Would Albert (the stupid moron) fix the clock in time? Would Santa forgive the town? Bottom line-Believe in Santa and be good, or there could be dire consequences!

P.S. Santa looks totally bizarre sporting buckteeth and no mustache!

Sunday Viewing:: The Mutilator (1985)

We just don’t talk enough about 1985’s THE MUTILATOR around here! Sure it’s shown up in a Funhouse or an IAHTKY or two but THE MUTILATOR demands more! It’s my fault I guess. It’s just that this movie tends to bring up unpleasant memories of the time when I was a kid and I thought I’d clean my dad’s rifle as a birthday surprise and I instead (accidently!) shot and killed my mother who was decorating a cake in the other room. Boy did I get in trouble that day! But you know, I’m over it now. The past is the past! Today is what matters and I just want to enjoy my fall break and watch THE MUTILATOR!

Only about two people in this movie can act and I’m generously doubling the harsh reality that only one can. You should also be warned that if you like it when the information that goes inside your head makes sense, this movie will hurt you.
Highfalutin folks can criticize THE MUTILATOR ‘til the cows come home but around these parts, the only thing that matters is entertainment value and trauma value and THE MUTILATOR has both. This movie is knee slapping hilarious one second and I must say, strangely disturbing the next. Nothing that takes place seems real but that doesn’t mean that I don’t find myself worried about the psychological health of the person who came up with it. Also has anyone ever put a garage to better use in a horror film? Hmmm, maybe in SCREAM but that would be years later.

THE MUTILATOR may be profoundly lacking on the surface (and truth be told unwatchable for many) and yet somewhere in its murky crevices strongly beats the heart of genuine horror. Hollywood can throw as much money as it wants at a project, nothing beats the power of one possibly insane but obviously sincere creative mind. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this movie is as dumb as a lamp post but a surprisingly vicious lamp post with a really awesome decapitation scene up its sleeve. Not that lamp posts have sleeves. Speaking of lamp posts, this movie is way too dark! Can someone please for the love of God put it on DVD so that I might be able to see what’s going on when the kids are playing “blind man’s bluff”? Until such a glorious day arrives, we must warm our hands at the dwindling YouTube flame. Watch it by noon, by 5, by midnight. Bye bye.

Name That Trauma:: Drew B. on a Vengeful British Lake Ghost

Aunt, Unk, Kidnertraumatized….

I have a trauma that I’ve hung onto for years and years that no one can properly diagnose.

The closest person to the trauma, the person I shared this trauma with (my older sister), has suppressed the memory so deep that she has no idea what I’m talking about when I try to describe what I remember to her.

Instead of a long, rambling description of the film that did this to me – I will simply list what I remember in concise bullet points.

– This was either a British film OR happened to be set in Britain with a British cast.

– From the look of the film, it was made some time in the early 1980’s to 1990.

– It was a ghost story. Bleak. Humorless.

– Parts of the film took place on a lake. The lake was involved in a drowning or cover-up.

– In the final scene of the movie, a main character in a small canoe is killed by a tree falling on them. This character would have otherwise gotten away with something or gone unpunished. The audience is led to believe that this was an act of revenge by the film’s ghost.

Sadly -that’s it, friends.

I remember watching this film with my older sister. Possibly on VHS taped from TV. Whenever I ask her “What was that British movie where a ghost made a tree fall on a person in a boat?” she acts like I made it up.

BUT I KNOW IT WAS REAL!

WHY WOULD I STILL BE THINKING ABOUT IT 25 YEARS LATER?

Mrs. Mac Snow Maze Puzzle!

Mrs. Mac is drunk again and so far away from the sorority house! Can you help her through the snow to get home before she dies of hypothermia?

Want more fun? Good luck with that! Here are some more Black Christmas puzzles to kill time with before you croak!

BLACK CHRISTMAS SCRAMBLE!

BLACK CHRISTMAS WORD SEARCH!

SILENT NIGHT EVIL FUNHOUSE!

HELP MRS. MAC FIND HER HIDDEN HOOCH!

Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks by Unk

I was just waxing nostalgic for when we were knee deep in the “It’s a Horror to Know You!” campaign. I loved those posts because they were so chock full of movie recommendations. One of my favorite questions was “What horror films do you think are underrated?” How can you go wrong throwing attention towards a movie that you believe is too often neglected? I don’t know about you, but as soon as my IAHTKY post was up, movies that I forgot to mention began pouring out of the woodwork of my noggin. How could I forget such and such and so forth? To remedy that sorry situation, I bring you “WITL?:FUF” which is simply an epically annoying acronym for a list of five underrated films I believe deserve a little more notoriety.

If you are interested, and I hope you are, you can do a “WITL:FUF” too. Just write out a list of five titles you believe deserve a day (or a longer day) in the sun and send it to kindertrauma@gmail.com. The beauty part is, you can do as many of these as you like. I plan to do another 5 soon enough and please feel free not to worry about ranking the flicks in any order. Who needs that hassle? If you want to say why you dig the flick that’s cool but if you just want to list them, that’s cool too! If you have a project or blog you’d like to share with us, make sure you specify that and we’ll throw up a link! You know how we do! Let’s get started. Here are five underrated flicks (with more to follow) from yours truly:

THE GRANNY (1995)

Where oh where is THE GRANNY love? I was recently reminded how much I enjoyed this movie while watching THE CURSE OF CHUCKY because well, they both have such similar settings. I thought THE GRANNY was a hoot and back in 1995, I wasn’t finding myself in a hootin’ mood all that much. Its wacky, go-for-broke, over-the-top gore-friendly spirit made me think of THE EVIL DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR and DEAD ALIVE, so I thought for sure it would find a place in horror fan’s hearts but…nope. So sorry GRANNY, wrong place, wrong time I suppose. Maybe if you just came out a little later in the age of DVD’s you’d have picked up some steam by now! Oh well, it’s never too late! I think you’re more fun than a barrel of rage fueled zombie cats!

BLOOD SALVAGE (1990)

Maybe I have a terrible sense of humor. That possibility has occurred to me often in life and it sure would explain a lot. BLOOD SALVAGE cracked me up and freaked me out and I thought it was a pretty clever homage to the more amusing side of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE series & MOTEL HELL. Somehow though, this funky flick never made it to the horror hit list even though I bet its deranged sensibility would fit in with many a fan’s taste even more than my own. How does a movie that stars JOHN SAXON, RAY WALSTON and EVANDER HOLYFIELD remain so firmly tucked under the radar? It’s not that dreaded “not available on DVD” demon rearing its ugly head again is it?

LIES (1985)

All right, I can understand why LIES didn’t make a bigger splash because it presents itself as more of a sexy thriller and may have lured the wrong crowd. There’s a bit of a soap opera vibe that may have left horror fans cold as well. On the other hand, with its twisty plot about a struggling actress being unknowingly set up for a colossal mind-fuck, it’s not so different from CURTAINS or DEAD OF WINTER and how can horror fans resist a cast that includes CLU GULAGER, DICK MILLER and BRUCE DAVIDSON? When you witness ANN DUSENBERRY portraying an eighties final girl within the film within the film- you’ll wish she actually had (what?)! And GAIL STRICKLAND is beyond aces as a sinister ice queen. Maybe I’m nuts but the lab coats, the warehouse and the hard to swallow conspiracy all scream HALLOWEEN 3: SOTW to me. Is that a good thing? LIES was directed and written by brothers JIM and KEN WHEAT who both went on to pull the same duties on another favorite underrated film of mine 1989’s AFTER MIDNIGHT.

IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE (1998)

Yikes, yikes and more yikes. Going through an old box of tapes I found this forgotten nightmare from the late nineties. I can’t say I enjoyed this home invasion flick but it sure made me want to invest in extra locks for my door. I think I’ve discovered why YOU’RE NEXT and THE STRANGERS had little effect on me, it must be because IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE had already fully tapped that particular fear zone in my brain. Don’t get your hopes up, it can’t possibly be as scary and disturbing as I remember, but I’m not watching it again to find out and so you are on your own. I must be exaggerating things or perhaps I was just in a vulnerable state of mind at the time? Who knows? In any case, I’m a little surprised something this vexing, which was released during a rather languid year for horror, went so unnoticed. Now I feel the need to hide in the chimney.

THE SENDER (1982)

This one isn’t all that obscure and it often gets a certain amount of positive nostalgic attention simply for being released during the early eighties horror boom. But it’s not enough! Whereas my other picks could easily be excused away by my admitting to a strong affection for the strange and left of center, THE SENDER is head to toe an exemplary movie in my book. The whole shebang is top notch and I think it’s one of those silent influencers that other films casually pilfer from while never extending any gratitude or credit. So much of its dream/reality hallucinatory power has been cribbed, it’s easy to forget how innovative it was at the time. Ironically what really makes it special (its tone, its characters, its performances) nobody bothered to imitate at all, as the genre had much more lucrative, teen-oriented flashy neon fish to fry. Not that that I’m complaining, it’s just that I wouldn’t mind a few extra mellow, thoughtful tunes like this in my horror jukebox. Oh well, I guess that just makes it all the more unique (full slobbery review HERE).

That’s it. That’s five underrated films I’m more than happy to sing the praises of. I hope I didn’t bend your ear needlessly about stuff you were already well aware of. If you’re up for sharing your own five flicks, please join along. You’ll never find a more receptive or understanding audience than the readers of Kindertrauma. Take my word for it. Folks let me get away with liking all kinds of crazy stuff around here.