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Entries from November 2015

Name That Trauma:: Mike M. on an Old Lady U.F.O Prank

November 30th, 2015 · 6 Comments

Hello, Kindertrauma!

I was hoping you could help me name a primordial trauma from my youth.

I’m trying to track down an episode of a TV show, maybe a made-for-tv movie. This would be from the mid-to-late 1960s, in color. The gist of it was that there were these two kids of about 12 or 13, sort of cruel versions of Spin and Marty, who were pranking an old lady who lived in a remote area into believing that she was being attacked by aliens and/or flying saucers. They used speakers to make weird sound effects and projectors to make weird lights. The old lady went into utter hysterics, and at one point was filling roasting pans full of boiling water to hurl at the invaders. Ring a bell? I thought it was an episode of Suspense Theatre, but I can’t find mention of it in any of the online episode guides. Any clues helping me resolve this trauma? Thanks!

-Mike

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Killer Double Feature: Screamers and Runaway

November 24th, 2015 · 3 Comments

Did everybody collectively decide behind my back to downplay and willfully underrate the cinematic output of PETER WELLER? Be honest. I’m seeing a pattern here. Every movie PETER WELLER is in is approximately twice as good as its reputation would suggest. BUCKAROO BANZAI is as quirkily hilarious as it is ahead of its time, LEVIATHON is supposed to be sub-ABYSS but it’s actually better at being what people wanted THE ABYSS to be than THE ABYSS ever was, OF UNKOWN ORGIN makes every other killer rat movie that sprung from the eighties smell cheesier and NAKED LUNCH is somehow a masterpiece even though its amorphous source material did everything in its power to stand obstinately un-filmable. And hey, what about ROBOCOP? At the end of the day didn’t ROBOCOP have so much more to say than THE TERMINATOR both literally and figuratively? I’d say so and if I’m wrong well, it’s also got NANCY ALLEN and is therefore unsurpassable. Anyway, you get the point. PETER WELLER movies are always better than people act like they there are and here comes another screeching example with SCREAMERS!

Mid-budgeted science fiction films are the best because they have enough money to not embarrass themselves but not so much that fall prey to that inhuman soulless vibe that follows TOM CRUISE around like an overbred puppy. SCREAMERS surely suffers from some endearing dated-ness from time to time but for the most part its worn just enough around the edges to be the right shade of dystopian. Written by the late great DAN O’BANNON (ALIEN, DEAD & BURIED, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) and based on a short story by BLADE RUNNER mastermind PHILIP K. DICK, SCREAMERS tends to be a little too detail oriented for my humble head so I’m just going to describe it as TREMORS with self upgrading robots that can sometimes pass for humans and leave it at that (also don’t watch the trailer cuz the trailer has a big mouth). Furthermore it features the criminally underrated JENNIFER RUBIN of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS fame! I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that RUBIN’s Taryn is my favorite of all the ELM STREET characters. Sorry, but Nancy gets on my nerves. I’ll close by adding that SCREAMERS only real misstep is making some of the deadly droids too adorable. I kind of want to own a few as pets and just cross my fingers that they don’t saw my arms off.

Speaking of my profound disappointment to find myself in the year 2015 without a robot to call my own, lets say we take a look at the fantastic, though sometimes shoddily designed semi-futuristic world of RUNAWAY. This 1984 production was written and directed by none other than MICHAEL CRICHTON. You may know CRICHTON as the dude behind JURASSIC PARK but I know him as the worship-worthy genius who created the stunningly insane thriller LOOKER (1981) and the esteemed gent who wed B-movie royalty ANNE-MARIE MARTIN of THE BOOGENS and PROM NIGHT (who, just when I thought I couldn’t love her more, makes an appearance in RUNAWAY as “hooker at bar”).

Swanky TOM SELLECK, at peak TOM SELLECK-ness, stars as cop Jack Ramsey who is really good at dismantling wayward rogue robots (called “runaways”) and really terrible at dealing with heights (which not surprisingly comes into heavy play during the films high altitude climax). Luckily Tom’s uniquely vulnerable (for an ‘80s movie) character has a strong support system that includes a robot maid named Louise and a new partner played by multitalented dancer extraordinaire CYNTHIA RHODES (DIRTY DANCING, STAYING ALIVE, FLASHDANCE). Oh, and he also has a sometimes trust worthy ally played by the sometimes worthy but mostly crusty KIRSTIE ALLEY.

Jack’s going to need all the help he can get because he’s facing off against an equally hirsute but way smarter madman named Luther (GENE SIMMONS of KISS sans make-up). Lethal Luther creates killer spider, jumping bean robots that inject acid into your neck before catching your ass on fire and is fond of a gun that shoots miniature heat seeking smart bullets and he really, really wants some kind of plans or floppy discs or circuits that he can use to make even more deadly devices. RUNAWAY is one of those movies that can just basically coast on how awesomely eighties it all is. There is some super sloppy editing here and there (one character’s death scene comes off as a footnote when it should have been a headline) but mostly its non-stop joy with a synth-tastic JERRY GOLDSMITH score. The shrugging humdrum future offered in RUNWAY that left audiences wanting more in 1984 ironically lends it a little extra credibility today. Do yourself a favor and grab some SCREAMERS, pair them up with them RUNWAY spider-bots and create a perfect homemade army of murderous albeit slightly clunky late night double feature entertainment.

Special Bonus: ROCKY IV’s Happy Birthday Paulie-bot

Since tomorrow sees the opening of CREED, the latest film in the ROCKY franchise which just happens to take place in Philly, the same beloved city that Kindertrauma Kastle calls home, lets take a moment to appreciate the peaceful robot that appeared in ROCKY IV, killed absolutely nobody and ultimately stole the hearts of millions…

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Tags: General Horror · Killer Double Feature

Killer Double Feature: Breakdown and Dying Room Only

November 19th, 2015 · 3 Comments

I can’t imagine a horror fan not enjoying 1997’s BREAKDOWN. Sure it’s more likely to be thrown into the action/thriller pile but it skillfully drives well past suspenseful and crashes into something scarier than your average fright flick. Not to mention this baby also stars two of horror fandom’s favorite folks, frequent JOHN CARPENTER cohort KURT RUSSELL and resplendent KATHLEEN QUINLAN of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, WARNING SIGN, EVENT HORIZON and THE HILL HAVE EYES (remake) fame. If you are not a KATHLEEN QUINLAN supporter then I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave these premises…shoo! I said good day sir!

What I can tell you without ruining the point of watching the movie is this: our chums KURT and KATHLEEN portray likable married couple Jeff and Amy Taylor who are relocating themselves to California and have to drive through that gross part of America where all the crazies live. Their car breaks down and Amy gets a lift from a trucker (the always dependable, exceptionally good and surprising menacing J.T. WALSH) to get to a nearby diner to call for assistance and maybe get an iced tea. Later when Jeff gets to the diner to meet up with his wife, she’s nowhere to be found and the trucker acts like he’s never seen him or her before! Yep, it’s a total nightmare and things just get worse and worse from there as justifiably paranoid Jeff does everything possible to find his wife while uncovering the evilest of peoples and the shadiest of happenings.

After you watch BREAKDOWN you must watch DYING ROOM ONLY or wait, maybe you should watch DYING ROOM ONLY first. Yeah, do that instead. It’s only fair because DYING is from 1973 and it came out first and it’s one of the best TV movies ever made and why wouldn’t it be when it was written by genre legend and a half RICHARD (too many stone cold classics to list) MATHESON? DYING ROOM ONLY concerns the slightly less affable married couple Bob and Jean Mitchell (my dream parents DABNEY COLEMAN and CLORIS LEACHMAN) who stop off at an out of the way diner in the middle of nowhere and live to fully regret it. When Jean returns from using the ladies room her husband is nowhere to be found and every creepy person in the diner starts acting like a cat that swallowed a DABNEY COLEMAN-flavored canary. Again, I’m not going to ruin anything but the more Jean investigates the more horrific and widespread the conspiracy appears to be and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the evil those involved are capable of.

If you haven’t noticed yet BREAKDOWN and DYING ROOM ONLY mirror each other and are two peas in a pod especially if one of those peas has gone missing and the other has to search for it. Both flicks expertly rake similar fears involving mistrust of strangers (particularly in areas far from home) and the anxieties and frustrations that orbit our inability to fully insure the safety of our loved ones. I say get on these! Both are nail-biting essentials especially if you have control issues, chronic ruraphobia and a healthy and well-warranted mistrust of greasy spoons.

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Tags: General Horror · Killer Double Feature

Sunday Streaming:: Cottage Country (2013)

November 15th, 2015 · No Comments

Sad? You can use HULU like CALGON and tell it to take you away! You don’t even have to sign up or pay a dime, HULU has got plenty of freebies to enjoy. Take 2013’s COTTAGE COUNTRY for example. It features saucy and sensational FINAL GIRLS star MALIN AKERMAN and the lovely and glamorous TYLER LABINE of TUCKER AND DALE vs EVIL fame! Both those guys are hilarious if you ask me. I know comedy is subjective so I can’t guarantee you anything but what have you got to lose? This flick is about a couple who try to have a nice weekend but end up killing a bunch of folks instead. You know how that is. It kind of reminds me a bit of another beloved film, 1996’s THE LAST SUPPER. It’s got a similar sick sense of humor plus both films take place in a cozy location that is comfortable to hang out in anyway. Just press this word HERE and away you go!

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Tags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming

Crimson Peak, The Pyramid, We Are Still Here and Ash vs The Evil Dead. Plus Stung, Kristy and The Last Shift.

November 13th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Don’t bury me I’m not dead! Sorry I have not been around lately but boy was I sick and not in the cute sniffles and terrycloth slippers way that allows for binging on KATE & ALLIE reruns either but in that way when you can’t even sleep because your body is a sack of stolen silverware and Satan is using your lungs for Jell-0 molds and you spend your time praying to the cenobites to maybe not be so stingy with the oblivion. Luckily I love the taste of medicine and can drink it all day and am actually now starting to fantasize about opening a bar that only serves shots of Robitussin and extra strength liquid Mucinex. Yum. Anyway, here’s some stuff I watched through queasy-colored glasses…

CRIMSON PEAK (2015)

If you can still catch this in the movie theater you should, even though I’m convinced that walking past the poster for JEM and the HOLOGRAMS is how I caught my death-flu. I may even be so bold as to say that CRIMSON might be my favorite Guillermo del Toro movie. I know it’s probably not as worthy as either PAN’S LABYRINTH or THE DEAVIL’S BACKBONE but it has much better re-watch value for me because it’s not emotionally taxing in any way. And let’s face it, I can be super shallow and sometimes I just want to gawk at a movie and bask in its visuals and bypass all the chin music. CRIMSON PEAK’s story is pretty frivolous and inconsequential and it almost got into trouble with me for having a helpful ghost at the end (luckily it didn’t physically interact with anything so I gave it a pass) but it’s an absolute stunner to look at overall (give or take a few gaudy effects) and the entire cast is mostly phenomenal (special shout out to SUPERNATURAL’s much missed JIM BEAVER!). CRIMSON may have stumbled at the box office but I’m here to tell you that once it finds its intended audience, it’s sure to become a cult classic. I want to own it and I want to watch it every time it snows for the rest of my life.

THE PYRAMID (2004)

What kind of person watches THE PYRAMID on HBO while chomping on CHEEZ-IT encrusted chicken fingers and left over Halloween candy? A garbage person and that’s me! Dudes, I was at the height of my hallucinating, barely coherent, flipping in and out of consciousness coupled with a ferocious fever/death-dream when I sort of viewed this bucket of why bother and it held my hand and walked me toward the light. Sure, it’s terrible but my brain could only handle soft food anyway. Did you know there is no mummy in this movie? Aren’t you happy to hear that? Instead it’s got BOOGENS-behavin’ CGI kitty cats and a jackal headed ALIEN-esque monster stomping around its halls! That’s not a spoiler, that’s a selling point! I would have seen this mess in the theater if the advertising told me as much! On the down side, PYRAMID is as stupid as a rock, looks like it was filmed in a left over SID & MARTY KROFT LAND OF THE LOST set and is crying like a baby for a more charismatic lead than whoever the hell that blonde lady was. God help me though, I did enjoy heckle-watching this flick and I want to thank it for kindly delivering on the gore and adorable monsters.

WE ARE STILL HERE (2015)

At this point nothing gives me more pause than an independent horror movie carting around a satchel of near unanimous positive reviews. Moreover, if it happens to sport a fawning blurb from one of the larger horror websites on its DVD cover I interpret that as more of a red flag warning than an endorsement. I know that’s cynical, I’m just telling you my truth, I almost skipped right on by WE ARE STILL HERE on account of all the moonie-flavored gushing surrounding it. Even more suspicious was the fact that the flick’s got LARRY FESSENDEN in it! I can’t trust reviewers to be clear-headed when he’s around. The guy is a hypnotist!

Anyway, eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I went against my jaded nature and gave it a twirl and guess what? I thought it deserved a pat on the back or maybe a high-five. How was I not going to dig charred gooby-ghoulies with glowing eyes that looked like they fell off THE FOG’s Elizabeth Dane? Plus the flick has got a strong sense of setting and there’s a nifty retro vibe and frankly, a supernatural stew of occult mumbo jumbo was exactly what the doctor ordered. I was also very much impressed with BARBARA CRAMPTON’s glum performance. The rest of the acting ranged from passable to cringe-worthy but I thought CRAMPTON was the bee’s depressed knees. Alright, I’m gonna smoosh a gold star sticker on this movie’s face for setting up a delightfully dismal mood and for delivering the gory goods instead of jerking everybody around but I’m also going to say it’s needlessly convoluted, there’s plenty o’ room for improvement in the dialogue department and (most damning) I could possibly live without owning the DVD. Maybe.

ASH vs EVIL DEAD (2015)

People like to call me on my landline and say “Hey! You’re too nostalgic! Why don’t you like modern stuff? You only like old junk! Get with it Pops!” which is obviously super annoying. I almost started believing those turds until I saw ASH vs EVIL DEAD and was reminded by its brilliant recapturing of the spirit of the original series that movies really were tons better in the eighties. Not my fault. This ASH show is funny, scary (sorry, those possessed deadites still get to me) and most of all, refreshingly buoyant and lively. And get this, I think Ash is even more Ash now that he’s hit curmudgeonly over-the-hill mode! It’s so perfect for him. Sadly I don’t have STARZ so I may have to wait to keep up to date but as for now, the first episode is available free online or as a special cable preview. Now THIS is a godsend folks. The more Ash the better I always say! Now I’m so glad I didn’t die this week!

Being not dead and sparked with new hope for the future thanks to my pal ASH, I decided it was time for me to crawl out of my cave and take a peek at what I was missing on the Internet. What I found was an avalanche of inanities concerning Christmas cups and a couple of dunderheads disrespecting the sad death of beloved horror icon GUNNAR HANSEN who famously portrayed the lucky person who got to kill Franklin Hardesty in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Something deep within my soul said; “Oh, hells no” and so I ran into the strong welcoming arms of NETFLIX streaming where I will always belong…

STUNG(2015)

Nothing can cheer a guy up more than watching a catered event destroyed by a swarm of killer wasps and STUNG is swell enough to overfill my plate by suggesting said wasps also grow to the size of Volkswagens and more than occasionally burst out of people’s skins. If you are a fan of slimy, over-the-top practical effects you’ve just hit pay dirt and then some but stand warned that the characters and story don’t gel any firmer than the rivers of goo. I dunno, I kept feeling like I had caught this flick in the middle even though I hadn’t and I guess I would have appreciated more time to establish things. Still, if you are a fan of say, 1993’s TICKS you are going to want to check this twisted sister out. There’s even a memorable weird-o performance by CLIFTON COLLINS JR. that struck me as possibly inspired by CLINT HOWARD’s turn in that flick. Nope, it’s not nearly as fun as TICKS but it comes a hell of a lot closer to crawling along side it than your standard CGI monster flick.

KRISTY (2014)

Whilst myself and Aunt John were wantonly watching THE UNAUTHORIZED MELROSE PLACE STORY on LIFETIME we were bombarded with ads claiming that a week later we could watch KRISTY, the story of a college lass who skips Thanksgiving break and is fittingly attacked by people wearing aluminum foil masks resembling angry, abandoned baked potatoes. Of course we showed up that very next week but where was KRISTY? She was a no-show and some dumb other thing was presented instead. I figured that was that and I’d never hear of KRISTY again but the fates had different plans and this chilly thriller that concerns itself with random acts of unkindness materialized on our buddy Netflix. The nice thing about KRISTY is that it is a patient movie and it takes it time and it builds some legitimate moments of suspense. The FINAL EXAM campus setting and autumnal atmosphere don’t hurt either. On the minus side, there’s a repetitiveness to the cat and mouse play and when it switches to ye old building weapons and booby traps HOME ALONE-mode, it’s basically paint by numbers. I applaud the build up simmer though and promise to buy it a Mountain Dew and a pumpkin pie for at least being original enough not to utilize tired old livestock masks.

LAST SHIFT (2014)

Wait a minute. This movie got to me. Something about working late at night, alone is so unnerving. LAST SHIFT concerns a lady cop on her first night of work having to hang out at a police station that’s preparing to close so it’s sort of like NIGHTWATCH mixed with ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 but with a hell’o bunch of super-yikes supernatural shenanigans going down. There’s one shot that I truly hated involving JACOB’S LADDER-style shaking figures that I felt was way too dated and obvious but otherwise LAST SHIFT is a surprisingly eerie effort and seriously supplies the mind-trippy spooks. The make up is amazing. There’s a demon face that appears in this flick that I felt compelled to turn away from that puts that Bugaboody dude from SINISTER to abject shame. Huh, so I guess as far as actually scaring me, this LAST SHIFT picture takes the prize. Who’d have thunk? Then again, I was watching some sitcom on TBS and they thought it might be a good idea to advertise an upcoming show about bugs by having a giant striped cockroach of some sort crawl over their logo on the corner of the TV screen and it almost made me simultaneously loose my lunch and my feeble sanity so maybe it’s just my state of mind. All right, I’m going back to bed.

EPILOGUE: G.I. JOE episode: There’s No Place Like Springfield

We received a traumafession years ago about this episode of the animated G.I. JOE series concerning sailor extraordinaire “Shipwreck” and his mental unraveling as he discovers he is living in false reality and witnesses trusted allies transforming into wailing blobs of molten gray sludge on several occasions. I’d like to know why it’s being shown at 5 in the morning when I can’t sleep. Why?

NOTE: The very top image is of a painting by artist HUEY CROWLEY and I had zero permission to hang it sideways.

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Tags: General Horror · I Have No Idea What This Is

Name That Trauma:: Chris O. on Bundled Kittens and a Burning Inn

November 9th, 2015 · 3 Comments

OK, I have two for you, if you’re interested. I have had zero luck over the years figuring out what these are.

1. A man arrives at an inn that is (of course) in the middle of nowhere. He checks in alongside another new guest, a middle-aged woman. During the evening, the man meets a beautiful young woman, who is also staying at the inn. They eventually go back to his room for a romantic engagement and are in the midst of said engagement when the clock strikes midnight and the woman turns evil and attacks him. (I think maybe her eyes change somehow.) It turns out that everyone in the inn, except for the man and the middle-aged woman who checked in at the same time, are malevolent beings intent on killing the guests. In the mayhem, a fire erupts. The man tries to save the middle-aged woman but cannot, so he flees the burning building. The next morning, the man and a police officer he told his story to arrive at the site of the inn. But there’s nothing there. No inn. No sign of fire. Just an empty field. But not entirely empty. The corpse of the middle-aged woman is there, among the tall grass. The end. … I’m pretty sure this was an episode of a horror anthology series, like Tales from the Darkside or Hammer House of Horror. And I think it was a British production. I saw it circa 1984.

2. There’s very little to go by on this one. It’s the ending of a horror movie from, I’m guessing, the late 1960s or early 1970s (based on my hazy memories of the production values and costumes). The “bad” guy, who is either a Frankenstein’s monster type or a hunchback/Igor type, is trying to escape the police via a rooftop. But he is shot and falls to his death. Here’s the part that stuck with me, though. He was carrying something bundled up in his clothes. As he lay dead on the ground, a few kittens emerge from his grasp and mew pitifully while walking around on his chest. That’s it. That’s all I have. I’ve long hoped that the moment involving the cats is specific enough to help lead me to answer. But, thus far, I’ve had no luck.

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Tags: Name That Trauma!