Traumafession:: Danielle P. on The Electric Company and Jack Bowser

When I was a kid I grew up on PBS. There were some spooks here and there (like how Sesame Street started a phobia I outgrew around the time the subject I’m focusing on happened) but right now, I wanna talk to you about the 2010 Electric Company show. It’s not as good as the 70s although my brother and I watched it.

You had killer lollipops, Morgan Freeman as a vampire, and monolith words.

I had freaking Jack Bowser.

See, there were these stop-motion skits that sended up 24, starring a dog parody of Jack Bauer; “Jack Bowser.” He’d always be trapped somewhere and he had 24 seconds to read a sentence correctly or else he’d explode. And every time, he got out unscathed.

I don’t know about you, but these skits just creeped me out. The black background, the sound of the timer, and the creepy-looking dog. I remember always wanting the dog to die for some reason. It’s the sadist in me.

Streaming Alert:: Amityville: The Awakening (2017)

I know it’s not easy to muster up enthusiasm for yet another Amityville sequel but this latest addition has at least two difficult to resist things going for it: it stars the always compelling JENNIFER JASON LIEGH and it’s currently absolutely FREE on GOOGLE PLAY. Another ace up its sleeve is that the action takes place at the legendary pumpkin-eyed house on 112 Ocean Avenue (or at least a faithful recreation of it) rather than following a cursed inanimate object that managed to escape from it. That may not seem like much. but I will forever be a little unnerved by the mere sight of that creepy Dutch Colonial and am so relieved not to have to follow a lamp, mirror, clock or dollhouse to another address. This new edition could surely use some major renovations (The lighting is often inadequate, there’s not enough JENNIFER JASON LEIGH and the editing makes you feel like it’s been pruned to the stem with a weed-whacker) but it manages to be fairly entertaining anyway. It’s nowhere near the high point of the franchise (that would be AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESION (1982), of course!) but it’s leaps beyond the franchise low point (I’ll never accept you as canon THE AMITYVILLE CURSE (1990)!) Oh and did I mention, it’s FREE?

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING takes place in a wacky universe in which characters are able to watch the original 1979 film on TV (after referencing its sequel and rejecting its remake) that is somehow also a dimension where the house is super affordable and the famous “High Hopes” sign lingers unsold on ebay in the basement. I suppose it’s possible that Goth girl Belle (actress, singer, Cocoa Pebbles cover model BELLA THORNE) has never heard of the Amittyville legend before moving into her new home but it seems highly unlikely. How could anyone say “I’m moving to Amityville” without hearing “THE Amityville?” in response. I mean, can you even type “Amityville “ into your computer without be greeted by those wicked windows staring back at you (I just tried and the answer is no)? Anyway, the ”reality” we’re placed in is hard to swallow and even though it’s not a deal breaker, it tends to dismantle the film’s credibility. Where the film works best is in the family dysfunction department; Belle’s twin brother (CAMERON MONAGHAN) is lost in a coma that she feels personally responsible for and a rather convincing cloud of sickness, grief and existential dread hangs over the family. It’s this aspect of the film that makes it difficult to shrug off completely. LEIGH could sell me the Brooklyn Bridge if she wanted and I think if the film spent more time mining her emotional dilemma and less time courting the teen crowd, there would be a more effective result.

You know how AMITYVILLE 3-D (1983) is mostly balk-worthy lunacy but then there’s that super haunting scene where TESS HARPER encounters the soaked, blank-eyed ghost of her daughter LORI LOUGHLIN and her frenzied denial and grief is palpable afterwards? So goes AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING in a way. It’s mostly hoarding familiar creaky house, jolt scares but there’s a somewhat legit subterranean stream of pathos as well. When the Evil of the house begins to infest and rejuvenate Belle’s comatose brother, it’s easy to sympathies with the family’s reluctance to care that the divine intervention is coming from below rather than above. I also feel I should give this flick some props for at least alluding to my favorite underused Amityville character Jodie, by way of a startling pig mask (in a perfect world Jodie would have an entire spin off franchise of her own). Anyway, no matter how you slice this ham, there’s no denying it is worth the paltry price of FREE and even an only partially successful Amityville movie is a welcome Halloween treat to yours truly. Check it out HERE and my apologies in advance, you should know better than listen to someone who thinks AMITYVILLE 4: THE EVIL ESCAPES (1989) is the bee’s knees (or the fly’s thighs?).

Traumafession:: Dustin in Minnesota on The Soupman (1980)

Greetings traumathusiasts!

It’s been a long time since I have posted, but I do try to at least visit the site every week. This place has been great for naming my past traumas, especially now that IMDB removed all of their discussion boards.

That said, I am traumafessing this 1980 episode of the apparently religious program Insight. I saw the second half of this by chance once or twice around 1980 or 1981, and never caught it again. This episode is called “The Soupman,” and the part that scared 10-year-old me was how this gang treated Joey, one of their own members.

I had read books like “The Outsiders” and watched films such as “My Bodyguard” and “Over the Edge,” and had a fear of and fascination with delinquents.

I have attached a link to the episode (HERE).

Enjoy!

Dustin in Minnesota

Cult of Chucky (2017)

I’m a huge fan of 2013’s CURSE OF CHUCKY. It reestablished my favorite killer doll’s innate creepiness, introduced me to the phenomenal FIONA DOURIF and works splendidly as a rainy night, old dark house flick. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it every year since it came out because that’s how I do. One of the great things about the CHUCKY series is that it is both remarkably consistent (every installment is penned by original creator DON MANCINI) and wonderfully inconsistent (every installment past the original three changes the game in a creative way). I can’t say my love of newest stab — CULT OF CHUCKY — eclipses my love of cozy CURSE but it certainly delivers a bevy of its own horror delights. We get to reunite with Chucky’s now-grown original patsy Andy Barclay (ALEX VINCENT), spend some time in a surreally sterile mental hospital and most gratifyingly, we get more FIONA DOURIF as Nica Pierce. DOURIF makes it clear she’s every bit as talented as her legendary dad BRAD. She’s truly mesmerizing and reminds me a bit of JESSICA HARPER if JESSICA HARPER found herself frequently possessed by JUDY DAVIS. Plus you get more of the irascible Tiffany Valentine played to the hilt by JENNIFER TILY who has reached an almost CRUELLA de VIL level of hilariously flamboyant madness.

MANCINI has taken over the directing reigns for CHUCKY’s last three outings and I couldn’t be happier. He’s got a superb eye for visuals and he’s able to get great performances from his actors, both flesh and plastic. With CURSE he seemed to be taking some cues from Italian masters like ARGENTO and BAVA and now with CULT, his hat appears tipped to KUBRICK and De PALMA (complete with split- screens). There’s a kill in this movie involving shattering glass that is every bit as beautiful as it is ultimately gruesome. There are some lapses in logic, no mental hospital on Earth would run the way this one does, but the incongruities tend to add to the dreamy, hallucinatory atmosphere. Maybe it’s not a good idea in real life for a hospital to proudly have it’s own graveyard but it sure looks pretty as hell especially in the snow! Plus I’m OK with giving a possessed killer doll-flick a whole lot of leeway in the realism department. From it’s first sequel, the franchise has had the not always easy task of finding a balance between horror and its unavoidable humor and I think the last two installments have got the formula down pat and all thanks to FIONA DOURIF. No matter how off the wall, wacky or self-referential (Chucky laments the cancelation of HANNIBAL– a series MANCINI lent his writing talents to) Chucky behaves, DOURIF’s Nica is there to ground things with her convincing portrayal of a woman unable to convince others of her outlandish predicament.

I hope the series continues in this direction and CULT’s unpredictable ending certainly opens up a plethora of possibilities. It’s pretty darn cool to see a writer granted so much control over his creation, especially one who tends to steer toward uncharted territory rather than knee-jerk expectations. I doubt a big screen, big budget excursion would allow our favorite killer doll such ample room to play, so it feels like a blessing to see what the little guy can get up to unchained from the box office. If you want to check out the unrated version complete with an after credit cameo (which is worth its wait in gold as far as I’m concerned) you can order the Blu ray/DVD combo pack (which includes commentary by DON MANCINI, deleted scenes and bonus features) HERE. The rated version of CULT OF CHUCKY will be on Netflix soon followed by Halloween-timed multiple showings on AMC’s Fearfest. I’m guessing there are VOD and Redbox options as well. One thing’s for sure, a certain possessed killer doll is going to be hard to escape this October and I’m all for it. I’ll always have this troublemaker’s back for his non-conformist stance. Sure he’s evil but I empathize with his struggle to escape a brittle body built for smiling servitude. He reminds me of a time when horror icons were still rebellious and counter-culture rather than neutered to appeal to the largest possible audience. Chucky is my friend till the end and he’s a gift that keeps on giving (the finger).

Name That Trauma:: Stephen B. on a Creepy Black and White TV Show Intro

Hi Kindertrauma, I’ve just stumbled upon your site after wandering through the web. Most interested in your “name that trauma” section as I have been haunted for many years by a TV show opener. It is in black and white and is animated, one scene morphs into another and another an so on. I cannot remember the order but I think it starts with a boy bouncing a ball which then changes into maybe an eagle then maybe a dark alleyway then maybe a mummy. Each scene turns quickly to the next to create the intro. It is English and dates back to the early seventies and I believe the show told a different story each episode. I found the intro so creepy that it stays with me to this day over forty years later. Please could someone tell me the name of the show.

Many thanks

Stephen B. – a lifelong horror fan.