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For the Love of:: The Boogens (1981)

January 24th, 2018 · 4 Comments

UNK SEZ: Today is all about THE BOOGENS! Your Unkle Lancifer has teamed up with fellow BOOGENS enthusiast Amanda Reyes of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM fame and we’re both going to share our five favorite things about this lovable 1981 flick which STEPHEN KING himself recommended as a “wildly energetic monster movie”! I think we can all agree that what the world needs now is more BOOGENS! Amanda, take it away….

AMANDA: Opening credits: As an archivist I have an unhealthy fixation on not just history, but also the diverse ways we can (and do) recount the past. That history is often stitched together like a quilt (or maybe Frankenstein is a better reference for this article!), with distinctive artifacts, manuscripts and sometimes oral histories helping us develop the bigger picture. I’m also really into economical storytelling and low budget horror. There is something really simple but brilliant about how the opening credits sequence of The Boogens creates the standard slasher flashback sequence through sepia tone photos and ratty newspaper headlines. The film quietly lays out the story about a booming mine that has been shut down due to several mysterious cave-ins, and deaths, generating an impressive level of intrigue. And don’t forget that sweet harmonica score, which adds just the right amount of melancholy. This is easily one of my favorite openings to a horror film, and without one visceral moment to be had. It’s all about mood and storytelling.

AMANDA: Fred McCarren: I’m not sure when or where I first laid eyes on the adorable and affable Fred McCarren, but he was always a reliable “Oh, that guy,” for me through most of my life. Predominately a character actor who showed up in everything from Hill Street Blues to Here’s Boomer, every so often Fred got to star in a film. And, The Boogens really lets Fred’s star shine. He’s appealing, likeable and beyond charismatic as good guy Mark. In The Boogens, Fred showcases his incredible knack for comic timing, and he constructs Mark as a guy who is funny in small, simple ways, which makes him realistic as a buddy and potential boyfriend. It also seems fairly obvious that Fred is an actor who is not so egotistical that he has to own every scene. I get the feeling he loved the ensemble cast of The Boogens, and he never attempts to be the biggest personality in the room. It’s that low-key approach that makes him so disarmingly sexy, and that is very sexy indeed.

AMANDA: Romance: Going back to Fred McCarren for a minute (sorry, I can’t help myself!)… There are many things about The Boogens that I adore, but ultimately it is my love of love that keeps me coming back to the film. Most genre films of this era have some level of romance, whether it’s unrequited love (which often spurs a character to kill), or simply pure animal lust (which is the case 90% of the time in most of these films), there are always characters who only speak of love (or sex, but we’ll call it love for the sake of the argument). The Boogens definitely has the animal lust component in Roger (Jeff Harlan) and Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin), who are undoubtedly loveable but almost exhausting in their pursuit of carnal desire. They’re fun and all, but it’s the courtship dance between Mark and Trish (my hero, Rebecca Balding) that keeps me coming back for more. There is such a sense of fun in the dialog delivery, and there are so many genuine sparks you think all of that snowfall is going to melt around them. A bit like my heart does! I feel like I’m falling in love with them as they fall in love with each other. Sure, I’m a sentimental fool, but goshdarnit, the love affair between Mark and Trish beats the crap out of any Harlequin romance novel going, and will ultimately defeat the Boogens! So sue me, K?

AMANDA: Friendship: A while ago I wrote a paper for school about female friendship in horror films, and I noted how the influx of slashers coming out at the time (the Halloween remake, Sorority Row, etc.) featured very antagonistic characters. It often seemed as though no one liked each other and I wondered why on earth they would hang out together. I’m a bit old school, but that gives me the benefit of hindsight, and I can see that movies like Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part 2 and so on were appealing because people actually liked each other (I mean, mostly, let’s not get into Melissa in Friday the 13th Part 7, who is amazing but not someone you’d want to share a bowl of ice cream with). When they hung out in the film, you were hanging out with them, and it was cool, man. Real cool. The Boogens has several endearing friendship moments, and I want to drink a beer and barbeque with all of them. But it’s probably Trish and her best girl bud, Jessica that always makes me smile. They want what’s best for each other, and when Jessica plays cupid for her gal pal, the way she tries to sell Trish to Mark by asking, “Isn’t Trish neat?” is one of the sweetest moments I can remember in any horror film. Ever. It’s the engaging nature of the characters that keeps me invested in their outcome, and sad when some don’t make it. I mean, this is a horror film, and yes, I love the death scenes, but I also hate them because that means I have to say goodbye to someone I actually care about. Tiger forever, y’all!

AMANDA: Boogens-cam: Let’s go back to what I said about The Boogens being an exercise in economical horror filmmaking. They’ve got a great location, awesome characters and good set-pieces, but, I have to admit, the monster effects leave a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, the worm-like Boogens are charming as all get out, but they are budget too. The filmmakers realize this and in place of overselling it, they opt instead to use what I have always referred to as the “Boogens-cam.” So, it’s like most slashers in that the there are several killer POV shots, but here we’re seeing the terror from the monster’s eyes. A giant worm monster! This means we’re looking through some crazy and fun angles, usually taken from the ground, giving us a glimpse of the victims-to-be as they find themselves in very precarious situations. Jessica’s death is especially gripping, but the awesome POV shots also give those scenes a bit of a tongue-in-cheek feel, adding to all that charm I keep falling over myself for. I don’t even care what the monster looks like when all is revealed. Well played, Boogens. Well played.

UNKLE LANCIFER: The Title. Much like Smucker’s jelly, with a name like THE BOOGENS — it has to be good! I have to salute this wonderfully unique and creative name for a horror movie. Some unknown genius snatched something familiar from childhood fears (the “Boog” from “Boogeyman”) then streamlined and pluralized it to come up with something creepy, catchy and uniquely its own. I dig that it sounds like an incurable disease or a fearful feeling like the jitters or the heebie jeebies. I love that it is equal parts threatening and amusing because that is my favorite flavor of all time. It’s such a potent moniker that it even became a go-to punchline on the sitcom NEWHART (in one episode, the character of Michael (PETER SCOLARI) rejoices in the fact that a Fellini festival is finally over and has been replaced by THE BOOGENS. A later episode finds him telling his employer Joanne that she looks scarier than anything in THE BOOGENS). I’m also fond of its bedraggled cursive font that resembles a hastily painted warning sign suggesting unknown danger is ahead. I’m only sad I never got to see THE BOOGENS RETURN on a marquee.

UNK L: The Creatures. First time viewers are nearly unanimous when it comes to being somewhat disappointed by the titular monsters lack of screen-time and less than impressive ultimate reveal. I can’t say I blame them; the film does such a fine job of building them up in our imaginations throughout that their rubbery puppet appearance can be a bit of a sobering let down. That said, once you embrace the clawed, tentacled turtles as simply the humble victims of a limited budget, you kind of have to love them (even if they strangely resemble Witchiepoo’s spider henchman from H.R. PUFF N’ STUFF). The little dudes are a big part of what makes THE BOOGENS so special. For the most part, the film chugs along not unlike your typical (albeit superior) early eighties slasher fare but once our little devils are exposed we’re in pure, squishy monster movie territory (think FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958) or ISLAND OF TERROR (1966)). That type of hybrid may not seem like such a big deal now but I can tell you from personal experience (I’ll never forget seeing THE BOOGENS in the theater) it was a blast of minty fresh air at the time (the same might be said of the previous year’s creature feature dancing to a slasher beat, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP). Anyway, let’s just say if somebody made a BOOGENS stuffed animal I would buy it in an instant and if I were Santa Claus, a HUNGRY, HUNGRY BOOGENS game would be under every tree.

UNK L: The Dog. Hey, it’s Tiger, the greatest dog who ever lived! Sure, there are plenty of other adorable pooches that inhabit the horror genre (Muffin from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, Thor from BAD MOON, good ol’ misunderstood CUJO, et al.) but none are quite like unflappable Tiger. Animal rights activist should be smitten with THE BOOGENS because Tiger is presented not only as a sidekick or accessory but also as a fully developed character complete with his (or her?) own meaty storyline. We’re talking real acting chops here, folks! Tiger doesn’t have to resort to language to express wants, needs and fears; Tiger speaks loud and clear with facial expressions and eyeballs alone (and maybe a yelp or two). Tiger alone understands that danger is a foot and the Cassandra-esque canine’s warnings go unheeded to the peril of all involved. If only they had listened! Tiger may not survive the BOOGENS onslaught but that does not negate the puffy puppy’s persistent pluckiness! All hail Tiger!

UNK L: The Snow. I’ve probably mentioned this a million times before but I’ve really got a soft spot for snowbound horror films. They’re great all year round. In cold months you can commiserate along with the characters and in hot months they provide relief from the heat. THE BOOGENS, which was filmed in Colorado and Utah whips up a stark and snowy atmosphere under oppressive slate grey skies and it’s a movie I would not mind living in. The cabin in which most of the action takes place in is all kinds of old-school cozy and inviting and the same can be said for the local watering hole inhabited by counter-Hollywood, salt of the Earth types. The brisk weather also necessitates that all characters involved don exceptionally solid late seventies layered flannel and sweater ensembles. Yep, I’m into the whole look of this movie from the isolated, frigid landscape right down to REBECCA BALDING’s signature pageboy hairdo.

UNK L: The Novelization. This has to be one of my favorite literary adaptions of a horror movie (it’s only real competition would be OWEN WEST (aka DEAN KOONTZ)’s THE FUNHOUSE). It does a fantastic job of not only touching the bases covered in the film but expanding upon them as well. There are several additional interesting characters and a much more catastrophic climax. The mood is tense and grim throughout and the creatures themselves come alive in ways unachievable on film. There’s something almost LOVECRAFTian in the way the monsters squirm about on the page. They are described more as gelatinous blob-like entities and their multitudes and anatomy come across as way more convincing. I recommend you track this paperback down while it’s still relatively affordable. Much like the film, it’s perfect for delivering chills any time of year. The only thing more dog-eared than my copy is Tiger himself.

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Tags: Amanda By Night · For The Love of:: · Uncategorized

For My Dad

November 13th, 2017 · 23 Comments

I haven’t posted in a while because my Dad died. He went to the hospital complaining of back pains and he passed away three days later. It was cancer and there were complications and I’m not going to elaborate further. The important thing for me was that I got to see him, look into his eyes and hear him say my name. I’m shell-shocked but am grateful for the fact that he looked peaceful when he passed and that he was surrounded by loved ones. I tell myself every day that today is the day I’ll get back to “normal,” knowing there’s no “normal” to get back to. If normal still exists, I can’t see it from here and if it should show up I’m not sure I’d welcome it. I’m kind of pissed off at normalcy right now. It feels like something fraudulent I’ve trained myself to tolerate. Suddenly my usual inspirations feel trivial and my go-to mental preoccupations reek of pettiness. I thought I was an expert at dissociation and denial but maybe this coat doesn’t fit me anymore or I’m too tired to put it on. There’s a non-stop avalanche in my head.

What’s more appropriate for these pages is that I tell you that my father is directly responsible for my love of horror- for the therapy of horror – for the catharsis of being terrified for a moment and then being comforted seconds later by purring privileged safety. One of my earliest memories takes place in Allison Park, Pa. Many of my cousins are visiting and there must be at least a dozen of us kids. It’s early summer night and I’m sure there would be fireflies. We’re sitting on a wooden patio my father built or on aluminum fold out chairs. You have to be careful where you place your chair; this backyard is known for underground wasp nests. My brothers and I are often dumb enough to throw rocks at these hives in order to agitate them. My Dad is telling a scary story that might involve the house that burnt down next door, the end result of smoking in bed. When my father comes to the climax of the tale we’re slowly starting to believe, my Uncle, draped in a white sheet, jumps out from behind a bush wailing, sending all of us screaming in every possible direction. This is pure thrilling joy for me, an explosion of excitement. Suddenly all of us cousins, no matter age, size or gender are a unified mob in our shared fear followed by elation. Like every kid ever, we all beg for one more story.

I was a fearful child due to the fact that a giant hand lived under my bed that wanted to drag me to who knows where. Plus, there was “Mary Wolf” to contend with. Mary Wolf looked like an African mask I spied on the cover of a children’s Encyclopedia (which I’ve yet to see again) and I think the she-devil was born from my mishearing the title of the comic strip “Mary Worth.” Oh, and someone thought it was a great idea to put a clown painting on my bedroom wall. When cars drove by the house, reflected headlights lit up his stupid face at vexing intervals. Listening to my Dad’s scary stories was like lifting up the trunk of my fears and letting a few fly away or at least lose some power. It’s no wonder I got addicted to the sensation. Each scary story made me a little braver. Eventually my father brought home a scary-story telling machine. We were the first on our block to obtain this life-changing device; some folks called it a VCR. This machine showed me things that my father would likely not approve of but thankfully he let us rent anything we wanted and paid zero attention to ratings. This might not seem like a good idea to some but to me it was the greatest gift in the world.

My father and I were not very much alike. He appreciated sports where I thought soccer was a game in which you monitored ant hills until a ball rolled towards you and people yelled “Wake up!” He was organized and meticulously clean while my home looks like a cross between the set of SANFORD AND SON and the trash compactor scene in STAR WARS. My Dad was a great, accomplished businessman with an incredible work ethic whereas it took me weeks to write this tiny blog post. You get the idea. We’re basically opposites but he let me know that was O.K. I learned countless lessons from my father but the most important lesson was embossed in our very relationship and that is that you don’t have to agree with somebody about everything to love them. Truth told, as conservative as my Dad sometimes seemed to me he had an artistic streak that was impossible to ignore. Nobody in my family will ever forget when he broke against the established decorum of the neighborhood and painted our front door the most amazingly garish, nearly fluorescent, leaning toward fuchsia, red. My brothers and I could see that door from literally miles away as we explored the golden California fields around our childhood address. It was so bright that we could never get lost and we always knew our way home. The only beacon that shined brighter was my Dad.

I’m not going to post a picture of my pop, I’m not sure he’d be into that. Instead, here is a picture of TED KNIGHT with a chimp because I know it would crack him up. I Love you, Dad. Maybe it’s time for me to repaint my front door.

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VHSaturday:: Anguish (1987)

April 29th, 2017 · No Comments

Who in the world is strong enough to resist the VHS box for 1987’s ANGUISH? Why, it’s positively hypnotic! I’m not sure why the good people of KEY VIDEO (one of my all time favorite distributors) decided to drop ANGUISH’s charming eye-filled theatrical poster art and simply zoom in on ZELDA (POLTERGEIST) RUBENSTEIN’s scowling mug encased in a swirly spiral (which makes sense only after you’ve seen the movie) but I’m going to give them high marks for thinking outside the box anyway. And really, what kind of person is going to pass up a tape that comes emblazoned with an urgent warning stating: “contains scenes of powerful hypnosis, shocking crimes and unrelenting terror!”? I hope you all appreciate that I had to put on my glasses to relay that fine print for you. But wait; hold up! The best part is on the back! ANGUISH pays tribute to the fact that at least part of this Spanish produced motion picture takes place in a movie theater with an adorable illustration depicting a tub of popcorn and two un-torn movie tickets! I will marry this box.

Because ANGUISH partially takes place within a movie theater (that is showing a movie called THE MOMMY) the optimum way to view it is in a theater (as I did because I’m that old) because it adds to the forth wall breaking paranoia (sorta like the beginning of SCREAM 2). If that option is not feasible than I’d recommend the DVD because this movie is reliant on its tactful visuals. In other words I’m not recommending you watch it on VHS at all but I like having this old tape around anyway because the DVD cover art is drab as hell. According to the security labels inside, this tape was once a former rental at TOWER VIDEO (but I’m pretty sure I picked it up at a used joint in Philadelphia not too far from the theater I once saw the actual movie in which is now a hideous pharmacy). Not much more to say about the tape itself but I will always respect this strange movie for doing its own thing and being so against-the-grain bizarre. I’ll also admit that when I first saw it, I didn’t care for it that much because it was a lot to take in and ZELDA’s acting style can sometimes be a little rough around the edges (sorry Z!). Eventually though, I learned to love it so there’s your tip for the day, never be afraid to give a flick a second chance! Ciao! Arrivederci! Have a nice Saturday! Stay woke!

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Check This Out :: Philly’s Alien Covenant Subway Car!

April 19th, 2017 · 1 Comment

I’m super old and slightly cranky but that didn’t stop me from turning into a giddy 12-year-old the other day when I fortuitously found myself walking into a Philly subway car that was taken over from top to bottom with ALIEN COVENANT advertising. It was even on the roof! To the chagrin of my fellow passengers who seemed even crankier than myself, I took some photos to share with you guys. How cool is this? I only wish this subway was taking me into the future to MAY 19th so that I could go directly to the movie theater and get my full dose of ALIEN COVENANT.

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Tags: Kinder-News · Kinder-Pix · Uncategorized

Fake Horror Posters:: Happy April Fool’s Day!

April 1st, 2017 · 2 Comments


Happy April Fool’s Day! Here are a bunch of fake horror movie sequel posters I made in the early days of Kindertrauma. Some of them surely stink but be kind; I taught myself (with help from John) and they’re just for fun and fandom. We will return to VHSaturday next week! I promise!



























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Name That 1988 Horror Flick!

October 21st, 2016 · 16 Comments

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Name That Horror Poster Funhouse!

September 23rd, 2016 · 4 Comments

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Mini-Tribute:: Creature (1985)

September 15th, 2016 · 3 Comments

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. The other day I snagged a used VHS tape of a movie I had vague negative memories towards at one of my favorite thrift shops because what the hell? It was only a dollar. But halt the presses! After watching the movie, I ‘m pretty sure my bad memories of it must be false implants of some sort because I suddenly love it! The movie in question is 1985’s CREATURE. Am I sure I even watched this before or am I mixing it up with a sloppy fusion of ANDROID (which also featured KLAUS KINSKI) and boring INSEMONOID (which also featured a pissed off space monster)? As it turns out, CREATURE is one of the more entertaining ALIEN wannabes and from now on, I’m going to think of it in the same high regard as say FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982) and GALAXY OF TERROR (1981). Good lord is there anything more fun than a sci-fi horror hybrid riding the coattail exhaust fumes of the unmitigated masterpiece ALIEN? Doubt it.

And you know what’s really weird? As much flack as CREATURE gets for being an ALIEN clone when you watch it now, it’s actually more like a psychic precursor prediction of PROMETHEUS (try saying that a hundred times fast). Seriously there’s some kind of DEAD SPACE death disease bouncing around this flick that transforms KINSKI into a black-eyed, space helmet headed zombie-oid who could easily have been lifted right out of that semi-recent spooky space jam. Plus you want stars? I’ll give you stars! CREATURE boasts cinema’s greatest father, LYMAN WARD!!! He’s the dad of both FERRIS BEULLER and ELM STREET 2’s Ron Grady (ROBERT RUSLER). And how about sophisticated glamour-puss DIANE SALINGER? Not only did she star in both PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE and PEE WEE’S HOLIDAY, she was also married to PEE WEE as Penguin’s ma in BATMAN RETURNS! She’s a total badass in this and probably the inspiration for that Kay-Em 14 character (LISA RYDER) in JASON X. Not that you need more than KINSKI.

I guess now is the part when I’m supposed to plead to the powers that be that CREATURE be released on Blu-ray but nope, I gotta say I’m all set here with this rusty and crusty VHS tape! The picture is actually way better than what I had prepared myself for and there’s something so fitting about watching low-tech science fiction on tape because it comes across as an intercepted transmission of some sort. Plus I’m a horror fan not a horror consumer and yes, I really dig the nostalgia factor. Folks keep trying to make nostalgia a bad word but that’s never going to work on me. Perhaps the most retro reaction I’m going to have toward CREATURE is I’m going to watch it again! Does anyone remember when a movie rental was so special that you tried to get as many views as you could out of it before you returned it? In closing, this is one of the best dollars I ever spent. CREATURE delivers all the eighties goodness you could ever want plus it’s never stingy on the blood and gore and it’s kind enough to treat you to a decent view of the big bad monster. What more can you ask for? Should I have told you the plot? C’mon you know the plot.

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Name That Trauma:: Jared D. on a Black and White Horror Trivia Book

September 6th, 2016 · No Comments

So, back in middle school, I checked out this book from the library more times than I can count. I can’t remember the name of it to save my life though. It had a hand-drawn black and white cover and the bulk of it was filled with information regarding Dracula and other generic scary things. But at the end of the book, there was a section of horror movie trivia that included questions about “Frankenhooker” and the name of the video store that Jason walks past in one of the “Friday the 13th” sequels. If this rings a bell for anyone, I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you!

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Happy Labor Day!

September 5th, 2016 · No Comments

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