Howdy kids, your Uncle Lancifer and Aunt John have decided to spend the day fishing for piranha in the moat that surrounds Kindertrauma Castle. Not to worry though, the Fewdio guys are here to babysit. You remember them; they’re the fine chaps who brought you THE EASTER BUNNY IS EATING MY CANDY not so far back. Behave yourselves and listen to everything they say and don’t tell them that we marked all the bottles in the liquor cabinet to insure against hooch thievery!
First up, who is Fewdio? Fewdio is a new entertainment company committed to scaring the crap out of people the old fashioned way… creeping them out. We’re five film makers (a motley mix of screenwriters, directors, actors and producers) who have together and separately worked with STEVEN SPIELBERG, LAWRENCE BENDER, JERRY BRUCKHEIMER, BRETT RATNER, TONY SCOTT, RICHARD KELLY, CHRISTOPHER NOLAN and… gulp… even the antichrist of film himself, EWE BOLLE (don’t ask). With our minds set firmly on horror, terror and the celluloid to share those feelings with everyone we know, we set about making the films ourselves during the lengthy writers’ strike since no one was working. Now, with a horror anthology feature consisting of fifteen 2-to-11 minute shorts, we’re ready to show the world our labor of (twisted) love, called, appropriately enough, NIGHTMARE HOUSE.That said, we found Kindertrauma through one of our favorite horror journalists PETER GUTIERREZ over at Firefox News and it got us to thinking… “Why are we obsessed with scaring people with our films?” The answer that came up around the table, was resoundingly that we had all been struck silly with fear at one point in our childhoods and for some completely broken reason, were looking to both achieve that sick adrenaline high again, and even sicker… give it to others… That said, here’s what frightens Fewdio…
I was eight years old when MAGIC, starring ANTHONY HOPKINS was released in theaters, and it provided the single most frightening image of my childhood. I did not see the actual film until almost twenty years later, but in 1978 the ad campaign was enough. The ad was brilliantly simple: the grinning head of a ventriloquist dummy speaks an ominous nursery rhyme in a nasty falsetto. Then his eyes roll back in his head. I think I may have only seen the ad once through before that visage simply popping onto the TV screen would send me screaming from the room. My older brother used to love to wrestle me into the den and force me to listen to that dreadful sing song voice…
I have two things that traumatized the living hell out of me as a “lil kinder”…(actually there are many MANY more, but I’ve got two that are seminal in shaping the warped mind I have today. First up is one that traumatized just about everyone born between 1965 and 1985…. LINDA fucking BLAIR… I was watching TV (I was about seven or eight) when the trailer for the film THE EXORCIST came on. Most of it was just building-up-suspense-type-stuff… but at the end there was LINDA BLAIR looking like something right out of hell itself, as well as a super-short snippet of her crabwalking backwards down the steps. CRABWALKING BACKWARDS DOWN THE STEPS? WHO THOUGHT OF THAT? I’d love to know because I’m dying to punch him in the cock. Okay, so everyone’s scared of THE EXORCIST – but here’s where my pain gets entertaining (for YOU…) What happened was, I continued to relive that stupid trailer for years in the form of a malignant and unnatural recurring nightmare. Probably once a month or so I would have this sublime dream that we had a framed picture in our house of the non-demonic LINDA BLAIR, but as I’d walk by the picture in the dream, she would morph into her Exorcist-version and reach out of the painting and grab me and bite me. Hard. Like on my face. I woke up screaming many times… Hold on a sec, now I need a Xanax… Okay, meds taken, now for Number Two — The other Kindertrauma, for me, is the opening credits to the original NIGHT GALLERY series from the early 1970’s. The first time I saw it, I was literally frozen with fear as I sat alone on the couch, gripped by some unseen, unearthly horror that seemed to force me to keep watching what was clearly the most terrifying thing I had ever seen in my life. Mom was just in the next room, cleaning up the kitchen, but I was actually physically unable to move my limbs to get myself away from what I was seeing and hearing. I could not move. I could not blink. I could not look away. I could not scream. It was, by far, the most excruciating and exquisite fear I have ever felt. It lasted probably 30 seconds… but the twisted funhouse-mirror-style faces and gut-churning, grinding, synth music left a mark on my soul still leaves me chilled when I hear it, 30 years later.
For me, one of the scariest moments in film had a lot to do with “how” I saw this particular film. In 1982 I was taken to see POLTERGEIST. Now, I had seen a lot of films by that point in my 11 years. A friend of the family worked in NYC as a cameraman for the news and had a 3/4 U-Matic top-loading video player in the house. Their video library consisted of everything that was awesome from 1974 to 1979. Including JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, KING KONG… even THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST. And I watched them all. A dozen times each. Alone, on the floor in the dark, one-windowed room, in front of a 24″inch color console TV at my Aunt’s house… whenever I wanted. So I was no novice to horror. But then came POLTERGEIST… Due to my love of JAWS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, I was also a STEVE SPEILBERG nut and once I learned his name was on Poltergeist, I had to go! But that night in 1982 changed me. We had NO idea what to expect and upon walking in – we discovered the theater was mobbed! Thus came a decision I would later regret; I elected to sit by myself. My last moments of a good night’s sleep would end once that movie started. Specifically, when little Robbie was attacked by that MAD OLD TREE! I shit my Boo Berries! To this day I can’t look at trees outside when there is thunder and lightning! “Holy Crap!” I thought, “How much worse could it get!” Then, a giant crazed clown pulls our footed-red-pajama-clad Robbie UNDER THE BED! UNDER. THE. BED. Boo Berries! Finally, the coup de grâce, the cool smart ass twenty-something scientist PEELS HIS OWN FACE OFF IN A MIRROR WHILE CHUNKS FALL IN THE SINK!! Boo Berries galore! That movie sitting by myself, surrounded by strangers, with no one but my own hands to hide behind, kept me up for weeks. I remember thinking, while hiding under my covers, that if my Mom and Dad ever found out that I was scarred because of that movie, I would never get to go with them to Friday night movies, and that scared me most of all!
My earliest memory of having the shit scared out of me was a certain page in the classic children’s book, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. I’ve searched for the image online, and while there’s plenty of pictures of the cover, I haven’t been able to find the picture in question, unfortunately. Or perhaps, fortunately. I honestly don’t even remember the story. I’m pretty sure it concerned a fellow named Mike Mulligan, and he owned some sort of heavy duty steam-powered construction vehicle. The steam shovel may have even talked in a falsetto with a French accent, but I may just be misremembering that part. But it definitely had eyes. Piercing, crazed eyes. And oh, I can still picture that page. That page that kept me up nights. It was a dark drawing of an empty dirt pit; the foundation of a future building. It was empty, and lonely, and dirty. I remember thinking it felt like the picture had been painted with dirt. I think Mike had been fired at this point in the story, or perhaps the job had been shut down by Union leg-breakers. Or maybe it was just the end of a long day, I dunno. But the point is, there was nothing in this dank pit except disheveled, rusted equipment. It was like a half-finished pit to hell, in my little 6-year old mind. I had a dream of that image, of being buried alive by that Steam Shovel. Layer upon layer of dirt heaped upon me, as I cried out to no avail. I looked up and saw those maniacal eyes of the steam shovel staring down at me, laughing at me, as I was buried deeper and deeper into that dirt mound. My mother would make me sit through that book, because it had been a favorite of hers when she was little. “It won an award!” she’d say. Well, I can’t dig myself out of a demonic pit inhabited by crazed anthropomorphized construction equipment with a damn Caldecott Medal, can I mom? Fuck Mike Mulligan, AND his damn steam shovel.
For me, the two images that I can’t get out of my head, even to this day, come from THE EXORCIST & THE SHINING. I’m with Drew on the whole LINDA BLAIR thing…When she’s on the bed and her head spins around… her damned eyes just freak me out, so mean & possessed…and the head turning effect was mechanical looking — but to me that was part of the what horrified me the most…it was so un-human & disturbing. But I think THE SHINING image might just horrify me more…it’s when the little kid kept saying “redrum, redrum, redrum, redrum, redrum, redrum,”…his voice, that gravelly quality it has when he speaks as the little boy who lives in his mouth… and the endlessness of his chant and that uncertainty of what was going to happen next… it still gives me chills even as I write this…”redrum, redrum, redrum,redrum , redrum…..”