The Unborn (2009)

Before we start talking about the movie THE UNBORN I have to tell you guys about the crazy day I’ve had. Can you believe that I ran over a four-year-old child in my car?

Oh, don’t worry. He seemed O.K. when I left him. In fact, all I gotta say on the subject is what a weird kid!

Now, do you feel that perhaps my attitude about what I’ve done seems a bit I don’t know… casual? Well don’t worry, I DID NOT run over a kid in my car but in the movie THE UNBORN a character literally tells her friend what I just told you and her friend’s response is to basically shoo her away and change the subject back to herself. Herself being Casey Beldon (ODETTE YUSTMAN), who just won’t stop bellyaching about some ghostly unborn sibling who keeps tormenting her. Hey Casey, if you think unborn siblings are a pain in the ass, try dealing with ones that lived!

Being inherently self obsessed and devoutly whiney myself, I hate to throw stones but Casey’s reaction to her gal pal’s admission to a hit in run incident involving a child is pretty much par for the course in THE UNBORN. Vivid hallucinations of head twisting ghouls, potato bugs springing out of cracked eggs and tentacles sprouting out of glory holes in a women’s rest room (!?!) illicit similar reactions. Sure she screams with the best of them, but the constant constipated expression on her face in the aftermath would be a more appropriate reaction for somebody who has misplaced her cell phone.

I tried to have an open mind and give THE UNBORN a fair shake. I swear to God I did, even though I knew going in that this would probably be one of those post-RING killer kid flicks where everybody’s C.G.I. jaw expands like taffy and the camera shakes a lot to represent action. While we are on the subject, PLEASE STOP MAKING BLUE TONED MOVIES! I feel like I’m flipping through a fashion magazine at the dentist’s office rather than watching a film. I once had an art teacher say to me, “If everything is important, nothing is important” and I think that applies to films like THE UNBORN that bludgeon you with their visual style. (Entire UNDERWORLD series you might want to jot this down.) It looks great, I’m a sucker for a glossy well photographed flick but when there is zero contrast throughout, it ends up looking like a subway car speeding by that you just can’t focus on.

I would have loved a well done exorcism movie my friends but I just can’t get behind a movie that stubbornly refuses to touch ground with anything resembling life on this planet. I think SPEED RACER had more of a natural sense of the human condition than I found here. Furthermore, how can I ever forgive a movie that makes GARY OLDMAN look like RODDY McDOWALL? To be nice, THE UNBORN does have a few cool, surreal moments, …well, actually no, I take that back. I think that the winter backdrop looked nice…um…yeah, the snow was pretty. Well, I’m sorry THE UNBORN ya kinda suck, but I will throw ya this bone…that glory hole monster was like the second most disgusting thing that I have ever seen in a public restroom, so big props there!

Eden Lake

Maybe your Unkle Lancifer is naive but my reasoning behind making my personal ordeal public is the idea that perhaps by doing so I can allow the healing to begin and maybe just maybe, save somebody from making the same mistakes I have…

Last night I invited the movie EDEN LAKE over to spend some time with me. I had heard some great things about it and had seen it on a couple of best of 2008 horror lists, so I guess I was intrigued. Originally I wasn’t attracted to it at all. I wasn’t thrilled with the box art it wore and let’s face it, I’ve been around the block a couple times; I doubted it had anything new to offer me. At some point I heard it was about killer kids and I must have just convinced myself that my interest was professional and that our meeting would benefit Kindertrauma in some way. All right I’ll be honest, in the back of my mind I guess I did want to be scared a little too. It’s been so long since a movie really got to me, you know? Maybe EDEN LAKE could make me feel the way I used to, when I was young and the world was full of horrifying possibilities…

EDEN LAKE slipped into the DVD player at about eleven. I sorta made it watch the TOP CHEF finale with me first (Carla, NO!!!!). I had been drinking some beer, but I swear I was not drunk and from what I could tell neither was EDEN LAKE. Everything was fine for a while. Sure it was a bit uncomfortable and I did feel like I had heard everything EDEN LAKE was saying to me a million times before. Still I wasn’t going to throw in the towel, a lot people really seemed to like EDEN LAKE, and a movie with that many friends can’t be all bad right? I mean, at least that was what I was thinking.

Aunt John went to bed around eleven thirty which was fine by me. I don’t need a chaperone and I could tell Auntie wasn’t too keen on the way things were moving forward anyway. He wasn’t too supportive about my relationship with WOLF CREEK either and that worked out fine, so more room on the couch for me! Now that we were alone I was hanging on EDEN CREEK’s every word. The closer I looked the more it became evident that EDEN really might deserve its reputation.

Then EDEN LAKE hauled off and punched me square in the face…

Before I could even react, EDEN LAKE punched me yet again. When I stood up to demand that it get out of my DVD player it boxed my ears and kneed me in the groin. I fell into the coffee table knocking over a bowel of Gummie Life Savers. I remember staring at their bright colors and noticing how they clashed against the carpet. EDEN LAKE began to kick me over and over again in the stomach, my pleas for mercy met with mocking laughter. At one point I remember EDEN offering me a hand, as if it were all just a misunderstanding and that it really did want to be my friend, but the pathetic smile I mustered at this idea was quickly erased by a brass lamp crashing down upon my head. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Sure my blind date with IRREVERSIBLE didn’t exactly go as planned either, but I chalked that one up to being my fault for ignoring the signs. I trusted EDEN LAKE to be a gentleman; I mean it’s British for chrissake!

Maybe I’ve got a bit of that Stockholm syndrome because even though I got my ass handed to me, I can’t let go of the fact that EDEN LAKE, vicious as it may be, really is a good film. I know it’s manipulative as hell, but it looks really good and it takes its job seriously. I’m still aching though and trying to see through a fog of hopelessness. Did I get what I asked for? I wanted to be horrified but I guess I forgot what that really meant. Now I’m left picking up the pieces. How can I explain any of this to anyone who has not experienced it?

If you’re reading this EDEN LAKE, I want you to know that you are a very good movie, but make no mistake I never want to see you again!!! Also, I think you may have accidently taken my will to live with you in your haste to leave the crime scene. Do you think you could just slip it through the mail slot the next time you are in the area? I’m gonna need that back.

Official Traumatizer :: Jason Voorhees

Hey look at the date, it’s Friday the 13th!!! What a great day to make Jason Voorhees, Camp Crystal Lake’s resident bad boy an Official Traumatizer! There is not much I can say about Jason that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but what I can do is tell you about my own first experience with the film FRIDAY THE 13TH and my original introduction to the little mongoloid boy named Jason Voorhees.

Little Unkle Lancifer was too young to go see the first FRIDAY THE 13th in the movie theater, but thanks to FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine I was well aware of its existence. (Although to be accurate, I was at least partially confusing it with another film, 1979’s THE ORPHAN). My eldest brother, who I imagined at the time had the most fulfilling existence imaginable, WAS old enough to check out this intriguing and mysterious movie which he did as far as I recall, as soon humanly possible.

Now, unlike myself, my older brother is not a light touch when it comes to horror. In fact, it was a badge of honor for him to return from a film and declare himself unfazed and unimpressed by what he had seen on the screen. His attraction to the genre appeared to me to be more as if he were accepting some unsaid dare. He was out to prove that he could withstand anything presented to him and I was sure at the end of the day he would much rather be watching BRUCE LEE.

My usually too cool for school older brother returned from FRIDAY THE 13th in a state in which I had never seen him. He was flushed, he was amped and he was absolutely beside himself. It was if he had just witnessed a train crash and was still working through the adrenaline that was coursing through his body. He was literally stunned and therefore I was too, stunned that there was something so scary that it could leave my roughneck, ninja-star throwing sibling in such a state.

Eventually I grew up to be the kind of film spaz that will go ballistic if a movie is ruined for me even slightly. I’m the jerk that won’t enter a theater if I think I’ve missed 30 seconds of the opening and I am known to drive normal people insane with my excessive use of “pause” and “rewind” at home. At this young age though, for all I knew, my only chance to experience FRIDAY THE 13th would be vicariously through my brother so I demanded he tell me everything he could remember of what he had witnessed.

Uncharacteristically, my brother fulfilled my request and regaled every detail from the opening jeep murder to the closing credits. I was mesmerized from start to finish as images both titillating and horrifying passed through my young head. Some might describe FRIDAY‘s plot as slight or even non-existent but, due to my own verbal introduction to the happenings of Crystal Lake, to me it will always skew closer to one of the greatest campfire stories/legends ever told. At this point in my life (and maybe it’s due to the fact that I was ruefully born with only one foot in reality) I took the events told to me as gospel. When he eventually described little Jason’s final exodus from the murky bottom of the lake my jaw hit the shag carpet.

Not very much later a VCR appeared in our living room. Our family was one of the first in our neighborhood to be graced with one (don’t feel too bad for those other kids on the block, they all had that amazing invention called “cable” which we could only dream of). Wow. The idea of watching a WHOLE movie in your home whenever you wanted… what a luxury! Not surprisingly, one of the first tapes I had to get my grubby hands on was FRIDAY THE 13TH; now I could finally see what all of the hubbub was about and watch the vaporous story in my head transform into something permanent and concrete on the television screen.

I am happy to say that I was not even remotely disappointed. I could not believe I was getting a chance to eavesdrop and spy on this incredible universe full of denim cut-offs, strip Monopoly and bloody decapitations. If this was what being older was going to be like, sign me up I thought. I’m sure actually being systematically butchered by an unseen presence probably bites the big one in real life, but to me, at the time, it seemed like a great way to spend a Friday night. As LYNN REDGRAVE used to say, “This is Living!”

Having already heard the entire story from my brother you would think that I would be completely prepared for the film’s shocker ending, but poor dense me was still taken off guard. I knew Jason was at some point going to rise from the lake, but I had foolishly thought that there would be some kind of build up to such a thing. As Alice (ADRIENNE KING) put her hand into the reflecting water of Crystal Lake, I was pretty sure young Jason was a few scenes away and I instinctively assumed that a JAWS like score would warn me of that danger approaching. No such luck, as Jason jumped out of the lake I jumped out off the couch. I simply had no defense in regards to FRIDAY THE 13TH and I loved the freefall feeling it injected me with, like being on a sled and knowing the ride wasn’t over until the sled said it was over.

No matter how securely the original FRIDAY embeds itself within our culture (Let’s face it folks, it’s here to stay), for some reason, it has always been able to squirm its way out of receiving all the respect that it rightfully deserves. The critical among us can fault the direction, but the reality is that FRIDAY accomplishes everything it sets out to do and then some. One could fault it for being derivative or slap-shot, but dozens of films have tried to duplicate its sense of place and atmosphere and failed miserably. You can even gripe that there is little in the way of characterization, but personally I don’t need to know that much about a person to assume that they don’t deserve (or appreciate) an axe splitting their skull in two. You can pile up all the knee jerk dismissals you like, but there is a reason why so many return to this movie again and again throughout their lives.

Jason works and Jason has always worked. Those of us who were introduced to him in our youth eventually do master some control over our fear of him, but we’re still his bitches all the same. Like many slasher films, FRIDAY is, at its heart, a campfire story and campfire stories not only do not require the fundamental elements that create great literature to work, but actually are hobbled by such useless chaff. It is meant to scare you, to leave you feeling unsafe, to make you think twice about that twig that just snapped. It’s meant to cast a spell over you that alters your perception to the point that the world around you suddenly seems unfamiliar and fraught with potential danger. It’s meant to be fun, a giddy first dance with death; a way to take the anxieties associated with the approaching seductive freedoms of adulthood and milk them for all they are worth. I’m glad that my first FRIDAY THE 13TH movie actually took place in my own head thanks to my older brother’s surprisingly good storytelling skills, but let’s face it, my brother had some excellent material to work with; Jason Voorhees is a potent legend and a born Traumatizer.


Dead of Night (1977)

I can’t lie to you kids. The first two stories in this DAN CURTIS-directed, RICHARD MATHESON-scripted horror anthology/potential series pilot are in my opinion, not so hot. They are well cast and serviceable enough, but your usually game Unkle found himself looking down at his non-existent watch on more occasions than he would prefer. The first tale involves a young ED BEGLEY, JR. traveling through time in an antique car (’nuff said) and the second involves PATRICK MACNEE (yikes! Count Iblis from the original BATTLESTAR GALACTIA!) and ANJANETTE COMER (from Kinder-fave THE BABY) in a rather routine vampire tale. Third times a charm though, because the last story entitled “Bobby” delivers more creeps than an OSMOND family obstetrician.

In “Bobby,” JOAN HACKET (HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN) is a grieving mother who is having trouble dealing with the recent drowning death of her young son (BURNT OFFERINGS’ chimney pancake LEE MONTGOMERY). Rather than going the Mrs. Voorhees route and hacking up individuals who are not even remotely responsible for the tragedy, JOAN decides to attack the problem at its source and reanimate her drowned kid via black magic. Take it from me, black magic can and will fix all of your problems BUT there is always some kind of tricky catch! Dealing with Satan is a lot like dealing with Colombia House.

You don’t have to be familiar with THE MONKEY’S PAW or even PET SEMATARY to know that Mom is in for a rude awakening when a soaked Bobby does indeed show up on her doorstep. Her gradual realization that Bobby is not quite as she remembers is akin to getting excited to watch LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and then realizing it is a “California” episode. CURTIS, who staged a parallel two character showdown in TRILOGY OF TERROR, knows which screws to tighten and when and the final moments in “Bobby” brand a similar lasting mental scar. My favorite bit involves a mocking, paranoia inspiring phone call from the never seen Dad. It’s a classic moment of all-consuming dread that really gets under your skin. As mediocre as DEAD OF NIGHT begins, this last tale more than makes up for it. “Bobby” is not only classic DAN CURTIS, it’s some serious classic Kindertrauma as well.

Kinderpal FatherOfTears on Kill Baby Kill

There is a nice list on this website featuring little kids who are killers and they are all great examples. There is another killer kid that should be mentioned; Melissa Graps (VALERIA VALERI) from MARIO BAVA‘s KILL BABY KILL. Melissa was the daughter of some local hated Baroness and was accidentally killed by a bull during a town festival. The locals were too busy getting plastered and they didn’t like the kid, so they ignored her, even when she rang a church bell for help and so she eventually bled to death. Momma Baroness, who happened to be a medium, decided to get revenge on the town by summoning up her dead 7-year-old and having her kill the locals.

The first time Melissa would appear to her victims she would only creep them out. The second time she appeared to them she would force them to kill themselves! She would show up with a mischievous giggle that was years ahead of DR. GIGGLES and there would be P.O.V. shots of her swinging on a swing in the dead of night. One victim, the town inn keeper’s daughter, was taunted by the ghost child when Melissa put her hands on her window, placed her face up to it and simply stared at the poor kid!

Of course the teenager knew that she was Melissa’s next target so her parents enlisted the help of a local witch who, among other things, flogs the kid with thorny bushes! She also makes the kid wear a ring of barbed wire around her torso to ward off Melissa. The doctor who was sent to town to investigate the suicides finds this out and thinks it’s crazy. He removes the barbed wire from the girl and assumes that it is all superstition and that the girl will be alright. WRONG!!! The next night the girl is woken from her sleep and she sees Melissa by the window again. Melissa puts the girl in a trance and she forces her to impale herself with a piece of metal that’s sticking out of a wall mounted candle holder. There is another scene where the doctor goes to the Baroness’s castle and he runs into the ghost who announces her presence by throwing a bouncing ball down the hallway.

Melissa then tells the doctor her name and runs off giggling down a spiral staircase. The kid has this sadistic look in her eyes. This is seen when she shows up in the closet of the town burgermiester as he’s about to give the doctor’s new found assistant, a local med student played by ERIKA BLANC of THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE fame, a birth certificate showing her who her true parents were (ERIKA is apparently tied in to the killer kid’s history).

O.K., I don’t want to give much more away, but near the end the doctor and ERIKA go to the Baroness’s place and she takes him to Melissa’s bedroom which is full of dolls. Well guess who is sitting on the floor with the dolls!

(That repeating room sequence HAD to have inspired DAVID LYNCH when he did that Red Room sequence in the last episode of TWIN PEAKS!)

Creepy kid eh? So there she is. Melissa Graps, creepy killer child who could fit in with all the other Kindertrauma kids who kill!

The Boogey Man (1980)

One of the very first horror movies that I ever caught on VHS was 1980’s THE BOOGEY MAN directed by ULLI LOMMEL. It’s box art and title had me assuming I would be viewing something along the same lines as HALLOWEEN. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Sure the opening scenes visually crib from JOHN CARPENTER’s classic and the title is an obvious cash-in, but that’s where the similarities end. If you’re looking for subtle nuance or even a vague feigning of good taste just let THE BOOGEY MAN, as Dionne Warwick sang, “Walk on by.” This movie though, as rough around the edges, derivative and generic as it sometimes is, just can’t help being strangely disturbing in it’s own way. The opening kill alone should be in the kindertrauma hall of fame.

Let’s face it, HALLOWEEN’s Judith Myers had a pretty good life up until her brother snuffed it out. Not so with THE BOOGEY MAN’s young brother and sister team Lacey and Willy (NATASHA SCHIANO and JAY WRIGHT) who, when we open the picture, live in the kind of f-ed up environment that wouldn’t befall Judith Myers until ROB ZOMBIE got a hold of her years later. When we first meet these wide-eyed siblings they are spying on their drunken wreck of a mother as she seduces a butch bruiser in the family living room. We never see the guy’s face clearly because soon mom’s kinky pantyhose fetish comes to light and he is wearing said hose on his face.

I’m not sure why but this pantyhose disguise routine was popular on crime shows back in the day and I don’t mind telling you that it always creeped the hell out of me. I mean, props to mom for getting her groove on but this ain’t the type you want hanging around your kids! That obvious fact is made even clearer when the kids are caught spying and, under the approving eye of drunk mommy, the little boy is tied up and gagged to a bed and then slapped for good measure. Luckily sis in her candy cane stripped pajamas knows exactly where the family keeps the butcher knife so she cuts loose her bro. Once free lil’ Willy, as boys will often do, decides it’s high time to stab pantyhose face in the spine as he bumps ugglies with trashy ma in that oddest of make-out joints the bedroom.

What else do you need to know about this movie? 20 years later the kids are grown (and f-d) up and played by real life brother sister team SUZANNA and NICHOLAS LOVE (Suzanne was LUMMEL’s BARBEAU at the time.) They are desperately trying to get over their serious DR. PHIL baggage but Willy is so damn shell shocked he’s gone mute. Sis Lacey makes the brilliant decision to revisit her past in order to heal (don’t try this at home folks!) but ends up freeing the dead dude from a mirror he’s been hanging out in so that he can brutally demolish everybody she comes into contact with.

THE BOOGEY MAN is a cheap, synth scored, runaway train but there are so many ideas (both original AND stolen) bouncing around that you kind of just have to sit back in awe. There are plenty of amazing deaths (the kissing double murder by a knife through two open mouths is inspired) but if gore ain’t your bag you’ll be happy to know that people are routinely speaking in demonic voices, shooting light beams out of their eyeballs and hovering above the ground too. I’m telling you, this supernatural slash-a-thon knows no bounds! In fact, the creepy windows from THE AMITYVILLE HORROR even stop by for a spell (pretty amazing when you consider those windows totally snubbed THE AMITYVILLE CURSE!) THE BOOGEY MAN is strewn with some choppy editing and technical problems galore but its willingness to be as deranged as it wants to be (scary pantyhose face included) leaves a lasting impression.

P.S. O.K I admit it, I did rewind over and over again the part where the brat gets a window (the non-AMITYVILLE type) smashed down on his head. Does that make me a bad person? Aw, who asked ya!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Charles W. on Gun-Toting Little Girls

Hey here’s a movie that disturbed me as a child and I have not been able to figure out what movie it was. Not even Joe Bob Briggs could figure this one out, people working in underground movie shops just shrug. The movie was made in the ‘80s and it’s about two girls around the age of 8 who live on a beach. One is brunette and the other is blond, I think their mom is single and she hooks up with some guy who is their next-door neighbor. The guy gives the blond girl a camera for her birthday and the two girls go around taking pictures of everything. They sneak in on their neighbor having an affair with another woman and conspire to black mail him writing him threatening letters with photographic evidence. The adults freak out and everything, lots of drama.

But the part that freaked me out was the ending, the blond girl gets a hold of a revolver and shoots the guy to death at the end on the beach! Like I’m talking big bloody squibs, and the really awful part is the girl turns the gun on her brunette haired friend, the movie ends with a crying small girl running into the water with blood squibs bursting on her back! I use to watch every horror movie imaginable when I was young and was never bothered by any of them but this movie always filled me with a feeling of dread. It never occurred to me that kids could die violently before I saw that and I remember being seriously disturbed after the first viewing.

I saw this movie like more than once when I was a child because my sister kept renting it but she can’t even remember the title now. This was back in 1988 when I last saw it and I was in kindergarten. I think I eventually end up asking anyone I talk movies with about this movie, no one has seen it, plot summary search on IMDB brings up nothing. Really hard to find any info on it. I think it might have had the word SWEET or BABY or DARLING in the title.

UNK SEZ: Dear Charles, you made my day because I know exactly the movie you are talking about is! It’s from 1989, stars JOHN HURT and is entitled LITTLE SWEETHEART. In fact, that movie is actually based on a novel by ARTHUR WISE called NAUGHTY GIRLS which I read In my youth. Strangely enough, that book had such an impact on me that not only did we post the cover in the early days of Kindertrauma HERE but we also use a bastardized verson of its artwork as the kindertrauma Myspace avatar! I’ve never actually seen the film as I did not even know of its existence until recently but, considering the impression it left upon you, I’ll be tracking it down soon! You can check out the trailer HERE.

Kindertrauma Movie of the Year :: Let The Right One In

Look at that damned calendar! The year is over!! What the heck?! Remember good ol’ last year when we were able to do an overview of all the creepy kids that appeared in horror films over the year? Sure you do, it’s HERE. Well, what in the name of Rhoda Penmark are we supposed to do this year? Sure, kids appeared on the sidelines in movies like MIRRORS, but their presence seemed only required so that they could mutter faux-creepy slogans for use as gotcha moments in the movie’s trailers. THE ORPHANAGE ruled for sure, but one movie does not an end of year overview make and technically it was made in 2007.

If you’re anything like the frightening voices that torment me nonstop in my head, you’re probably screaming in a twisted hag voice “Unkle Lancifer, you need to get out more!” Yes, countless hours were wasted this year playing Lego Playstation games, I’ll grant you that, but remember I live in Bumblef*ck where the only films on the theater marquee are ROCHELLE, ROCHELLE and THE FLOWER THAT DRANK THE MOON. Adding insult to unjustifiable rationalization, TRICK R’ TREAT is still sadly M.I.A. and the U.K. flick THE CHILDREN is yet (to my knowledge) to jump across the pond.

What was I to do? How was I to make any kind of statement about kids in horror in 2008? I think there was a kid in that French movie FRONTIERS, I assume there was a zombie tyke in QUARANTINE, and didn’t some kids try to warn people to stay clear of THE RUINS? A spiraling spurious non-list began to form in my mind’s eye. Who was I kidding? Then, there I was at my wits end and fantasizing about fashioning a noose from NERDS ROPE when I received a message from a carrier vulture named Saint Antonio Sanchez informing me that maybe perhaps I should check out LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN makes up for everything, and it saved my year. I’m not just saying this because I was on the precipice of the abyss when we met; I mean it. Even outside the realm of horror it may be the best movie of the year, it certainly and without question is the Kindertraumiest. Aunt John has no say in this matter whatsoever; I’m prepared to skip camp if rebuffed. I, with the power of Grayskull and inspired by this unique film, have decreed that a new award must be forged for future years and that award is the KINDERTRAUMA MOVIE OF THE YEAR! That’s right, it’s official, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is KINDERTRAUMA MOVIE OF THE YEAR! We must all listen to MORRISSEY (to whom it owes its title) today in celebration.

What is so special about this movie and what can I tell you about it without ruining it? First of all, I’d just like to say this movie does not spaz out and get all up in your face. That is very important to me. It’s calm and peaceful yet stand warned, it’s not afraid to smack you around a little when you start feeling too secure and cozy. It’s about actual human connection, how we change the people who come into our lives and how they change us. More importantly, it shows how outsiders can identify themselves in each other and gather strength from their alliance. (Call me nuts but REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE sprung to my mind not to mention E.T. with a taste for blood). To top it all off there is mucho snow (my cinematic Achilles heal) and the whole thing is filmed as simply and as exquisitely as humanly possible.

It is a “horror” movie for sure, but I have to point out that it reflects the actual universe that we live in far more accurately than most non-horror films (Certainly more than all the superhero, wedding disaster and dopey buddy flicks released this year combined). This is the real deal folks. The main characters may be twelve (even twelve for a looooong time) but their ability to bond without judgment and care for each other is something you rarely get to see in films that feature characters of any age.

Less you think I’m reviewing SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING COFFIN, I should inform you that many people die undeserving deaths within this film and at the hands of these spiritual and soulful characters. Well, what can I tell you? You got to break eggs before you devil them and I’m so enamored with these kooky kids that if that’s what keeps ’em writing love notes and teaching each other the Rubik’s Cube, so be it. (By the way, apparently there is no moral question in my mind concerning the film’s final poolside massacre as I laughed whole heartily and gleefully all through it, I may have even clapped).

I really don’t want to say much more as I don’t want to spoil anything, but GO see this movie! If it’s not playing around you yet go buy the book it’s based on by JOHN AJIDE LINDQVIST instead (I’m devouring it now). This is the type of horror tale that comes around far too rarely and, like a long lost soul mate, it lifts the genre up to a whole new level.

P.S. Many films have attempted the proverbial “attacked by cats” scene with questionable to borderline comical results. This is due to the rookie mistake of actually throwing live cats onto people in order to simulate the melee. Not so in LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I’m so happy now that somebody has finally done it right!

The Dark (2005)

I kind of enjoy this quiet brooder that many seem to despise. I can’t disagree that it’s far too familiar and that nobody needs another “Where’s My Kid At?/ Not Without My Undead Daughter!” flick. Maybe I’m just a sucker for its Isle of Mann pretending to be a Welsh seaside location. Then again I’ve always had a thing for hometown heroine MARIA BELLO who, if she donned a fake mustache, I’d marry tomorrow (sorry A.J.!) I admit that THE DARK may not reinvent the wheel-o, but the cinematography is borderline gorgeous and even though it has maybe five too many endings, it’s got a passionate core that’s enviable.

BELLO plays Adelle, an emotionally distant mother who carts her young daughter Sarah (SOPHIE STUCKEY) off to the isolated shabby chic home of her estranged ex (SEAN BEAN). Nightmares of losing her daughter become prophetic as the little girl ends up being whisked away by the crashing sea. In actuality, she is trapped in a mythical Welsh underworld known as “Annwn.” Soon after a girl similar in age as the missing daughter appears and it becomes evident that a trade of some sort has been made. Unfortunately, folks who return from Annwyn are worse for the wear and tend to have a highly toxic effect on livestock and a general schleprockian disposition.

Following the requisite searching of the local library’s microfilm collection, Adelle decides the only way to get back her real daughter is to force a trade back by chucking the new kid off a cliff. (Personally I would have kept the depressing Wednesday Addams chick and let my iPod wearing mouthy brat to her new home.)

I doubt THE DARK could rock anybody’s world, but it’s a perfect time-waster on a winter night. I rather enjoyed learning about the refreshingly low key limbo like dimension “Annwyn” to boot. The whole affair is more spooky than scary, but MAURICE ROEVES is perfect as the salt of the Earth handyman Dafydd and flash back scenes of homemade lobotomies are actually kind of cringe worthy. Extra kudos are earned by showcasing a suicide cult learning the hard way that the first step off a cliff is a real doozy.

More than anything though, this movie has the world’s most profound, yet borderline hilarious pie-in-the-face door slamming scene I think I have ever witnessed, That’s gotta count for something!

Kiss Daddy Goodbye

This telekinetic killer munchkin flick is not like anything you’ve ever witnessed. You know your old Unk not only has a high tolerance for lameness, but also a masochistic sweet tooth for it, right? Well, I may have finally met my match. Here is a movie that had me waxing nostalgic for the brilliant acting in CATHY’S CURSE and the technical achievement of THE CHILDREN. Watching KISS DADDY GOODBYE is sort of like watching your clothes twirl around in a drying machine while overdosing on Quaaludes. It’s not so much a movie as a celluloid incantation infused with the power to make time stop.

After watching their father get lazily murdered by vaguely interested motorcyclists, lethargic psychic-wonder twins Beth and Michael reanimate their pop’s corpse. Revenge for his ghastly murder is put on hold, as zombie Dad’s primary function seems to be as an unpaid servant/chauffeur. (If your idea of horror is watching blank faced children eating yogurt and building sand castles look no further). Social worker MARILYN BURNS (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and police officer FABIAN FORTE are at risk of discovering the truth about the tykes if they ever leave the one-desk police station set they seem perpetually trapped in.

As dopey as the general plot is, it’s the film’s delivery that will hold you spellbound. Everyone seems hypnotized and perhaps discretely zapped with unseen cow prods when required to speak. The only word I can think of to describe the two children’s performances is “narcoleptic.” To tell you the truth, I’m not the type to require that a film have even passable acting in it. I’ve done without many times before and I’m fine, who am I LEE STRASBERG? Yet, I would prefer that actors are at least of the caliber to deliver a line without trailing off, getting glassy eyed or becoming visibly bored.

At some point the director must have gotten as exasperated as myself and decided to coin the term “think-speak.” This is when the kids stop talking all together and begin to communicate by awkward silences and barely focused half stares. It doesn’t really solve the problem but it does, at least, present a much-needed break from it. MARILYN and FABIAN do not fare much better, which is a shame because those two are sort of my dream cast. I have a feeling that just being in the general vicinity of the children made them drowsy. The two are sort of forced to walk in circles throughout and spend a great deal of time waiting for MARILYN‘s car to get fixed.

Frequently shown on ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE, this is one movie that benefited richly from colorful inserts filled with bad puns and big boobs. Even without ELVIRA‘s help, though, there is something so backwards and misguided here that you’re sure not to ever forget the experience. Mind numbing drudgery aside, there is probably no way a person could get through a viewing without laughing out loud at least once. Maybe laughter was not the response the filmmakers intended but it sure beats a yawn.