Name That Trauma :: Reader Phibes on a Magnet Shy Film Freak

Okay….I saw this one back in the early to mid ‘80s. It was either on HBO or Cinemax and it was a short film. This guy is sitting in an office; I’m assuming that he is some kind of filmmaker as there is a reel of film on his desk. The reel begins unspooling and chasing the man, kind of like THE BLOB only made of movie film. He gets himself locked into a closet where he finds a magnet and as the film tries to get into the room, he sticks the magnet on it and it shies away. Eventually is gets in and wraps the man completely from head to toe in the film. He flails about for a bit and is devoured by the film, ala THE BLOB. At the very end we see the film spooling itself back onto the reel and that’s the end. I’ve been trying to find out what this is for years but to no avail. Please Unk, you are my only hope.

The flesh-eating film is featured in the 1975 short RECORDED LIVE. Special thanks to Reader Eric Harvey for solving it.


Lookie here! Kinderpal Wil of Horror Yearbook fame has just launched an amazing website dedicated to all things Elm Street. Fans of official Traumatizer Freddy Krueger will have a field day exploring what is destined to become the ultimate NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET database. You can search deep into the series past and with constant updates, prepare yourself for the looming remake of this classic horror film. You can even send in your own personal stories and memories about the franchise! You know we are all Freddy’s children in the end, so stop by and visit that bastard son of 1000 maniacs HERE

Trauma-Scene :: Teresa’s Fateful Excursion in THE LEOPARD MAN

The three collaborations of producer VAL LEWTON and director JACQUES TURNER are glorious testimonies to the power of restraint. I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and CAT PEOPLE are undeniable horror classics and THE LEOPARD MAN from 1943 contains a segment which I think may be the duo’s most successful stab at cinematic tension. In my opinion, it’s downright kindertraumatic…

As the scene begins the audience is well aware that a black panther has escaped captivity and is roaming around the outskirts of a small New Mexico village. Inside a humble abode a young girl named Teresa is goaded by her mother to go out into the night and fetch some corn meal to make tortillas. Teresa pleads with her mother to allow her to skip the chore until morning or until such time as when a leopard is not stalking their village. The battle axe mother insists and soon Teresa is out in the velvet black night on a completely unnecessary (it’s not like ma ran out of smokes) corn meal run.

When Teresa finally gets to the store she finds that it is closed and that the shopkeeper has a similar temperament as her won’t-budge-an-inch mother. The shopkeeper tells Teresa it is too much of a hassle for her to open her door and hand over some corn meal. This means poor Teresa has got to go to the late night joint farther away and also has to cross under a super creepy bridge. After a tense paranoid trek she does make it to the larger store with the more reasonable operating hours. Inside she gets her goods, tells the shopkeeper to stick it on her tab and then whiles away a couple of moments staring at some mechanical birds in a cage that once fascinated her in her youth. Whatever future plans that Teresa imagines while glancing at these birds will never come to fruition. Dare I say that if she had not stopped to daydream she may have made it home alive? Seconds really do count in situations like these!

Now with bag of corn meal in hand, it’s back on the road for our gal and yet another psychologically strenuous confrontation with that creepy bridge in order to return safe. Thanks to the magic of you-tube you can watch what happens to poor Teresa next….

Can you believe that went down? Besides this scene being seriously suspenseful, I think I also love it because it reminds me of the fantasies I would have in my twisted youth. You know the ones, your parents or a teacher forces you to do some menial crap or punishes you for something and then you start thinking about what if this or that happened and then they’d be sorry! You imagine them all crying at your funeral! Boy, that would show them! Sorta like in A CHRISTMAS STORY when poor little Ralphie daydreams about going blind from all that soap his mouth got washed out with! Oh how his parents would wail in regret!

Besides that personal revenge fantasy element I’m sure Teresa’s journey resonates with anyone who has had to walk home late at night by themselves. THE LEOPARD MAN has several other scenes that utilize this universal fear almost as well. (Worse still, one hapless victim finds herself locked in a graveyard!) As it turns out, that kitty you saw in the clip (feline movie star “Dynamite” who also starred in CAT PEOPLE) is really just a scapegoat for a far more sinister threat. The title may have you expecting a B monster movie but as is the case with most LEWTON flicks, it’s merely a lure. THE LEOPARD MAN certainly has its fair share of horrific moments but expect thriller, noir, mystery and quirkily written romance elements as well. In other words kiddies, my advice to you is, never judge a LEWTON film by its title, never wash your kid’s mouth out with soap and never ever get conned into going out on a late night corn meal run!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Andyboy on a Killer Kitchen

name that trauma!

Holy smokes… what a website. It’s nothing short of genius that you thought to create a place where people could share the one very special thing that they all have in common…. terrifying childhood trauma.

Here’s my mystery trauma. When I was around six or seven years old (late ’70s) I remember seeing a small portion of a film that haunts me to this day. All I remember is that there was a very fat, bald, British man, possibly with a monocle, who may or may not have been investigating a crime. The scene that has stuck with me is a man walking into an industrial grade kitchen (the kind you may find in a hotel) that has been shut down for the night. With most of the lights off, he notices the red glow of one of the ovens which should not have been on. He opens the door, and a woman’s arm tips and falls out. Yikes. Here are some other quick notes:

  • The oven was not close to the ground, but rather at eye level. I think.
  • I believe there was a hard cut from that scene to a shot of something resembling the U.N. Assembly. I distinctly remember flags and a very large room.
  • I recall the British man having a vague resemblance to JOHN HOUSEMAN only much larger. He was also rather feminine.
  • I don’t believe this movie was a horror. I’m certain that it was a thriller in the vain of AGATHA CHRISTIE. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it was somehow related to her writings.

Any help would be largely appreciated, people! I’m more than ready to put this one to bed.



do you know


Daughter of the Mind

It was not too long ago that we received a “Name That Trauma!” about a movie in which a man driving his car has a run in with the ghost of his dead daughter. The movie turned out to be DAUGHTER OF THE MIND a television film that stars RAY MILLAND. (Is MILLAND an O.K. actor to be completely infatuated with? I hope so, because I am.) Finding out that the film also starred the ever fascinating GENE TIERNEY, of the too cool to comprehend LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, and, not to mention Official Traumatot and seventies staple, PAMELYN FERDIN sealed the deal. I had to experience this thing and I had to do it soon.

I jumped through hoops, I mowed lawns, I did unmentionable things in convertibles that ended with me quoting THERESA RUSSELL (“See ya in church!”), and eventually I got my tiny spider claws on a copy. Was it worth it? Yea, DAUGHTER OF THE MIND is pretty darn sweet and although dated a bit, worth the rigmarole.

RAY MILLAND who has starred in three of the greatest things of all time, namely, THE LOST WEEKEND, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and THE ATTIC plays Professor Samuel Constable, a guy who is troubled by recurrent visions of his deceased kid who likes to vaporize after making super heavy statements like, “I hate being dead.” His wife Lenore (TIERNEY) thinks he’s gone loco but parapsychologist Alex Lauder (DON MURRAY) gets a gander of the ghost girl and thinks he might be on to something.

Lauder is an appealing character, equal parts Mulder and Scully, not minding whether the chips land on science or spiritualism as long as he finds the truth. The script based on a novel by PAUL GALLICO (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) keeps the audience guessing along side Lauder and that is exactly what keeps things interesting. Add DAUGHTER to the long list of television movies that I would have loved to have seen go to series. Its 1969 air date suggests it could have been a real ground breaker.

Unfortunately the ultimate truths exposed are not quite satisfactory or even believable, but at that point you may have had such a good ride that you won’t care. (Why dis the whole meal just because the dessert blew?) It makes sense to me that many of those who saw this flick in their youth have zero recollection of the whole “world peace hangs in the balance” espionage sub-plot that makes off with the movie like a thief in the night. The supposed supernatural elements, the seances, the visions of that little girl lost in an unexplainable other world are truly haunting and linger long after the scientific explanations fade away.

A particularly effective bit has the apparition seemingly dipping her hand into hot wax and leaving a replica of it in a bowl of water complete with fingerprints. Sure, there is ultimately a valid explanation, but seeing that floating hand in the bowl is eerie as hell nonetheless. Now that I think of it, my guess is that many young viewers much like our trauma-confessor Gary, not so much forgot about this movie’s ultimate rationales but more likely turned the television set off and made a mad dash for bed before they could ever be revealed.

Phantasm II

If you watch the extras on the DVD for the original PHANTASM, one thing director DON COSCARELLI was particularly proud of was his casting choices. He felt that the audience automatically sympathized with characters that they could recognize from their own lives rather than perfecto Hollywood types. I agree with that thought but guess what? UNIVERSAL PICTURES didn’t, and so PHANTASM star A. MICHAEL BALDWIN was replaced by JAMES LEGROS for PHANTASM’s nearly decade later sequel. Apparently BRAD PITT was also up for the role so I guess the word we can use is “compromise.” Hey, JAMES LEGROS is a likable enough guy and I don’t have my glasses on right now, but nobody could accuse him of being a pretty boy, right? Let’s give him a break! Still for some PHANTASM fans this was a bit of a disappointment although they must have been at least partially appeased by the presence of Mr. Irreplaceable himself REGGIE BANNISTER.

PHANTASM II was released in 1988. Do you remember what song the world of horror was singing in 1988? I do. It went a little something like this: “Freddy Krueger, Freddy Krueger, yea, yea yea!” So ironically, even though our Mr.Krueger pretty much climbed up out of the dream world on ANGUS SCRIMM’s back, now “The Tall Man” has got to start dancing to Freddy’s tune! At least that’s how I read an early scene where his tallness appears as a worm creature protruding from a hunchback in order to bark out nasty threats. Once the ELM STREET pandering is out of the way, COSCARELLI begins a rather brave attempt at expanding his PHANTASM universe triple fold. By which I mean, instead of one killer ball you now get three and instead of one cemetery you’re now conceivably dealing with every cemetery in the world. MICHAEL (now JAMES LEGROS) and REGGIE, their families wiped out by “The Tall Man” and his minions, hit the road HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN style and decide to destroy the scourge once and for all.

PHANTASM II has somewhat of different tone than its predecessor. It’s post apocalyptic, it always seems to be night and, whereas the original sported vibrant crayola box hues, we now get muddy watercolors. You also suddenly get two, count ‘em two, pretty lady characters. One is Liz (PAULA IRVINE) who shares a lovey-dovey psychic link with Michael and one is Alchemy or “Chemmy” (SAMANTHA PHILIPS) who has a very convenient for Reggie case of Acomophilia (sexual attraction to baldness). Although the first half of the film putters around a bit as it tries to get newbies up to speed, the second half, where it is decided that THE EVIL DEAD is the film to cuddle up to and emulate, gets to be more rousing. Cameras bust through doors, chainsaw fights ensue, one liners fly about and we even get a bag of ashes marked SAM RAIMI. I prefer this half to the earlier one, but it is still a bit difficult for me to adjust to this new approach. Look at me, I just called something from 1988 “new,” how sad is that?

PHANTASM II is a likable enough sequel but it often breaks a noticeable sweat in its effort to please. As fun as it is to visit with the characters and to witness the special effect upgrades, I kind of miss the laid back, lazy summer charm of the original film. I also can’t help wondering what could have been had COSCARELLI been left to his own devices and allowed to let his imagination run wild (preferably with A. MICHAEL BALDWIN in tow). That said, even with the forced action set pieces and panting attempts to keep up with the times, PHANTASM II still keeps at least one bony finger on the morbid wonder that made the first movie so great and I thank it for that. I also thank it for my favorite Tall Man line of the series, “You think that when you die you go to heaven…YOU COME TO US!

NOTE: Even though the movie PHANTASM II doesn’t exactly knock my tube socks off, this promo spot sure does. I can remember the anticipation it injected in me like it was yesterday. Is it a dream? No, it’s not!

Traumafessions :: Reader Nicki M. on Welcome to the Dead House

When I was around six, I was obsessed with the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stein. (Mostly the movies, as I couldn’t read well at the time). One of the first of the Goosebumps movies I ever saw was one of the scariest and most traumatic moments of my young life. It was enclosed in a creepy little VHS tape with an almost AMITYVILLE HORROR-style house on it with the words “Welcome to Dead House” written above it.

I don’t remember the plot very well (it WAS 9 years ago, after all) but it was something about this family who moves into a house and the neighbors start acting weird, and then something about burning a wreath. I dunno. I do know that this movie scarred me in ways neither me nor my parents would have expected.

Even now, 15, a freshman in high school, my Dad has to close the windows for me at night and shoo the rabbits out from under my bed (I let them out to run, they like to hide under there) because I am terrified of bending down to look. I have been totally petrified of horror movies and scary pictures to this day (even reading your site has induced some heart-jumps) and I can owe it all to that wonderful story about zombies and some stupid rotting wreath.