Name That Trauma :: Reader Eric on a Dancing Dolly

Hey Kindertraumatots,

I have such a vivid recollection of a show I think was THE WALTONS (or LITTLE HOUSE) where there was a ghost, or the house was haunted. At some point the piano started playing by itself and the daughter had an old Raggedy Ann doll near a window ledge whose face stretched and became different somehow (I’m not sure but it may have even moved a bit more or something), but the girl was in bed and terrified. Is it possible that something as wholesome and family oriented as THE WALTONS had a nightmarish ghost episode? The image of that doll’s face has stuck with me ever since.




UNK SEZ:: Thanks for the NTT Eric! That was most certainly an episode of THE WALTONS you saw. We’ve received traumafessions for that one before (HERE). The doll’s face does not actually change but she does move around some and the changing of the light on it probably made it seem even more animated than it was!

Traumafessions :: Reader Luna on Evil Older Sisters & Stephen King’s It

pop-up pennywise

My traumafession is about the movie IT based on STEPHEN KING‘s book.

I’m not sure if this counts but, when I was four my Mother left me one night in care of my three older, teenage sadistic sisters. Right before bedtime the youngest of my eldest sisters (13-14) dressed me in my favorite nightgown and told me that could stay up with the big girls and watch a movie. Of course being four I jumped at the chance! I was a big girl after all. So there I sat with my sisters so happy and exited! They said it was a clown movie so it must of been funny, right?

To my discredit I stayed watching for a long while, and all I remember are these two parts:That there was a clown in the sewer! He had sharp monster teeth! HE ATE THE LITTLE BOY! And someone was in the bathroom and these red spiders or ants started crawling out of the sink drain and on him/her eating his/her face or something more….

There was blood! or red… yeah lots of red.

It was then I looked down at my nightgown and realized that it had the some clown on it (well same clown makeup and style) and thus I screamed, peed myself, ripped off the nightgown, and hid in my room until my mother got home. Not necessarily in that order.

I have since then never watched that movie ever again. To this day clowns make me shiver. Which really, really, REALLY sucks since my father is a professional clown……bitches…….

pennywise card

Happy Father’s Day! :: The Horseman

I wanted to pick a special Father’s Day Netflix Streaming movie and decided to go with the stompy Ozzie revenge flick THE HORSEMAN! I should warn you upfront though that this movie is extremely violent. In fact, I even caught myself closing ONE of my eyes and in retrospect, I have no idea how I thought that might help. I’m also afraid that it does some skipping through the torture zone. I’m not a fan of on-screen torture myself. It’s almost always gratuitously sadistic and I just think it’s rude to tie somebody to a chair. A lot of people are tied to a lot of chairs in this movie. I really wish that characters that find themselves in that position would just hand over the requested information and not be so ornery and antagonistic for my sake. Sassing makes everything more difficult for all involved. Spill the beans, dummy.

Christian (I know, pointed name considering the film’s title right?) played by PETER MARSHALL (not the HOLLYWOOD SQUARES guy) is a dad who learns his daughter is dead. Her drugged-up, contaminated remains were just sort of dumped like trash by an anonymous person. His grief is thrown another whammy when he receives a VHS porn tape in the mail with his daughter featured in it, clearly out of her mind on drugs and being abused by a group of men. It’s pretty gross. Christian, who fittingly works in pest control, grabs a toolbox and hits the road on a rampage, inflicting retribution to all those involved. I’m not saying his way of going about things is right but I’m not totally against it either. Karma is always sitting down on the job so sometimes you have to give it a little push…with a crowbar.

What raises THE HORSEMAN above the standard comeuppance flick is its commitment to examining a man’s emotional pain in between skull cracking sessions. First time director STEVEN KASTRISSIOS displays real talent and thankfully he nabbed a superior actor to join him. MARSHALL is great in this and even if you find his actions questionable, you’ll never doubt the intensity of his mournful rage. Along his travels Christian encounters a lonely hitchhiker not unlike his daughter named Alice (CAROLINE MAROHASY) and their relationship allows for even more of his humanity to emerge. When Alice inadvertently (and perhaps unavoidably) gets tangled in Christian’s campaign of violence, a whole new level of discomfort for poor me is reached.

THE HORSEMAN is on the harsh side (I could have lived without the several instances of penis abuse) but I have to give it props nonetheless. I enjoy my violence a smidge more cartoon-y, but I do appreciate the film’s reluctance to simplify physical anguish and give the viewer an easy out. There are no easy ways out here. The point is clearly made that it is more than Christian’s ego that has been damaged and more than his pride that has been taken away. He let his daughter down and now he faces a tsunami of guilt that can’t be bashed away. I guess the truth is, most Dads fuck up. None can completely shield their children from the dangerous world. I picked this film to celebrate the dads that are THERE anyway, the ones that show up to make the mistakes. The ones that at least TRY to give their kids a better life than they had. Christian isn’t going to win any Father of the Year awards any time soon, but hey, he cares. That deserves at least a card or maybe a monogrammed crowbar.

NOTE: Happy Father’s Day to my dad who is in the hospital (don’t worry he is fine and will be out soon)! As far as I know he is not in the hospital for getting in fights with hooligans on my behalf but he is a super cool guy (imagine THE GREAT SANTINI crossed with Ted Baxter) anyway. Happy Father’s Day!

Name That Trauma :: Joseph of The Body Count Continues on a Busted Bully & a Boy in a Box

I have two…

The first I saw back in the mid to late ’80s, and the only scene I remember was a bunch of bullies picking on a kid with mental disabilities, and I believe they were near a construction site or a sand pit or something to that effect. The mentally handicapped kid, or maybe even one of the bullies, has his/her arm broken, and one or the other carries him to the hospital (I’m thinking a bully gets his arm broken and the handicapped kid helps him; sounds more correct). It MAY have been one of those After School Specials, and I think the moral of the story was that even handicapped people want to lead normal lives. Any clue?

The second I saw in the mid to late ’80s as well, and it featured a couple who adopted a child, but he may have been artificial, and I know for a fact that his name was Conrad, and he was mailed to them in a box. I have no idea if this was an After School Special or a real movie.

I’ve Googled both, with no luck!



Thanks to reader dasklyter for knowing that the robot boy in the box is KONRAD.

That just leaves us with the case of the bullies…

Creepy Crawly Funhouse!

First came the back-to-back ARACHNOPHOBIA traumafessions, then I found crazy cabbage worms chomping on my garden! Now I can’t stop itching! My current feelings can best be expressed with an all-bug FUNHOUSE! Now, I know all the creatures in today’s FUNHOUSE flicks are not actually bugs but I don’t have time to count legs and look these things up in fancy science books. If it ain’t got fur then it ain’t that cute and it needs to stand down and back the cuss up! Can you identify the creepy crawly movies below? One smart cookie will win an XXL Kindertrauma T-shirt for trying!

Traumafessions :: Spooky Sean on Arachnophobia

UNK SEZ: As promised, here is a follow up ARACHNOPHOBIA traumafession from kinderpal Spooky Sean. I guess when it rains spiders, it pours spiders!

If I had to guess, I’d say that I was seven or eight when I first saw this movie, based on the fact that the IMDb lists it as being released in 1990. Where do I even start with how badly ARACHNOPHOBIA traumatized my wee little noggin?

I’ve always been afraid of bugs. I don’t like picturing them, underneath everything, in the walls. The infestations, the crawling and the insect noises. So, of course, someone thought, “Hey, let’s rent that movie ARACHNOPHOBIA for Sean!” To be fair, I was a quiet child, so I don’t know how often I spoke of this fear.

The one scene in particular that got to me was the scene about halfway through that takes place in the shower. It’s some minor character’s daughter or someone; I don’t really remember who she was. The important thing was what happened to her. She was shampooing her hair; blissfully unaware a giant spider was crawling above her. She has her eyes closed, and feels like she is in a safe place. And then said spider…drops.

Needless to say, for months after the film I was traumatized. I would shampoo my hair very quickly, constantly on guard for a giant arachnid to drop onto my face. To this day, I have trouble keeping my eyes closed for very long, when washing my hair.

Spooky Sean

Traumafessions :: Reader Patrick M. on Arachnophobia

I recently found your site and was amazed no one seems to have mentioned the 1990 film ARACHNOPHOBIA… It wasn’t gory, it was a campy comedy horror, but seriously, tiny spiders that kill near-instantly with a single bite. Tiny. Deadly. Spiders.

I’ve got a zombie plan (as we all should). Nightmare-based killers? Lucid dreaming. Psycho killers? I don’t meander into run-down buildings in the middle of nowhere and I’m not a prep or jock so I know I’m not at the top of the kill list. Ancient curses, demonic entities, vengeful ghosts? Always some motivating reason with a means of cleansing, avoiding or placating. Little spider that might not even be noticed until it’s too late? You got me there.

I know my brother and sister (roughly 8 and 12 at the time) were fairly traumatized, not by any scene in particular but just how… feasible it is, you could say. Nothing like a film you can watch and laugh at, then over-think once you’re in bed and think you saw something on the wall or felt something on your foot.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Patrick! Funny you you should mention the absence of ARACHNOPHOBIA traumas. We found another traumafession concerning that movie crawling around in the KT mailbag and we’ll have it up very soon!

Special Report :: Christmas TV History’s Joanna Wilson on “Edith’s Crisis of Faith”

“Edith’s Crisis of Faith” features the character Beverly LaSalle, a transvestite and female impersonator, played by Lori Shannon. Beverly appeared in two earlier AITF episodes, “Archie the Hero” in 1975 and “Beverly Rides Again” in 1976. A friend of the family, Beverly returns to the Bunker home in “Edith’s Crisis of Faith” in order to invite them to her scheduled performance at the prestigious Carnegie Hall the week before Christmas. The Bunkers are happy to see Beverly and accept her invitation while Edith, who considers Beverly to be “like family,” returns the gesture and invites the performer to Christmas dinner at the Bunker home.

What comes next is disturbing and unexpected. Though the action takes place off camera, we learn that son-in-law Mike Stivic and Beverly are mugged. Eventually we see Mike in the hospital in bandages–he was beaten but will be fine. Mike describes the mugging saying that Beverly had successfully defended him against the gang of violent attackers but then the gang turned on Beverly with a lead pipe. Mike says, “I guess they figured out what he was and they just started smashing him with the pipe.” A doctor tells Edith and Archie in the waiting room that Beverly has died. “Just because he was different,” Gloria later adds. The rest of “Part 1” sees Edith numb in her grief at Christmas time.

The storyline continues into the following episode “Edith’s Crisis of Faith, Part 2” where we see more fully how deeply Edith is affected by the death of her dear friend. Not only is Edith unable to put aside her grief, she finds she can’t even be happy at Christmas for the sake of her two year-old grandson Joey. Even worse, Edith who is usually a person of unwavering faith now questions her belief in a God that would allow someone as kind, gentle and good as Beverly be so tragically murdered. She won’t go to church at Christmas and even suggests that she may never go back. Archie encourages her to return to church but Edith’s disillusioned response is: “Why? What good does it do?” Edith’s family is beside themselves trying to cheer her up but Edith is inconsolable. She even runs out of the room when Archie offers a prayer over the family’s Christmas dinner. Eventually, Mike is the only one able to offer any comfort to Edith. Mike reminds her that we can’t always understand everything. Though Mike’s answer is simple, he is actually making a complex point that a crime such as this is beyond reasonableness–it may never make sense. Watching a character as gentle and decent as Edith suffer so terribly is torturous and emotionally draining.

What many may find difficult here is that this deeply emotional and tragic episode occurs at Christmas–the one time of year most people want to feel uplifted, optimistic and hopeful. That may be the exact point the writers of this episode may have been communicating–juxtaposing this sad episode with the usual bright spirit of the holiday. It also makes it difficult to re-watch year after year as we all so often do with Christmas TV sitcom episodes.

However, the tone of this painful episode is handled correctly. AITF had perfected the appropriate manner in which to handle the sensitive issues of the day in previous episodes that dealt with topics such as racism, bigotry, war, politics, cancer, and more button-pushing issues one wouldn’t immediately associate with family sitcoms. Even other Christmas episodes of AITF took on hot topics such as Edith’s breast cancer scare, the divorce of Gloria and Mike, and my favorite: 1976’s “The Draft Dodger” where Mike’s friend, a draft dodger on the run, comes to Christmas dinner to share a table with Archie’s friend who’s son was just killed in Vietnam.

Yet, Christmas may just be the most appropriate time of year to remind ourselves of our desire for a world filled with peace. Hate crimes such as these unfortunately still exist and occur all too frequently. Part of what makes AITF such a groundbreaking show is the fact that its take on subjects such as this are still relevant today. Perhaps the depth of emotion felt in “Edith’s Crisis of Faith” can serve as an annual reminder to grab our loved ones even closer and find compassion and acceptance for everyone.

Though a situation comedy, the jokes are never at the expense of the social issue but are aimed squarely at the insensitive fool, Archie Bunker. This show so successfully tackled social issues that many other TV series in the 1970s and 1980s went on to try to do the same thing with varying degrees of success.

UNK SEZ: Thanks so much Joanna for sharing such a wonderful post! I have a strong recollection of this episode as well and you really captured what made it so memorable.

Folks, not only is Joanna one of Kindertrauma‘s favorite people in general but she is also the author of the books THE CHRISTMAS TV COMPANION and ‘TIS THE SEASON TV. You can pay her a visit at her official home base CHRISTMAS TV HISTORY!

Traumafessions :: Kinderpal Turnidoff of Death to CGI on Cipher in the Snow (1973)

cipher in the snow

Grade school in the ’80s was bizarre. If you weren’t dying of dysentery in Oregon Trail on the classroom Apple II C, you were watching films like CIPHER IN THE SNOW (1973).

CIPHER IN THE SNOW was the CITIZEN KANE of educational films. Made by Brigham Young University, it revolved around a sad pasty boy that everyone ignored until he just ups and dies right before the opening credits. The rest of the film plays in flashbacks as one teacher investigates the dead boy’s life, learning that if he paid attention to the boy’s feelings instead of teaching math, he would still be alive today.

cipher in the snow

Seeing this as a grade schooler was pretty shocking, but I fear it did no good to the “loner” kids because kids are kids and they will continue to mock and make fun of others because they’re evil. I remember the classroom giggling at the over the top drunken Step-Father and his use of the word, “Pussywillow” (which they edit out for some reason on the YouTube video.)

The film had a good message, but I think it did more harm than good since now counselors outnumber teachers it seems. Kids, be good to the loners. I’m not talking about the emo ones, I’m talking about the real ones. The ones that just want to pick some pussywillows.


cipher in the snow

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Thanks so much Turnidoff for having the courage to remind us that the never rightfully credited Brigham Young University was the first the first to throw down the anti-bullying gauntlet nearly thirty years before it became the cause de célèbres. Stick that in your Slushie cup, cast of GLEE.

Your dear old Aunt John would also like to comment on how touchingly Turnidoff’s traumafession aligns with the other consciousness raising efforts he has brought to the Internet as of late. You see, when he is not giving a voice to those who cannot speak or recording catchy odes to lure a cultural icon out her self-imposed exile, Turnidoff is fighting the good fight over at DEATH TO CGI!

cipher in the snow