Trauma Scene:: Alligator (1980)

I was watching ALLIGATOR the other night in honor of the late great Robert Forster when a particular scene popped out at me as exceptionally kindertraumatic. It's kinda crazy it never struck me as such before and I wondered why I hadn't noticed it the last time I watched ALLIGATOR (which strangely enough was about a month ago). First off, ALLIGATOR is a great movie. It's written by John Sayles (PIRAHNA) and directed by Lewis Teague (CUJO) and it's an action-packed, super sly send-up of fifties-era giant creature flicks as much as it is an inevitable cash-in on JAWS. Forster is brilliant in it and always a good sport when the subject of male pattern baldness arises. I also have to give a shout out to the charming and underrated ROBIN RIKER who we come to find out is the little girl from the film's opening whose thoughtless parents flushed her tiny pet alligator down the toilet. There's a very good chance that her long lost pet is the mutated monster eating so many people who actively deserve it (the creature's attack on an upscale wedding and his subsequent chomping of the film's various villains in the climax is so gratifying).

The vignette I feel obliged to spotlight occurs well within the movie when the alligator is in full rampage mode clobbering anyone unlucky enough to get in his path. In a suburban backyard, three little boys are playing pirates with the two older kids bullying the youngest (who is blindfolded) toward the end of a diving board (pretending it's a pirate's plank) and into the deep end of the pool. Unbeknownst to the trio, the titular alligator is (understandably) taking a much-needed dip in the pool! Now, where every other film known to man would utilize this scenario for suspense only to have the kids realize their blunder and escape at the last minute, this flick has the kid fall in. Not only does he fall in, shortly thereafter he is shown colliding with the scaled abomination and not long after that, the pool is turning blood red signaling that his and the alligator's encounter didn't work out so good for at least one of them. I guess considering ALLIGATOR's debt to JAWS it shouldn't be that shocking that a tyke might end up on the wrong side of an animal encounter but something about this scene feels extra vicious (and perhaps darkly humorous).

Mostly though, I can't help feel sorry for the two older kids who have to live forever knowing they are responsible for their sibling's death. Plus I can't help empathizing with the blindfolded kid who became alligator dinner because the initial prank seems like something my older brothers would have done to me without pause. Anyway, I'm not sure if this macabre scene would float in this day and age but it sure has bite.

No Place Like Horror Part Two :: Horror's Most Undesirable Living Spaces

Remember back in the good old days of two weeks ago when Christine Hadden of FASCINATION WITH FEAR and I each shared our ten favorite horror homesteads? Well, it happened whether you remember it or not. We had so much fun that we decided to go on a second tour but this time we're visiting our ten LEAST favorite horror dumps! Check out my ten most unwanted properties below and do make sure to travel over HERE to check out Christine's least favorite picks!

Don't get me wrong, Dr. So and So has exquisite taste in art and I love how clean and modern everything is but the spiral staircase is a real deal breaker. Personally I like to put a bandanna (or three) around my human centipede's neck and take it to the park to play Frisbee every afternoon. Spiral staircases are stellar for averting unwanted escapes but in general they tend to be difficult to maneuver time wasters.

Ever since I was a kid I've found Chuck's living arrangement leaving much to be desired. Poverty doesn't have to be grim (think Edith the egg lady's trailer in PINK FLAMINGOS) but this pad blows. I'm thinking if you ever find yourself coming home to find four senior citizens sleeping in the same bed it's time to start packing.

8. TIDELAND (2005)
I wouldn't say no to sharing a living space with JEFF BRIDGES. That said, I'd like to specify that I'd prefer it to be the living JEFF BRIDGES and not his rotting corpse in a white wig. See, contrary to word on the street, I really do have standards.

7. THE COTTAGE (2008)
I had mixed feelings about this movie but a very definite reaction to the crazy killer's yellow kitchen. Quite simply it horrified the crap out of me. Not that I can verify it in anyway but I'm sure that I once read that more murders were committed in yellow kitchens than kitchens of any other color. For some reason the assumed happy hue just irritates the hell out of people and that is why you will never see a yellow hospital. Naturally the kindertrauma kitchen is pink, a color known only for making people hungry for Frankenberry Cereal, Strawberry Quick and TINY TIM tuneage!

6. EATEN ALIVE (1977)
The Louisiana hotel in EATEN ALIVE is nice enough but let's be real here, there are way too many crocodiles in the front yard.

What the hell is so funny THWLW? Let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little f*cked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown. I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to f*ckin' amuse you?

4. 13 GHOSTS (2001)
I have as much use for a too clever for its own good clockwork puzzle-box house as I do another SAW sequel. You pull the wrong lever and suddenly the bathroom has glass walls and the door disappears. No thanks, privacy is my middle name and my last name is control.

3. HOUSE OF WAX (2005)
There's so much wrong with this concept that I don't even know where to begin. Call me crazy but I don't relish the idea of having to wade through molten wax to crawl into bed every August.

This prefab pile of crapola reeks of unearned mundane vanilla privilege. I intuitively know that the thermostat is set at least twenty degrees higher than I would feel comfortable in. It makes me think of staying at a boring relative's house and waking up early and pretending to be still asleep in order to avoid brain numbing small talk over coffee about last night's episode of CSI: MIAMI. Demonic possession and hourly soul rape would be a welcome reprieve.

I believe the worst place ever invented is this here riverside shack in Haddonfield, Illinois. I'm not even sure this fragile lean-to stands next to a legitimate river, it looks more like a stream or a brook to me. We've all seen this scenario play out before, a theoretically straight guy down on his luck exploits the hospitality of an elderly amateur pirate in order to put a roof over his head. After a year of who knows what kind of illicit behavior the roustabout gets bored, puts his mask back on, clocks the parrot, kills his benefactor and then moves on to greener pastures. Give me ROB-ZOB's driftin' hobo Mike over HALLOWEEN 5's poorly masked, unappreciative moocher any October 31st!

There's No Place Like Horror: Top Ten Killer Homes I'd Move Into Tomorrow

It came to my attention recently that Christine Hadden of FASCINATION WITH FEAR was planning to retire someday in the picturesque, cliff-top abode depicted in the film THE DARK (2005). The problem was that Christine had picked the exact same place that I had been planning to eventually move into!

Luckily an east coast vs. east coast blogging war was averted when the two of us came up with a time-sharing compromise. I couldn't help wondering though, what if we hadn't come up with a solution to our dilemma, where would I live then? Below are my top ten slabs of horror real estate that I would gladly move into should the need arise. After you've given them a quick walk-through make sure you check out Christine's top ten choices HERE!

10.MODERN PROBLEMS (1980, The PSYCHO house)

Sure I love the PSYCHO house just like everybody else but there's no way I'm dealing with a motel filled with unseemly transients! In the alleged comedy MODERN PROBLEMS, CHEVY CHASE spends a weekend (along with DABNEY COLEMAN and MARY KAY PLACE) in what is in indeed, the one and only PSYCHO house; however, it's miraculously on a beach and there's no seedy motel to deal with. I could live in this joint for sure, especially if it comes with housekeeper NELL CARTER!


Hey, look at this pad; it's got a front porch for me to drink 40s on! I can almost see myself standing there as an old man in shorts and argyle socks telling the neighborhood kids to scram! Sources (IMDb) tell me that this fixer upper is located in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I'm going to start working on my accent now.


I love the BOOGEY MAN house and it comes with a well and a barn, so you can't beat that. This place resides in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and just check out those windows up top there! Don't they remind you of another famous horror home? I'm ready to move in, right after I check my sneakers for mirror shards.

7.THE HUNGER (1983)

I know I should be trying to get out of the city but I can't sneeze at Miriam the Vampire's luxury New York digs in THE HUNGER. Urban life isn't so bad when you've got mad cash and a video camera security system at your front door! I know it doesn't look like much from the outside but vampires (perhaps because they spend so much time indoors) sure know a thing or two about interior decorating.


This place is a bit small for my needs but it's not without its charms. It's got a rustic storybook quality to it that I enjoy plus there's a nearby cliff that you can throw people off of!


Speaking of cliffs, I know I should appreciate THE UNINVITED more than I do, it's got RAY MILLAND in it after all, but it's always been a smidge of a snore for me. Having made that embarrassing admission, I must say that I big time dig the house from the movie. Hmmm, maybe the place from the GHOST AND MRS. MUIR is more my speed.


This beautiful house is located in Essex, Connecticut; I used to live in Connecticut so adjustment should be a breeze. You must know by now that I am secretly a hippie and that I can entertain myself for hours strumming on a guitar and making grave stone rubbings. The locals are sure to be a problem but they'll get used to my playing THE BEST OF BREAD into the wee hours eventually.

3.THE FOG (1980)

Stevie Wayne sure knew how to live. I'm not sure that I like the idea of my front door being easily accessible to sea-ghouls but I'm not the kind of dummy who answers the door when somebody bangs on it with a hook either. Put it this way, if it comes with the K-A-B lighthouse I'm sold. Bodega (aka Antonio) Bay, California here I come!


This house is just is the ravens' knees and that's that. Plus, out of all my picks I believe this is the only one that comes with its own graveyard, which should come in handy. Who needs to yell at kids to get off your lawn when pouring a cauldron of boiling oil on their heads can get the same message across?


It's just a lifetime dream of mine to live in the Amityville Horror house. Isn't it just the perfect place to set up Kindertrauma operations? This one was actually recently up for sale but I didn't have to count my Folgers can full of loose change to know that it was a tad out side my budget. (That reminds me, Aunt John you better remember to play my numbers today!) My first plan upon moving into this place was to restore its creepy devil eye windows. Then, I would have put two creepy Jody the pig blinking eye lights up in there to scare away the tourists. I wouldn't have been afraid to live in this, the most famous haunted house in the land. I'm used to black sludge pouring from my walls and I know how to hang a fly strip. (By the way, the above image is from the superior AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION from the best year God ever made... 1982!)

Yowza, that was a startlingly easy list to come up with. There's so much great horror real estate out there! The hard part is going to be picking just one! At least there will be no debate about which realtor to use!

Thanks for going on this tour with me kids, make sure you check out Christine's picks over at FASCINATION WITH FEAR right over HERE, she remembered all the great spots (Garth Manor, anyone?) that your Unk forgot!

Trauma-Shots :: The Day of the Locust

Get ready for the ultimate SPOILER...the last ten minutes of JOHN SCHLESINGER's THE DAY OF THE LOCUST (1975) is all kinds of mind-screw crazy. I know it's hard to believe but I ain't joshin' kids! It may be based on a NATHANIEL WEST novella and it may concern 1930s Hollywood, but this epic drama has a real scorpion sting to its tail. I don't relish ruining the movie for ya, but I'm worried maybe you wouldn't watch it otherwise, even though it does have a horror lovers dream cast; KAREN BLACK (TRILOGY OF TERROR), DONALD SUTHERLAND (DON'T LOOK NOW), BURGESS MEREDITH (BURNT OFFERINGS) and a very young JACKIE EARLE HALEY (our future FREDDY KRUEGER!)

JACKIE's character Adore, just might suffer one of the most disturbing fates of any child in the history of film and he's such an incredible brat that you may not care. Things then go from bad to holy sh*t as mob brutality mixes with JACOB'S LADDER-type hallucinations and soon you're left understanding what it might be like to have HUBERT SELBY JR. rape your eye socket while singing select tunes from PINK FLOYD's THE WALL in your ear. Put this on a double bill with DAVID LYNCH's MULHOLLAND DRIVE and throw all your dreams of making it big in Tinsel Town right into the dumpster...

NOTE: The below (like I said, disturbing) clip is from the ending of the movie... so STAND WARNED before you watch!

Trauma-Shots :: Flash Gordon

I had to write something about 1980s FLASH GORDON eventually; it's not the first movie that comes to mind when you think about childhood traumas, but when has that ever stopped us before? Thankfully, I was able to justify this post when I came across a thread on IMDb concerning FLASH's more troubling scenes and the effect they had on young viewers. That was all the incentive I needed but truth be known, I would have come around to the topic of FLASH at some point anyway, on account of it being the most beautiful movie ever made.

Quote me on that. I'm unashamed. It has been nearly thirty years since I first saw FLASH GORDON in the movie theater and miraculously it still gives me compulsory goose bumps. To this day, It still melts my heart like a summer popsicle with its gosh-golly outdated optimism and unhip exuberance.

Did I just hear somebody say "corny"?

Yep it's true, FLASH GORDON is just chuck full of corny ideas, like the one about the disenfranchised putting aside their differences in order to topple an oppressive dictator and the one about how art not only has the power to nurture the human spirit but also armor it (at least that's what I got out of Zarkoff's reciting of Beatles lyrics in order to stop from having his brain emptied "like a pocket" by dominatrix Kala)

Then there is the hokey idea that someone might sacrifice themselves for the greater good just cause it's the right thing to do, and who can forget the kooky idea that true love has the power to make a guy choose gal next door MELODY ANDERSON over gal next galaxy ORNELLA MUTI?

FLASH GORDON shows us an upside down dimension where old birds are given second chances, enemies are transformed into allies and folks cheer you on from the sidelines (go Flash go!) a place where "keeping your word" is a point of pride ("It's what makes us better than you.") Silly ideas all, in this day and age, but in FLASH's universe, these are absolute no-brainers.

At this point in time when heroes need to be conflicted and broody to be made more accessible or appear more "adult", FLASH continues (in this version anyway), to stand as a pure spirit undaunted by the shackles of cynicism and misanthropy, a messiah who has no problem deciphering the difference between good and evil and no dilemma about which to choose. (In other words, BATMAN why the hell ARE you so freakin' serious?) Don't get me wrong kids, I dig my dark but man cannot live by bread alone...think of the carbs.

O.K. I know I've been gushing a bit but that's enthusiasm folks, doesn't it smell like cotton candy? We're really supposed to be talking about the scary side of FLASH GORDON and there is plenty to choose from. If you push back the lava lamp clouds we got a flick with some big love for skull masks and a fetishistic soft spot for military uniforms, gas chambers, incestuous voyeuristic torture and...yikes, bore worms! Without further ado, here's some trauma-shots of FLASH GORDON!