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...:::General Horror:::...

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!

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

Four Underrated Final Girls by Mathew A.

April 13th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Hello, Unk! The twitch to write about horror movies doesn’t hit me often, but when it does I immediately think of you. You are forever my #1, Kindertrauma.

I started to write another piece about underrated horror flicks (I have LOTS of thoughts on Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2), but then I realized there was something else I needed to get off my chest. That “something” is a love of final girls who don’t necessarily get their due. If you are like me and inherently understand that Sarah Michelle Gellar should’ve been the final girl in IKWYDLS instead of whiny Jennifer Love Hewitt, then you are awesome and you probably see where I’m going with this post. If not, don’t worry. You might still be awesome. Perhaps you just have a soft spot for J-Love. I will forgive you.

As I’ve mentioned before, “underrated” is a term that doesn’t mean much; what I consider underrated might be totally different than what you consider underrated. It doesn’t really matter. It gives me an excuse to write about horror movies and the final girls who might be a little under the radar compared to Laurie Strode, Sydney Prescott, Nancy Thompson… the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I love Laurie as much as the next horror fanatic, but we’ve been there and done that to death. Let’s dig in. Oh, and SPOILER WARNING, obviously.

Rachel Carruthers (Halloween 4-5)

Played perfectly by actress Ellie Cornell, Rachel is the best unsung heroine in the Halloween franchise. To be honest, Halloween 4 is an underrated movie in general. It was actually the first Halloween movie I saw, so nostalgia might be fueling this a bit. I don’t care. I’m telling you, this movie holds up. And a big reason for that is the character of Rachel. She has the unenviable task of filling the shoes formerly filled by Laurie Strode, and she is more than up for it. She’s equal parts tough and kind, and she’s more responsible than any teen in her situation has any right being. Most of all, she’s just incredibly likable. If you’ve seen her in action, hopefully you understand what I mean. There’s just *something* about her that makes you root for her and willingly follow her to the depths of Haddonfield Hell.

P.S. Halloween 5, while enjoyable in parts, kinda did Rachel dirty. SHE DESERVED MORE, I tell ya!

Yasmine (Frontier(s))

In the mid-2000s, French horror films had quite a moment. Remember Inside and High Tension? Martyrs? They were bloody, nihilistic, and pretty grim, especially compared to their American counterparts. While I enjoyed these films, I don’t really find myself coming back for repeated viewings, mostly because I look at horror films as an equivalent to comfort food. That being said, let’s give Yasmine (Karina Testa) her due.

Frontier(s) seems influenced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its ilk, and much like poor Sally from the abovementioned classic, Yasmine is PUT THROUGH THE RINGER. She takes a beating, both literally and figuratively, to the point where it almost makes you want to stop watching. Luckily for us, Yasmine is way stronger than she looks. Right when you think she’s at the point of giving up, she digs in her heels and brings forth some spectacularly bloody vengeance on her captors. Speaking of…

Erin Harson (You’re Next)

I know, I know… this movie is more action/thriller than horror, but don’t think I’m letting that stop me. Erin (played by the most beautiful woman in the world, Sharni Vinson) is a force to be reckoned with, and I appreciate that. The “home invasion” genre in horror is certainly popular, but I for one don’t love it. The protagonists typically make terrible decisions, and rarely do they fight back against the intruders in a way that is cathartic. The movies might be more realistic in that sense, but I don’t watch horror films for realism, nor do I watch them to see average people getting tortured throughout the length of the movie. I LOVE that the filmmakers gave Erin a reason for being a badass, and it actually made sense! She’s a charming, one-woman killing machine, and it’s glorious to behold. Thanks to Erin and her survivalist skills, I would much rather watch this movie than other, more popular home invasion flicks (e.g., The Strangers) where the homeowners are pretty much intruder fodder. Please don’t hold it against me.

Chris Higgins (Friday the 13th Part 3)

This might be a controversial choice, and it’s what got me thinking about this topic in the first place. Chris Higgins (played by Dana Kimmell) is not discussed very often. Perhaps she is overshadowed by Ginny Field, the (admittedly awesome) final girl from Part 2. Yes, Ginny is super smart and spunky, and the way she used Jason’s mother issues against him at the end of that film was genius. But I feel like you already know that. Most horror fans have come to this realization. Chris, on the other hand, never really gets the recognition she deserves. Hear me out.

I will admit that Chris is not very likable. Don’t get me wrong, I know being likable and sweet is not a requirement for a great final girl. I’m just thinking of reasons why other people might not appreciate her. Chris comes off as slightly cold and distant, which is either part of her character or just the way Kimmell was as an actress. I happen to appreciate it, but I naturally gravitate towards cold or slightly unlikable characters. Also, let’s not forget, Chris was dealing with past trauma involving Jason. It’s an icky subplot in the movie, but it also gives you all the more reason to root for her when she kicks his ass during the climax. And HOLY HELL, kick his ass she does!

I can’t think of any other Friday the 13th heroine who gets the best of Jason quite like Chris Higgins. I won’t give you a complete rundown of every little thing she does to take Jason down, but believe me; she earns her “final girl” title like no other. It’s fun to watch, and it’s thanks to Chris that I find myself coming back to Part 3 more often than the other sequels.

Well, there you have it, folks. Can you think of any other underrated ladies in the “final girl” pantheon? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Tags: General Horror

Get Out and The Belko Experiment

March 29th, 2017 · 2 Comments

I visited New York City last weekend (shout out to the FORBIDDEN PLANET store that sold me SEVERIN’s’s excellent DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. DVD with the sublimely timely doc on the history of 42nd Street movie theaters!). You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Bramford Building from ROSEMARY’S BABY looming over a baffled Central Park covered in mid-March daffodil-slaughtering snow. As my friend and I ventured to cross a particularly hazardous unplowed curb, I caught from the corner of my eye a figure moving up somewhat suspiciously close. The one thing that’s difficult for me to adjust to in New York as opposed to Philly is that people are way more comfortable getting up in your personal space. New York is way too crowded to afford you the good three or four feet of buffer room I’m used to. My instinct was to dodge but my friend’s impulse, miraculously, was to grasp the wobbly stranger by the forearm, pull him out of the slush he was faltering in and land him safely on the sidewalk. Oh, the guy wasn’t trying to assail us, he was falling…and my friend helped him! Such strange and unusual alien customs in this city…

Did I mention that the falling guy was black? Would I have so quickly imagined him as a potential threat if he wasn’t? Well, it’s me we’re talking about here so, yes. Honestly, anybody who isn’t a mewing kitten with a pink bow on its head is eligible for suspicion in my book. Still, I felt a tinge of guilt that I had alarm bells going off in my head at the exact moment my friend saw an opportunity to assist someone in need. I blamed my moment of self-reflection on the brilliant GET OUT. Suddenly I really wanted my friend to see it too but it was sold out everywhere and had been every day since its release (according to an usher I eavesdropped on). I don’t know what to add to the conversation about GET OUT besides the admission above and the confession that I thought I understood the movie but then realized later that I missed a few dozen layers. I’m sure when I see it again I’ll find I’ve missed a few more. Like the seventies social horror films it was inspired by, it’s clearly going to be a gift that will keep on giving. Plus, how could I resist the rarity of my love of horror movies and my love of CATHERINE KEENER movies converging? Geez, unless you count 8MM (99′) as horror, you’d have to go all the way back to KEENER’s ill-fated horror convention date with KEVIN CORRIGAN in WALKING AND TALKING (‘96) for such a alignment (it’s sentences like that, that worry me).

Anyway, I loved it and I’m happy that a new generation gets its own lightening rod horror movie that’s genuinely fascinating to view and discuss. If you dig plunging into profound paranoia over being pummeled over the head with the usual pandering power fantasies GET OUT is pure gold. It’s kind of sad that it seems so unusual to watch a horror movie where the art is actually on the screen speaking for itself rather than biding time waiting to become a purchasable T-shirt or identity-signaling button. As much as GET OUT specifically speaks on racism (both conscious and unconscious) there’s something universal about its depiction of the threatening discomfort of being a minority in a larger group. Plus, putting race aside for just a wee-second here, I gotta say rich people in general are working my last nerve these days. Am I alone here? Without ruining the movie, I still have a burning Sterno can of outrage in my chest for the wealthy and blind (!) gallery owner with the gall to appropriate another person’s artistic vision. I’m also pretty sure that at one point ALLISON WILLIAMS did a super creepy smile thing that curdled me to my core and I have to salute that.

Back to New York, with GET OUT sold out three weeks into release, we had no choice but to see THE BELKO EXPERIMENT in a half-filled room on its opening day. Aw, poor BELKO (also a BLUMHOUSE joint) is actually pretty darn good too but in a different way. Like GET OUT, I can easily associate BELKO with the moment that my friend decided to help a stranger and I decide to fend for myself but unlike the slow mounting horror found in the previous film, the latter is surprisingly shocking and brutal. I know it doesn’t look it, but for a mainstream movie BELKO has quite the sadistic streak. I don’t know if it was because I was far from home and feeling kinda vulnerable but I found it remarkably nerve wracking up until its cartoonish final act. In truth, this film hits me where my nightmares live. It’s about being stuck with (and at the mercy of) other people and it’s also about dealing with soulless dog-eat-schmuck corporate ghouls. It’s almost as timely as GET OUT if only it was released about three more months from now. The audience I saw it with loved it and screamed and laughed in the right places and I know at least one jaw hit the sticky floor at one point because that poor jaw was mine.

The weather is about to change. Soon the Bramford Building is going to be looking down on daffodils again. It’s not too late to see either of these fine flicks in the theater if you haven’t already done so. Instant classic GET OUT is perfect for those who enjoy their frights fine tuned and those who prefer to be grabbed by the lapels and slapped around a bit should sign up for BELKO. Both of these thoughtful movies do a fine job of reminding us that horror films can say so much more than “boo!”…

On my last night in New York we watched a documentary on the making of ROSEMARY’S BABY and I laughed when FARROW told the tale of how POLANSKI instructed her to walk into oncoming traffic because “nobody will hit a pregnant woman.” The next day, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (78′) just happened to be on TV and I noted how the ending still gave me goose bumps. It was followed by CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND but only CHUCK BERRY was dead at that point, unlike two days later when CHUCK BARRIS would be dead too. At the bus station the Philadelphia bound were separated from the New Yorkers and the late 4 o’clock Philly bus people were separated from the early 5 o’clock Philly bus people. I instantly related to those who were riding on the same bus as me but we were all herded like cattle and we all dragged luggage like pods from outer space. My coat is so old that it has holes in its pockets. Getting on board the bus my paperback fell through my pocket and onto the wet street. The man in back of me picked it up and kindly handed it to me. People are so nice in New York.

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Tags: General Horror

Life (2017)

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Hey, I’m absolutely allowed to enjoy a not-so-good movie if I feel like it, right? LIFE is all kinds of mundane, its monster is inconsistently threatening and the script overall is painfully mechanical to the point where somebody actually pulls out a corny copy of “Goodnight Moon”. I’m guessing LIFE’s largest selling point is its two high profile male leads (RYAN REYNOLDS, JAKE GYLLENHAAL) but only one of them successfully registers and he’s the one with way less screen time. It’s like the title/name LIFE wasn’t satisfied being attached to the blandest cereal in the world and the least exciting board game (Sorry, I’m a die hard CLUE fan) so it had to go attach itself to the most routine sci-fi horror picture too! And yet I don’t care because I love monsters in space so much that I’ll take it (even if this one sometimes resembles THE NEW SCHMOO). You are talking to a guy who owns and enjoys the catastrophic SUPERNOVA and feels the need to watch both LEVIATHAN and DEEP STAR SIX on a seasonal basis. Yes, there is something horribly wrong with me. Why, I even watched THE RIFT the other day on COMET TV! I can’t and won’t be stopped (I realize I named a lot of underwater monsters rather than space monsters there but same-diff. BTW- QUEEN LATIFAH being throttled by a swarm of disgruntled jellyfish in SPHERE (1998) counts too!)!

Here’s the thing, I absolutely loved LIFE’s super bonkers ending. I only wish I had a copy of the movie here now so that I could keep rewinding it over and over again. It’s so pessimistic and cruel and downright LOVECRAFTian and the way the music soars and repeats and twists the knife in such a mocking and unapologetic way is glorious (fantastic work JON EKSTRAND!). I mean, it’s not exactly on par with the hand-grab from CARRIE but it’s got a similar churning nightmare vibe and then there’s this soulless God’s eye aerial view that works as the final nasty nail in mankind’s coffin. Does it make up for the rest of the movie? For me…yes, I think so. I dug it so much that all was forgiven. In closing, I can’t recommend this movie unless you too happen to have a soft spot for somewhat clunky, embarrassingly earnest fledgling science fiction films (particularly those that swing from semi-boring to semi-incredible with exactly one nuclear blast of pitch perfect exquisite horror). Maybe just go look at your DVD collection and if you see FORBIDDEN WORLD, GALAXY OF TERROR and CREATURE starring back at you- then this flick should sufficiently stir your TANG too. Don’t be fooled by its big budget and big names-LIFE works best when you don’t take it too seriously.

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Tags: General Horror

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

March 14th, 2017 · No Comments

When I was a little kid living in California during the seventies, I’ll never forgot one of our neighbors (who worked in the biz!) handed out small movie posters of KING KONG (1976) for Halloween! I was just the type of weird kid who would much rather have a miniature advertisement featuring a giant ape crushing a plane while straddling the World Trade Center than any known form of candy (keep in mind that SOUR PATCH KIDS had not been invented yet). This past Friday when I went to the very first showing (Thursday is for cheaters) of KONG: SKULL ISLAND, the disgruntled dude that took my ticket handed me just such a miniature poster featuring the brand spanking new KONG movie’s promotional artwork! Yes, I got sorta giddy and yes I rolled it carefully, tied it with a napkin from the concession stand (I’m a genius) and put it in a protective plastic grocery bag that I just happened to have in my back pocket from walking my niece’s dog, Nelson. So basically, I was sold on this movie before I sat down in a chair- just so you know.

I feel guilty that I haven’t been writing many reviews for current movies lately. It’s not that I don’t go see them it’s just that I’ve needed the escapism of film so much that I am loath to taint the therapeutic experience with critical thought. Scanning entertainment with a laser eye is not a luxury my mental health can afford right now. These days when I’m watching a movie and my brain tries to be smart and point out illogical discrepancies, I politely tell my brain to shut the hell up and remind it how little its annoying opinion has gotten us thus far. There are so few enjoyable places in the world and I refuse to hand over the haven of the multiplex. If I want a nonstop mudslide of inconsequential jabbering I’ve got the Internet for that. I’m not talking about leaving your brain at the door when you see a movie, I’m talking about taking your brain, wrapping a bonnet on its head, shoving it in a baby carriage and pushing it down a long hill in the opposite direction of the theater, preferably one of those steep San Francisco hills as seen in WHAT’S UP DOC?. Hopefully it will run into two guys transporting a large plate of glass.

Naturally, I had a fantastic time with KONG: SKULL ISLAND. I left the theater feeling ten years younger and with my posture improved. For a would-be blockbuster it’s rather muted and easy on the eyes; obviously borrowing visual tips from the more grounded cinema of decades ago. It clearly has an aspiration to ape (haha) APOCALYPSE NOW and hey, there’s nothing wrong with setting your sights high. The visual effects are seamless and I’m looking forward to never having to discuss CGI again. It’s as convincing as any dream and that’s good enough for me. The nostalgic tone is solidified by the extensive eclectic cast who I can easily envision being featured in tiny profiles squares at the bottom of a disaster movie poster. JOHN GOODMAN rules as usual, SAMUEL L. JACKSON menaces like a pro and JOHN C. REILLY steals every scene not nailed down. In addition, I found BRIE LARSON fetching and I think SHEA WHIGHAM is the coolest. Plus I love KONG. He’s more than a giant monster to me. He so perfectly represents all the beautiful wildlife that we’re all going to burn in hell for destroying…. Oops, I guess I didn’t leave the real world behind as much as I thought. It all boils down to this; If you’re in the mood to see a giant monkey punch a giant octopus in the face- this is your best bet!

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Tags: General Horror

The Evil Within (2016)

March 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

Wow, I just woke up from the craziest, most impossibly elaborate dream(s) and I’m definitely blaming super bonkers THE EVIL WITHIN rather than the LAVERNE & SHIRLEY marathon I chased it down with. THE EVIL WITHIN was written and directed by the late ANDREW GETTY (grandson of billionaire Jean Paul Getty) and it’s one of the strangest, trippiest and relentlessly peculiar movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like PHANTASM meets DOMINICK AND EUGENE splashed with the uncomfortable intimacy of THE ROOM and dipped in the headache-baiting insanity of 1971’s maddening MICKEY ROONEY monstrosity, THE MANIPULATOR. It took me too close to places I didn’t want to go and it hurt my poor little head! Is there enough time on the doomsday clock for this flick to become a cult movie? Apparently this oddity was filmed about ten years ago (there is a startling scene in which the late MATTHEW MCGRORY (Tiny Firefly!) shows up and he passed away back in 2005!) but went unfinished due to GETTY’s untimely death. To all those involved with making sure this flick finally saw the light of day I say thank you! You are great people!

I know the world wasn’t asking for a movie about a mentally challenged man (a fearless FREDERICK KOEHLER! Yay, Chip from KATE & ALLIE!) who befriends an evil entity he meets in a mirror (horror legend MICHAEL BERRYMAN of THE HILLS HAVE EYES and DEADLY BLESSING fame) that convinces him that murder makes you smarter but here it is! No, I did not appreciate the first victim being an orange tabby but I was able to move past that thanks to the presence of the delightful KIM DARBY as a snippy caseworker named Mildy. Heck, this movie has got all types of folks running around in it! You’ve got your SEAN PATRICK FLANERY (SAW 3) as rather self-centered brother John, DINA MEYER (Dizz from STARSHIP TROOPERS) as his long-suffering girlfriend Lydia and then comedic actor TIM BAGLEY randomly shows up to make things even more off kilter. The real star of this movie though is its anything goes mind-bending visuals and its impressively persuasive surrealism. Sure, the script wanders towards the verbose a few too many times but that didn’t stop me from rewinding a few scenes in awe or my jaw from hitting the floor during the flicks baroque and beyond bizarre grand finale (which kinda reminded me of the ever creepy auditorium scene from THE REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN aka CLASS REUNION MASSACRE (1978).

THE EVIL WITHIN is available on your favorite VOD services and on ye old timey DVD format today. If you dig strange, artsy, hallucinogenic, one of a kind flicks, this is for you! Heck, just check out the trailer below! Nuff ‘said!

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Tags: General Horror

Diane Franklin Double Feature:: Deadly Lessons and Summer Girl

February 11th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Hey, today is DIANE FRANKLIN’s birthday! I don’t have to tell you that DIANE FRANKLIN is wonderful in BETTER OFF DEAD (which we recently discussed) or that she excels in the new wave classic THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN or that she’s downright heartbreaking in AMITYVILLE II: The Possession (which everybody with a working brain agrees is the best in the series). All of that (along with the understanding that FRANKLIN is as talented as she is beautiful) is common knowledge. But did you know that DIANE starred in two of the very best made for TV movies ever made? It’s true! I’m talking about the highly entertaining small screen slasher extravaganza DEADLY LESSONS (1983) and the riveting usurper thriller SUMMER GIRL (again, 1983). If you think I’ve talked about these gems before you are right and you should also prepare yourself for the fact that I’ll be talking about them till the day I croak. Due to the general dumbness of society neither of these sensational flicks are on DVD but cry not because that’s what YouTube is for! Let’s have a double feature! Happy Birthday DIANE! You rule forever!

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Tags: General Horror · YouTube Alert!

80s Beat:: Featuring Flatliners (1990) and The New Kids (1985)

February 1st, 2017 · No Comments

I love budget DVD sets exactly as much as the last time I told you I love budget DVD sets. They’re cheap, the picture quality is usually decent and there’s something exciting about ending up with a bunch of titles that you normally wouldn’t seek out. It can be a gamble but while securing a beloved staple you just might meet a new favorite film or two. Plus as an oldster who was around during the early days of 100$ VHS tapes, I stand stunned that such a thing is even possible. Oh and they take up very little space!

An important thing to remember when shopping for budget sets is to never be swayed by the cover! The cover art is usually too busy to give much useful information so you have to check out the small print on the back. I hope you brought your glasses! My most recent acquisition comes from my old pals at MILL CREEK who frankly, rule. The cover design is pretty darn clever in how it apes old 80’s teen magazines. They even went and put a pin up poster on the reverse side for an added knee-slapper. I would buy this anyway because I pretty much dig any and every teen oriented flick from the eighties but some horror junkies would walk right by it because their eyes are trained to only be attracted to the colors red and black. But slow your jets horror fans! There are films in this pack that might be of interest to you!

FLATLINERS (1990)
Even though FLATLINERS looks all slick and flashy and JOEL SCHUMACHER-y and even though it’s about as mainstream as movies get thanks to JULIA ROBERTS running about in it, there’s no denying the fact that its plot points toward the valley of Kindertrauma. Besides concerns with death and the afterlife being frequently stoked, much time is spent reminding us how past traumas influence our present selves. I’d probably rather that the flick dared to dive into the deeper and darker end of the pool but there are still some genuine creeps to be had and a bit of a hallucinatory NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET vibe running through its veins. I’ve got particular affection for KEVIN BACON’s character’s storyline which finds him having to endure the same bullying he inflicted upon others as a child.

THE NEW KIDS (1985)
How can any reasonable human say no to a teen revenge thriller from the director of FRIDAY THE 13th, SEAN CUNNINGHAM? Especially when said thriller sports the likes of LORI LOUGHLIN (AMITYVILLE 3-D) as the recipient of unwanted attention by a wild-eyed, snowy-haired, psychopath portrayed by JAMES SPADER (JACK’S BACK)? Did I mention that the proceedings culminate in a showdown in a run down offseason amusement park? This movie is Exhibit A of why I’m hooked on these sets. I like the movie enough to own it and return to it occasionally but not enough to spend big bucks for it or concern myself with extras. Also, TOM ATKINS has a small part! Of course I need this on my shelf!

AND THE REST….
1985’s THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN may not be horror but it’s hard to imagine any 80’s horror fan not enjoying the ride. How can you deny a road movie with STEPHEN KING killer-car horror alumni like YEARDLEY SMITH (MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE) and KEITH GORDON (CHRISTINE)? It’s impossible! Don’t try.

If you happen to be in the mood for a teen sex comedy but you also want to upset JOHNNY DEPP then PRIVATE RESORT is the movie for you because he hates it and wishes it would disappear! The rest of the grab bag is pretty square but there are some early roles for big talents like ROBERT DOWNEY JR. (TRUE BELIEVER) and RIVER PHEONIX (LITTLE NIKITA). I can’t say I’m too interested in LIKE FATHER LIKE SON or SIDE OUT but you never know when you may want to hate watch something. Honestly I’m just going consider this a 3-pack of FLATLINERS, THE NEW KIDS and LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN and consider all of the other movies ‘extras”. Three great movies out of eight may not seem like a winning ratio but if you consider how many times I’m likely to re-watch BILLIE JEAN it’s a steal.

Anyway, buy enough of these types of sets (and I do) and you can rest easy knowing you are prepared for a rainy day or a long stay in a nuclear fallout shelter, whichever comes first. Also, if you think I’m not going to take this opportunity to post PAT BENATAR’s “Invincible” video from the BILLIE JEAN soundtrack you are sorely mistaken….

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Tags: General Horror

PSA: Home For The Holidays (1972) on DVD!

December 24th, 2016 · 4 Comments

This is a public service announcement created to inform you that the classic 1972 TV-movie HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is secretly available on DVD! The indispensable gem is discreetly hanging out in one of those cheap-o twenty movie combo packs you might easily overlook at your local Walmart! Check out the cover below and scan it into your brain for future reference…

This is important news for folks like me who watch this movie every December and have been concerned that their VHS tape is become increasingly exhausted. I watched this very DVD last night and the flick looks the best I’ve ever seen it. It might not be up to the meticulous standards of the more persnickety collectors but I wouldn’t count on a better release before the Apocalypse. Personally, I like a couple scratches and dust particles floating around when I’m watching a TV movie. It adds flavor! It’s rustic, and weathered and all kinds of shabby chic! Here are a few screen shots to give you an idea …

In case you didn’t know, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is wonderfully atmospheric, takes place during Christmas time and operates much like your favorite paranoid mystery killer slasher flick (which it probably predates). Sure it’s a little dry in the blood department but who cares when you’re hanging out with the likes of THE HAUNTING’s JULIE HARRIS, PLAY MISTY FOR ME’s JESSICA WALTER and SYBIL’s one and only SALLY FIELD! Not only that, It was written by JOSEPH STEPHANO of PSYCHO fame and directed by JOHN LLEWELLYN MOXEY who crafted the stellar classic HORROR HOTEL! Why, I could go on and on and in fact I do go on and on about this favorite flick in the upcoming book ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? A TV MOVIE COMPENDIUM edited by MADE FOR TV MAYHEM’s globetrotting AMANDA REYES which you can preorder right HERE!!!

I realize I’m delivering this information kinda late. How are you supposed to secure this DVD in time for Xmas? Don’t fret! HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is available (albeit in a fuzzier state) on YouTube and you can sample it out below. Don’t worry; we can be friends if you don’t like it. We just can’t be GOOD friends. More importantly, Happy Christmas Eve to you fine folks! Drink stuff!

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Tags: General Horror · Holidays · Kinder-News