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Name That Trauma:: Robert G. on a Ghost Book

May 5th, 2019 · 2 Comments

It was an illustrated book of ghost stories. I took it out from the public library several times as a kid. I’m 32 now, but I distinctly remember two pictures from it. One was the ghost of a well-dressed man drifting across a vaulted ceiling, with bookshelves lining the walls on both sides. The other image is from a story which I think was called “The Nu.” The picture accompanying the story was pretty striking: the viewer was looking down a staircase illuminated by moonlight. A ghost covered completely by a white shroud, with a very tall white conical hat, was ascending the stairs. I know, this isn’t a lot of info. But it’s been a real pain to find, and I want to find it. Any help would be much appreciated!

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

May 3rd, 2019 · 13 Comments

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Name That Trauma:: Steel Jaw on a Satanic Cult

April 25th, 2019 · 3 Comments

Hi there once again Kindertrauma,

In the past you guys helped me out finding movies of which I forgot the name. I hope you can help me out with this one too.

So I saw this movie many years ago at the BBC-channel. It was a seventies horror movie, I believe it was a British one. The movie was about a satanic cult. In the opening scene there was some kind of sacrificial ritual at night on the beach. The people who were involved in the cult wore goat-like masks. I believe they were sacrificing a young woman, presumably a virgin…

A bit further in the movie we see someone (can’t remember if it was a man or a woman) staying over at the house of a family member. The person who stays over is fearful of the person who lives there (also could be fearful of a supernatural force).

Later on in the movie there is a couple that want to warn the person in the house. When driving over to the house they have a car accident, what I believe is being caused by someone with supernatural powers, giving the driver some kind of stroke. They crash into the stone fence.

I’m not sure, but it could also be that there are vampires involved in this movie (not so sure though).

I really hope you guys can help me out with this one ??

Cheers!

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

April 19th, 2019 · 11 Comments

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Dead & Buried (1981)

April 4th, 2019 · 10 Comments

The other night I was struggling with the age-old question of what to watch when I suddenly realized I was in the exact perfect mood for Gary Sherman’s 1981 shocker DEAD & BURIED. This must have been the very first R-rated movie I had ever seen because once upon a time, nobody asked about your age when you were in the back seat of a crowded car at the drive-in. You’d think that over the decades I’d come to find this movie less frightening than the first time I saw it and you’d be partially correct but the truth is, it still leaves me thoroughly creeped out. Here are some of the reasons I still find this underrated and relentlessly bleak, paranoid classic uniquely disturbing.

THE OPENING SCENE. D&B opens with a photographer taking photos on a beach. He meets a beautiful young woman (Lisa Blount) who slyly seduces him and just when he’s about to seal the deal, he is instead beaten by random townspeople, tied to a poll with a fishing net and then set on fire while the mob encircling him smiles and take photos. No matter how many times I see this movie, this startling introduction never fails to alarm me. Perhaps even more unsettling than the brutal violence is the way the fish netting twists, distorts and mutates the victim’s face. I can’t think of a more distressing visage, it’s as if it foretells the burn scars he’s about to acquire. Somehow the poor dude lives and is taken to a hospital but his recovery is short lived. Completely vulnerable and covered head to toe in bandages, he is visited by the same treacherous young lady who instigated his assault. Dressed in nurses’ garb she presents the worst remedy ever conceived- a hypodermic needle administered straight through the eye! Imagine surviving so much only to endure a crueler fate when you’re in the most vulnerable state imaginable- it all still upsets me. 

THE LOST FAMILY. Right smack in the middle of the film we
are unceremoniously introduced to a couple and their young son who are lost in
the remarkably foggy town. To avoid hitting a man that darts in front of their
car, they crash into a telephone pole. Although we’ll find out shortly the car
is quite operable, the beyond befuddled couple decides to venture into an
abandoned dilapidated house to search for ice for their child’s head (yes,
these people are insane). Making matters all the more surreal, the original
sound of this scene must have been lost because this entire portion of the film
is abysmally dubbed, resulting in tons of superfluous dialogue and general
awkwardness.

It seems every move and decision the trio makes is frustratingly ill-advised. At one point the mother even surmises that the owners of the (clearly abandoned) abode must be in the basement fixing the fuse box and suggests that her husband go down to verify her demented fantasy. It’s truly crazy-making watching this family stumble about while the shadows of maniacs wielding weapons loom just out of their view. Nonsensical and partially infuriating as this entire segment is, it’s also beautifully shot and genuinely unnerving to me. Eventually, crazy townsfolk are jumping out of every closed door and crevice like demented jack-in-the-box clowns engulfing the terrified trio. As the family somehow makes it back to their vehicle, the way the ravenous mob is presented as a mass of menacing silhouettes following them is stunningly nightmarish (and brings to my mind the finale of THE DAY OF THE LOCUST). It’s hard not to feel bad for the hapless child, who is dragged about like a suitcase throughout and has no say in the blundering decisions of his ineffectual guardians.

THE FOUND FOOTAGE. The entirety of D&B is filmed in a gloriously gauzy and grainy way that rather resembles peering through dusty cheesecloth. Remarkably the murky-visual-ante is upped even further when Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) develops a mysterious roll of film for his wife (Melody Anderson) and decides to check out its horrific contents. I won’t give away the devastating plot point he discovers but I will say it is presented in a POV semi-snuff looking way that leaves you with the unclean feeling of having witnessed something vile and atrocious. Years before THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, D&B presented this grittier than a Philly mascot slice of visual miasma and it still feels as disorienting and downright icky as ever. I don’t know if it’s the leering oldsters, the decrepit surroundings or Joe (CHILD’S PLAY) Renzetti’s persuasive score but combined with the clips sleazy revelation it really gets under my skin. I can almost smell the moldy dank air as I write this and I also get a poisonously putrid Lovecraftian vibe. 

Not everything in D&B makes sense but I believe that is part of the reason I find it so disturbing. Some folks are able to “fall out” of a movie when it presents something that is unlikely to occur but I sometimes find such lapses in logic remind me of the relentless way an inescapable nightmare works. I get the feeling that the writers didn’t fully lock down exactly what is going down in Potter’s Bluff, there are mentions of voodoo, witchcraft, and pseudo-science but when a definite explanation is teased by the central culprit it is soon nipped at the bud with, “I’ll take my secrets to the grave.” I’m fine with that. I find the horror in DEAD & BURIED especially potent because it is so darn amorphous and impossible to fully pin down. You get the sense that Potter’s Bluff is a town abandoned by light and rationality long ago and now it’s kind of stuck in an endless death spasm. I wish I could chalk up the way DEAD & BURIED hits me in my psychological Achilles’ heal to mere nostalgia. The truth is the inescapable mortality that engulfs the town like an impenetrable fog may be even more unnerving to me today than it was when I witnessed it in my youth.

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Tags: General Horror · Traumafessions · Uncategorized

Terror at Red Wolf Inn (1972)

March 28th, 2019 · 6 Comments

Mill Creek has put out a new movie collection entitled NO TELL MOTEL, which offers eight horror films focusing on ill-advised overnights in dangerous locations. The first disc sports spiffy letterboxed titles like VACANCY (a decent enough thriller) IDENTITY (love that one) and ELI ROTH’s HOSTEL and its first sequel (both semi-annoying and yet very interesting and disturbing). The second disc consists of several public domain flicks with lackluster quality of various degrees. There’s the ubiquitous THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE (a favorite) IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN (haven’t had the pleasure), LEGACY OF BLOOD (skip it) and a charming, low budget oddity that has always stuck in my brain, TERROR AT RED WOLF INN (I had to get this whole set just for this one film).

TERROR AT RED WOLF INN isn’t represented as well as it should be but until a superior version is available it’ll just have to do. Sadly this is a PG-rated version of the 1972 movie that is also known as TERROR HOUSE and THE FOLKS AT RED WOLF INN. This particular cut is ten minutes shorter than the one I watched on VHS back in the day but from what I’ve gathered (Googled), the missing scenes don’t amount to too much. Ironically, this truncated, supposedly tamer arrangement contains a violent scene where a character beats a small shark against a rock and I’d much rather have that unsightly bit excised above anything else. They took out a visual of human fingers in a soup bowl and left behind a scene of actual animal abuse? I guess there’s no way to understand the randomness of the rating system.

The movie introduces us to a charming, quirky and too-trusting character named Regina (Linda Gillen) who suspiciously wins a weekend vacation over the phone (much like the set-up for I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). Soon she’s jumping on a plane and taking advice from strangers that she needn’t inform anyone about her dubious getaway prize. There’s no doubt that Regina has made a major judgment error when the house she’s meant to relax in turns out to be the same joint (Newhall Mansion) featured in DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW and countless horror-themed TV episodes. Her hosts are oldsters Henry and Evelyn Smith (Arthur Space and Mary Jackson) and their touched in the head grandson Baby John (John Neilson), all of whom would seem equally comfortable inhabiting MOTEL HELL or AMERICAN GOTHIC. Two other contest winners have already arrived (Janet Wood and Margaret Averly) and it’s not long before they’re all being fattened up with gluttonous course after gluttonous course of meats of highly questionable origin. Warning: Do not watch this movie if you suffer from misophonia and object to the sounds and sights of folks with terrible table manners munching out and licking their greasy fingers.

RED WOLF INN feels a lot like a seventies made for television affair and maybe that’s why I dig it so. It’s got an offbeat sense of humor too that never goes far enough over the top to bring you out of the paranoid predicament. It’s also genuinely unnerving in spots, utilizing distorted camera angles to disquieting effect. There’s something about simply sticking an idiosyncratic tomboy-type in a giant old mansion that’s always going to hit me in my horror comfort zone. I could have used a little more background information regarding just about every character overall, but there’s something to be said of the simplistic approach that plays out almost like a gingerbread house fable. Plus, it’s got a message that’s still valuable today: Young people, please never assume that the generations ahead of you have your best interest at heart. Spoiler alert: They don’t. Amusing, delightfully odd and routinely creepy, TERROR AT RED WOLF INN is an appetizing seventies offering worth making room on your plate for. It’s also a great reminder that the best way to avoid cannibalism is to become a vegetarian.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

March 1st, 2019 · 15 Comments

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

February 22nd, 2019 · 15 Comments

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Kindertrauma Funhouse:: 1980

October 5th, 2018 · 7 Comments

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Kindertrauma Funhouse:: Q

July 20th, 2018 · 9 Comments

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