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Name That Summer Horror Movie!

June 23rd, 2017 · 14 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Split (2016)

June 22nd, 2017 · 6 Comments

Holy Toledo, I dug me some SPLIT. And I’ve been suffering a miserable movie track record lately! I found ALIEN: COVENANT to be a profound disappointment, I thought the abysmally titled RINGS was an atrocious snooze-fest and IT COMES AT NIGHT though undeniably impressive, made me want to hang myself. SPLIT is a good time! It’s got what I call “Joie de horreur.” I couldn’t wait to see what happened next and it’s so genuinely entertaining that it’s easy to forgive whatever little (or not so little) lapses in logic might occur. In fact, the film’s overall goofy weirdness tends to automatically transform its missteps and wonky reasoning into campy charm. I don’t know if it was its shameless misrepresentation of multiple personality disorder (see also RAISING CAIN) or its unabashed exaltation of the great BETTY BUCKLEY (see also CARRIE) but this angel of a movie inadvertently gave me the DE PALMA thriller fix I had no idea I was craving so darn badly. If NANCY ALLEN showed up, I could have died a happy man right there on my cat-shredded couch.

Please believe my sincerity when I tell you I mean this as a compliment- SPLIT not only reminded me of a delicious DE PALMA psychobabble sundae, it also made me feel like I was watching an extraordinary new breed of mutant LIFETIME movie (sorta like GONE GIRL). Three innocent teen girls (including bunny-faced ANYA TAYLOR-JOY of THE WITCH fame) are abducted from a mall (KING OF PRUSSIA MALL, the same joint I rented my very first VHS tapes from!) and kept prisoner by a madman with a ton of personalities and an enviable wardrobe. Bring a snack! This is the type of movie that if you caught it on TV, you’d never be able to change the channel or go back to sleep. Yes, it hit me in my LIFETIME zone and I found myself just as trapped as those girls. The only thing that softened the tension for me was the fact that I felt so comfortable in the lunatic’s living space and really related to his decorating style (especially the child alternate’s room with the stuffed animals). I realize now that the absolute perfect window for me is one that is drawn with a crayon. Let’s face it; I wouldn’t try to escape. Is that bad?

Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting JAMES McAVOY, he gets his own paragraph. Who is this guy? I barely noticed him in those X MEN movies and I didn’t make it past 30 minutes of VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN but he’s truly a wonder to behold in SPLIT. I can’t remember the last time I witnessed an actor so gleefully reveling in the boundless possibilities of his craft before. He’s completely free and fearless and you can’t take your eyes off of him. I’m sure somebody with a keener ear than mine could find faults with his delivery but his overall effervescence sold me completely.

And I have to say, even though this film’s representation of a dissociated identity disorder/multiple personality disorder is outdated, cartoonish and bordering on irresponsible, I can’t help being intoxicated by it. Maybe it’s just residual affiliation left over from my preteen obsession with SYBIL but I’m too intrigued by this questionably accurate construct to let it go. Even if multiple personalities don’t exist as this persistent Hollywood trope suggests, I think there is a useful truth about the fluidity of personal identity being represented that we all can relate to and recognize in ourselves. Hasn’t everyone had the experience of seeing different sides of themselves emerge when confronted by difficult situations? Is it uncommon to fear that an emotion might take you over, that if you were to express your anger fully you’d be in danger of becoming a monster? Who doesn’t want to regress back to the simple joys of childhood when reality becomes hideous? I guess what I’m saying is whatever this presentation of mental illness lacks in the accuracy department, I think it makes up for by relaying a bigger truth about the human condition. That’s my rationalization anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

I know I’m super late to the game and get zero cool points for gushing over a highly successful mainstream movie by a popular director six months after its release but this all does my heart good anyway. It’s a solid reminder that people can still surprise you after you have completely given up on them. I not only disagreed that THE VISIT was a return to form for M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN, I also thought THE VISIT was one of the most annoying motion pictures ever made.

But now I’m letting bygones be bygones. I’m even going to join the rest of the world and erase that faux-documentary THE BURIED SECRET OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN from my memory banks. It’s a good thing to have a director out there interested in the darker, more mysterious side of life making decent films again. A rising tide lifts all boats! Maybe now some more performance-reliant character driven independent horror films will get made- who knows? Plus, I have to give M. NIGHT his rightful due for consistently showcasing the super glamorous city of Philadelphia, the home of Kindertrauma Kastle, in the most complimentary light possible. In the end though, I’m most happy with the film’s bold conclusion. As we all know, M. KNIGHT is notorious for his twist endings. In this particular case, the ending actually opens the film up and expands its universe, increasing the possibilities. Whereas, I think the lion’s share of his previous rug-pulls do the exact opposite. I guess it could be argued that I enjoyed this because my expectations were low but the reality is, an exceptional performance (and a heaping dollop of BETTY BUCKLEY) goes a long way. Your mileage may vary but for me, SPLIT is just what the doctor ordered.

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Tags: General Horror · If Loving Nancy Allen is Wrong... I Don't Want to Be Right!

Name That Creepy Cartoon!

June 16th, 2017 · 18 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

It Comes at Night (2017)

June 15th, 2017 · 6 Comments

There’s this song by a band called THE CHAMELEONS that has haunted me for decades. It’s called “Swamp Thing” and it’s so epic in my head. It starts out stomping ominously and then it twists into some kind of dark poetic hurricane and then it breaks into this strange inspirational anthem type-thing. I’m not sure exactly what it’s about but I always got a sense that it was generally about withstanding the inevitable storms of life and living to see better weather. Anyway, there’s a line in the song “When the world is too much with me…” which particularly resonates in my noggin. I always assumed it amounted to “When things get to be too much” and so I’d use it to advise myself like, “The world is too much with you- you should go to bed.” A little tiny bit o’ research (i.e. Google) has led me to understand it’s probably a reference to a poem by William Wordsworth entitled “The World is Too Much With Us” which is about how maybe you should stop selling your soul to materialism and go for a walk in the woods. This is good advice! The other day the world was “too much with me” and instead of going to the woods, I went to the movie theater to escape and find solace and boy, was I ever so sorry I did.

And yes, I do go to horror movies to feel better and lift my spirits. They’re thrilling, are often about overcoming adversity and if all else fails, tend to make your problems seem quaint in comparison. I didn’t know much about IT COMES AT NIGHT, which is how I like it. Based on the trailer, it looked like the perfect antidote because it apparently featured a cabin, lots of lantern light and a threatening red door. I did know it was from the fine folks at A24 and that should have clued me in that it wasn’t going to be traditional fare but hey, I was desperate and how could I resist this film’s intriguing title? I can’t criticize IT COMES AT NIGHT for being a bad movie because it’s not a bad movie; it’s fantastic, it’s challenging, it’s art! The acting (jeez, that JOEL EDGERTON– he couldn’t be better) is exceptional, the writing keeps you on your toes and I love the whole look and feel of it. There are all these great earthy, muted woodsy hues and it feels lived in and it’s welcomingly housebound. I love a movie with a limited setting (I could hang out in 10 CLOVERFILED LANE, all day!) but this movie kicked me in the gut. It’s basically an avalanche of dread (as it has a right to be – who said horror is fun?) and I myself, had a hard time crawling out from under it. I did end up respecting its gloomy consistency but I have a feeling it’s going on my list of movies I’ll never watch again.

Can I think it’s semi-brilliant and also hate it? It’s basically everything I wanted to escape when I went to the theater. It seems to have a real problem with William Wordsworth too because it wants you to know that even if you strip away industry, technology and modern social constructs, paranoid, poisonous humans will find a way to commit the worst atrocities under the guise of protecting their own. They even drug a lovable dog into this chunky porridge of desolation! I wasn’t having it, I wasn’t having it one bit. You know when Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s painting “The Triumph of Death” provides a lively respite from the persistent morbidity, you’re in trouble.

Oh, I forgot to tell you what it’s about! There’s a plague and so everybody has gone insane and these two families try to join forces to better their survival chances and then destroy each other instead. It’s super stressful and then the worst possible conclusion happens (I won’t reveal the ending but there’s an ultimate moment of inhumanity that results in some of the most authentic howls of grief I’ve ever heard in a movie (ELVIS’ granddaughter RILEY KEOUGH really goes there-she’s tops). I had to sneak into WONDER WOMAN afterwards just to clear my head (I would have done that anyway). So, in closing, I do not recommend this movie if you’re looking for a good time and now I’m going to listen to some records by THE CHAMELEONS. I dunno, it was too much for me and yet not enough for me. Maybe I’m getting sensitive in my old age? Anyway, if writer/director TREY EDWARD SHULTZ was trying to ruin my day….success! I just want to to high-five this film’s indisputable craftsmanship and its impeccable performances (especially EDGERTON and KEOUGH) and then tip-toe away from it, never looking back…

…but I can’t stop thinking about it and now I’ve got another line from that CHAMELEONS song stuck in my head, “Stop staring at the ground”.

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Tags: General Horror

Name That Eighties Horror Movie!

June 9th, 2017 · 5 Comments

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Traumafession: Beth L. on The Believers

June 8th, 2017 · 1 Comment

Hey guys! I have a weird one for you. When I was about ten I watched a movie with my dad and for years I only remembered the very beginning. There was a scene with a mother making coffee who somehow electrocutes herself by standing in a puddle while touching a faulty coffee maker. It terrified me because I imagined it happening to my own mom and I still think about the scene sometimes when I make coffee. I was talking about it with a friend who told me it was called “The Believers” and I found the scene on YouTube! It’s dubbed but it’s definitely the scene I remember as a kid! I wanted to share it with you. Thanks for all the trauma memories!

Beth

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Tags: Traumafessions

Sunday Movie:: Blood and Lace (1971) (Via Comet TV)

June 4th, 2017 · No Comments

Today is obviously going to be the greatest day ever because the coolest channel that ever existed COMET TV, is going to be airing BLOOD AND LACE at 2pm! Man, I love that BLOOD AND LACE! What a great movie! How did I survive for so many years without it in my life? Furthermore, how did I survive so many years without COMET TV? Those were dark days indeed and I never even knew it. You can read my full gushing review of the fine flick HERE and you can watch the movie itself HERE or on your TV at two! Ain’t life grand?

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Tags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming

Name That Horror Movie (on Comet TV)!

June 2nd, 2017 · 5 Comments

Hey, it’s June! How’d that happen? All of today’s images are form horror movies that are scheduled to air on COMET TV this month! You can watch these fine flicks on your faithful TV set or check them out live streaming HERE!

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Traumafession:: Leia M. on Ghost, Six Weeks and A Mom for Christmas

May 30th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Evening,

The late hour, lack of work tomorrow and a bit of whiskey now necessitate that I point out a handful of unlikely traumas: those that appeared, not just in movies that wouldn’t be labeled as horror, but moves that are best known for their moments of romance and/or sentimentality. Yes, for a burgeoning existential only child in a spacious house with relatives much older than she, no piece of media could ever be guaranteed trauma-free.

I’ll start with what in my opinion is the most quality film on this list (which might not be saying much): GHOST, otherwise known as the sexy pottery movie. I think even as a child I was not one to concern myself with the supernatural, so it was not those elements of the movie that got to me. Rather, aside from the underrated gore of, say, a dude impaled on a broken window pane, the scenes of karmic revenge filled me with a disturbing moral ambivalence. It was quite possibly GHOST that made me realize it brought me no pleasure to actually see bad guys tortured. Though I found said bad guys repulsive and wished them no happy returns, watching their abject terror and confusion over the onslaught of an invisible antagonist still left me more sad than satisfied. In retrospect, this was probably a very formative moment.

Now to travel down quite a few notches to a movie that made Roger Ebert’s worst-of list back in 1982 (my birth year, by the way). SIX WEEKS is one of those films you caught on network TV in the middle of a Sunday afternoon and years later barely believe you saw what you saw. The romantic leads are WHO? The plot was WHAT? And didn’t a, like, twelve year old dying girl talk about wanting to have sex all the time?

But the weird matter-of-factness and, dare I say it, realness, of stuff like a dying twelve-year-old talking about how sex is on her bucket list – because OF COURSE IT IS – is just the kind of thing that could draw young me into a sappy mess like this vehicle to begin with. And I barely remember anything about the ride… except the dread I felt over the constant awareness of this girl’s expiration date. And the harrowing – yes, I’m saying harrowing – sudden death scene where she’s on top of the world in the subway, swinging around the poles, and suddenly she’s screaming in pain from a terrible end-of-life headache the science of which remains ambiguous (she’s got leukemia she chose not to treat), then looking her father-figure straight in the eyes before collapsing. I mean, just effing awful and sad, all the more because I can’t remember the other technical weaknesses about the movie that no doubt make it dumb.

And finally, at the bottom of the schmaltz totem pole: A MOM FOR CHRISTMAS. Yep, a Disney family holiday movie with Olivia Newton John. I’m just going to let you take a minute to read the plot synopsis from imdb:

The story revolves around 11-year-old Jessica (Juliet Sorcey), whose mother died when she was three years old. Her father, Jim (Doug Sheehan), is a workaholic with little time for his daughter and hasn’t been able to spend time with her since her mother’s death 8 years prior and still seems to be mourning her. Just before the Christmas holiday season, Jessica wins a free wish from a wishing well. Her wish for a mother for Christmas is granted by Philomena (Doris Roberts) and Amy (Olivia Newton-John), a department store mannequin, is brought to life to be a mom for Jessica. However, there is a catch and Amy can only be a mother to her until Christmas Eve.

Now I ask you: What about this DOESN’T scream horror movie? Yet my life experiences up to this moment have led me to believe I am the only person who has ever entertained this thought. Aside from being yet another movie that, like SIX WEEKS, filled me with the dread of a terrible countdown to The End (Amy, a.k.a. Mommy, in essence will die on Christmas Eve), there’s a disturbing moment where the little girl has a spat with Amy, and out of hotheadedness wishes for her wish to be reversed, which causes her to look across into Amy’s apartment window AND SUDDENLY SEE HER AS A LIFELESS JOINTED MANNEQUIN, when it later turns out she is actually fine. GAH!

So there you have it. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts! As much as this site has taught me about horror films, some of my favorite scares (and entries on this site) have been those that are a bit less likely.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Eric D. on The Death of the Guyver

May 29th, 2017 · No Comments

EVIL TOONS. What do a babysitter, the Japanese and cartoons have to do with personal trauma? Don’t worry this isn’t a molestation story, Pearl Harbor is safe and despite the title, this has nothing to do with Fred Olen Ray‘s 1992 film, which I rather enjoyed- you should check it out. Think cartoons are kids stuff? Well, this has to do with some very “different” cartoons from the ones you probably grew up with…

When I was a kid, I got sent to a school guidance counselor because I would draw pictures of monsters eating people, etc.; people were clearly worried. Having reassured said guidance counselor that they didn’t have a little maniac on their hands-at least not one that would act out-I was given a clear bill of mental health. Flash forward some time and a chance encounter with certain anime had me questioning whether anyone was checking on the collective mental health of the Japanese.

During a babysitting session with a friend and his older sister, we watched what would be my introduction into a substratum of the cartoon world I couldn’t have possibly imagined existed and which would end forever the child’s innocence under which I labored. It was called The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor, specifically the fifth episode “The Death of the Guyver“.

It was the most brutal vicious violent thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe what I was watching and it took me a long time of quiet reflection to come to terms with what I had just witnessed and it ultimately rearranged the way I viewed the world and our place and role in it. I didn’t know cartoons killed one another- I mean, after all, to the best of my recollection, this never occurred on The Flintstones; I don’t recall Fred ever bashing Barney’s brains out in one of his frequent fits of rage.

The thing that struck me about The Guyver as I got older is that aside from the combination of sci-fi and horror and the initial shock of the violence, there are themes which in my younger years, went way over my head. It explores the great unknown of human origins and our purpose on this planet and comes up with an impersonal answer-in essence we are all biological weapons of alien origin- can anyone really say we aren’t? I can’t.

Little did I know that The Guyver was far from the only, let alone the most brutal horror anime out there. As I worked my way through the Elysian Fields of the video store isles I would come to know the anime section very well. What I found went far beyond what the western horror films I avidly consumed would show; everything from rape (sometimes of the tentacle variety), torture, cannibalism, mutilation and child killing all rendered in excruciating detail.

Urotsukidoji, Violence Jack, Genocyber, DevilMan, Ninja Scroll; all contained the violent, unsparing, anti-humanist ethos of violence as an inseparable, essential part of the whole of life, which we Westerners are so removed from and fearful of. Thank the universal force for reacquainting me with these facts through the medium of cartoons.

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Tags: Traumafessions