Traumafessions :: Reader David O. on The Changeling

I was reading a post this morning about the episode of THE WALTONS called “The Changeling,” which I personally don’t remember but now want to see, badly. Seeing the name of the episode immediately took me back to a scene in the movie THE CHANGELING with GEORGE C. SCOTT that scared the pants off of me as a kid and still elicits creepy memories and an avoidance of dark stairways.

The scene is when GEORGE is sitting in the study reading and a red ball comes bouncing down the stairs in the foyer. Perplexed, he picks it up and looks toward the top of the stairs, which are dark and foreboding. He picks up the ball and drives to a bridge, tosses the ball into the river below and returns home. As soon as he gets back to the house and takes off his coat the red ball comes bouncing back down the stairs. I was frightened enough the first time the ball bounced down from some unseen force’s hand, but when it happened a second time I was nearly pissing myself. The feeling of dread and the question of, “Would I dare go up there to see who tossed it?” stuck with me. Living at my grandparent’s house at the time they had an old stairway that led to the basement, with open slats between the stairs. I had spent many days frightened that some monster was living under the stairs waiting to reach through and grab my feet as I walked down. After watching THE CHANGELING I now added the rubber ball fear to my stairway phobia.

The entire film is creepy and frightening; really one of my favorites. It’s really well-made and worth a viewing if you haven’t done so. I’ve watched it numerous times since childhood and still don’t like seeing that red rubber ball, or any red ball I come across.


Name That Trauma: Reader Amanda on Twin Doll Crackers

Dear Kindertrauma,

Thank you for such an entertaining blog. I adore it!

I was wondering if you and your readers could help me with the title of a movie. I only know one scene; I must’ve flipped to it on T.V. and got freaked out and changed it right away but *now* I want to see the whole thing!

Anyway, this would be either the late eighties or early nineties. I am pretty sure it was a made-for-T.V. film as well. This is my memory: Two creepy-looking young ladies, identical twins, in their mid twenties or so, stare at a frightened looking man standing before them. I believe there is a vanity or mirrors nearby. The twins are holding a porcelain doll. They say, in unison, “We share everything.” And then the doll cracks right down the middle! Thats all I remember.

Any ideas? Thanks for the time!


Special thanks to reader phil d. for knowing this trauma is the handiwork of the lovely LANDERS SISTERS in THE HITCHHIKER episode “Split Decision.” Additional thanks to reader sumo1964 for sharing the video:

Traumafessions :: Reader Celeste on The Halloween Tree

Hello KinderTrauma!

I read the LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND submission and have another Ray Bradbury kindertrauma: THE HALLOWEEN TREE (1993)!

I didn’t find this movie in your archives, although if I missed it and it is, I apologize. I don’t remember all that much about the movie (I only watched it once and was terrified) but the thing that I remember (which helped me Google and then Wikipedia it) was that there was a sick boy with freckles (Pip) who had a doppelganger pumpkin. I hated that pumpkin face. In the movie, Pip had to be rushed to the hospital on Halloween, but he appeared to his friends as a sort of ghost and they, thinking he was playing a prank on them, chased this apparition through some woods throughout the movie, and at some point, Ghost Pip acquired a pumpkin with his face.

After reading the description on Wikipedia, it’s supposed to be a really nice film about the origins of Halloween. Too bad I could only think of SLEEPY HOLLOW and the pumpkin head and relate this film to that scary story.


Traumafessions :: Kinderpal Ericzilla on Heavy Metal & the Satanic Panic of the 1980s

Growing up in the early ’80s could be very traumatizing. The threat of nuclear war and the Russians invading us RED DAWN-style kept me in a state of worry, but that worry was nothing compared to the possibility of going to hell! The threat of Satan seemed very real to me back in those days. My grandmother was very religious and the church we attended was filled with fire and brimstone sermons warning us against the satanic evils of rock music, especially the Devil’s favorite conduit “Heavy Metal.”

I was astounded to find out that my new stepdad loved rock music and owned an extensive collection of albums. I would spend hours looking through his albums and he would put on his favorites and I would enjoy them as much as a kid destined for hell could. The artwork of Black Sabbath’s debut album was nearly as traumatizing as the music. I can still see a woman with a yellowish pallor dressed in black standing near some trees and a pond in front of a very dilapidated medieval looking house. This scared that crap out of me! She had to be a witch or some succubus with ill intentions. All the songs were either about the running away from the devil or being the devil’s chosen bride or about scary wizards walking by. This was as enticing as it was scary.

By the time my small town got MTV and a decent record store it seemed like the satanic panic was in full swing. I would keep my fingers at the ready to change the cable box to Nickelodeon as I waited for “Looks that Kill” by Motley Crue of “Flight of Icarus” by Iron Maiden to come on. I would have to wait through hours of Men at Work and Pat Benatar videos, but eventually I would be thrilled at the sight of “Bark at the Moon” and it would all be worthwhile.

In the age of digital downloads, album cover art has taken a back seat. I would sneak around the rock section of my local record store and freak out while looking at Iron Maiden covers and their skeletal mascot “Eddie.” “Holy Diver” by Dio was particularly troublesome. I felt that if I were to pick up the album and hold it, the earth would crack open and I would be pulled to hell right in the middle of Kmart. The scarier the album cover was the more I wanted to hear the music.

A funny thing happened as I began to listen to more metal music. I realized that it wasn’t a gateway to hell; rather it was a gateway to all sorts of subjects that would fascinate me all the more. It would have taken me several more years to discover Frank Herbert and Dune if it wasn’t for Iron Maiden. I would have missed out on Stephen King’s short stories if it wasn’t for Anthrax. Heavy Metal wasn’t about wearing your sunglasses at night or feeling the rhythm of the night, it was about life and death, and good and evil.

By the time it was 1987 and I was 13 years old a new brand strain of harder and scarier heavy metal arrived on the scene. “Reign in Blood” by Slayer made any output by Dio and Motley Crue seem silly and juvenile. Metallica and Megadeth touched on the evils of war and drug addiction. This more tangible and realistic metal stripped away the hokey mysticism and faux Satanism.

The Satanic Panic of the ‘80s finally reached its apex with a much-ballyhooed Geraldo Rivera special on Satanism in 1987. It was the talk of the school the next day. I imagine every town claimed to be the secret satanic capital of the United States much like mine supposedly was. Every pentagram on a school notebook and jean jacket was taken very seriously by the faculty of my school. Listening to metal was an act of rebellion and feeling rebellious was awesome and dangerous. It all looks so silly today, but it touched a primal chord of fear and excitement in me and many of my friends.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Christopher W. on a Dead Bird Dance

I remember watching this in the late ’80s. A group out in the wilderness (possibly couples), being stalked or with a sadistic type of leader. The scene that sticks in my mind: The group encounters a dead animal (a bird I think) and a woman is coerced by her husband or boyfriend to strip and dance like a native around said bird. She is fully nude and he cheers it on while taking pictures (I think) and she appears humiliated while the others look disgusted.

I’m pretty sure it’s a Canadian flick. Don’t think it’s DEATH WEEKEND, although I haven’t seen it.

Can anyone help?

Happy Easter!

There I was assembling a “Stream Warriors” post when I realized that today is Easter! So let’s say we simply re-enjoy this more appropriate and very enjoyable film from the Kindertrauma vaults, DREW DAYWALT‘s now classic “The Easter Bunny is Eating My Candy!” Here’s hoping you all have a hoppy, jellybean strewn day!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Snixy on a Hothouse of Horrors

Hello Kinder Trauma! Thanks for all the good stuff.

I have a scene in my mind from when I was a wee lad in the early seventies and I have no idea from which film it plays. Not much to go on. This is what I see in my mind’s eye: Color film. Maybe a HAMMER feel to it. A greenhouse/garden inside of a mansion. I think the decor might have feet a little Victorian or Old South. In the greenhouse are these flowers with small, proboscis like stigma or stamen which are bloody red drippy. These things drank blood. A couple of people are standing around and talking about the flowers, maybe getting ready for a feeding and a murder.

That is all I can remember.



Mad Monster Funhouse

UNK SEZ: Today’s funhouse celebrates the very first issue of MAD MONSTER MAGAZINE! You’ve never seen a magazine like this before folks, it’s fun and creative from cover to cover and super high on love for all things Horror. You’ll even find me lurking within its pages and that’s not even why I love it so. Besides things to read, it offers puzzles and games and a flipbook and even a very familiar looking old house you can build! It’s like the horror version of HIGHLIGHTS and you need it now!

Make sure you visit MAD MONSTER MAGAZINE online HERE to learn more about it and how to subscribe. You may want to bookmark the address too as many more great things are soon to be found there!

Also: Why not “like” MAD MONSTER on Facebook HERE so that those who have worked hard to create such a treasure know that you appreciate it! Thanks kiddies and good luck!

Can you identify the movies the ten monsters below reside in? The comments section is “off” to thwart copying just send your answers to THREE people will be selected based on smartness and fashion obliviousness to win a FREE collectible FIRST issue of this miraculous mag! We only ask that contestants live in the US so that we can ship them off to you and still buy cat food for our ravaging horde!

Streaming Alert: Games (1967)

I think I may have mentioned before that I tend to be a homebody/shut-in. What do I want with the chaos of the outdoors when I have a perfect nest constructed of books and DVDs? Due to my shame free affliction I have an affinity for films that take place in a limited setting. Most of these types of films are based on plays (think THE BAD SEED or BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE. Yeah, I dig EILEEN HECKART, what of it?) but that is not the case with the devoutly interior GAMES which is based on an original screenplay by GENE R. KEARNEY (Wow! The guy who directed both versions of SILENT SNOW, SECRET SNOW! I swear I’m just finding that out now!). The action in GAMES never escapes the swanky apartment of spoiled upscale art collecting New York socialites Paul and Jennifer Montgomery (JAMES CAAN & KATHERINE ROSS neither ever looking slicker) and that’s one of the films major appeals to me. Watching this movie is like being a silent ghost observer in someone’s home. The plot is secondary, as I find the movie acts like a cozy diorama that I find myself happy to loiter in, the Mongomerys are into pop art pinball & getting their drink on, my kinda peeps.

Secondary or not there is indeed a plot and in 1967, I’m sure it was one twisty mind fuck. Contemporary viewers may see the final gotcha coming but whatever. (What, you think you are a genius or something for outsmarting a movie? Cure something and then we’ll talk.) The Montgomerys know how to be awesome, they don’t have kids but they do have an elevator. They wear wigs and perform magic for their house guests and employ both an elderly maid and a butch deliveryman. One day Jennifer (ROSS) makes the rookie mistake of letting a cosmetics sales lady into her house named Lisa who is portrayed by SIMONE SIGNORET. Anyone who has ever seen DIABOLIQUE knows that this is not a good idea. Lisa grifts the crap out of Jennifer and soon she has moved herself in. Lisa is not amused by the couple’s multiple sources of entertainment and decides to kick things up a notch by playing “Angry Birds” with their psyches. Soon everybody is playing tricks on each other and screwing with each other’s heads. It’s a bit like a more mature, parlor room version of APRIL FOOL’S DAY. You never know who’s zooming whom except you kind of actually do. Even still, there are a couple of nail-biting suspense scenes and it’s hard to predict just how far things will go.

GAMES is running around in a thriller coat but the lining is so very horror. It was directed by the super fantastic CURTIS HARRINGTON who has graced the planet with such titles as NIGHT TIDE (1961), WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? (1971) WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? (1972) and THE KILLING KIND (1973) among others. It’s got a casual pace but it’s never less than entertaining and like I suggested earlier, it delivers a swanky joint to hang out in. I don’t want to ruin the fun but let me assure you that the thunder-cracking climax is worth the wait. A certain everyday tone is established and then HARRINGTON takes off his gloves and goes in for the kill, wedging in a possible supernatural angle which leaves you second guessing your previous assumptions. The performances are all highly watchable: CAAN is smarmy, yet charming; ROSS is cloying, yet compassionate, and SIGNORET holds her cards rather nicely to her chest. You’ll likely notice DON STROUD from DEATH WEEKEND and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and there’s even a cameo by CAT PEOPLE’s KENT SMITH! I have no idea why this film is not more notorious than it is. C’mon look at that cast for crying out loud.

GAMES is currently available on Netflix Streaming so check it out while you can. It was never released on DVD and if you want to own the VHS, you’d better have a couple hundred dollars lying around. If it happens to be raining or you find yourself awake in the wee hours of the night, please double this recommendation. CURTIS HARRINGTON is a director who is far too undervalued and if you ask me, the stylish and twisty GAMES is one of his finest accomplishments. Go ahead, roll the dice, it’s your turn.