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Screamtime (1986)

February 21st, 2011 by unkle lancifer · 22 Comments

There’s something wrong with me. I’m starting to put the pieces together and it doesn’t look good. Me and Aunt John were both under the weather so we decided to indulge ourselves by watching a “Premium” movie via On-Demand. Yes, we felt so sick that shelling out six dollars to watch a movie was the only way we could think of to feel better. We decided on INCEPTION because how can you go wrong with fancy eye-popping special effects and a near unanimous approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

About half an hour into INCEPTION I realized that I do not experience things necessarily the same way others do. Maybe it was because I was sick but I began to notice that I thought INCEPTION was the most annoying thing in the world. If you love INCEPTION don’t get mad at me. I’m not saying you are wrong, in fact, most of the world is in agreement with your assessment, it’s just that for me I’d rather eat a bag of pennies than ever experience it again. I swear I tried, I really tried but the voice in my head said “no.”

The voice in my head sounds like the result of an unholy union between Jan Brady and Gollum from LORD OF THE RINGS. It will not be ignored. Throughout INCEPTION it kept asking questions that I had no answers for. “Why do these characters explain everything before they do it?” “Didn’t I just see DiCAPRIO playing a man who is kept from his cherubic children by a “crazy” wife in SHUTTER ISLAND?” “When JUNO does that VANNA WHITE thing in front of a scale model during a montage is that meant to indicate her knowledge of said model?” “Did the same person cast this as BUGSY MALONE?” “Why does this feel like I’m playing the video game SYPHON FILTER with someone who is bogarting the joystick?” “Are there any special effects in this that I did NOT see in the trailer?” and so forth.

All in all I did not enjoy INCEPTION unless you count the part where it ceased. John (who did enjoy it somewhat) went to bed and so I decided to watch the anthology horror SCREAMTIME to cleanse my mental palette and here is the weird thing, the thing that makes me think there is something wrong with me. It turns out that for all intents and purposes something in my soul informs me that I think SCREAMTIME is a way better movie than INCEPTION. I know it’s not right but there it is; a simple fact that I can’t deny. I know I’m comparing Apple Jacks and Orange Julius but just go with it. I’ve gone too far to turn back now.

Truth told SCREAMTIME, which is barely a movie as it consists of three independently made shorts encased in the flimsiest of wraparound stories ever created, has several elements that no billion dollar budgeted Hollywood movie could ever compete with and those elements would be…

A scene that takes place in an ‘80s video store. No special effect could ever compete with the jaw droppy wonder of this incredible sight….

A Punch puppet that beats people who deserve it with a wooden plank.

This weird lady.

A scary killer guy who I actually find scary.

And most incredibly an army of garden gnomes that come alive and then are played by little people who attack characters by jumping on their backs.

And also these old ladies.

So really it’s not much of a competition INCEPTION. The only thing close to a garden gnome that you have to offer is JUNO and that just won’t do on account of she doesn’t wear suspenders. So maybe there actually is something wrong with me. Somehow I was born into a universe where most of the population believes the opposite of what I know to be true. In my mind SCREAMTIME (which, by the by, is available for free on Netflix streaming) is ten times more entertaining than INCEPTION could ever hope to be. There I said it. I am fully prepared for further ostracizing than I already receive. As long as deadly garden gnomes encircle me, I am impervious to scorn.

Tags: General Horror

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dylan Donnie-DukeNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Shiver me traumas! One I had forgotten about entirely, but will be thinking of again and again as I cry myself to sleep tonight. The gnomes! Oh, the gnomes! I was but a wee Dali Lama of 11 years old when I saw this… and those gnomes. Oh how they haunted me. Creepy does no justice as a description. Off-putting is far too British. Clinically disturbing is the best I can come up with for now. Thank you for picking my psychological scabs. I guess I will need to watch Inception in the hopes that it will make me forget those blasted gnomes.

  • 2 lottie_of_millhavenNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Another one to add to my “must see” list, as I’m actually very afraid of Mr.Punch. Seriously, I’ve had many nightmares about that puppet.

  • 3 goblinNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I can forgive that you didn’t like ‘Inception’, but what bothers me is that you spelt Gollum’s name wrong.

  • 4 EegahIncNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Hey, I just watched this on Netflix last week! I haven’t seen Inception yet, but with stuff like this on Watch Now, I’m in no rush. Pardon me now while I go off to view the Adrienne Barbeau slasher Open House.

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 11:59 am


    Rats! Poor Gollum! OK I fixed it.


    Inception is a good cure for Garden Gnome fever. I should say I really did like Tom Hardy in Inception. He was the one saving grace.


    Mr. Punch has never been better represented!


    Any movie that takes place in New York in the eighties even if for just a little bit is right on in my book. It’s so crazy to see the way it looked back then! I have yet to catch Open House…gotta get on that one, love me some Barbeau

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Oh, and Dileep Rao from”Drag Me to Hell”! He almost made inception bearable too. Sad he spent the second half of the movie trapped in a slo-mo van crash.

  • 7 Father MerrinNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Curse you Unk! Now I HAVE to get Netflix.

  • 8 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I hear ya Unk. I only recently saw Inception myself and I wanted to like it so much more than I did. I thought it was markedly inferior to Nolan’s other works such as The Prestige or Memento, films with a mystery that I wanted to solve because I really cared about the characters…

    The incredible thing about this post is that I have actually seen Screamtime. As per so many traumas from my days as a sensitive and overly imaginative youth, I had managed to blot the memory of this creepy film out almost entirely, but leave it to KT to revive all the old scars.

  • 9 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I have to say, I have not and will not see Inception. I just do NOT like Leo and refuse to see any of his movies.

    I never liked Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise during the height of their popularity. I never could figure out what it was that I didn’t like about them, but there’s was something about them that turned me off and made me uneasy. So I keep waiting to see what Leo will do. Same thing with Angelina Jolie. Just can’t take her.

    I did, however, watch The Bad Seed with Patty McCormack last night. I also tried to turn my niece on the awesomeness of Evil Dead, but once the tree-rape happened she turned it off.

    *sigh* Teenagers.

  • 10 sob317No Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Curse you Screamtime, you continue to haunt me. I saw this for the first time in about 1985 and something about it stuck with me. It lingered in my mind for years until eventually the title and all but the faintest details were washed away.
    Decades later, I would stumble across a fantastic website where Aunt John quickly identified one of my three Name That Trauma’s as Screamtime. That was a little over 2 years ago and try as I might I couldn’t track down anything more than the online trailer.
    I thought I struck gold a week or so ago when it was mentioned in a Stream Warriors post that Screamtime was available via Netflix. I scurried to the XBOX, got the Netflix running, searched for Screamtime and there it was. I hit play and…Not Available In Canada. Holy Lunchpail Letdown, Batman!
    Unkle mentioned he would watch it and I was almost hoping he would report back that it failed on every level but no. So I’ll sit patiently looking at the screenshots until the time that Netflix decides that Canada is worthy of Punch and the Gnomes and be content with the fact the when I do track this one down it will be worth the wait.

  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    @Father Merrin,

    You have to bite the bullet! I had no desire for Netflix Streaming and then it transformed my life into something with killer gnomes in it!


    Right? What was with that dialogue? It sounded like somebody reading an instruction manual the whole time.

    @Jami JoAnne,

    TRUE STORY, once I was in NY visiting a friend and this guy just smashes into me while walking by. My friend goes “Do you know who that was?” and I look behind me and LEO is walking away, his head looking over his shoulder giving me the stink eye as if I had clipped him!

    I put a witch curse on him but obviously it did not work because he went on to star in Titanic. I think my witch curse only has the power to make your head look like a ham because that is the only thing that has happened to him. Anyway INCEPTION stars a very rude ham headed person and should be avoided for that reason alone.


    Man, I felt almost guilty watching Screamtime while you could not. I think it must be just as good as you remember it. Why can’t they show it in Canada? That Sucks. I will trade you the option to watch Screamtime for Canadian health care if you want.

    Plus you guys get SCTV so it’s not all bad there! You and Screamtime will find each other one day, I know it!

  • 12 sob317No Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Our Netflix selection is slowly expanding so I’m keeping up hope that it will get here eventually. I would assume it’s some sort of licensing thing, same reason we don’t get Hulu.
    Ahh, SCTV, some pure Canadiana. My friend and I played Bob & Doug McKenzie in “The (Root) Beer Hunter” for our 5th grade talent show many years ago…
    If anyone likes SCTV you might want to try out “The Kids In The Hall”, another sketch comedy series from up in The Great White North. Available for free on Netflix Streaming…

    Cabbage Head

    My Pen

  • 13 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Apparently, unkle, the other part of your curse is to make one an internet meme. Go google up “Strutting Leo” if you don’t believe me. He’s the new “Sad Keanu.”

  • 14 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm


    To me Canada will always be the center of the universe thanks to Happy Birthday to me, My Bloody Valentine and all things Black Christmas.

    I’ve also had a lifelong crush on Catherine O’Hara which can be verified with ease by contacting my younger brother.

    Jami J R,

    The one thing they don’t tell you about strutting Leo is that when he happily struts by you he also smashes into your shoulder for no reason and then struts away without apology!

    Stand warned dear readers! One day there will be a showdown between me and Leo mark my words! It’s not over! My curses take long but they are powerful!

    I shall beat him with my Punch puppet!

  • 15 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 22, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Well, I’m going to visit New York next month and if he struts by me I’ll try to accidentally on purpose run over his foot with my mom’s wheelchair….

  • 16 jimdandytothefescueNo Gravatar // Feb 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I’m sincerely sorry it took you six dollars to confirm Inception was the hype you surely suspected it to be. On the other hand, since I respect your opinion to the utmost extent, I’m glad you’ve confirmed it to be the hype I was certain it was, so that I’m saved from having to watch it.

    That Punch puppet always reminds me of Jan Svenkmeyer’s Faust. Creeepy.

  • 17 Sam HarveyNo Gravatar // Feb 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Wow Ukle. I am currently preparing for Screamtime to go straight in to my top 10 after viewing that trailer!

    Was incredibly unbothered with Inception also. Overblown rubbish made for simple, straight, middle aged men…left me decidedly unmoved.

    Great post!

  • 18 knobgobblerNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I just watched this and… oh my gosh… I really enjoyed it!
    There are so many things right with it that you just can’t get these days… the grainy look, the dark shadows, the ordinary looking people.
    The stories themselves kept me going… each had some charming surprise to it… the garbage compactor/crocodile… the twisty anticipatory haunting… the lusty lady ghost.
    Even the dopey wraparound story was fun… though I’m wondering if it was added for American audiences and, if so, what did it replace?
    Thanks a bunch for pointing this one out… I’d never heard of it before.


  • 19 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 9:32 am


    Please say “That’s for Unkle Lancifer!” when you run him over!


    I love that Punch! Yes, don’t be fooled by Inception! I can;t believe they tricked me into watching a heist movie and a heist movie where the prize is a pinwheel no less!


    The trailer tells ya all you need to know! Unlike in the case of Inception, Screamtime the movie is actually better than it’s trailer!


    It’s my understanding that the three shorts in Screamtime were made and existed separately. I’m thinking the wraparound was new material added to pull them together and sell them to an American audience.

    I really dig the wraparound too. You can’t beat 80’s NY.

    I’ll tell ya, there is a part in the second story where the bald guy runs (or Leo struts) past the woman in the hallway and I found it truly scary. My eyes couldn’t make him out quite and it freaked me out a bit. I also love the

    conclusion of the second story. I thought it was really satisfying.

    Also, I found out that one of Screamrime’s directors Michael Armstrong did the notorious “Mark of the Devil”

  • 20 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    i just watched this yesterday and i totally loved that second story too – and totally jumped when the killer ran (in all seriousness it almost seemed like he lept like a ballerina – which doesn’t sound scary at all but it was) behind the woman in the hall as she was looking around the corner. the first one was pretty freaky too though – with the old guy chasing the chick through the warehouse area and then getting mashed in the trash compacter!

    i totally have a NYC 70s/80s fixation. i have a traumafession i soooo want to do on a super B horror movie i saw when i was a kid called Bloodrage set in a trashy hotel and on the streets in Times Square in the 70s but i only have it on VHS and am too feeble to get it transfered to do proper screen shots (cause there are NONE available online – that i can find anyways).

    i just streamed Hustling – which is hilariously preachy like a dragnet episode – but i just love the street scenes with the pimps and hos and whatnot.

  • 21 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 26, 2011 at 2:04 am


    That scene is soooo strange! He does kind of leap by her! Afterward my brain kept trying to assemble what I had seen and it was like an awful cartoon bald man whizzed by!

    Glad it worked on someone else! It kind of reminded me of the scene in Exorcist 3 with the nurse.

  • 22 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // May 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I don’t know if anyone revisits the comments but had to come back here and add this. I just streamed a movie on Netflix called Psychosis and it is a total remake of the second story in Screamtime – with some added stuff. It is actually pretty bad though – so It’s really only worth it for the novelty of being all “Wait, isn’t this that movie….etc.”

    Pretty funny cause I just saw Screamtime for the first time not too long ago.

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