UNK SEZ: Eegad, we almost went through the entire Halloween season with out playing Aunt John’s Jukebox! That’s not right! It’s a Kindertrauma tradition! Luckily Aunt John dug up the clip above just in time for All Hollow’s Eve! We hope that all of our readers have a spectacular Halloween this year! Thanks for all the support and remember to eat things your dentist would not approve of and to cause random acts of mischief whenever possible! Stay safe!
It’s time to go trick-or-treating again but why waste your time on houses that don’t deliver? Here are twelve horror homes that we recommend avoiding!
12. HOUSE OF WAX
This place? The only “candy” they hand out are those wax soda bottles with colored juice inside. Unless you are a fan of those things, don’t bother.
11. CREEPSHOW Billy’s House
Don’t be fooled by the pumpkin in the window! Billy’s dad is cranky and not such a fan of horror in general.
10. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
Props go to the Firefly family for their year round commitment to Halloween decorations but unless you have time to sit through an amateur variety show, it’s not worth the trouble.
9. HELL NIGHT (Garth Manor)
One two many Gorks. ‘Nuff said.
8. TRICK ‘R TREAT (Steven’s house)
I should probably warn you about Principal Wilkins’ house because he and his son Billy are liable to carve your decapitated head like a pumpkin but instead, I say stay away from Mr. Kreeg’s place because he thinks generic peppermints are passable as treats!
7. THE HAUNTING (Hill House)
This place is far off the beaten track and once there nobody will be around if you need help. No one lives any nearer than town. No one will come any nearer than that. In the night. In the dark.
6. HALLOWEEN (The Myers house)
The place has been abandoned for years and not only will you not get any candy, you may bit hit by a stray rock thrown by an angry mob of Haddonfield locals!
5. FRIDAY THE 13th part 2 (Jason’s shack)
Yes, hillbilly Jason has THE BEST Halloween centerpiece for his table in the form of the rotting decapitated head of his mother but other than that the place is still a shack and the candy he hands out is super low end (Mary Janes)!
4. PSYCHO 2 (The Bates house)
Speaking of dead mothers, you might as well skip Norman’s house when trick or treating too. Not only are the front stairs a bitch to climb, but who in their right mind hands out toasted cheese sandwiches for treats?
3. POLTERGEIST (The Freeling house)
This house folded up into itself and then disappeared into another dimension and with no front door to knock on, it’s really a waste of valuable trick or treating time.
2. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
This place offers the opposite of candy because the opposite of candy is being shoved on a meat hook. Am I wrong?
1. CARRIE (The White House)
Talk about evil! Rather than candy, Margaret White hands out Chick tracts!
BONUS TIP: If you find you’ve eaten too much Halloween candy this year just stop by THE CHANGELING (1980) house on November first! Nothing burns calories faster than running away from a ghost powered wheelchair!
The black curtain opens up on an autumn breeze knocking DEAN CUNDEY’s camera out of a tree. “The Chordettes” facetiously beg Mr. Sandman to deliver Ben Tramer but that high school dream is doomed to be crushed between a parked van and a speeding police car, only his perfect teeth survive the explosion. We have been promised “More of the Night He Came Home” and “The Nightmare Isn’t Over!” but this direct continuation begins by putting its workman boots on the wrong feet. Shot seven (?) times, “The Shape” falls into the Doyle front yard rather than the back. It takes three years for a town to change in one moment. This is bizarre-o Haddonfield where razors hide in apples and your sister wears a wig. Everything is familiar but not exactly right.
We may have strayed off the path but who doesn’t want to be here? Long monolithic shadows lay all over the place, crappy paper decorations abound and suburban backstreets transform into mazes lit only by the occasional orange glow of an expertly carved jack-o-lantern. Costumed tykes gallop the streets at whatever odd hour it may be and every radio and TV set is tuned to a horror station. Is there an impromptu carnival forming or is that an angry mob? There’s no need for murderer at large Michael Myers to loom in the background. Inspired by the evening’s showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, he walks deliberately center stage, a floating white death skull with albatross commitment. Slippery blood is about to poor. It’s later than we think.
Oh Haddonfield, earlier this evening, three years ago, you where the epitome of good wholesome small town values, my how you have fallen. Sheriff Hackett, your daughter is dead and you are the last to know. You’ll be no help tonight. Just go home. Mr. and Mrs. Strode, I once had faith in you. Why can you not be reached by phone? You must have heard what’s going on; don’t you wonder where Laurie is? “I told you I’m not your mother!” Why the harsh angry tone? What’s the point of having a secret adoption when you’re going to drag your young daughter to the sanitarium to visit her unknown sibling anyway? Are these literal flashbacks or symbolic dreams? Oh Haddonfield, why have you washed your hands of your children? Why do you trust your infants to be watched by nurses who exit their posts in order to have sex in therapeutic hot tubs with undesirable pot smoking ambulance drivers? The Doctor is in…toxicated! Get it together town!
At the end of the day (or night), HALLOWEEN II is too stuffed with jolly holiday paraphernalia not to sink into and enjoy, though critics who take it to task for its shallow shuffle have a point. Yep, more bloodshed abounds than in the prudent original but its reputation for gore mongering is relative and exaggerated. The film’s strong suite is its Achilles’ heel and that would be its Tiger-Beat infatuation with killer Michael. Myers will never cut quite such an impressive form as he does here, but there’s no room in the spotlight for anyone else. The cards are stacked in his favor to such a degree that every other character seems chained to an invisible radiator. The cops are not allowed to act as cops would, the hospital staff is not allowed to function as humans might and heroine Laurie Strode is drugged and denied not only her right to fight but also her personality as well; her soul replaced by random snapshot images of her connection to her attacker, her voice crushed down to a whine. We should give her a break though, she must be exhausted.
Maybe it’s best that Laurie sat this one out. HALLOWEEN II may not be the clean pure classic that the original is but as resume material for Michael’s future work as a horror icon, it’s certainly persuasive. Parts of it feel no deeper than an adolescent power fantasy, an oversized action figure crashing through shoeboxes to crush smaller dolls but where it may fail on a storytelling front, it still captures the rowdy spirit of the night securely.
Once upon a time I thought that the original HALLOWEENs 1& II were intertwined, two perfect bookends thicker than thieves. Now each year the two movies siblings grow further apart. The elder child (I) is still my pride and joy while the younger (2) is a delinquent I’m prone to make excuses for. One is thoughtful and sharp and the other is willfully crass but direct. For me it’s easy to pick a favorite but so what? Who needs a world of perfect movies? The important thing is both share the same esteem for the 31st of October and Halloween is just as much a time for callow tricks as it is for tasty treats.
One of the more fascinating websites you’ll ever encounter is AWFUL LIBRARY BOOKS, a joint hosted by librarians and dedicated to the discussion of which books are ready for that big library in the sky. I’ve now rummaged through the entire place and I’m sure to return again. If you are prone to nostalgia like I am, you’ll probably feel the same way. I can’t decide if it is beneficial or detrimental that our disposable culture tends to quickly cover over embarrassing mistakes with fresh new ones, but it’s nice to know that the local library erases the chalk board at a less frequent rate and we can still discover nearly forgotten trash treasures there (at least before they get weeded!) Personally, I think THE MORK AND MINDY STORY will always be relevant but time marches forward and I suppose each generation gets the MORK AND MINDY they deserve.
During my mostly pleasant and often humorous perusal of AWFUL, I came across one book that takes the cake in the Kindertraumatic nightmare department and so I had to share it with all of you. The book is entitled DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK, MOMMY: A CHILD’S BOOK OF SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE and holy cow what were the people responsible for this thing thinking? I won’t even get into the issue of whether Satanic cults like the one described are real (on the documented abuse front, Satanists are certainly lagging behind the Catholic church) because even if they did exist, how would this book ever help rather than terrify an abused child further? Even in the warped reality described, if you suspect your kid has been involved in something so heinous you may want to take more productive actions then reading them a bed time story about the horrors they have experienced. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt, the chance that this book helped more kids than it needlessly freaked out is roughly nil.
I guess I have to understand that this was published in 1990, landing on Earth smack in the middle of the Satanic Panic craze that was sweeping the nation like a precursor to the Macarena. Secret Satanic cults hiding in the woodwork have become less popular in the media these days but it looks like child abuse in all its multitude of forms is chugging along as always. I guess that is to be expected when time and resources are wasted chasing phantoms rather than dealing with harsh reality. I know I needn’t give something so out to lunch the time of day, but this book even has the nerve to try and drag Halloween into the scapegoat pyre! Not cool.
We joke around a lot about the stuff that unintentionally made it harder for us to sleep as kids around here. In most cases it involves misinterpreting innocent things or maybe overestimating our own bravery when it came to absorbing scary stuff at a young age. I’ve always contended that there is a healthy side to such fears, that they are an important part of learning to process and overcome intimidating obstacles. This book, on the other hand, is another thing altogether. This is fucked up. Not only is it irresponsible and poorly done, it strikes me as the type of thing that causes the type of anguish it’s pretending to salve. I have to give it some credit though, when designated “do-gooders” on a mission add to the Kindertrauma archives, they sure do leave everybody else (even those purposely working in the field of horror) in the dust.
If you watch horror movies all year ‘round to begin with, how in the world do you amp up your Halloween viewing pleasure for the month of October? One way I kick things up a notch is by shamelessly watching movies that are extra goofy. BURIAL GROUND: THE NIGHTS OF TERROR is just such a movie. It really is relentlessly daffy and how evil am I for subjecting an unsuspecting Aunt John to it sans warning or explanation? Aunt John asked what year it was from and I guessed ‘73 (I was way off ‘81) not really my fault.
The plot is about as complex as a HENRY comic strip: a professor with a wise beard discovers how to raise the dead. He invites some friends to his cool mansion to talk about his find except he’s already been eaten by zombies and soon they will be too. The entire movie consists of his unfortunate guests failing miserably at escaping peril. Folks cannot even cut across the lawn without stepping in an inconceivably placed bear trap and the only thing missing really is the BENNY HILL theme song. It’s a bad day for the living and a good day for the stunningly resourceful dead. Normally a good zombie movie will make me morbidly depressed, but this one is like a semi-creepy day at the beach.
No post concerning BURIAL GROUND would be complete without singling out scene-stealer extraordinaire PETER BARK. At roughly the age of 26, the diminutive BARK portrays a young child named Michael whose affection for his mother is disturbingly enthusiastic to say the least. The portrayal is lifted to the sublime with the aid of an absolutely unconvincing adult actor supplying his dubbed, puppet show voice. Even if you think you have no interest in seeing BURIAL GROUND, I assure you that once BARK enters the picture that there is no turning around. Even Aunt John rode the film out to its “Did that really just happen?” conclusion.
BURIAL GROUND is above (or below) understanding, speculation or critism. It only wants to bring you joy. It also showcases some of my favorite zombies of all time. The make-up person sort of went with the idea that if something is painted black, then it is invisible to the human eye (even in broad daylight) and I honor this delusion. (At least that’s why I think that some of our zombie pals have black make-up on their noses beneath their masks?)
In any case, I think this calls for a zombie beauty pageant! Check out these teeth that resemble no teeth that ever existed! Look at that crazy hair! How about those cutting edge burlap fashions? Vote for your favorite zombie below and check out this movie if you want to have fun. Trust me, its the only zombie movie in existence whose BARK is better than its bite!
UNK SEZ: Here’s a list of seven vampire flicks that I believe are underrated. You will not see great movies like NEAR DARK, THE HUNGER, VAMPIRE’S KISS or NOSFERATU here because I think people generally know those flicks are good. Beware because even though they are numbered, I put little or no thought toward their order!
7. VAMPIRE WARS : BATTLE FOR THE UNIVERSE (aka BLOODSUCKERS) 2005
You may have stumbled across this one on the SYFY Channel, thought it looked lame and skipped past it and, if so, you really missed out. This is great, goopy, gory escapist entertainment sporting highly likable (and easy on the peepers) characters that I only wish I got to see more of. It’s sorta the illegitimate child of BUFFY and FIREFLY coated in an almost FLASH GORDON-esque corny, cartoon candy shell. The first thing I thought after viewing it was, “This should be a series!” And how sad to find out that it actually is a pilot for a show that never got picked up. Ouch. That hurts considering the bonanza of crap SYFY chose to support instead. VAMPIRE WARS comes courtesy of MATTHEW HASTINGS who is responsible for the equally underrated DECOYS (2004), so maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked that I enjoy it as I do.
6. THE NIGHT FLIER (1997)
Of course this movie fell through the cracks, it’s based on a short story from some obscure writer named STEPHEN KING! Two tabloid journalists are tracking down a serial killer who uses a private plane to stalk his prey. Matters turn for the worse when the suspect is discovered to be a vampire with a pilot license. The always good MIGUEL FERRER gets a chance to tear things up in a rare lead role and director MARK PAVIA provides more than a few moments of true eeriness that are bound to stay with you. My only question is why we’ve never seen another picture directed by PAVIA. I hope he has a good excuse.
5. THE THIRST (1979)
Here is yet another example of great Australian cinema. THE THIRST is a remarkably original vampire movie both in its tone and with its progressive vision. Make sure you catch this one on DVD in widescreen and read our more extensive review HERE.
4. I, DESIRE (1982)
This one is probably going to be difficult to track down, but if you are a fan of eighties horror and are looking for a good DAVID NAUGHTON-starring companion piece for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, it’s worth the effort. If you’re a BRAD DOURIF fan, and you should be, then get on it quick. Check out our full review HERE and our pal AMANDA BY NIGHT‘s thoughts over at MADE FOR TV MAYHEM HERE.
3. VAMP (1986)
To be honest, VAMP is not such a good movie, the story is all over the place, some of the jokes leave a bitter, douche-y aftertaste and the scares are few and far between. Be that as it may, it’s a fluffy-fluorescent, neon noir knock out if you crave flawed eighties flicks. Moreover, the exceptionally charismatic cast makes it all worthwhile. GRACE JONES is oddly mesmerizing as a far too mute vampire goddess, CHRIS MAKEPEACE is a perfect clean-behind-the-ears everyman, DEDEE PFIEFFER is bug-in-a-rug adorable, and ROBERT (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2) RUSLER, as always, rules. (If someone could explain to me how RUSLER didn’t become a giant star in the ’80s while a traffic cone with teeth named TOM CRUISE did, I will bake them a cake.) Sure, VAMP is rarely successful at its clear intention of capturing the spirit of the previous year’s FRIGHT NIGHT, but as far as presenting characters we care about, it fares far better than that film’s recent remake does. Not a total success, but nostalgically entertaining nonetheless.
2. DRACULA (Spanish version 1931)
When it comes to classic UNIVERSAL-style horror, I’m enraptured by the FRANKENSTEIN series, severely dig THE WOLFMAN and quite shamefully feel unsatisfied and unmoved towards TOD BROWNING’s 1931 take on DRACULA. Aren’t I awful? You see, for me, BELA LUGOSI may be sufficiently creepy and weird and all, but when it comes to romantic magnetism, his pockets produce moths. The Spanish version of DRACULA, which was filmed at the same time and utilized the same sets as the better known classic, mows the lawn in spots that BROWNING’s version missed. It’s got a far sexier vibe, more vibrant violence and frankly shows, rather than meekly cuts away from, good old-fashioned bug chomping. It’s almost the exact same undead tale but the difference is, it pulsates with more gritty unapologetic life.
1. THE ADDICTION (1995)
One of these days I’ll write about this movie more in depth, but for now I’ll just say I love it. It’s one of my favorite vampire movies, favorite LILI TAYLOR movies and favorite ABEL FERRARA flicks too. I find it much more effective than the similarly black and white NADJA and much more involving than the similarly shoestring-budgeted and New York set THE HABIT (both of which came out around the same time.) Besides TAYLOR, the cast also includes ANNABELLA SCIORRA, EDIE FALCO and CHRISTOPHER WALKEN. I don’t think critics understood this one too much, chalking it up as a pretentious drug allegory when really it tackles much larger issues like humanity’s natural penchant towards causing cruelty and the contagious nature of evil. It’s as gloomy as a Ladder Day Saints commercial and yet its soundtrack features CYPRESS HILL and if that doesn’t tell you how singularly awesome it is, then I don’t know what will. This is yet another movie that never found its way to DVD but if you look around hard enough (namely HERE) you should be able to find it.
While searching for an image of a possessed doll for a Name That Trauma, I came across the Mexican horror film VACATION OF TERROR. Further investigation led me to Amazon where I was happy to discover that said film was available in a set called CRYPT OF TERROR: HORROR FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER VOL 1. Although intrigued, I wisely decided that I should not gamble my meager clams on a film I’d never seen before and so I walked away from the computer sad but proud of my will power. Before I could congratulate myself too much, I received an email invoice thanking me for my purchase! What?! I was only window-shopping! I knew I could easily dispute the sale but I decided to just let it go. Fate was clearly at work and it was best not to push against it because that causes adult acne. I imagined that I was meant to see VACATION OF TERROR and it turned out that I imagined right. Let’s hear it for happy mistakes!
VACATION OF TERROR (1989)
Lord do I love haunted house movies. VACATION begins with a witch being burned at the stake cursing revenge. We jump forward a couple hundred years and a family consisting of a ma and pa, two twin boys, a little girl, a babysitting teen niece and her affable beau (PEDRO FERNANDEZ) unleash the witch’s wrath when they seek R&R on her property and discover the doll she left behind in a well. The body count is zero but there is never a dull moment when the walls are bleeding, snakes and tarantulas are being hallucinated, refrigerators are teeming with rats, and folks start flying around and falling through mirrors. Rational sense is thrown to the birds and the special effects resemble a grade school play but, overall, I feel like I’m watching the Mexican version of CATHY’S CURSE and pigs only think they love slop when compared to the euphoria I find myself in. I never want to see a good move again; I know where I belong. V.O.T. is directed by RENE CARDONA III, the son of the guy who did 1978’s BERMUDA TRIANGLE and grandson of the guy who did NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES and ‘59s SANTA CLAUS. Talk about a dynasty! I sure hope there’s a RENE CARDONA IV.
VACATION OF TERROR 2: DIABOLICAL BIRTHDAY
Speaking of sequels, having enjoyed V.O.T. so much, I was beside myself with joy to see that my new DVD set came with its further installment. If it were half as good I’d be content enough, but my expectations were blown completely out of the water. Part 2 finds the niece’s boyfriend from the first film (PEDRO FERNANDEZ) off on his own adventure where he is again confronted by the dreaded witch doll! It gets better! The doll not only transforms from porcelain to felt muppet but it also splits at the seams and a giant lizard demon complete with tail pops out! Better still, the action takes place at a kids’ Halloween/ birthday party and our hero is joined by TATIANA, a Mexican pop star, who brings along her own TIFFANY-style musical number! Is this much fun legal? Lifting heavily from POLTERGEIST and ELM STREET, V.O.T.2 is non-stop, surreal lunacy with special effects that swing from awesome to infantile and back again and frankly, it’s a volcano of entertainment. Allow me to reiterate that it takes place on Halloween.
CEMETERY OF TERROR
Satisfied as I was with the VACATION movies, I had no right to expect my winning streak to continue and then came CEMETERY OF TERROR. It too takes place on Halloween and it too rocked my world. A bunch of teenagers steal a corpse not realizing the body is that of Mexico’s answer to Michael Myers, a bearded goon named Devlon. He’s even got a Loomis type following him around (NIGHTMARE CITY’s HUGO STIGLITZ) and he kills folks to the synth-beats of a faux-HALLOWEEN score! Just when you think things can’t get any more wonderful, a group of children happen upon the cemetery where Devlon was resurrected and are confronted by an army of THRILLER zombies! (One of the kids is even wearing a MICHAEL JACKSON jacket!) Yes, I’ve watched this one twice already and will be spinning it again in October.
Can I even take anymore? A hulking Satanist is put to death during the inquisition and held quiet by a hatchet removed hundreds of years later by group of grave robbing teens. This one appears to be inspired heavily by THE EVIL DEAD and FRIDAY THE 13TH (particularly JASON LIVES) and it really delivers the gore. I’ve always wondered what happened to the spirit of American horror films in the late eighties and now I believe that it obviously just jumped on over to Mexico. GRAVE ROBBERS is directed by the same guy who did CEMETERY OF TERROR (RUBEN GALIDO JR.) and it not only makes for a perfect companion piece, but it also shares some of the same cast. The killer with his trademark axe and hooded robe is highly memorable and what a shame he was not awarded a sequel!
This time a group of kids venture into the woods to compete in a bear hunt but instead find themselves being hunted by a crazed Vietnam vet. I wasn’t sure if I was going to dig the less supernatural set up of this one, but I was appeased to see my pal PEDRO from the V.O.T. films playing the lead role. HELL’S TRAP borrows a bit from RAMBO and PREDATOR; however, the killer is certainly slasher-inspired with his Freddy-style knife glove and the pale expressionless HALLOWEEN mask covering his scarred face. When utilizing home made traps a’la THE FINAL TERROR fails, he’s not afraid of disposing of multiple characters via sub machine gun and hand grenade. I usually prefer my horror gun-free but having disposed of several characters with his Freddy glove, I guess this guy has earned the right to bare arms. This one is directed by PEDRO GALINA JR., the gentleman responsible for V.O.T.’s wild sequel.
AND THE REST
This set may claim “3 Discs… Six films!” but it’s just being modest, there are actually 4 discs and 8 films. You also get DEMON RAT, which I’ll save for a rainy day, and two versions of DON’T PANIC which, for some strange reason, I didn’t care for but will give another try in the future. What a great find, especially if you can purchase them used. My beloved set cost me less than ten bucks!
If you believe enthusiasm trumps technique, if you don’t mind subtitles and can look past and/or adore makeshift effects and bombardments of hokiness, this is your dream ticket especially with Halloween fast approaching. If you are a fan of eighties horror, and feel as if you’ve been scrapping the barrel lately looking for new finds, it’s like striking oil and dancing under black rain.
Thank God I didn’t go back on this accidental purchase; oh what I would have missed.
It’s been one week since Halloween split town so I went out to photograph all the dead pumpkins it left in its wake. I was hoping for shots of rotting and mushed old timer faces, but all these guys look pretty good. Are they using more preservatives in pumpkins this year or is life just less rotten in general?
ALSO:: For the love of Skeletor, what is it with you folks who put pumpkins on your doorsteps and don’t carve them? What is that? How can you look at a pumpkin and not shove a butcher knife into it? I know they rot when you cut into them, that’s the point!
For last year’s rotting pumpkin parade do the right thing and press HERE.