Traumafessions :: Reader Kate on Stoppit and Tidyup & Animal Farm

I think this is a bit of an obscure one.

At some point in the early ‘90s, when I was about four or five years old, I saw a cartoon on Children’s BBC (I think) called STOPPIT AND TIDYUP. Or rather, I saw about ten seconds of it, because after that I ran away screaming. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that scared me, but there was something about the character designs that I found unbelievably disturbing.

I know it was a five-minute short, because that’s what my mother told me in order to get me to come downstairs from my room ten minutes later, but apart from that, I know next to nothing. I remember that, for years afterwards, I was always a bit nervous whenever I was watching that channel, all prepared to bolt in case it came on again. Once or twice, it did, but I always managed to get away as soon as the title sequence started, so I never saw any more of it. I suppose I could go to the show’s Wikipedia page to look up some information on it, but… there might be pictures.

Anyway, here’s the strange part- from that day to this, every time I’ve mentioned STOPPIT AND TIDYUP to a group of people my age, someone has always said, “Oh, God, that terrified me as a kid!” And that’s the only thing that they can remember. As far as I can gather, this show’s entire legacy was to disturb an entire generation of four-year-olds. And considering that, a few years ago, I found out that it was by the same people who made THE TRAP DOOR (which is essentially cosmic horror for tinies), I’m starting to suspect that they did it on purpose.

(Also, when I was six, my Year One class were shown the cartoon version of ANIMAL FARM. I’d write this off as the teachers being a bit distracted and not reading the blurb, but then they showed it again two years later- both times in a double-bill with CHARLOTTE’S WEB, strangely enough. Apparently they were going for a “farm animals in peril” theme. Anyway, for about ten years afterwards, ANIMAL FARM was still the scariest film I’d ever seen. It kind of spoiled me for horror movies.)



Unk’s Most Favorite Horror Scores

UNK SEZ: I don’t know if these are the best scores (Hey, where’s Tubular Bells?!) but they are my personal favorites. Hope I didn’t neglect too many! BTW, both TENTACLES and THE VISITOR just barely missed the cut!


Let’s just get this one taken care of immediately. How can any list of horror scores not include this madness? So big, so brazen it nearly kicks the movie itself right off the screen! No small feat!


A good score lets you know what’s going down right off the bat. Sure this film is plenty romantic but KILAR’s work makes sure you remember there’s plenty of anger and vengeance seeping through its veins as well.


LANCE RUBIN is not only the name of me after I marry JENNIFER RUBIN, but it is also the name of the guy who did the score for one of my favorite slashers. The music box combo of sweet and creepy weaves throughout the film and culminates in a memorable theme song sung by SYREETA! If RUBIN’s work sounds a tad familiar it may be due to his talent lodging in another classic, MOTEL HELL!


THE SHINING used to have this spot until I found out that most of its music is not original to the film. That’s alright, I was feeling bad about leaving out PHANTASM anyway and now I don’t have to. Listen to how sad it is! It sounds like the seventies and it sounds like rain and it makes me want to go on a tandem bicycle excursion with KAREN CARPENTER. Shit, that makes me think of THE ATTIC and how I should have put THE ATTIC in here as well. Damn self-imposed deadlines!


MORODER is the man and his soundtrack for PAUL SCHRADER’s Meow Mix is something y’all need to get your paws on. Its influence is still felt to this day in fact, the band GOLDFRAPP recently admitted that their last album was strongly influenced by MORODER’s efforts here! That’s some staying power!


Wow. I guess you know you kind of rule when JOHN CARPENTER decides to hand over musical duties to you rather than tackling them himself. Well, MORRICONE is a legend and his minimalistic, heartbeat mimicking, icy cold contribution to CARPENTER’s film fits like a snug glove.


Talk about big shoes to fill. (Not that anyone involved in the making of this sequel didn’t have more than their work cut out for them.) JERRY GOLDSMITH pays homage to and follows trails paved by the great BERNARD HERRMANN but he adds something uniquely his own too. Almost as if in cahoots with ANTHONY PERKINS‘ performance, GOLDSMITH sways you toward the tragic and sympathetic side of Norman Bates’ soul. Look out! Once in your head, very hard to evict!


Speaking of BERNARD HERRMANN, composer PINO DONAGGIO does a fine job of tipping his hat toward the guy too. Sure, screechy stabby violins will always owe a debt to PSYCHO but PINO brings an extraordinary sincere velvet dark melancholy to the table too. I know this score like the back of my hand and I love it even though some of the creepy church vibes bring back strange unwanted memories of the DAVEY AND GOLIATH show. Aw, that reminds me I should not have forgotten CARNIVAL OF SOULS on this list either! I’ll just shove it in here. Cassie won’t mind, er, I mean Carrie…


Not everybody digs PHILIP GLASS but you have to admit that he’s an inspired choice for the soundtrack to CANDYMAN. His signature repetitive synth blips reek of urban insect existence. I’m gonna rate this baby extra high on originality alone and for the simple fact that “Helen’s Theme” may be one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to my ridiculous ears. Here be the proverbial bee’s knees…


Number one score for me forever for sure. I know CARPENTER’s HALLOWEEN theme will always shadow over his other fine work but the truth is, on an emotional level it can’t really hold a candle to what he accomplishes with THE FOG score. Sometimes gentle, slight and ethereal, sometimes pounding like a primal alarm to flee. It does more than set the mood, it blankets you in the otherworldly and it does not let go as it pushes you further and further away from safety. To put it simply, THE FOG score sounds like a ghost story being told without words…

UNK SEZ: that’s my top ten folks but wait I’m not done yet! Here are TWO EXTRA BONUS TRACKS!

My choice for outstanding opening theme song goes to ROSEMARY’S BABY by KRZYSTOF KOMEDA featuring MIA FARROW!

…And my choice for most annoying theme song goes to TOURIST TRAP! I love you TOURIST TRAP (and PINO DONAGGIO) but once I fell asleep with your DVD in the player and woke up to a menu screen playing this track over and over and I just about lost what little of my mind I had left.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Tyler J. on a Sinister Sister Singe


I have a problem I’m hoping you might be able to solve. I’ve been having flash backs of a movie or T.V. show I saw as a child. It involved two young sisters, one of course was evil and hated the other one. In an attempt to murder her sister by lighting her on fire, the evil sister hides a birthday candle behind her back, the eventual accident ensues and she lights her own hair on fire, severely burning herself in the process. I wish to find this movie and re-watch it, please tell me you’ve seen this or know what I’m looking for.


Traumafessions :: Reader Jay R. on Event Horizon

I have to admit I am somewhat of a horror fiend; I just think that as far as genres go if done right horror elicits has the most rewarding pay-off. As a child I found this out the hard way. In fact there were plenty of nights where sleep was postponed due to the lingering suspicion that an extra-dimensional being made the space underneath my bed his new abode. Raw Head Rex, Jason, Freddy, Michael, Pinhead and a whole host of others were definitely staples of my childhood. I always find it interesting to look back at what scares you as a child and what unnerves you as an adult to see the minute or, in some cases, glaring connections between the two. Like many of you, I have gone back and watched the films that made me an insomniac during my preadolescence, and quite frankly the movies were terribly laughable. However, there are a few that come to mind that really have not only aged well but still to this day send chills down my spine. Which brings me to EVENT HORIZON. I was 10 at the time I saw this movie and the year was 1997; I had no idea of what soul sucking abyssal eyeless horror awaited me at the cinema that day. I left that theater a changed person.

I guess like anybody else, the notion of Hell is a very disturbing and creepy undertaking. As a little kid we have this concept of little guys running around with pitchforks jabbing you in the ass, and to a child that is enough to freak you out. But two movies EVENT HORIZON and HELLRAISER took the concept of hell out of the fire pits and into the dark and seemingly infinite corridors of the human psyche. Where twisted flesh hangs from hooks, where the macabre and the sensual become one and the same and endless screams for mercy might as well be whispers at rock concert. EVENT HORIZON took a campy idea and forged it into a full-fledged plasma-spewing nightmare. The movie is about a spaceship that was able to find a loophole in the theory of relativity and it essentially rips a hole in the universe. Therefore instead of traveling from point A to B you bring B to A. Thus you are able to travel anywhere in the known universe, simple enough right? Unfortunately, for the first crew this ship manages to wiggle its way into the worst possible place… Hell. Too bad for the salvage crew because the ship comes back from Hell and many things have changed, and not to sound cliché but the ship is pissed. Thus the proverbial s*** hits the fan, and things start getting quite Freudian.

Before EVENT HORIZON there were only space horror movies and, the truth is, it is a hard genre to do well as space is typically the realm of Sci-fi, so if it is not about aliens then it’s hard to make it work. What makes this movie work where others have failed is, number one the believability, two a decent enough cast and three atmosphere. The story is unique as it does not try to bury you in speculative science but it does recognize the theoretical possibilities that we may someday have at our fingertips. The cast does a good job of balancing believability and likability. Even the comic relief ends up being a decent character. The final but biggest thing EVENT has going for it is atmosphere, this ship oozes it from the moment we see it ominously floating around in space to the arrival of the salvage crew this ship screams HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, Dracula’s manor and a whole host of iconic paranormal hot-spots. Yes, I could take the easy route and say it is the Nostromo (see*ALIEN*) like others have before me but honestly its much more than that. This ship is like THE SHINING and FANTASY ISLAND except in space, a weird analogy I know but I will explain. The ship plays on your emotions (mostly guilt) and turns the manifestations of said emotions against you. Essentially, this thing has taken a crow bar and broken into your psyche, it already knows all about you.

By now you are either cowering in the corner, thinking of the endless horrors this film could possibly conjure in your mind. You are bored by this incredibly long recommendation, to which my reply would be a “Well, I’ll let you know when I think of it”. Then there are those that are that perfect balance of curious and strange, and you want to see this film immediately. Hopefully most of you will fall in the final category in which case enjoy. For the best results you should watch it before you go to sleep.

Stream Warriors :: Kinderpal Mickster on Shock Waves & Hide and Creep!

UNK SEZ: Today’s episode of Stream Warriors is brought to you by the letter “Z” for zombie and is hosted by our favorite Kinderpal Mickster! Mickster‘s got a living-dead double feature for you currently available on Netflix streaming!


MICKSTER: Professor Von Whiskersen and I love the wide variety of movies offered through Netflix instant streaming. Therefore, when Unkle Lancifer asked me to host an installment of Stream Warriors, I jumped at the chance. The difficult part was deciding which movies to share. Ultimately, I decided to share two very different zombie movies. First up, Shock Waves (1977) is an atmospheric gem starring John Carradine as a crusty sea captain, Peter Cushing as a SS commander/hermit and a young Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Dead Zone) as a chick in a bikini. It features oodles of Nazi zombies. These aren’t flesh-eating zombies (for Flesh-eating Nazi zombies see Dead Snow), but they are still eerie and deadly. Filmed in Florida at a deserted hotel with an otherworldly soundtrack, what the movie lacks in gore it makes up for in an ominous, unsettling atmosphere. Try this one and see if the watery Nazi zombies give you the willies too.


MICKSTER: Next, Hide and Creep (2004) is a Southern zombie comedy. It is ultra-low budget, which is quite evident from the not-so-special effects. However, I have a soft spot for this independent film because it was made in Alabama, just like me. If you aren’t from the South, you may not ‘get’ some of the Southern references. Things you should know: Southerners love Coke so much that they call all soft drinks (Sprite, Dr.Pepper, Pepsi, etc.) Coke, a man may value his car more than his woman, a father will teach his daughter how to use a gun, and the Iron Bowl (Alabama vs. Auburn) is more important than a zombie outbreak. If you are junk-sensitive, I will warn you that “Porky Pigging” occurs early in the film. I must admit that my favorite parts in the movie feature a video storeowner named Chuck. His passionate rant about the superiority of Coke over Pepsi is not to be missed! If you are a fan of zombies, low budgets, and/or Southerners, you should try this zomedy.

Trauma-Scene :: The Wiz’s Subway Horrors

If you’re going to create a work inspired by L. FRANK BAUM‘s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ chances are you are going to end up with something kindertraumatic. The classic 1939 movie has its witch and flying monkeys. The 1985 sequel RETURN TO OZ has its Wheelers and decapitated heads and THE WIZ wields a truly alarming subway scene. Get a load of a masked puppeteer whose puppet offspring transform into giant slinky ghouls, trashcans that develop sharp teeth and tiled columns bent on crushing anyone hapless enough to walk by. It’s whacked-out, weird, gaudy and nightmarish and so very OZ-some…

UNK SEZ: Subway scene, YOU are truly insane but lest we forget, there are many freaky images to withstand in THE WIZ. Here are some other slices of WTF? from the 1978 musical free of charge!

Silent Snow, Secret Snow

First of all, allow me to suggest that if you are up late at night looking for something to watch, yet you feel you can’t commit yourself to an entire film, then the answer to your dilemma is NIGHT GALLERY on Hulu. So there, THAT possible future problem is solved. I know because that is exactly the position I found myself in the other evening and I wish I had just jumped into GALLERY earlier rather than wasting so much time being indecisive. The episode I viewed contained a segment that was perfect for throwing my brain a bone to gnaw on as it closed up shop for the night. I’m talking about season two, episode five “The Phantom Farmhouse/Silent Snow, Secret Snow.” “Phantom Farmhouse” is fine enough but it’s “Silent Snow” I want to trudge through here.

Actually for more on that NIGHT GALLERY segment, just jump on over to the always necessary HAUNTED CLOSET over HERE ( & watch it HERE!), that way I can focus on an earlier version (‘66) that I found which is of equal interest. It can’t boast an ORSON WELLES narration and the acting may be a bit off but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with sheer creepiness. As it turns out both tellings were directed and adapted by the same guy GENE R. KERNEY so don’t feel you’re stepping on toes if you prefer one to the other. The NIGHT GALLERY version is certainly slicker but who can deny the unquestionable emotional power of black and white? Check it out in two parts below…

NOTE: The end kinda cuts off the final line: “We’ll tell you the last most beautiful and secret story. A story that gets smaller and smaller, that comes inward, instead of opening like a flower. It is a flower that becomes a seed, a little cold seed. Do you hear? We are leaning closer to you…”

How about that? It’s like an after school special directed by DAVID LYNCH with a casting assist from JOHN WATERS. It’s wild how closely it resembles the later version yet has a distinguishable vibe all it’s own. After viewing both renditions I thought I’d read the original 1934 CONRAD AIKEN story too (find that HERE). The story ends with this even more provocative line: “The hiss was now becoming a roar-the whole world was a vast moving screen of snow-but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep.” Like the snow it speaks about, I couldn’t get the story itself out of my head. What is going on here? Is the kid going crazy and if so, why does crazy sound so fucking great to me? I sense that I should be feeling a dread that the protagonist is slipping away from reality and yet the words used are so exuberant that I can’t help mentally congratulating the child on successfully adopting the fine art of escape.

I’ll blame the world for my reaction, disasters both natural and man-made, a twisted soulless culture that worships the blatantly superficial, pure hate masquerading as morality …VICTORIA JACKSON. Ah, the snow, is the snow really so bad in comparison? The snow truly is beautiful and clean and it washes it all away. Some folks rashly believe that the kid in the story is buckling under advancing schizophrenia (or autism), but I just see a good ol’ fashioned dissociative disorder galloping up to save the day. School sucks and that child wasn’t born to entertain his parents, why not take a little snowy holiday in his brain? Am I just playing Devil’s advocate when I say that there’s not much wrong here and what a lucky dude for finding a trap door? If you ask me, it’s as beautiful as a Tommy Ross poem. O.K. so there’s a scary PINK FLOYD “Comfortably Numb” element as well, but did someone say sleep? Sleep sounds nice. Maybe it’s me but I detect a valiant rejection of the mundane, a refusal to accept the norm and the understandable desire to commission beauty to counteract an ugly world. Reality shmeality I always say. No, serious I do always say that.

Truth told I had my own “secret snow” as a kid. On a trip to Universal Studios I discovered a machine that when activated with a quarter poured hot red wax into a mold and after a couple minutes of cooling, dispensed a too fragile, wax Frankenstein figurine. Now this was in grade school when horrible children brattier than even myself would call me Frankenstein because I had a scar on my forehead so this figurine doubled as an identity totem. Whenever a situation got scary or worse, lethally boring, I simply imagined a hole on the top of my head and red wax being poured into my body. It would start in my toes and rise until it started spilling out of the crown of my head. Another problem solved! While filled with my imaginary wax I could bare just about anything and the problems of the day would Calgon blur away. Oh, Frankenstein figure why’d you have to go and break into pieces? I guess I could have survived without my secret but is there anything more important than finding something in life that allows you to forge a private alliance with yourself? It’s entirely possible that I am missing the whole point of the story, on the other hand the snow falling on my keyboard is encouraging me to think whatever I like.

Traumafessions :: Reader Isabella on Grease

Not sure if this would EVER come across as more than a “WTF?” type of moment, but I have held a confession for over 20 years. Most kids would have been scared of Freddy Krueger (don’t get me wrong. Uncle Freddy is not exactly babysitting material), or even the part in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video where he turns into a werewolf (admit if, folks. You got a little spooked). NOPE. Not I! My trauma had to come from everyone’s favorite T-Bird, Pink Lady lovin’ movie GREASE.

In the opening of the movie, the signature “Paramount” mountain appears and then the orchestrated violins begin to play while the the sea splashes against the rocks on the side. THEN the choir opens up with “The Sound Of Music” lyrics. By the time you could say, “Hey, where is she running to?” my 5 year old self stuffed in a sleeper onsie (with the feet, thankyouverymuch), was already in the bathroom, covering my ears and hoping that somebody will come to find me and let me know the “song” was over.

To this day, now that I have a 5 year daughter of my own who ADORES this movie, I still cringe at the opening sequence. This time, though, I’m not running into the bathroom, screaming “TURN IT OFF!!!!

My therapist is so happy about my progress.

Hopelessly devoted to you,


Traumafessions :: WB Kelso of Scenes from the Morgue on Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

After taking in a PLANET OF THE APES matinee marathon back in the mid-1970’s that ended with CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, despite Caesar’s assurances that the violence was over I wasn’t buying into that. So, I had seen the HESTON trapped in a madhouse, watched the entire world nuked out of existence, twice, several brutal apeicides, and the fall of man in one siting.

And, to make matters worse, being around four years old at the time, and sufficiently wigged out already, I hadn’t quite grasped the difference between guerrilla fighting and gorilla fighting that they kept talking about on the nightly news broadcasts yet, and so, WALTER CRONKITE had me convinced that General Ursus and Aldo were already massing their troops and the ape revolution had truly begun, and the Earth’s annihilation was imminent, which led to many a sleepless nights until these semantic snafus got cleared up.


WB Kelso

Scenes from the Morgue

UNK SEZ: Thanks WB! Kids, you all know how much your Unk digs movie ad clippings. Well, SCENES FROM THE MORGUE is like a dream come true for folks like me. Stop by the place today and make sure you check out my personal favorite section, FILM INDEX 1980-1989! There’s tons of amazin’ stuff to be found there!