As a child growing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s in the Midwest, I was normally entertained by video tapes and television shows. I can’t really remember a time where I wasn’t watching a cartoon or kids program. We didn’t have a lot of money so I watched a lot of things over and over again. This is the time where the young mind is very fragile and can be shaped easily for the long journey that lies ahead. None of these tales that I am telling you have anything to do with horror or anything around it. It’s amazing what parents think is good and healthy for their children to watch. Oh how little do they understand a child’s mind.
I don’t remember the first time I watched AN AMERICAN TAIL, but it was never a movie that I could just sit through. There are three occasions where I was always forced to run to my VCR (no remote) and fast forward. The first time is at the beginning of the film when the Russian cats appear on top of the snowy hill growling and snarling. The sound of their lips smacking as they smiled used to crawl under my skin and get my heart beating quickly.
The second time is right when the mice sing the song “There Are No Cats in America” and the thunder and lighting strike which leads into the severe storm and tidal wave monster. It was so huge and swallowed up the boat over and over again. I grew up along the Mississippi River and was warned constantly not to swim without a life jacket or I might get swallowed up under the current. Fievel just kept getting hit and hit by the waves. The face inside the water would open up its huge black mouth and my own eyes would grow big. It kept me away from the river during bad storms.
The third time is, of course, “The Giant Mouse of Minsk.” This stuck with me for so long. The film builds up to this perfectly. I never understood that it was made by the mice, I swore that it was alive. The sounds that it made when it first breaks open the boarded up door made my spine tingle. The roar, I feel, is way too much for the target age group. It was so powerful. Plus, the giant mouse was extremely ugly with its huge white eyes, jagged teeth and insect-like body. To this day I have a huge problem with rodents, dead or alive.
PBS was also big in my house. I watched a lot of SESAME STREET. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the show and I always had a great time watching it but a large percentage of my nightmares as a child resulted from watching the show. Characters from the weird animations showed up in my dreams over and over again. I remember dreaming I was at the top of the stairs that lead down into my basement. It was dark and I could only see the light reflection from the linoleum floor, I remember seeing little clay animation creatures like “Teeny Little Super Guy,” spider creatures, and animals that didn’t seem to have mouths…ever. There was even a horse like creature that had the skin and texture of the Pillsbury Dough Boy except it didn’t have a mouth. It moved like a horse, however the head would turn and react to things like a cat or dog.
There were always crazy psychedelic shorts that were full of color and creativity but I never thought it would have caused me to sleep so badly. I always had to play the trick when I wanted to wake up from a dream I would close my eyes really hard until I woke up. However, sometimes I would open them and what ever animal or mutant there was had gotten right in front of me. I was trying to escape but the monster won…
UNK SEZ: Thanks Kristian for that traumatic traumafession! Kids you can check out Kristian’s recent short film “Bird Seed” over HERE and check out his experimental short “Drawings by Billy and His Friends” below!