Unk’s Favorite Horror Towns

In the not so distant past your Unk, along with his fellow Pennsylvania pal CHRISTINE HADDEN of FASCINATION WITH FEAR, created a couple of conjoined twin posts together. The first concerned our FAVORITE HORROR HOMES and the second explored our LEAST FAVORITE HORROR HOMES. Both were Internet sensations that resulted in mass suicides across the globe and heavily censored high-profile films. Now we’re back with our 3-D third installment, duel listings of our FAVORITE HORROR TOWNS because YOU did not specifically ask us not to!

So below are my TOP TEN FAVORITE HORROR TOWNS. If you don’t see your favorite town there then that means I either don’t feel the same as you, do feel the same as you but totally forgot that I do or CHRISTINE has it listed over at her place. See, we went out of our way not to have duplicate towns for the sake of your entertainment and now don’t you feel like a heel? Check out Christine’s list HERE. If you still feel your favorite town has been neglected then by all means leave a comment. Let me warn you though, I did not include ELM STREET’s SPRINGWOOD on purpose just because I’m still mad about that last movie stinking like a crab dip litter box.


I guess nobody would want to actually spend too much time in SILENT HILL due to all the triangle head monsters, faceless killer health care professionals and worst of all, swarming cucarachas but hey, at least you get a warning alarm before they appear. I know the place is run down and falling apart, but I’m all about the shabby chic and let’s hear it for snow considerate enough to look pretty but not stick around. It’s like the whole town is a giant haunted house with streets for hallways. Hey, except for that considerate snow thing, it sounds kinda like Philly!


If I had my way it would be autumn all year round and what better place to spend a crisp fall day then in the town featured in this RAY BRADBURY classic. Maybe the 1983 movie directed by JACK CLAYTON (THE INNOCENTS) pales in comparison to the novel but can the novel boast an appearance by PAM GRIER? I think not. Perhaps your Unkle Lancifer was born in the wrong time, I’d rather deal with armies of tarantulas in my bedroom than people yacking on cell phones any day of the week. Yeah, I know it looks boring but that’s what tall dark transient carnies are for. By the by, Green Town, Illinois is featured in two other BRADBURY works, “Dandelion Wine” and “Farewell Summer.” I admit it, I never read those two but doesn’t that just give me something to look forward to in my twilight years?


Fictional fiction author Sutter Cane’s fictional New England town can be said to be located at the crossroads between STEPHEN KING’s Castle Rock and H.P. LOVECRAFT’s Dunwich. Named after a fictional London underground transport station featured in 1967’s QUARTERMASS AND THE PIT (which altered the moniker from “Hobb’s Lane” a fictional street prominent in the 1958 television serial of the same name) Hobb’s owes just as much of its existence to frequent CARPENTER inspiration NIGEL KNEALE. It’s interesting to note that “Hob” was once one of the Devil’s many call signs. Fictional or not, I dig any town with a covered bridge dimensional doorway.


Speaking of our old pal STEPHEN KING, one of his many great creations is the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Salem’s lot for short. (If you prefer “Salem” to “Jerusalem” thank the publisher’s marketing concerns.) You can visit this unfortunate town via KING’s novel (or through 2 short stories featured in NIGHT SHIFT), TOBE HOOPER’s 1979 mini-series, the RUTGUER HAUER featuring 2004 miniseries or even the 1995 radio play found HERE. I don’t care how you go there, just go there. KING himself, at one point, admitted that it was his favorite of his works and if I thought about it for a while I’d probably agree with him. Also, if you like vampires, there is at least one vampire in this town.


DAPHNE (REBECCA, DON’T LOOK NOW) du MAURIER’s original short story took place in a British coastal town but ALFRED HITCHCOCK placed his telling smack in the muddle of the non-fictional Bodega Bay in California. In fact the only element HITCH retained from du MAURIER’s story is those kooky ornery birds. HITCH’s choice is what lands the classic here as what a scenic spot he chose, even if many of the scenes in THE BIRDS are in fact shot on UNIVERSAL sets. The famous (and rumored haunted) schoolhouse shown in the film to be within running distance of the bay actually exists miles away. Bodega Bay has also made in appearance in THE GOONIES, PUPPET MASTER and a little something called THE FOG but more squawking on that film later.


I love this little compact town even though it has the fakest looking snow I’ve ever seen and is merely a Universal back lot fated to appear soon after in BACK TO THE FUTURE. (There sure is a preference for small towns in this compilation; I must be trying to tell myself something.) Kingston Falls seems like a place where everybody knows everybody and the jewel in its crown has got to be Dorry’s Tavern (which was included in our “Best Horror Watering holes” found HERE!) I think the only minus to this burg is the witchy asshole known as Mrs. Deagle (POLLYFLOHOLIDAY) but a faulty stair elevator seems to have cleared up that miserable problem.


Everything is perfect in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California and you can thank mind controlling aliens and clockwork replicants for that. Whether it’s the landing pad for pod people or the home to a Stonehenge tripped booby trap Halloween mask novelty company, Santa Mira is a town like no other. So what if you have to give up your personal identity, think of the peace and quiet!


Maybe FOOTLOOSE’s KEVIN BACON would have a hard time in the dance forbidding mining town of Valentine’s Bluff found in the 1980 slasher MY BLOODY VALENTINE but as I’m loath to do a jig and chuck confetti anyway, I’m thinking I’d fit right in. How could I say no to a town with such a hospitable and accommodating laundromat like Mabel’s? The town was renamed and relocated into the dance neutral Pennsylvanian mining town of “Harmony” for the 2009 remake and truth be told, I like it just about the same. Harmony may not be quit as charming as Valentine’s Bluff but it makes up for that by being home to that crapilly built bridge that THE MOTHMAN is always trying to warn everybody about.


This place covers all of my bases. It’s small, it’s coastal, it’s lost in time and it’s inhabited by zombified weirdoes. It’s the perfect storm of all of my wants and desires in regards to cinematic towns. Also FLASH GORDON’s MELODY ANDERSON lives there. I’m packing my bags as we speak. DEAD AND BURIED was filmed in Mendocino, California; other notable films filmed there include CUJO, THE HOWLING and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP.


Let’s face it, Antonio Bay is the coolest fictional town on Earth. Sure the town’s ancestors murdered lepers in the name of prosperity, stole their gold and then strangely just hid the gold in a church wall anyway. If you want omelets in your future, you better be ready to trick some eggs into smashing their boats into some rocks. Many towns were actually used within the course of the film to represent ANTONIO BAY but I’m most interested in Point Reyes, California, the home of Stevie Wayne’s radio station lighthouse. I want to have my ashes dumped from the top of that lighthouse! Not the ashes of my cremated body but the ashes of my set-on-fire copy of the 2005 remake of THE FOG.


I did my whole list concentrating on movies and books and forgot that I could include television shows as well. I don’t want to bump Antonio Bay out of the spotlight, but I’m thinking perhaps I should for the fictional town of Sunnydale from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. After all, over seven seasons Sunnydale exists in 144 episodes and that’s not even counting novelizations and comic books. Quite an achievement if ya think about it, Sunnydale was destroyed in the last episode of BUFFY but remember it exists on in all those earlier installments. If you’ve never visited, you should.

So that wraps it up. Don’t forget to let CHRISTINE take you on a tour of her favorite towns HERE and let us know if there are any other horror towns you’d like to visit!

Stream Warriors! #1

Now it’s time for a brand new show called STREAM WARRIORS! Will it have legs? Will it get canceled? It’s up to the horrifically random and meaningless nature of the universe I suspect. I don’t care. There are stray cats freezing to death in the snow as we speak.

But that’s stinkin’ thinkin’ and we’re here to have fun, fun, fun. STREAM WARRIORS is a magazine that shows up on the doorstep of your computer every Sunday. It was invented by a tenure-denied Professor to help you get the most of your Netflix streaming experience!

Balk and awe as three films currently available on Netflix streaming are yanked out of the crowd and recommended for your consumption. Don’t be afraid, it’s here to help you and if you don’t have Netflix streaming then well, you can still find some other way to check out the movies highlighted! Here you go with the first three, maybe you won’t like them but hey, at least you are not freezing to death trapped under a car!


There certainly is a plethora of pissed-off animal films out there so I think it’s important to distinguish this one from the riley pack. BLACK WATER is not a cheesy monster movie but a harrowing reality-based endurance film along the lines of OPEN WATER or this past year’s FROZEN. You’ll find believable, likable characters and a few genuinely sharp scares and the backdrop of the mangrove swamps of northern Australia brought to my mind both THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and ALGERNON BLACKWOOD’s classic tale “The Willows.” Explore more HERE.


Horror anthologies are difficult to pull off and no matter how successful the result, it always seems to pale when held up against CREEPSHOW. AFTER MIDNIGHT, when taken on its own terms, is spooky albeit light fun and it’s absolutely soaked in delicious eighties goodness. The middle tale involving a pack of teens (Including MR. BELVEDERE’s adorable TRACY WELLS and ELM STREET 3‘s PENELOPE SUDROW ) facing off against a pack of dogs is a highly memorable must-see that would have made a fine feature length movie of its own. The last tale starring a young MARG HELGENBERGER may wear out its welcome a tad but AFTER MIDNIGHT is a rare anthology film whose wrap-around story (thanks in large part to the cast) satisfies as much as the segments it surrounds. Read more HERE.


The gritty cropped presentation of LEMORA on Netflix streaming leaves a lot to be desired but I’m compelled to recommend a watch anyway. (Ssssh, there’s a nicer looking version that you can view on YouTube starting HERE!) I’ve got acres in my heart marked off for any Southern Gothic and even more territory reserved for any that is stuffed with fuzzy monsters, singing witches and tricky vampires. Buoyed by an ethereal performance by the late CHERYL “RAINBEAUX” SMITH, LEMORA is a beauteous nightmare journey somehow simultaneously silly and astonishing. This makeshift mini-masterpiece mash up of horror and fairy tale elements should be seen by anyone with a taste for the darkly poetic. For more on LEMORA visit HERE.

There you go. That’s three movies that I think deserve your love or at least passing interest. Check them out soon ‘cuz you never know when they might disappear! Thanks for dropping by and now it’s time to close out the show with a rousing musical number….

Name That Trauma :: Reader Doug on a Scorched Spider-Man

Love your site!,

Here is a movie that haunted my childhood. I’m actually not even sure if it was a horror movie, but one scene scared the pants off of a younger me.

I want to say it was a made-for-T.V. movie in the mid-to-late 1970s as I remember seeing it on more than a few times and always during primetime. It involved two brothers. Both around 8 to11 years old. One was a mute, or maybe retarded? I know something was wrong with him mentally. The other brother, the normal one, loved Spider-Man. Their room was decorated with Spider-Man posters and toys. In particular a Mego Spider-Man. The mentally challenged brother was frightened of Spider-man. So much so he took his brother’s Mego Spider-Man and cooked it in the oven.

The smoke alarms went off and the mother ran to the stove. When they pulled out the horribly charred Spider-Man figure from the oven, the normal brother freaked out screaming. And the Mego Spider-Man, it was so disgusting and burnt, that image scared the webbing out of me as a kid.

Does anyone know this movie? It’s been driving me nuts for over 30 years.

Thanks Kindertrauma,

Doug from Ohio

UNK SEZ: I went a’ Google-sluethin’ and I found your burnt Spider-Man movie! It’s called …AND YOUR NAME IS JONAH (1979), a T.V.- movie starring SALLY STRUTHERS and JAMES WOODS. Don’t feel bad about not remembering what Jonah’s issue was, his parents had a hard time figuring it out as well. Although diagnosed as mentally challenged, we find out through the course of the movie that Jonah is in actuality deaf. I also noticed in the IMDb message board that you are not alone in having a strong memory of the Spider-Man burning incident!

…AND YOUR NAME IS JONAH is not on DVD but you can watch it over at Amazon, Hulu or Netflix streaming. Thanks for coming to us with your Name That Trauma Doug!

Kindertrauma Funhouse :: Someone’s in the Kitchen With Aunt John

I am sorry to report that your Unkle Lancifer has come down with a dreadful head cold, and not only do I have to make his favorite comfort food of chicken noodle soup with Sour Patch Kids, but I also have to host the Funhouse this week. The problem is, there are way too many cooks in the various kitchens here at the Kindertrauma Kastle (we have 10 kitchens, what can I say?), and I am not going to get a thing done until they are gone. Can you help me remember what movies they came from so I can tell them to please pack their knives and go?

PS: It’s been ages since we offered up a prize, so on the line this week for one random commenter is an official Kindertrauma Mug. Even if you have no idea where the above cooks came from, feel free to leave a link to your most favorite crock-pot recipe in the comments. Your dear old Aunt John is a harried homemaker and is always on the look out for new set-it-and-forget-it cuisine ideas. For reals!

Madhouse (1981)

I think 1981’s MADHOUSE (a.k.a THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL, a.k.a AND WHEN SHE WAS BAD) tastes like horror movie comfort food. I don’t know if it’s good but it’s always been good to me. I don’t need or want every horror film to be a blasting, rousing shower of fear; sometimes I just want to sink into a nice tub of lukewarm creepy. MADHOUSE makes me ardently nostalgic even though we never crossed paths in my youth as I was fated to discover it decades after its release in a pile of used tapes in a second hand store. I drug it home thinking it might work as a shrug-off, time waster but from its vivid opening credits (complete with an eerie sing-song rhyme) I found myself strangely ensnarled. Corny, melodramatic and outmoded at birth, it’s easy to understand why this one has eluded much fan-boy recognition. On the other hand, it’s smartly shot, atmospheric and unaffectedly eccentric. MADHOUSE is an out of touch weirdo and it may not have the chops or desire for spotlight attention but I’ve always gravitated to quiet loners anyway. Half mass though it may fly; I spy a freak flag billowing.

One of MADHOUSE’s greatest charms is its lead TRISH EVERLY who christened this her one and only film. As a teenager I read many a horror paperback and I have to say the heroines who I conjured in my head always looked like TRISH even though I was unaware of her existence at the time. What a shame she never went on to other films; I feel like her character Julia Sullivan is the type that we just don’t get to see enough of anymore. She’s an un-hip, unassuming altruist (she teaches deaf children) and she’s a bit of a doormat/pincushion to her horrifically scarred, witch cackling sadistic “twin” sister Mary (ALLISON BIGGERS). Yes, Julia is living the dream as a functioning adult with fantastic hair, a slutty pants-optional best friend doomed to die and a stand up main squeeze with a CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC moustache. Just because she relies on her man to save her ass doesn’t mean she won’t hack a person’s back into hamburger meat with an ax when given a reasonable opportunity. Everyone may think Julia is letting her imagination get the best of her, but time will show that she has a valid reason to suspect her sibling of siccing a Rottweiler to chomp on her favorite pupil. I love Julia Sullivan and I wish she would invite me over to her wicker and fern heavy apartment.

AN ASIDE: It doesn’t hurt that Julia’s pad exists within an incredible Georgian mansion. I Googled this shit up and learned that MADHOUSE was filmed in a real joint called “The Kehoe House” which is now an Inn rumored to be haunted (by twin ghosts no less.) Incredibly none other than JOE NAMATH owned the joint from 1980 to 1989 and he tried but failed to transform it into a disco. Don’t feel bad for Broadway Joe though, it turned out to be a highly lucrative investment. Aw, I love that JOE even when he was a lascivious drunk on live television. He was so swank on THE BRADY BUNCH.

Although filmed in the States, MADHOUSE is an Italian production directed and written by OVIDIO G. ASSONITIS. OVIE may not be the best director in the world but as the man responsible for TENTACLES and BEYOND THE DOOR, he has brought more joy into my world than many a celebrated director ever has. Telltale Italian sensibilities are all present and accounted for. Appreciation for color, shadow and inventive angles abound and God bless whoever rented the wind machine to shove the foliage about. (Attention all directors: if you are too cheap to spring for a wind machine get the crew to shake branches outside the window. Wind is very important for setting a mood for me.) In the end MADHOUSE may be little more than an old, dark house flick hugging on a lady-in-peril with family-issues movie but that’s just fine by this guy. Some movies simply exist to shove me in a canon and shoot me to my happy zone. This semi ridiculous bruiser does so every time.

Believe me I’m not blind to MADHOUSE’s quirks and foibles. I know it’s not without its awkward tics. Some of the stalking scenes drag and some of the supporting players need to look up “supporting” in the dictionary and take it down a notch and the death by Rottweiler bit does become repetitive. Truth told, some of the killer canine set pieces, thanks to slack puppy-puppetry, feel more like TRIUMPH THE INSULT DOG sketches gone awry, but expertly hung Christmas lights and a party attended by corpses tends to salve my wounds.

Many have pointed out that MADHOUSE’s climax resembles that of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, and I can only touch my nose and point in agreement. Both films came out around the same time so it’s nearly impossible that one cribbed off the other, but the similarities are uncanny. Besides the dead birthday party guests and the rampant sibling rivalry present, both films carry a verbatim line, “Take a good long look!” I blame the collective unconscious and synchronicity myself as those pimps are always up to something. In a way, the two films are mismatched battling twinsies from the same litter themselves and I have no problem awarding both Snausages.

MADHOUSE’s greatest notoriety may come thanks to a questionable inclusion on Britain’s famed “Video Nasty” list. Out of all the films listed it may deserve inclusion the least. I’ve always found it more GASLIGHT than ghastly, but a recent uncut edition from CODE RED does kick the blood and violence up a notch. More importantly, I can now view this pet pleasure in widescreen, which compliments it like an enamored groupie. The darks are darker, the Christmas tree lights blink a little brighter and miniscule details just pour out of the walls. Now if I could only switch RIZ (CANIBAL HOLOCAUST) ORTOLANI’s score to something more sweeping and appropriate rather than randomly blippy.

As is, MADHOUSE hits the spot for me. It doesn’t have the wild youthful energy of some of its contemporaries but instead accentuates a comparatively brooding, more classical stance that scratches a certain itch. Yes, I just used the word “classical” to describe a movie that features a power drill being inserted into a dog puppets head. I guess you can thank TRISH EVERLY for that.

Name That Trauma/Traumafessions :: Reader Grayson K. on The Mummies of Guanajuato (Book)


I’ve debated telling this one because I have yet to identify the details, but finally decided the world should know…

When I was in 3rd grade or so, I had a friend in my class who owned a peculiar book. From what I remember, it was taller and wider than a regular book, but much thinner and full of nothing but photos. We would look through it from time to time when the teacher wasn’t around and I remember requesting him to bring it on many occasions… a request I would always regret once the day was over and it was bedtime. The subject matter was consistent; dead people. Decomposing people photographed in a portrait like manner.

Specifically, the photos were of remains of coffins that were dug up mere decades after their burial. Probably less time had passed; many of them had suits and dresses on that were not completely eaten away. They were mainly just skeletons with clothes on, and some even had some hair left. One photo was of a woman who apparently was buried alive; a separate photo of the top of the coffin contained scratches and pieces of fingernails.

To this day I do not know what the book was, why it was made or how it fell into the hands of school children (… and yes, I would love a copy).

AUNTIE SEZ: Before we were able to publish this Name That Trauma, Grayson followed up with this email:

If you DO use the kindertrauma that I sent, I have an update; I found the book!

Here it is on Amazon: The Mummies of Guanajuato.

Thanks Kindertrauma!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Beth on a Malevolent Mannequin Maker

Hi Kindertrauma,

I was wondering if you could help me find the name of the very first horror movie my brother and I saw as very young kids, hiding behind the couch while our babysitter watched this movie. We were born in the ’80s, and what I can remember of this movie it seemed like an ’80s flick, but it may have been from late ’70s too.

The plot I recall was some creepy dude living in the basement of a department store who would kidnap women and turn then into mannequins. However, I have seen clips from TOURIST TRAP, MANIAC, and even the MANNEQUIN movie with KIM CATTRALL and none of these seem like it, the movie definitely had a department store connection, many mannequins, and was scary as hell (at least, to a 6-year-old).

This has been bothering us for more than 20 years, so if anyone could help us out that would be great.



UNK SEZ: Beth, I think I know this one! In fact, it was a Name That Trauma of my own once (check the comments section HERE!) Luckily our stalwart kinderpal Mickster was able to track this short film down. It’s called LIVING DOLLS and it seems to have been used often as filler between shows in the early days of cable. You may not believe this… but unlike the last time I looked for this film on YouTube, this time I found it!

I just watched it myself and I think it’s even creepier than I remembered. More frightening still, as the film ends, it is followed by an episode of MY SISTER SAM which I’ve decided is proof that not only does the Devil exist, but he also truly does enjoy manifesting in the form of JENNY O’HARA. Yikes and yikes! Watch below…

UPDATE: Reader Beth emailed this:

Sorry for the delay in response; I have been waiting for my brother’s opinion, and unfortunately the conclusion is that we’re not sure if this is it. There is something familiar about it (and as a side note I do agree heartily that HD is not good for horror films), however what I recall of the plot was that the man was the villain and was actually turning live women into mannequins. But I may just be remembering incorrectly. Sorry I couldn’t give you a definite yes or no about Unk’s kind contribution to my question.

Thanks so much!


Flashback (2000)

Do you remember about a decade ago when I was working at a video store and I was in charge of the buying and I was ordering every post-SCREAM slasher revival flick that came down the pike even though most of them were beyond terrible? Neither do I, but the journal that I wrote whilst wearing a monocle says that it happened. The other night while rummaging through the furthest reaches of Netflix streaming I spotted a film from that sour time period that I actually liked. It’s called FLASHBACK and it’s from Germany and I recommend it with only a half dozen or so caveats. I feel it’s my duty because the cover art is abominable and is sure to repel any potential advocates.

First of all, this endorsement is for slasher fans only. If you’re not a slasher fan you might as well keep walking; nothing to see here. Clichés abound so your enjoyment level probably depends on how much you embrace certain tropes. Secondly, the Netflix streaming version (unlike the DVD) only presents the film dubbed and oh, what a dub it is. Personally I can get into bad dubbing. I find it sort of amusing and strange and think it can add a weird surreal cartoon tone to things. Yeah, it makes the film harder to take seriously but it adds a goofy fun element too. The dubbed version of FLASHBACK is particularly ridiculous and clumsy and may be the absolute corniest found this side of THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, but I say lean into the turns and get down with the sickness.

Let’s get to some of the good stuff. I like the slick but not too slick way this film was shot and it’s setting in the Austrian Alps is postcard glorious; as routine as some of the action is, the location and the novel atmosphere are worth the trip. Another big bonus is the multitude of kills which are deliciously bloody and darkly humorous in an almost HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME type of way. A sickle ala CURTAINS is deftly put to use for most of them, but an assortment of more unusual tools and devices are utilized too. The bloodshed is fierce but funny, leaning on slapstick rather than mean-spiritedness. You will also find ELKE (BARON BLOOD, LISA AND THE DEVIL) SOMMER lurking around the premises and that can only be a good thing. Dubbed or not, ELKE is ELKE.

I’m unashamed of digging the plot, which is as rickety and boiler plate as they come. A psychopath in ladies garb is murdering people. As a child, Jeanette watches her parents murdered by the killer during an URBAN LEGEND-influenced home invasion. She spends ten years in a mental hospital under close scrutiny of a psychiatrist smelling of red herring and is released to tutor French to a trio of tech savvy spoiled siblings. People get slaughtered left and right and the list of suspects is tenfold. Has the killer returned or is Jeanette bonkers? As mundane as this all may sound FLASHBACK does offer a few semi-unpredictable twists and turns. Nobody needed the bungling cops accompanied by flip musical cues in HALLOWEEN 5 and they certainly don’t need them here, but they are a small price to pay to see a sickle wedged in a head and body parts flying out of a snow blower.

Perhaps some of the reason FLASHBACK is better than you’d expect is because it stemmed from an original idea from HAMMER mainstay JIMMY SANGSTER (THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE NANNY, WHO SLEW AUTIE ROO?) although it’s obviously been filtered through and influenced by the aforementioned SCREAM-machine as well. Like I stated though, I enjoy this jaunt scads more than most of the other wannabes littering video shelves early last decade. It’s got yummy gore, a devil may care disposition, jaw dropping scenery and ELKE SOMMER after all. I suggest slasher fans check it out and why not give it a bit of a leg up with some inebriation to boot. It won’t change your world but it might change your night and as awkward as the dubbing is, like many wretched and unnecessary annoyances in life, you do get used to it. You might even end up like me and learn to love it.

Traumafessions :: Reader Count Otto Black on the Daleks

It all started with the Daleks. You know what a Dalek is, don’t you? The amazingly long-lived British T.V. show DOCTOR WHO never quite conquered America, but I think even Americans will be familiar with the Daleks, because they’re without doubt one of the scariest monsters ever invented. Hell, they’re scarier than quite a few of the real ones.

According to legend, their creator, the late TERRY NATION, was in his local library when he happened to glance at the volume of The Encyclopedia Britannica labeled “DAL – LEK” and the proverbial cartoon light bulb appeared over his head. His next problem was figuring out what something as alien-sounding as a “Dalek” could possibly look like. But when he saw the pepperpots in the BBC canteen, cartoon light bulb #2 clicked on, and the rest is history and staggeringly lucrative toy-sales.

I was a nervous child. Pretty much anything concerning ghosts, monsters, or Very Bad Things generally would disturb my sleep-patterns for weeks. I even had recurring nightmares which nowadays would be identified by those excitable types with the tinfoil beanies as alien abductions, but fortunately this was back in those innocent days before Whitley Streiber explained to us that made-up space-aliens are real after all, so at least I didn’t have that to worry about as well. But of course I was scared of Daleks. Every child in Britain was scared of Daleks. Well, we are talking about Nazi dustbins with voices that could grate cheese going around killing people for no particular reason, despite being armed only with an egg-whisk and a toilet-plunger, and anyone aware of this website knows that kids take that sort of stuff very seriously indeed.

And, being an imaginative sort of child, it got me thinking. So: you’re four years old, and you know that a completely non-human, inorganic thing about five feet tall that looks like an everyday household object can suddenly come to life and kill you for no reason at all. Having established that your immediate environment is mercifully Dalek-free, what else do you need to worry about?

Well, for starters, there are those horrific charity-collecting boxes that you hardly ever see any more (I can’t imagine why.) You know, the ones consisting of a life-size fiberglass replica of a disabled child with a disturbingly blank stare that your average zombie could take a master-class from. Of course, being made entirely from fiberglass, they’re obviously rigidly immobile.

But the trouble is, they’ve got that cylindrical base just like a Dalek.

And we’ve all seen how well Daleks cope with extreme disability. Wait a minute – those boxes are thrusting a box in your face on behalf of the disabled… Do you see a connection forming here? When you’re four years old and political correctness hasn’t been invented yet, by God you see a connection forming…

I had nightmares about those things! I really did! They only came out at night (of course), but when they did, they invaded my house (of course.) Shiny, rigid, melancholy polio boys gliding around in absolute silence, holding out their collecting boxes for – who knew what? At that age my grasp of economics was at best vague, but even I knew that a horror of this magnitude was unlikely to be kept at bay by a four-year-old’s pocket money. Luckily they had one screamingly obvious design-fault – a total inability to climb stairs. If my bedroom had been moved downstairs, or if the BBC had decided 20 years sooner that Daleks could fly, I think I might have been in a certain amount of psychiatric peril. But it wasn’t and they didn’t, so I had that magic staircase to protect me from those glossy lads.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Amy K. on a Bad Bear

kim richards

I remember seeing a movie when I was a kid, possibly from the early-to-mid ’80s, and there’s only one scene I remember. In it, a man finds his childhood teddy bear. He decides to do what any normal person would do, and takes a nap with said bear. While he is sleeping, the bear grows either claws or fangs (it’s been a long time so I’m not sure which) and kills him.

It had quite the effect on me, even to this day. I’ve been trying for quite some time now to figure out what this movie is and I’m not having any luck.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!


kim richards