Traumafessions :: Reader Turnidoff on Future Traumatizer Thomas the Tank Engine

I’m writing to say that I think I’m seeing a future Traumafession happen right before my eyes. My son is almost two years old. He loves toy trains. He loves books about trains. If he sees trains on T.V. he’ll shout out “Choo-Choo!” but there’s one show that seems to terrify him to no end…


We bought him the DVD thinking he would love it. We read the Thomas books and he never has a problem with them. The second he sees them in motion though, it’s like all the secrets of hell have been revealed to him. He starts shaking his head in disbelief shouting “No! No! No!” He slowly backs up and startles at their every move on screen, then he runs out of the room in a panic.

My first thought was thinking, “C’mon kid! Toughen up!” but then I tried to look at the show through his eyes. Real model trains with odd static faces where only the eyes moved from side to side. Speaking, but not moving, like giant locomotives plotting via telepathy. I could kind of see how a toddler might be weirded out by that, but still…

…Maybe we should watch RETURN TO OZ instead.

Eden Lake

Maybe your Unkle Lancifer is naive but my reasoning behind making my personal ordeal public is the idea that perhaps by doing so I can allow the healing to begin and maybe just maybe, save somebody from making the same mistakes I have…

Last night I invited the movie EDEN LAKE over to spend some time with me. I had heard some great things about it and had seen it on a couple of best of 2008 horror lists, so I guess I was intrigued. Originally I wasn’t attracted to it at all. I wasn’t thrilled with the box art it wore and let’s face it, I’ve been around the block a couple times; I doubted it had anything new to offer me. At some point I heard it was about killer kids and I must have just convinced myself that my interest was professional and that our meeting would benefit Kindertrauma in some way. All right I’ll be honest, in the back of my mind I guess I did want to be scared a little too. It’s been so long since a movie really got to me, you know? Maybe EDEN LAKE could make me feel the way I used to, when I was young and the world was full of horrifying possibilities…

EDEN LAKE slipped into the DVD player at about eleven. I sorta made it watch the TOP CHEF finale with me first (Carla, NO!!!!). I had been drinking some beer, but I swear I was not drunk and from what I could tell neither was EDEN LAKE. Everything was fine for a while. Sure it was a bit uncomfortable and I did feel like I had heard everything EDEN LAKE was saying to me a million times before. Still I wasn’t going to throw in the towel, a lot people really seemed to like EDEN LAKE, and a movie with that many friends can’t be all bad right? I mean, at least that was what I was thinking.

Aunt John went to bed around eleven thirty which was fine by me. I don’t need a chaperone and I could tell Auntie wasn’t too keen on the way things were moving forward anyway. He wasn’t too supportive about my relationship with WOLF CREEK either and that worked out fine, so more room on the couch for me! Now that we were alone I was hanging on EDEN CREEK’s every word. The closer I looked the more it became evident that EDEN really might deserve its reputation.

Then EDEN LAKE hauled off and punched me square in the face…

Before I could even react, EDEN LAKE punched me yet again. When I stood up to demand that it get out of my DVD player it boxed my ears and kneed me in the groin. I fell into the coffee table knocking over a bowel of Gummie Life Savers. I remember staring at their bright colors and noticing how they clashed against the carpet. EDEN LAKE began to kick me over and over again in the stomach, my pleas for mercy met with mocking laughter. At one point I remember EDEN offering me a hand, as if it were all just a misunderstanding and that it really did want to be my friend, but the pathetic smile I mustered at this idea was quickly erased by a brass lamp crashing down upon my head. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Sure my blind date with IRREVERSIBLE didn’t exactly go as planned either, but I chalked that one up to being my fault for ignoring the signs. I trusted EDEN LAKE to be a gentleman; I mean it’s British for chrissake!

Maybe I’ve got a bit of that Stockholm syndrome because even though I got my ass handed to me, I can’t let go of the fact that EDEN LAKE, vicious as it may be, really is a good film. I know it’s manipulative as hell, but it looks really good and it takes its job seriously. I’m still aching though and trying to see through a fog of hopelessness. Did I get what I asked for? I wanted to be horrified but I guess I forgot what that really meant. Now I’m left picking up the pieces. How can I explain any of this to anyone who has not experienced it?

If you’re reading this EDEN LAKE, I want you to know that you are a very good movie, but make no mistake I never want to see you again!!! Also, I think you may have accidently taken my will to live with you in your haste to leave the crime scene. Do you think you could just slip it through the mail slot the next time you are in the area? I’m gonna need that back.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Harris on an Angry P.S.A. & a Daytime Electrocution

Hello. Love your blog, and I had a couple of traumas I thought maybe you could help me with. Both come from television in the early 1980s, and I wish I had clearer memories of them, but here’s what I can recall:

The first is an animated P.S.A. shown during Saturday morning cartoons in the early ‘80s, done in a style that, to the best of my recollection, was similar to the comic strip ZIGGY. It was about controlling or expressing your anger, and featured an animated ZIGGY-type character against a white background, getting angrier and angrier. It absolutely terrified me as a child; I couldn’t have been more than 5 at the time. I think my dad might have even called the T.V. station to complain because I was so disturbed by the ad!

The second would come from probably around the same time, some sort of docudrama show on daytime T.V. during the week. All I remember is that the show ended with the main character being executed in the electric chair. At the time, I was convinced that it was a real execution. I’m not sure if it was a movie or TV show or some kind of daytime special. But I remember it being particularly bleak and grim in a gritty, late-‘70s/early-‘80s kind of way.

I grew up in Washington, D.C., if that helps at all.

I certainly appreciate any help you might be able to give in helping piece together these disturbing childhood viewing experiences.


AUNT JOHN SEZ: Sorry Harris, since I was not raised in D.C. nor I have ever been big on ZIGGY or daytime programming for that matter, save for game shows (NO WHAMMIES!), I really haven’t a clue. Readers, help a brother out with a comment or an e-mail.

I, Desire

AMERICAN WEREWOLF, “Makin’It” sensation, and self-professed pepper DAVID NAUGHTON stars in this 1982 television movie that propels classic vampire lore into the age of Members Only Jackets. Its intentions to modernize the undead are made clear in the opening credits, where light chamber music and details of KLIMPT portraits give way to cat calls and neon clad hookers on Hollywood Boulevard. Looking like an extended version of the HALL AND OATES video “Maneater,” I, DESIRE concerns a mysterious femme fatale who, masquerading as a streetwalker, parasitically dines on her clientele.

NAUGHTON plays law student David Balsiger whose part-time work as a morgue assistant puts him in contact with the corpse of a unlucky john who is not only drained of blood but also has tell tale bite marks on his neck. The slippery slope of obsession is not far behind. Mild curiosity leads to late nights spent combing the gritty streets and even an eventual arrest for soliciting an undercover police officer. Soon his sweet natured girl friend Cheryl (MARILYN JONES) is not only questioning his sanity, but also his fidelity.

Television vampire movie or not I, DESIRE does a fine job of presenting a relationship on the skids due to one member’s dubious nocturnal activities. When we first meet David and his girlfriend they have recently moved in together and there are subtle signs that he is resisting domestication. As it turns out, the vampire David is pursuing only feeds upon men who have strayed from their relationships. In fact, he learns that a vampire has no power over a “righteous” man. When he finally comes face to face with the object of his infatuation (the female vampires’ name is “Desire”) David’s dilemma is presented as a choice between light and dark, but it’s more like a choice between picket fences and prostitutes.

I, DESIRE does have a few clunky missteps (I could have done without the canned mountain lion growl that accompanies each vampire attack), more than a few notable lines of dialogue (“You wear your righteousness like a coat so you can slip into something more comfortable when it gets too hot”), a couple neat twists, and it actually does offer a unique take on the vampire legend. The contrast between safe domesticity (complete with fifties era black and white television and music-box tunes) and seedy, early eighties Los Angeles night life (complete with bluesy saxophones and spandex) is nicely presented and a lot of fun.

In some ways I, DESIRE makes a great reverse companion piece to AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It also fits keenly beside PAUL SCHRADER’S 1982 take on CAT PEOPLE, with its constant rotation between fascination and fear of the erotic. As a television movie, it is limited from going to certain extremes, but if you read between the lines it has more to offer than many current attempts to tackle similar material. NAUGHTON’s presence alone is enough of a reason to watch, but I should add that a young BRAD DOURIF delivers a remarkably forceful, borderline deranged performance that threatens to steal the entire production. Currently I, DESIRE is not officially available on DVD but it is indeed possible to track down. It’s sleaze-light tone makes it worth the extra effort, particularly for all of you blood thirsty vampire fanatics out there, plus we’re talking 1982 here, was there any better year for horror?

Note: Special thanks to Richard of the great DOOMED MOVIETHON !!!

Kindertrauma Jukebox :: Brad Dourif in Toto’s Stranger In Town

Hey look it’s my hero BRAD DOURIF in a TOTO video! What makes this video exceptionally kindertraumatic is that it is based on the classic HAYLEY MILLS film WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND. In that film HAYLEY and her kiddie pals give refuge to a wanted criminal who they believe is Jesus Christ. It’s based on a book written by MARY HAYLEY BELL, HAYLEY MILLS real life mommie. HAYLEY‘s sister JULIET starred in the 1974 Italian EXORCIST wannabe BEYOND THE DOOR!

Traumafessions :: Reader Linda H. on Johnny Quest

As a child I used to think that the natives in the show were spirits and they were under my bed. I was afraid that if I dropped my hand or foot over the side, or if I got up in the night to go to the bathroom, they would attack me. I would never get up once the light was turned off. I didn’t realize this until I saw the show again on Cartoon Network a few years ago. How big our fears are when we are so small and how small they become when we are grown!

Traumafessions :: Reader Bigwig on Captain Fantastic & Hieronymus Bosch

Back in the day, LP covers were far more than merely a dust jacket for your music; they were a tangible, as well as sizeable purchase of artwork you could either skim over, or get lost in, depending on the artist’s efforts.

As a young child sifting through my friend’s older brother’s LP collection, the music had nothing to do with an album cover. In fact, I’m not even sure I associated the two. It was the mid-to-late ‘70s, and we would marvel over, among others, the Molly Hatchet covers featuring work from Frank Frazetta, esteemed fantasy art illustrator. I’d love to say that these spooky covers were traumatic, but they weren’t. The slightly embarrassing admission I have is that it was the cover of Elton John‘s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” that had us both repeatedly awestruck, and then later for me, provided the fodder for nightmares. I’m sure it wasn’t Elton’s intention; (although maybe…) what is presented without a detailed breakdown is a fantastical Alice in Wonderland-type surreal hodgepodge illustration featuring mostly animal/human hybrids, bubbles, plants and music themes that spanned the entire front and back cover.…but now looking back at it, it really has much more of a Hieronymus Bosch flavor to it, a la the “Hell” panel from “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” I can’t pinpoint exactly what had me so unnerved, but there would be the Masked Ringleader in my dream, along with his minions of tendrilled human-birds, frogs with steps down their backs, and the little pellet-pooping cobble-pot wearing record-player dwarf, ready to wreak havoc on my psyche.

Traumafessions :: Reader Gordon P. on the Dr. Dolittle Taking Doll

I haven’t seen this mentioned here before, so I would like to tell you how traumatic the Dr. Dolittle talking doll was for me. It was issued in 1967, by Mattel I believe, to tie in with the film of the same name starring REX HARRISON. In 1967 I was three.

I don’t know if I had even seen the movie, but somehow I knew I wanted a talking Pushmi-Pullyu doll (the furry, cute, two-headed llama from the film). My mother, in her generous nature, told my grandmother that this could be her gift to me for Christmas; so my grandmother was to get me the Pushmi-Pullyu and make me a happy child. My mother should have known better. My grandmother was notorious for completely messing up her gift-giving (going back to wind-up swing she was supposed to get me as a toddler, which I never got, which also traumatized me, but that is another story). Needless to say, Grandma bought me a talking Dr. Dolittle doll instead. When I opened the box, and saw that evil looking plastic grin, I let out a scream, burst into tears, and threw it on the floor. This creepy thing makes the evil clown doll from POLTERGEIST look friendly. I NEVER wanted to see it again.

However, the story gets worse. Did my parents get rid of this Devil Doll? Are you kidding? Not a chance. This damned doll moved with us TWICE. Each new house we moved into, the doll had to be hidden away so I wouldn’t have to look at it. I finally was able to convince my cousin to take it off my hands when I was about 11 (I am not sure what he did with it, but hopefully it involved gasoline and matches). Why didn’t my parents give it away, or toss it? I am convinced it was some sort of parental plot to keep me in line: “Behave or Dr. Dolittle will get you while you sleep.” Shudder. Even now at 44.

Traumafessions :: Reader Magkfingrs on the Purple Panda from the Land of Make Believe

Great site…!

I’d just like to add my 2 cents:

Like all children I was traumatized by that hermaphroditic, blotchy-faced freak Lady Elaine Fairchilde on MISTER ROGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD… but am I the only one who got seriously freaked out by the Purple Panda Bear in the Land of Make Believe…?

I mean, an alien panda bear, with freaky shiny eyes, that talks like a 50’s robot, can appear and disappear at will…

Keep up the good work, as we work out our collective issues.