Traumafessions :: Reader Maxson M. on Sesame Street’s Trash Gordon

I have no idea why this SESAME STREET segment terrified me so much as a child. I remember when I was about 5, I loved SESAME STREET. I watched it every day, at least that was until I saw this segment. It was where Oscar is reading to his worm about some superhero named Trash Gordon.

I thought it was cool at first when Oscar was reading it, but when that bald man came on screen, I started bawling! I never watched SESAME STREET again! I have no idea why he scared me so much.

Did anyone else find this as scary as hell when they were little? I would like to know, because it terrified me!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Kookaburra on a Dog Picture Book

So, this might be a little bit out of your purview, as it involves a picture book rather than a movie.

When I was in 2nd grade or so, I attended a very conservative Christian school. Once a year they would have a book give-away in the library, where they got rid of books that were too battered or moldy or whatever to have in the library anymore, and make room for new books. I saw a brightly colored picture book on dogs, and snagged it. I think the cover might have been yellow, or had a golden retriever on it or something. It had that sort of hard, cloth covered binding, and the illustrations seemed ‘60s-ish.

Anyways, for the first three quarters of the book, it was standard fare, with general dog facts, and dog breeds from around the world, that sort of thing. Then I got to the last section, dog lore.

Also known as ALL ABOUT WEREWOLVES. Seriously, it was about werewolves, nothing else. This section was written in the same didactic style as the rest of the book, (absolutely no indication that this wasn’t fact) and had such lovely topics as “how to tell a werewolf” (I remember a picture of a guy with scratches all over his face, from running through the underbrush), and finally, a section on how to practice lycanthropy, and turn your self into a werewolf.

I swear I am not making this up. As a little girl from a sheltered background who had to cover her eyes during some of the more intense scenes in SNOW WHITE, you can guess how much this traumatized me. I think I ended up performing an “exorcism” on it, and throwing the book over my back fence. I refused to go behind our house for like a year after that, certain that the “demonic” book had haunted the area.

So, I’m really curious if it’s as bad as I remember it, or if my overactive imagination has been playing tricks on me.

Thank you for any help you can offer!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Matt on a Bunny, or Puppy, Piñata

Here’s what I remember:

There’s a bunch of little kids in a clearing and they have some kind of living thing in a bag hanging above them. One of the kids gives another a wooden stick and the kid, who is obviously trying to not look like a wuss in front of his friends, starts beating on the bag with the stick. A big blood-stain forms on the bag and when it falls, it’s revealed that inside the bag is the kid’s own pet rabbit! (or maybe it was his dog, but I seem to remember it being a rabbit).

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Dear readers, anyone out there care to take a swing at this one? No need for a blindfold, just leave your guesses in the comments or shoot us an email.

EARLIER: When piñatas attack!

Creepshow 2

CREEPSHOW 2 is not nearly as accomplished as its predecessor. In fact, comparatively speaking, it’s a tad half-assed. Where as the original boasted five stories inhabited by some of the greatest character actors in the biz, its sequel slims down to a mere three journeys into the macabre and offers GEORGE KENNEDY and DARYL HANNAH’s ginger-sib PAGE. TOM SAVINI is still on board, but drops special make-up effect duties in order to host the proceedings as “The Creep,” a troll faced fiend who delivers comics to put upon children. Even the animation that bonds the anthology together takes a slide backwards to resemble Saturday morning public service type filler. Lesser sequels and sophomore slumps are par for the course in horror, yet if you remove CREEPSHOW 2 from the shadow of the original it not only works fine, but also offers at least one segment that flirts with classic status.

The first story in the troika is a traditional moral revenge fantasy where a group of young, vain delinquents get what’s coming to them thanks to an animated cigar store Indian. It’s not a barn burner but the vengeful wooden golem looks remarkably swell and there is a undeniable satisfaction in witnessing the gruesome deaths of anyone so disrespectful as to bully, torment and eventually kill lovable old timers GEORGE KENNEDY and DOROTHY LAMOUR.

The third and final tale is an equally gratifying, yet business as usual E.C. comics-vibed comeuppance piece where originality scores low and schadenfreude scores high. LOIS CHILES (BROADCAST NEWS) plays Annie Lansing, a kept, well-to-do gigolo patron on her way home from another paid tryst that accidentally runs over a homeless man on the side of the road. Tell-tale-heart style guilt for her self-serving indiscretions is represented in the form of the sometimes hilariously death-proof hit and run victim who refuses to take the slight lying down. Vehicular horror is a nice fit for any anthology (just ask 1983’s NIGHTMARES) and although this one steers dangerously close to repetitious, it eventually crashes into funny as hell.

CREEPSHOW 2‘s middle installment “The Raft,” based on one of the more grueling of STEPHEN KING’S short stories, is the film’s generally undisputed high water mark. Here four young adults find themselves trapped in the middle of a lake surrounded by a flesh eating, alarmingly cunning black sludge. Some low grade effects (Yikes! a giant floating Hefty bag!) and a limited running time do little to soften the hard to describe insidiously infectious over all effect. Like a body rotting nightmare “The Raft” makes great use of the sticky, can’t scrape it off contamination anxieties that engined both the classic THE BLOB and the more recent THE RUINS. A cursory scan of Imdb comment boards identify this one as a legitimate, albeit largely unheralded, kindertrauma contender. The premise and execution may not be 100 percent convincing, but neither matter as, for many viewers, it infiltrates the psyche like a bore worm regardless.

Due to its overall modest nature, it’s easy to forget that CREEPSHOW 2‘s pedigree is nothing to sneeze at. GEORGE ROMERO tackled the screenplay, based an assortment of STEPHEN KING tales, and hand picked his often cinematographer MICHAEL GORNICK (DAWN OF THE DEAD) for the directing chores. All in all, though, I doubt anyone involved had any illusions of surpassing the charms of the original film. These three stories, and the nearly useless animated wrap around tale, ultimately work better as a side dish to that more satisfying main course. The good news is that regardless of its also ran nature, it is never less than entertaining and at least in the case of “The Raft,” it provides something unexpectedly effective and memorable.

Traumafessions :: Reader ScaredStraight on The Brave Little Toaster

I know it’s been brought up HERE, but I’d like to bring up in more detail just how traumatizing JERRY REES’ adaptation of THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER was for me.

It came out in 1987 and I must have seen it about two years later, so I would have been around four at the time. It’s a cartoon movie for kids so my parents must have thought it was a quality movie to show to my niece and me. While she’s always been able to dismiss it as a mundane film, that movie gave me reason to stay up on countless occasions for two or three weeks after first watching it.

While the movie is simply about faithful companions (in the form of appliances) searching for their long-gone master, the movie has some dark undertones that JERRY REES decided to throw in to, what I would assume at the very least, appeal to an older crowd.

A few things come to mind…

First off; the air conditioner. The idea that a character within the movie would explode would frighten some, but looking back on it now it seems as though one could see this as a person who is bordering on the edge of paranoia induced insanity takes the final plunge and has a psychotic episode before effectively committing suicide.

While the Toaster’s nightmare always did give me chills, I was always filled with a sense of sadness when the toaster comes in contact with the flower in a scene that seems surreal in comparison to the rest of the film. It teaches the valuable lesson that unrequited love = death.

But by far the creepiest scene of the movie (with the help of VAN DYKE PARKS’ creepy soundtrack) was when the band of appliances found themselves in the junkyard. The song, titled “Worthless”, stayed embedded in my head while I watched innocent cars tell their tragic tales (loaded with social commentary) as they were carried off to meet their fate. While other parts of the movie can be debated as to whether or not they are actually killed (The Air Conditioner is fixed and the flower does not die per se) these cars are crushed and mangled into cubes leaving no question that they are gone.

While this movie is a great indication as to why I love children’s movies when I was a child, as opposed to ones I see nowadays, all of these elements combined made for one creepy movie for a little kid to watch.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Mike on a Baby-Swapping Monster Book

I saw this site and have spent the past few days reading various traumas; most of them I can understand what makes them so frightening. There are a few traumas that I would love to ask about but above all others there’s one that sticks in my memory more than any other. I believe I was four or five (‘89-‘90) when I was shown a children’s book. The details are very vague, but if memory serves me correctly it was a fairytale about monsters that stole a woman’s baby and replaced it with a monster (I want to say ogre but don’t quote me on that).

I can barely remember anything else, but I would also venture to say that someone goes to fight the monsters and reclaim the baby. Sadly that’s it. The picture of the “baby” that had been put as a replacement to the child was very frightening and I refused to ever read it again. Unfortunately I can neither remember who had shown it to me nor what ever happened. If anyone could help me I would be greatly obliged.

UNK SEZ: Anybody out there remember this baby swapped with monster tale?!

UPDATE: Name That Trauma Solved! It’s “Outside Over There” by Maurice Sendak. Mad props to the Mickster for solving this one so quickly!

The Bermuda Depths

How does one go about trying to describe the supernatural allure of THE BERMUDA DEPTHS, a 1978 made-for-television film that has cast a lingering hypnotic spell upon anyone fortuitous enough to stumble across it? (Is it too much to suggest that the secret reason for the existence of the Internet itself is so that these chosen people could track down a bootleg copy of their gospel?) This is a film that centers on a giant turtle folks, conventional wisdom would tell you that all recognitions would paint it as a camp classic or at least a guilty pleasure by now, but instead its followers, old and new, hold this oddity closely and sincerely to their hearts like a priceless family heirloom.

Part of the reason may be because THE BERMUDA DEPTHS defies categorization. Actually it may be more accurate to say that there is no genre that it does not embrace at one point or another, horror, fantasy, and action all weaved together with an undeniable leaning toward tragic romance and yes, I’m still talking about a movie involving a giant turtle. Some who have experienced this lush fable in their youth admit to confusing their memories of it with a childhood dream and it’s not difficult to understand why. The soundtrack alone mystifies. Prepare to have it rustling about your brain like a hermit crab trapped in a tide pool for days after viewing.

The movie itself begins as a dizzy stumble between dream, reality and the inchoate memories of youth. Magnus (LEIGH McCLOSKEY of ARGENTO’S INFERNO) is recalling a first love, a little girl named Jennie Haniver he used to play with on the beach. One day the two find a turtle egg. They nurture the newborn into semi adulthood and send it off to sea but not before Magnus etches his feelings upon it’s shell carving “M + J” within a heart. Reciprocating these thoughts, Jennie crafts a necklace from coral and presents it to Magnus. That night a storm rages and an unseen beast attacks and makes off with Magnus’ scientist father leaving their ocean adjacent cliff-top home a REBECCA-like Manderlay shambles.

Now an adult Magnus has returned to his childhood home and is still unclear about what had befallen his father. He keeps coming across a mysterious woman (a surprisingly ethereal CONNIE SELLECA) who he slowly begins to realize is the girl from his youth. Problem is he’s also informed that the name Jennie Haniver belongs to that of a local legend, a woman who sold her soul in exchange for eternal life during a storm at sea. It is said that she can appear as either an adult or a child, and that all those that she presents herself to are doomed to drown. Meanwhile, another childhood buddy (CARL WEATHERS) and an acquaintance of Magnus’ father’s (BURL IVES) are currently getting all kinds of JAWS-obsessed about some giant turtle foot prints they discovered in the sand.

Sounds crazy, I know, but somehow it all comes together like some ancient myth written in the stars. This is a story that could touch anyone at any age. Adults will recognize the bittersweet melancholia of an impossible love. Teenagers get a crashing helicopter and a hot babe with glowing eyes and kids, well kids get that cute giant turtle I was talking about. Grab the whole family, we’ve got a lost classic on our hands! Learning that DEPTHS was penned by ARTHUR RANKIN, JR. of RANKIN AND BASS (THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS) fame first seems astonishing and then absolutely appropriate.

Often when we return to beloved films of our youth we are disappointed and shocked by what we once held in such high regard. Sometimes we may even be left wondering to ourselves, “What was I thinking back then?” But if you watch THE BERMUDA DEPTHS as an adult and fail to be swept away by its poetic beauty and lazy hammock swing charms maybe the question you should be asking yourself is, “What is wrong with me RIGHT NOW?”

NOTE: I don’t know how long it will last, but currently THE BERMUDA DEPTHS can be viewed on God’s gift to obsessive nerds Youtube (Part 1 is HERE, follow it to the rest). If you have any kind of free time at all today, I suggest you uncross your arms, relax and let it take you out to sea.