Name That Trauma :: Reader Rob C. on a Fried Chicken Fiasco

Been wracking my brain about this one and my search engine skills are apparently lacking. I believe it’s a late sixties or seventies era supernatural horror and it really freaked me out as a kid. All I remember is this: a bunch of teenagers go on a picnic (for some reason I remember they ate fried chicken) and naturally the weird stuff starts happening. At one point they see some kind of castle in the distance that vanishes and fight a giant bipedal monster in a cave. In the end one of them ends up committed and screaming about demons.

What I remember scaring me the most was, like the kids, I had no understanding of what was happening to them, other than they were all doomed. It seemed like they were fighting the devil and I knew that the devil’s pretty good at not losing to people. That’s about it. It’s not much to go on but if anyone remembers my trauma I’d appreciate it.

Sorry. Forgot to mention that this was a movie. Additionally, a search for “supernatural horror seventies kids picnic vanishing castle monster devil” mostly comes up with SCOOBY DOO episodes – in case anyone’s wondering. I need help!

Thanks! Great site!

UNK SEZ: Rob, I knew exactly what movie you were speaking of as soon as you said “fried chicken picnic”, it’s 1970’s EQUINOX a.k.a THE BEAST! That fried chicken picnic has always stuck in my head too which is kind of strange when you consider all the crazy stuff that happens in EQUINOX, like this…

And this…

And this…


Aunt John’s Ghostly Guide to Basic Cable


Much to the consternation of your Unkle Lanicfer, your dear old Aunt John thinks the perfect recipe for some good T.V. watching (and by good T.V., I do mean basic cable) involves reality or reenactment-based programming with a supernatural twist. Admittedly, my love for this genre is deeply tied to my childhood fixation on IN SEARCH OF, hosted by LEONARD NIMOY. How great was that show? Each week presented a stock-footage heavy snapshot of hot topics I felt strongly about: ghosts, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Stonehenge, etc.

Although the television landscape has evolved, or devolved depending upon your viewpoint, over the past (cough) thirty years (sadly, it’s been that long since NIMOY went IN SEARCH OF anything I care about), reality shows (thanks REAL WORLD!) and reenactment programming (UNSOLVED MYSTERIES anyone?) eventually got together in some drunken pitch meeting and birthed a supernatural sub-genre I just can’t seem to get enough of.

In short order, I am fanatical for Discovery Channel’s A HAUNTING. It has a title sequence not unlike TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, and the myopic casting choices are always hysterical in that the actors are always exponentially much sexier than the real folks they are portraying. I also have a slight schoolgirl crush on A&E’s PARANORMAL STATE. I could care less that Ryan and the other acne afflicted young adults of the Penn State Paranormal Research Society have been in college for what seems forever, as long as they continue to consult with teddy bear medium extraordinaire CHIP COFFEY, I will keep tuning in, unless of course, it airs opposite CHIP’s side gig PSYCHIC KIDS: CHILDREN OF THE PARANORMAL. I am a COFFEY addict, what can I say?

This is not to say that I have embraced all of the apparition appointment television offerings. I sort of dug SYFY’s GHOST HUNTERS when it debuted, solely because co-hosts JASON and GRANT went to great lengths to remind us that they were meager plumbers by day and ghost busters on the weekend. Now they’ve gotten all fancy schmancy with not one but two spin-offs (GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL and the insufferable GHOST HUNTERS ACADEMY), and quite frankly, I’d rather have them come check out my pipes than look for a poltergeist in my pantry.

Whereas I would let the GHOST HUNTERS into my bathroom, I would not the frat-tastic troika of the TRAVEL CHANNEL’s GHOST ADVENTURES near my septic tank, unless the lid was off and I could push them into it. Put simply, they are the three biggest pieces of shit I have ever lost a half-hour or so of my life to.

Recently, ANIMAL PLANET has gotten on the spooky short bus with the unoriginally titled THE HAUNTED. Despite its suck-ass title, it’s pretty enjoyable fare. Each episode centers on either pets haunted by ghosts or people haunted by animal spirits, and I gotta tell you, that episode about the lady who opened the candle shoppe in the Poconos in a rustic house which turned out to be the former residence of some late doctor who experimented on monkeys in his basement while looking for the cure for yellow fever and now her dream boutique was haunted by said monkey ghosts made for some pretty compelling television watching.

Also, TLC dipped its big toe into the dead pool with the misleadingly titled GHOST INTERVENTION. Seriously, I was hoping they finally found a co-starring vehicle for CHIP COFFEY and INTERVENTION’s CANDY FINNEGAN, but alas, this ain’t that. Picture three new age ladies, one of which who only wears sarongs, telling people who knew that their houses were haunted that their houses are indeed haunted, and you get the very boring, sarong wearing picture.

That said, based on my expert knowledge of basic cable, it is just a matter of time before, say, THE FOOD NETWORK, BRAVO, and MTV gets in on the act and follows suit with similarly themed programming. If your Aunt John was in charge of a basic cable network, here are some shows I would like to see produced:

The semi-inebriated seeming FOOD NETWORK hostess who always does a semi-half-assed job with passing off store bought items as her own culinary creations shares her secrets for how to add a little prepackaged pizzazz to your next undead dinner party.

BRAVO’s bottle-blonde ball buster has no time for sloppy salons, and she has even less patience for mismanaged mausoleums. Watch what happens! Enough said.

Tired of fashion victims not following their rules, TLC style experts CLINTON KELLEY and STACY LONDON take their hen party to the other side and teach challenged spirits the simple steps for turning a routine haunting into a full-blown possession with panache.

Your Aunt John knows better than to tamper with a cash cow, and this PAULA DEEN vehicle follows the same blueprint as her other show, the primary difference is that all of her guest stars on this one die on camera from cardiac arrest brought on by butter.

Your Aunt John is also a firm believer of striking while the flat iron is hot, and the pre-production backlash brewing from the Garden State League of Italian-Americans Afflicted with Disposaphobia should be enough to make this a number one hit with the coveted tween demographic.

Traumafessions :: Reader Ballpeen on the BBC’s “A Ghost Story for Christmas”


It’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the year…. There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glory of Christmases long, long agooooo….

I’ve never understood the “scary ghost story + Christmas” bit in that song… til I read about the BBC’s series, “A Ghost Story for Christmas” (1971-78), which I ran across while researching the beloved Krampus for a performance (but that’s another story).

There’s not much to find by randomly searching youtube (or the hundred-odd, dependably confusing and US-incompatible BBC sites, for that matter)… unless you have the key. I found what looks to be a fan site, replete with all 8 episodes’ info. So enjoy searching the youtube for these creepy olde stories! (Also, check BBC Four and BBC Radio 7 for ghostly video and readings, respectively, though it seems like you’ll have to hand-search the latter for the episodes).

Merry Scary!


AUNT JOHN SEZ: Ballpeen, you weren’t kidding when you said the clips were hard to find. Here’s a clip from THE ICE HOUSE, but out of context it’s neither Christmas-y nor scary. So instead, let’s gather round and listen to this yuletide yarn from The Fall‘s MARK E. SMITH.

A Kindertrauma Look Back At 2009!



My lifelong dream of seeing 1981’s MY BLOODY VALENTINE in its uncut form came true thanks to LIONSGATE, ANCHOR BAY gave fans the gift of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME complete with its original score, and SCORPION ENTERTAINMENT dusted off the criminally overlooked slasher SILENT SCREAM and decorated it with a plethora of worthy extras. No doubt about it, the DVD gods were generous in 2009.


Hey, at least buy my brain dinner before you have your way with it like that! The Spanish language [REC] scorched retinas with truly horrific imagery while dispensing mounting cinema verite style hysteria, EDEN LAKE supplied the most depressing ending known to man, and MARTYRS was a hand grenade aimed at your very soul. I thought I had seen everything but I’m still searching for the socks these three blew off my feet.


I can’t stop watching or singing the praises of Norway’s COLD PREY, the U.K.’s THE CHILDREN effortlessly breathed new life into our favorite pet sub-genre, and SPLINTER conjured up memories of vintage JOHN CARPENTER. Movie theaters better step up their game if they want us shut-ins to walk away from the boob tube.


OFFSPRING squandered decent source material and made it almost laughable, yet WRONG TURN 3 screwed the pooch in just such a way that the poor pup is still having trouble walking straight. Sorry WRONG TURN 3, you win at being the biggest loser.


TRICK ‘R TREAT proved that some times positive hype can be pinpoint accurate. Let’s hear it for an undebatable instant classic that made many of the theatrically released movies released this year look paler than the Pillsbury Doughboy in comparison.


TRUE BLOOD’s bite may have been a bit uneven in its second season but who cares when MICHELLE FORBES is shaking it on screen? Critics and audiences may have turned their noses up at HARPER’S ISLAND but anyone smart enough to stick around for the finale knows that the slasher as miniseries concept was an innovation that really worked. Man, I wish there was a second season to look forward to!

On the other side of the spectrum lies the SYFY channels CHILDREN OF THE CORN retelling. The 1984 version left nowhere to go but up, yet somehow this redundant redo found a way to burrow itself deep into the soil.



SORORITY ROW’s final reveal sucked like a dirt devil but the rest of it played like a flashy, slashy tribute with surprisingly decent kills. JENNIFER’S BODY, when it wasn’t talking your ear off with annoying dialogue, delivered an engrossing bird’s eye view of a once symbiotic relationship on the brink of implosion. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT out maneuvered its dated source material left AND right and is it wrong to kind of sort of love its crazy out of place microwave epilogue?


Only a pick in the mud could deny the in-your-face charms of seeing Harry Warden resurrected in MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL rewound VHS nostalgia while reminding us all how much we missed not only MARY WORONOV but (who knew?) THE FIXX, and Norway’s DEAD SNOW pelted us with a new rendition of the long thought dead Nazi zombie film. Screw the future, what has it ever done for us? The past is where it’s at!


CORALINE (in 3-D or otherwise) spun a dark fairy tale that warned of the results of selling your soul for the false idea of perfection. Think of it as a sort of kiddie version of THE STEPFORD WIVES and an inevitable starter kit for future goths. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE confronted childhood feelings of social disconnect and populated its fantasy world with monsters battling a lifetime’s worth of neurosis. Both films steadfastly refused to dumb down their vision based on their assumed target audience while loudly preaching that most timeless of kid flick mantras, “There’s no place like home.”


These aren’t your granny’s zombie films! PONTYPOOL married GEORGE ROMERO and ERIC BOGOSIAN with H.G. WELLS serving as justice of the peace. Communication and language itself stood accused of being responsible for the modern brain dead mob. Extra tip of the hat for supplying the year’s best tagline with “Shut up or die.” DEADGIRL’s (s)icky premise spoke volumes about the darkest side of human sexuality with its “nothing to lose” outsiders discovering an even more injured creature than themselves to objectify and exploit. The living dead have been begging for brains for decades, in 2009 they got them!


Try as I might, I had a difficult time falling under the spell of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY; the film that others claimed kept them awake at night put me right to sleep. I dug GRACE’s early nods to ROMAN POLANSKI but I thought the second half suffered from the cinematic equivalent to S.I.D.S. Don’t go be me though kids, ROB ZOMBIE’s critically burned at the stake HALLOWEEN 2, which tenaciously insisted on looking at the slasher sequel through grandiose art house goggles, left me smiling like a doped up jack-o-lantern.


Say what you will about ROB ZOMBIE‘s sophomore venture into Haddonfield, Illinois, for better or for worse, at least he remembered to bring along all of the franchise’s major players. 2009’s FRIDAY THE 13TH made the critical error of throwing momma from the train right after the opening credits! The result? A needlessly heartless re-slash!


I’ve noticed that THE UNBORN sunk to the bottom of many a year-end list for 2009 and I could not agree more. Usually I pride myself on being able to find at least one redeemable quality in a movie, but this aptly titled abomination resisted all such efforts. Some claim it was written by DAVID S. GOYER, the guy responsible for BATMAN BEGINS (and somewhat more impressively DEMONIC TOYS), I’m not sure if “written” is the right word… “excreted” perhaps?


Horror legend SAM RAIMI proved that mainstream success hasn’t made him such a big-shot that he can’t get his hands dirty (or covered in vomit) with the classic upon arrival DRAG ME TO HELL. The story may have been D.C. comic simplistic but thanks to SAM’s virtuoso touch, a refreshingly “thems the brakes” ending and a scene stealing goat, I honestly never even noticed it was PG-13. SAM, you’ve been wasting yourself on guys in tights!


Sorry MUMMY III: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, but we’re having a hard time swallowing a British accented MARIA BELLO. On the other hand, we had no problem at all believing that we could catch something contagious from PIPER “Jersey” PIRABO in CARRIERS. Pipe down and don’t bellow MARIA, PIPER wins by a landslide!


How could any movie be more kinder-tastic than ORPHAN? Think about it, tykes in trouble, a kid who kills and no matter how hard it tried to be taken seriously it just always ended up reeking of campy trash.

Look in the mirror ORPHAN, you’re Kindertrauma’s sister from another mister! While we’re on the subject let’s hand out an official traumatot award to ISABELLE FUHRAM for her beyond awesome Natasha Fatale “Hello Dollink” delivery and astonishing ability to keep a straight face while interacting with PETER SARSGAARD.


O.K., maybe ZOMBIELAND wasn’t the scariest film of the year but it was funny, it was thrilling and it miraculously had characters that you actually wanted to spend time with rather than strangle. Plus you know a movie’s heart is in the right pace when it simultaneously damns clowns AND salutes man’s greatest creation, the Twinkie. You’d simply have to be a zombie yourself not to love it.

Official Traumatizer :: Vincent Price

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Hi kids, your Unk and I have to shuffle off to Saskatchewan for a belated Boxing Day barbecue. Despite the short notice, we managed to rope in REDBOY for a third babysitting engagement. So everyone, please be on your best behavior for REDBOY, and be sure to check out all of the great yuletide tuneage he has been featuring on BLUES FOR THE REDBOY.

blues for the redboy

“I don’t play monsters. I play men besieged by fate and out for revenge”


Now, when I say I love VINCENT PRICE, I mean I love VINCENT PRICE in the strictly platonic/borderline obsessive way you love VINCENT PRICE; that is to say, I think of him as an artist whose contribution elevates otherwise tasteless fare with a modicum of respectability; not to mention a dry, malevolent, Prospero-like wit (MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is both PRICE an CORMAN’s masterwork).

That is, for all intents and purposes, an accurate description, no? He did manage to class up the MUPPETS for Christ’s sake.

Someone had to; Lord knows it wasn’t gonna be JOHN DENVER.

Then there are PRICE’s cultural contributions, of which they are many. There is his vast private art collection and affordable signature line of paintings marketed through Sears; his endowment of priceless (pun firmly intended) works to the East L.A. College in an effort to establish California’s first and only teaching art collection.

Talk about contributions…have you ever even listened to the intro to ‘Black Widow’ off of ALICE COOPER’s ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ album?

No? Seriously? Travesty! Were talking several years before Thriller, man…Thriller!

Most people don’t even know that PRICE is the first person to trip-face on LSD in a major studio film (Hint: The Walls! The Walls!). Even LUGOSI never managed that and he was a morphine addict.

But, you see, that’s the essence of VINCENT PRICE: He’s like the thespian equivalent of a throw pillow or a giant ceramic statue of a Great Dane…he classes up the joint, but that’s not to say PRICE can’t be campy.

My childhood introduction to PRICE was such; His Mephistophelean goatee jutting out of my T.V. screen in 3D; the multicolored glasses generously donated by my local 7-11 for their WPIX broadcast of THE MAD MAGICIAN (that saw blade came right out of the f%$kin’ screen, man!).

I say introduction for lack of a better word. I know I was aware of PRICE in the larger sense that I understood the peculiar service he served on the seventies variety circuit: a creepy ringer called in to sub (more often than not, when LON CHANEY JR. was too drunk,) as some melodramatic “ham-pire”, chewing the scenery like the alabaster curves of a virgin’s nubile young neck, but I’ll get to PRICE’s turn as Dracula in a moment…

Having come into this world, as I did, at the tail end of flairs and plaids, yet well before neon and shoulder-pads leveled the fashionable playing field, my most lingering memories of PRICE are perhaps his ‘70s / ‘80s input, understood by many to be the twilight of his acting career; PRICE’s regular appearances on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES being any indication.

Man, that show sure was the kiss of death for ones acting career; just ask PAUL LYNDE (wait, you can’t; he OD’d on amyl nitrate in the company of a male prostitute. Oh well…)

Anyway, PRICE had been making his rent for some time staring in a series of low budget features; the most memorable, at least to my impressionable young mind, being the made-for-T.V. ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT SCARY and the equally entertaining, if not overly melodramatic HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS.

I suppose one could further count PRICE’s roll as spokesperson for the Milton Bradley’s Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture kit’ -a feather in any aspiring actors cap, to be sure- but that would be showing my age, being about half way to a shrunken head myself.

ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT SCARY premiered on basic CBS in the 1979, having been developed for T.V. in the midst of the ‘70s anthology film craze (TRILOGY OF TERROR, anyone?). SCARY features three tales adapted from American folklore and young-adult novels of it’s time, of which PRICE had been commissioned to slather his ghoulish charm on deliciously thick as the narrator and host of each segment.

The first tale, told from the fireside glow of PRICE’s Victorian library, is based the young adult novel ‘This Ghost Belongs to Me’ by Richard Peck (1975). ‘Ghost’ concerns a young boy and the disembodied tenant living in his barn; a specter who has a thing for extremely vague prophecy.

Having read the book, let me assure you that the production company spared every expense in this lame ghost’s production, though to be fair, it is rather hard to establish any useful narrative in less than ten minutes. However, the video editing machine employed must have been working overtime to crank this disappointing segment out cause I seen better screen-wipes on New Wave Theatre reruns.

Of the three tales, ‘Ghost’ should cross over, if not be passed over. Lucky for us, it is the exception to the rule.

The second tale is a brief (one might say ’Fat Free’) retelling of Washington Irving’s famous American Folk tale ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’ This is where the film hits its stride.

Being no stranger to the headless ghost angle, I had previously put the paces on a video copy of Disney’s telling from the ‘50s narrated/crooned by BING CROSBY, not to mention suffering through a seventies version staring JEFF GOLDBLOOM and DICK BUTKUS in the titular roles. But there was something inherent to PRICE’s version which freaked me the hell out where those other versions seemed tame…now what was it… Oh, I know! Perhaps it was the Horseman’s severed HUMAN head being thrown at the T.V., laughing maniacally as it strafes towards ole’ Icabod (RENE AURBERJONOIS).

Sure. It seems corny now, but whereas the innocuous pumpkin proved the defacto stand-in for a freshly lopped top where families were concerned, this rotten, meth-mouthed head w/ it’s tri-cornered hat, hollow eyes and tussled hair really got to me…though not as much as the dead witch screaming to life in PRICE’s third tale.

‘The House w/ a Clock in It’s Walls’ (1973) is adapted from the book of the same name by celebrate children’s author John Belairs. ‘Clock’ deals w/ young Lewis Barnevelt and his strange Uncle Jonathan (played by exploitation film veteran SEVERN DARDEN), a mysterious man who spends his nights listening to the ticking within the walls of his house in order to find a cursed clock (assembled by the home’s previous owner; a powerful warlock named Isaac Izzard) designed to strike and bring about doomsday. That generally wouldn’t be a problem (Doomsday, quite unlike Christmas, being a ways off), but when Lewis accidentally uses black magic to summon the dead wife of the clock’s inventor, Selena Izzard, Lewis and uncle Jonathan must race against time (again, pun firmly intended) to stop Mrs. Izzard from carrying out her husband’s evil plan.

Having been a huge fan of Belair’s Lewis Barnevelt series, particularly the first editions illustrated by Edward Gorey, I was sufficiently creeped out as a child seeing Mrs. Izzard use the ‘Hand of Glory’ (an alchemical charm derived from a hanged man’s hand and the rended fat of a black cat) to paralyze the Barnavelts while she decides the most horrible way to dispatch them. Equally unsettling is the scene in the graveyard where Lewis and his friend Tarby (whom Lewis is trying to impress) perform the resurrection spell as outlined in Uncle Jonathan’s Grimoire; the Ghost of Mrs. Izzard bursting out of her Mausoleum from behind them with a flash of thunder and lightening.

I won’t ruin the ending of this last story, sufficed to say that once PRICE has finished spinning his final yarn in this trifecta of tales, he very leisurely slips on his cape, bids the view adieu and takes to the skies as the literary icon Dracula, tying the whole affair together with a nod to Bram Stoker’s groundbreaking novel.

PRICE’s absence would not be for long, however, as he soon would return to haunt my Saturday afternoons with one of his most offbeat, and as fate would have it, last motion picture roles, short of voiceover work, before his death in ’92.

THE HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS (1983) saw a lot of airplay in the early eighties, thanks in no small part to the USA cable network and their four-hour Commander USA’s Groovie Movies programming block on Saturday afternoons (I still have my membership card). Incidentally, Commander USA regularly aired another 1980’s PRICE vehicle, the subtly titled BLOODBATH AT THE HOUSE OF DEATH.

SHADOW’s was adapted from the 1913 book ‘Seven Keys to Baldpate’ (pronounced: Baldpator), later reworked into a popular stage play the same year. The plot deals with a wager between a writer (DESI ARNEZ JR.) and his agent, the latter who maintains that his charge could not write a novel of ‘Wuthering Heights’ proportions in under twenty-four hours. In order to accomplish this feat, the author procures the only known key to an abandoned country estate in England so he can write in solitude. Problem is, once settled in, the author is beset upon by several visitors, each more mysterious then the next and all with their own key to the estate; their purpose: to check up on their criminally insane little brother whom they very thoughtfully entombed alive in the house forty years prior.

Seems like a totally reasonable reaction, right?

SHADOWS is interesting on several fronts, as is evident by the casting. The film remains the first and only time VINCENT PRICE, CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, and JOHN CARADINE have all shared the screen together and, in an even more unfortunate turn of events, marks the last time both CHRISTOPHER LEE and PETER CUSHING would appear on screen as a pair, as was customary during their tenure at Hammer Studios.

SHADOWS, though slow moving, is incredibly atmospheric, bringing to mind the films of TOD BROWNING (OLD DARK HOUSE) and sharing more than a passing resemblance to Agatha Christies ‘And Then There Were None.’ However, just because the film is atmospheric, does not mean it does not have its share of gore. There are hangings, battle ax eviscerations, poison and the odd eye-bulging strangulation once the pawns are all in place.

In a particularly gristly scene, a wash basin filled with sulfuric acid manages to disintegrate the face of a beautiful boarder as she freshens up, dissolving the skin down to the very visible bone. My favorite scene, however, is the discovery of murderous brother Roderick’s empty cell, inhumanly clawed about the moldings, littered with the rotten corpses of recent victims and moldy, maggot-ridden children’s toys.

These scenes are still just as strong today, the film as a whole being rather graphic for it’s time (it was rated PG!).

As with any competent suspense story, there is a twist, or rather, several; but unlike M. NIGHT SHAMALAN’s hackney eyed self-aggrandizing plot contrivances (BRUCE WILLIS is dead; water kills aliens; etc…), these twists are genuinely strange and ultimately works for a film which prides itself on it’s offbeat casting and plot.

PRICE would go on to other appearances, mostly T.V. before his final and much deserved star turn in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, but for my money (and perhaps I am biased), nothing touches his later work; even though the scripts might not have been top notch, PRICE, again, was able to bring a touch of charm and malevolence to his roles that very few actors could nor would for fear of invoking that most dreaded professional misfortune: typecasting. But typecasting can be deceptive, for whereas it can turn a perfectly good actor into a second stringer, when under the right circumstances, it can turn a perfectly great actor into an icon.

I believe this is something PRICE struggled with, but ultimately embraced before his death; and lucky for us that he did so, as yet another generation was afforded the opportunity to enjoy the company of an actor whom ROGER CORMAN billed as a “Titan of Terror” and who of himself once remarked:

“I sometimes feel that I’m impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know this sounds sick, but I love it.”

We love it too, VINCENT. Thanks

The RedBoy.

Traumafessions :: Micha Michelle of *Baking With Medusa* on Fortress

Hello boys,

Just thought I’d relay this timely seasonal traumafession.

I had a bad patch of serious nightmares from 1980 to about 1988. It all started with JAWS and ended [practically overnight] with the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. For some reason TOBE HOOPER cured me of all evils, and now I have nothing but love for a good horror flick. Anyways, back in the dark days of scaredy-cat mania, I happened to see the film FORTRESS (1986). This is an Australian film based on a true story that went strait to cable in the U.S. I was about 11 years old. My mom was taping FORTRESS on VHS for my dad, ‘cause he was at work [back in the days before Tivo]. She told me not to watch it, that it would be scary. Of course I watched it anyway, I just couldn’t resist. I prolly should have left the room, but then I would have no traumafession to relay… so I suppose it eventually paid off.

My mom did her best to help me cope with my over active imagination. She always said, “When you get scared… just think of happy things like unicorns, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.” Once I saw FORTRESS though, the old tried + true happy thoughts technique was completely useless. After this movie, images of Santa where tainted by, loud abusive language, kidnapping, sawed off shot guns, decapitation and the ultimate trauma… skinny dipping with all your classmates in a desperate attempt to escape evil kidnappers dressed like Father Christmas and Dabby Duck [too much to explain there, your just gonna have to see it for yourself]. Santa is supposed to bring you presents, like that Hardy Boys record player you asked for, not shove a gun in your face, right???

I recently revisited this film, and I have to admit, it rocks. So glad I was able to enjoy it the second time around. This film must have made a huge impression on me, cause I remember just about every terrifying detail. Basically a teacher and her students are abducted by a pack of cartoon-masked kidnappers [including Father Christmas] from a remote school in Australia. This is one bad tempered Santa. I don’t wanna spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, so I will say no more plot wise. Just do yourself a favor and watch ‘till the very, very end. Not so great acting, the teacher is far to condescending and the kids are at times a bit too whiny, but a super fun movie just the same. Besides, the fat synthesizer score is awesome. So if you’re a collector of bad Santa flicks, kids in horror, or 1980’s synth movie scores, be sure to check this one out.

Just be warned that after seeing this, Santa will not longer be able to save you from your nightmares.

Happy holidays + take care,


AUNT JOHN SEZ: After slobbering uncontrollably over the spectacular assortment of screen shots Micha was kind enough to send over with her traumafession, it dawned on me that I vaguely recall catching FORTRESS on cable in the mid-eighties at the height of my RACHEL WARD phase (AGAINST ALL ODDS anyone?) Another thing that got me drooling is Micha’s Craft Corner, a.k.a. *BAKING WITH MEDUSA*. She is seriously crafty and, did I mention, amazing with screen captures. Here are some more stocking stuffers from FORTRESS: