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‘It’s Going to be the First One Times a Thousand’: An Interview with TERRIFIER 2’s Lauren LaVera

Sometimes you just get a feeling. When the teaser trailer for TERRIFIER 2 dropped on July 24, the few glimpses we were given of Lauren LaVera as Sienna left this writer with the overwhelming sense that Art had his Laurie. Or as David Howard Thornton would put it, the Batman to his Joker.

Often times horror franchises hit the pavement sprinting but over time, they simply can’t maintain the pace and step by step begin to lose steam. Rare is the franchise that starts strong only to grow stronger, but that very well be the lane TERRIFIER finds itself in, and where LaVera enters the equation.

With a resume that includes Marvel’s IRON FIST as well as a background in martial arts and dance training, LaVera is well equipped to step into the daunting role of nemesis to the already iconic Art the Clown, but it’s her internal drive that will have fans falling in love with Sienna. The badass horror heroine TERRIFIER needs to take things to the next level.

LaVera considers the role a privilege, and demonstrated that with “endless questions” about the character for writer / director Damien Leone and even wrote a character biography to understand Sienna at a molecular level.

A firm release date is yet to be announced, but when Art disciples everywhere finally get the opportunity to lay orbs on TERRIFIER 2, LaVera assures all the blood and gore and action, but also believes the sequel “will be better in every aspect. It will be better. One hundred percent better.”

Ladies and gentlemen, remember the name Lauren LaVera.

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NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: When I spoke with David Howard Thornton last April he said that he’d told TERRIFIER writer / director Damien Leone that “Art needs his Batman, the Joker needs his Batman,” a worthy adversary. Then I saw the teaser for TERRIFIER 2 and it just vibed, you were chosen for a reason. How does it feel to be the protagonist in one of the most highly anticipated horror sequels in recent years?

LAUREN LAVERA: It feels amazing. I actually did mention in another recent interview that when I did find out I booked the part I went out to eat with Damien and Dave and that was one of the things that Dave actually said to me. He told me that Sienna is the Batman to Art’s Joker, so I don’t think I really understood the role I was taking on until he said that to me. I was like “Whoa, that’s a pretty heavy statement,” so I think in the beginning I really truly didn’t understand but I think it’s hitting me a little bit more every day, the effect that TERRIFIER has on people and what TERRIFIER 2 is going to mean in my life and both Dave and Damien’s life. If feels great, in short, after all that, it feels great.

NN: Had you seen TERRIFIER before landing the gig?

LL: Actually I knew about TERRIFIER before I auditioned, I knew of it. I had some friends, because I love horror and all of my friends know that I love horror, so I had a lot of friends and acquaintances reach out to me years and months before the audition saying “you should check out this film. You’d really appreciate it, you’d really enjoy it,” and I had every intention to watch it but I just never got around to it.

So, when I found out I had that audition I didn’t have a lot of time to watch the film before my first audition and then I received the callback. I got the callback without even watching the movie so maybe I should continue not watching the movie, I don’t want to see if and then maybe make the wrong choice in my next audition. So, I continued not to watch it until I found out I booked it, and the same day I found out I booked it I watched the film for the first time, and I watched it again a couple of times after that and I really enjoyed it.

NN: Actresses had to be lining up for the role of Sienna, so how did you land the part?

LL: Oh, God. That’s a good question. You know what? When I had received the breakdown I actually didn’t think I would be right for Sienna. So, I sent the breakdown–and for people who don’t know what a breakdown is, it’s what the casting director sends your agent and which your agent sends you, it’s basically a description of the character–and when I read it I was like “I don’t know if I’m this person, I don’t know if I can do this.”

So, I sent it to an actor friend of mine and said “you should audition for this because you would be more likely to get booked for this,” and she was real excited about it and said “yeah, I’ll do it.” I don’t know if she actually did it, but I was surprised each time I got the callback, I was like “wow, I really didn’t think I was the right fit for this,” but I guess Damien and the guys at Fuzz On The Lens saw something that maybe I didn’t. So, I’m happy I took the chance and actually went for it. I don’t know, with every role I just give it my all and hope it sticks. So, yeah, that’s how I booked it (chuckles).

NN: When TERRIFIER landed for the masses two years ago, Art the Clown became almost instantly iconic and a little indie wasn’t so little anymore. The bar was set pretty high for the first of what Leone hopes to be a trilogy, so what can we expect from its follow-up?

LL: You can definitely expect more blood, more gore, definitely more action, but also more story, which is what really drew me to it. The thing with the first TERRIFIER, the reason why people love it so much is because of the insanity that happens in the first one, it’s very gory, there’s a lot of twists and turns that people either loved or hated, so that’s what I liked about it. But it was basically a setup for Art. It was really just go give you an idea, it was supposed to be an introduction to him.

What was lacking in story for the other characters, for the final girls and just for everybody else involved, the difference and what people should really look for in the second one is that it’s very much story-driven around the character of Sienna, around her little brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), around her mom and also around her friends, her friends play a huge part, and there’s also some other really wonderful characters that I think people will fall in love with. But you’ll still get all of the same things that people loved about the first one–you’re still going to get that gore, you’re going to get even more action, more blood–it’s just going to be the first one times a thousand plus an interesting story.

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NN: In late July, Leone appeared on The Nick Taylor Horror Show podcast and shared that you were in constant contact with “endless questions” and were journaling about your part, saying that “nobody has ever cared for a character” as much as you had, perhaps even more than he did–adding that Sienna is his favorite character that he’s ever written. Tell us about that preparation process going into TERRIFIER 2.

LL: I spent a lot of time for this, and also in general with my acting coach Bryan Fox, and he’s incredible. I was constantly reaching out to Damien and constantly reaching out to (Fox) with endless questions. I like to read scripts that I book hundreds of times, because I’m a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins and that’s what he does. He reads his scripts like 500 times or something like that, and I didn’t read (chuckles) as much as that but I read it over and over and over again to see if I could pick up little things. It’s all about subtext, so reading between the lines–what is my character really saying with each line–what is the underlying meaning. I also write biographies for my characters, so I’ll make the smallest decisions of what’s my character’s favorite color to broader concepts like what’s their sexual orientation or something like that. It’s just a a deep dive into what I believe Sienna should be.

I also asked Damien make a playlist for me. One of my favorite actors is Mahershala Ali, he’s incredible, and I heard in an interview with him once that he makes a playlist for all of the characters that he takes on because what that person listens to gives you a better idea of what kind of person they are. So, Damien made a whole playlist that I still listen to to this day because I absolutely love it, of songs that Sienna would listen to and it really gave me a better idea of who she was. If she listens to this kind of music she probably is a romantic, she’s probably a this, she’s probably a that, so there was a lot that I put into it including music choice to broader concepts. It was a lot (laughs).

NN: Can you give us a taste of the kind of music Leone thinks that Sienna would listen to?

LL: It’s funny because I’ve said this before, but I think Sienna is a lot like Damien. I mean, he wrote her, but even reading the scripts and hanging out with Damien I see a lot of similarities. One of the bands he put in the playlist a lot was Fleetwood Mac, that’s Damien’s favorite band which I love because I’m a huge Stevie Nicks fan, so when I saw that I was like “wow, that’s really great.” Also, a lot of eighties music. A lot of Fleetwood Mac, a lot of Madonna too which I loved, but also some nineties music like Gin Blossoms and Rage Against the Machine, really great music. It gives you an idea of Sienna’s more dreamy-esque fantasy, she’s very into fantasy and stuff like that, but she also has an edge to her. It’s a lot of variety between eighties synth music to hard rock.

NN: In that same Q&A, Leone also commented on a night during filming that was dingy and cold and that he was a bit down but looked over at you covered in blood, wearing a skimpy Halloween costume, suffering more than anyone, but you just smiled. Would it be fair to say that you don’t just see this film as an opportunity but a privilege?

LL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In all fairness I do think that every job is a privilege, I’m very grateful with every job that I had, but there was something very special about this film. There was something very special about the camaraderie that we all developed on set, with me and Damien as well, we keep in contact frequently talking about the character, talking about the entire process. We’ve all developed a great love for each other, a great respect for each other. Sometimes I would just take a step back and look at everybody on set, see how tired they all looked and how hard they were working and I was just thrilled thinking we’re all making something very special together. It was very easy for me to smile at times because I was just in awe with the people that I was working with.

NN: You also have background in martial arts and dance, so how helpful were those skill sets in what had to have been a grueling and physically demanding shoot?

LL: It was immensely helpful because through my martial arts I’ve made a lot of friends who are also martial artists and who are also stunt performers, so because of that I train with my friends who are martial artists and stunt performers. We train on mats, we train on how to fall, we train on how to take a hit, and this was a very action-heavy role to take on. Sienna gets beat up a lot and she beats up a lot, as well. If I hadn’t known how to properly fall, how to properly take a hit I could have seriously been hurt or I could have seriously hurt somebody. That experience was absolutely beneficial in the long run with this type of role.

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NN: What makes David Howard Thornton so special in that clown costume?

LL: (Laughs) What he really brings to the character, his whole experience, he’s a comedian first and foremost. One thing that I truly believe is that it’s much easier for comedians to venture into more dramatic roles that dramatic actors to venture into comedic roles, because comedic roles in my opinion are much harder to take on. There’s a nuance, there’s a formula to it, and I think because he’s this hilarious guy with this wonderful personality he’s able to give Art this sadistic but also a you-can’t-help-but-love-him type of personality because of the type of person that (Thornton) is. Really, his whole essence is what makes Art so special.

NN: You touched on how funny Thornton is (as well as the character), but there’s also a switch that he can flip where it’s very menacing and unnerving, that stare with his eyes is absolutely terrifying. After all your prep, what went through your mind when you finally set up for your first scene and just before Leone yelled “action” and you’re staring at Art the Clown?

LL: Definitely terror. It was not hard for me to feel afraid of Art the Clown. Dave is a different story, I could never be afraid of Dave, but as soon as he gets into character, as soon as he manipulates his body, as soon as he manipulates his face it’s much easier to be afraid of him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m terrified of clowns to begin with and the character that Damien created with the prosthetics that he made are truly horrifying. I felt everything. Every time I look afraid I’m truly afraid because it’s actually very scary to witness in real life. A lot of it was done with dark lighting and I felt like I was alone because of how the stage was set up, so it was definitely very scary.

NN: Speaking of Dave, we reached out to Mr. Thornton and he said that maybe we should ask you about the ghosts at Fright Factory and the house you stayed at upstate during filming. 

LL: (Laughs) That’s funny. I have a very interesting relationship with my belief in ghosts because I really feel in my life that I have encountered supernatural entities. However, I’m the type of person that refuses to believe that they exist. I constantly tell that to myself because I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I would give in to the things that I believe that I saw.

At the Fright Factory, yes, he told me some things but I’m the type of person who tries to stay oblivious to it, I’m like “no, that didn’t happen” just because I’m terrified of it, I”m very much a scaredy cat. (Thornton) said he saw things moving, there was a mechanical doll that went off by itself in the Fright Factory which I cannot deal with because dolls scare the hell out of me. Especially porcelain dolls, and that was a very creepy porcelain doll. I was like “okay Dave, whatever you say. I just won’t go in that room.”

And the same at the house we stayed at upstate, a priest died there and apparently he wasn’t the best person, so there was some creaking. I actually stayed in his room, so I personally could not deal with it and just tried not to listen to whatever ghost stories people told me. I was just the type of person that said “okay, whatever. I can’t listen to it,” so yeah (chuckles), that’s my take on it.

NN: Horror fans are a passionate bunch, are you ready for the fervor to come once the film drops?

LL: I cannot wait. I’ve already had my fair dosage of horror fans because there were a lot of horror fans who were on the set of TERRIFIER 2 because they donated to get the film made, they’re wonderful people. They got to hang out with us, and I still talk to them because they’re amazing. As well as online, I’ve already had people reach out to me with just so much love and so much support. I’m floored by the horror community because they’re like you said very passionate, but really wonderful people because they just want fun and want good entertainment and I really truly believe that we’re going to deliver that. I’m excited to meet every single fan.

NN: We know that you can’t give much away, but what can you share that will leave TERRIFIER fans champing at the bit until the big unveiling?

LL: (Laughs) Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not even quite sure what I can share. What I can say is that it definitely will be bigger and better in every aspect. There will be more story and I think, again that was what was lacking in the first one and that some people were complaining about. Damien is the type of person that reads every comment and tries to listen to all of his fans. He knows that he can’t please everyone, obviously, but he puts everything into consideration. (Leone) often says “they’re either trolling or they have something of substance to say,” and he really takes all of that into consideration. He’s listened to everybody’s thoughts on the first one and how he can improve the second one. I truly believe that the second one will be better in every aspect. It will be better. One hundred percent better.

Godzilla and his timeless reign over our hearts!

Horror fans are always asked what initially got them into the genre, and each one of us has a different answer. For some, it was Jaws, or Gremlins, or maybe Freddy. We all have that one quid essential monster that served as a gateway to the incredible world of beasties. For me, it was none other than the King of the Monsters himself, Godzilla. 

Godzilla may have entered our world in 1954 but he didn’t crash into my life until 1983-84. I was just a toddler and upon seeing the radioactive behemoth my imagination was awakened!

Oh, hells yeah! The time has finally come for me to talk about Godzilla, the Monster of Monsters! I’m lucky enough to remember – all be it briefly – all the way back to some of my earliest days on this planet. I’m like 3 or something and my little Manic nose is glued to the TV screen while TOHO’s giants are tearing one another to pieces over the fate of the Earth. The earliest films I remember ever watching are firstly Godzilla vs Mothra and then soon afterward King Kong vs Godzilla. Interestingly, I was going over this with my mom and she confirmed that Godzilla vs Mothra was one of the very first movies I ever watched and began mimicking. 

I’ve always loved Godzilla – as if you couldn’t tell by now. I mean just look! Look at little me romping around in my very own homemade Godzilla costume! 

image courtesy of Manic Exorcism, ‘Godzilla: Destroyer of Worlds” circa 1984

My Granny spent God knows how many hours at the sewing machine to make this dream come true and my Mom had one Hell of a time trying to get me out of it. Once I had that on I no longer existed. A perfectly harmonies symbiotic relationship between myself and Godzilla was formed while I had that on, the two of us became one, and woe to all who stood in our way. 

Sadly I outgrew that little costume but neither my love nor passion for the King of the Monsters could be diminished. This particular fandom though was not met without its fair share of challenges. One of the chief being the sheer scarcity of these movies back then! 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs Mothra’

Things weren’t like they are today. There were no streaming services. We had three channels. Three! If you were a kaiju fan while growing up in the mythical ‘80s you were lucky AF if your local horror host aired one of Godzilla’s movies during their Saturday late-night specials. TV guides were bought primarily so kids could bug the crap out of their parents on whether or not any Godzilla or King Kong movies would be on that upcoming week. Sometimes you’d luck out and there would be a giant monster movie! It felt like some kind of reward for all our patience. 

Thanks to TV special airings I was able to get Godzilla vs King Kong , Godzilla vs Megalon, and Godzilla vs Monster Zero recorded on tape to watch as many times as my psychotic little heart could handle! 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs Monster Zero’

And it wasn’t like you could just go to K-Mart and find copies on video. So fans could only rely on the movies they were lucky enough to record off TV. Although, I do remember one Christmas morning very vividly. So there I was greedily tearing away wrapping paper from all the goodies Santa brought me when I came across an obvious shoe box.

I remember being disappointed already before even removing the colorful wrapping paper and just sitting it to the side. What little boy wants a pair of bleeping shoes on Christmas? But my mom – being the psychotic mastermind she is – insisted I open it. Reluctantly I did, but what was awaiting me was not a boring old pair of sneakers, but 4, oh hell yeah, 4 Godzilla movies. I still own them. Among them being Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla and Godzilla vs Gigan! These videotapes were treasures to a fan like me! 

image courtesy of Manic Exorcism, circa 1989

This lack of movies also meant if you found a copy at your local video rental you were about to have a really good weekend. It was almost like a sacred quest and no less ambitious than any adventure Indiana Jones ever went on. We were kinda like paleontologists digging through movie shelves trying to discover just a single copy of a movie we (oh dear God, please oh please) had not already seen.  

I remember my cousin and me storming through one video store to the next just trying to get a copy of one of these monstrous relics. And then one Friday it finally happened! The stars came into alignment, God was merciful, or maybe Cthulhu was having a good dream, but, whatever the reason, there it was! A mother-loving Godzilla movie we had never seen yet – Godzilla vs the Smog Monster!!!

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs the Smog Monster’

I think we watched that movie every single chance we had. Like soon as it ended we would rewind it just to hit play again. I remember we even tried to get a video camera out and film ourselves making fun of the movie by adding our own little quips and inputs to ‘enhance’ the dialogue and greatly entertain ourselves. Yup, we had the idea for MST3K before Tom Servo or Crow ever sat front row to do what we loved them for. 

Another challenge was, well, just being a fan for the sake of being a fan. Being a Godzilla fan was almost like an underground thing.

There weren’t many people back then who loved the big guy like the few of us did. As result, there just wasn’t a market for it so collecting Godzilla stuff was nearly impossible. 

Today all you have to do is go to Target and you’ll find lots of amazing Godzilla stuff – mostly thanks to NECA. It’s a very different world from the one I grew up in and that’s a great thing!

Image courtesy of Toho

People my age can now easily find copies of these incredible movies to show their own kids and there are so many toys to now collect. We may have grown up but we have every right to play Godzilla with our little ones and spread that love to the next generation. Isn’t it amazing how that turned out?

It’s a good time to be a Godzilla fan. What with the new movies being released by Legendary that gives us a faithful upgrade to the Showa Era monsters we grew up with. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

The Criterion Collection just recently released the entire Showa Era Godzilla collection on Blu-ray meaning all those movies that we might have missed out on seeing are now available!  

And I can’t believe that I now own a bona fide Godzilla figure from the very movie that got me into this whole giant monster craze, Godzilla vs Mothra. The details of the figure are uncanny. It’s like it was taken straight out of the classic film. I now own 6 different NECA Godzilla figures alone! It’s a new sickness that I’m convinced my loved ones will initiate a well-planned intervention for me soon. 

So here we are. Nearly 40 years later and still I’m a fan of the King of the Monsters, a title he has rightfully earned over the years. The greatness of Godzilla isn’t simply found in one movie, or even in a series of movies. It is how one single idea about identifying the nuclear age in the body of a new cinematic monster has gone above and beyond TOHO’s wildest dreams.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

Godzilla is a cultural phenomenon and unites people from all walks of life. He’s such a big deal in Japan that there’s a place for him at the Museum of Japanese History. 

So he might not have been the first giant monster to awe audiences but ever since his appearance in ’54 he’s taken the world by storm. He’s inspired a massive franchise that is still ongoing to this day.

The latest TOHO installment was Shin Godzilla back in 2016 and returned Godzilla back to his destructive roots. He’s seen as a plague of sorts upon a world of carelessness towards nature. 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Shin Godzilla’

This time around Godzilla appears in three evolutionary stages. The third and primary stage gives him this sickly macabre look some fans call ‘Zombie Godzilla.’ It’s a dark commentary on Japan’s politics during times of crisis and is a special effects masterpiece. A must-watch for hardcore fans!

Currently, on Netflix, there is a three-part Godzilla anime for fans to enjoy. Though there have been other animated representations of Godzilla this is in fact the first anime he’s ever had. 

I already mentioned how Legendary has given the Godzilla universe a very respectful and epic American update to the King of the Monsters. There are currently 3 movies in this new MonsterVerse:  Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).

Image courtesy of Toho and Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ and ‘Godzilla vs King Ghidorah’

As someone who’s been watching Godzilla movies since before I had a fully formed vocabulary I can say I genuinely love what Legendary is doing with these big guys. We’re all waiting for the next installment, Godzilla vs Kong which was slated to show this year but with COVID19 we’ll have to wait and see what happens. 

Godzilla has been the representation of nuclear terror, an unstoppable force risen against all humanity, a monster without pity or compassion. He has also stood tall as a symbol of hope as he withstood the odds and protected the Earth from extraterrestrial invaders bent on destroying the planet.

Over the years he’s been our reckoning and our protection, a destroyer and a savior, two sides of the same coin. He’s starred in over 30 movies and shows no signs of slowing down. 

image courtesy of Playmates Toys, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’

In some cases, he is a nuclear-enhanced dinosaur. Sometimes he’s a mystery risen from the sea. And he’s even been a surviving titan come back from a prehistoric time to face the newly awakened challenges threatening our world today. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Ok I know, I know! I gotta stop already or this could go on forever. People familiar with my writing know how much I love Hellraiser and Dracula, but had it not been for Godzilla I have to wonder if I would have as much admiration for Pinhead or the vampiric Count? Godzilla was my gateway monster and has remained a trusted constant in my life.

Godzilla is timeless. 

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs the Astral Monster,’ victory dance

So hey if you crave all those warm retro feels and want more Godzilla goodness stay tuned and follow us here where nightmares and nostalgia are explored.  

Have a favorite Godzilla or kaiju memory and would like to share with us? Let us know down in the comments below.

Manic Exorcism

From “Market Monsters” To Rotten Hot Dogs; 5 Fun Facts About Supermarket Sweep!

FROM "MARKET MONSTERS" TO ROTTEN HOT DOGS; 5 FUN FACTS ABOUT SUPERMARKET SWEEP!

Attention shoppers! If there’s one game show that most people remember from their 90s’ childhood, it’s most definitely Supermarket Sweep. The show wasn’t made for kids per se, but who the hell didn’t think running around a faux grocery store throwing mass amounts of gourmet golden hams and 4 foot long salamis into a grocery cart looked like fun? It made that boring weekly trip to Smiths with your mom a little more exciting. Admit it. When no one was looking and the aisles were clear you ran down that son of a bitch slam-dunking Planters Cheez Balls in the cart fantasizing that you owned every single cool sweater David Ruprecht owned.

Ok. Maybe that was just me. But in all seriousness, and from the mouth of the man himself, Ruprecht was the Imelda Marcos of 90s’ sweater fashion.

FROM "MARKET MONSTERS" TO ROTTEN HOT DOGS; 5 FUN FACTS ABOUT SUPERMARKET SWEEP!

But no matter how big a fan you are, there’s still some fun things about the beloved show that might come as a surprise to you! Let’s dive into some behind the scenes facts you may have completely forgotten, or didn’t know all.

Supermarket Sweep is older than you think

Sure we all know the nostalgic, Lifetime aired 90s’ version. However, it wasn’t the first! Supermarket Sweep actually dates back all the way to 1965 first airing on the ABC network. With host Bill Malone, the premise was the same of three pairs of contestants running around like madmen. Men being the keyword here as typically the females handled the trivia part of the show while their male counterparts did all the messy shopping. Gotta love that 1960s’ stereotype bullshit.

Anyways, instead of being filmed on a set like the version we all know and love, the 60s’ game show was shot in actual grocery stores! And they actually got to keep their groceries! If they didn’t win top dog in the game, at least they ate good for a while!

Some of the food on the shelves were rotten and spoiled

nightmare nostalgia

Albeit most of the food used in the popular show was indeed fake as fuck. Oh yes. Those golden yams were just plastic blobs of plastic my friends. However, it didn’t start out that way. According to former host Ruprecht, those hot dogs in the sweet sweep were absolutely disgusting in an interview with Great Big Story.

“We shot for about five months, six months every year, and they used the same food over and over again. So by about the third month, the hot dogs had sort of started to ferment in the package and the package swelled up. And a lot of the food, having been thrown in and out of carts for three, four months had gotten pretty beaten up.”

Maybe it was after someone finally blew chunks from the smell from some of this stuff, they ultimately did away with any and all real products. Even though you and I know nobody was packing hot dogs in their cart as that would be fruitless in advancing your cart score, someone had to have noticed that nastiness at some point.

Those sweet contestant sweaters were offered as consolation prizes

Listen. I can say with full certainty that I would take one of those sweet Dad style sweep sweaters over a lame cash prize day any day! I hate to call them “losers”, because I’d be winning all day in that damn thing. However, contestants that didn’t move onto the $5,000 big sweep game, had that choice to take a cash prize or keep that sweaty, cheap sweatshirt that may or may not have reeked of spoiled hot dogs.

Who cares. Give me that high fashion rag please.

That supermarket was a lot smaller than it looked on TV

nightmare nostalgia supermarket sweep

Well honestly, I was definitely fooled upon learning this myself. A former contestant spilled the beans to the A.V. Club that the actual market was “very tiny.”

“A little bit bigger than a bodega in the city. It’s very tiny. It looks huge, but it’s small. Even in the aisles, you had to be careful if you and your cameraman were running and another group was coming down that aisle. You had to make sure you were all the way to the side or there could have been an accident.”

Supermarket Sweep had it’s own Monster Squad

No, it wasn’t a Halloween special. This went on for a few episodes! I’m not sure of how long it lasted but in the earliest days of the Sweep, producers thought it would be hilarious to insert these wild characters deemed “market monsters” into the grocery ransacking shenanigans to scare the shit out of the contestants.

From the likes of giant gorillas, Frankenstein, and a fellow called Mr. Yuk that actually kind of looks like a Kroger rip-off of the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth (seen above), these guys made another goofy addition to the game show that ended up getting scrapped entirely. Below is a full episode from the glorious Youtube that features a Market Monster that I can only best describe as the ugly offspring of The Gobbeldy Gooker. *You can check him out at around 13 minutes in.

Now if you’ll excuse me, full episodes of this majestic game show are indeed streaming on Amazon Prime for free. So I’ll be down that nostalgic rabbit hole for the next three days. So the next time you’re at the market register and you hear that beep, think of all the fun facts you learned from Nightmare Nostalgia’s article on Supermarket Sweep!

[Hot Take] Why Not Release “Halloween Kills” on VOD and Then Theatrically Next Year?

[HOT TAKE] WHY NOT RELEASE "HALLOWEEN KILLS" ON VOD AND THEN THEATRICALLY NEXT YEAR?

I should probably start off by saying this is purely an opinion piece on what I believe would be beneficial in this far from perfect world right now in regards to the push-back on Halloween Kills. Furthermore, I stand my ground on these words in light of the fact I do not bow down to any studios or anyone involved in the entertainment industry as I don’t take part in the so-called ass-kissing train to save face in order to continue to receive any free promos, screenings, or goodies. That’s not what I, or Nightmare Nostalgia is about.

In other words, I am a PR’s worst goddamn nightmare. No fucks given.

Ok, this is a little blasphemous for a Myers centered piece- but how could I resist?!

Now that the PSA is out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. Surely by now, you’ve all heard about the long-awaited sequel in the newly revived Halloween trilogy Halloween Kills, has been pushed back an entire year to October 15, 2021. The announcement made by John Carpenter himself on social media kind of threw a lot of fans for a loop. The film is cut and done; ready to go. And while one can certainly understand why maybe, possibly, going to the theaters in 2020 might be a bit of a gamble, there’s clearly always the VOD option. An option in which, some studios are using to their advantage, and others, well, are really not wanting to go that route.

Now I can understand a movie such as Halloween obviously begs to be seen the RIGHT way as a perfect cinematic experience. However, Universal and Blumhouse has opted out of the notion of releasing the movie this year to streaming platforms in the middle of a pandemic so that US, the patrons, can view it in the way that it’s meant to be seen. Because Goddess forbid we have anything nice this year.

K.

[HOT TAKE] WHY NOT RELEASE "HALLOWEEN KILLS" ON VOD AND THEN THEATRICALLY NEXT YEAR?

Honestly, I think that’s a bit of a cop-out. A monster franchise such as Halloween should be giving fans the choice. I mean, who is to say things will be better a year from now? I would certainly hope they would be, but as it stands now Halloween as we have always known it, will be a far cry from normal in 2020. And given the mental state of the world slowly chipping away, it really would be nice to have SOMETHING to look forward to.

Now I also know some of you make look at this and say, “What a selfish bitch.” “REAL Halloween fans could wait an entire year.” Or the oh so clever and obvious, “There’s a whole world of horror out there to be discovered, focus on that.” I mean, those are all cute and all but here’s my point- now this might sound crazy:

HOW ABOUT RELEASING IT ON VOD IN 2020; AND THEATRICALLY IN 2021????

Fucking wild concept there, eh?

I can also make the argument that REAL HALLOWEEN FANS, such as myself and many others would be more than happy to pay for it twice. There are so many people suffering greatly on the other side of this pandemic in the mental health arena and it would be such a nice goddamn thing in this shithole year we’re experiencing right now to have something to look forward to that’s coming SOON. Not another year from now. For those arguing otherwise, the term selfish is being thrown around quite a bit, so let me oblige by throwing it right back your way in the face of those horror fans struggling mentally right now. I am their voice. Which often gets stifled not just in the midst of chaos, but anytime really as people still don’t like to talk about it.

This leads me into another proposal since we’re supposed to be practicing compassion and empathy for each other’s health needs; why on Earth is this not a viable option always for people who physically CAN’T attend the theater? Should they have to wait six months later than everyone else because they are either physically or mentally unable to have that cinematic experience? In the face of a world that’s changing, I think it’s definitely time to stop and think about not just one, or two groups of people. But the collective as a whole. This planet is so incredibly diverse with all walks of life and no one should be made to feel any certain way about this until you know their story. I just really feel like this was an opportunity for a franchise that I love dearly to do something really great for not only the collective in this isolated world we must live in right now, but for the unheard fans as well that suffer greatly from both physical and mental distress. It really would have been an erm.. trick or treat for them!

Alright enough of my Ted Talk. Here’s that little cockteaser they put out.

Sigh. Anyways, I would love to hear from anyone who feels the same, or hey, if you just want to tell me to get bent feel free to comment below!

Sylvester Stallone Confirms A Director’s Cut Of Rocky IV In The Works

SYLVESTER STALLONE CONFIRMS A DIRECTOR'S CUT OF ROCKY IV IN THE WORKS

News so exciting it makes me wanna eat snails! Fan-favorite sequel, and personally speaking mine as well, ROCKY IV has been long overdue for a knockout Director’s Cut. Now, we have confirmation from the Italian Stallion himself that it is indeed coming.

While promoting an exciting extended cut version of RAMBO: LAST BLOOD being released on Apple TV over on the Stallion’s official Instagram, an enthusiastic fan posed the question of a possible Director’s Cut of Rocky Balboa being released in the future. Stallone answered shutting down any plans of any new cuts of the 2006 comeback classic. However, he had THIS to say instead:

SYLVESTER STALLONE CONFIRMS A DIRECTOR'S CUT OF ROCKY IV IN THE WORKS

I think amazing might be the understatement of the century.

In addition to being a mighty fan-favorite of the franchise, ROCKY IV was also the most successful installment financially speaking; raking in over 300 million worldwide back in 1985 setting a record on the highest-grossing sports film of all time before 2009’s THE BLIND SIDE took the crown in that arena.

While no official date of release has been announced other than a confirmation of being in the works, I can only speculate that it will probably be ready in time for the film’s 35th anniversary this coming November. In the meantime, there’s a pretty sweet deal over on Amazon for the entire Blu-Ray set which you can check it out here!

Also, if there’s an extended version of the most glorious montage in montage history, I’m going to lose my goddamn mind.

[Creature Features] ‘JAWS’ – The Birth of the Blockbuster and Galeophobia

In the banner year of 1985, 10 years after the initial blockbuster smash release of the holiest of shark films JAWS, I had seen thine shining light they call Bruce for the first time in my tiny life.

I was three.

THREE-FUCKING-YEARS-OLD.

One could argue my Dad was a sadistic fuck in showing me what I absolutely consider, one of the top three scariest films of ALL TIME. Especially given the fact I wouldn’t even set a pair of feet on any beach for close to seven years after. True story: Having family in the Long Island area, Summer Beach days were very much a thing. However, I would make my Dad carry me across the sandy threshold to a spot I felt comfortable and far enough away from the water. The answer is yes: In my youthful way of thinking, I had concluded that JAWS was smart enough to get me even in the sand. But as long as I was on a towel and far enough away from the shore, all was ok. The answer here is also YES: It makes zero sense, I realize but hey, I was a kid so don’t judge too harsh!

Now that being said, my story is just one of thousands that were scared absolutely shitless after seeing the film, inducing GALEOPHOBIA into the minds of many. Proving without a shadow of a doubt, that JAWS is indeed, one of the scariest films of all time. We define horror as something that scares us. It’s a very versatile genre as what scares one, may not necessarily frighten another. Collectively, JAWS pretty much hit the nail on the head and caused quite a bit of both panic and interest in the beautiful monsters of the deep.

The following vintage clip from NBC NEWS uploaded by Youtube user COW MISSING showcases a little snippet of what ‘The Summer of JAWS’ looked like as far as the cultural impact the film had with its audiences.

Now on the other side of the coin, JAWS ultimately caused an almost global catastrophe for the creatures of the deep in the form of fear and panic; something humanity is very much guilty of with the most recent example given is the 2020 shortage of toilet paper. We are very much guilty of acting out in emotions first, and logic later. And these poor animals have suffered immensely for it. Mind you, I don’t place this blame on the book or film itself as that’s complete BULLSHIT. Every one of us is responsible for our own actions, thoughts, and doings. I only place blame on those who have chosen to use their own fears as an excuse to execute these wonderful animals for either sport, food, or pleasure. As a matter of fact, Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel shadows the event dubbed “The Twelve Days of Terror”, that served as inspiration for what we know as Bruce today.

In 1916, a series of shark attacks were recorded over on the New Jersey coastline killing four people and injuring five others. Also, interestingly enough, during a Polio Epidemic. So of course, under the duress of a record-breaking heatwave and pandemic, the media then fueled an already stressed populous into panic mode. Reports and analysis also suggest that the nature of the attacks were by a lone shark. Later, a Great White was caught during a shark hunt that was found to have human remains in its stomach. Was this shark the culprit? Possibly. I mean, hard to argue if there’s a human limb hanging out inside the belly of the thing.

Anyways, the release of JAWS just helped to reignite a surging fear and interest in the mysterious beast. As time heals all things however, the humanoids have become much more sympathetic and educated about our friends of the deep. Regardless of how many horribly cheesy SY-FY shark attack movies have been churned out year after year, piggybacking off the back of the ultimate shark movie…. 45 years later and counting.

Now, I can’t simply talk about JAWS without mentioning the John Williams score. It is one of the most recognizable tones in cinematic history that Goddess forbid, you ever hear that shit playing somewhere on the beach while your legs are dangling in the water, I’ll place a hefty bet you’re gonna crap your swim shorts. Per the Film Music Society, Williams described the malicious two-tone theme as “so simple, insistent and driving, that it seems unstoppable, like the attack of the shark. The music could be loud and fast if he was attacking, soft and slow if he was lurking, but always menacing in tone.”

Goddamn right Mr. Williams. I mean, every time I have an anxiety/panic attack, that fucking theme song pops into my anxious mind as the perfect accompaniment as an indication of a roller coaster of impending doom.

[JAWS theme] John Williams with the Boston Pops Orchestra

While I myself, and many other 80s’ babies’ grew up in the JAWS VHS era, we were terrified as kids but evolved into adults with a healthy understanding of the nature of the beast with education along with a healthy dose of lovely Shark Week programming provided by the Discovery Channel. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I didn’t still ’til this day go to the ocean, dip in, and the thought cross my mind, “Is today the day my leg gets bit off by Sir Great White of Shark?” All thanks to one of the most horrifying scenes of all time.

Thanks for the memories and the trauma Bruce.




Also, this is totally worth picking up! You can get your 4k Ultimate JAWS experience here through Amazon!

‘Rocky’ Documentary With Sylvester Stallone Premieres On-Demand Streaming In June

I truly can’t think of another way to start the Summer heat other than with a nice cold egg yolk smoothie and the long-awaited premiere of 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, narrated by Sly himself and streaming on-demand beginning June 9th, 2020.

Released by Virgil Films & Entertainment with writing and producing credits via Derek Wayne Johnson, the definitive ‘Roc Doc’ offers a heart-felt journey into the making of the original Rocky film as the Italian Stallion himself takes us back to the streets of Philly and the true underdog story of the century.

According to the official Facebook page, the doc was meant to be released back in 2016 in conjunction with the film’s actual 40th anniversary. However, due to unknown delays the project was shelved for a few years.

Official Release Per Social Media:

In 1976, a low budget movie written by an unknown actor was released, inspiring audiences around the world to go the distance. Rocky became the ultimate underdog film. Over forty years later, Sylvester Stallone recounts the making of the beloved classic through rare home movies provided by Director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman. Sylvester Stallone pitched the idea for “40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic” (2019) to director Derek Wayne Johnson and producer Chris May of AJ16 Entertainment after a private screening of their documentary John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2017), in which Stallone is also featured.

The film recounts the emotional depth and challenges of an, at the time, struggling actor with a golden script giving fans a real emotional grip on what this film means for not just Sly himself, but for the people that hold this movie close to their own hearts. I truly think now, more than ever, people need to hear these tales of rising from the ashes into something beautiful and positive that touches all our souls while conjuring up feel-goodness nostalgia. These films have been a part of my life as long as I can remember- growing up in an Italian-American family, it was almost like a right of passage. And now, we finally get the behind the scenes look we’ve been craving all these years.

Our Need for Joe Bob is Unmistakable

Folks of a certain age understand compulsion better than anyone. And I’m not talkin’ about overindulging in food or alcohol or even aardvarkin’. No, this is far more specific: an absolutely animalistic compulsion to see a film based entirely on its video store cover art if you know what I mean, (and if you grew up in the eighties) I think you do.

As a lad I just had to know what treasures lay beneath the fascinating covers of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), as well a film that for whatever reason always caught my eye but my family had never rented.

For years as a child I spent weekends at my grandparents’ house. It was in the country, I could grab my baseball glove and tennis ball and toss it against the house steps and visualize owning my friends the next time we squared off (it never worked, by the way), and my grandpa would always let me drive the John Deere riding mower while their dog Pete followed me around the expansive yard. It was comforting to be there with them and the hound, an unmistakable slice of heaven.

Neither of my grandparents were movie buffs, but my grandma always made a point to grab a bottle of Pepsi and glass of ice during the 10 o’clock news so she could get caffeinated and stay up with me.

Like clockwork, my grandpa would turn in right after that broadcast, then she and I would settle in to watch whatever B-movie fare the local affiliate had secured for that week. The only one I remember, however, was the one repped by cover art that had caught my eye but eluded my view — IT’S ALIVE (1974).

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I remember leaning in as the screen transitioned from the WKBT nightly news to a quick preview for Larry Cohen’s weird tale of a killer baby. Thoughts of that cover art’s cradle with and a claw peeking out played through my mind as I watched in riveted terror (for perspective, I wasn’t quite 10 years old). But there was an odd comfort in that fear, because I knew that my grandmother was right there beside me and grandpa was sleeping in the next room. Though frightened, I was safe, and that sense of security was unmistakable.

In that moment, I knew that a lifelong devotion to horror was set into motion, which led to THE SHINING (1980) and FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) and later, midnight soirees with a cowboy hat-wearing, beer-guzzling smartass on The Movie Channel.

Drive-In Theater turned to MonsterVision and when I found myself working at a television station years later, I asked the high sheriffs if I could resurrect their collection of public domain films into a B-Movie homage to Joe Bob Briggs. They said yes, and for three years my delight was unmistakable.

As Briggs is apt to say, movies are intended to be enjoyed with an audience, a communal experience. A stance proven time and again through the connectivity of The Movie Channel and TNT and the fact that two of the people I worked with at the TV studio had previously labored at another — WKBT.

So, when Joe Bob made his triumphant return to Shudder with The Last Drive-In just shy of two years ago, that unmistakable sense of safety and the nostalgia that came along with it flooded over every nerve in my body.

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What was supposed to be a last, 24-hour hurrah for the Drive-In Jedi quickly turned into Friday night double features that not only obliterated Shudder’s server but unwittingly triggered a silent alarm that drew every Drive-In Mutant who had watched Briggs alone in their youth into a larger family that they never knew they had. That communal sense of acceptance and love was also unmistakable.

Shortly after the death of IT’S ALIVE’s writer and director Larry Cohen last March, Joe Bob selected Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982) from the Shudder library to celebrate the life and talent of one of the most uniquely talented filmmakers to ever walk the Earth. But before the picture rolled, Briggs shared something that has stayed with me every day since:

“You can be half-drunk and just woke up and turn on the TV and if it’s a Larry Cohen movie you instantly know it,” continuing “the characters talk in this rhythm, it’s just unmistakable.”

Unmistakable.

Cohen’s singular skill and the gorilla filmmaking that brought it to fruition, to say nothing of the millions who believed they were alone in their love for films like Cohen’s only to find that they were part of something much bigger years later. The experiences may have been individualized in our youth, but we later discovered that those memories were unmistakably shared.

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From a late night horror film on WKBT to working with friends who’d called that station home, from the compulsion of video store cover art to the Drive-In Theater to MonsterVision to Shudder, all experiences that were part of something much bigger, a larger safety net that only togetherness can create.

And now we find ourselves firmly entrenched in the quarantine-shelter-in-place-social-distancing of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us find ourselves ripped from loved ones and the routine of our daily lives, feeling lost and lonely. We need our safety net now more than ever, and just as we feel our sanity starting to slip, we are less than a fortnight from the fright.

Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl will give us Season 2 of The Last Drive-In on the evening of April 24 and it could not come at a better time. We need family, we need friends, we need the safety net of the loving acceptance that only a Briggs-led communal experience can provide.

When the curtain goes up on that first episode, whether it serves as a distraction or makes you feel normal again, however momentary, we will all be reminded of our own similar but unique late night horror movie experience that set our collective journey into motion.

We will be compelled to watch. It will be much needed. It will be therapeutic. But above all, every emotion it evokes will be unmistakable.

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Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl’s Horror World

Australian wildfires. Devastating earthquakes. Tragic plane crashes. A terrifying global pandemic. Now Stuart Gordon. The man that I think very well set in motion full blast, my exploration into (at the time) lesser-known horror films. I’m pretty confident that it’s safe to say 2020 can eat a big hairy dick.

On March 24th, 2020, the horror world received the news that legendary filmmaker Stuart Gordon passed away at the age of 72. According to a source that had spoken with someone close to the family, Gordon had been sick for some time, (from what I don’t know). The grand visionary of independent horror and theater aficionado lit up the 80s’ VHS section with such works as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and of course, the film I really want to talk about right now- DOLLS.

 

If you’re familiar at all with my internet ramblings, you already know my love of horror history watching Halloween in my diapers with my father. Around the time I was eight-years-old, I was well versed in the Slasher and Universal Monsters Genre; with A Nightmare on Elm Street 1, 3, and 4, Friday the 13th films, Halloween movies with almost a nightly visit from Stephen King’s Silver Bullet all in pretty heavy rotation in my Pioneer VHS cassette player. What can I say- creature of habit. Until one day on our Tuesday night visit to our local Mom and Pop video rental store, something had caught my eyes that changed my comforting rotation of horror flicks forever.

 

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

 

As an eight-year-old little girl, I was completely enamored with the VHS cover alone. You see, I had already had a fascination with creepy dolls. Mainstream popular films like Poltergeist and at the time, a recently released Child’s Play had only fueled that curious fetish further.

Squirlling off for a sec, again, just another grand example of how powerful good ole’ VHS box art had and continues to have with such online retailers as Shout! and Arrow preserving that beautiful legacy of horror home video art.

Anyway, I grabbed it off the shelf to show the Mother and disgusted as she was looking at it with an attempt to push me into another rental from the “kiddie” section, she gave in. Upon our return, I settled in with a nice juice-box of Hawaiian Punch, (if you remember those boxed 10-packs- fist bump to you buddy) a can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and rode the Full Moon journey into this crazy ride of killer yet somehow weirdly compassionate dolls, witches, and straight to the point moral warnings to humanity. Or at least in this version- be a decent human or a witch might turn your dumbass into a creepy as fuck decorative dolly porcelain.  And you know what? It’s been one of my all-time favorites since then.

Stuart Gordon's DOLLS: The Film That Opened the Door to a Little Girl's Horror World

DOLLS is sort of a dark and twisted fairy tale with just the right amount of gore and goofiness. The film starts with a shithead Dad, the even bigger shithead Stepmom, and a young girl Judy clutching her favorite toy “Teddy” getting stranded in the middle of creepy backwoods nowhere England with a severe thunderstorm approaching. In an attempt to seek shelter, the family heads out on foot to a spotted castle-like mansion that just so happens to be sitting close by- it’s like none of these guys had ever seen a horror movie in their entire life. Little Judy, lagging behind annoys the evil step-mother played by Stuart Gordon’s wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, snatches Teddy and tosses it in some bushes setting up one of the most glorious scenes in the film.

Big kudos to special effects supervisor and head honcho make-up artist Gabe Bartalos (TCM 2, Basket Case) for this magnificence that runs consistently throughout the film.

Moving on, the trio makes their way to the mansion, breaks in because why not, and gets met by an elderly toymaker couple at gunpoint played by Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason; who then takes pity on them upon seeing the presence of a child in the mist. They take them through the endless hallways in the home to see the place is filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of nightmare-inducing dolls. Then we throw in two criminal punk rock hitchhikers with a bumbling but loveable man-child also seeking asylum and hot-damn we got ourselves a movie now!

The dolls themselves pretty much do the couple’s bidding. Giving people a chance to basically just not act like a dick and be respectful. It seems like these really are the only rules in this home filled with little homicidal plastic terrors. But, we wouldn’t have a movie if that were the case, so of course, some of these people cross the dickhead line and pay the ultimate price. According to the Blu-ray from Scream Factory, Stuart Gordon reveals his inspiration behind the look and story of  DOLLS involving being accidentally locked in a room full of Victorian-style porcelain horrors for a period of time.

Yep. Big bag of FUCK NO for me.

Dolls, usually overlooked by such films in Gordon’s Rolodex like From Beyond and Re-Animator, has gained a monumental cult of popularity over the past ten years thanks to the multiple horror internet outlets dedicated to this sort of thing. To me personally, the story of what is actually a pretty damn abused girl by the hands of her asshole father and his new wife partnered with her pure innocence and love of toys remains extra special and a cautionary tale at its finest. It also opened up a whole new world of 80s’ horror shortly after as I began to expand my genre curiosities based on VHS box art alone.

Thanks for the memories and the movies Stu. Rest in peace toy soldier.

dolls gif

 

Much More Than A Nightmare: “Dream Warriors” and the Mental Illness Stigma

Real talk: My horror blogging journey began about seven years ago, quite by accident. Was it fate? I think so. It was also around the time shortly before my internet rambling escapades that I was officially diagnosed with  Generalized Anxiety/ Panic Disorder along with Depression. Not that I didn’t know I had it all my life anyway. In any regard, through an opportunity presented by a dear friend who suffers as well, I gave it a shot and turns out I have a little knack for it. For the past several years, I’ve written on this subject a few times for different, popular outlets. And now, in a very stern Neil voice, it’s long overdue that I hit the lights here on this very dear to my heart subject here at NN in a very anxiety-induced state as I’m writing this.

How goddamn appropriate!

Much More Than A Nightmare:

It began in my teens with a horrific bout of Anorexia/ Bulimia. Which was on and off again until my late twenties with a suicide attempt in-between. *I’m recovered now with support from my family and using my own inner strength. However, after this, and a long conclusion to some other traumatic events, it manifested itself into a giant monster that made me worse off than I ever was. I was in and out of the hospital. I would hyperventilate to the point of paralysis. And of course, every doctor I saw wanted to shove zombie antidepressants down my throat. Not that I don’t have a thing against zombies, but you get the idea.

Alas, none of this was the answer. Now mind you, I realize they work for some people. Everyone is unique. But I am not “some people”, as I also have a hypersensitivity to a good portion of medications. That being the case, I have to rely on simply breathing through it all. This sounds easy- but sometimes it can be hell when you’re having an attack. And for those who don’t understand why I, and possibly others, who choose to get through this naturally, I’m making an example of one my favorite films that doesn’t shy away from some real mental illness issues that kids and adults alike face with a lot of misunderstanding.

Let’s take a “nice stroll” through Westin Hills Dream Warriors.

Much More Than A Nightmare:

Much like Freddy’s Revenge held a ton of sexual metaphors, Dream Warriors repeats the pattern with struggling within our own brains- mental illness. Dream Warriors does a really magnificent job, even if unintentional, of bringing some very real issues about mental health to light that might make someone mull over any previous conceptions about it. Mental illness does not discriminate- as we see in the film all walks of life are affected. Various types of disorders are addressed ranging from self-harm, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and of course, suicide.

At the time of the film’s release, there hadn’t been too many on-screen interpretations of mental illness that painted the disorder in any type of positive light. Well, none that I had seen anyway. Everything I had seen prior or even after, depicts sufferers as crazies in an asylum. Something dirty and to be feared. Dream Warriors gave us very real characters for people who suffer from similar ailments we could associate with. They came across as real kids. Normal kids. Smart as hell kids. With some problems that doctors still to this day can’t seem to figure out entirely. Or for that matter, care to really dive into and just like to throw the dice, prescribing an antidepressant that may or may not make you feel better, or worse even. As science can’t be argued, we are each unique and hold different DNA than the person standing next to us. What works for one, does not for another. And no two anxiety disorders seem to act the same. Everyone seems to have individual symptoms that vary from one patient to another. It would be nice if one magic cure exists for all. But it unfairly isn’t so. And just as art imitates life, the Dream Warriors’ fears and concerns about the one thing they have in common, Freddy, are swept under the rug as “crazy talk”. But here- let’s roll the dice on this non-approved drug Hypnocil and see what happens!

Sound familiar? Talk about feeling like the walls are coming down on you… and then you’re halfway devoured by a giant snake.

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Anyways, I can’t completely nail Neil Gordon to the wall for that- even if it did put Joey in a goddamn coma. Good intentions were there and were used in the hope to understand the tormented teens. After all, he does redeem himself later in a gutter match with Bone Daddy Freddy. Which brings us full circle to the grandmaster of fears and anxiety himself.

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Freddy is the manifestation of depression and everything the Warriors’ are afraid of. Much like anxiety and panic, he works off each of their greatest fears driving them to the breaking point; and in some instances, certain death. That theme would continue throughout the franchise but in the second and arguably greatest sequel, would remain the most relevant and alarmingly accurate. For instance, Taryn is a recovering addict. her fears are the drugs that once conquered her life. She secretly loves them but is determined to stay clean. Krueger plays on this of course and drives it home. Freddy is that little shithead voice in the back of our minds that alarms our senses driving us into panic mode. Kind of like Will going all out Wizard Master on Freddy, stepping out of his chair and using all of his mental powers to blast that bullshit into dust,  he is that voice we all know: “You are not enough.”

However, the ultimate metaphor in this installment is that support is needed. The Dream Warriors realized this, and so did Freddy. Which is why when they all entered the dream state together, he made a point to separate them. Fighting the monster of depression and anxiety alone can be quite an uphill battle. And sadly, statistics show that never ends up well for the sufferer.  No matter how tough one might think they are, a good support system is your ultimate weapon against the beast.

I hear the bullshit term all the time about older horror films about how the content doesn’t hold up decades later. In A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, the movie remains maybe even more relevant now than ever before. As we’re hearing of suicide hitting children even before they reach double-digits.

Look. Listen. Be supportive. And if you’re someone who is in dire need of that, I’m opening the lines of communication, free of judgment, for you to contact me. Everyone needs someone. Even an understanding ear can make all the difference. In the meantime…

Rock on Warriors.