Gone Fishing (?)

UNK SEZ: Happy day after Christmas! Did you know that Kindertrauma has posted every day for the last four years and then some? It’s true! So guess what? Aunt John and I have decided to take a break for a bit to go all zen and stare at walls and maybe fish for Humanoids from the deep! Keep sending in your Traumafessions (your stories about what scared you as a kid), keep sending in your Name That Traumas! (your stories about the stuff that scared you as a kid that you don’t remember the title of) and please make sure to “like” us on our Facebook page which you can access through that Facebook link to the right! We’ll be back!! We promise (unless something horrible happens).

Traumafessions :: Unk on The Little Drummer Boy

A ways back we received a traumafession regarding THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (HERE)- specifically about the scene where the title character witnesses the horrific murder of his parents. Although personally my heart was filing its nails during that incident, it did break into a zillion Legos during a scene that occurs later in the program.

I am talking about the moment that Baba the lamb is run over by a chariot. I think it may be the worst thing that ever happened in the history of ever and even thinking about it now makes me want throw my computer out the window and scream to the heavens like WESLEY SNIPES in JUNGLE FEVER. To me, Baba’s death was more tragic than a 1,000 Bambi’s moms. Have you ever seen that Baba guy? He is adorable. Especially when he is dancing around on his little hind lamby legs. Naturally, I’d rather throw myself into a volcano than see something bad happen to Baba.

When you are a kid the time period between when Baba gets plowed down and the point where he is miraculously brought back to life lasts eons. In reality, it takes less than five minutes for the little baby Jesus to conclude that the kid’s drum playing (and heart) are decent enough to splash some resurrection mojo on his poor dead friend.

For some reason the Bible neglects to include the story of THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and I’m guessing it’s because the song it’s based on didn’t exist until 1941. I suppose that will do for an excuse. They should really add it though because it’s got most Bible stories beat because it can’t be misinterpreted to spread evil and it doesn’t talk smack about delicious shellfish.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY ends with the very clear statement that hate, ALL hate, is and always will be wrong. I like when stories cut to the chase and don’t include a bunch of random rules and sloppy propaganda. In the end the Little Drummer Boy and I are so psyched that Baba is alive that we both can’t help dumping our free-floating elephantine hatred of all things human. Well, most of it anyway, I still wouldn’t mind seeing that chariot driver dragged into the middle of town and his smug puppet head sliced off with a rusty scythe. Careful driving this Christmas Eve kids and hold on tight to your lambs!

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

When I was a very little kid, I stole a pack of Dentyne gum from the grocery store. It was so easy- I just put it in my pocket as my Mother was purchasing groceries. The act itself was thrilling. I could not believe that I could think of something like that, do it and then bask in the rewards. I was interacting with the world and I existed. Hubris was destined to trip me up though. I shared my accomplishment with my older brother and after enjoying some of my gum and throwing the wrappers into a bush, my brother promptly snitched (Life lesson #1: Happiness lasts longer when not shared with others.)

So now I was in trouble, big trouble. I had to wait in the stairwell as my mother spun the punishment wheel in her head and determined my fate. As I stood in the hall crying and praying for the power to turn back time (Life Lesson #2: No amount of praying will result in God granting you magical powers) the two cops from ADAM-12 (MARTIN MILNER & KENT McCORD) came into the kitchen and began to discuss my fate with my mother. I saw them and I heard them, I swear. I was trapped in a whirlwind of guilt and horror; I was obviously going to be arrested and sent to jail. I wasn’t a “good” guy, I was a “bad” guy! Oh, the shame!

Time would reveal that no, the ADAM 12 guys were not in my home at all. I had just had, you know, a visual and audio hallucination of some sort. I guess my brain was not formed enough yet to draw the lines between my imagination and reality (this would also explain the night that I saw the Easter Bunny in the living room.) I bring up this story because while watching the Finnish film RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE some invisible elf in my head dragged it out of storage and shoved it center stage. The movie may look like a killer Santa flick but in reality, it’s more about being a kid, and finding a way to overcome feelings of being “bad” while gaining some confidence about your abilities and position in the world. If you watch this one expecting gore, explosive action and big scares, you might feel shortchanged so I’m saying don’t do that.

RARE EXPORTS introduces us to a kid named Pietari who has gone and done something worse than stealing Dentyne. He and a friend, while snooping around an excavation, left a hole in the fence that contains his father’s reindeer herd and now something has obliterated his family’s livelihood. Pietari’s guilt cannot be contained and even though he has been sworn to secrecy about the incident, he knows that Santa sees all and will punish him severely. This is made even clearer as all the local kids about town begin to disappear. Pietari’s father captures an elderly man who he thinks may be responsible for their predicament but Pietari is convinced that the creepy guy is all-knowing Santa himself. The truth is actually stranger and more fantastic than Pietari can imagine so I won’t ruin it here.

This is a highly original film that plays with your expectations and stokes your imagination at every turn. If you a looking for a different type of holiday viewing experience then this is it. It hits a very unusual and singular note by being much darker and creepier than your standard family Christmas movie and yet much more whimsical, nostalgic and ultimately uplifting (literally in one scene) than your usual Christmas horror fare. Director JALMARI HELANDER is compared to SPIELBERG, JEUNET and DANTE in blurbs on the back of the DVD and I can see that, but with the frozen landscape, zero female presence and block of ice excavation, I was thinking hey this is like a kid’s version of THE THING! Okay, well, maybe that doesn’t fit exactly but you know how my brain works. In any case, RARE EXPORTS is a great addition to my pile of required Christmas holiday viewing. Really the only thing that it is missing is a cameo from the guys from ADAM-12.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Bartel-Boy on a Murdered Monk

Sorry if my English isn´t that impressing but I´m writing you from a far out country called Germany. The reason why I´m writing this is because of the NAME THAT TRAUMA part on your fabulous site…(…okay maybe it´s a little bit sadistic to dig out that hidden fear of boys and girls who thought they would be safe now…!)

I saw this movie…(or maybe t was a episode of some series) in the late Eighties…I think I was 5 years or so…and the story took place in an old abbey the setting of that movie had this adventure kind of style and the main actors where two kids (they could be on a quest or at least searching for something or someone, their parents maybe?)…the age in which it played seemed like the mid-ages cause they wore historical hipster stuff, potatoe-sack-style.

So the kids reach this abbey and they get friends with an older (but not a kung-fu-monk-age) monk which represented the classical type of his profession: A dark beard, a big belly, little bit drunk all the times and a big big heart…he seemed like this strange “animal-lovin´” guy from the HARRY POTTER movies that they have banned in this cabin in the woods for doing his wildlife-touching stuff…don´t remember his name but that´s not the point. Fact is: he liked the kids and the kids liked him and he offered them his help trying to find whatever they were looking for. Because of his friendly, adorable character he made himself some enemies in the abbey…bad mood monks…always praying always working, always worshipping and yelling orders. They didn´t liked it either that the kids were looking for their things behind this abbey walls. And now it comes:

The friendly monk is trying to find some arguments so the kids could stay but the other fanatics were already closing in as an “no talk-just action” mob! The lovely monk thinks they are just shitting around, tries to calm them…”no boys…what u doing? Let´s get some drinks…etc…” But it´s too late! They force a big wooden bucket over his head which seemed to be boiling water, or hot oil…so steam rises and the nice teddy-bear-buddy-guy is CRYING OUT IN TOTALLY PAIN AND AGONY…the others are laughing in the most evil way and the kids are forced to watch this scene (so did I…I remember that it was only afternoon – not the time of day for this kind of stuff)…while the wailing of the bud-spencer-monk became the silent sounds of death.

And now comes the scene which burned a image in my brain that I can hardly forget: The bad-monks are removing the bucket only to reveal the blank skull-face of the monk with the flesh still falling off..oh man…I cried because of this poor guy and realized in this moment that their must be many, many horrible ways to die in this cruel outside world. So that was the whole story…greetings from over the ocean and keep on doing this great site and the brilliant idea behind it…(if you can´t post this I understand: I believe their must be million of people out there who are trying to get behind their trauma…)

Lot´s of peace, guys!


“The Present” (2005)

I had awful dreams last night and I blame the segment “The Present” from KAZUO UMEZ’S HORROR THEATER VOL 3. directed by YUDAI YAMAGUCHI (VERSUS, BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL.) “The Present” is a Japanese killer Santa story based on an influential manga. Honestly, I don’t know much about mangas but if anything involves a killer Santa, I want to know about it and I want it to be a part of my life. “The Present” opens with a little girl named Yuko having an awful dream herself. It’s Christmas night and her parents console her by informing her that as long as she is good, she has nothing to worry about and Santa will protect her from harm. If she’s bad though, she is screwed!

Flash-forward into the future and Yuko is now a young adult. She appears to be a bit of a wallflower compared to her friends but she agrees to travel with a group to a hotel to celebrate Christmas. Arriving at the hotel, she begins to stumble across crap featured in her childhood nightmare. In fact, the hotel room she stays in is decorated with assorted objects from her youth. Yuko is not feeling it and wants to go home but her friends convince her to stay and then her boyfriend convinces her to have sex. Apparently having sex on Christmas angers Santa and now Yuko and all her pals have to be butchered and fed to the reindeer. Wow, Yuko’s parents were not kidding.

“The Present” is doused in off-putting colors and heavily utilizes disorienting angles and flash cuts. It’s made even more surreal by the fact that it is filmed on some kind of HD video that reminds me of DR. WHO. There’s plenty of blood and gore running through this simple vignette, but the real creeps are the result of the psycho-moralistic undercurrent. It’s kind of like being stuck in one of those Christian haunted houses that tries to scare the sin out of you. I can’t say crazy Santa is completely effective either. He’s got a very impressive throwing star on a chain which he uses to yank off assorted limbs, but for some reason he can’t be bothered to deliver a proper scowl. Maybe this dude looks scary in Japan, but to me he looks like a bored delivery guy.

Assuming that nobody will ever watch this, I’m going get spoiler-y. As if the character of Yuko had not been disparaged enough, we come to find out that she was never the innocent we knew and was just pretending to be “pure” as a way to manipulate those around her. It turns out she doesn’t like Christmas, does not want to spend Christmas with her parents, smokes cigarettes and sneakily smiles to herself when she’s pretending to be coy. Personally I’m still not convinced that she deserves to have her brains scooped out but hey, I’m a liberal. It’s not surprising that the movie ends up being the dream that young Yuko had at the start. What is surprising is that young Yuko takes credit for squashing the brain of the “bad” future Yuko who is yet to be and that her parents rejoice in the fact that she will always be “gentle”.

Well, I’m happy I checked this one out even though I think it’s crazy making and causes bad dreams. “The Present” is so dogmatic that it ends up revealing the most horrible side of Santa I’ve ever seen. Turns out he is just a tool to scare and bribe kids into listening to their parents and submiting to their bourgeois values. Who knew?

Black Christmas (2006)

I’m weirdly proud of my Christmas horror movie collection. Every December I drag out the same rag-tag pile of VHS and DVDs and decorate the house by lining them up on a shelf. When I first viewed 2006’s BLACK CHRISTMAS, I felt only disappointment and frustration. They got the whole thing wrong, I thought and what a sack of horrible choices and bad ideas. I never really expected the remake to hold a candle to the original but with the director of the underrated WILLARD remake (GLEN MORGAN) cracking the whip, I saw no reason why it couldn’t be passable entertainment. Completist that I am, I ended up buying the DVD anyway at a used joint four years ago for four dollars (the price sticker is still on it!) and much to my embarrassment and chagrin, I have witnessed it evolve over the past couple of years into a guilt inspiring holiday staple for me. Honestly and perhaps sadly, as I write this, I cannot wait for this year’s secret eggnog-soaked rendezvous with the film.

Don’t cry, I’m not going to try to sell you on the idea that this is a good film. It’s crushingly convoluted, it makes little logical sense, it’s lethally disorganized and it’s about as scary as a kitten crawling out of a stocking. Even so, it’s hardly an amateurish effort in the technical department. The cinematography is sharp, sometimes glowingly gorgeous and the snowed-in claustrophobic set-up along with the late SHIRLEY WALKER’s sometimes jingly, sometimes ominous score does create a snug little nest of freaky holiday ambience. I know that sounds like cold comfort when you are dealing with a movie that insults your intelligence by throwing snowballs of nonsense at your head on a regular basis, but a movie like this needn’t be taken so seriously.

It’s true, I have decided to officially pardon this ill-conceived mutation based on two reasons. First, regardless of how much of a failure BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06) may be, it is still a Christmas-themed horror movie and therefore deserves some leeway. When held up against the original it does look buffoonish, but amongst a mini subgenre which includes SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT!, ELVES and DON’T OPEN ‘TIL CHRISTMAS, it’s hardly the runt of the litter. Fact is, with the exception of BOB CLARK’s classic and a precious few others, Christmas horror movies have a tendency to be a bit dopey. It’s an important part of their tacky appeal. Secondly, like many other movies that juxtapose the shmaltziest holiday with rampant depravity, I believe BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06) operates as and can be considered complete and utter camp. I don’t throw out that word lightly but it’s unavoidable here. Appearing in cartoon form on THE SIMPSONS, JOHN WATERS once identified camp as, “Anything ludicrously tragic or tragically ludicrous” and that fits this flick like a mitten.

Tone-deaf BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06) has much more than just its holiday setting shoving it into the territory of camp. It’s visually excessive (so many wild garish blinking colors!), it randomly churns out treacly tunes, it’s shamelessly histrionic in places and it centers about a nearly indistinguishable cast of nasal, cell phone stroking, self-proclaimed “spoiled bitch” sorority sisters, a house mother played by a comedienne of a certain age, a long lost sister portrayed by the director’s fierce husky voiced, playing for the balcony wife and not one, but two ill-conceived not very threatening killers; one with yellow (really chartreuse) skin and the other a very unconvincing dude in drag. If this is not a smoking smorgasbord of clueless camp, I don’t know what is. Furthermore and importantly, as cartoon-y and broad as all of this is, the kills, acted out by lame maniacs or not, are surprisingly mean spirited and extravagantly vicious (at least in the unrated version).

To fully appreciate the depth of the bungle you have to examine the DVD’s special features. It is there that you will find that all involved were sincere and unaware of what they were constructing. If we were talking about a knowing parody that would be something else altogether but BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06) is straight faced and on the level. Its unbelievably burlesque back story is designed to be taken seriously as is the film’s constant drum banging to alert us of its heavy handed “family bonds” theme. I don’t mean to mock the efforts of those involved, I’m just pointing out that this level of delusion is imperative when creating a worthwhile mess. There’s nothing worse than a knowingly ironic, consciously camp film and this clearly is not one. This is uncalculated camp- the best kind. The sad thing is, if you ripped out the preposterous killers and added some patient down time with the victims things would be merry.

It is with the above reasoning and the honest assessment of my private viewing habits that I have come to the conclusion that I like and am in no way angry with BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06). Being angry at BLACK CHRISTMAS (‘06) would be like being mad at a hot dog for not being a Dachshund. Unlike other remake disasters, this exaggerated misfire, if you have a sense of humor about it, will provide a howl of a good time particularly in the month of December, when the days grow shorter and the whiskey bottle grows emptier.

As I said, I’m not trying to convince anyone to enjoy this fiasco too. It’s just that for me, regardless of the film’s misguided nature, the end result delivers the type of somewhat silly somewhat nasty entertainment that I once spent a lot of time trying to track down on VHS. I’d love to continue carrying the torch of the outraged fanboy who feels unreasonably violated but I can’t. (Henceforth I will simply reserve my righteous indignation for the soul sucking FOG remake. ) This movie may be goofy but it’s got multiple impalement deaths and it churns out dense and hokey CHRISTMAS atmosphere non-stop. Yes, the story is full of holes and kind of blows but it’s a good looking film that features wonderfully unlikable, sassy, up and comers whose deaths you can happily route for. I know it’s not very dignified but I’d rather be accused of bad taste then be a hypocrite. It’s trash like this that makes better horror films so worth the wait. I’m too old to afford to sit around a couple decades for the sardonic appreciation of this movie to become en vogue and so here I am opening up this present to myself early.

Traumafessions :: Reader Jennifer F. on The Exorcist, Fright Night and Magic Trailer

Hey, I found your site during a search for the movie CHILD OF GLASS, which in combination with everything else on this site, seemed like a strange connection, because I loved that movie, but I was 11 for that one. I saw your request for emails about what “scarred” me for life and there were 3 things that came to mind although the first one gets the “for life” honors:

THE EXORCIST. Seriously I can barely look at clips of it even. So that’s #1.

The other 2 things were I believe, one, from the introduction of FRIGHT NIGHT. It was a TV series on at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and the introduction was from this floating head that spoke to you in the beginning of each episode and at the end I think, and then faded off into the background.

The other was some ventriloquist dummy that was the commercial for some movie in the theaters at the time (probably in the ’70s) but don’t remember which movie it was supposed to be. Just remember having to change the channel or leave the room every time it came on.

Ironic thing is I love scary movies. No possession movies though…hmmm. Thank you LINDA BLAIR. Like the site though. Wished I’d found you on Halloween!

Jennifer F.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Jennifer F! I’m not sure if I have found the right clip for the TV show FRIGHT NIGHT. Could it be the one below? Does anyone out there remember the floating head Jennifer is looking for?

Name That Trauma :: Reader Austin M. on the Afterlife, a Balloon Baby, Pirate Phantoms and a Busted Bulb

Three films & one T.V. show. I was born in 1973 and saw these between 1977 and 1980:

  • First one was a second part of a double feature drive-in that was a documentary about the afterlife.
  • The second was a possible made-for-TV movie… had a feeling of like the JOAN COLLINS’ DEVIL WITHIN HER… all I remember was a dream like sequence when a mother comes out the doors of a mansion (her POV)… there is a baby carriage with balloons… I believe the idea or feeling is that the baby is dead…???
  • One other film… also I think made-for-TV…perhaps based on a book…in the early ’80s had footprints in the sand at night… a boy and perhaps pirate ghosts…NOT THE FOG.
  • The TV show might have been the CHARLIE’S ANGELS in a haunted house… I remember a bulb breaking while the girls were walking up a staircase…???

Any help would be so greatly appreciated!

Love the Site!


Austin M.