Five (Eleven?) Underrated Slasher Flicks By Unk

Inspired by Mathew A's recent Five Underrated List, I figured I'd do another 5 Underrated List myself this time focusing on slasher films because they are non-stop joy machines in my book. Plus I like doing lists because it's like writing with all the hellish torture parts removed!

Absurd (AKA Monster Hunter) & Nightmare (both 1981)

ABSURD is the kinda/sorta the sequel to ANTHROPOPHAGUS (aka THE GRIM REAPER) but not in any way that matters. Yep- it's directed by good ol' JOE D'AMATO and yep it stars lovably lanky GEORGE EASTMAN but any other connection is, I guess, more to do with marketing. In the world of my tiny mind, it's known as MONSTER HUNTER and it stands alone as adorable, Italian HALLOWEEN wannabe. This is one of those movies I suspect I enjoy more than I'm supposed to but I'm in no way strong enough to resist the bare bones synth score, the bonkers pseudo science that abounds or a poor victim trapped in a cringe-worthy head brace. My feelings toward this far too forgotten gem perfectly coincide with my feelings toward the equally simple and sleazy NIGHTMARE (aka NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN), a film I think it shares a lot more in common with than its previously mentioned sibling. Watch these two disturbing and tastefully tasteless twins back to back while eating a Burger King Halloween burger and then feel free to worry about what's wrong with me that I would suggest such a thing.

Flashback (2002) & Madhouse (1981)

The best slashers always have to concern crap from the past that isn't going anywhere no matter how hard you try to bury it and long suffering put upon ladies who are all types of sick of suffering the psychosis of others. Nobody ever mentions FLASHBACK (full slobbering review HERE) or the delicious MADHOUSE (full equally slobbery review HERE) enough to satisfy my needs! I don't understand why.

Cold Prey 1,2 & 3

The greatest slasher series this side of whatever decade it no longer is! I'm just going to go ahead and call the first two masterpieces and then add that reports that the third one ain't so hot are greatly exaggerated. Sure, Part 3 regrettably has to stumble along without the series' grandest asset, its charismatic lead (INGRID BOLSO BERDAL) but the sad truth is, it's still miles better than any American horror flick I've seen in the theaters since what seems like roughly forever.

Just Before Dawn & The Prowler (1981)

Isn't it sad that these two other slashers films from 1981 were somehow never seen by me in my youth? I do remember eyeing the newspaper ad for JBD on the day it came out in the weekend section of the Philadelphia Inquirer but alas, that was the closest I got! For some reason no video store I ever belonged to carried either and frankly I was not terribly keen on checking out THE PROWLER anyway because the title was so boring and just made it seem like it was about some sneaky guy who roamed around looking in windows. Fate would have it that I would catch up to these two fine flicks somewhere around ten or so years ago whenever they hit DVD.
Point is, I think they are both great examples of exactly my favorite thing to watch and I'll add a bonus compliment to JBD and say I dig its color palette especially that groovy florescent orange that shows up from time to time (full review HERE).

My Bloody Valentine & The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2009 & 2014)

I can understand why people hate remakes like PROM NIGHT (2008) because that one sucks horribly, has nothing to do with the original and every attempt it makes to pander to contemporary audiences reminds you that we can never go back to a time when people weren't super annoying. On the other hand, both MBV and TTTDS are awesome and wonderful tributes if you ask me. I'm just going to point out that both of these remakes seem to respect the originals and have a real interest in their respective small town settings and have the capacity to acknowledge various variant characters. I'd say in the case of both films too that when they ended, I didn't feel like I had just been talked down to or treated like a complete idiot for the sin of wanting to see them. I don't know, I guess what I'm talking about is that there's a real lack of audience disdain that I find super pleasing. Ya know? I dig that. Gold stars, kisses, thumbs up and kudos on a decapitated head.

Five Underrated Flicks By Madamoiselle Macabre

My devotion to Kindertrauma verges on the Squeaky Fromme-like. I was initially drawn in by the witty, insightful movie reviews but became impressed by the interaction from other bloggers, trauma addicts and movie fans. Kindertrauma is the film club I wish had existed when I was in college.

It even inspired me to start my own dark corner of the internet, DESCENT INTO MADNESS.

Thanks to Kindertrauma, I have discovered many new favorite movies and books (SCISSORS jumps to mind, and I am eternally grateful to this website for introducing me to Kier-la Janisse's HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN). I would like to express my appreciation by submitting my own FIVE UNDERRATED list.

And since I am lifelong Southerner, how about five underrated flicks set in the South?

FRAILTY (2001)

I'm a native Texan, so I'll start there. Having grown up in a family more dysfunctional than the Manson Family, I'm a difficult person to frighten, but I still can't watch FRAILTY without getting chills. I'm envious I did not write its brilliant screenplay (by BRENT HANLEY) myself. With mental illness, an Old Testament God, a tormented father, ax murders, a child locked in a storm cellar, an obsession with sin and salvation and bodies buried in a rose garden, FRAILTY is Southern Gothic at its finest. It gets extra points for also featuring the ever-underrated POWERS BOOTHE. And kudos to BILL PAXTON for not only turning in a layered, outstanding performance as the eerily nameless Dad, but for evoking just the right East Texas atmosphere (and from Los Angeles locations at that!).


This one is one of my Wallpaper Movies (ie I frequently have it playing in the background) as it contains all the elements I find as comforting as an oversized sweater and a hot cup of tea: it's a ‘70s made-for-TV-movie drenched in creepy atmosphere, and features not only a family of homicidal Tennessee backwoods teens with a twisted sense of family values but also STACY KEACH and SAMANTHA EGGAR! Hey, I'd want to kidnap them and make them be my parents, too!


I know the praises of this one have been sung elsewhere on the pages of Kindertrauma, but I want to reiterate its greatness here. My love for the Peach State overfloweth and therefore I have a special affection for horror movies set in Georgia. It's a lovably demented homage to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and THE HILLS HAVE EYES. I may be alone in this but I actually think it more deftly combines horror and twisted humor than similarly-themed MOTEL HOTEL. Atlanta master thespian and Cates Pickle spokesman DANNY NELSON is outstanding as Jake, the scripture-quoting, homicidal populist patriarch. And no, I did not forget JOHN SAXON.

SCALPEL (1977)

Like BLOOD SALVAGE, SCALPEL was also shot in the Atlanta area and has woefully not been released on DVD. It's a deliciously sleazy potboiler featuring ROBERT LANSING as a homicidal, megalomaniacal plastic surgeon and a laundry list of Southern Gothic tropes such as familial dysfunction, warped sexuality (in this case it's latent incestuous obsession – YUCK), a scheme for a coveted inheritance, mental illness and jazz funerals. Crystal-eyed JUDITH CHAPMAN is terrific in a dual role, but my personal favorite is ARLEN DEAN SNYDER as the eccentric and suspicious Uncle Bradley.


Though neither are traditionally classified as horror movies, I think both deserve mentioning here as I think both do a better job of eliciting a sense of dread and foreboding than many other films in the genre. A great number of my favorite films take place in Louisiana and these are no exception. There's just no place quite like Louisiana: the culture, the folklore, the food and it's filled with insane people who want to be your best friend. Some denounce it for its poor educational system, but the way I see it, Louisiana is that beautiful delinquent who doesn't give a damn, smokes behind the school and pushes the student council president down the stairs. With its foreboding atmosphere, decaying mansion, dark secrets, sexual repression and tortured, neurotic heroines, THE BEGUILED is pure Southern Gothic. Watching it will give you the same feeling you get from reading a book of Edgar Allan Poe short stories. Even better, it features a cast of complex and flawed female characters. GERALDINE PAGE, ELIZABETH HARTMAN, and MAE MERCER particularly give amazing performances. The first time I watched it, I felt haunted for days, in particular by the look on MS. HARTMAN'S face in the final scene.

And once again, I may be in the minority, but I prefer SOUTHERN COMFORT to the similarly-themed DELIVERANCE. It perfectly captures the beauty and menace of the Louisiana swamps and I can't think of many scenes more suspenseful than the climactic scene in the Cajun village. And don't get me started on the lovely score by RY COODER. POWERS BOOTHE as sarcastic, chain-smoking transplanted Texan Charlie Hardin may be one of my all-time favorite movie characters too.

Small sidebar: To my horror, thanks to the recent Sunday Streaming post about it, I realized I used to live in the same town where THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY was filmed. Metairie, Louisiana: strange suburban wasteland of strip malls, drive-through daiquiri stands, mafia real estate and, scariest of all, Dave Treen supporters.

And now, how about a lagniappe for your trouble?

HOME SICK (2007)

I know a lot of people don't understand why, but I love Alabama. Zelda Fitzgerald, Kate Jackson, Harper Lee and Tallulah Bankhead are from there, how can it not be awesome? I'll admit, when I first gave the DVD of HOME SICK a spin back in 2008, I didn't care for it. Either I was in a bad mood or I'm becoming increasingly warped and misanthropic, because now this gleefully mean-spirited, bat-shit crazy low-budget wonder warms my dark heart. It's imaginative, surreal and has a sick sense of humor. Picture a combination of CLERKS, GUMMO, the mania of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and strong dashes of giallo and you will not be far off the mark. I think the nihilistic twenty-something pasty-faced weirdoes working dead-end minimum wage jobs (in the grocery store, the school cafeteria, the funeral parlor) and spending their off time drinking too much beer and watching EVIL DEAD TRAP II reminded me of my post-graduate nihilism.

A scene featuring a coked-out TIFFANY SHEPIS and her recently murdered mother is jaw-dropping to say the least, but MATT LERO as the abrasive Tim and BRANDON CARROLL as the unhinged Devin stand out in a cast of unknowns. But wait, I haven't even gotten to the best part yet: the force of nature known as TOM TOWLES as unrepentant redneck and chili fanatic Uncle Johnny. We sadly lost Mr. Towles this year. By all accounts he was a really funny, nice guy and always attacked every role with gusto. I think my initial dissatisfaction with HOME SICK was due to the fact that he's not in more of the movie because every scene he's in crackles with deranged electricity. Also features BILL MOSELEY as grinning maniac, Mr. Suitcase.

Pleasant nightmares,
Madamoiselle Macabre

Five Underrated Flicks by Mathew A.

Yo, Kindertrauma pals! It's been some time since I last wrote about underrated horror flicks (I submitted 3 picks HERE a few years ago), but your recent Labor Day list inspired me and got me thinking about some horror movies that just don't get the love they deserve. As always, I completely understand that it's all in the eye of the beholder, and you might clutch your pearls at some of these being described as "underrated", but, in the end, it's just one simple horror fan's opinion. Now, let's grab a rusty, blood-stained garden spade and dig in!

Boogeyman 2 (2007)

I totally get why people dislike the first one; it's boring, not scary IN THE LEAST, and has absolutely nothing special to offer. The second one, on the other hand, was a huge surprise for me. It made its arrival direct-to-DVD with little fanfare in 2007, and, as I recall, has nothing really to do with the first film. Perhaps zero expectations helped with this, or perhaps I just love Renee O'Connor (yep, she who played Gabrielle in the sorely missed Xena TV series), but I found this to be a blast. It basically plays like an old-school slasher where patients walk around a mental hospital and get picked off in gruesome ways. It's all rather simple, and I LOVE simplicity when it comes to these movies. It also has Tobin Bell of Saw fame playing a creep-tastic psychiatrist.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997)

Not sure if "underrated" is the correct term to use here, honestly. Perhaps it's just not as well-known in horror circles. Either way, this hauntingly beautiful yet gruesome take on the familiar story brings the horror in quite heavy doses. Let's be honest here, the original Brothers Grimm tale is pretty horrific, and certainly nothing like the popular Disney version. Sigourney Weaver is chilling as the evil stepmother, and the dark themes from the fairy tale are all intact. Also, did I mention how stunning this film looks? It's a purdy one, that's for sure.

Dead Silence (2007)

This might shock you, but I actually prefer this over director James Wan's more popular films, such as Insidious or The Conjuring. I can't say that it's super scary, but pretty much any movie with creepy dolls or ventriloquist dummies gets an automatic pass from me. And I make NO APOLOGIES for that. The visuals in this thing are insane, especially that ending! Again, it very well might be a case of style over substance, but I simply can't help it. Gotta call it as I see it, and I love what I see here. Also, let's give it up to Donnie Wahlberg, an always welcome (at least by me) presence in these genre films.

Valentine (2001)

This slasher came out right as the late ‘90s teen horror fad was dying out (see below for more on that). Clearly, judging by how this film was received, most people were perfectly fine with that. I'm pretty sure even I recall finding the whole thing a little "eh" when I first saw it in theaters. I was also in high school at the time, so what the hell did I know? Viewing it years later, I have a newfound appreciation. It's actually a pretty cool slasher, very old-school by design, and I absolutely love the killer's mask. Remember how I mentioned I love simplicity in horror films? I also have a weakness when it comes to slashers. Horror films were moving away from slashers during this period and towards those with more supernatural elements and Asian horror remakes. We also had a glut of those movies where the killer ended up being a figment of the protagonist's psyche, or some such psychobabble. When all is said and done, all I really want is an actual, flesh-and-blood killer with a decent motive. Too much to ask?

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Disturbing Behavior (1998), and Urban Legend (1998)

OK, OK, I know... I'm cheating here and I don't care. In my opinion, these 3 films, among others, get unfairly criticized and lumped in with the various Scream knock-offs of the mid-to-late ‘90s. Well, I think they're great. Horror fans tend to snub their noses at horror flicks from this time period, but I have mostly fond memories. IKWYDLS and Urban Legend are pretty straightforward slashers with memorable villains and decent kills, while Disturbing Behavior has a more teen-thriller vibe with some science fiction elements for good measure. Another positive for me with these flicks: they all have plots that remind me of those R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike teen horror novels that were so popular back in the day.

I don't mind if you judge me. Perhaps one day I will look back at this list and judge myself. But for now, I think I'm going to go dust off my copy of Urban Legend and get lost in a time when all we needed to enjoy a horror flick was a killer in a parka with a sharp axe and a fixation with Tara Reid. Rock on, fellow horror fans!

~ Matthew A.

Five Underrated Flicks Labor Day Weekend Special!

Hey look, I went and did a Five Underrated List just like I said I might! Sorry we're going to skip the FUNHOUSE today because I got all wrapped up in this thing! All you kids are invited to do a list too so feel free to send one in! As always don't do it for me, don't do it for you, do it for all those nice movies that never hurt anybody. Let's get started!

THE THING (2011)

Let's get my most shameful offense out of the way first. My name is Unkle Lancifer and I'm a fan of that THE THING movie from 2011. I don't mean I enjoyed it enough to write this mostly positive review back HERE, I mean I've watched it about six or seven times in the last couple years. This may make some folks begin to doubt my commitment to Sparkle Motion or at least JOHN CARPENTER's 1982 take on JOHN W. CAPBELL, Jr.'s "Who Goes There?" but I swear you can enjoy both!! Is this coming from the same guy who was foaming at the mouth about the POLTERGEIST re-do on account of it failing to capture the proper tone? Yep, that's just it, 2011's THE THING does a pretty admirable job of convincing it is at least aware of what made its predecessor great. It's not always successful but I appreciate the effort. The ending battle is a bit wonky (so is 1982's) and some of the special effects are off (so are some of 1982's- I can't be the only one who finds the "Blair spreads Garry's face apart with his hand" effect a dud) but the location feels pretty spot on or maybe (probably) I'm just a sucker for shape-shifters in the snow movies. Trust me, I'm not trying to convince you that it can hold a candle (or a lighted flare?) to CARPENTER's classic (who expected it to?) I just think it's a reasonable tribute that's highly watchable despite its flaws that got a super raw deal thanks to a confused marketing campaign. Well, I enjoy it anyway and like I said...snow.

THEY (2002)

Who should ever listen to my opinion when I somehow like the horribly reviewed THEY? Maybe I should watch this one again before I stand up for it. Then again, is it any surprise that I should fall for a movie involving childhood trauma, nightmare creatures that could be cousins to THE BOOGENS (or DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK's "walnut-heads" or those crazy flying spines in 1993's NECRONOMICON), and features some waif-y FARROW-esque neurotic who at least in one version gets trapped in an alternative hell dimension? Plus BUFFY alumni! Hey, at the time I was itching for something outside the teens being chased by a psycho routine and this one fit the bill and gave me some creeps. Does it make sense? Does it hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever? I dunno, I saw this before I pretended to care about such things. Thanks to reader johnnyblackout for reminding me about this one!

THE CURSE (1987)

I remember staring at the poster for this one in front of a long gone movie theater thinking because WIL WEATON was in it, it must be for kids and not a wise, mature adult like twenty-year-old me! Eventually I caught up to it on VHS and thought, "Oh this isn't for kids, it's for insane people." Finally when it came out on DVD, THE CURSE and me understood each other! I think what happened was that over the years many an Italian movie taught me to appreciate the expressionistic side of horror and to stop being so literal all the time. As far as LOVECRAFT adaptions go (THE CURSE is based on "The Color Out of Space"), few films have captured that weird sense of existential nausea he conjures quite like this. There's a rather convincing layer of queasy madness to this movie that I've got to tip my hat to and it doesn't hurt that it features such TV luminaires as CLAUDE AKINS and JOHN SCHNEIDER. Additionally, I wouldn't throw CURSE 2: THE BITE (which is included on the DVD) out of bed for eating crackers either. The story is unrelated but it stars JILL SCHOELEN and features SCREAMING MAD GEORGE special effects so it's not unrelated in its underrated awesomeness, if that makes sense.


Everybody loves HELL NIGHT, so why the hell am I wasting this slot to sing the praises of a movie that everybody already loves? Why, one would have to be a braying jackass of some sort not to like HELL NIGHT! Here's my thing: I feel like some folks have an almost condescending, "Isn't it adorable?" wink-wink, nudge-nudge, cutesy neon eighties let's chuckle awhile, pat it on the head and send it on it's way attitude toward HELL NIGHT (which is fine I guess) whereas I'm thinking it's more of a sterling masterpiece that should be dipped in gold and sent to the Smithsonian type of thing. I don't know if you have to watch it a million times for this effect, but THE MUSIC alone is so majestic (I can hear it right now) I can barely stand it. Better yet, no matter how many times I visit Garth Manor, it still remains mysterious to me. Even though I know they filmed in the same ten-foot cavern back and forth over and over again I'm still convinced there are miles of underground tunnels and hundreds of other rooms waiting to be explored. I understand there are more frightening, suspenseful and gory films out there but HELL NIGHT just hits the perfect pitch for me every time and I want to live inside it forever.


Aw geez, my five picks are already up! There are so many more movies to choose from but this one has been on my mind lately (ever since we mentioned BURT YOUNG in BLOOD BEACH) and besides the voice in my Walkman is pretty much insisting upon me picking it. I feel like this movie is on a whole other plane than the rest of the AMITYVILLE series. It achieves something that feels so dark and much worse, authentically dark and there's such a depressing tragic tone to it all. It's a haunted house flick, a killer on the loose movie and a possession/exorcism movie all wrapped up in one. Most importantly, it's its own beast through and through. I can't think of any movie quite like it and I can guarantee you there will never be anything else like it again. I don't think this movie could be made today.To save myself from repeating myself, I'll direct you to a full review HERE and close out with ultimate selling point: DIANE FRANKLIN is in it.

THE RUINS (2008)

I'm going to cheat and squeeze this one in here because I'm starting to second guess my decision to allow the more talked about AMITYVILLE 2 have the last chair. BLOOD BEACH also had me thinking about killer plant movies and beyond the classic DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and the musical comedy LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS the best one I could think of was the more recent THE RUINS (2008). Wasn't that a cool movie? It's not as good as the book, of course, but considering how difficult it would be to make the subject matter work off the page it's pretty impressive and around here we give big giant gold stars for originality and going against the grain. Beyond the killer shrubbery stuff, THE RUINS has a truly disturbing infection-paranoia angle that will really get under your skin (See also LEVIATHAN and even THE CURSE above).


Serial Mom should be watched by horror fans every Labor Day weekend if you ask me. Even if you are not a fan of JOHN WATERS' humor (I guess there's just two kinds of people ...) you shouldn't allow yourself to miss the many horror movie and video store references that are sprinkled throughout the film. It's really a gold mine for the eyes if you dig spotting old VHS tapes and this is one of the very few films that I think might be worth seeking out in HD. Geez, how did I forget to mention it in that 40 NON-HORROR MOVIES FOR HORROR FANS list we did with The Meep? All right, I think my 5 underrated looks suspiciously like 7 underrated. I best split. Have a great Labor Day weekend folks and Summer, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Five Underrated Flicks by Matty from Boston!

Hello Kindertrauma compadres! I'm a longtime reader of your hilarious and insightful site and wanted to share my picks for five underrated scary movies. Like Jessie Spano said, I'm so excited!... I'm so excited!... I'm so scared!

Severance (2006). Here's proof that dark humor and suspense can actually work sometimes, especially if it's combined with three-dimensional characters, terrific acting, and a spooky setting. The villains in this film are horrifying and relentless, and Laura Harris as Maggie deserves praise as a strong, level-headed, resourceful final girl who gets put through the ringer by the dastardly bad guys. This is definitely a movie that horror fans should see; it's smart, witty, fast-paced, and written and directed by the talented Christopher Smith, whose love for scary movies shows through the whole film. Have you seen the ABC Afterschool Special where Helen Hunt takes PCP then jumps out of a second story window? This movie is even more entertaining than that.

When a Stranger Calls Back (1993). Young people of today, imagine a time when there were no cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever hip device made for communication that I still can't figure out how to use, and then picture yourself stranded in a house with the biggest example of "stranger danger" you could ask for. It's a film filled with suspense and mystery rather than gore, as well as a terrifying opening 15 minutes in which the lovely Jill Schoelen is menaced by a faceless stalker. The last time I was this scared was when I watched one of those face exercise videos starring Greer Childers (look it up on YouTube).

Spookies (1986). My love for this one goes all the way back to USA Network's "Saturday Nightmares", which showed it about every other weekend. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs (check out the filmmakers' Facebook page HERE.), you can read all about what a troubled production this was, but in the meantime, bask in the glory of this insane monster/slasher hybrid. People who happen upon a creepy abandoned house and make themselves at home? Here! Farting muck monsters (yes, you read that right)? Present! Hotheaded Duke's hairy patch of lower back hair above his leather pants? In all it's splendor. It also boasts terrific special effects, decent acting, and a Linda Blair look-a-like (who gets possessed!). The movie makes about as much sense as Donald Trump's hair, but it is a lot of fun.

Fragile (2005). On tonight's very special episode of "Ally McBeal", Ally fights the ghosts in a decrepit hospital! That's one I'd set the VCR for. My beloved Calista Flockhart is outstanding as a nurse with a past who tries to protect her charges against a completely batshit crazy phantom. A spooky, creepy, quiet movie with some great scares and no dancing babies in sight, and almost as scary as the Michael Bolton Christmas album. Almost.

The Gathering (2003). The first time I saw this one, I felt disappointed. When I gave it a second chance, I saw an interesting and original mystery unfold. I don't know why, but religion-themed horror films usually frighten me even if they aren't that scary (I hope that when I die, if there is a Heaven, that Oprah will be at the pearly gates to greet me). Christina Ricci is her usual awesome self, and there's a palpable sense of dread throughout the whole film, kind of like the weeks leading up to a visit from an annoying relative. It's a bit like a Lifetime t.v.-movie in some aspects (which, to me, is never a bad thing) but well worth watching. Plus, how handsome is Ioan Gruffudd? Can I please look like him in my next life?

Thank you so much for reading! May your lives be as sparkly and crazy as the "Cribs" episode with Mariah Carey! xoxo Matty from Boston.

Five Underrated Flicks by Zack Clopton Author of Last of the Monster Kids

The Monster and the Girl (1941)

The premise – of a wrongly accused man having his brain placed inside a gorilla and seeking revenge from within his new, hairy body – isn't particularly different from any apesploitation flick. However, "The Monster and the Girl" features several surprisingly eerie sequences. The gorilla's escape from a laboratory happens off-screen, the camera panning around the damaged, empty room. A memorable moment focuses on the ape stalking a guilty gangster from the rooftops while another has the human-minded monkey visiting his sister while she sleeps. The first act is a bit slow but Ellen Drew gives a great performance as the titular girl and the actor in the gorilla suit conveys some surprising quirky qualities.

4D Man (1959)

Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., right after "The Blob" and before "Dinosaurus!," "4D Man" is a great late fifties sci-fi thriller. The story revolves around two scientist brothers, one more reckless and one more serious, attempting to create "4-dimensional objects," allowing them to pass safely through solid walls. Subverting era expectations, the stable brother is the one caught in an experiment gone wrong, becoming the murderous 4D Man who can kill with a touch, while the wilder brother winds up courting the Lee Meriwether-played love interest.

While focusing on science fiction concepts for the first half, "4D Man" solidly becomes a horror film in the latter half, as Robert Lansing's mental state deteriorates and becomes more revenge crazed. Lansing stalking his unfaithful fiancé is appropriately suspenseful while a moment between the monster and a little girl is classic Kindertrauma stuff. The oddball jazz score further cements this as a unique multi-genre classic.

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)

"Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County" came along just as the nineties fascination with alien abduction stories were starting to wane and right before "The Blair Witch Project" started an explosion of interest in found footage films. The story – about a family's Thanksgiving dinner being ruined by pesky extraterrestrials – is common place now. The movie doesn't avoid the pitfalls of the found footage format, as the teenage son holds onto his camcorder long after he should have dropped it.

At its' best, "Incident in Lake County" is a surprisingly creepy flick. The lack of any music has the audience listening carefully for sounds off-screen. Similarly, the handheld camera-work has the viewer watching the corners of the frame, on the look-out for half-seen aliens. An encounter with an alien in a bedroom is drawn out very nicely. The premise proves too thin to sustain a 93 minute story, as the middle section drags and inserted talking segments don't add much, but the ending is chilling. I'd still pick the full-length version over the edited hour long cut that aired on UPN back in the day.

The Clown at Midnight (1998)

An obscure entry in the post-"Scream" slasher boom, "The Clown at Midnight" has more to offer then its lame box art might suggest. Its opera setting intentionally recalls "Phantom of the Opera" and several other Lon Chaney references are sprinkled throughout. The wildly overqualified cast includes James Duvall, Margot Kidder, and a giving-it-his-all Christopher Plummer. The characters are a refreshingly quirky lot and include a horror fanboy, a queer drama kid, and a paranormal obsessed geek girl named Walnut.

The movie's low-key gore might disappoint some but the kills are surprisingly creative. Someone is garroted with a necklace, theatre props are used extensively, and an obviously fake head bounces down a flight of stairs. Yet the likable cast/characters and moody setting makes this a reliable late night snack for slasher enthusiasts.

Midnight Ride (1990)

Essentially a sleazier, lower budget take on "The Hitcher," this late period Cannon action/horror hybrid is most notable for casting Mark Hamill against type as a hitchhiking serial killer. A few years before his career reinvention as the Joker, Hamill laughs manically, sucks on an eyeball, screams, quivers, bites, and subtly threats. He's certainly more entertaining then Michael Dudikoff, who seems out of his element playing a non-ninja (though presumably still American) cop.

"Midnight Ride" still packs in the crazy, action set pieces. The ‘Dude gets tied to the roof of a careening car', a moment that ends unexpectedly. A chase scene between a bus and several police cars is powered by a goofy synth score. The hospital set finale features a cameo from Robert Mitchum, Hamill jumping on a motorcycle, overly spacious ventilation shafts, and big machines in a dark basement that produce nothing but atmosphere-enhancing sparks. In other words, "Midnight Ride" is perfect for fans of eighties camp action, road set thrillers, and low budget, half-baked dementia.

Zack Clopton's short story collection, "Last of the Monster Kids" – available now on the Amazon Kindle Marketplace – features several Kindertraumatic scenarios. Like a little boy haunted by nightmares, kids in peril, southern werewolves, otherworldly trick r' treaters, a haunted house attraction that's actually a gateway to hell, a pet dinosaur, killer robots, a suicidal Dracula, time travel, the end of the world, and so much more! Give it a look, write a review, and tell your friends!

Five Underrated Stephen King Flicks by Unk


I was less than smitten with this one when I watched it upon its video release way back in the olden days. I found it sorta lame, tired and dull. Now that I'm sorta lame tired and dull myself, I totally get it! Thanks for being patient NEEDFUL THINGS! Young folk don't like to hear it but there really are some things that you can't fully appreciate until you've got some miles on you. A few broken dreams under your belt might be required to empathize with the desperate actions of the townsfolk of Castle Rock. Scares are scarce but there's plenty of pitch-black social commentary in this Faustian consumer nightmare and what a perfect cast. You couldn't possibly do better than MAX VAN SYDOW as the devilish Leland Gaunt and if you're not of fan of ED HARRIS our friendship is over. Who among us can resist the fascinatingly unhinged savoir-faire of AMANDA PLUMMER? Who?

Observant viewers will catch a creepy glimpse of LISA BLOUNT (R.I.P.) of PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987). It seems her role was severely cut from the theatrical version of the film (She makes a bigger dent in the three hour long TV edit apparently) but she still makes a brief, strangely haunting appearance in a crowd scene toward the end. I have to bow down to the BLOUNT, she etched a permanent scar on my brain with her memorable role in DEAD AND BURIED (1981). Truth told this particular KING tale would have been better served as a miniseries in the first place, where each character might have gotten a fairer shake but it's still a nice if short visit and if you're in the right state of mind, it's funny as hell.


KATHY BATES was soooo good in MISERY that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had to give her an Oscar or else they'd look like total jackasses. But then a couple years later when BATES did DOLORES CLAIBORNE they were all like "Back for seconds so soon, are we Kathy? You might want to slow it down on the STEPHEN KING material, if you want another one of these gold dudes." Here's the thing though, the truth that nobody can bear to hear without losing their mind to madness...BATES's performance in DOLORES CLAIBORNE is ten times better than her performance in MISERY. Sorry, it's just so true and somebody had to say it. I apologize if I just made you spit coffee on your laptop screen. It's a much more complicated and challenging role and she's so seamless and smooth in it. I guess the difference is DOLORES makes you feel sad and guilty and real empathy for those who struggle silently in this world and that's no competition for the crowd-pleasing condescension that MISERY allows. (I love me some MISERY but let's be real.).

And what the hell Academy? You didn't think maybe you should nominate JUDY PARFITT for best supporting actress for her role as Vera Donavan? Are you insane? She only travels from steely witch to sympathetic confidant to heartbreaking crone throughout the course of the film. Oh, I see, you had to give that award to MIRA SORVINO. That makes a lot of sense. What a joke. I don't know how Academy voters are able to look themselves in the mirror without ripping their own eyes out in a shame rage induced by the realization of what unscrupulous frauds they are. That's right, I call shenanigans!

Oh and TAYLOR HACKFORD's direction! Holy crap! It's so beautifully expressive and so painterly and emotionally vivid. And the way he orchestrates the different time periods with opposing film stocks and visualizes the character's mental states with finely tempered doses of MAGRITTE-inspired surrealism. I mean, c'mon people! O.K. I admit the inquest scene is a total wet noodle that robs the conclusion of the bite it deserves but too late- I already love the movie.

SALEM'S LOT (2004)

This one isn't so much underrated, as it is vehemently hated. People who don't dig it REALLY don't dig it. I don't get the furor. It's certainly not as scary as TOBE HOOPER's original stab and it pales to the experience of reading the mesmerizing novel but it's hardly the worst adaptation. Maybe I'm just a sucker for getting lost in a miniseries. I love the town, the ominous Marsten house and the coldness of it all. Plus RUTGER HAUER! Maybe I'm wrong. That's fine by me. I can be wrong and happily watch this again.


I know we were just talking about this one but it's worth repeating, THE NIGHT FLIER is one under the radar gem of a flick. It's like this great mysterious adventure and then when it gets down to business and (literally) opens its jaws, it's some kind of wonderfully scary. I know it doesn't look good. It is.


It's KING's directorial debut! It can't possibly be as terrible as its reputation would have us believe? Right? As someone who just recently watched it, I can tell you- yeah, it is pretty crummy...but therein lies the fun. It's a trash-tastic B-movie salute to ‘50s drive-in flicks and maybe even a mechanical parody of THE BIRDS. Let's just call it a mess with a middle section that makes even me yawn but what a hilarious hoot in places too. So much of what made it a dud when it came out in the ‘80s makes it a gloriously delicious time capsule stuffed with abysmal head scratchy dialogue today. For all of its faults, I can't resist the AC/DC score and the hilarious performance by THE SIMPSONS' YEARDLEY SMITH. Isn't that enough? Would folks rag on this so much if somebody else directed it? I doubt it. All you need to enjoy this is a sense of humor and maybe more alcohol than your doctor would approve of. In any case, this flick represents one of my favorite things about the author. No matter his success, he never gets so highfaluting that he forgets the low brow sparks that got his imagination roaring in the first place. When we talk of STEPHEN KING and horror movies, "Who made who?" is a valid question.

5 Underrated TV Horrors by Unk

I'm sure our readers are well aware of the must-see horror TV classics (DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, TRILOGY OF TERROR, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, DON'T GO TO SLEEP, GARGOYLES BAD RONALD, et al.) and I'm assuming I've already pushed more praise on SATAN'S TRIANGLE than any human can reasonably be expected to in one lifetime, so here is a grab bag of TV horrors that are often overlooked and deserve a little more love... (Really I'm just linking to old reviews and making like I've done a fresh post. Don't gripe, it's recycling and it helps the environment.)


You get a chatty Ouija board, a maniac with a huge knife, that lady from ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? (KATHLEEN BELLER) and it's written and directed by the fine folks who brought you THE MIDNIGHT HOUR! This atmospheric gift even takes place during the Christmas holiday! Read more HERE.


Will DIANE FRANKLIN one day discover Kindertrauma and be rightly disturbed by my unhealthy obsession with everything she does? Who knows? In the meantime read more HERE.


Watch it for the exceptional cast and love it for sticking a stick of dynamite in your ear and blowing up your brain. More unabashed affection found HERE.


Hey, this isn't a movie, it's a NIGHT GALLERY segment! I can't help it. I'm putting this here anyway because it still haunts me. Read more HERE.


This one is a legit classic but I scarcely hear it mentioned these days on account of I guess it's kinda granny-toned. Luckily all I need is some creepy whispering voices to get me going! More HERE.

5 Underrated TV Movies with vampires by Mickster

Nick Knight (1989)

This failed pilot (until much later with a different cast) is a superior TV movie. The soundtrack loaded with awesome 80s tunes. Rick Springfield is super sexy as the vampire cop on the trail of what he thinks is another vampire killing the homeless for their blood. Try this one if you have not seen it before. I tried watching Forever Knight (the much later series), but I could not get past the fact that Rick Springfield was missing.

The Norliss Tapes (1973)

I adore all things Dan Curtis, so I loved this one right away. It had a lot of potential, so I am surprised this pilot was not picked up Roy Thinnes is fantastic as the investigative reporter helping Angie Dickinson discover what happened to her "late" husband, the artist, who used unusual art supplies.

3) Cliffhangers-"The Curse of Dracula" (1979)

The only storyline I recall from the short-lived Cliffhangers series is "The Curse of Dracula". No wonder since I have always had a thing for vampires and Michael Nouri. It was the best of both worlds! Unfortunately, I cannot find this one anywhere.

Vampire (1979)

Another failed pilot is the source of this gem. Richard Lynch is creepy and sexy as Prince Anton Voytek that emerges from the ground growling because of the groundbreaking for a new church. I remembered that scene from my childhood. This movie has some excellent actors besides Lynch such as Jason Miller (The Exorcist) and E.G. Marshall (Creepshow).

Count Dracula BBC (1977)

I wrote a traumafession about one particular scene from this adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic. I blocked this scene until I actually read the novel in high school. I have seen many adaptations of this novel, but this one has to be the closest to the book on film. Louis Jourdan, even though he would not be my first choice, is surprisingly good as the Count.