Monday, October 24, 2011

This Vicar Possessed

I have just bonded with the Vicar of VHS! It was a warming experience, one that I always get when I find another This House Possessed fan. I don't want to say we are legion or anything, but I think you are starting to get the point. The Vicar had already written an an excellent ode to the house with the best blood shower in the world, and you can read it here. I was so pleased that he agreed to tackle this House again for my blog, and it's forever amazing how much we latch key kids had in common! It makes me want to buy a world a Coke.

This House Possessed
Memories by the Vicar of VHS

I was born in 1971, and thus grew up in the late 70s and 80s. Kids today, with their Netflix and their Internets and their video-on-demand, would find it hard to believe the amount of effort horror-addicted children like me had to put into getting their horror fix. Scouring the listings in the newspaper and the weekly TV Guide, eyes peeled for anything at any hour on one of the big 3 (count 'em!) networks that might give that frisson of fear. Begging parents to allow us to stay up late for the Creature Feature, taking afternoon naps and loading up on sodas for stamina--and more often than not getting a near-unwatchable print of some public domain garbage for our efforts.

So whenever the genre wheel of the TV movie of the week spun up a horror flick, my brothers and I felt like we had won the lottery. And it was a golden age of made-for-TV horror--Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Gargoyles, Bad Ronald--classics, every one. But the one I remember most, and with the greatest fondness, is 1981's This House Possessed.

I was ten years old in 1981, and my younger brother was just six. I guess my parents were a little permissive about what they would let us watch--but after all, this was Movie-of-the-Week stuff, right? How bad could it be?

Well, for me, the answer was not bad at all--I loved the "high-tech house goes berserk" premise, and as a big fan of Parker Stevenson's work in The Hardy Boys TV show, I was thrilled to see him battle supernatural forces in between rockin' singing gigs. I found the movie exciting, tense, and an all-out blast.

Can Ella shatter glass? So can this house!

My brother, however, did not. He was more than traumatized--he was scarred. For weeks afterward whenever one of the family slipped off to take a shower, within moments my brother was right there at the door, banging frantically, shouting again and again, "Are you all right? ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!" And as for being in the bathroom by himself with the door closed, forget about it--he needed an escort to shield him from blood-spewing shower heads and possibly explosive mirrors.

Eventually, with time, his fear faded, and the story has a happy ending--he grew up to be almost as much a horror geek as his big brother. And a year or so back, we got to bond over a viewing of THP as adults, and both found it just as much fun as ever.

I don't know how long it was before he showered again, though.

Yet another pensive toast for This House Possessed!

And please visit Vicar's site Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies! You will not regret it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

This John Possessed

I am very excited to present Made for TV Mayhem's first crossover episode, which is titled Blood Shower Power! In this episode Dorothy Zbornak (Amanda By Night) appears as a foil to Laverne Todd (Aunt John)! We are here to present the crossing of Kindertrauma and my site as we present tonight's Name That Trauma! We are sort of like Svengoolie if he was an independent and sarcastic woman in the 80s. And by we, I mean mostly Aunt John who wrote about one of his earliest kindertraumas. Shelly Smith is tonight's other guest star, and she'll be acting alongside an angry house and a freaky shower.

Name That Trauma : Aunt John of Kindertrauma on a Bloody Bathroom

In the late ‘70s/ early ‘80s, my folks were still on top of their parenting game and strictly enforced a 9pm bedtime. Special exceptions were granted for very special episodes of The Incredible Hulk and that was about it. When the clock struck nine, you had to be in bed.

(Best Sophia Petrillo voice) So picture this... one night a young Aunt John awakes after the mandatory bedtime and comes down stairs in his family's split-level home looking for a glass of water. He is wearing footed pajamas and he is parched.

When he gets to the kitchen, he spies his mother five steps down in the family room doing some ironing and watching TV. Knowing he should not be out of bed and if his Mom catches him -- there will be a shit-storm of epic proportions, Aunt John takes a seat on the top of the stairs from the kitchen to the family room to see what his Mom is watching. Usually she is watching the taboo series The Love Boat or Fantasy Island -- taboo in the sense that both air after 9pm.

This night, however, it was different because it was neither The Love Boat nor Fantasy Island, there was a blonde lady getting into a shower who clearly was not Cruise Director, Julie McCoy. The water started and then it turned to blood.

Aunt John picked himself up from that top step and ran back to bed. Glass of water be damned, he was not thirsty. For years and years, he thought about that scene, especially when he would be taking showers in strange bathrooms, and he would wonder where it came from.

Flash forward to when Aunt John finally meets up with Unkle Lancifer 25 some odd years later and they came up with the idea for Kindertrauma. Along with Dark Night of the Scarecrow and Snowbeast, This Is House Possessed stands as one of Aunt John’s personal Name That Traumas!

We all have them.

Blood Shower Gallery:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This Caelum Possessed

I've know Caelum Vatnsdal under several names through the years. Originally we became buds on a horror movie webgroup where he posted as Kraken and The Mighty Kraken. Then I knew him as the author of the incredible book They Came From Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema, which is where I learned his real name (and am hard pressed to pronounce it correctly!). Then, I saw him over at Kindertrauma where he shows up under the name Walter Paisley, and now he tells me I can find him as the "Exclamation Point Provider" on the Hi! It's Burl blog! Whew, from a kraken to punctuation marks, Caelum has always been a good guy, a great writer, and someone who was equally obsessed with This House Possessed (OK, maybe not equally because that would make him deranged)! I was so happy and honored that he was willing to give me a few words in an attempt to separate his convoluted memory from a convoluted film!

And when you are done here, please stop by Burl's blog and check out his This House Possessed review!

This House Possessed
Memories Brought to You by the Letter C... for Caelum!

How unusual is it to feel a tremendous fondness for a movie you remember almost nothing about? It’s proof, if it were still needed, that movies, even schlocky TV movies, can affect us on a purely emotional level and achieve an importance well beyond what their actual artistic merit can bear.

What I remember best about This House Possessed is the lead-up to it, actually: the excitement created by the promos that no doubt filled the airwaves in advance of its February, 1981 broadcast date. This was the way it was with any Television Event, from the Night of Kings (a double feature of King Kong ’76 and The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb) to the genuine 3D broadcast of Gorilla At Large (glasses available at your local 7-11!) to the sprawling epic that was Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. Anything vaguely horror or sci-fi was, for me, a big night of TV, and so This House Possessed qualified in spades.

If I make everything pretty the bad will go away, right?

I dutifully sat down and thrilled to the movie on that dark February night, and the next day it was the talk of the schoolyard. I’ve thought about it often in the thirty years since, but my actual hard memories have narrowed to the following: 1) One of the Hardy Boys was in it; 2) The house was of classic California Modern design, rather than the spooky, cobweb-strewn piles that were more typical of the genre; 3) the house liked to watch what was going on inside of it on a closed-circuit TV system; and 4) it featured a scene in which some kind of fire-spitting electrical cable was whipping around a kitchen, shooting sparks at the Hardy Boy and his girlfriend.

And that’s about it. Despite the title, I’d assumed, probably because of the frequent shots of TV monitors, that it was more of a Demon Seed situation involving a computer-run dwelling than a standard possession. Recently I watched the movie again, or at least kind of skimmed through it, and frankly I’m still not sure. Essentially, I think, the house is a creepy pedophile stalker, possessed by little more than its love for seven year-old girls and cringe-inducing yacht rock. It’s not a house that thinks things through: its plot to reclaim the girl of its dreams, now that she’s grown up into cute nurse Lisa Eilbacher, is so ludicrously convoluted as to defy belief, the more so since it depends on the appeal of Parker Stevenson singing some of the most dreadful elevator music ever committed to tape.

The TV makes a love connection!

But kids don’t care about any of that; and that is why I loved This House Possessed when I was nine; and that is why I love it today. On top of the hazy but pleasant memories, the movie offers some surprisingly gruesome deaths for a TV movie – Slim Pickens, who plays the world’s most unlikely soft-rock manager, gets an especially bloody demise. I was a little disappointed to find that the fire-spitting cable scene I remembered turned out to be an invention, or at least an amalgam of several different scenes, but isn’t that always the way with childhood memories? Even when they’re TV movies starring Parker Stevenson, Lisa Eilbacher and Slim Pickens, they’re never quite as great in real life as they are in your mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This Micky Possessed

I met Micky Worley through the always friendly comment section of Kindertrauma, but while we shared a love of childhood sufferings, we ended up bonding over our unbridled lust for Parker Stevenson. And through this common obsession, we established a pretty kickass friendship. But I'd smack her down if she stood between me and Parker! But I'm sure she'd do the same! (By the way Micky, I'm kidding, I'm sure you could whoop my sorry behind anyday!)

Micky (aka Mickster) was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer up why she loves House the way she does... and believe it or not, not all of it has to do with Parker!

This House Possessed
Brought to You by the Memories of Mickster

My family always enjoyed made-for-TV scary movies. My dad was the scary movie fan because my mom claims now that she does not like scary movies. Anyway, when This House Possessed appeared in the TV Guide circa 1981, it was a cinch that the Mickster family would be watching. I know personally that I was extra excited since it starred my favorite Hardy Boy, Parker Stevenson (Ahh, the mere mention of his name makes me giddy as a school girl). The movie did not disappoint! Parker is super-sexy singing some cringe-worthy tunes. Lisa Eilbacher is beautiful as his nurse with a mysterious past. I will say that I would not have been pushing Parker Stevenson’s character away for getting a little too fresh the way she did, but that is just the old Mickster fantasizing. The title character in the movie, which is the ultra modern possessed house in question, is to die for…literally. Except for the house killing and/or terrifying all the visitors, it is perfect! If the house let the owners chose whom to kill or terrify, it would be perfect! Someone needs to get off his or her duff and release this spooky classic on DVD immediately!

He's so beautiful, she can't even look at him!

There's lots of Mickster-ness to be found at Kindertrauma, but why don't you start with her review of Jack's Back

Friday, October 14, 2011

These Sisters Possessed

Seriously, who doesn't love a good catfight? While we don't get to see Sheila and Tanya square off too much in House, the potential for squashed white clogs and torn fur stole madness is always there. Carol and Jeanette McMahon are sisters who I don't think get into too many catfights. I feel this way mostly because I know they share a deep love for House, and that has to be the one bond that brings people together...

They both wrote a little ditty for me about why they love the house that loved the girl that loved the rock star. Let's proceed, shall we?

Carol McMahon:

What's not to love about This House Possessed? You've got hotty hot hot Parker Stevenson being a rock star, Shelly Smith being trashy, dopey Slim Pickens, and a super creepy old lady who lives in a shack. I love so many things about this made for TV movie that it's hard to narrow it down for this little retrospective - so I'm gonna get out my vaseline coated skylight filter and sorta generalize in a hazy way.

One of the things I love most about This House Possessed is just how far, as an adult, you have to suspend your disbelief for this movie. I mean, watching it as a kid it all makes perfect sense (and, believe it or not, is actually scary), but as an adult, you really can't think about it too much. You can't analyze it at all. You have to just let if float over you. You have to believe that a house can not only become obsessed with a child, but also has the capability of using any TV in the general area as an ersatz monitor. You have to believe that a woman can be covered in blood that is spraying out of a shower nozzle one minute, and then can waltz out the front door with no evidence of blood on her. And you have to believe, with all your heart, that a house can, within seconds, turn the temperature of a swimming pool up to the boiling point in order to kill a creepy old lady.

Watching This House Possessed makes me yearn for the days when nothing had to fit into a perfect little box to make sense. It makes me get all nostalgic for that feeling of getting lost in a story - any wacky, silly, crappy story - and thinking that every single turn of events is completely and totally plausible. I mean, it is possible for a house to love a little girl and remain obsessed with her as she becomes an adult, and, not only, keep tabs on a rock star in a club through an analog TV set, but also, cause him to faint and then recover from the fainting attack in the same hospital where the grown-up girl now works (and where the rock star can somehow still be monitored through that same TV set), thereby luring the grown-up girl back to the house so as to entrap her there forever. It could totally happen.

Oh, This House Possessed, you always make me feel like a kid again.

Jeanette McMahon:

First of all, I was in the Parker Stevenson camp of Hardy Boys fans, so it was destined for me to hold this cheesefest of a made-for-TV horror flick close to my heart. It has everything - hairless chest shots of Parker as Gary Straihorn, a temperamental and questionable rock star (complete with the song "Sensitive You're Not," the one that inspired the embroidered tea towel that my sister made for me); A chemistry-free love story between Parker and Lisa Eilbacher (who also did her time on Hardy Boys), who plays Sheila, a live-in nurse helping him recover from the stress of rock stardom; a simultaneous chemistry-free love story between Sheila (or Margaret, according to the house) and the house itself - a house which is an awesome brown and tan vision of late '70s/early '80s rock star glamour and architecture; Slim Pickins as the affable rock star manager (who doesn't need more Slim Pickins?!); a creepy, cryptically prophetic "rag lady" with smeary lipstick and bottlecap-lensed eyeglasses (played by Joan Bennett, the original matriarch on Dark Shadows); multiple murders that scared the crap out of me as a kid (my favorite being a toss-up between the librarian's electrocuting/crushing gate death and the rag lady's overheated pool death); Sheila/Margaret's final pleading words directed at the house, which is going up in flames, "If you love me, you'll let him go - you'll let me go! Oh, please!" Even Barry Corbin and David Paymer make appearances. What's not to love?

This smeary faced lipstick lady is for you, girls!

Do you know what else there is to love? The blogs these girls run! Please check out Carol McMahon at Craftypants Carol Fancy Crafty World and then go on over to Jeannette's faboo JLMShisksablog for more of the awesome!

And do you know what's even way cooler than that? Here is a look at the ultra-incredible This House Possessed dishtowel Carol made for Jeannette:

And Jeanette sent me this supremely cool bootleg box art. The house looks mad:

Hey girls, if you ever want to adopt another TV movie luvin' sister, I've got my paperwork ready. And I'm house-trained!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Kindertrauma Possessed

The love for This House Possessed keeps rolling along, and you can check out Kindertrauma's awesome Glamour magazine inspired 10 Signs Your House Has The Hots For You quiz! I got a 7 out of 10.

How'd you do?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Michael Possessed

I was so pleased when the Meepster himself (he who runs the incredible blog Cinema du Meep) accepted my request to write a little ditty about This House Possessed! He put together this pithy little tribute:

This House Possessed
by Michael of Cinema Du Meep

This House Possessed is kind of the best TV-Movie title ever. I mean, you get exactly what you are looking for! Who can't find a deep appreciation for that. Well, besides a good haunting story set against sunny California in a creepy mid-century house, Possessed also gives you a few more early 80's treats. For fans of TV's The Hardy Boys, it's in the shape of the former teen idol, now all man Parker Stevenson. For fans of girls with spunk, it's the wonderful Lisa Eilbacher. Before she became Axel Foley's big haired confidant in Beverly Hills Cop, Lisa snagged herself the plum role of cute as a button nurse to Parker's ailing Rock Star. There's also some very swanky music and supporting roles by Former Presidential Candidate John Dukakis (!), Slim Pickens, Joan Bennett, David Paymer, Barry Corbin and Phillip Baker Hall. Character actor heaven! Director William Wiard also directed the likewise fabulously titled Ski Lift To Death and the movie was produced by television producer god Leonard Goldberg. There's a pedigree to This House that ski lifts it over other television movies of the time, and it's a lot of fun. Watch it in the dark in a possessed house you love.

Play Me(ep) like a song!

We Interrupt This Program...

I just wanted to let everyone know this is my 400th post! Good golly Miss Molly!

Is there a better way to celebrate than with Barry Bostwick performing Jump:

TV Mayhem for all!

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Blog Possessed!

You knew it was bound to happen! I am dedicating the next week, perhaps two, to my all time favorite TV movie, This House Possessed. For this event I will be featuring several fellow bloggers/writers/all around cool people who have been kind enough to take the time to let the world know why Possessed is the best movie ever made in the history of the world... and perhaps the universe.

I wanted to actually get the ball rolling tonight, but I'm smack dab between writing papers and prepping for midterms. I should be able to get the first post up by tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. The stuff I have received is wonderful and I'm really excited to be sharing a little of the Possessed love!

For some reason Possessed has not seen a release on either vhs or DVD. That is sad since it has quite a following and truly, it has endured. It's still just as great for me to watch now as it was when I first curled up in bed with it February 6th in 1981. And I think in some respects, it's gotten better. This movie lacks any of that lame self-irony we see so much today, the earnestness of the performances and the overall creepy and uber-fabulous setting have only served to remind me how wonderful growing up in the 80s was.

I am going to write a little more at the tail end of this love fest, but for now I'd like to link you to two reviews I've written. One was for Camp Blood and the other was for a site called CC2K. I do think I could write about this movie forever, and ever and ever! And again, I'm so pleased there other crazy nutjobs like myself in the world!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Warner Archive TV Movie Sale

Yes, sir. You too can now bring Phoebe Cates into your living room with an affordable DVD of Lace! And yes, I know that's the TV Guide cover for Lace II, but is that not the greatest photo ever. Ever. But I digress... Warner Archives is having a boss TVM DVD sale, which runs until October 17th!

Now go grab your Winter Kill and have a great Halloween!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finally... A New Poll!

OK everyone, here I am, making another sporadic appearance on my beloved blog. This semester has been nothing short of insane, so I haven't really had a chance to watch any movies, much less review them.

These are trying times, indeed.

I did get a new poll up and I chose the same October scary movie theme that I tend to choose every year. Please vote for whatever you think is the scariest of the scary movies I have listed. OK, KISS Meets Phantom of the Park is scary for all the wrong reasons, but it made the list, so there! And of course, I'm sure I missed something uber-important, because that's my MO. So please feel free to let me know in the comments. I can't add anything though, but I will tally it. All voices are heard at Made for TV Mayhem. Deal with it!

Also, last year I did something that was akin to the 31 Days of TV Movie Horror or some such, and you can find the titles I chose by clicking on this link. Some other stuff got tagged in there, so... bonus, right?

And for more October scary movie goodness, here is a list I put together for Film Threat a few years ago. I link to it every year so you may have seen it...

I also have a theme coming up and I am thinking it will last around 2 weeks. Hopefully, I can cram some other stuff in there, but this theme is a co-op effort with myself and several other bloggers/writers and awesomely cool people. So keep your eyes peeled for it!