Viewing Party:: Night Vision (1987)

We have something real cool today and it’s all thanks to our pal Darkko who shared this flick with me. It’s called NIGHT VISION and it’s from 1987 and it’s directed by the apparently late and clearly great MICHAEL KRUEGER. Now, if you’re NOT the type who digs zero budget flicks that lean toward the long winded and feature only short spurts of sanity, you may want to run in the other direction, feel free, nobody blames you. But if you, like me, go gaga for the blessed confetti explosion of idiosyncrasy such outsider efforts frequently supply, you may have just entered heaven and not just any heaven, hog heaven, the best heaven of all! To bait his hook, Dan H. cleverly advised me to simply watch a short scene on YouTube knowing full well it would seal the deal…

Did you see that? This movie largely takes place in a corner Mom and Pop video store sometime in the eighties! I feel like I’m seeing something that was filmed in some beloved home I once lived in and in a way I am. I don’t have to tell you that this little gem has many flaws but so do we all and flaws really aren’t so bad if you simply embrace them. Scraggily though it may be, NIGHT VISION is rather imaginative all things considered and was ambitious enough to go against the grain during a time when many horror flicks were marching in line. Also this film is basically about a haunted videotape which makes it quite the early precursor. Or maybe this KRUEGER guy just liked VIDEODROME a lot, I don’t know. If nothing else it fearlessly exposes the seedy underbelly of Denver.

So here’s the thing, I have to go away for a little while because I gotta do something that I said I was going to do that I never did. You know how it is. I need to focus because I can only do one thing at time and multitasking is for chumps. So I’m leaving you with this movie to view and here is my challenge to anyone who wants to participate…

Watch this movie and identify as many VHS movie boxes that appear on the shelves at the video store that you can.

I’ll even start you out!

  • I spied the large clamshell box for THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. Yay for me.
  • They have the same plastic embossed FROM BEYOND ad I used to have hanging on my bedroom wall. Weep.
  • Do they really have a poster for the YVONNE DeCARLO flick VULTURES (1987) posted by the door? That has to be rarer than a hen’s tooth!
  • Why is there a VHS copy of the GOLDIE HAWN and BURT REYNOLDS vehicle BEST FRIENDS in the SCI-FI section? I feel like that is a subliminal message.
  • Good lord, is that the same VHS copy of BLOORAGE (1979) that Craftypants Carol sent to me but with its title altered to BLOOD NYMPHS?!?!
  • All right, I gotta get started on the thing I said I’d do that I never did. I’ll check back in the comments section when I can. Have fun, play safe!

    1987–NIGHT VISION-HORROR FILM from Jonathan Moser on Vimeo.

    Traumafession:: Fiji Mermaid on Alien (1979)

    Unk and Aunt John, it’s you dear old ghoulish friend, Fiji Mermaid. I’ve got a Traumafession for you.

    After reading a few recent traumafessions I realized as much as I love horror and scary stuff all my life, it’s really out of true enjoyment, fun I guess. Rarely… rarely has anything scared me at any age. When it’s happened it’s quite memorable. The one big and first clear memory of something scaring me was a scene in “Alien” (1979). I was maybe around 9 years old. My dad rented the movie for me on VHS. I definitely was looking forward to seeing it. I knew some things about the movie, but not a whole lot. Basically it was going to be a monster movie that takes place in space. Now a big thing to me was that I knew exactly what the Alien looked like because when I was around 3 years old my parents bought me the know legendary Kenner giant action figure. I loved that toy and played with it until it fell apart. So I was really looking forward to seeing the monster on the silver screen.

    All the stuff up to and including when Harry Dean Stanton’s character is killed was enjoyable and not scary in the least, but then the next kill is what did it. Dallas going into the ventilation system to hunt down the Alien, when clearly they had no clue what they are up against. Parker did describe it as “big, like a man” sized thing, but still it didn’t seem frightening. But when he’s in the tubes and everyone is watching the computer screen and the tracking system and he seems to be disoriented really made the tension tight. Being that he was a main character I thought, no way he’s going to die, he’ll make it out. Right when I thought he’d escape he turns around and the AlIEN reaches out to grab him with a weird scream and feedback over his microphone. The editing, music, performances, visuals… it terrified me. I was literally frozen with fear. I couldn’t move, couldn’t close my eyes nothing. It took a minute for it to wear off. That scene was a success.

    “We found this laying there. No blood, no Dallas, nothing. How come I don’t hear anybody say anything?” – Parker

    I’ll tell you why Parker, nobody is saying anything, because we are frozen with FEAR!!

    Joint Traumafession :: Unk & Mickster on “Hush”

    The other day (read months ago) my old pal Mickster and I were talking about what else, scary crap that scared us. I mentioned to her that one thing people seem to underestimate is the importance of when you view something. I’m not talking about what age; I’m talking about what mind frame. In other words if a tornado recently killed your favorite cow, it’s the wrong time to watch TWISTER. I didn’t use that dumb example whilst talking with the Mickster. Instead I told her of an ancient dark memory that took place in the chilling nightmare winter of 1999. I was going through a depressing break-up, no doubt imagining a long grey road ahead and I decided that the perfect thing to watch was BUFFY THE VAPIRE SLAYER as it was sure to cheer me up because many of my imaginary pals live on that show. The episode airing that evening was “Hush” which pitted Buffy and cohorts against a small tribe of grimacing floating demons that hung around with shifty creatures in straightjackets. At some point during the episode, I was surprised to find myself morbidly horrified in a way I could not have predicted. Mind you, it wasn’t fear I felt but a kind of pessimist nausea mixed with an inescapable sense of doom. I was going to die alone and the universe couldn’t hold in its giggle.

    Upon hearing my confession Mickster revealed that she, my unmet friend, on the same evening albeit in a different time zone was experiencing a similar encounter with the episode. With her permission, here is her story…

    On December 13, 1999, I underwent surgery for the second time in a three-week period. It was an unpleasant experience that was compounded by the fact that I was 2,000 miles from my family, and my husband, at the time, was a worthless alcoholic that dumped me at the hospital to go through it all alone. The next day, I was in a great deal of pain from the surgery and gas pain that accompanies surgery as well. I was hooked up to a morphine pump to manage the pain. As I struggled to become comfortable on the evening of December 14, I looked for something to watch on TV. I was delighted to find an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just starting. The evening was about to become memorable, as this was the episode titled “Hush.” As I watched, the “Gentlemen” stealing hearts from victims who were unable to scream naturally disturbed me, but I was also aware that it was kind of a metaphor for my life at the time. I felt as though I had no voice, as my heart was slowly being ripped from my chest day-by-day and year-by-year. In fact, the pain from the surgery did not compare to my emotional pain. Who would think that an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would force me to recognize the real pain in my life? It took me a bit longer to gain my voice to destroy the “Gentleman” that was ripping at my heart than it did Buffy, but I eventually did. Thanks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the morphine) for opening my eyes.

    O.K., Mickster’s story kind of makes my story sound like a Haagen-Dazs stained Cathy comic. What can I say? I’m easily discombobulated. Egad, what kind of cad leaves his wife in the hospital? And what kind of person still uses the word “cad”? Anyway, the point remains, when one is in a fragile state of mind they are that much more vulnerable to the creeps. Why just recently Kindertrauma Castle was under siege by miniscule calamities of one sort or another and I thought I might escape by falling asleep to a scratchy HORROR HOTEL VHS tape. I didn’t get half way through the gloomy chant-filled opening credits before I decided to nix that plan and switch to XANADU. I may have even quoted LaWANDA PAGE in MAUSOLEUM (1983) by exclaiming “No more grieving, I’m leaving!” as I pulled out the tape. Incidentally, I want that quote carved on my tombstone.

    On the other hand let’s not overlook the fact that the “Gentleman” are indeed legitimately off-putting even in the lightest of circumstances. I mean, they’re like POLTERGEIST 2’s Reverend Kane crossed with the chauffer from BURNT OFFERINGS, shmooshed with PHANTASM’s “Tall Man” piled up with any number of ghouls from THE SENTINEL, times four and with a dollop of Mr. Burns and “The Slender Man” on the side. Worse still, and this may be where I outdo Mickster on the trauma front, when I look in the mirror I know the years before I resemble one are few! Oh no, now I’m getting depressed again, is it getting darker in here? Where is my XANADU tape? What cruel inhuman monster would hide it?

    Sunday Viewing:: Thriller’s Parasite Mansion (1961)

    I can’t believe I’ve never seen a single episode of the BORIS KARLOFF-hosted anthology series THRILLER before. I have several excuses as to why not but they make me sound stupid, so I’d rather not share them. Thankfully the fates stepped in and forced the issue. I was watching something on YouTube the other day when an episode of THRILLER popped up as a suggested next watch on the side. All I saw was a title card which read “Parasite Mansion” and I was sold. I can’t resist a title like that, it sounds like the name of my new favorite band. Well, I must have watched the best episode first because I find it hard to believe there’s another one better than “Parasite Mansion.” It’s all downhill from here. It’s like a swampy pitstop between THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) and THE HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (1932) and it features SPIDER BABY‘s (1967) BEVERLY WASHBURN as a tortured waif plagued by a poltergeist who is holed up in a decrepit room clinging to a rag doll and scribbling gibberish on the walls. The word “jackpot” comes to mind.

    Like all great stories, this one begins with car trouble, the kind of trouble that occurs when someone blows out your tires with a shotgun while you’re driving through the woods on a dark, rainy night. PIPA SCOTT plays Marcia, a thoughtful woman with (Ginny Field-style) psychology on her side who wakes up in a cob web strewn, Southern gothic mansion and is kept against her will by a family of lunatics all bent on keeping a supernatural secret. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to ruin anything but I must add that JEANETTE NOLAN as bonkers ringleader Granny Harrod is through the roof, over the moon, one for the books, phenomenal. I found her so mesmerizingly hideous that my pupils turned to hearts. I love a good hag and Granny Harrod is like the haggiest hag who ever hagged. It’s so sad she can’t be in every episode of THRILLER.

    Traumafession:: Unk on Death Scream (1975)

    How in the world can I still have a trauma to confess after all these years? I’m pretty sure I did go on about this one in our comments section back in the day but I never got around to doing a proper post. That is because when I tried to watch it again, I found it lacking which is weird considering it stars RAUL JULIA whose peepers can usually carry anything. It’s O.K. though, my trauma isn’t about the whole movie; it’s only about the scary opening scene. The opening scene of DEATH SCREAM (1975) remains a tense view for me even if what follows is deadly dull.

    The first scene of DEATH SCREAM is based on the real murder of Kitty Genovese who was raped and stabbed to death outside her apartment building as she was returning home for work in 1964. Weeks later her death became national news when it was reported that her attack was witnessed in one form or another by thirty-eight neighbors who did nothing to aid her. Exactly how many witnesses and exactly how much they may have seen would later be debated but the fuse of the story had been lit and public outrage followed. It’s not the numbers or the confirmed details that make this story horrify though, would it be half as shocking if there were only nineteen witnesses? The fact is you could probably turn on the news tonight and find a story that involves bystanders turning a blind eye. I know because watching the news the other day is what made me remember this trauma.

    I know I saw this made-for-TV flick when my family was living in California and since we left in ‘76 that means I must have seen it the night it premiered on September 26, 1975. Yay for me! I was eight. Why was I watching this movie when I was eight? (Sorry, I gotta go down this rabbit hole) That means this trauma actually predates my SATAN’S TRIANGLE trauma by a few months and that’s the one I’ve always cited as my first. Hmmm, well, I’m not changing my plea. There’s really no comparison when I think about it. DEATH SCREAM was more of a “horrified by human ugliness”- trauma whereas SATAN’S TRIANGLE was more of a “Oops! Your soul is damned for eternity!” type of thing. Apples and oranges.

    Let’s move on before I start telling you about how my mother left me unattended on a beach when I was three. You won’t believe the cast of DEATH SCREAM. Besides RAUL JULIA being a cop whose daughter is HELEN HUNT and whose love interest is KATE JACKSON, they also somehow crammed ED ASNER, TINA LOUISE, CLORIS LEACHMAN, ART CARNEY, DIAHANN CARROLL, LUCIE ARNEZ, SALLY KIRKLAND, TONY DOW and NANCY “Quicker Picker Upper” WALKER (among others) into this cinematic psycho clown car.

    The first scene has THE HOWLING’s BELINDA BALASKI playing the role based on Kitty. She’s arriving home from work but must first make her way through an eerily empty parking lot. If you’re a kid from the seventies, this might appear to be any number of cop shows. We’re talking clanking high heels on asphalt and cats toppling over trash cans before a trench coat wearing shadowy figure lunges. What’s especially harrowing about this attack is how many times BALASKI’s character nearly escapes and how that relief is repeatedly denied. Frustration reigns too as we are constantly torn away from her plight and into the apartments of the building’s residents, being untimely forced to hear their weak justifications for inaction.

    To be honest, it’s not quite as nightmarish as I recall. In my mind’s eye, I’ve always remembered NANCY WALKER hanging out her apartment window 227-style casually looking down upon the proceedings. Thankfully, it appears I made that creepy LYNCH-vision up in my head. Look, I’m not saying I’d be running down the stairs with grease paint under my eyes carrying a bazooka either but I’d like to think I’d do something. What, nobody’s got a potted plant to throw? All right now I just envisioned a DONKEY KONG style video game where you’re NANCY WALKER dropping plotted plants out of a window to ward off murderers. I share that not to make light of a grizzly scenario but to illustrate how unhelpful my brain constantly is. Now I feel bad. This is based on a real tragedy and all I can think about is how well NANCY WALKER rocked her Zira from PLANT OF THE APES hairdo. I’m going to utilize my side-step to identify another clear current of queasiness; it’s not like they picked nameless shmoes to play the cowardly bystanders in this flick, these are my TV pals! It’s like that famous quote,” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for both Grants Ginger and Lou to do nothing.”

    I’m now hopped up on chewy Spree so it’s best that I go. The scene in question is below. It freaked me out as a kid and what it says about humanity still makes me barf today. Kitty Genovese, I’m so sorry. NANCY WALKER, I miss you.

    Sunday Viewing:: The Babysitter (1980)

    Is there any possible chance that there are people alive on this planet who have never seen THE BABYSITTER (1980)? I would rather that not be the case. THE BABYSITTER has everything! It has WILLIAM SHATNER, PATTY DUKE, STEPHANIE ZIMBALIST, JOHN (fresh off THE FOG) HOUSEMAN and QUINN CUMMINGS! The only thing it doesn’t have is an actual babysitter on account of the lunatic in this is really more of live-in nanny but who cares about that? Can you believe this slice of excellence was directed by PETER (ROMEO IS BLEEDING) MEDAK the very same year he directed the super-classic THE CHANGELING? It’s true because that is what my nice computer just told me. Read our dusty old review back HERE and save your day from becoming meaningless by watching the spectacular full movie below….

    Name That Trauma:: Jennah S. on a Kindly Spotted Closet Monster

    Help me, Kindertrauma!! You’re my only hope!!! A mystery needs to be solved for my friend (and for my own sanity, as well). The problem is thus…. in the mid ’80s (this would have been around ’85-’86) our school teacher used to roll in a TV & VCR sometimes and show us episodes from a TV show that was very much like AMAZING STORIES in nature, but I don’t think it was AMAZING STORIES, I think it might have been another similar show. I remember a logo at the end or beginning of every episodes of a large Phoenix bird on fire against a black background, and that might have been the logo for the show or maybe from the production company.

    One episode I remember vividly is of a young boy who was afraid of a monster who hid in his closet. The monster was white or pale with spots in different bright colors. It was a large monster too, I remember that. The twist was that the boy discovered that the monster was actually nice so they became friends. It was in color, so the show must have been from the late ’70s to mid ’80s. This has been breaking my brain for almost four hours. I’ve already figured out that it isn’t AMAZING STORIES-I searched through the episode guides. I’ve also asked my friend if he can remember if the show was American (he’s Swedish), was it live-action, and if he can remember how long the episodes were….in hopes of making further deductions.

    Name That Trauma:: Jose Cruz on an Animated Boy Turned to Stone

    Hello Kinderpals!

    I have a Name That Trauma that is actually from my wife, but I have transcribed it here for her (dubious) benefit.

    She remembers very little from the original source, so this one might pose a bit challenging. I’ll give the basic details to the best of my abilities.

    This was an animated film from the 1980s, most likely, but it might have been from the early 90s. The main thrust of the narrative concerned a young boy who was transformed into a stone statue. He didn’t turn into a gargoyle or anything; he retained his original appearance, just in stone form. The audience—and perhaps other characters in the movie—could hear the thoughts of the stone boy.

    My wife is uncertain of the exact setting or circumstances of the boy’s transformation, but she’s been haunted by the central figure of this statue kid for years. Like I said, it’s not a lot to go on at all, but it was my hope that some of the other Traumatots here might remember something similar from their pasts. Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

    Traumafession/NTT: Mary P. on Evil Laughter, Mega Man & More

    Hello Kindertrauma, and fellow Traumatics! (Especially “And Now the Screaming Starts“.) I have a few Name that Traumas, and a Traumafession.

    First NTT: A commercial I remember seeing as a wee lad. It was set in, IIRC, a business office against a white background. There were people in that office, and they were talking. I don’t remember what happened then. But I do remember what scared me. One of the guys yelled “WRONG!” and then klaxon alarms started blaring VERY loudly. Then it cut to the logo of the product that was being advertised, and I think there was freaking evil laughter heard. I saw this in the late 1970s (or very early 1980s, but I think it was the ’70s).

    Second NTT: A song that I used to hear on the radio in the mid 1970s (1974 to 1977). It had spooky Moog synthesizers, and it started out with a guy laughing creepily. The other thing I remember is a drum solo…

    Third NTT: A video I saw recently (around 2011 or 2012). It ended with a guy shouting “THE BOTTOMLESS PITS OF HELL!” as the screen turned white and faded back to the guy laughing maniacally. I was like “Holy gosh!”. I want to see this video again, because now I think it’s pretty funny.

    Traumafession: I once saw a Mega Man anime short around 1999. It featured Mega Man, Bass, and Proto Man. At one point Bass taunted Mega Man, and Mega Man cried as Bass walked away scoffing and cackling evilly. Then it showed Proto Man cackling evilly as he sent out Robot Masters to attack Mega Man, who was still crying. I felt sad for Mega Man. Just wanted to tell you that.