So, I’ve never quite been able to figure this out for 37 years or so. I live in metro Detroit and back in the 1980’s they used to show 3 horror movies between 2 local channels on Saturday afternoon. This movie was on during that slot though it seemed more like a thriller.
All I can really remember is the following:
1) Someone is murdering people from a family either for revenge or inheritance
2) It had the look of an Amicus or Hammer period piece (like the Gilded Age)
3) 1st scene that has stuck in my head since: Someone is set on fire in a room with a canopy bed
4) 2nd scene that has stuck with me: The villain (i think) dies in quicksand. Quicksand that looked like oatmeal in water quite frankly, not that it didn’t freak me out as a kid.
Hopefully someone has an idea. I was able to figure out my other 2 traumatic childhood movie mysteries: Don’t Go to Sleep and Strange Behavior.
I was all set to let CONJURING 3 be the first movie I went to see in an actual movie theater post-pandemic but then I saw it was on HBO. In a last minute decision, I instead decided to see A QUIET PLACE 2 in the theater and then watched CONJURING 3 on my computer with headphones on. This turned out to be the right decision for sure; AQP2 is the type of flick that works great with an audience (albeit a small one) and CONJURING 3 has an uncharacteristic television procedural vibe (even though it wisely stays clear of boring courtroom scenes). There’s much to love about this latest installment in the franchise but every bit of that love is probably thanks to the remarkable chemistry between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film, as a whole, comes off a bit meandering with what feels like almost an active aversion to scares beyond the typical.
I was very excited to learn that this series was to take on the famous “innocent by reason of possession” case that took place in Brookfield, Connecticut; a town that my family moved into a couple years after the incident (I wrote about this previously in a review for the TV movie THE DEMON MURDER CASE (1983) which is based on the same incidents HERE). For the most part, this movie that was filmed in Georgia does an alright job of replicating the small town I know. The sad thing is that somewhere along the line, someone decided to scrape off some of the scariest parts of the tale and replace them with a rather mundane witch’s curse story. Replacing the horrific demon(s) described in the original story with a waterbed and a gaunt scolding librarian type doesn’t seem like the best of plans to me. Come to think of it though, director Michael Chaves did the same kind of careless bastardization of a legend that didn’t need fixing in his previous flick THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019), another passable spook show generously lifted up by the superior acting of its central character(s).
Truth is I’d follow Wilson & Farmiga as the highly idealized, insanely romanticized and unquestionable glamorized versions of the mostly problematic ghostbusters Ed & Lorraine Warren anywhere. This outing that I wrongly assumed I’d feel particularly connected to is the least successful in the horror department but does add something worthy in the area of our understanding of these now beloved (by me at least) characters. It’s kind of hilarious to think of the real Lorraine Warren hanging off a cliff in Connecticut, Indiana Jones-style but avoiding anything resembling reality is exactly what I go to the movies for. CONJURING 3 is not on the level as the previous two films directed by James Wan but it’s still a bit better than most horror flicks that come down the pike. In this case though, instead of thanking the writer or director, you really have to thank the two impeccable leads. Sure, I was underwhelmed overall but how bad can a movie be when my first thought after seeing it is that I can’t wait to visit these characters again?
LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination; it’s every bit as clunky as its title. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t freak me the hell out as a child though. As I recall, the first twenty minutes were horrifying to me, and then I’m pretty sure I bailed to hide under some covers somewhere. Little did I know as a kid that if I had just stuck around past the scene that caused me trauma, I would have probably found that the feeling of boredom had eclipsed any anxiety I was experiencing. Normally I’d watch a movie again before I’d dare write an opinion about it but in this case, I watched it about ten years ago and have decided that I’ve suffered enough. I’m going to practice self-care and simply watch the scene in question and hopefully, I won’t get too many of the facts wrong.
The eternally wonderful Patty Duke has replaced Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse and if there’s one thing I can’t complain about in this movie it’s the casting. I mean, when Sidney Blackmer couldn’t return to play baddie Roman Castevet (due to his death in 1973), they nabbed one of my all time favorites, Ray Milland! This is a movie that boasts Ruth Gordon, Tina Louise and a young Stephen Mchattie so let’s give credit where’s it due: the casting is impeccable! Sure, this ramshackle flick is all over the place but it’s not that much worse than the literary sequel the original author (Ira Levin) would come up with decades later. I guesss the idea of a sequel was cursed from the get-go.
Anyway, Rosemary (Duke) is traveling cross-country, always on the run trying to keep her little kid away from the Satanists who want him to be evil and destroy the world (probably). The kid gets in a fight with some bullies (as Rosemary is having one of her famous breakdowns on a payphone) and he zaps them with glowing demon eyes (must be nice). Luckily, Tina Louise who has an awesome camper helps them out and hides them away. Eventually, she gains their trust and helps them hail down a bus in the middle of nowhere in order to escape. Rosemary makes the dumb move of getting on the bus first, and the door slams behind her! The bus drives away with tricky betrayer Tina Louise clutching the kid! Rosemary runs to the back of the bus and does the frozen behind glass scream with clawed hands screaming “Nooooo” routine (again with this)! But wait, it’s worse…she goes to the front of the empty bus to plead with the driver and there is none! Nobody is driving the hell bus!
OK, this all hits me on a bunch of levels. We’ve got the Satanists, the two-faced beauty, the vehicle with no driver, the trapped behind glass, the pointless scream, and the being torn away from your parent(s). And this is a seventies made-for-TV movie so you know the insane diabolical musical score is not helping either. It’s an incredible scare (for me anyway) in a lackluster flick that mostly just rots on the vine directly following this harrowing sequence. It’s also a fantastic example of the fact that it doesn’t matter how good the movie is when you’re talking about Kindertrauma, a scare can find you anywhere.
About a month ago (April 30th), FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 was celebrating its 40th anniversary. While singing its praises I nearly stated that Jason Voorhees, as presented in that film (with a THE ELEPHANT MAN-type sack on his head), is at his scariest (because generally he is) but something stopped me in my tracks from doing so. If I was being completely honest, the most frightening I ever found Jason Voorhees was at the end of the next film in the series FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3.
Come to think of it, I was hardly a child at the time and at that point, had watched the first two films multiple times (to say the least). At the point of the film I’m referring to, most of the film’s killing, violence and bloodshed had already occurred and I had devoured it all handily.
But his was the sort of scare that hit me on a purely visual level. It felt like one of my nightmares; I was shook as they say.
Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) had endured a rough night but it appeared that she had finally defeated her hockey-masked assailant and exhausted, fell asleep in a boat on a shallow portion of Crystal Lake. She is awoken by a screeching bird and is clearly (and rightfully) still in hyper-survival mode. She looks about and sees only her familiar farm. After a panicked jolt when the boat hits a floating branch (!) and a jump scare provided by an obnoxious duck loudly flying by her head (!), she comes to accept that the nightmare may indeed be over and that she is finally safe. But that’s when she sees him in the window…
A fleshy, almost pig-faced, mask-less Jason in all his deformed glory, covered in blood and somehow audibly groaning! He begins to scratch and claw at the windows glass in a frenzied manor (I don’t know why figures behind glass get to me (SALEM’S LOT?) but they always do). He finally gives up on his nonsensical attempts to reach Chris through the window and disappears while Chris finds the boat she’s trying to row away in stuck on another damned branch. Jason CRASHES through the door (!) and we get an even better look at his almost smiling (?) heavily breathing visage. He starts to run for Chris (and directly toward camera) but then suddenly disappears (along with the merciless, cow-prod score).
It’s OK! Chris has just lost her mind! The window is empty. The lake is at peace. Of course this is all just to distract us from what’s coming out of the water (an iffy, worm-enhanced homage to the first film). Hey, it works. I’m not sure why it worked so well on me but it did and I have to admit, it still does. Something about the brazen early morning clarity is truly jolting and even though the series was already notorious for such last minute trickery, I continue to fall for it hook line and sinker.
Once upon a time, way back HERE we got a Name That Trauma from Dexterpie that went a little something like this:
Hello Kindertrauma, I’m trying to find a movie that I saw as a child. It had two witches in it. The ugly witch was good and the pretty witch was bad. The pretty witch could turn into animals and ended up burning the ugly witch’s house down. I’m pretty sure the movie was in black and white. Any help would be appreciated, I’ve been looking a long time!
Sadly though, this was one of those rare instances when are readers could not provide the answer. All seemed lost but then a happy ending finally materialized! Dexterpie found his own movie and it’s the Roger Corman directed 1957 flick, THE UNDEAD! I’ll let Dexterpie describe the movie further…
I saw this movie as a child. I liked it because it had witches. Since then for thirty or fourth years I’ve been trying to find it. Not even the internet could help. One horror movie buff suggested I was thinking of The Blue Bird. A Shirley Temple movie. Puh-leeze. Another suggested Hocus Pocus. The fools.
This psychiatrist hypnotizes a hooker so he can travel in time through her. Confusing. But it is done. And Satan is there. A couple witches. This pretty girl needs help. Who will help? Meg Maude, the ugly old crone witch living in a witches cottage in the woods? Or Lydia the beautiful shape shifting witch who is not so nice. Hint: do not judge a book by its cover.
Made in 1957 it’s got a whole lot of shit going on. They cut off heads in this movie like it’s going out of style. It has satanic dancers.
The owls in the trees turn into lizards. Then into an evil imp and a cat. The cat turns into pretty Lydia. Billy Bartley is her evil imp. She wants the innocent girls man and is framing her for being a witch.
Time travel. Witches. Imps. Satan. A singing grave digger.
She has to decide. Does she die here as a witch tonight and live future lives? Or does she live and marry her beloved but never live again in future lives?
Every bit as wonderful as I could have remembered it.
Wow, Dexterpie! That sounds great! Thanks for keeping us up to date on your Name That Trauma! Folks, if you want to check out THE UNDEAD, it looks like it’s free on most major streaming services (Tubi, Pluto et el)!
It’s fair to say Waxwork is not a great movie. However, when it comes to Anthony Hickox’s resume, I’ll take Waxwork over a CD cenobite any day (I’m looking at you Hellraiser III)! Take a moment with me, won’t you? As I try to plead my case for this tonally awkward 80s oddball.
- The Cast
A lot of the performances in this movie are ahem not necessarily the best, but let’s give a participation award! Zach Galligan, Billy Peltzer himself…Gizmo would be proud! Dana Ashbrook aka Bobby Briggs (Twin Peaks forever!) And most importantly, Deborah Foreman…because it’s probably time for you to rewatch April Fool’s Day for the 100th time.
- The Anthology Vibe
Even though this movie is technically not an anthology, each time a character enters a waxwork, we’re introduced to a new story and characters. Each new set piece is like a mini horror movie!
- The Special Effects/Gore
This movie has some impressive make-up and gore! In fact Bob Keen, who also worked on Hellraiser and Candyman, helped to design the werewolf in the Dana Ashbrook segment.
- (To piggyback off #3) China and Count Dracula
Arguably the best and most memorable segment is when China (Michelle Johnson) meets Count Dracula. There’s copious amounts of gore and great lines like, “Ah yes, steak tartare.” Plus major fashion moment, because her dress is gorgeous…y’know before it gets all blood soaked.
- (And to piggyback off #4) Miles O’Keeffe
How much Keeffe is in this movie anyway? MILES O’KEEFFE! (MSTies where ya at?)
You can watch Waxwork on Tubi now! After that, (whorish self-promotion), check out Electric Babysitter HERE and Electric Babysitter on IG! Hope you have a wonderful day!