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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 24th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

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Three Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans:: By Robstercraws

July 20th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

Scalpel (1977)

Directed by John Grissmer (“Blood Rage”), this movie may not be horror, but there are enough twisted and horrible things going on here to please most horror fans.  A psychotic plastic surgeon helps a go-go dancer who had her face bashed in by giving her a brand new face….the face of his young adult daughter!  See…he allowed his wife to drown and killed his daughter’s boyfriend, which was enough to send the daughter packing.  In her absence, she inherited a hefty sum of money, so the surgeon does what any father would do and gives the dancer his daughter’s face so SHE would inherit the money.  They then have an icky sexual relationship.  Everything seems fine until…..his real daughter shows up again.  Then things really get twisted!  Horror elements include face-bashing, pseudo-incest, murder, and a general all-around sleaziness that makes one wonder how on earth it got away with a PG rating.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

This disturbing film follows a psychopathic boy from birth to young adulthood and the horrible event that ensues once he reaches high school.  Tilda Swinton, as Kevin’s mother, is outstanding in this movie and is totally believable as a mother who is at times frustrated, infuriated, confused by, and afraid of her son. As you watch Kevin grow up, you just know something terrible is going to happen eventually.  It’s like waiting for a train wreck to happen. As a parent, this film made me aware of a horror I’d never even considered: the horror of not knowing who your child is and being afraid of the answer.

The Devils (1971)

This ranks as one of my top 5 favorite movies, horror or otherwise. In 17th century France (in the midst of the plague) Father Grandier (Oliver Reed) is the only person preventing Cardinal Richeliu from taking over the city of Loudun in an effort to control all of the country.  The power-hungry Cardinal and his witch-hunters accuse Grandier of being a demon and of having control of the local nunnery, run by an insane hunchbacked nun who lusts after Grandier.  An exorcist is brought in to rid the “possessed” nuns of their demons and to prove Grandier guilty.  The corrupt court humiliates, tortures, and ultimately kills Grandier by burning him at the stake…all while his fellow townspeople watch.  Grandier is dead, the town is taken over.

Enough scenes of horror are in this movie to make it qualify as “horror” in my eyes. You’ve got several scenes of torture, a crazy, hunchbacked nun, plague victims thrown in pits, Oliver Reed being burned at the stake, forced vomiting, and the movie’s most controversial scene:  “possessed” naked nuns going berserk in a church, taking down a statue of Jesus, and masturbating, fondling, and going batshit crazy all over it. It must be seen to be believed! Unfortunately, an uncensored version of The Devils has never been officially released in the United States because of its controversial nature. Everything depicted in the film, however, is true and actually happened. The fact that Warner Bros. refuses to release a masterpiece of a film about church corruption BECAUSE of Catholic influence is the real horror!

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Five Favorite Things:: Don’t Go To Sleep (1982) By Unk

July 19th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 13 Comments

DGTS is a 1982 telefilm about a girl named Mary (Robin Ignico of the same year’s ANNIE) who is seemingly persuaded by the ghost of her dead sister Jennifer (Kristin Cumming) to murder the rest of their family. This “is it a ghost or are you insane?” flick is drowning in eighties-era eccentricities and is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining killer kid movies this side of THE BAD SEED. (It may also be the most accurate depiction of middle child syndrome created excluding the trials and tribulations of Jan Brady).

1: The Opening Credits

DGTS flies out of the gate with an uncommonly low-tech opening sequence that gives it the air of a cobbled-together home movie. Stranger still, it switches back and forth between a noisy driving sequence and title cards accompanied by creepy music box melodies. Its rough, flatfooted manor feels way out of step for a prime time television presentation of its time and it lets you know from the get-go that you’re in for something peculiar.

2: The Drama.

TV legends Dennis Weaver and Valerie Harper portray increasingly troubled parents Phillip and Laura and do so to the extreme hilt. The events that occur would put anyone on edge but this couple does the deep dive into self-pity, resentment, and oppressive grief like they’re trapped in an eternal production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”. The two chew scenery like competing dogs fighting over a bone and the only one who can claim victory over the histrionic skirmish is the audience. That said, amidst the theatrics, the two-slam dunk more than a few pure notes.

DGTS also deserves some extra points for presenting multidimensional child characters that are written as more than your average precocious moppet. Mary, Jennifer and their brother Kevin (POLTERGEIST’s Oliver Robins) deal with a stew of complex feelings involving rivalry, regret, and the lingering ramifications of death (plus how may movies feature a child in a rubber room wearing a straight jacket?).

3: Ruth Gordon.

Any movie with Ruth Gordon in it is likely to hold me spellbound. It’s so fun to try and decipher what parts of what she’s saying were actually in the script and what parts she’s just ad-libbing to amuse herself.

4: The Pizza Cutter

DGTS’s pizza cutter scene is rightfully infamous to all who have witnessed its illogical glory. How can you not love a ghost movie that can’t resist indulging in the “creative kill” element of the then booming slasher craze? Each of the horrific demises the movie presents (the frisbee watermelon fall! the bathtub electrocution! the heart attack by way of lizard!) has a charm of its own but nothing can compare with the extreme close up of a pizza cutter rolling down a bannister or slicing through a phone cord. My pizza cutter can barely cut pizza.

5: The Final Scare

The most impressive thing about DGTS is that no matter how many times your brain may tell you that much of what you are seeing is ridiculous, there’s still a good chance you’re going to be left feeling genuinely unnerved. By either happy accident or sheer technical brilliance, DGTS leaves its audience with a visual corker that burns hot enough to sear. There’s something so uncanny, unnatural and unforgettable about Jennifer’s last Cheshire-cat grin before the curtain closes.  It’s a wink from death that reeks of true unworldly madness and its one of the greatest kindertrauma moments that has ever appeared on the small screen.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 17th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 18 Comments

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Three Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans:: By bdwilcox

July 16th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

OK, I’m going to totally cheat here because I’m about to give my three non-horror movies for horror fans as well as three runners-up. I will divide them into the categories of science fiction, comedy and fantasy.

Science Fiction: Because horror so closely rides a parallel rail next to science fiction, I’ll start with that category. My pick for a non-horror sci-fi movie for horror fans is The Hidden (1987) (If you liked The Faculty (1998), you’ll love The Hidden). The runner-up would be Ex Machina (2014). Both underappreciated gems in the Sci-Fi genre.

Comedy: I find the best non-horror comedies for horror fans aren’t parodies but surreal comedies that make you feel like you’re in a fever dream. My pick for a non-horror comedy movie for horror fans is UHF (1989) which is one of the three mothers of surreal comedy to me (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Big Top Pee-Wee (1988) and UHF). Runner up would be One Crazy Summer (1986) whose cartoon interludes are worth the price of admission (And is one of the three mothers of John Cusack comedies: Better off Dead (1985), One Crazy Summer and Say Anything (1989)).

Fantasy: Fantasy movies are the lighter side of horror (plays Tales from the Darkside theme…”but not as brightly lit”…). My pick for a non-horror fantasy movie for horror fans is Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). The runner-up would be Legend (1985). Both are fantasy movies whose imagery evokes feelings of horror but are tightly woven into a fantasy setting. (I was going to put in the Dark Crystal (1982) but my inner child is still too traumatized to mention it.)

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Five Favorite Things:: April Fool’s Day (1986) By Luki8701

July 13th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

1: The Music

Charles Bernstein knocked it out of the park. From the main theme, that could be best described as “playfully sinister”, to the catchy end credits song “Too Bad You’re Crazy”, the soundtrack perfectly compliments the tone of the movie.

2: The Tone

The movie has a lot of lighthearted fun with the cast, pranks and the slasher movie tropes, but is also willing to get surprisingly dark when it needs to be. It never gets bogged down with over the top violence and perfectly walks the tightrope between horror and comedy, without sacrificing the scares for the laughs and vice versa. It plays with your expectations and, like jack in the box, it springs you along until it jumps out to scare you silly and make you laugh.

3: The Jokes

The cast is extremely charming and instantly likeable (lots of eye candy too!), but let them loose in a house full of silly pranks and practical jokes and you are practically guaranteed to win your audience over. It’s all about the ways all characters get pranked / tortured and their reactions to the increasingly uncomfortable situations.

4: The Twist & Cut Ending

I mean the whole movie is about people playing jokes on each other so the twist is pretty obvious from the get go. The whole thing still works wonderfully right until the very last shot of the movie, but it almost makes you wonder what the movie would be like with the original ending.

5: Amy Steel

After stealing the show in Friday the 13th Part 2, Amy returns as yet another smart, resourceful final girl who is more than capable to handle the situation at hand. Amy Steel has incredible screen presence and it makes you wish she made more horror movies!

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Five Favorite Things:: Lovely Molly (2011) By Robstercraws

July 11th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

Eduardo Sanchez is best known as the writer/director of the late 90’s phenomenon The Blair Witch Project but, for my money, it’s his film Lovely Molly that is his masterpiece…and one of the best horror movies of the last decade. For whatever reason however, this film was unheralded upon its release, remains criminally underseen by horror enthusiasts, and receives mixed reviews by those who have seen it. It’s not an easy film to watch by any means, both because of the harrowing subject matter and the ambiguity of it, which forces the viewer to REALLY pay attention and do a little dot-connecting to fully appreciate the story. Personally, I like some ambiguity in my horror films. Too much exposition, too much backstory, ruins any sense of mystery in a horror film. The ambiguous nature of this story might have been its downfall among those who are used to being spoonfed their storylines and having everything neatly tied up at the end. Hell, I love this movie and even I had to watch it 2 or 3 times before I fully comprehended everything (or rather came to my own conclusions). Anyway, here are my 5 favorite things about this great movie:

1: The Lead Actress

This was Gretchen Lodge‘s first film role and I still haven’t seen her in anything else….and that’s a damn shame because she is outstanding in this movie!! The film is about her character Molly first and foremost and she carries the movie. Everything is told mostly from her perspective. She starts the film as a happy newlywed, then slowly runs the emotional gamut from being cautiously afraid to frantic, terrified, traumatized, inconsolable, sultry, suicidal, catatonic, then outright insane. It’s a highly emotional part and complex in a lot of ways.

2: The House

Most of the movie takes place inside of one of the creepiest houses I’ve ever seen. It’s the house Molly grew up in and the one she moves back into after her marriage. It’s one of those old, vine-entangled country houses made of brick with narrow, badly lit hallways and an unfinished basement that looks like it’s just begging to be filled with corpses! The outside of it looks exactly like the house on the cover of Black Sabbath’s first album. Not a house I would personally choose to live in! It’s a perfect house for this movie though. Creaking (and slamming!) doors, moving shadows, and rattling windows all play a big part in the atmosphere of this movie, and the atmosphere is thick! Later in the movie when the violence starts, the basement is where most of the carnage happens. It’s a basement made for carnage if ever I saw one.

3: The Horse Imagery

Throughout the movie, we see images of horses all over the place. Molly’s dead father (who was a shitty human being, sexually assaulting Molly and her sister when they were children) bred horses and may have raced them at one time, so photos of horses are everywhere. Molly comes upon a strange shrine in the cellar with an engraved picture of a 2-headed horse on it. At one point, Molly flips through a family album and there are pictures of horses there too. Molly hears the clopping of horse hooves and the breathing of a horse before she’s assaulted by an “unseen force”. In the last shot we see of Molly, she’s slowly walking outside to her backyard to embrace a kind of “horse” (trying not to get too spoiler-y). Molly, a recovering addict, backslides into addiction when things get too terrifying for her (or, it could be she’s being forced back into addiction). Her drug of choice? Heroin (or “horse”). By the movie’s midpoint, the horse imagery becomes very sinister and takes on implications of what Molly’s traumatizing childhood was like.

4: The POV shots

In The Blair Witch Project, the whole film was “found footage” from the point of view of whoever was holding the camera at the time, but in Lovely Molly, Sanchez opts to make only certain aspects of the film POV shots. Aside from the wedding footage at the start of the movie, these are from Molly’s point of view as she records her meanderings around the house and the grounds. These shots always take place when something eerie is happening to Molly or when Molly is discovering something integral to the plot. Often, she is singing to herself while recording these shots (what else but the song “Lovely Molly”?), which adds a touch of eerie detachment to the scene. Is she fully aware of what she’s seeing and discovering or is there an entity guiding her, showing her what it wants her to see?

5: The Ambiguity

Like I mentioned before, there is a strong element of ambiguity to Lovely Molly that makes the whole movie interpretable in different ways.  Is it a movie about possession, mental illness…..or perhaps both?  Molly and her husband move into the house she grew up in, which is also where the childhood traumas involving her father took place.  Did this set off a chain reaction of events and memories that led to her using drugs again and thus causing her mental breakdown?  Or, as Molly insists, is her father alive again….taking form as a kind of horse demon that no one else can see…traumatizing her all over again…waiting to capture her body and soul once and for all?  Is Molly responsible for the deaths that occur in the film, or does she have a guiding hand in the form of her father…..showing her the way…urging her to kill?  I have my preferred interpretation, but it honestly could probably go either way.

  If you haven’t seen Lovely Molly, I urge you to.  But be aware that there are intense implications of addiction, mental illness,  and sexual assault and how they may affect the mind of a person.  Like I said….it’s not an easy or “fun” movie to watch, but to me, it’s Eduardo Sanchez‘s best movie.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 10th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 13 Comments

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Five Favorite Things:: One Dark Night (1982) By Unk

July 8th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

1: The Setting & Premise

A trio of eighties era mean girls who call themselves “the sisters” convince Julie (Meg Tilly) to spend the night in a mausoleum as part of a group initiation, and plans to scare her become superfluous when an entombed psychic vampire utilizes telekinetic mojo to animate the corpses within. Who can resist such a setup? Ever since I was a wee lad I have loved graveyards, crypts, and mausoleums. My grandmother had a cemetery behind her house and I swear it was a playground as far as I was concerned. Did it creep me out? Yes, but it also contented me in a weird way. I can actually imagine taking up the offer to sleep in a mausoleum overnight. It seems more appealing than camping outdoors because I think I can deal with ghosts and dead bodies better than I can deal with insects (spiders are cute but centipedes and mosquitos have gotta go). The lovely graveyard in ODN (The Angelus- Rosedale Cemetery) may look familiar to horror fans as it was also featured in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988), MORTUARY (1983) and a multitude of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE episodes.

2: The Cast & Director

ODN is Meg Tilly’s film debut and she shows off a lot of charm and talent as good girl Julie (even though she foolishly allows every bad thing to happen to her in this movie out of fear of being called a “pansy”). It’s wild to think that just one year later she’d be holding her own with the legendary Anthony Perkins in PSYCHO II (1983). Elizabeth (E.G) Daily of PEE WEE’s BIG ADVENTURE fame is sympathetic and adorable as Leslie, the lone “sister” who grows a conscience before the nightmare begins. Robin Evans is deliciously vicious as the group’s jealous and conniving leader Carol and Leslie Speights is memorable as her toothbrush gnawing henchwoman. David Mason Daniels has a Christopher Reeve-like quality as Julie’s stalwart boyfriend Steve and it’s a treat to see a post-BATMAN Adam West show up to unravel the supernatural happenings along with likable Melissa Newman. You even get a sprinkling of Donald Hotton (NIGHTWING, THE HEARSE). Director Tom McLoughlin would go on to gift the world with FRIDAY THE 13th Part 6: JASON LIVES, arguably the cleverest, surely the funniest, sequel in the franchise.

3: The Tom Burman Effects

Tom Burman doesn’t seem to get as much attention as his artistic contemporaries Tom Savini and Rob Bottin but he’s designed some of the most impressive and eye-popping work in his field. This guy had his hands in many of my all-time favorites like HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981), MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), CAT PEOPLE (1982), THE BEAST WITHIN (1982), HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) and he was even responsible for Sloth in THE GOONIES (1985). ONE DARK NIGHT allowed him to create a plethora of assorted rotting corpses in different stages of decomposition and it’s remarkable how much personality he brings to them. There’s a soldier with his face falling off, a child buried with a creepy doll, assorted slimy granny and grampy- types, the requisite bride buried in her wedding gown and finally the film’s emaciated psychic vampire villain who has a penchant for blasting purple electric disco sparks from his eyes.

4: The PG Rating

I saw a lot of R-rated films when I was underage because my older brother worked in a theater for a while and could sneak me in. Plus, it was always pretty easy to buy a ticket for something benign and then sneak into another picture altogether. Sometimes you’d get caught and end up having to go back to the PG movie you paid for and sit through AUTHOR! AUTHOR! (1982), but most of the time it worked. That said, I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to resort to any shenanigans when I bought my ticket for ODN and could stroll into the movie without any fear of an usher giving me the stink-eye. I did not find ODN to be neutered or diluted in any way due to its rating and I always think of what a fun time I had watching it whenever horror fans complain that a movie isn’t rated R. What can I say? The idea of being pummeled by dead bodies is one that still discomforts me and I guess I cared enough about the characters that I could relate and empathize with their fear even if the situation never evolved into a gore-soaked bloodbath.

5. The Tunnel Scene

About midway through the movie, there is a scene that always gets to me in which the three girls who have just dropped Julie off at the mausoleum drive home through a tunnel (2nd Street Tunnel in Los Angeles which also appears in the same year’s BLADE RUNNER). At this point, Leslie (E.G.) has a change of heart and bravely takes a stand and condemns the actions of her bullying pals. She is then rejected and cast aside by her so-called pals for speaking up and she is unceremoniously expelled from the car and dangerously left all alone at night in the tunnel to walk home alone. It’s beautifully shot with the lights of the tunnel playing off the hot pink satin of her jacket as she realizes her fate and begins to slowly stroll on alone. It almost looks like an eighties album cover to me and yet it’s filled with such pathos and the sad ramifications of not going along with the group. It breaks my heart a bit but it’s actually a good thing; because Leslie draws the line and decides to make her own path (rather than be a blind follower to her friend’s malicious whims) she gets to avoid hanging out with a bunch of smelly dead people. Good call!

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Five Favorite Things:: Fright Night (1985) By Mickster

July 6th, 2020 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

1:The high school drama (first love and best pals) At the beginning of the film, we learn that Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is tired of his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) putting off his advances. He wants to go “all the way” until he spies a couple of men carrying a coffin into the basement next door. When Amy decides she is ready to go “all the way,” Charley is distracted. This causes a rift between the couple. A few days later at school, Amy serves Charley a Sloppy Joe in the kisser after being ignored by him once again. Charley’s best pal “Evil Ed” (Stephen Geoffreys) teases him with the classic line, “You’re so cool, Brewster!” Speaking of “Evil Ed,” he gives Charley tips on how to prepare against a vampire even though he thinks Charley is nuts (Why Charley doesn’t know this information already I will never understand since he watches so many horror movies). Amy and Ed are loyal to Charley and team up to help him. They assume he is delusional because he claims that his next door neighbor is a vampire.

2: The night club scene (It rules!) Even though Charley appears to live in a small town, Charley and Amy find themselves chased into a happening night club by Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon). While Charley is focused on a call with Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), Jerry seduces Amy on the dance floor. No woman could resist Jerry on the dance floor! Dude’s got a vibe that can be felt across a room! I’ve spent quite a bit of time, over the years, wishing I was dancing with the seductive Mr. Dandrige. Dang Charley for spoiling the entire moment!

3: The throwback to old horror films (Peter Vincent aka Peter Cushing plus Vincent Price) At the beginning of the movie, the audience meets horror movie host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) aka the Great Vampire Killer. He made tons of vampire flicks back in the day, and now he is reduced to hosting a late night horror movie show. Charley, of course, is a huge fan and attempts to get Mr. Vincent to help him dispatch his super suave neighbor who just happens to be a vampire. Unfortunately, Peter Vincent is a complete coward and doesn’t actually believe in vampires…until he is paid to pretend he does. His lack of faith, however, comes back to haunt him…”You have to have faith for this to work on me, Mr. Vincent!”

4: The small town feel (It looks like fall too!) Charley lives on a quiet street not too different from the one I grew up on except I never had a sexy vampire living next door. The last thing Charley expected on his quiet, idyllic street was a vampire and his daytime protector (Jonathan Stark) moving into the fixer upper next door (sounds like a new HGTV show to me…Dandrige and Cole’s House Flipping 101).

5: Jerry Dandrige…Of course! First of all, he is smoking hot! The sexiest vampire on film in my humble opinion. Charley’s mom and Amy are immediately charmed in his presence, and who could blame them? He is also a snappy dresser! Dandrige’s wardrobe is fantastic! No stuffy tuxedos or black capes for this 80s vampire! He has cool sweaters and a gray leather trench coat. He is charming too! Sure, he tries to kill Charley, but to be fair, he warned Charley what would happen to him, and those he loved, if he did not stop bothering him. He actually gave Charley a choice: stop harassing him, and he would leave Charley alone. Charley brandished a crucifix as a response…the moron! Jerry also has a great sense of humor. When Charley comes downstairs to find Jerry drinking a bloody Mary with his mom (Dorothy Fielding), the look on Charley’s face is priceless.

Bonus: Speaking of humor…
One of the things that sets this vampire movie apart is the use of humor (This was done again, with great success, in 1987’s The Lost Boys).

Examples-
Evil Ed, “Yeah, then he’ll be able to suck his way through the entire town… not that it would be much of a loss…”

Evil Ed, “He got me, Charley! He bit me! You know what you’re gonna have to do now, don’t you? Kill me. Kill me, Charley… before I turn into a vampire, and… GIVE YOU A HICKEY!”

Detective Lennox, “Sure, and I’m Dirty Harry. Now let me tell you something kid. If I ever catch your ass down at the station house again, I’m throwing it in jail FOREVER!”

Peter Vincent, “Where is Charley’s mother?”
Evil Ed, “Oh, well, apparently she’s working nights. BUT!… she left a note.
Mmmmmm mmm! His dinner’s in the oven!”

Jerry Dandrige, “Welcome to… Fright… Night! For real.”

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