Kinder-News :: Charlotte Rae’s Psycho Screen Test

It’s not everyday that you come across an artifact that is of equal interest to both ALFRED HITCHCOCK and FACTS OF LIFE fans, but find such an item your Unkle Lancifer did. While cleaning out the attic of Kindertrauma Castle the other day, I stumbled across a box left behind by my dear Great Unkle Beleeza-Bob marked simply “Charlotte Rae, Psycho.”

I have to admit that I, at first, mistook those words as observational graffiti rather than a description of the box’s contents. When I opened the box, I found that it contained a canister of film. Excited, I jumped into the nearest dumbwaiter and rode it down to the Castle’s basement theater secretly hoping I had stumbled across my Unkle’s legendary stash of MARY PICKFORDankle-porn. What I found, instead, was an early screen test for the film PSYCHO that starred, yep you guessed it, THE FACTS OF LIFE‘s own CHARLOTTE RAE. I have no idea where it came from or how it came to be made or even why HITCH chose JANET LEIGH over RAE for the actual film, I just know that cinema fans everywhere have a reason to rejoice today and that they now owe a gargantuan debt to my dearly departed Unkle’s pack rat nature.

BONUS: Early mock-up of scrapped movie poster art. Note that it does indeed include RAE in the cast!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Taylor on “Woman With Face Turned And Boiling Water”

name that trauma!

I have a Name That Trauma for you…I hope I can provide enough details for you or a reader to recognize it. I must have been 5 or 6 when this happened, which would make it roughly 1983-84.

I was flipping channels one day and I stopped on a scene of a fairly brightly-lit kitchen in a home. It looked very cheap, like it was shot on video (early-’80s video, at that), and it was just generally kind of a crappy looking kitchen, too. There was a woman standing in front of the stove, where there was a pot of boiling water. She was wearing a white, old-lady-ish full-length housecoat, and she had stringy, greasy, shoulder-length black hair. Her head was pivoted down toward the pot of water, and her hair was covering parts of her face, but it seemed to me like her face was mangled or monstrous in some way, under the hair. She was shaking her head around a little and growling, and otherwise just standing there still, with her arms at her sides. The impression that my 5-year-old mind got was that the boiling water was affecting her somehow…It had either made her into a monster, or it was hurting her. I changed the channel, but obviously the scene had a profound effect on me. For all I know now, it could have been just an episode of QUINCY or something that I misinterpreted, but it was the earliest traumatic TV-watching experience that I can recall.

The cheapness of it makes me think that maybe it was local public access, in which case I’ve got practically no shot of someone knowing it, but this happened in Jacksonville, Florida in the early 80s (if that helps).

Thanks a lot! I love the site.

UNK SEZ: Taylor, that is a tough one, especially if it was a local production like you think it may be. You never know though, maybe someone will recognize it as trauma that they too share. I have to say it doesn’t sound familiar to me, but you paint a pretty creepy picture nonetheless. Anyhows, you got me thinking about movies that squeeze tension or scares out of NOT showing a character’s face (or at least not right off the bat). The first thing that comes to my mind is this scene from GHOST STORY…at this point the audience is well aware that there is something not quite right with this woman and are just waiting for her to show her monstrous face. The tension of not knowing builds and builds…

ghost story

SALLY FIELD gets the wiggins when she spies the back of this old lady’s head in a park in the television movie SYBIL. She could be hiding any face but Sybil is reminded of her cuckoo crazy mother…

sybil sally field

When she draws her mother, that image too is missing a face…

sybil sally field

In THE ORPHANAGE the protagonist Laura is shown more and more frequently from the back as she becomes increasingly entangled within her adopted home.


Sometimes the back of a person’s head can be used to represent an identity that is not fully aware of itself like this, one of my favorite shots from DOLORES CLAIBORNE where JENNIFER JASON LEIGH looks into a mirror only to see the back of her own noggin.


You can thank Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte for that shot.

Rene Magritte

When Norma Bates finally shows her face in PSYCHO the results are classic.


I know all this is zero help as far as finding the title of your own trauma goes, but I just wanted you to know that it’s a perfectly natural image (or lack of image) to be unsettled by, even without the giant pot of boiling water! Good luck, if anyone can help you track this traumafier down it’s our eagle-eyed readers! If anyone knows the name of the movie Taylor is talking about, please leave your answer in the comments or shoot us an e-mail at Stand warned though, sometimes it’s better not knowing, sometimes the person in question turns around and they look like that crazy hag from DON’T LOOK NOW!


Trauma-Scene :: The Brave Little Toaster’s Nightmare

On July 4th, 2008 one of my favorite authors Thomas M. Disch committed suicide. Widely known for his science fiction and poetry, Disch also wrote one of my personal favorite horror novels of all time, THE M.D. Although the subject of death came up a lot in his work, in my opinion, he was capable of being one of the most hilarious authors I have ever read. His much-anthologized short story “The Roaches” is a great example of that fact. The truth is Disch‘s creativity was so grand that there really was no lone genre that could contain it. When he took on children’s literature with THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER series, he not only created characters that many adults still keep in their hearts today, but he also put himself in the position to be recognized as a unintentional traumatizer as well. One scene from the animated film based on the book seemed especially created to set the jujubes flying. In it, our little toaster has an awful dream where he not only causes a fire but also is psychologically harassed by a hideous clown in firefighter gear that would give “Pennywise” pause. The dream continues with the lovable appliance hanging on for dear life above a bathtub before he awakens to understand none of it was real. THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER both as a movie and a book will remain a children’s classic that truly gets the wheels of the imagination spinning in a way that only Disch could achieve.  It’s sad that the author could not hang on as tight as that little toaster did, but who’s to say he’s not waking up from a bad dream himself right now. Come to think of it, that would be so very, very Disch.

Experience THE B.L.T.‘s bad dream HERE

Traumafessions :: Tenebrous Kate on Pet Sematary

UNK: After an exhausting day of playing croquet with Mr. Canacorn and Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly, Aunt John and I decided to hit the hay (we actually do sleep on a pile of hay). Suddenly we heard a loud banging on the Kindertrauma Castle door (My bad, I left the drawbridge down again!). I can’t tell you how surprised we were to find none other than THE Tenebrous Kate of the seriously spectacular blog LOVE TRAIN FOR THE TENEBROUS EMPIRE standing before us looking as smashing as usual. She informed us that her COFFIN DRAGSTER had run out of gas right outside of Kindertrauma territory and she wondered if we would be so kind as to supply her with a refill.

I was too star struck to respond but Aunt John, always the haggler, was quick on his feet belting out a Rankin & Bass inspired ditty that was mostly nonsense, but whose chorus contained the following proposal, “If you want some gas today…a TRAUMAFESSION a tank is the price you pay!” Kate was unmoved by the actual song, but visibly impressed by the plethora of clay-mation woodland creatures who sang back up and agreed to this fair exchange of goods. Plopping herself down on the best beanbag chair in the conservatory, she began to spin the tale of a young, pre-Tenebrous Kate who unhappily discovered that toddlers and eighteen wheelers don’t mix…


No one seems to believe me when I tell them that I was an incredibly fragile child. Perhaps this story will serve as proof positive that it was only time and harsh experience that built up the thick skin that now protects me from various and sundry cinematic grenades…

Picture, if you will, Wee Tenebrous Kate at her gal pal’s Halloween party in Seventh Grade (I was dressed as Alice Cooper–narrow gender definitions be DAMNED; I wanted to wear a top hat and greasepaint). The decision was made by the other party-going kids (all of whom were doubtless composed of far sterner stuff than I) that the film de la nuit would be “Pet Sematary.” To underscore: STEPHEN KING’s PET SEMATARY. I was quaking in my tiny-yet-undoubtedly-fabulous boots, let me tell you—STEPHEN KING books were only to be approached by daring souls, inured to the ordeal of blood and guts. I’d been exposed to the Universal horror films since I was a tot (Tenebrous Dad does a most impressive on e-man impersonation of the Van Helsing-Dracula confrontation from the Tod Browning film) and I looked forward to “Disney’s Halloween Treat” on teevee every year, but I had a notoriously delicate constitution with regards to all matters gory. I steeled myself as the lights dimmed and the VHS was popped into the player…

Needless to say, when that semi comes barreling down and smooshes li’l Gage right on through to the other side, it was more than I could take. I started sobbing and ran out of the room—I was placed in a separate room with the one other girl whose parents didn’t allow her to watch R-rated movies (at least SHE had the excuse of having lame parents). To this day, the very mention of PET SEMATARY brings tear-flavored memories of my pre-teen shame. One might make a compelling argument that the reason I’m willing to hurl myself repeatedly at über-gruesome movies is to fully banish the laughter of my classmates from my mind.

My pain–it makes for good comedy sometimes!

UNK: After T.K.’s tale concluded, we made good on our end of the bargain. With her tank full of petrol, our Kate sped away with promises of returning again. I thought it ironic that somebody whose TRAUMAFESSION concerns vehicular disaster should drive so recklessly across Aunt John’s prize winning Venus Flytrap patch and straight through a recently mended fence at approximately 200 miles an hour, but that’s our Kate, and we wouldn’t have her any other way! We don’t even mind that we found most of the Baklava Aunt John served her politely hidden in one of our best napkins only partially chewed, we just want her to visit again and soon! Trust me, after spending a day with the P.D.A. twins, Mr. Canacorn and Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly, that Kate was quite a burst of fresh air!

Traumafessions :: Reader Emily W. On Magic

When I was around four or five years old I watched a movie called MAGIC starring ANTHONY HOPKINS. The plot, as I remember it, involves HOPKINS giving in to the will of his evil ventriloquist dummy after which murder and mayhem ensue. The visuals alone are enough to, even now, make me panic. The dark seventies era cinematography coupled with the hideously creepy dummy have warped me for life. I have nightmares of a dummy, dressed in his little tuxedo, walking around the house of his own volition ready to overpower me. Sometimes he is armed with a knife. Even while typing this letter, my heart rate has increased. Of course, once my older brothers discovered my irrational fear, they used it against me as much as they could. I can remember my older brother holding a ventriloquist dummy while chasing me around the house as I screamed and cried. Recently, when the movie DEAD SILENCE (about a woman and her creepy dolls) was released, I had to change the channel every time the commercial appeared on T.V. My psyche will never be the same.

UNK SEZ: Emily you are not alone in your distaste for ventriloquist dummies, many folks seem to share your point of view. For a quick overview of the cinematic history of these little wooden terrors, I suggest you check out the wonderfully named blog THE UNHEIMLICH. On the surface these tales seem akin to the killer doll sub-genre, but they actually have a consistent psychological subtext all their own. Often the ventriloquist dummy is used to represent the dark side of their master’s nature, a shadow identity bent on gaining absolute control. Coincidentally, I recently came across just such a tale in the unlikeliest of places, in an episode of FANTASY ISLAND! The one and only ANNETTE FUNICELLO played the ventriloquist “Maryanne” whose meek personality begins to get overtaken by that of her brassy MAE WEST-talking, moxie-filled puppet named “Valerie” (I swear to God, I’m NOT making this up!). Bizarrely, Mr. Roarke’s solution is to turn the doll into a real person and let the two cat-fight it out. After some crazy strobe light effects that include ANNETTE shooting lasers out of her eyes, the dummy turns into none other than the most beautiful woman in the galaxy, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA‘s MAREN JENSON, strangely clad in top hat and pantless tuxedo. Now alive, Val point blank informs Roarke that she means to kill Maryanne the first chance she gets. On evil Val’s actual to-do-list, murdering Maryanne comes AFTER screwing Maryanne’s boyfriend and humiliating her in front of a room full of swirling, laughing phantom faces like the kind found at the beginning of NIGHT GALLERY. Luckily, sweet Maryanne gets the upper-hand before “De plane!, de plane!” comes back to pick her up. I can’t say the show was all that scary, but last night I made a vow to myself that Mr. Roarke must be honored as an Official Traumatizer in the near future. That guy is nuts!!!!!! Plus you all DO realize he’s got some serious magical powers, right?

Special thanks to the second loveliest woman in the galaxy, Candace Vivian for taking this photo right off the T.V.!!! Candace is also a big fan of FANTASY ISLAND, but her favorite episode involves a shirtless JOHN SAXON and a conniving mermaid!

Cool dummy pix swiped from HERE

In the “and you thought MADAME was scary” department:

Children Of The Corn 4: The Gathering

As a horror franchise CHILDREN OF THE CORN hit the ground stumbling. Even though the first film was a financial success, and a frequently admitted traumitizer, it didn’t exactly wow critics or fans of STEPHEN KING‘s short story. Its follow up took nearly a decade to reach the screen, an eternity in the world of sequels and was received with a similar level of initial excitement followed by apathetic shoulder shrugging. The mid-nineties found Dimension films steering the plow and a new straight-to-DVD installment was delivered to video shelves on a nearly yearly basis. Considering the series’ humble origins, the fact that these films were even remotely watchable would be a badge of honor in my book. I have to admit to having a soft spot for some of these low budget cash-ins; case in point, CHILDREN OF THE CORN 4: THE GATHERING which can be viewed as a stand alone film or as an offshoot of the saga. Dropped is the big bad “He who walks behind the rows” (a scene that mentions the notorious “He” was apparently edited out) but c’mon, you still got killer kids, a creepy preacher tot and loads of corn, so I say close enough. This installment does a pretty good job of creating likable characters and workable scare scenarios, and I give it additional props for providing some old school gore to boot. As far as heroines go, you’re not going to do much better then a pre-fame NAOMI WATTS as Grace Roads, a med student who returns home to look after her mother who is having a hard time in the not going crazy department. The fact that the agoraphobic, nightmare-haunted mother is played by the one and only KAREN BLACK doesn’t hurt one bit either. Sure, you’re sort of going through the motions with some of this but, hey, when those motions include flying scythes and hypodermic needles I don’t complain. One scene that involves two elderly women explaining the origins of the evil preacher kid is genuinely unsettling. Filmed in near candle light, the crusty ladies’ faces disappear into blackness as they regale their tale in witchy tones and I don’t know what to tell ya, but it works for me. We may not be talking unheralded classic here, but I was surprised by how wrapped up I got in this simple but entertaining killer-kid flick. I say grab a couch and give it a whirl, like a good made-for-television flick or a campfire ghost story, it doesn’t waste time babbling about non essentials or trying to reinvent the wheel. It might not be NAOMI WATTS‘ finest hour and twenty-three minutes, but I’ll take it over THE RING 2 any day of the week.

  • The murder of the drunk in the barn, an early sign that the film is willing to go further than you think
  • I have to admit there are too many false nightmare scares in this movie, but the one that involves a flash of the killer kid walking in on some kind of crazy stilt legs is all sorts of startling
  • The Doctor’s demise by the demonic twins
  • The bloody scythe coming out of the floor
  • The two old broads and their old-timey photo that cried blood are creepy as hell…

Kinder-News :: God Continues Eternity-Long Killing Spree…

We admit it, when we’re not watching slasher movies we can usually be found watching sitcoms like THE GOLDEN GIRLS, a rare show that’s as funny today as it was when it aired. One of the main reasons for its success was ESTELLE GETTY an unusual talent that brightened many a life. We honor her passing the only way we know how…with questionable taste.

Traumafessions :: Reader Tracy V. on The Amityville Horror Book Cover

It's 1979, and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR has just hit the theaters.  Being nine year olds, none of us are allowed to see it, but that doesn't keep us from endlessly discussing Satan-possessed houses.  One of my classmates is reading the paperback (strange parental logic---you can't see the movie, but you can read the book?).  The cover has the house all in red in one corner, the H points down into a devil's tail, and the kicker is "A TRUE STORY."  We're all sure our houses were possessed, and one of my friends insists that the eyes of Bo and Luke Duke on the DUKES OF HAZZARD poster in her room GLOW AT NIGHT!!
UNK SEZ: Dear Tracy, I read THE AMITYVILLE HORROR book when I was about 13 and all I can say is that it scared the living crap out of me. At that time I took the whole "true story" claim to be unquestionable. How could they put that on the cover if it wasn't true? As an adult I have come to the conclusion that even if the tales are false it does not matter. The fact that an entire family got murdered in their sleep there is scary enough and I don't care what anyone says, there is something terribly wrong with that house! All you gotta have is a pair of eyes to see that! I mean would you ever spend the night in a room that looks like this:
How about this room? Would you even enter a room with a giant plush ladybug staring at you like that?
Here's a painting of two of the DeFeo brothers. If you entered a home that had that painting on the wall wouldn't you politely inform the occupants that they were bat shit crazy and then exit immediately?
Any dwelling that could consistently inspire its inhabitants to decorate in such a fashion is quite simply EVIL. CASE CLOSED!
As far as that Duke boys poster with glowing eyes goes, that's not hard for me to imagine either. Any television show that could in anyway be even remotely responsible for the products shown below is not kosher in my book. Hazzard County... Amityville... abandon hope all ye who enter these damned locales!
Speaking of glowing eyes, this photo was allegedly taken in the Amityville house AFTER all the shit went down when nobody was in the house...It looks just like one of those DeFeo kids don't it? I don't know if it's real, but I do know that glowing eyeballs on posters or on ghost kids is nature's little way of saying make like a banana and split! Worse still, you can see by the framed lion drawing to the right that the repulsive decorating curse indeed lives on!

Other glowing eyes you should be scared of:

Blake from THE FOG...


The guy in the FEAR NO EVIL POSTER and "Grouch" the cat...

And last, but not least, THE CURE!

Traumafessions :: Reader Nat on the VHS Cover of Fright Night

The cover of the VHS for the movie FRIGHT NIGHT still sticks in my brain to this day as one of the scariest things ever to have existed ever. I’ve always been a horror movie fan, even as a little kid, and whenever we went to go rent movies, that aisle was always my first destination. But for some reason, the cover of FRIGHT NIGHT would stick out like this unwatchable terror: that swirling, foreboding cloud forming into a demonic face above a suburban house. I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, where we had like 5 storms a year, and the storms we did have were usually intense. So every time the sky would get dark and clouds would gather, the image of that ethereal monster face forming over my house was literally enough to send me running home in abject panic, no matter where I was or what I was doing. Needless to say, when I finally watched the movie as an adult, I was disappointed.

UNK SEZ: I remember the first time I saw that poster art for FRIGHT NIGHT on the soundtrack in a record shop. I knew I had to see that movie A.S.A.P. For some reason they eventually changed the VHS art to just a lone picture of a vamp, a real step down. And although the U.K.’s release of the sequel sported a cool take on the same cloud-ghoul hovering over an apartment building, for some reason in the states we got the lesser sexy vamp in a white cover. Even the campaign for 1988’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 2 knew a good thing when it saw it. That scream-y face cloud is either an homage or a direct rip off (maybe the same artist?) In any case, it rocks it just as hard.

If you think about it though, using overpowering skies to establish a mood of bigger forces at play and man’s relative puny nature is nothing new. Just look at what these two kooky weirdo artists did…

UPDATE: Yikes! Here are some “real-life” scary cloud faces!!!

NOTE: Besides being an excellent trauma-confesser (remember Maneater?) Nat is a veritable renaissance man. If you would like to hire, stalk or oggle him in his natural habitat he can be located HERE.

Traumafessions :: Reader SBD on Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

I’m not officially a “Trekker” but I grew up with and enjoyed the original STAR TREK series and have been a science fiction fan since I’ve known how to read.  So, when I was in junior high and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE came I was definitely hot to see it – it was right on the crest of the wave of spectacular sci-fi movies spawned by STAR WARS and promised to be a much needed updating of the franchise to give it the visual grandeur the characters and stories always deserved.

So, I plop myself down in the theater and the first few minutes are as promised: the visuals are great, the Enterprise has received a refit making it arguably the most beautiful starship in cinema history, and all the characters are back looking great and ready for action.  However, no sooner does Kirk arrive on board the Enterprise, a console blows up in the transporter room and two new crew members die during transport.  Now, anyone who’s watched the show knows that death is nothing new to STAR TREK; Red Shirts go down like handfuls of popcorn throughout the series and in some episodes, whole planets get snuffed. But usually the on-screen deaths are quick and easy – “Ensign So-and-So” goes out in a flare of pretty green phaser light or “Yeoman Bazzfazz” gets poison plant darts in the chest or steps on an exploding rock.


The unfortunate crew are turned into living Georges Braque paintings and they are apparently conscious the whole time because while Kirk and others are trying to save them they are *writhing* around in the transporter beam and SCREECHING LIKE BANSHEES WITH THEIR SACKS CAUGHT IN A THREE-PHASE SOCKET!! Grape-flavored Christ on a stick!  It’s a good thing the rest of the movie moved along in such a sedate fashion because it took almost two hours for my heart rate to get back to normal after that.  Then it took a couple days to be able to get through the day without imagining what it would be like to have my eye socket displaced by my anus.  Sweet merciful Buddha, what a way to kick off a return to the world of STAR TREK!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

UNK SEZ: SBD, one of the great things about that scene is that it relies on the viewer’s imagination to supply the grotesque results of the teleportation blunder. When you consider that STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE was directed by ROBERT WISE who proved himself a virtuoso in the art of cinematic suggestion and subtle audience manipulation with 1963’s THE HAUNTING it’s no surprise. Certainly the mind does reel at what the end result of having all your molecules scrambled up would actually be. WISE must have rightfully surmised that showing such a thing would turn off most viewers… but I guess he did not account for imaginations as strong as yours! (Really, SBD, an anus in your eye socket? Everything would look like crap!)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture