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...:::Traumafessions:::...

Traumafession:: Reader Clegane on Aguirre, the Wrath of God

May 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

Greetings from Ukraine! I’m a long-time lurker of your amazing site and want to tell my little story of Kindertruma and TV. I was eight and was alone at home, I was sick from school, ma was at work, pa went out to the shop and told me not to play with matches, not climb on windowsills, the usual stuff. So I sit and found TV. And found Aguirre, the Wrath of God

I was eight, I didn’t know a thing about what’s happening on screen, but I knew that I see a walking Death himself. I was scared. I forgot how to turn TV off. And there was no one else in the house.So I watched all the movie. All the movie. Until the raft. And then my pa returned. And said the worst thing to top the movie, “This is a real story.”

The second story is much worse. I was ten or eleven and got a children’s book from the library. About how Cortez conquered Mexico. And found a description of Aztec market: pots, clothes, baskets, edible dogs, slaves, red pepper, jade things, human flesh. WHAT?! I reread the paragraph twice. Nope. I threw the book away and looked into the ending of it right away. It was the first part! Aztecs gave Cortes a big battle and he lost. The library didn’t have the second part. I was quite afraid to ask about anything Mexico-related for three weeks.

Thanks for your awesome site again!

Reader Clegane

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: John Shipley on Beyond The Door’s TV Spot

May 18th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Greetings Kindertrauma friends! I’d like to share some trauma.

When I was child, nearly every piece of horror I came across freaked my shit, whether it was a photo in Cornelius Ryan’s “A Bridge Too Far” or a snippet of Night Gallery caught from behind the couch. And because my parents didn’t let me watch scurry movies — and it was the 1970s — I only caught random sounds and images. Inevitably, they were built up to be much more terrifying than they really are, or ever could be. And nothing — NOTHING — freaked my shit more than the TV ads for “Beyond the Door.” Seeing it now (thanks, YouTube!) it’s easy to see why. And just so you know, I was 8, so those “Exorcist” ads were terrifying, as well, and because it was a prestige picture — and a runaway hit — would show up during tame prime-time fare. But that campaign was subtle — a slamming door, the shaking bed, the candle-flame exploding. But they were teasers, and saved the best stuff for the actual experience of watching the movie. The “Beyond the Door” campaign actually crammed most of the best stuff into 30 seconds: the head 360, the makeup, the devil voice, levitation! Plus, it was Juliet Mills of Nanny and the Professor, with green teeth and yellow eyes. So help me God, she had yellow eyes! It got so bad that I would see her standing there in the baby blue nightgown and immediately plug my ears and cover my eyes and peak at the mayhem from between my fingers. I grew up in the Bay Area but have a friend from Baltimore who has similar Kindertrauma from this one.

John Shipley

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: GCG on The Toolbox Murders (1978)

May 16th, 2017 · 1 Comment

“Will you take me? Take me to your secret world again…”

Watching the original The Toolbox Murders recently, I suddenly realized I had seen this movie already when two kitschy plaques appeared on the wall of doomed masturbator Dee Anne Devore’s apartment. In Old-West-saloon font, one read: “BEER 5¢ a glass.” The other was square and orange, showing Linus sitting with his thumb in his mouth, holding his security blanket, an illegible remark in a word balloon above him. It’s the kind of stuff you find in Salvation Army stores tossed on dusty, half-empty metal shelves. I knew with immediate clarity upon seeing the second plaque that I had secretly rented the film on VHS in 1982 while my parents were away for the weekend. It was in an oversized clamshell case, courtesy of VCI, with the “Bit by bit… by bit, he carved a nightmare!” tagline, the hammer pictograph in place of a capital T in the title, the man in the black balaclava holding a drill, and the terrified woman with recoiling forearms strategically covering the nipples of her bare breasts. Pure sleaze. I have no idea how I rented it at the age of eleven, because the proprietor of that same store had refused to rent Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip to me another time I was alone in his shop. Safeguarding me from the F-word and honest descriptions of the black experience in America, he decided I could handle the cruelest misogyny in the saddest ‘70s apartment building in Southern California: El Patio del Sequoia (which exists to this day in all its stucco glory as the Saticoy Villa Grande in Canoga Park; the sequoias are now palm trees).

But it was not the nail-gunning of a naked porn star that reminded me I had seen this video nasty, which, by any measure, is a memorable scene, especially backed by George Deaton’s melancholic easy-listening country music from which I quoted the lyric above. No, it was the glimpse of Linus that reminded me, and I knew, too, what the illegible word balloon contained, because I had this same orange plaque on my bookshelf as a child.

Linus says: “I love mankind… It’s people I can’t stand!!”

Oddly enough, this sentiment captures my attitude at 46, but I didn’t feel this way as a child, so I have no idea why a self-fulfilling prophecy was propped to one side of my dog-eared Susan Cooper books back then. But like any bric-a-brac that routinely crosses your field of vision as a child, the image of this plaque remains in the shallowest reach of dormancy, to the extent that the color orange reminds me of this plaque before it reminds me of anything else quintessentially orange: pumpkins, road cones, circus peanuts, Protestants in Northern Ireland.

I also love Linus’s sentiment in the context of The Toolbox Murders, a slight revision of which might represent Vance Kingsley’s Weltanschaaung: “I love my dead daughter… It’s women I can’t stand!!” Kingsley’s dichotomous virgin-whore rampage punishes prostitutes, lesbians, and self-pleasuring bean-twiddlers alike. His equally misogynistic nephew (Wesley Eure from Land of the Lost) even drops the murdered Devore’s dildo vibrator like a severed limb once he realizes what he’s holding. “That’s disgusting!” he says in reference to perhaps the least disgusting thing in this movie.

Watching the film the other night, I didn’t really remember Uncle Vance’s kills (outside of what I could recall reading about them online)—in order: spade drill bit for the middle-aged woman who apparently had a regular dalliance with Kingsley, perhaps in the way of sex work; claw of a hammer and a screwdriver for the thinly coded lesbian couple; and, of course, nail gun for the explicit masturbator. None of the gratuitous nudity and death seemed familiar until that orange plaque appeared. Maybe in my just faintly pubescent oblivion, the rawer moments did not disturb or register as deeply as misanthropic Linus in a field of orange.

What all horror movie aficionados/–das see in their minds’ eyes when they hear or read “Toolbox Murders”—whether they’ve seen the movie or not—is the quickly deteriorating sobriety of Cameron Mitchell’s dumpy figure in a black trench coat and that balaclava with the halo of red and white stripes. Until I saw the film recently (apparently for the second time), I could never distinguish that poster image from an actual viewing experience. To bring this story to an overweening pretentious height, the Linus plaque brought specificity and certainty to my inexact memory, in the same way that Proust suddenly had several thousand pages of personal precision to relate after tasting that madeleine dipped in lime tea. Instead of a life of fin-de-siècle French privilege and aesthetic emotional discernment, I just had a sleazy date with Dennis Donnelly’s cash grab, but it’s more about the trigger’s mechanism than the substance of what was triggered.

I know now what I was forgetting or repressing since the age of 11, and it wasn’t boobs and blood. It was the plain dreariness of settings drawn from everyday life, and there’s nothing more quotidian than El Patio del Sequoia in 1977. People being murdered here is the least of their problems—or I should say: What else could you expect in a place like this?

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Unk on the Masks in A Gun in the House (1981)

February 22nd, 2017 · 1 Comment

I’m currently trapped in a scary mask spiral and the swirling center of said spiral seems to be the year 1981. After being reminded of the hosiery-headed creep in THE BOOGEY MAN (or THE BOOGEYMAN depending on where you live) I had a flashback to the fateful night I recorded SNL as a kid and accidentally captured the terrifying commercial for NIGHTMARE (or NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN depending on where you live) which concludes with a dude in a grubby mask hammering down a splintering bedroom door (HERE).

But for my money the scariest 1981 masks of all just might be the ones found in the TV movie A GUN IN THE HOUSE. Although AGITH ends up being rather wishy-washy and long-winded, it sure has its share of harrowing moments especially for a small screen affair. I mean, if I never see SALLY STRUTHERS being forced to crawl on her knees while masked intruders (whose relationship seems directly lifted from THE HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980)) laughingly pour peach brandy on her head again, that will be fine by me. There’s no doubt this dramatization of the perpetually hot topic of the pro and cons of gun ownership was strongly influenced by the plethora of masked slashers then currently stalking cinemas (one of the masks even looks like it could be a left over prop from the previous year’s TERROR TRAIN). In any case, I know I was one kid who got a little bit more freaky strife than he bargained for tuning into to this flick way, way back in the day. So let’s make your old UNK squirm in his seat and check out the frightening masks from A GUN IN THE HOUSE below….

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession :: Reader Donny O. on The Last Starfighter

February 6th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Hey guys,

I love your site. When I was about nine or ten my father took me to see “The Last Starfighter.” I loved the movie but one scene nearly made me pee my pants. When the main character is sent off to battle aliens in space he is replaced in his home by a duplicate version of himself sort of like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” At one point, a blanket is lifted off of a bed and we get a glimpse of the duplicate before it is fully formed and its skin is pasty and its eyes are popping out. As a kid who had only seen rated G movies up to that point, it was totally gross and totally shocking.

UNK SEZ: Oh yeah! You’re talking about Beta Alex, the quirky doppelganger of Alex Rogan (as played LANCE GUEST of HALLOWEEN II fame)! We love THE LAST STARFIGHTER around these parts! Why, it was even directed by NICK CASTLE who played the original shape in HALOWEEN! Thanks for bringing this one up Donnie! As an added bonus, Aunt John made the gif below so you can stare at slimy Beta Alex as long as you like! Enjoy!

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafessions:: Jason L. on When Havoc Struck and The Acid Queen

January 17th, 2017 · 4 Comments

I’m sure you all are going to laugh but here’s my first (and probably worst) Kindertrauma.

In the late 70s, on Wednesday nights, my parents would go to church and leave me with my grandparents. I’d sit and watch TV with them for an hour until my parents came home. I remember watching The Muppet Show and this show right after called When Havoc Struck. That week my grandpa said “We’re gonna watch these bridges collapse on TV”. Sounded like a fun time (not). If you’ve ever watched WHS you know it starts with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (the familiar dun dun dun dunnnnnnn) with a fiery looking logo. Then Glenn Ford comes on and introduces various incidents of disasters/accidents, etc. The tone of the show is already scary from the images, movies, sounds and music.

This episode showed exactly what it said it would, bridges falling down. Halfway into it, they show the 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse. It’s the actual movie reel of the actual bridge collapsing. The bridge was susceptible to high winds and it would move up and down with the wind. Then one day it twisted itself to death and it collapsed. I remember being a little freaked out at this until they actually showed a picture of the roadway rocking back and forth. This (I don’t know why) scared the hell outta me. I ran into the kitchen and hid in the laundry room until it was over. I was shaking and my mom had to give me medicine to calm down so I could sleep. Then that night I dreamed about it.

It took a long long time before I could actually open a book about bridges and see the pictures of it. THEN in the early 90s, a commercial for Pioneer car stereo featured the bridge. At first I was shocked but then I enjoyed watching it and laugh about how I thought this was scary.

So, what brought me here is that episode is now on Youtube for all the world to see:

And the commercial:

And yes, The Acid Queen scared me too.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafessions: Unk on Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

January 8th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Director BOB CLARK’s name rightfully pops up every holiday season in connection to his contrasting holiday classics A CHRISTMAS STORY and BLACK CHRISTMAS. If those monumental movies weren’t enough to cement his status as a potent filmmaker you’ve also got the influential teen sex comedy PORKY’S and the allegorical Vietnam war zombie flick DEATH DREAM as further proof. But it’s the mention of CLARK’s too often shrugged off, earlier living dead soiree CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS that still sends a quiet chill of dread down my spine. How can that be? The movie is hilarious camp! Why, just look at the character’s outdated clothes and hairstyles! What a chuckle fest! Sure, maybe I take it less seriously these days and maybe I even find lumps of it annoying and borderline boring but the damn thing still makes me privately wince on some level.

I could brush it away and say that my aversion stems from having caught its ghoulish dime store depravity too many times at too late an hour at a far too impressionable age but the disquiet feels deeper than the echo of nostalgia. As sarcastic and theatrical as CHILDREN loudly presents itself to be, there’s no painting over its oppressive wall of infinite-seeming eeriness. It gets to me. Those electric seventies howling bleeps and whistles, the painful groaning of slow-motion visuals and especially its neon meets inky oblivion color pallet. It’s as if if THE BRADY BUNCH cancelled their Grand Canyon camping trip and decided to vacation in DOGVILLE instead. Nothing can freak me out faster than that dense end of the world background blackness. It‘s a forewarning of that air guitar riddled FAMILY TIES episode in which Alex mourns his dead friend Greg. It’s freaky and off-putting but there’s a swirl of stripped down borderline humiliating coldness to it too. Black isn’t a color, black eats colors for breakfast. We’re all heading there, right?

On a brighter note: Orville! I genuinely love this guy! Every living dead flick worth its salt should have one standout signature zombie and in my book, Orville leaves most of his shuffling brethren in the dust. To truly understand and get the most out of this picture you must both FEAR and ROUTE FOR Orville. As much nausea as he may inspire, and as much dread as he might instill, the long suffering lummox is so outrageously disrespected that its not difficult to find his patiently prepared, masterly marinated stew o’ vengeance delectably delicious. You know, if the whole world has to come crashing down for Orville to have the last laugh on his smug oppressor, I’m absolutely OK with that…and fall down it does. Are spoiler warnings even necessary when talking about zombie flicks? You can bet your bottom dollar this baby closes out with the pessimistic understanding that we’ve only witnessed the tip of the iceberg in regards to the world’s well-deserved demise.

Hey, this traumafession about how CSPWDT scared me as a kid and still creeps me out today, also happens to be a “Sunday Streaming” post cuz I found it on YouTube! Like I nearly said before, the dialogue can be perturbing and the acting hammy and the pace almost dawdling but there’s still something unnerving burrowing around here. If nothing else, you have to admit that the title remains sound advice. Respect the dead today because tomorrow they’re YOU!

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Tags: Sunday Streaming · Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Grant G. on Mego Dolls and Cyborg Annie Ross in Superman III

January 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

My name’s Grant, and I write a blog called FIRE BREATHING DIMETRODON TIME where I watch wonderfully fun old adventure shows and movies with my son, now five, and see how he enjoys them. Since he’s still small, we haven’t hit anything like the heights of horror that you all celebrate, but he’s been mildly frightened by various threats like the Sleestak and a couple of Batman’s enemies.

I’d like to share a ridiculous traumafession of my own. I get the impression that quite a few people were traumatized when Annie Ross got turned into a cyborg in Superman III. It rocked me as well, but perhaps in not quite the same way as most.

I saw Superman III in theaters, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t give me the creeps until a year later, when it showed up on HBO. So this is 1984, and my best buddy and I had pretty impressive collections of Mego’s 8-inch tall superhero dolls. He and I really were, in the words of parents, “too old to be playing with dolls,” but I enjoyed being a kid and was in no hurry to discover girls and guitars yet. I had superheroes and Shogun Warriors to play with.

Mego dolls had been out of production for at least five years by that point, but we were still scouring garage sales and anywhere we could think of to find new Mego bodies – Star Trek, Dukes of Hazzard, Emergency, whatever – to customize into new characters for our various Justice Leagues. Of course, since we were 12, we didn’t have the skills necessary to make good costumes for the toys, but we did have lots of paint, multi-colored electrical tape, duct tape, and imaginations.

So one day that summer, I was playing in my room and decided that Superman was going to get grabbed by an indestructible robot – Biotron from the Micronauts – and turned into a cyborg like Annie Ross in the movie. So I interrupted the action and spent about an hour carefully cutting out detailed little duct tape circuitry for Superman’s hands and face, planning to sic the Man of Steel on his low-powered colleagues like Falcon, Human Torch, and Green Arrow.

And somehow, admiring my handiwork, it suddenly sunk in that this was really terrifying. I was actively bothered by what happened to Annie Ross‘s character in the movie… and my toys weren’t fun anymore so I quit playing that adventure. I remember having this sinking feeling in my gut, and the next time HBO showed Superman III – because we watched favorite movies every single time HBO showed them, probably within a week – I started dreading her conversion so much I couldn’t enjoy the movie anymore. Then I started having nightmares. Then I packed up the toys and started paying attention to girls and guitars.

Sadly, very few of those toys have survived into adulthood, although my Mego Supergirl is still with me, her shoes long lost and replaced by spare Batgirl boots with red electrical tape, and my Shogun Warrior Daimos still looms from atop a bookshelf, with a little bit of 40 year-old duct tape to help on its sides where a previous owner tried peeling away the sticker from around its massive robotic waist.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Reader Walt on Burnt Offerings (1976)

December 22nd, 2016 · 6 Comments

Waaaay tooooo long, no talk.

Many moons ago you posted a few confessions from me (Reader Walt – way back in 2008). I’ve been away for a long time, but I haven’t forgotten you guys! Over this time I had a complete trauma happen that finally put a button on a nightmare from when I was a little kid. This was really a “Name That Trauma” for me for years until recently.

I remembered watching a movie when I was REALLY young where a man’s face crashes through a car’s windshield and scares a boy sitting in the car. I know I had nightmares for years because of this. This image was seared into my brain. It wasn’t until a few years ago when my wife wanted to re-watch “Burnt Offerings” with me (of course I married a horror movie fanatic). We get though most of the movie OK until the end when Oliver Reed jumps out the house window and “spoiler” crashes through the car’s windshield with his son in the car.

At this moment, I stood up, moaned and pointed at the screen, much like Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” ‘That’s it!” I yelled. “That’s the scene!”

My wife stared at me, unaware of the childhood trauma that was caused by this movie and how this almost cathartic moment has brought both closure and utter dread to me.

After explaining how this was an ever-running scene in my head and how I never quite knew if it was something I made up or an actual movie my parents let me watch when I was 7 years old, she was actually more upset that I hadn’t watched such an iconic movie like “Burnt Offerings” in the last 25 years than the impact it had had on me.

I was just glad I had solved this KinderTrauma mystery.

I’m back to reading your site regularly and want to atone for being away from my favorite Aunt and Uncle for so long. Assume that Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s aren’t going to be enough…

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Leslie G. on The Owl in The Secret of NIMH

December 21st, 2016 · No Comments

Hey all,

Long time reader, first time submitter. I thought of you guys recently when my kids were watching The Secret of NIMH. I had forgotten how frightening the giant owl is in that movie. I remember being terrified of him as a kid. There’s something about those glowing yellow eyes. My children (who are 7 and 9) watched him totally unfazed. I guess they are not scaredy-cats like their mom. What is wrong with them?

Thanks for listening,

Leslie

UNK SEZ: Leslie, I love me some SECRET OF NIMH! I agree, that owl is scary and he should be because he’s voiced by horror legend JOHN CARRADINE! I say, you are right and your kids are wrong.

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Tags: Traumafessions