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Insidious: The Last Key

January 18th, 2018 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

Dagnabbit, the unthinkable has happened. They finally made an INSIDIOUS installment that yours truly has zero gumption to rally behind. We must be trapped in an alternate dimension because I had more fun watching a football game (Go Eagles!) this past weekend than a horror movie (a sign of the Apocalypse?). It’s not that the fourth horse in the INSIDIOUS parade is terrible or anything. It certainly has its heart in the right place but geez Louise, I found it dishwater dull. In fact, at some point in the middle, I got up to go to the restroom and instead of rushing in a frenzied panic, worried I’d miss an important beat; I found myself leisurely strolling knowing that it was unlikely. There are such long, drawn-out, static moments of non-consequence in this movie that I think I could have dropped by the concession stand as well. I’m all for quiet junctures in horror that build up the tension but I’m not down with empty stalling. I’d think I’d be the perfect audience for a film concerning a mature woman confronting a childhood of abuse in a dwelling chock full of demons but you have to throw me a semi-fresh bone to gnaw on periodically. This trudging rehash is creakier than the house it takes place in.

Things start out promising enough with the immensely likable and sympathetic psychic Elise Rainier (the blameless LIN SHAYE) experiencing a nightmare/flashback of her youth. It seems poor Elise is haunted by memories of her brutal father who tried to quell her clairvoyant talents by beating them out of her. After waking up she receives a phone call from a man looking for her assistance in ridding his home of malignant spirits only to find out the address in question is that of her childhood home. This is an intriguing premise and I’m all on board but as soon as she and her henchmen Specks and Tucker (LEIGH WHANNELL and ANGUS SAMPSON) arrive at the (barely changed in 60 years) haunted abode things begin to slide towards the mundane. Even worse, the characters of Specs and Tucker who have been consistent sources of amusement in the INSIDIOUS series are regulated to leering at Elise’s nieces and repeating painful dad jokes. The closing scene of INSIDIOUS 3, which involved the trio teaming up and facing a future of ghostbusting together was so promising, it seemed the sky was the limit as far as what they might encounter next. Disappointingly, even with Elise’s personal history attached, we still end up in the increasingly less interesting phantom zone “the further.”

I think INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY might do the trick as a rainy night time-killer. It’s a respectable enough attempt and a little SHAYE goes a long way. Still, it seems like there were more than a few potentially profound moments involving Elise’s reconciliation with her parents and her rejecting the urge to empower the evil with her rage that fall much flatter than they should. Maybe I’m experiencing INSIDIOUS fatigue or maybe it’s the fact that horror fans have been gifted much more lively and exciting fare to devour as of late. In any case, this movie has done well enough financially that a fifth installment is not unlikely. Here’s hoping that next time those in power are creative enough to take us someplace we don’t expect, someplace further than “the further.”

→ 4 CommentsTags: General Horror

Goodbye, 2017!

January 11th, 2018 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

I can’t say I was a big fan of life in general circa 2017 but mercifully, it was a gonzo year in horror entertainment. It’s like the old saying goes, “When life hands you lemons, sell those lemons and use the cash to buy a movie ticket.” The list below represents my favorite horror offerings from an otherwise odious year. Whether they’re “good” or “bad’ is somebody else’s burden to decide, these babies kept my paper boat afloat either way. (In no particular order….)

IT. Yep, some of these picks are going to be obvious no-brainers. How could I not dig one of the most kindertrauma-iest movies ever made? I loved the characters, the town and even the clown and at least two scenes freaked me to the core. I’ll be looking forward to returning to this one again and again.

GET OUT. This flick is fascinating on too many levels to count and who would of thunk a scene involving someone simply searching for keys could be so damn suspenseful? Taking paranoid cues from ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE STEPFORD WIVES, this scorching social critique is in a league of its own.

SPLIT. Don’t call it a comeback, M. NIGHT’s momma said knock you out. I don’t see how anyone could not be thoroughly entertained by this darkly humorous, twist-infested thriller. It’s like a long lost Di PALMA film complete with a side dish of BETTY BUCKLEY. My hometown of Philadelphia has never looked better on screen and JAMES McAVOY is non-stop mesmerizing.

ANNABELLE: CREATION. Forget it’s a prequel and part of a franchise; this creepy flick can stand on its own. You could replace the titular doll with any raggedy moppet and it’d work just as well. The camerawork and cinematography are surprisingly exquisite and I love the time period detail and the moving way loss and loyalty are represented. This is a keeper in my book.

THE SHAPE OF WATER. 2017 was not only the year of astounding commercial success for horror films; it was host to some the genre’s greatest critical glory as well. GUILLERMO DEL TORO’s poetic fairy tale clarifies that there are infinite uncharted depths for monster movies to explore.

THE EVIL WITHIN. I’m not sure if this counts because it was made 15 years ago but 2017 saw its unlikely release (two years after its creator’s death) and so here we are. This movie is disturbingly bonkers but it’s also a one of a kind personal vision and I’ve got to throw laurels upon it for originality alone. Batty as it may be, the bizarre effects are eye-popping and the dank, morbid dread it conjures is surprisingly potent.

TRAGEDY GIRLS. Sadly, I don’t get to see more independent horror in these parts and even sadder, I’ve been burned by so many bad independent horror films that I’m not crying too many tears over that fact. Thankfully PUFF (The Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival) knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff and I got to see this HEATHERS-esque dark teen comedy. This flick might have sunk like a stone with lesser casting but its two leads are charismatic as hell. Don’t be surprised if this one quietly becomes a cult classic.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND. Is it kosher if I add a movie simply because I’m in love with its lead? Good, because I love King Kong! He’s awesome and he really knows how to throw a helicopter and clearly has a taste for seafood grander than my own (he eats an octopus). I felt like a kid watching this movie and that’s gold.

TERRIFIER. Speaking of feeling like a kid, this movie brought me back to that unsafe space of watching sleazy VHS tapes as a teen and giddily fearing what obscenity could happen next. I can’t recommend the plot too much (besides the fact that it’s set on Halloween) but killer clown “Art” genuinely had me shaking in my shoes and the almost too realistic gore scenes are horrifically impressive.

CULT OF CHUCKY. Long running horror franchises take note — a great way to revitalize a sagging storyline may be to add an interesting new character. I’m sure I’d watch any movie featuring my friend ‘til the end Chucky but the addition of FIONA DOURIFF to the last two CHILD’S PLAY installments has greatly sharpened the killer toy’s blade. DON MANCINI deserves mucho credit for pushing the mayhem into less familiar zones and for keeping fans on their toes.

LOGAN. I know this isn’t considered a horror movie but my library only had the B&W “noir” version to borrow and it ended up tasting like a late night horror classic to me. I mean, essentially, it’s really about people perceived as “monsters” being chased cross-country by an ignorant torch-carrying mob. Furthermore it’s got a killer kid in it so that even further justifies its inclusion here. In any case, I’m sticking with the B&W version and hope to never see it in color.

BETTER WATCH OUT. This movie shocked the hell out of me and I thought I’d seen everything. The premise is as hoary as the hills, involving a babysitter besieged by intruders during the holidays but before you know it, the old grey mare is flipped on its head. It also happens to feature my hero for life, CANDYMAN’s VIRGINIA MADSEN. Do you have a library card? If so, you can watch this FOR FREE on HOOPLA right now. If you don’t have a library card, all I can do is shake my head.

SUPER DARK TIMES. Imagine A SIMPLE PLAN but instead of finding money, a trio of teens accidentally kill a (rather obnoxious) peer. What follows is a haunting nosedive into regret that crashes into true horror. There’s something slightly heartbreaking about this movie and its exploration of the limits of social connection. It’s beautifully shot too, full of memorably moody images and the performances are so real you almost feel like an accomplice.

GERALD’S GAME and 1922. I hope it’s not rude to lump these two together but they’re both NETFLIX originals based on the work of by STEPHEN KING and they’re both exceptional works of psychological horror. In fact, they are rather like flip sides of the same coin. GERALD’S GAME explores the mind of an abuse survivor haunted by her past while 1922 rummages through the aftermath guilt of a man who chooses to murder his wife. I found GERALD’S GAME superior in the suspense department but I ultimately preferred 1922’s more consistent tone. The other thing these two films have in common is that they both feature absolutely stunning performances from their leads (CARLA GUGINO and THOMAS JANE, respectfully).

ONE DISAPPOINTMENT: ALIEN: COVENANT. I appreciate this film’s visual style and overall impressive artistry but egad, I’ve never liked an ALIEN movie less. I found myself so surprised by my aversion toward it that I gave it a second viewing hoping it would gel and it only left me feeling more slighted. Maybe movies are like people and there are just some that you can’t click with no matter the effort. On a bright note, it did make me reconsider 2017’s other Sci-Fi monster effort LIFE in a more favorable light. That movie at least closed with one truly mortifying scene that really stuck with me.

LOOKING FORWARD TO: WINCHESTER. Hey, my very own brother wrote the screenplay to this movie WINCHESTER and it’s opening February 2 in the US (and March 2 in the UK). It stars HELEN MIRREN (!!!) and it’s all about the fascinating Winchester house, which is said to be one of the most haunted places on Earth. You can read up on Winchester House HERE and watch the spooky, badass trailer below! Here’s to WINCHESTER starting off another epic year for the genre!

What were you favorite horror films of 2017 and which ones are you looking forward to in 2018? Leave us a comment and let us know!

→ 12 CommentsTags: General Horror

Name That Lin Shaye Movie!

January 5th, 2018 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY opens in theaters today so our funhouse is dedicated to horror royalty LIN SHAYE. How many of these ten films that featured SHAYE can you identify?

→ 7 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Name That Rankin/Bass Holiday Trauma:: Hosted by Mickster!

December 22nd, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments

Mickster Sez: Name the Rankin-Bass special, the year it originally aired, and name the specific trauma pictured. I will share my thoughts on each scene once they are all identified.

→ 16 CommentsTags: Kinder Loves Mickster! · Kindertrauma Funhouse

Name That Christmas Horror Tagline!

December 15th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

→ 12 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Name That Trauma:: Richard R. on a Creepy PBS Halloween Program

December 11th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

Hello, Kindertrauma!

This must have been the mid-to-late-70’s. There was a show on PBS that I actually saw a couple of times–I believe it was broadcast for a few years around Halloween. It was a group of actors with ghoulish makeup on a plain black-box set performing a series of stories in a sort of readers’ theatre/oral interp style. I don’t remember most of the stories, but I believe one of them was an adaptation of the Grimms’ fairy tale about the Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear. The actors took on most of the narration duties, but there was also an unseen narrator for some parts–a guy with a creepy/soothing voice. The whole thing was accompanied by organ music, and it all ended with a song number by a group of classic monsters about how they found a home together in a haunted house. I’ve googled every possible descriptor I could come up with, and no dice all around. It’s driving me a little crazy!

Love the website!

Best regards,

Richard R.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Name That Trauma!

Kindertrauma Funhouse

December 8th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 13 Comments

In anticipation of Guillermo del Toro‘s THE SHAPE OF WATER, here are ten images from ten waterlogged horror flicks. How many can you identify?

→ 13 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Name That Trauma:: Sebastian L. on an Attic Staircase Apparition

December 7th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

Hey there, Kindertrauma!

I have a super obscure Name That Trauma that I’m hoping someone out there might be able to help me with. I remember seeing a commercial on TV, probably sometime in the very late 1990s or very early 2000s. It was for what I am pretty sure was a TV movie (though I suppose it may have been a series) that was most likely airing on one of the big networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, or maybe FOX), as that’s primarily what I would’ve been watching at that time. All I can remember is one scene that showed someone (whether a man or a woman, I don’t know) seeing an old woman standing a the foot of what looked like a set of stairs to an attic. I even think they may have seen her in the reflection of a mirror, though I can’t be positive. I’m quite sure the commercial framed her as a ghost, because it definitely had a spooky context. It may have been the ghost of the protagonist’s mother (at least that’s how I remember it, but I may have just assumed that at the time). There was nothing outwardly creepy about the woman herself, it was all context. From what I recall, she had her hair pinned back in a bun or braid or something, and was wearing a dress with long-sleeves. I wish I could remember more, but that’s the only image that really stuck with me, and has for almost twenty years. Any tips would be appreciated!

– Sebastian L.

→ 1 CommentTags: Name That Trauma!

The Horror of Losing My Dear Wife by Randolph M.

December 6th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

Dear KINDERTRAUMA brothers and sisters:

First of all, I would like to point out that my dear wife was an ardent Stephen King fan. She used to watch me browsing KINDERTRAUMA and giggle at the silliness of it all. To be able to take celluloid horror with a sense of humour like that is something she naturally had, and I didn’t. I took the movies/TV shows far too seriously as a child. She could chuckle at MAGIC, IT’S ALIVE, THE SHINING, SUSPIRIA, SCHIZOID or whatever Z-grade flick was showing at the local drive-in, etc. I couldn’t.

Nothing out of the wildest dreams of Dario Argento, Larry Cohen or her favourite Stephen King will ever match the horror I felt watching her die after battling breast cancer for seven years. If a director wants to make a truly horrifying movie, s/he will have cancer as the “monster in the dark,” ever lurking, always waiting. It is far more truly frightening than any bloody monster, mutant or alien.

I remember watching some of the old Hammer Horror flicks with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in her last weeks of life (including the unintentionally hilarious DRACULA: A.D. 1972), and considering how really silly they were compared to my lady warrior’s real-life struggle. She made Xena The Warrior Princess or Buffy The Vampire Slayer look like Mary bloody Poppins.

To all of the KINDERTRAUMEN: The next time your loved one wants to hold your hand or grab you whilst watching a horror flick…let them. You know what you are watching on TV, celluloid, DVD or your other favourite medium is fake and temporary. The REAL horror in life is losing someone you love, which I am facing right now. I would rather go face-to-face with “the Xenomorph,” the “Davis baby” or Damien Thorn.

I could binge-watch all of THE OMEN films and laugh at them compared to the real struggle of watching someone you love lose their final battle. The same goes for the silliness that was THE AMITYVILLE HORROR that was ultimately proven to be a hoax. Even the most effective horror directors can say “CUT!” and Robert Englund can go have coffee with his co-stars, or have fun playing Lou Cifer on MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN (which was a hilarious turn of form for Mr Englund!) taking the Bundys and their neighbours to Hell.

I cannot do that now. I remember watching the Director’s Cut of ALIEN when she and I were the only two people in the cinema and she would grab hold of me during the more suspenseful moments of Sir Ridley Scott‘s very effective “what-you-don’t-see-is-more-frightening-than-what-you-DO-see” direction.

We were going to rent THE CAR after I showed her the trailer on YouTube and have a good laugh at it.

All those reading: Enjoy the entertainment, frightful as it may be, with your loved ones, while you have a chance.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Mary C. on Bizarro Santa from Space Ghost Coast to Coast

December 4th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

I recently ran into something that messed me up as a young child (6? 7?) and seeing how it was Christmas-related and it’s December now, I’d like to share it to you guys.

It’s Bizarro Santa from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

See, I was a huge fan of C2C, Zorak was the best, tied with Space Ghost, but this episode I’m not even sure what happened in it except there was Santa Claus and he was “ho ho ho”ing, and suddenly everything went dark as an eye grew from him and he mutated into his “true” form, an Eldritch thing dubbed “Bizarro Santa”.

Bloody hell. This was on Cartoon Network, mind you, the show had yet to move to Adult Swim. Thankfully I repressed it in time for the real Santa to deliver my presents, as I remember seeing it around the holiday season.

The episode in question’s called “Girl Hair“. Check it out.

→ 1 CommentTags: Traumafessions