Traumafessions :: Kinderpal Professor Von Whiskersen on the Sad Dog Bank

Most people who know me would agree that I prefer the company of animals to that of my own species. As a child, when other kids might have had imaginary friends, I had imaginary pets. A homeless person on the side of the road might be ignored or rationalized out of existence, but seeing a malnourished dog or cat will stick with me for the rest of the day. I’m pretty immune from news stories of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man (or rather, his humanity towards his fellow man), but stories of abused animals sicken me.

Anyway, when I was a child, there was a particular phenomenon that made me dread going up to the counter of most restaurants: The Crying Dog Animal Donation/Extortion Bank! If you’ve seen one of these, I’m sure you could instantly describe it, down to the smallest detail. You also understand why I’m writing about it. If you have NOT ever seen one of these calculated, inanimate manipulators, I’ll educate you.

The Crying Dog Animal Donation/Extortion Bank was a plastic piggy-bank type device about 10 to 12 inches tall. It’s form was that of some sort of yellowish hound dog, with long flowing ears, matched only by its long face. Its eyes welled with tears, with a single drop spilling onto it’s cheek. There was almost always an attached placcard or business card for some local animal shelter with the following poem (which has been etched into my mind for at least the last quarter century):

“I’m so hungry I could cry. If you don’t help me, I may die.”

No doubt early super-computers were used to optimize the heart-tugging at work here. I’m pretty sure that the RAND corporation had some of their excess post-Vietnam War analysts work up some 10 volume set detailing the exact means to squeeze the hearts of children right in their chests. Needless to say, I was highly susceptible to this sort of manipulation. I would usually deposit money if I had any or, for days after I’d regret not having any.

I don’t know if this is a Southern thing or just an ’80s thing. I don’t see them at restaurants as much anymore, which I am conflicted about. I like not getting depressed every time I go to the counter of A&W to pay for my Coney dogs, but I hate that a potential funding stream for homeless animals might be drying up.

If you missed out on this delightful cultural icon, don’t worry. The RAND folks are still hard at work in their cramped basement offices, cranking out pure sadness and pathos. Now they’ll beam it straight into your living room…and this time they’ve got SARAH McLACHLAN helping out.

Traumafessions :: Reader Phil on Punky Brewster

I couldn’t find this in your archives, so I decided to send it in. If you have it, well, I gotta get this out anyway.

PUNKY BREWSTER was my all time favorite show as a tyke. I developed my first unrequited crush on SOLEIL MOON FRYE, wrote her a fan letter, the whole nine yards. There was something so perfect about that show to elementary school-aged me. Perfect.

Until Season Two.

Season Two featured a very strange two-part episode called “The Perils of Punky.” In it, Punky, Cheri, Alan, the dog Brandon and Margeaux end up lost in a cave during a camping trip. They get told by an old Indian about a lost princess who was captured by an evil spirit and trapped in the cave. One by one as they explore the cave, they disappear. Only Punky is left. As she sits down on a rock, all hell breaks loose:

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was terrified. What had been up to that point a relatively benign episode of a beloved sitcom, turned into a whole bucket of nightmare fuel for weeks to come. I stopped trusting the television, especially my formerly favorite show.

At the end of the episode, Punky fights a demon (!) and rescues her friends, but I didn’t see that until the season was released on DVD. Years later.

Punky. I’ll never trust you again.

Watch “The Perils Of Punky” PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

Name That Trauma :: Reader Boothe5 on Tots Terrorized by Toys

Can you help me figure out a movie?

  • Old black and white large mansion
  • I think there are two children under 10 yrs old
  • Creepy doll looks at a boy in play room
  • Wood rocking horse
  • Big fireplace
  • Old lady in movie, I think she’s the caretaker or maid
  • I remember a large stair case
  • I think the toys are haunting the house or one particular doll is talking to the boy as I remember

UNK SEZ: Wow, I don’t think I know this one, but I hope somebody figures it out because I want to see it! If anybody out there in Kindertraumaland knows what movie this is, drop us a line (or leave a comment) A.S.A.P.!

Traumafessions :: Reader Ally G. on Thriller


I’m scared by all sorts of stuff. But the biggest scare-fest for me is Thriller, starring MICHAEL JACKSON. From the werewolf-type-thingy to the zombie that peeps into the camera right at the very end, it scares the holy crap out of me! Thanks for 16 years of trauma, Mr. JACKSON and Mr. LANDIS!

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Luckily for you Ally, the Gloved-One and/or his production company has forbidden the embedding of his seminal zombie video, so we can’t display the full visuals.

Unfortunately for you, we do have the power to embed the below LEGO and BOLLYWOOD versions. Ummm… enjoy?

Traumafessions :: Reader Ian on The Mod Squad

In THE MOD SQUAD episode “Twinkle Twinkle Little Starlet,” pretty little Julie Barnes is used as bait to catch someone who uses silk scarves to strangle blond girls who get to close to a talk show host. When Julie finds herself alone in the woods with the strangler she reaches into his vest pocket thinking it’s a hankie, instead she pulls out a scarf and sees it’s like the ones that the strangler used on the other girls. She is frozen in fear, and my heart was pounding feeling her fear too. I was between 8 and 11.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Ian for turning me on to this creepy and obviously very groovy episode of THE MOD SQUAD. I tracked down a very informative post on just this episode at a great site called MOON IN THE GUTTER,
you can check that out HERE!

Traumafessions :: Andrew G. of Scaresdale Manor on Famous Monsters Magazine

I used to literally run away crying and screaming when an older neighborhood kid would hold up the front cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine. BASIL GOGOS amazing detail and crazy color scheme apparently freaked me out. I am happy to say I think that’s what made me love horror movies and Halloween later on in life. I also met him in 2008 and bought his beautiful hardcover book with all those photos that made me cry.

UNK SEZ: Andrew, thanks for bringing up this exceptional artist. You can be sure that a couple of his works are hanging in the Kindertrauma Castle gallery (Not so much originals as tacked up back issues of FAMOUS MONSTERS MAGAZINE. Hey, we ain’t made of money!) All you kids out there should stop by Andrew’s home turf today and give it a look-see. It’s called SCARESDALE MANOR!

Traumafessions :: Reader Fox on Wizards

I’m amazed that you don’t have RALPH BAKSHI’s classic trauma WIZARDS on your site.


Oh, where to begin with WIZARDS? Someplace between a sweet faerie (dressed in a baby blue onesie, no less) named Sean getting blasted through the heart with a sniper rifle and the bad guy’s machine projecting one of Hitler’s speeches into the sky during a horrible bloody battle, this cartoon is supposed to have a message of non-violence.

It’s an all-out battle between technology and magic, with technology being the ultimate baddie. It takes place in Earth’s own future, after nuclear war has split society into good faeries and mutants. There are many up-close shots of creatures good and bad getting blown up complete with cartoon blood and guts. Loud gunshots, yelling and crying all set with Hitler bloviating in the background: it’s enough to give an adult nightmares and they showed it to us in grade school.

With BAKSHI‘s unique drawing style, the images of their war are burned into my memory. Ultimately, with the twist ending, it’s hard to say which side actually won the war.

Official Traumatot:: Reader Renee Nominates Veronica Cartwright

Dear Auntie and Uncle:

How about VERONICA CARTWRIGHT (As an official Traumatot)? As a kid she did THE BIRDS, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, ONE STEP BEYOND, and THE CHILDREN’S HOUR (which I found quite horrifying, despite it’s not being a horror film). As an adult she went on toALIEN, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (okay it sucked and it’s not horror but it has “witches” in the name and makes the list longer), and several unnerving appearances on THE X FILES.

Come on! Give her a chance!

Respectfully submitted,

Renee T.

Dear Renee, you are, as they say, preaching to the choir. VERONICA CARTWRIGHT is a favorite around here and we could not agree with you more. Besides the fine films you mentioned, she also popped up in CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH and the kinder-fave anthology film NIGHTMARES (VERONICA starred in the segment NIGHT OF THE RAT). She even got to parody ELLEN BURSTYN‘s EXORCIST character Chris MacNeil in SCARY MOVIE 2. Semi recently she took another jab at the problems with pod people in the mega-dud THE INVASION. VERONICA, regardless of the production, seems to just get better with age and we are happy to fulfill your request Renee and offer her full TRAUMATOT status. In fact, I don’t know why we never thought of it before. Find out more about VERONICA at her very own website HERE.

Dead of Night (1977)

I can’t lie to you kids. The first two stories in this DAN CURTIS-directed, RICHARD MATHESON-scripted horror anthology/potential series pilot are in my opinion, not so hot. They are well cast and serviceable enough, but your usually game Unkle found himself looking down at his non-existent watch on more occasions than he would prefer. The first tale involves a young ED BEGLEY, JR. traveling through time in an antique car (’nuff said) and the second involves PATRICK MACNEE (yikes! Count Iblis from the original BATTLESTAR GALACTIA!) and ANJANETTE COMER (from Kinder-fave THE BABY) in a rather routine vampire tale. Third times a charm though, because the last story entitled “Bobby” delivers more creeps than an OSMOND family obstetrician.

In “Bobby,” JOAN HACKET (HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN) is a grieving mother who is having trouble dealing with the recent drowning death of her young son (BURNT OFFERINGS’ chimney pancake LEE MONTGOMERY). Rather than going the Mrs. Voorhees route and hacking up individuals who are not even remotely responsible for the tragedy, JOAN decides to attack the problem at its source and reanimate her drowned kid via black magic. Take it from me, black magic can and will fix all of your problems BUT there is always some kind of tricky catch! Dealing with Satan is a lot like dealing with Colombia House.

You don’t have to be familiar with THE MONKEY’S PAW or even PET SEMATARY to know that Mom is in for a rude awakening when a soaked Bobby does indeed show up on her doorstep. Her gradual realization that Bobby is not quite as she remembers is akin to getting excited to watch LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and then realizing it is a “California” episode. CURTIS, who staged a parallel two character showdown in TRILOGY OF TERROR, knows which screws to tighten and when and the final moments in “Bobby” brand a similar lasting mental scar. My favorite bit involves a mocking, paranoia inspiring phone call from the never seen Dad. It’s a classic moment of all-consuming dread that really gets under your skin. As mediocre as DEAD OF NIGHT begins, this last tale more than makes up for it. “Bobby” is not only classic DAN CURTIS, it’s some serious classic Kindertrauma as well.

Curse of the Black Widow

CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW is considered by some to be a lesser work of director DAN CURTIS, but if you ask me even a lesser work by this guy is worth a look. CURSE introduces us to a familiar CURTIS protagonist, a somewhat down on his luck investigator who must work against a system that believes he is a lunatic for entertaining the idea that the solution to the problem at hand may be supernatural in origin.

In this case, a string of murders in L.A. by a femme fatale slowly begins to appear to be the work of a woman who has the ability to transform herself into a giant spider thanks to an Indian curse. As far fetched as the concept is CURTIS is able to ground at least the first half of the film in a gritty and groovy seventies reality before taking his shoes off and delivering a B-movie showdown with a papier-mâché arachnid. What separates CURSE from most of CURTIS‘ productions is the fact that it eventually reaches a knee-slapping, ridiculously camp crescendo but that’s also what makes it so much fun.

At a time when most television movies featured women being endlessly accosted in parking lots, it’s actually refreshing to find a mostly male victim roster here. (Of course centering the tale on a woman who is half spider and lingers around singles bars to catch her prey is hardly the height of feminism either). As dated as some of this happily is, CURSE still manages to come off as pretty progressive for showcasing an apparently gay mortician and a very butch girl Friday played to the hilt by ROZ KELLY. I may have said some less then flattering things about ROZ “Pinky Tuscadero” KELLY in the past, specifically in reference to her less than stellar performance on THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL. In fact, if I remember correctly, MR. CANACORN himself issued a fatwa against me in order to defend her dubious honor. Well, all I can say is that I am now deeply ashamed of myself because, in this movie, she frakin’ owns!

In fact, as much as CURSE definitely has a great dark CURTIS vibe throughout, I gotta say the entire cast is what makes it so special to me. It may not send you to bed freaked out of your mind because a spider lady might get you, but who can say no to these actors? ANTHONY FRANCIOSA of ARGENTO‘s TENEBRE is the more than a likable lead and he is surrounded by such greats and not-so-greats as VIC MORROW, DONNA MILLS, JUNE LOCKHART, JUNE ALLYSON, SID CEASER, MAX GAIL of BARNEY MILLER, and last, but certainly not least, the living legend and poster girl for fractured personalities everywhere, someone who should never be shown a hot dog lest she “loose control,” PATTY (CALL ME ANNA) DUKE! C’mon you know you can’t resist this! It’s like someone mashed up that giant spider episode of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND with KOLCHAK and then forced some LOVE BOAT stragglers to perform in it! CURSE in no way CURTIS‘ finest hour but if you are a fan of seventies television and laughable giant monsters it may be yours.