Name That Trauma :: Reader Kahotep on Laurel & Hardy in Knots

Hi again guys, still loving your site, keep up the good work!

I was wondering if you could help me identify what sounds like a classic Kindertrauma scene, not on my behalf but my girlfriend’s, who was traumatised by this scene she said she saw in a LAUREL AND HARDY comedy short. It was one of those comedy of errors that they always did, getting themselves into trouble with one of the stock villains.

At the end of this one, however, STAN and OLLIE ended up literally tied into knots, a visual gag I’m sure many found hilarious but which mentally scarred my honeybunny at an early age. I’d love to find it, just to satisfy my own curiosity. Anyone have an idea about it?

Many thanks,


Thanks to Reader Viktoria for the email assist with LAUREL & HARDY‘s GOING BYE-BYE!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Jeffery M. on an Old Lady, Dolls & Some Dude

I must have been between three and five years old when this movie scared me. That would have been sometime between 1966 and 1968, and since the movie was on T.V. then it’s probably even older. I can’t remember much. There was an old woman, a room filled with dolls and (near what seems to have been the end) a distressed man locked in some sort of room or closet or cell or attic or something. ‘Sorry there’s so little to work with.

Thanks, btw, for such a great website! A wonderful idea remarkably executed.

-Jeffery M.

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Props to faullguy for getting it with KILL BABY KILL!

Traumafessions :: Kinderpal FilmFather on Escape from the Planet of the Apes

As a child of the’70s, I was immersed in the popularity of the PLANET OF THE APES film series. I had the coloring book, I watched the animated TV show, I played with the action figures

But amongst all that ape-lovin’, a Traumafession of mine was born: the ending of 1971’s ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES.

In this third installment, Cornelius and Zira land on present-day Earth from the future, and they’re soon treated like celebrities: police escorts, shopping sprees, new threads, swank parties, speaking at the United Nations…it’s all very lighthearted and fun.

But when Zira has a baby, an evil doctor named Hasslein fears that intelligent ape procreating will lead to the apes taking over, and he decides the baby must be killed.

Cornelius and Zira switch their baby with a baby chimp from the local circus, and flee to an abandoned oil tanker for the film’s finale…which is where the movie gets real dark, real fast.

Hasslein shoots Zira, then — in extreme close-up — puts about 4 or 5 rounds into the swaddled baby. (Yes, it’s a baby chimp, and you can’t see it, but the idea of shooting a baby was still shocking for my childhood eyes to take in.)

After shooting Hasslein, Cornelius is then shot by the military, and lets out a sick gurgling growl before plummeting from the top of the tanker to the deck below.

THEN, Zira dumps the baby’s body overboard (which I still don’t understand, but is still a harrowing display), crawls to Cornelius, lies across his body, and they both die. The end.

The best part? Despite this violent and bleak ending, ESCAPE is RATED G!

You can see video of the above carnage here (starting at the 5:30 mark), but it’s interrupted by the guy reviewing the film and it loses some of its impact:

Thx guys,

Eric aka FilmFather

The Slayer (1982)

If I’ve learned anything doing time on planet kindertrauma, it’s that there’s no way to predict what’s going to disturb you. More than anything, fear is an emotional response and your rational mind can blow the whistle all it likes, fear is going to keep doing its crazy jig if it wants to anyway. Now, I can’t say that 1982’s THE SLAYER actually scares me but I will admit that it never fails to creep me out.

I caught THE SLAYER back in the day on VHS and I remember my first thought as the film began was, “Oh crap, it’s one of those cheapie backyard homebrews and poor me is in for a world of boredom.” Little did I know that by the movie’s end I’d be left with a strange feeling, a feeling of being genuinely unnerved. That the movie was able to leave a stain on the shag carpet in my brain is even more startling when you take its not very good acting, chalk board scratch dialogue, and MS. WIGGINS pacing into account.

I wish I could say J.S. CARDONE‘s THE SLAYER was some expertly built mind fuck machine or something but it’s just not. There are some nicely done suspense scenes, a few better kills than you should reasonably expect and an interesting pre-ELM STREET death by dream mechanism but none of that is really enough to explain why it creeps me out. Maybe I’m just hanging on to the effect it had on me in my youth but a recent watch did nothing to change my opinion that THE SLAYER has the goods, even if I can’t explain it on a technical level. It’s like an abstract painting more or less, the feeling you’re left with is more than the sum of its parts.

Maybe it’s a victory of ambiance and milieu. THE SLAYER takes you to a crusty remote island, shoves you into an authentically dilapidated theater and milks a raging thunderstorm for all it’s worth. There are scavenger crabs dancing on a dead woman’s face, folks getting trapped in nets, and death by oar and fishhook. It all feels very natural and lived in so much so that no wooden acting can deter the coastal climate from leaving its mark. Feel free to throw this one into a spooky sea shanty marathon with TOWER OF EVIL, DEAD AND BURIED and THE FOG. I may even be able to use THE SLAYER as an other example alongside SESSION 9 and the original CHAINSAW that nothing beats real on location shooting. No art director in the world can counterfeit the power of an environment with genuine history.

I also have to give plaudits to the main character here, Kay (SARAH KENDALL) she’s somewhat unconvincing, certainly annoyingly repetitive, and unapologetically, narcissistically neurotic. She’d never fly in the modern post RIPLEY age but her ghoulish face and cornered, feeble disposition adds an extra depressive coat onto the rack. I miss this type of almost Victorian female horror protagonist whose main contribution is to be the seer or the voice of dread. That may mean heavy fretting and zero kick-ass but in a supernatural, psychological tale it quite simply works. Feminists may cringe, but I think it adds to the bleakness of the situation if the main character is dwarfed and quivering in awe of the phantasmagorical. In other words Kay’s not a hero, she’s not even likable and that’s what the story (yes there’s more than one kind of story!) needs.

So will everybody love THE SLAYER? I really doubt it. Like I said, the acting is stiff, the dialogue makes you want to light yourself on fire and the music is simultaneously the greatest and most intrusive thing you’ve ever heard. Still, good kills and mood up the wazoo, you can’t beat that! I watched it super late the other night, in probably the best of circumstances (in air conditioning, from my bed) and it still got to me after all these years. Whether it’s the winged clipped desperation of creepy Kay or just the singular barnacle busted atmosphere, I’m thinking this captures something unearthly and unique. As far as I’m concerned, pimples and all, it’s a dream (or nightmare) come true, a gory slasher movie with a surprisingly convincing air of the uncanny and an eerie “wrongness’’ I still can’t quite put my finger on.

Traumafessions :: Reader Carol McM. on Phantom of the Paradise, Young Frankenstein, & Ghost Story

I’ve seen PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE mentioned around here in various posts – but I’m surprised no one has done a traumafession about it.

Sometime between 1979 and ’81 my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter (who was a teenager) took my sister and I (who were 10-12ish) to a double feature of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (these both came out in ’74 – but because of when my mom started dating this guy I’m pretty sure I was about 10 when I saw them.) These movies are both pretty hilarious, but it’s kinda funny how horror comedy seems to be totally lost on kids. I’ve seen both movies many times as an adult, but when I was a kid, after having watched one seemingly traumatic movie on a huge, huge screen, and then half of another seemingly traumatic one – googly eyes ceased to be funny and sitting in the lobby for the last half of the comedy YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN seemed like a total necessity.

PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE is basically PHANTOM OF THE OPERA set in a rock club in the ‘70s. I won’t go into the plot – just the parts that scared the hell out of me. The first scene is towards the beginning of the movie – where the songwriter, Winslow, gets his teeth yanked out and replaced by freaky metal teeth. Then he gets his head squashed in a record press, which totally deforms his face – and totally sent me into kiddie shock. Then he skulks around the dark corners of The Paradise in a freakaziod, beaked mask and cape and sings his songs in this horrible metallicy, warped voice.

If all these events aren’t scary enough to make a kid run out of the theater, just wait. At the end of the movie, after we see Beef get killed on stage (Beef kinda scared me too), weirdo, creepy, short, devil guy PAUL WILLIAMS (who I just reencountered in THE HARDY BOYS AND NANCY DREW MEET DRACULA – yay!!!) gets his gold mask yanked off to reveal a bloody face. My kinder memory of this event has massive amounts of blood all over his face. In reality, there’s not so much blood. Even now -when I see the scene, I am surprised that there isn’t more blood or gore – cause seriously, I remember it being more like CARRIE.

And Beef? Silly? Yes. Funny? Yes. Over the top, campy fruitcake? Yes. Scary? Nope.

I actually didn’t leave the theater until my sister told me she wanted me to go with her to the bathroom during the second movie, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. We both wound up on a padded red theater bench in the lobby with her telling me how she couldn’t go back in and look at “that guy’s” face anymore, and I sat next to her telling her that his movie isn’t really as scary as the other movie. But I think the one I was really trying to convince was me – ’cause I couldn’t make myself go back into the theater any more than she could.

Oh, and you may be asking who “that guy” is whose face scared my sister so bad.


Another early horror-movie-in-the-theater experience I had was right around that same time – with the same chick – who took us to see GHOST STORY. The popping out of nowhere ghost lady scared the CRAP out of me so bad and forced me to stare at the back of the seat in front of me for most of the movie and I still remember a very distinct trapped feeling – like the darkness and the GIANT gross faces in the movie were all closing in on me.

Now that’s scary.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Cate on a Monster Making Milkshake

Dear Kindertrauma,

When I was a little kid in the mid-’70s, I went to a day care that showed movies when it rained. One time we watched a movie that scared the CRAP out of me and I’ve always wondered what it was. I think it was a DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE-type movie.

The part I remember was the guy drank this glass of what looked like milk with red dots in it and turned him into a monster. His lab/office was full of all kinds of stuff and I remember a parrot being there. The milky drink for some reason is the most vivid part for me.

Why the day care people thought showing this to little kids was a good idea I don’t know! I know after this scene I spent the rest of the movie with my head under a blanket and an older kid trying to calm me down by telling me it was only a movie.

Anyone out there think this sounds familiar? I’d love to know what the hell kind of movie this was!

Thanks and I love the site!


UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Thanks to reader EMG for solving it with THE NUTTY PROFESSOR.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Joseph B. on Freaky Faces

When I was a kid, what always terrified me was the occasional horror trailer that would suddenly pop up on a seemingly innocent video rental. I would hide behind the couch whenever one of them came on, but even the sounds were enough to haunt me for weeks. I’ve since managed to identify most of these trailers, but one particularly traumatizing example remains elusive.

I’m not sure how much of this is due to my own runaway imagination, but I think the film concerned a young couple either moving into a new house or staying at a vacation house at some pastoral location. The beginning of the trailer made the movie appear to be an innocent love story, but halfway through things turned dark. I think a storm brews, and all hell breaks loose — perhaps the house is cursed or there is a cursed object in the house.

The details are fuzzy, but one scene I can recall were giant, monstrous faces peering into the bedroom window of the house. It was as if the entire house was surrounded by them. It might even have been a kind of wall of faces pushing up against the glass. I’ve searched long and hard for this film, to no avail. I was hoping someone out there would be able to identify it. This would’ve been the mid-to-late eighties.


Joseph B.

Joseph, could the freaky faces be from the 1988 AUDREY LINDLEY tour de force SPELLBINDER? Watch out for the windows at the 2:41 mark:

UPDATE: Aunt John was right!

George Tooker vs. the Body Snatchers

I can’t watch PHILIP KAUFMAN‘s 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS without having GEORGE TOOKER‘s 1950 painting “Subway” come crawling into my mind (for the painting in full please look HERE). After my recent viewing of SNATCHERS, I decided to Google around for some other examples of TOOKER‘s work and found several others with a similar vibe. After a while I started wondering why TOOKER‘s incredible work was not more wildly known, then suddenly the answer became clear…it’s a conspiracy!

Invasion of the B.S.

Just as the original 1956 film adaptation of JACK FINNEY’s novel THE BODY SNATCHERS unintentionally provoked a variety of interpretations (boo communism!…No, boo McCarthyism!), so too does PHILIP KAUFMAN’s accomplished 1978 reconsideration (it’s just too good to call a “remake”!) How fascinating is it that no matter what your angle or bias is, FINNEY’s pod people scenario has always got your back? Worried that conservative ideology is spreading like a virus? It’s got you covered. Feel like plant hugging lefty pop psychology is creating a cult of soft dolts? It’s got you covered too. Everyone is invited to the paranoia party! All you need to know is that the world is falling apart and it’s all thanks to THEM, those other people; the ones who aren’t smart enough to think like you.

Let’s all take a moment to thank God for creating such a simple world where everything can be perceived either one way or the other; good or bad, left or right, black or white, male or female, straight or gay, dog or cat, Coke or Pepsi, Laverne or Shirley. Imagine how complicated and messy things would be otherwise!

To me, reading political allegory into the pod movies is fun yes, but it also does an enormous disservice to just how universal its larger concerns are. More than anything and regardless of its ambitions, the framework proudly stands as one of the strongest indictments of any and ALL conformity ever concocted (with the possible exception of SHIRLEY JACKSON’s “The Lottery.”) Putting that massive accomplishment to the side though, what’s at stake here is a bit bigger than whatever side you’re NOT on getting the upper hand. When the pods come it won’t matter what state, country our religious background you come from, we’re ALL going down. All of humanity is getting erased. You won’t be blaming anyone any more, you won’t want to.

Putting that vaguely appealing thought aside though, I have to say it’s the acute social alienation encrusting the tale that really gets under this paranoid person’s skin. No matter the incarnation, FINNEY’s mold hits a tender nerve most narratives gladly stay clear of, the fear that we as people never really know one another. As if that weren’t disquieting enough, the fear of losing our sense of self is nettled with equal sadistic verve. In both films, we may eventually learn the rules of the game and exactly what the space pods are up to, but before we get there we’re shown a cold, apathetic soulless drone infected world that (yikes!) rings a bell that is way too familiar for any viewers comfort.

I think it’s telling and ironic that when presented with a fiction about the global annihilation of the life form known as man (yes, I just quoted the Imperious Leader!) the first thing many people think of is, “Oh, this is really about those jerks that I don’t like!” You can read it that way if you wish; many do but before you pat yourself on the back and pull out that cigar kindly check the neon sign flashing in the corner that says “YOU ARE LOOSING YOUR HUMANITY!” In my opinion INVASION (whichever one) is not singling out any one group, all y’all is busted! (And that includes sweet innocent me!) Perceiving it to be about “those other guys” is sort of like a dog barking at its own reflection in a pool.

Maybe we don’t all suck as much as I am telling you that we do (let’s leave that up to OPRAH to decide) but I believe that the reason the movie resonates and refuses to go away is because we intuitively recognize its Cassandra wail to be true. We sense its frustrating accuracy not only on a social or cultural level but also personally. Just go and walk outside your door and bask in the disconnect that modern life affords us. Better yet, just think about it the next time you’re sitting with one person and “texting” somebody else. (No, you can’t kid a kidder kids, they’ve yet to invent any advancement in the area of “communication” that can’t be used as a convenient human contact avoidance device.) The premise’s inherent (albeit possibly unintentional) cultural critique is damning enough, but there is yet another darker stallion galloping up just behind. INVASION knows your dirty little secret, that as every year goes by it gets a little bit easier not to give a shit. There’s a reason why the film’s most notorious and unshakable image is a figure pointing into the camera. That pod bastard is pointing at you!

I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ll get back to INVASION’s naggy accusations later…

I saw the 1978 INVASION in the theater as a youngin’ and it did much to encourage my love of the genre. (Like many people in my age group it also happens to be the landmark watershed moment when I first saw boobs, I don’t care about your orientation, that’s not something you forget.) I’m a ginormous (beg to differ spell-check, ginormous IS a word now and has been since 2007, get with the times!) fan of the film but I am especially fond of its first quarter. I just feast upon the acrid paranoid vibe before anyone has an inkling of what’s going down. It’s just deliciously suspicious and distrustful and if you snatched the space plants out of the picture it would play like classic noir.

Even more amusing may be the way KAUFMAN’s version exploits its premise to add some extra, not of this Earth potency to the standard love triangle. Elizabeth (BROOKE ADAMS, she of the inaugural bosom) is torn between her floppy haired, soft sweater wearing, wok-cooking platonic pal Matthew (DONALD SUTHERLAND) and her live in beau Geoffrey (THE BROOD’s ART HINDLE). Geoff is a stiff, suit wearing stick in the mud shown as distant and remote (wearing earphones, enraptured by a television) before his body is snatched. He and Elizabeth seem destined for couples therapy from the get-go, this new pod predicament is just icing on an already stale cake.

Platonic or not Geoffrey and Elizabeth’s relationship shines like the perfect antithesis of the alien agenda. Their interactions are sublimely human, their connection unquestionable. They share in-jokes, finish each other’s thoughts and blissfully engage in each other’s company. So too do pals Nancy and Jack (Kinder-Goddess VERONICA CARTWRIGHT and the patron saint of geekdom, JEFF GOLDBLUM), quirky eccentrics whose individualism, if lost, really would be a profound shame. I tend to consider INVASION more of a horror film but its core manifesto is clearly snatched from the best of sci-fi. If INVASION is on any side at all, it is on the side of staying awake (the hypnotist snaps his fingers) and if it’s trying to tell you anything, it is that there is something wrong with living in a world where you need to suppress your true self in order to survive. Yes, my fellow humans, feelings (whoa, whoa, whoa,…feelings!) are the currency that you can’t afford to lose. Kudos FINNEY, usually we need a robot to give us that tip!

I know it sounds touchy-feely corny but don’t give a wedgie to the messenger. This movie mines a worry that many don’t acknowledge but feel within their bones anyway, that to function in the world a certain amount of shelving of our true selves is required. It’s no problem to scrape away a little bit of your soul at a time to fit through certain doorways but how much scraping can you concede to before you stop, look around and wonder, when and where exactly did you stop being you? Again, the devastation INVASION presents may be ostensibly fantastic but its jellyfish sting lingers due to our familiarity with it.

Let’s face it; we already live in a culture that sledgehammers the idea that emotions are a sign of weakness, that they get in the way. What a great trick to keep us in order and cutting ourselves off at the knees. What a great way to keep us disconnected and unanswerable to the fates of our friends. What a great way to shut people up, to put them to sleep. What a great way to starve the soul into submission. It’s not for nothing that within the film that once duplicated and replaced, the first order of business for a snatched body is getting to work! Move those pods! Chop! Chop! I hate to be the bearer of bad news gentle readers but to quote both films “They’re already here!”

Who needs to express themselves when you can watch people on Reality Television shows do it for you? Who needs dreams of success when you can watch the rich frolicking on the glass teat for free? Who cares about your emotional fulfillment in the first place? The better question is how’s that JENNIFER ANISTON holding up? If you need some help fitting in here’s a make-over show to show you how to be more presentable (it may cost you some money though!). Oh, and here’s a program to show you how to decorate your home correctly but first we’ll ask you to throw all of your most valued possessions in the garbage. Don’t worry, it’s in order to make room for your new socially acceptable dream crypt! By the way, why aren’t you happy all the time? You’re supposed to be happy all the time!

There’s a reason FINNEY’s concept won’t kick the bucket.

Conformity is an ugly word but the idea of fitting in is not without its charms. In fact, if you dress up fugly “Conformity” in the pretty dress of “Acceptance” the troll looks kind of hot! We all know what emotions are, we’ve all had them and we all know its false advertising to suggest that all of them are a blast. Rumor has it that there are rich rewards to be found by scrambling through life’s emotional trenches but isn’t it easier just to buy yourself a real, tangible gift instead?

This is where INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS stops being thrilling entertainment and stars being a big fat piece of brilliant art. It’s the opposite of a backhanded compliment, it’s a condemnation covered with kisses. It knows how tempting it is to get lost in the crowd, to fall in step, to sell out your pain and it’s looking you straight in the eye and saying you are worth more, that EVERYBODY is worth more. It warns you that sleep is the enemy and it goes one better and points out how to identify the already stricken and lost by their emotionless gaze. It does not have the side of any one group, on the contrary, it laments that such groups restrain our humanity.

I’m going to say it once again to all those Oscar winning weepies and critically lauded period pieces that didn’t hear me the first time. If you ever really want to talk about what’s relevant in life, you need to start taking some cues from teams horror and sci-fi, they don’t fucking play around.

O.K. so I’m starting to get rowdy which is my signal to wrap it the hell up. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is an extraordinarily profound erupting volcano of genius. You can’t go wrong with either the 1956 or the 1978 version (you’re on your own with the other two). These films are beyond cautionary tales they are a rallying cry. Keep dodging those who want to douse your fire! Don’t let anyone tell you what to think! Relish your emotions, don’t curb them! Stop texting people and actually talk to them for crying out loud. Most importantly, if you can do a crazy, weird trick with your eyeballs, by all means do it!

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman.