Trauma-Scene :: THE BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD Gets a Check-Up

the best little girl in the world

In the hazy, gimlet-soaked recesses of your Aunt John’s mind, the year 1983 holds two distinct memories:

  1. ‘70s pop superstar KAREN CARPENTER succumbed to anorexia nervosa
  2. My middle school health class teacher, in an attempt to educate her students about the death of Ms. CARPENTER, traumatized a room of sixth graders by making us watch her taped-from-the-T.V. VHS copy of the 1981 telepicture THE BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD

The movie, despite its stellar cast of JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, CHARLES DURNING, and JASON MILLER, did little to hold the attention of our rambunctious class. Collectively, we groaned at the JONI MITCHELL title track (“Songs to Aging Children Come”) and I remember we were more interested in watching the commercial breaks than the movie itself.

Fearing a mutiny, our teacher stopped the film and struck a deal with us along the lines of if we still hated it after the doctor’s office scene, she would gladly put the film away and we could go back to reading about hygiene, acne, or whatever the usual lesson plan entailed. Foolishly, we called her bluff, agreed to keep watching and this is what we saw:

With the simple drop of a medical gown, a pre-teen chorus of thirty or so horrified gasps reverberated around the room. Needless to say, we watched the rest of the movie in disturbed silence waiting for another peek at JENNIFER JASON LEIGH’s emaciated ribcage. Instead we only got the death of a spunky, pre-THIRTYSOMETHING MELANIE MAYRON.

the best little girl in the world

Long out of print, THE BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD is currently available on YouTube starting HERE. Did anyone else have to watch this in junior high health class?

Final Destination Marathon

Do you know what traumatizes me as an adult? Thinking you know somebody and then suddenly finding out that they are an utter stranger. Case in point, I recently discovered that one Aunt John had never seen ANY of the FINAL DESTINATION films. What is that all about? Doesn’t that seem like a fact that one should disclose early on in a relationship? How did this slip by me? What other cultural blind spot is he hiding? Next I’ll be finding out that he has never seen CHOPPING MALL!

Luckily such a blistering personality flaw is easily repaired with a white-hot, non-stop FINAL DESTINATION MARATHON and that is exactly what took place within the cat fur carpeted halls of Kindertrauma Manor this weekend (a weekend that due to back to back tragedies in the real world, will be forever henceforth known as “THE WEEKEND OF DEATH“).

You see, Aunt John simply had to be schooled in the last decade’s greatest horror franchise as soon as possible, especially if I was going to drag him to FD‘s 3-D fourth installment this summer. The good thing was that I did not have to worry about whether or not A.J. would take a shining to the series because I knew that the disaster film elements inherent within them would be simply irresistible to him. Sure the series is sans cameos of B-grade stars like HELEN REDDY and GARY COLLINS but things blow up and they blow up real good.

I’ll save you dear readers individual synopsis of each of the three films on account of they are all for the most part wonderfully the same (if it ain’t broke…) At the beginning of each film a character has a vivid premonition of a disaster that kills a bunch of folks that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That character then warns and saves a small group of these individuals from their fates. Next, “death” represented as a mostly invisible force, gets all pissed and kills them all anyway in exceedingly elaborate and devilishly gruesome ways (please give me one brownie point for not mentioning Rube “no relation to Whoopsie” Goldberg). In other words, some absolute genius out there figured out a way for you to see the same characters killed twice(!) in one horror move. What’s not to love?

My favorite aspect of the series is the fact that it does not shy away from the actual horror and fear of dying. In all three films there is a palpable sense of mortality that is sadly missing from most modern horror (and especially the film’s contemporaries.) Characters are required to be aware of their impending downfall and to squirm like flies in a spider web waiting for the scythe to fall. These are also films that incite a lingering paranoia within the viewer (I am always particularly careful not to walk in front of buses after having viewed the first installment.) In addition, they all inspire you to be hyper aware of “signs” and to look for double meanings within the everyday. In my opinion any movie that makes you see the world around you differently is called “art” even if it does incorporate someone almost choking on a rubber fish and sometimes involves a JOHN DENVER tune being used as a harbinger of doom.

Anywho, Aunt John did love the series all in all. We both agreed that the third and most financially successful of the group is the weakest (but still worthy) and that the best death belonged to JONATHAN CHERRY in the second film where he got spliced apart by a flying wire fence. We both cooed over KRISTEN CLOKE, gave props to ALI LARTER and laughed when that kid got flattened by a falling plate of glass. We both recognized the dude from LIVING SINGLE and balked at the duel tanning booth deaths, yet were impressed by how the tanning beds dissolved into coffins at a funeral. Gee, now that I think about it, maybe I really do know do know that Aunt John after all.

NOTE: Speaking of the KRISTEN CLOKE, the reason I carry such a torch for her is because of her stint on the second season of CHRIS CARTER‘s MILLENNIUM in which she co-stared opposite my hero in life LANCE HENRIKSEN. The below scene is one of the coolest things that I have ever seen on television (plus it kind of fits in with the whole “death” theme.)…

Traumafessions :: Reader Maxson M. on Goldfrapp’s “Number 1”

I know have written in about anthropomorphic dogs and music videos before, but this video I recently saw combines both of those fears. This, like the Manson video, is a current traumafession and it is for the extremely disturbing video for Goldfrapp’s “Number 1.”

I am a huge Goldfrapp fan, and I love the whole “Supernature” album, especially the tracks “Ooh La La” and “Number 1.” One day, I decided to go on Goldfrapp’s website and watch both of these videos. “Ooh La La” was harmless, but then came the video for “Number 1.”

I clicked on the video and a dog in a green nurses dress popped up on screen. The video was of a plastic surgery clinic were all the nurses and patients have dog heads and human bodies. I cannot even begin to describe the horror, so everyone will just have to watch the video themselves.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Rose J. on a Repressed Rape

Oh, I hope someone knows the name of this movie from the sparse details I remember … caught this flick on T.V. in the late ‘80s. Most likely it is from the ‘70s or early ‘80s and it’s about a child or children being raped/sexually assaulted in a play house in the backyard.

The images that stood out in my memory are that of a swing in the child’s bedroom or nursery, the presence of Raggedy Ann dolls and I think a moment of repressed memories resurfacing years later when returning to the play house.

I think the title had the word “house” or “home” in it. There may have been some woods behind the house too.

I have racked my brain trying to remember the title or the name of a character and I have been combing through a list of over 3,000 movies at IMDb that fit into this criteria, but half of the titles don’t even have a plot description. Any clue what movie this is? It’s killing me!


Rose J.

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Special thanks to Reader saladbar for solving it with the made-for-T.V. flick A TASTE OF EVIL.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Chris L. on a Hooked Fisherman & a Lost Delivery Man


I was hoping you, or one of your readers could help me with this movie I remember from my childhood (I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, and would rent VHS tapes from the local Video Gallery’s horror section like crazy). It was from the ‘80s, and it was a collection of short films, like CREEPSHOW, or TALES FROM THE CRYPT. I remember the wrap-around story had something to do with a guy who rented a video tape, and is talking with his buddy on the phone to come over and watch with him (not sure if he ever did or not).

I only remember two of the stories. One dealt with a guy who was fishing in a small pond, hooks a small fish, and tosses it back. Later in the piece, he sees an apple on the ground, takes a bite, and gets hooked, and dragged into the lake. I wanna say it was called “The Little Fishy” or something.

The second tale had a delivery guy who is driving through a small town looking for Highway 29 (or something like that). He asks a guy on a porch, though he won’t give him the directions until he takes time to have a cup of coffee. The driver refuses, possibly insults him, and for the rest of the piece, proceeds to go in every direction looking for this highway, never finding it, but constantly coming back to the guy who offered him coffee.

I know I’m not insane, and just dreamt those up. But unfortunately, NOBODY knows what the Hell I’m talking about!

Thanks, and here’s hoping somebody can help figure it out.


UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Reader Senski came to the rescue again with 1986’s VINCENT PRICE-helmed ESCAPES.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Bigwig on the Face in the Cauliflower

Aunt and Unc;

This is why this site continues to amaze me; in that, not only have I seen the common traumas that we seem to have all shared, but now and again, I see the “obscure; this could only be something I would remember” type. It’s uncanny, actually.

I never knew the name of the song, Angie Baby. What I remembered was a cartoon video to a song, but it contradicted itself in that music videos didn’t come out for at least another 15 years. It was very repetitive, and about a girl who turned down a radio and shrunk some guy, who was never seen again.

And lo and behold, there it is. I knew it from the first five seconds, honestly.

My traumas, and I’ve written quite a few now, were never the blood and gore related ones, since I don’t think we ever gravitated towards that kind of fare. They were always the “uneasiness from within a familiar niche” type, much like this innocuous cartoon, that, even though bound by nature to its friendly kid fodder media, churned out something unsettling.

Nowadays, I would think all bets are off, as far more gruesome and shocking cartoons can be seen any given day.

But since now the gauntlet has been dropped, I’m going to throw out my last challenge if you care to dredge this one up, or see if any others know what I’m talking about. It’s probably the silliest one yet, but it’s old, and hard to find. And if this one gets a hit, and someone can verify it, I will regard this as the Mecca of all sites, and retire from my submissions thoroughly satisfied, and eternally grateful.

This comes from the TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN days…and is from a variety show of the early ‘70s, probably somewhat musical, and probably comedy. My first choice is the SMOTHERS BROTHERS, although it may be LAUGH-IN or one of those. It was on at night.

There is a skit where someone is singing a ditty about some guy, who at least for part of the song, is in a grocery store. Maybe the guy is henpecked, or feels guilty of something…it was more for adults I would wager. You don’t see the singer, just the guy acting out the song. There is a laugh-track, or a studio audience somehow present.

Anyway, he’s shopping for groceries, thinking about whatever the song is about, and the singer delivers the line (paraphrased) until he saw his mother’s face in the cauliflower…

The camera zooms in a head of cauliflower, and they (in ‘70s style) superimpose two eyes and a set of lips, which sings the rest of the song in a nagging awful voice. The super-imposing isn’t good, and wobbles around, and the eyes and lips kind of move around as it sings. I don’t think the eyes and mouth were from the same super-imposing…since they didn’t line up to each other, making it even worse.

It looked hideous. I’m guessing 1970 on this one. I was no older than 4 or 5.


UNK SEZ: BIgwig, I may be wrong but something tells me that this trauma may be lost in the sands of time forever; but think of it this way, if you were watching a seventies variety program and the most traumatic thing you saw was a talking cabbage, then you my friend got off easy…

Traumafessions :: Reader Jessica P. on Terror on the Beach

I love your site! So many buried memories…

My dad was a big slasher/gore fan, and he never had second thoughts about letting us kids watch with him. By the time I was 6, I’d seen enough red Karo and latex to be effectively desensitized. So it wasn’t the usual horror staples that traumatized me. No, the one scene that still haunts my nightmares is from a made-for-T.V. movie called TERROR ON THE BEACH.

I tried to find the actual scene, but my memory is really hazy. I know it involved something floating in the water. I thought it was a body, but after watching the only youtube clip I could find, it looks like the bad guys are traveling with a male blow-up doll.

Is this what kept me up at night?

I’m hoping you can help me track down the actual scene.


UNK SEZ: Jessica, I had completely forgot about 1973’s TERROR ON THE BEACH! I too caught that one on television at a very young age. It is remarkable how much it resembles WES CRAVEN’S THE HILLS HAVE EYES which would not come out for another four years (1977). No luck finding the scene you remember, but I have a hunch that the body you saw floating in the water was, in actuality, a mannequin that the hippie aggressors drug around with them. From what I’ve gathered, there is not much actual violence in this made-for-television thriller. Lack of violence aside, you can’t beat a cast that includes DUEL‘s DENNIS WEAVER, LOOKER‘s SUSAN DEY and Oscar winner ESTELLE PARSONS (BONNIE & CLYDE.)

NOTE: T.V. movie and ESTELLE PARSONS fans, you can currently check out THE UFO INCIDENT based on the famous Betty and Barney Hill case starting HERE!

Traumafessions :: Reader Brayden H. on the Brutal Beating of Johnny Five

johnny five is alive

This one part in a movie from my childhood made me cry so hard. The crooks beating up Johnny Five. That was my personal nightmare.

There, there Brayden, I know the scene is highly upsetting, but the legal proceedings that followed the savage beating were, believe it or not, even more disturbing. Studied by first year law students across the country, and still heavily debated in criminal prosecution circles, the beating of Johnny Five produced one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the late ‘80s with the case of People v. DeBarge, et al. Traditionally, witnesses in criminal prosecutions utilized the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions that may incriminate them. In People v. DeBarge, et al., the witness for the defense opted not to take the Fifth, and instead took the unusual and unprecedented move of repeatedly badgering the prosecuting attorney with the singsong response, “Who is Johnny?” A subsequent courtroom appearance by then glamorous starlet ALLY SHEEDY, in what appeared to be an acid-wash apron, and a cardboard cutout of STEVE GUTTENBERG further deadlocked the jury, which led the prosecuting attorney to suffer a nervous breakdown and don a pair of GROUCHO MARX glasses. The judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial, and the perpetrators responsible for the beating walked. Whereas Johnny Five was repaired after his unfortunate attack, many Constitutional scholars feel that the justice system has never been the same since.