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Traumafession:: Fiji Mermaid on Alien (1979)

July 23rd, 2014 · 2 Comments

Unk and Aunt John, it’s you dear old ghoulish friend, Fiji Mermaid. I’ve got a Traumafession for you.

After reading a few recent traumafessions I realized as much as I love horror and scary stuff all my life, it’s really out of true enjoyment, fun I guess. Rarely… rarely has anything scared me at any age. When it’s happened it’s quite memorable. The one big and first clear memory of something scaring me was a scene in “Alien” (1979). I was maybe around 9 years old. My dad rented the movie for me on VHS. I definitely was looking forward to seeing it. I knew some things about the movie, but not a whole lot. Basically it was going to be a monster movie that takes place in space. Now a big thing to me was that I knew exactly what the Alien looked like because when I was around 3 years old my parents bought me the know legendary Kenner giant action figure. I loved that toy and played with it until it fell apart. So I was really looking forward to seeing the monster on the silver screen.

All the stuff up to and including when Harry Dean Stanton’s character is killed was enjoyable and not scary in the least, but then the next kill is what did it. Dallas going into the ventilation system to hunt down the Alien, when clearly they had no clue what they are up against. Parker did describe it as “big, like a man” sized thing, but still it didn’t seem frightening. But when he’s in the tubes and everyone is watching the computer screen and the tracking system and he seems to be disoriented really made the tension tight. Being that he was a main character I thought, no way he’s going to die, he’ll make it out. Right when I thought he’d escape he turns around and the AlIEN reaches out to grab him with a weird scream and feedback over his microphone. The editing, music, performances, visuals… it terrified me. I was literally frozen with fear. I couldn’t move, couldn’t close my eyes nothing. It took a minute for it to wear off. That scene was a success.

“We found this laying there. No blood, no Dallas, nothing. How come I don’t hear anybody say anything?” – Parker

I’ll tell you why Parker, nobody is saying anything, because we are frozen with FEAR!!

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Tags: Traumafessions

Joint Traumafession :: Unk & Mickster on “Hush”

July 22nd, 2014 · 8 Comments

The other day (read months ago) my old pal Mickster and I were talking about what else, scary crap that scared us. I mentioned to her that one thing people seem to underestimate is the importance of when you view something. I’m not talking about what age; I’m talking about what mind frame. In other words if a tornado recently killed your favorite cow, it’s the wrong time to watch TWISTER. I didn’t use that dumb example whilst talking with the Mickster. Instead I told her of an ancient dark memory that took place in the chilling nightmare winter of 1999. I was going through a depressing break-up, no doubt imagining a long grey road ahead and I decided that the perfect thing to watch was BUFFY THE VAPIRE SLAYER as it was sure to cheer me up because many of my imaginary pals live on that show. The episode airing that evening was “Hush” which pitted Buffy and cohorts against a small tribe of grimacing floating demons that hung around with shifty creatures in straightjackets. At some point during the episode, I was surprised to find myself morbidly horrified in a way I could not have predicted. Mind you, it wasn’t fear I felt but a kind of pessimist nausea mixed with an inescapable sense of doom. I was going to die alone and the universe couldn’t hold in its giggle.

Upon hearing my confession Mickster revealed that she, my unmet friend, on the same evening albeit in a different time zone was experiencing a similar encounter with the episode. With her permission, here is her story…

On December 13, 1999, I underwent surgery for the second time in a three-week period. It was an unpleasant experience that was compounded by the fact that I was 2,000 miles from my family, and my husband, at the time, was a worthless alcoholic that dumped me at the hospital to go through it all alone. The next day, I was in a great deal of pain from the surgery and gas pain that accompanies surgery as well. I was hooked up to a morphine pump to manage the pain. As I struggled to become comfortable on the evening of December 14, I looked for something to watch on TV. I was delighted to find an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just starting. The evening was about to become memorable, as this was the episode titled “Hush.” As I watched, the “Gentlemen” stealing hearts from victims who were unable to scream naturally disturbed me, but I was also aware that it was kind of a metaphor for my life at the time. I felt as though I had no voice, as my heart was slowly being ripped from my chest day-by-day and year-by-year. In fact, the pain from the surgery did not compare to my emotional pain. Who would think that an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would force me to recognize the real pain in my life? It took me a bit longer to gain my voice to destroy the “Gentleman” that was ripping at my heart than it did Buffy, but I eventually did. Thanks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the morphine) for opening my eyes.

O.K., Mickster’s story kind of makes my story sound like a Haagen-Dazs stained Cathy comic. What can I say? I’m easily discombobulated. Egad, what kind of cad leaves his wife in the hospital? And what kind of person still uses the word “cad”? Anyway, the point remains, when one is in a fragile state of mind they are that much more vulnerable to the creeps. Why just recently Kindertrauma Castle was under siege by miniscule calamities of one sort or another and I thought I might escape by falling asleep to a scratchy HORROR HOTEL VHS tape. I didn’t get half way through the gloomy chant-filled opening credits before I decided to nix that plan and switch to XANADU. I may have even quoted LaWANDA PAGE in MAUSOLEUM (1983) by exclaiming “No more grieving, I’m leaving!” as I pulled out the tape. Incidentally, I want that quote carved on my tombstone.

On the other hand let’s not overlook the fact that the “Gentleman” are indeed legitimately off-putting even in the lightest of circumstances. I mean, they’re like POLTERGEIST 2’s Reverend Kane crossed with the chauffer from BURNT OFFERINGS, shmooshed with PHANTASM’s “Tall Man” piled up with any number of ghouls from THE SENTINEL, times four and with a dollop of Mr. Burns and “The Slender Man” on the side. Worse still, and this may be where I outdo Mickster on the trauma front, when I look in the mirror I know the years before I resemble one are few! Oh no, now I’m getting depressed again, is it getting darker in here? Where is my XANADU tape? What cruel inhuman monster would hide it?

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Unk on Death Scream (1975)

July 18th, 2014 · 11 Comments

How in the world can I still have a trauma to confess after all these years? I’m pretty sure I did go on about this one in our comments section back in the day but I never got around to doing a proper post. That is because when I tried to watch it again, I found it lacking which is weird considering it stars RAUL JULIA whose peepers can usually carry anything. It’s O.K. though, my trauma isn’t about the whole movie; it’s only about the scary opening scene. The opening scene of DEATH SCREAM (1975) remains a tense view for me even if what follows is deadly dull.

The first scene of DEATH SCREAM is based on the real murder of Kitty Genovese who was raped and stabbed to death outside her apartment building as she was returning home for work in 1964. Weeks later her death became national news when it was reported that her attack was witnessed in one form or another by thirty-eight neighbors who did nothing to aid her. Exactly how many witnesses and exactly how much they may have seen would later be debated but the fuse of the story had been lit and public outrage followed. It’s not the numbers or the confirmed details that make this story horrify though, would it be half as shocking if there were only nineteen witnesses? The fact is you could probably turn on the news tonight and find a story that involves bystanders turning a blind eye. I know because watching the news the other day is what made me remember this trauma.

I know I saw this made-for-TV flick when my family was living in California and since we left in ‘76 that means I must have seen it the night it premiered on September 26, 1975. Yay for me! I was eight. Why was I watching this movie when I was eight? (Sorry, I gotta go down this rabbit hole) That means this trauma actually predates my SATAN’S TRIANGLE trauma by a few months and that’s the one I’ve always cited as my first. Hmmm, well, I’m not changing my plea. There’s really no comparison when I think about it. DEATH SCREAM was more of a “horrified by human ugliness”- trauma whereas SATAN’S TRIANGLE was more of a “Oops! Your soul is damned for eternity!” type of thing. Apples and oranges.

Let’s move on before I start telling you about how my mother left me unattended on a beach when I was three. You won’t believe the cast of DEATH SCREAM. Besides RAUL JULIA being a cop whose daughter is HELEN HUNT and whose love interest is KATE JACKSON, they also somehow crammed ED ASNER, TINA LOUISE, CLORIS LEACHMAN, ART CARNEY, DIAHANN CARROLL, LUCIE ARNEZ, SALLY KIRKLAND, TONY DOW and NANCY “Quicker Picker Upper” WALKER (among others) into this cinematic psycho clown car.

The first scene has THE HOWLING’s BELINDA BALASKI playing the role based on Kitty. She’s arriving home from work but must first make her way through an eerily empty parking lot. If you’re a kid from the seventies, this might appear to be any number of cop shows. We’re talking clanking high heels on asphalt and cats toppling over trash cans before a trench coat wearing shadowy figure lunges. What’s especially harrowing about this attack is how many times BALASKI’s character nearly escapes and how that relief is repeatedly denied. Frustration reigns too as we are constantly torn away from her plight and into the apartments of the building’s residents, being untimely forced to hear their weak justifications for inaction.

To be honest, it’s not quite as nightmarish as I recall. In my mind’s eye, I’ve always remembered NANCY WALKER hanging out her apartment window 227-style casually looking down upon the proceedings. Thankfully, it appears I made that creepy LYNCH-vision up in my head. Look, I’m not saying I’d be running down the stairs with grease paint under my eyes carrying a bazooka either but I’d like to think I’d do something. What, nobody’s got a potted plant to throw? All right now I just envisioned a DONKEY KONG style video game where you’re NANCY WALKER dropping plotted plants out of a window to ward off murderers. I share that not to make light of a grizzly scenario but to illustrate how unhelpful my brain constantly is. Now I feel bad. This is based on a real tragedy and all I can think about is how well NANCY WALKER rocked her Zira from PLANT OF THE APES hairdo. I’m going to utilize my side-step to identify another clear current of queasiness; it’s not like they picked nameless shmoes to play the cowardly bystanders in this flick, these are my TV pals! It’s like that famous quote,” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for both Grants Ginger and Lou to do nothing.”

I’m now hopped up on chewy Spree so it’s best that I go. The scene in question is below. It freaked me out as a kid and what it says about humanity still makes me barf today. Kitty Genovese, I’m so sorry. NANCY WALKER, I miss you.

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Tags: Telenasties · The Seventies mushed my head · Traumafessions

Traumafession/NTT: Mary P. on Evil Laughter, Mega Man & More

July 7th, 2014 · 7 Comments

Hello Kindertrauma, and fellow Traumatics! (Especially “And Now the Screaming Starts“.) I have a few Name that Traumas, and a Traumafession.

First NTT: A commercial I remember seeing as a wee lad. It was set in, IIRC, a business office against a white background. There were people in that office, and they were talking. I don’t remember what happened then. But I do remember what scared me. One of the guys yelled “WRONG!” and then klaxon alarms started blaring VERY loudly. Then it cut to the logo of the product that was being advertised, and I think there was freaking evil laughter heard. I saw this in the late 1970s (or very early 1980s, but I think it was the ’70s).

Second NTT: A song that I used to hear on the radio in the mid 1970s (1974 to 1977). It had spooky Moog synthesizers, and it started out with a guy laughing creepily. The other thing I remember is a drum solo…

Third NTT: A video I saw recently (around 2011 or 2012). It ended with a guy shouting “THE BOTTOMLESS PITS OF HELL!” as the screen turned white and faded back to the guy laughing maniacally. I was like “Holy gosh!”. I want to see this video again, because now I think it’s pretty funny.

Traumafession: I once saw a Mega Man anime short around 1999. It featured Mega Man, Bass, and Proto Man. At one point Bass taunted Mega Man, and Mega Man cried as Bass walked away scoffing and cackling evilly. Then it showed Proto Man cackling evilly as he sent out Robot Masters to attack Mega Man, who was still crying. I felt sad for Mega Man. Just wanted to tell you that.

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Tags: Name That Trauma! · Traumafessions

Five Underrated Flicks by Zack Clopton Author of Last of the Monster Kids

July 2nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

The Monster and the Girl (1941)

The premise – of a wrongly accused man having his brain placed inside a gorilla and seeking revenge from within his new, hairy body – isn’t particularly different from any apesploitation flick. However, “The Monster and the Girl” features several surprisingly eerie sequences. The gorilla’s escape from a laboratory happens off-screen, the camera panning around the damaged, empty room. A memorable moment focuses on the ape stalking a guilty gangster from the rooftops while another has the human-minded monkey visiting his sister while she sleeps. The first act is a bit slow but Ellen Drew gives a great performance as the titular girl and the actor in the gorilla suit conveys some surprising quirky qualities.

4D Man (1959)

Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., right after “The Blob” and before “Dinosaurus!,” “4D Man” is a great late fifties sci-fi thriller. The story revolves around two scientist brothers, one more reckless and one more serious, attempting to create “4-dimensional objects,” allowing them to pass safely through solid walls. Subverting era expectations, the stable brother is the one caught in an experiment gone wrong, becoming the murderous 4D Man who can kill with a touch, while the wilder brother winds up courting the Lee Meriwether-played love interest.

While focusing on science fiction concepts for the first half, “4D Man” solidly becomes a horror film in the latter half, as Robert Lansing’s mental state deteriorates and becomes more revenge crazed. Lansing stalking his unfaithful fiancé is appropriately suspenseful while a moment between the monster and a little girl is classic Kindertrauma stuff. The oddball jazz score further cements this as a unique multi-genre classic.

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County” came along just as the nineties fascination with alien abduction stories were starting to wane and right before “The Blair Witch Project” started an explosion of interest in found footage films. The story – about a family’s Thanksgiving dinner being ruined by pesky extraterrestrials – is common place now. The movie doesn’t avoid the pitfalls of the found footage format, as the teenage son holds onto his camcorder long after he should have dropped it.

At its’ best, “Incident in Lake County” is a surprisingly creepy flick. The lack of any music has the audience listening carefully for sounds off-screen. Similarly, the handheld camera-work has the viewer watching the corners of the frame, on the look-out for half-seen aliens. An encounter with an alien in a bedroom is drawn out very nicely. The premise proves too thin to sustain a 93 minute story, as the middle section drags and inserted talking segments don’t add much, but the ending is chilling. I’d still pick the full-length version over the edited hour long cut that aired on UPN back in the day.

The Clown at Midnight (1998)

An obscure entry in the post-“Scream” slasher boom, “The Clown at Midnight” has more to offer then its lame box art might suggest. Its opera setting intentionally recalls “Phantom of the Opera” and several other Lon Chaney references are sprinkled throughout. The wildly overqualified cast includes James Duvall, Margot Kidder, and a giving-it-his-all Christopher Plummer. The characters are a refreshingly quirky lot and include a horror fanboy, a queer drama kid, and a paranormal obsessed geek girl named Walnut.

The movie’s low-key gore might disappoint some but the kills are surprisingly creative. Someone is garroted with a necklace, theatre props are used extensively, and an obviously fake head bounces down a flight of stairs. Yet the likable cast/characters and moody setting makes this a reliable late night snack for slasher enthusiasts.

Midnight Ride (1990)

Essentially a sleazier, lower budget take on “The Hitcher,” this late period Cannon action/horror hybrid is most notable for casting Mark Hamill against type as a hitchhiking serial killer. A few years before his career reinvention as the Joker, Hamill laughs manically, sucks on an eyeball, screams, quivers, bites, and subtly threats. He’s certainly more entertaining then Michael Dudikoff, who seems out of his element playing a non-ninja (though presumably still American) cop.

Midnight Ride” still packs in the crazy, action set pieces. The ‘Dude gets tied to the roof of a careening car’, a moment that ends unexpectedly. A chase scene between a bus and several police cars is powered by a goofy synth score. The hospital set finale features a cameo from Robert Mitchum, Hamill jumping on a motorcycle, overly spacious ventilation shafts, and big machines in a dark basement that produce nothing but atmosphere-enhancing sparks. In other words, “Midnight Ride” is perfect for fans of eighties camp action, road set thrillers, and low budget, half-baked dementia.

Zack Clopton’s short story collection, “Last of the Monster Kids” – available now on the Amazon Kindle Marketplace – features several Kindertraumatic scenarios. Like a little boy haunted by nightmares, kids in peril, southern werewolves, otherworldly trick r’ treaters, a haunted house attraction that’s actually a gateway to hell, a pet dinosaur, killer robots, a suicidal Dracula, time travel, the end of the world, and so much more! Give it a look, write a review, and tell your friends!

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Tags: Traumafessions · Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks

Traumafession:: Reader ROB on Pink Floyd – The wall

July 1st, 2014 · 1 Comment

It lasts just a second, but in this scene from the Pink Floyd movie you see Pink at 6:38 encrusted with his Comfortably Numb goo, his eyes looking very scary.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Bill S. on G.I. Joe’s There’s No Place Like Springfield

June 17th, 2014 · 2 Comments

In or around 1985, the popular G.I. JOE cartoon aired an episode that was unlike anything seen for children’s programming.

The episode was titled, ‘There’s No Place Like Springfield‘. This episode found the character, Shipwreck, waking up to a place that is unfamiliar to him. He’s told things that don’t make sense to him. Shipwreck’s mind slowly starts to unravel as he tries to determine what is real and what is illusion.

This is a psychological thriller, culminating in some horrifying visuals for children.

Here’s some moments from this episode!

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Tags: Telenasties · Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Bill S. on Monster Club (1980)

June 16th, 2014 · No Comments

In the late ’80s or early ’90s, I caught the last 40 minutes of a horror film that was truly chilling.

The Monster Club‘ is a film split into 3 vignettes.

In the last one, a man drives into a mysterious village and slowly discovers the townspeople do not want him to leave. He then meets a young girl who decides to help him attempt escape.

The ending has a fantastic twist!

The rest of the film stars Vincent Price and other Hollywood old-schoolers and features an all star soundtrack as well. (The animated, dancing skeleton scene is infamous!)

Anyway, I’ve set up this youtube link to start at exactly the last story. Enjoy!

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafessions:: Anna on Phantom of the Paradise & more

June 10th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Where do I begin?

1) I remember watching Phantom of the Paradise on TV when I was about five or six years old. It left me slightly confused and creeped out. I actually love that movie now. It’s funny and cheezy at the same time.

2) Carrie. Saw that when I was about seven years old. The music, the blood, the hand popping out of the grave at the end. My twin used to threaten that the “hand” was going to get me. Yep. She did that for at least five or six years.

3) Amityville Horror. I was afraid to look at crucifixes and rocking chairs for a looong time.

4) I remember the nanny committing suicide by hanging when I watched The Omen on TV. Again, I was only a child. (My older sisters watched these movies in front of us.)

5) The Exorcist. I think I was about eight years old. Part I & II. Just bits and pieces of the movie I remember watching. I was afraid to go up the stairs and look at the white door that led to the bathroom because the door reminded me of the girl’s bedroom.

There’s probably more but those movies above stick out of my mind the most.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession/Name That Trauma:: Whitney M. on an Above the Influence Dog & a Nasty Nanny

June 9th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Trauma to share:

Not sure how many people will remember the “Above the Influence” commercial with the dog, so here it is…

Right off the bat, your ear drums are assaulted with that creepy haunting music. Between the music and the strange animation, that commercial was the WORST. It was more effective at giving you the willies than making sure you don’t try pot. I remember immediately switching the channel every time it aired just to avoid it. To this day I can’t watch the full commercial. NOPE!

Trauma to Name:

The plot of the movie is basically: woman has baby, hires nanny, nanny wants baby for herself, woman finds out, nanny tries to kill woman. The woman had asthma, and a very distressing scene involved her having an asthma attack and she’s trying desperately to reach her inhaler. Can’t quite remember if it was an ’80s or ’90s movie, unfortunately. It was definitely a VHS. If you can name that trauma, that would be amazing. Then I can blacklist it and never watch it again!

Regards,

Whitney M.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Whitney! A crazy nanny plus a wonky inhaler can only add up to one thing, you must be thinking about the classic 1992 flick THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE!

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Tags: Name That Trauma! · Traumafessions