Traumafessions :: Kinderpal FilmFather on Rollercoaster

What is it with me and Traumafessions from 1977?

First it was SASQUATCH: THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT, then it was ORCA, and now I come to you with ROLLERCOASTER.

In the summer of ’77, I was 8 – a great age for enjoying carnivals and amusement parks. My interest in rollercoasters was just beginning to blossom, and I probably would have gone on them had I not seen the movie ROLLERCOASTER, starring TIMOTHY BOTTOMS as a mad bomber of said funrides.

The scene in the following clip is what traumatized me so much that I didn’t get on a rollercoaster until I was 14:

It’s not enough that BOTTOMS’ character attacks what should be a safe haven of fun for kids, or the horrifying images of the rollercoaster snapping in pieces, carts and bodies flying everywhere — what scarred me the most is the scene of the cart flipping upside down and dropping its passengers directly on their heads.

Yes, if you squint or freeze-frame, the passengers in all the carts are obviously dummies. But when you’re 8 and you see something like this without the benefit of a pause or slo-mo button, it affects you. Deeply.


Name That Trauma :: Reader Jami J.R. on a Bouncing Bell or a Ball of Light

name that trauma

I think it was a made-for-T.V. movie back in the ’80s. I only remember the opening and parts of the end, but not much in between.

It starts with a bunch of kids going up into an old bell tower. They form a circle around this girl with long, very straight, blonde hair, doing some sort of ceremony. The bell falls on top of the girl and I think it might have even bounced, for when it’s removed, she’s gone.


(At least, I THINK there was a bell. It might have just been a great flash of golden light. But I’m 99.9% sure a big huge bell fell on her then maybe bounced away.)

Years pass, I forget entirely what happened in between, but eventually the kids, now adults, return to the bell tower and repeat what they did. I think, but I’m not sure, that the bell fell again. I do know that this time the missing girl’s mom, now a grey haired old lady, is there, and the girl reappears, I’m pretty sure she was still the same age she was when she disappeared – or she might’ve grown up to her early 20s while gone, but I’m thinking the former. I remember her going to hug her mom. And – that’s it. If they ever resolved how people were going to explain how she reappeared or any thing like that, I don’t remember.

Heck, I don’t even remember if the bell tower was supposed to be haunted or what have you. And for some reason, even though I remember a bell and a long climb up, the set reminded me more of a barn loft. Lots of room, sunlight, and unpainted wood.

name that trauma

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Special thanks to Reader Robert S. for naming it with THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Susie on a Wax Circus Killer

name that trauma


My sister and I have been searching for years for a movie or show we saw as kids. There were three parts to the film, each separate stories, but I really only recall one of them. It would have been on T.V. around 1990, I think on a main network.

The second story (which is the one I recall) was set in the early 1900s, I think. It begins with a boy, whose parents are circus performers. The mother is having an affair and the father catches her in bed with another man. He ends up stabbing her with a sword and the boy witnesses this.

The story then jumps to later in his life when he is an adult. He is a struggling artist. He becomes romantically involved with some woman and she tells him of a wax museum that will be opening and she offers to buy his childhood story from him to display there. They show him drawing up images of what happened while sitting at a desk with only candlelight. He cuts his hands on the blade he is using to sharpen his drawing utensil.

After they have created the wax sculptures of the death scene of his parents, the woman takes him to view the display prior to the opening. It is incredibly detailed with a statue of the child him standing mouth agape in terror. He and the woman begin to argue and he ends up accidentally stabbing her with the sword from the display. It ends with him standing by her body and the statue of himself as a child with the same terror struck expression.

Any help you can offer would be much appreciated!



name that trauma

Scream of Fear (aka Taste of Fear, 1961)

I don’t get it. 1961’s SCREAM OF FEAR (TASTE OF FEAR in the UK) was apparently both a critical and commercial hit upon release, so why does it so frequently get overlooked? How is it that this film, still gripping and creeptastic today, is not mentioned alongside the usual classics? I’m serious, I don’t get it. It’s s-o-o-o-o good. It’s the title isn’t it? Folks you have to give your movies memorable titles! I can’t stress that enough. Just because my advice is half a century too late is no reason not to heed it.

SUSAN STRASBERG is wheelchair bound Penny Appleby. She travels to France to visit her estranged father and get a load of the stepmother she’s never met. Once there she is informed that her pop is away on business, which is believable enough until she starts coming across his wide-eyed corpse in every other room in the house. The set up is familiar indeed. Is Peggy a fruitcake or is somebody effing with her head? The large inheritance that hangs in the balance seems to suggest the latter. I guess I’m a mental slowpoke because as much as I thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t. This movie has more twists than a…think of something twisty for me….that!

What I find so exceptional about S.O.F. is the fact that even though it is a grounded in reality thriller, it huffs and puffs like a supernatural yarn and is just altogether haunting. The incredible black and white photography is partially to blame but the story itself leaves giant spaces for you to come to your own conclusions at times and you won’t be blamed for suspecting something otherworldly is going down. One scene in particular that involves Dad’s corpse being spied in a swimming pool is just a blaring punch of full-on horror. That scene should track down the scene from NIGHT OF THE HUNTER with SHELLEY WINTERS at the bottom of a lake and then propose marriage to it. They are the perfect couple because they both flip me out equally.

SCREAM OF FEAR is directed by SETH HOLT (THE NANNY 1965) and written by HAMMER regular JIMMY SANGSTER who deserves to be a household name in the world of horror. (Please just take a moment to gawk at his credits HERE.) STRASBERG is marvelous as brittle screamer Penny; ANN TODD, as the stepmom, is cool as a cucumber where most would have camped it up; RONALD LEWIS is top notch as the ever so helpful chauffer and guess who else shows up? CHRISTOPHER LEE. Man, I love seeing LEE in his earlier roles. Here he plays a French doctor who has the nerve to suggest that Penny’s wheelchair routine is all in her head. Yeah, tell that to the horse who fell on her and broke her spine in three places Doc! LEE is in this about as much as he’s in HORROR HOTEL (where he played an American) but as per usual, he’s all you can look at when he’s on screen.

This is a must-see thriller on par with the best and if you are a LEE groupie like I now realize I am or an appreciator of the glory of black and white, double that must-see. I tell you this because if you should happen to have the FEARNET Channel it’s on twice today both at noon and at 10 PM. See, I caught it a couple days ago and I saved this review just for today. How do you like that? I’ve always thinking of you. If you don’t have FEARNET you can find SCREAM OF FEAR shamefully hidden in a HAMMER DVD boxset. Why it does not have a special edition of its own, again, I have no frickin’ clue. It’s exemplary and I’m not just saying that because I love wheelchair movies.

Final Destination 5

The world does not need another FINAL DESTINATION 5 review but look how it’s happening anyway. I’d have reason number one million to hate myself if I neglected to express how impressed I was with it. It’s not every day that a horror franchise lives up to its full potential and the accomplishment seems even more miraculous considering this is a fifth installment of a series whose fourth was its worst. I was prepared for a decent enough time but not prepared for one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever encountered. Maybe it’s best that FD 5 is currently doing lackluster business and making a future installment less likely because a better cap off to the series would be nearly impossible to achieve. I mean it as a compliment when I say stick a fork in it.

I understand that not everybody is a fan and that makes perfect sense. One need only witness a real catastrophe to know they are far from entertaining. As for myself, the Chicken Little, Cassandra complex, there by the grace of God go I, step on a crack and break your mother’s back, bad omen paranoia that imbues the series speaks loudly to me. Sure, the films can be easily accused of repetition, the franchise has built its own signature structure it adheres to steadily, but the presence of death in the best installments trumps that of most standard horror fare in that it plays by its own rules and fairness be damned. The fantasy of morality and virtue offering a flashlight through the tunnel is nonexistent. When your number is up, your number is up and to quote my dentist, “It may hurt a little.”

FD5’s opening suspension bridge disaster is as extravagant and convincing as a bad dream. There are plenty of 3-D naysayers out there, so allow me my soapbox for dissent. I don’t know if my eyes are extra responsive due to extensive training from MAGIC EYE books or the intake of a multitude of questionable substances but 3-D works for me big time and when done right it still blows my mind. FD5’s director STEPHEN QUALE is fresh off an apprenticeship with JAMES CAMERON and he clearly knows a thing or two about pushing the 3-D limits. I flinched and I may have ducked a tad too. Be that as it may, what makes this addition to the series truly work has little to do with the accomplished special effects. More importantly, I think, is the return to form on the storytelling front and a willingness to leave the door open for real darkness to seep back in.

I should be careful not to oversell, FD5 is refreshingly gratifying and superiorly creative but not so much a masterpiece as simply way better than you’d think. The characters are older and less annoying and seem to have interests outside of being blown up and I was happy to be able to tell them apart from each other. TONY TODD returns as the mysterious coroner and the effect of his creepy presence I wouldn’t underestimate. For long time fans of the series, there are dozens of fun nods to the previous films and the delicious ending I mentioned earlier is far more than the standard cheap rug pull. It will have you backtracking through the rest of the film in your head and realizing just how well earned it is. The wheel is not reinvented but it’s certainly a pleasure seeing it spinning so smoothly and taking turns you wouldn’t anticipate. The series trademark deaths are kicked up a few notches too. In fact one left me seriously disturbed well after the fact. Wow, I can still find myself squeamishly grossed out by witnessing a horrible death. Who knew? Perhaps the best evidence of the film’s success is the way I walked home from the theater: cautiously.

Name That Trauma :: Reader GhostManor on Classroom Creepfests

name that trauma


Love the site. A good friend and I were reminiscing about scary movies that our teachers projected in class during the ’70s & early ’80s. The teacher would declare a certain day as a movie day and a student would be sent to the A/V room to return with a 16mm projector.

I remember being herded into the gym one day in the 70’s and watching WINTER OF THE WITCH……not really scary but fun, and on another day seeing Disney’s SKELETON DANCE on 16mm.

My friend has a memory of a short film about a family of settlers being haunted or threatened by something that lived in the woods at the edge of a field. Does that ring a bell for anyone?

Thanks for any help.


name that trauma

Streaming Alert :: Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead)

Did you know that you can watch full length movies for free on YouYube? You don’t even have to feel like a mooch when you do it because these movies are in the public domain and are therefore owned by YOU! Some of these movies stink but some are incredibly excellent like the one I’m going to talk about today, 1960’s HORROR HOTEL. I know the title makes it sound dopey but that’s just because it has been dumbed down for American audiences and it’s really called CITY OF THE DEAD. This spooky gem is one of the better horror movies, one of the better witch movies and one of the better black and white films. If you watch it on your computer, fog will seep out of your keyboard. I swear.

HORROR HOTEL is about a young college student named Nan who travels to a small New England town to research a paper on witchcraft on the advice of her professor. The excursion seems sensible enough until the moment she arrives at the town and finds it to be the creepiest place on Earth. Nan grabs a room at the suspiciously named Raven’s Inn and slowly discovers that the town is sitting in Satan’s paw and that the Inn’s owner looks a hell of a lot like a notorious witch that was burned at the stake a couple hundred years ago. Spooky unpredictable things ensue.

Some movies just vibrate with a supernatural power all their own and this is one of them. Calling this movie atmospheric is like calling the ocean damp or a tornado breezy. If you’ve ever enjoyed a stay in Dunwich, Hobb’s End or Potter’s Bluff you need to book a stay in the HORROR HOTEL’s thankfully fictional Whitewood, Massachusetts. Besides accomplishing a pitch-perfect, eerie mood, this a move that knows no fear on a storytelling level. The good guys need to be more than just good to survive. Another major selling point is the presence of CHRISTOPHER LEE as Nana’s bad advice giving teacher. You’ll see exactly why LEE is an icon as he is consistently mesmerizing throughout. Cobras should use CHRISTOPHER LEE movies to train their offspring.

The full movie is below but if ya’ need to see it bigger, just click on the corner and transport yourself over to the YouTube. HORROR HOTEL is directed by JOHN MOXEY (CIRCUS OF FEAR) and written by MILTON SUBOTSKY (THE VAULT OF HORROR) & GEORGE BAXT (The equally exceptional BURN, WITCH, BURN!) Enjoy your stay!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Robyn on Twin Tween Vampires

name that trauma

I’m 90% sure my kindertrauma is from a television show. It may very well be GOOSEBUMPS or ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, but I’ve had no luck finding anything remotely close to what I’m looking for. Here’s what I remember: There are two brothers (twins, I think) who turn into vampires on their 10th or 12th birthday or something, but they don’t know it until the end of the day.

The day it’s supposed to happen, we see the twins go about their daily lives. They wake up in their bunk beds, they eat breakfast, go to school, etc. I can’t remember much except that the whole mis en scene of the show or film is very ‘50’s/early ‘60s Americana. The twins’ mom cooks a huge breakfast, she’s wearing an apron and poofy dress, the whole 9 yards. I remember very pastel colors and the twins being creepily well behaved.

In the last scene, we see the twins get into their bunk beds, except the beds have been replaced with coffins as a birthday present. Mom and Dad stand in the doorway looking on as admiring vampire parents. Totally freaked me out!

Help! It’s been bugging me for years!


name that trauma