Carrie (Brat Productions)

Historically, theater and your dear old Aunt John have had a rocky relationship. Admittedly, I have the attention span of a gnat doing the backstroke in bongwater and the prospect of sitting in a captive position without a regulated commercial break, whereby I can catch a smoke, escalates my innate fidgetiness. I am the last person you want to watch a DVD with if you require absolute silence (UNK SEZ: for serious!) or, moreover, drag to a play. I have walked out on more theatrical productions at intermission than I can recall — ’cause that’s I how roll — and yeah, I’m looking at you TOMMY.

That said, I had some personal reservations when I read that local theater company BRAT was mounting a production of CARRIE, a comedy by ERIK JACKSON, based on the novel by STEPHEN KING. And by personal reservations, I mean could I sit still long enough without embarrassing or otherwise raising the ire of Unkle Lancifer?

Well dear readers, after last night’s outing, I am happy to say that I sat completely enraptured, when I wasn’t comprising my bladder control from laughing, and I did not once give your Unk pause to pretend to not know me. More importantly though, stop whatever it is that you are doing, you have got to go see this stage version of CARRIE! I don’t care where you live… now is the time to visit Philadelphia, so get your ass on the BoltBus or JetBlue, and see this chestnut before the final curtain drops on November 7th.

Seriously, I could care less about the Tonys, but if I had the power to be kingmaker and give out such awards, this whole cast gets gold stars. LEAH WALTON steals every last scene in her PIPER LAURIE as channeled by ANDREA MARTIN interpretation of Carrie’s kooky mom Margaret White. She does meet her match head on at a poorly attended Tupperware Party (the rapid-fire ‘70s references abounding in this play are beyond awesome) when COLLEEN CORCORAN shows up as Carrie’s concerned gym teacher, Miss Gardner. CORCORAN is so on her A-Game as she puts Carrie’s bullies (Chris Hargensen, et al.) through what could best be described as a jazzercise showdown.

The play cleverly mashes up the classic novel with the ingenious film and yet has enough of its own gumption to throw in a couple of elements all its own. The music is amazing and the timing on the “Carrie” cue in a certain KANSAS song is beyond impressive. The occasionally wonky special effects don’t stand a chance in hell… they are stomped on by the fearless and improvisation-ready cast. Expect more hilarity than horror. If you haven’t figured out what makes this archetypal tale a permanent go-to, the message is spelled out for you before the curtain closes. Individuality is a gift not a curse. Go BRAT and go CARRIE… it is a SNELL of a good time!



If W.C. FIELDS was known for his reluctance to working with kids and animals, then there should be a list of actors that both child and four-legged performers should avoid at all costs. Based solely on her less than subtle performance in MOMMY, and I do mean that in the nicest was possible, PATTY McCORMACK tops my short list of actors children should not work with. On paper, MOMMY loosely reads like an imaginary sequel to McCORMACK’s most infamous work THE BAD SEED. Imagine if little Rhoda Penmark grew up, spawned a tow-headed daughter, became an alpha-Mom, and left a body count in her wake when said daughter Jessica Ann (the completely overwhelmed and out of her league RACHEL LEMIEUX) is overlooked for student of the year. In actuality though, MOMMY has too much working against it to rightfully be considered the heir apparent to the BAD SEED.

For starters, you know something is terribly wrong with a movie when you can barely hear the lead child actress mumble over the score. The omnipresent music in MOMMY takes on a life of its own and drowns out just about everyone except for McCORMACK who belts out every line like she is performing for the back row in a theatre production. I know the budget on this one was paltry, but surely there was a boom mike on set. Dial it down a notch PATTY! Taking the opposite approach is JASON MILLER (THE EXORCIST’s Father Karras) as the chain-smoking Lieutenant March hot on the heels of our murderous matriarch. Self-aware enough to realize that this vehicle is beneath his esteemed horror pedigree, his boredom is palpable.

Had MOMMY played it for laughs, like JOHN WATERS’ SERIAL MOM, it could be a contender as a camp classic. It features cameos by MAJEL BARRETT, the “First Lady” of STAR TREK and crime writer MICKEY SPILLANE, as well as undisputed B-Queen BRINKE STEVENS as the oddly eye-browed Aunt Beth. Not even this troika, bolstered by MILLER, can wrestle MOMMY away from McCORMACK. It’s ultimately her showcase, albeit a sorely disappointing one. Both she and the legacy of Rhoda Penmark both deserve much better.

Happy Mother’s Day!

When it comes to any holiday here at the Kindertrauma Castle, your Unkle Lanciferand Aunt John are all about the recycling and the re-gifting of presents. Call us green, call us thrifty, call us lazy, we could care less. What we do care about, though, on this special day, are mothers and, more specifically, our mothers. Please join us in revisiting the countdown of Trauma-Mommas (both naughty & nice), and two very special Traumafessions from two very special ladies:

Little Otik

Little Otik

Perhaps the one thing your Aunt John knows even less about than birthing babies is the actual desire to have one in the first place. Really, the last thing I need is someone else to ruin my figure, or a write a tell-all book about my disdain for wire hangers. Despite my intrinsic lack of maternal yearnings, I found myself drawn into the dilemma of the childless Czech couple in surrealist director’s JAN SVANKMAJER’s LITTLE OTIK. After the hopelessly impotent Karel (JAN HARTL) fails at impregnating his barren wife Bozena (VERONIKA ZILKOVA, a dead-ringer for HOPE DAVIS if there ever was one), he carves her a baby boy from a gnarled tree root. Bozena is instantly smitten with her psychotic-looking PINOCCHIO, which she names Otik, and begins mothering it as if it were a real child.

Little Otik

Director SVANKMAJER skillfully sets up the action to first seem that Bozena is so far removed from reality that she really thinks her swaddled root is a living and breathing baby. Alas, Bozena is not completely bonkers, though her later actions speak otherwise; Otik is quite the animate object with an even bigger appetite to match. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say he successfully moves from the bottle stage to solids in record time.

Little Otik

Providing a perfect foil to the harried parents with the killer (tree) tyke is the downstairs neighbor girl Alzbetka (KRISTINA ADAMCOVA). The parallels between Alzbetka and THE BAD SEED’s Rhoda Penmark, on the surface, are somewhat obvious: the tow-headed plats, the expressionless affect, and the precocious ingenuity needed to dispatch a pesky pedophile. What differentiates Alzbetka from Rhoda is her subtle transformation from one-note creep to full-fledged Mother Hen. When his parents abandon Oztik, Alzbetka, just short of strapping on one of those BabyBjörns that bother me so, picks up the slack and steps in as the ‘tween surrogate mother figure. As she is cleaning out her mother’s refrigerator, ADAMCOVA steals the movie out from everyone, when the third and final act becomes, more or less, her story.

Little Otik

Known for the animated shorts MEAT LOVE and FLORA, which both make cameos in the film, director SVANKMAJER brings his passion for food, signature animation style, and eye for disconcerting close-ups to LITTLE OTIK. Despite its lengthy run-time (2 hrs. 6 min.), the hypnotic visuals speed the movie along. The next time one of your mid-to-late thirties gal pals starts kvetching about her biological clock, sit her down and make her watch this film. Motherhood is really not for everyone, and it is not without its consequences.

*Special thanks to Reader Tara S. for bringing this gem to our attention!

Baby Blues

2008’s BABY BLUES (be careful there are two films from ‘08 which bear this title!) is a snarling little wombat of a movie and, like a misanthropic reality show contestant, it’s not here to make friends. A minimum of blood is actually spilt on screen, but its subject matter crosses a line that is sure to leave thin-skinned viewers clutching their pearls and mentally designing picket signs. Helen Lovejoy, ya better sit down, this movie is about a mommy who kills her very own children! Now, it’s a well known fact that the fairer sex is completely incapable of such atrocities in real life and that the history of the world has absolutely zero examples of a mother injuring her own children, but here it is anyway…they’ve gone and made a female version of THE SHINING!

This is a difficult little movie folks, and that’s why I like it. It’s not easy watching a mother decide that in order to properly clean house some moppet heads have to roll, but horror never signed up to be easy. In fact, horror pretty much yearns to make you feel a bit uncomfortable and my advice is to let it. I’m saying this because some viewers really are taking offense to this movie, which, in a way, I think is a good thing. Can someone please explain to me why Jack Torrance can run about swinging an axe at his family and wind up with his grinning mug on a Spencer’s Gifts refrigerator magnet, but as soon as a Mom decides to grab a meat cleaver and follow suit people get all fidgety? Sounds like some ol’ fashioned sexism to me! C’mon, there are not enough female horror icons as it is out there. I think it’s time we got behind our trauma-mommas and support their right to go nut-zo! Sure this mom actually snuffs an infant (off camera by the way) and I know nobody likes that idea much but omelets or eggs people? Do you want your delicious scary omelets or do you want to keep your boring eggs?

As illustrated by our list of the 10 MOST HORRIFYING MOVIE MOMS, there is a rich history of killer moms in horror cinema, so what is so especially unnerving about this one? (I mean besides the whole infanticide bit.) My guess is that part of the unease comes from the fact that BABY BLUES catches the viewer off guard by showing a pretty accurate and sympathetic view of mental illness in the beginning (I was reminded of the brilliant CLEAN, SHAVEN) and then it abruptly morphs into full on genuine stalk and slash by the end (Mom really does give Michael Myers a run for his money.) It’s a sharp turn to ask of an audience within such a short time. This clash of tones becomes shriller still when the poor soul we watched fighting off crying jags and audio hallucinations earlier in the film begins spouting out one too many clever zingers ala “Here’s Johnny!” It’s sort of like watching the LIFETIME Channel with one eye and FEARNET with the other, but gee; didn’t I just describe the greatest thing ever? I’ll admit that the logic defying closing scene is nearly impossible to swallow, but I chomped my nails like a cob of corn throughout the film and that’s more than enough for me.

Directors LARS E. JACOBSON and AMARDEEP KALEKA do a great job spotlighting images of warm domestic paraphernalia and creating ominous environments out of the typically mundane. There are some great performances here too from actors you’ll no doubt see much more of in the future. COLLEEN PORCH as “Mom” fearlessly goes from alpha to omega and brings to mind ANGELINA JOLIE when she still had some moxie and lived on Earth (oh, the halcyon days of GIA). RIDGE CANIPE as the final kid never seems less than real and that too can be said of the young actors who play his siblings. JOEL BRYANT as “Dad,” besides providing a much-needed dose of gravitizing stability, has now earned the title of permanent Kindertrauma pin-up (I had to explain to Aunt John that the title BABY BLUES was a reference to postpartum depression and not JOEL’s peepers.) This movie is certainly not for everybody, but if you dig real horror and are not afraid of a little squirming you should check it out. Heck, I’ll go one further and call it the perfect Mother’s Day gift!

TRAUMAFESSIONS :: The Moms of Kindertrauma

TRAUMA-MOMMA WEEK concludes today with two very special Traumafessions from your Unkle Lancifer’s and Aunt John’s very own mothers.
Aunt John’s Mom on THE WIZARD OF OZ:

As a little girl, I didn’t go see horror pictures. I was NEVER into that stuff, and I don’t like them now. Your Grandfather used to take me to see the ones with ESTHER WILLIAMS swimming or MGM musicals on Saturday afternoons. I remember causing a scene at THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S when I was four and had to be taken out of the theater for crying, but I really don’t remember what upset me. That was the movie about the nuns with INGRID BERGMAN and BING CROSBY, so you tell me what was so scary. I do remember going to see the WIZARD OF OZ with my Mother when I was seven or eight, so it was 1947 or 1948, though that came out in ’39. I was sitting on the aisle seat, and when those flying monkeys came on the screen I put my head down. I did not like them one bit. Out of the corner of my eye, in the darkness, I saw a little boy tearing up the aisle screaming in terror being chased by his older sister. I recognized her as a classmate, so I took off after her and we got a hold of her brother in the lobby. My Mother brought them back in the theater and I ended up sharing my seat with my school friend. Her little brother ended up falling asleep in my Mother’s arms.

Unkle Lancifer’s Mom on FRANKENSTEIN & PALS:

Scary movies in my childhood consisted of THE WEREWOLF, FRANKENSTEIN, and COUNT DRACULA. One Saturday back in the late ‘40s, the movie theater in my hometown had a matinée of movies with all of the scariest monsters. A group of friends decided we wanted to go and see the monsters. They promised us a great scare. We were all given tickets with numbers as we paid our admission, which at that time was 25 cents. We all sat down to enjoy the movie with our 10-cent popcorn and drink. After the first movie a man came out on the stage and told us he had a great surprise for us. He then started to call out numbers and asked all those holding these numbers to come up on the stage. I had one of the numbers called and one of my friends also held one. So off to the stage we go, not having any idea of what was in store for us. The house lights dim and the music starts playing. Our backs are to stage right and stage left. All of a sudden the audience starts screaming at the top of their lungs. As we turn around, we are facing all our fears: FRANKENSTEIN, THE WEREWOLF and COUNT DRACULA. As we are screaming they are walking closer and closer. Finally they are standing right next to us and the house lights go up, and they start talking and laughing with us about how great it was to entertain us.

Unkle Lancifer & Aunt John sez: We’d like to thank both of our Moms for the stellar MOMMA-FESSIONS, and send a special thanks to all our readers for their great comments and suggestions this week. Happy Mother’s Day to all y’all mothers!

Official TRAUMA-MOMMA :: Dolores Claiborne


In the midst of making our lists of the worst and best mothers in horror (and non-horror) one name kept floating about with nowhere to land, Dolores Claiborne (KATHY BATES). She didn’t belong with the bad mothers because at the end of the day, her actions were not evil or selfish in anyway, but she didn’t belong with the “nice” mommies either because well, she’s Dolores Claiborne, a cantankerous old woman who, by her own admission, is “half past give a shit.” It was all quite the dilemma until I watched the movie again and realized that Delores needed to be where she would naturally feel the most comfortable…alone. Is DOLORES CLAIBORNE even a horror film? We are talking STEPHEN KING here if that means anything. Let’s just chalk it up as a gothic ghost story because Dolores and her daughter Selena (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH) are truly haunted. They are haunted by a past that includes a severely abusive husband and father and, as BONNIE TYLER might say, a total eclipse of the heart.
As anyone who has seen MISERY knows, KATHY BATES is an imposing force of nature on screen, yet the baggage she brings from that previous portrayal of a STEPHEN KING character is best dropped at the door. This isn’t a sideshow and if you bought your ticket in hopes of seeing the neighborhood witch foam at the mouth, you’re sure to walk home sad and dejected, kicking tin cans. Sure, good old Annie Wilkes has her charms but as far as depth goes, Dolores makes her look like a paper cut out doll. Dolores may drink from a bottle of scotch clearly marked BLACK & WHITE, but morality here is presented as anything but. Could she have made better decisions in her life? Sure, but that just includes her in a club called “human.” Dolores doesn’t enjoy what she has to do, but just like her elaborate maid duties for the persnickety Vera Donavan (JUDY PARFITT), she rolls up her shirt sleeves and plows ahead. Murder may not be a very popular(or legal)choice for solving a problem, but worrying about public perception is a luxury Dolores can’t afford.
More fascinating then her relationship with the daughter that never bothered to look beyond Dolores’ acerbic exterior, is the one she shares with her employer Vera, who spurs on Dolores’ deed. Together, with conspiratorial glances, they share an acknowledgment of a male-dominated world and decide that in order to survive, it is sometimes necessary to draw outside the lines (read kill). Before the film’s end, Dolores does reveal all to her daughter who rightfully admits to not knowing how she feels about her mother’s actions. Serena does state though, that she understands that these actions were done for her. Is Dolores a kind of feminist hero? She herself would balk at such an idea. Her kind of unsung power is the type that we trample over everyday. She does not fulfill our image of what “strength” is. She doesn’t wear the right clothes or have the right haircut or weigh the right amount either. Her victories are not worn on her sleeve or used to advance her “up the ladder.” Everything she does is for her daughter, to keep her “safe and sound” and if that sacrifice is not properly recognized, then that just includes her in a club called “Mother” She is a worker with worker’s hands worn and cracking from the cold, living in a house that someone who does not know her story painted the word “BITCH” on. She’d paint over that word, but she’s learned that sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to. She’s also learned that an “accident” can be an unhappy woman’s best friend. So, to Dolores Claiborne we say, “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!” Your category bashing ways makes you perhaps the best Mother of them all and trust me, there’s no question that you could kick JOBETH WILLIAMS’ ass in hand-to-hand combat. BETSY PALMER, now that’s another story.

TRAUMA-MOMMAS :: Top Nice Mommies of Horror

The world of horror is truly overflowing with nasty examples of motherhood. It’s important to remember this time of year that upstanding, nurturing mothers are depicted in horror films as well. This next assemblage of horror mommies celebrates the nice ones. When these TRAUMA-MOMMAS pull out a butcher knife, it’s to cut the crust off your PB&J, not slice your throat!
10. (tie) Who could choose between these two small screen mommies with big-sized hearts? Both KIM HUNTER of BAD RONALD and JOCELYN BRANDO of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW will do anything to protect their misunderstood boys from being ravaged by an uncaring world. Neither was particularly successful but on Mother’s Day especially, it’s important to remember that it’s the thought that counts.
9. Although she’s got some real questionable taste in men, single mom Lucy Emerson DIANE WIEST in THE LOST BOYS is every kid’s dream; a super-lenient, life-size Monchhichi with an affinity for pastel knitwear.
8. Tracking down your lost child in a crowded mall or shopping center is an anguish most moms can identify with. Now imagine being Rose Da Silva (RADHA MITCHELL) and going through the same plight in the nightmare town known as SILENT HILL. What’s the Aussie word for cojones?
7. We admit to having a soft spot for blissfully unaware and chronically naive Karen Barclay (7TH HEAVEN-bound CATHERINE HICKS) in CHILD’S PLAY. Not only is she slow to get on the CHUCKY wagon, We think it’s sweet the way she archaically refers to the skanky homeless bum who tries to rape her as a “peddler”!
6. Wendy Torrence (SHELLY DUVALL) may seem a bit ineffectual at times, but give her a break; she’s got a lot on her plate. Dad’s a psycho and there’s an unexplained plushy fetishist invasion to contend with. Extra points awarded for being a human ALICE NEEL painting.
5. Is there any mom cooler than disc jockey Stevie Wayne (ADRIENNE BARBEAU)? She lets you stay out late listening to JOHN HOUSMAN tell ghost stories and she lets you have STOMACH PONDERS! She’d rate even higher if she didn’t choose the safety of the community at large over that of her son. She should have known Mrs. Kobritz (REGINA WALDON) would drop the ball.
4. As any mother can tell you, punishing your child can be difficult, perhaps even more so when your daughter is a pig-tailed psychopath. THE BAD SEED‘s Christine Penmark (NANCY KELLY) leaves it up to Mother Nature to deliver a much-deserved beat down to daughter Rhoda (PATTY McCORMACK).
3. THE EXORCIST‘s Chris MacNeil (ELLEN BURSTYN) may be a glamorous movie star that appears in all the rags of her day, but her love for her daughter Regan (LINDA BLAIR) is no act. Where most A-listers are quick to push their child’s slightest nosebleed on the nearest nanny, Chris stands by her daughter through thick and thin pea soup.
2. Donna Trenton’s (DEE WALLACE) illicit affair may not make her the perfect wife, but that does not put a dampening on her mothering skills. With shear force of will she is somehow able to shred the original ending of STEPHEN KING‘s CUJO and breath life back into her near dead son. Some would lay thanks on the scriptwriter or director or even a wimpy studio, but we know it’s all in a day’s work for DEE.
1. JOBETH WILLIAMS as Diane Freeling in POLTERGEIST puts the current image of a high functioning soccer mom to shame. She doesn’t need MARTHA STEWART to tell her how to transform a cigar box into a canary coffin and she knows media god OPRAH is the last person to seek advice from about how to rescue a child trapped in a T.V. set. RACHEL RAY can kiss her ass, Diane is ordering a pizza and KELLY RIPA would look like a scraggly bleached flag pole if she tried to pull off Diane’s football jersey and skimpy undies ensemble. How does Diane do it? What makes her tick like a Swiss watch and never loose her cool? Maybe it’s something she’s smoking….
In Case You Missed Them:

TRAUMA-MOMMAS: Top Horrifying Moms From Non-Horror Movies

TRAUMA-MOMMAS don’t have to star in horror movies per say to inflict horror upon their friends, family and neighbors. This next list of bad mommies wreaked plenty of havoc and still found their respective DVD’s shelved in the more respectable (read boring) aisles of the local video shop. Here’s to spreading the misery into every genre!

10.Only sober for about two hours a day,” CASINO‘s Ginger McKenna (SHARON STONE) has no qualms with getting shit-faced and doing lines of blow in front of her young daughter Amy. And when Ginger can’t find a babysitter so she can go down to the club to hang with Nicky (JOE PESCI), she’s not above tying Amy to the bed ala LINDA BLAIR in THE EXORCIST.

9. Proving that you should never con a con, especially when that con is your mom, THE GRIFTERS Lilly Dillon (ANJELICA HUSTON) chooses money over her son Roy (JOHN CUSAK). After murdering his girlfriend (ANNETTE BENNING), and torching the body, Lilly not only robs Roy, but also shows her son the business end of her suitcase and a broken drinking glass.

8. Momma Sharon (MIMI ROGERS) has her heart in the right place and, for the most part, is a lovingly attentive parent in THE RAPTURE, but new mommies take note: Shooting a bullet into your daughter’s head to get her on the express lane into heaven to avoid a rumored upcoming apocalypse? That’s a parenting blunder you just don’t recover from.

7. Who needs to resort to physical violence when you can tear your children to shreds with words? No one in THE ANNIVERSARY is safe from the deliciously hateful vile that spews forth from the mouth of the one-eyed Mrs. Taggert (BETTE DAVIS).
6. What well of darkness did a 36-year-old ANGELA LANSBURY tap to so effectively convince as a cold calculating mother in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE? You try playing the part of a mother to an actor (LAURENCE HARVEY) who is only three years your junior and see if you don’t get a little steely glint in your eye!

5. Who says you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole? That’s what hammers are for! Lillian Farmer (KIM STANLEY) sorta digs the perks and swag her now famous daughter FRANCES is receiving. When nonconformist Frances decides to step out of the limelight, Mom decides she MUST be crazy! Electro shock therapy, full-frontal lobotomies, asylum gang rape and ice baths ensue… thanks mom!

4. Baltimore housewife Beverly Sutphin (KATHLEEN TURNER) loves her family and excels at the domestic arts. She’s also a pro at making obscene phone calls, committing restroom murders, and skillfully defending herself in a court of law in SERIAL MOM. Just don’t let her catch you wearing white after Labor Day!

3. In WILD AT HEART, old-school cougar Marietta Fortune (DIANE LADD) is a mother with boundary issues. When her daughter Lulu’s beau Sailor (NICOLAS CAGE) rebuffs this hellcat’s inappropriate advances, Marietta goes a little overboard with a tube of red lipstick and hires hit men to take out her future son-in-law.

2 . SYBIL Dorsett (SALLY FIELD) has multiple personalities, but none are as bad as the ONE personality her awful mother Hattie (MARTINE BARTLETT) is host to. Turning household objects like boot hooks and water bottles into instruments of torture, she transforms her family kitchen into the set of HOSTEL 3. Perhaps the most frightening tool at her command is her childlike, sing-song voice. Just listen to her belt out a couple lines of her favorite nonsensical song “Lettuce Head” and you too will be retreating to a “happy place” deep, deep inside.

1. While we would never suggest that this is her first, or last, time at the bad mommy rodeo, FAYE DUNAWAY’s career-ending turn as JOAN CRAWFORD in MOMMIE DEAREST taught us that one need not wear a hockey mask to strike fear in the hearts of small children. A Kabuki-like application of cold cream will do just fine.

In Case You Missed Them: The Most Horrifying Horror Movie Moms & More Horrifying Movie Moms.