Kinterview :: Candle Cove Creator Kris Straub

The other day while trying to hunt down a “Name That Trauma!” I came across several mentions of a local television show from the early seventies entitled CANDLE COVE. The show seemed to have left a hefty impression on the unfortunate young souls who made a habit of watching it. CANDLE COVE was about a little girl named Janice and her interactions with a group of pirates that were portrayed by cheap looking puppets. For a kid’s show, CANDLE COVE was dark and twisted in a way that only a seventies show could get away with. There was even a villain named “The Skin Taker” and his cape appeared to be sewn together pieces of-you guessed it… skin. How had I never heard of CANDLE COVE before and why did it sound slightly familiar anyway? Finally I found a conversational thread that seemed to verify the existence of this highly kindertraumatic creation. Please take a moment and read it HERE.

…Did you read it? Don’t lie to me. Okay, so it turns out that CANDLE COVE was never really a show at all but spawned from a work of short fiction written by one KRIS STRAUB. Something about KRIS’ creation stuck a cord with the Internet and now CANDLE COVE is beginning to crystallize into a modern urban legend of sorts right before our eyes. Some refuse to believe that it never existed and some believe that they have witnessed it themselves. You have to admit after reading that thread that it doesn’t sound too far off from the conversations we have here at Kindtrauma, with different people remembering different bits until finally something solid takes form. I think the last comment that closes KRIS’ piece is brilliant. It captures just how diabolical and intrusive these vague memories from childhood can sometimes feel. I’m happy to say that I was able to track down KRIS for a short interview for you guys so here it is!

UNK: I almost didn’t want to reveal CANDLE COVE as a work of fiction but then I realized that no matter how many times that fact is put out there, some people refuse to believe that it’s not real. What’s it like to know that something you created has taken on a life of its own and in such a relatively short amount of time?

KRIS STRAUB: At first I wasn’t aware that it had happened at all. I had a horror fiction site, ICHOR FALLS, where I posted CANDLE COVE initially, and it ended up shared without my knowledge at much more popular horror fiction sites, where it reached a much bigger audience. I know 4chan helped to spread it around. The first time I saw people re-enacting the story, post for post, to scare an unsuspecting forum, I was so gratified. I kind of wrote it just to get the idea out of my head.

One of the things that I think let it take on a life of its own is how vague it is, and how earnest the show seems to be before all the scary stuff is revealed. So many things that scare us as kids start from this innocuous desire to entertain children, but it’s produced carelessly, or some special effect comes out way more ponderous or ugly than the creators intended, and it lingers as we, as children, try to make it fit with our limited understanding of the world. I think we have all been disturbed by shows and movies that have failed us in that way.

UNK: CANDLE COVE has inspired fan videos, fan fiction, music and a Facebook page promising a future movie. What addition to the CANDLE COVE legend have you been most taken aback by?

KRIS STRAUB: I like that people are excited about the story, but I get nervous when I see someone trying to make a film or their own CANDLE COVE books and stories. One of the good and bad things about how quick the story became an urban legend is that people really do think it’s an urban legend with no origin and no author. Fan work is great, but I’m very torn about balancing the fact that it is copyrighted and I do own the story, with the idea that it is in the nature of the story to be spread, namelessly, in dark corners of the internet. I know that serves the mythos way more than me being a litigious dick about it.

As far as being taken aback, I never know how serious Rule 34 is. The rule of the internet that states that if it’s a thing, then there’s porn of it on the internet. So there’s some sexy CANDLE COVE stuff out there that I hope was made as a personal self-challenge, and not a real, living desire to see Horace Horrible get it on with the Skin-Taker.

UNK: Can you tell us a little bit about your website ICHOR FALLS and the inspirations behind CANDLE COVE?

KRIS STRAUB: ICHOR FALLS is a collection of stories revolving around a fictional West Virginia town of the same name. I started writing them out of a love of Lovecraftian horror — not horror where someone gets chopped up, but where someone is made to realize that they don’t really understand the forces that drive the world, but they’ve seen too much of the truth. I also came to love the short stories of STEVEN MILLHAUSER, who doesn’t write horror per se, but creates these little universes where one good idea is taken too far, and then he takes it even further. Most of them are really unsettling.

Believe it or not, CANDLE COVE was specifically inspired by an old article on THE ONION: “Area 36-Year-Old Still Has Occasional Lidsville Nightmare.” It’s so accurate. I don’t know what dark entities SID & MARTY KROFFT spent time in the thrall of, but everything they made to entertain kids is tinged with this unearthly, utterly alien sensibility. I looked up the call letters for a TV station in that area of West Virginia and the names of nearby towns, and it lent the story a little verisimilitude.

UNK: I feel like you could take this idea as far as you like. Do you have anything in store for the future as far as CANDLE COVE and its burgeoning mythos?

KRIS STRAUB: It’s tough! I started to get really excited in continuing the mythos, but I think CANDLE COVE works because it is brief and vague and interrupted. I think to put a name or face to whatever is behind the making of the show is to spoil the magic. I always appreciated THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT for never showing us the witch. A CGI monster can never be as scary as what we invent in our own minds as a placeholder.

I have an idea keeping with the forum-post format, that involves someone asking around an auction site like eBay for the original tapes. There have also been some fan attempts to debunk CANDLE COVE (which always happens quickly, especially if people see this interview), but I’d like to write a whole meta-novella where someone decides to publish their attempts to expose CANDLE COVE and finds more than they were expecting.

UNK: Last but not least, I’ve got to try and get a traumafession out of you. What was the first movie, TV show, etc. that you remember being truly terrified of as kid?

KRIS STRAUB: I think I have a good one. There was an ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL from the ’80s, “Cousin Kevin,” about this little bespectacled kid whose imagination was too real for the babysitter. There’s one sequence where Cousin Kevin is imagining that they’re in the Arctic, and they’re attacked by “30-foot-tall carnivorous killer penguins.” They were stop-motion-animated by the Chiodo Bros., I remember that. All the effects were.

So Kevin and his babysitter escape and hide in a tiny igloo, and the penguin breaks it open easily, and Kevin says “watch out for their acid saliva!” and this huge fake penguin beak oozes steaming slime on the babysitter as he struggles and screams and begs for Kevin to end the fantasy. The whole scene is so nightmarish and claustrophobic! It wrecked me for months. There are more moments like that I’m sure, but it’s the only one I can remember. I would give anything to find that episode again.

UNK: Thanks KRIS for the interview and for CANDLE COVE. I have to admit that somewhere in the back of my mind I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t real either. Kids, Make sure you step insde KRIS‘ permanent residence KRISSTRAUB.COM to see all the other cool stuff pouring out of his head!

Traumafessions :: Francisco From Spain on Airport ’77

Hey, Francisco from Spain here, I have been a time without connecting with kindertrauma but now I’m doing the homework and trying to read the articles I didn’t read, awesome the children show The boy with two heads-CHICO THE RAINMAKER, I can’t stop singing in my mind the song¡¡¡…!!! incredible the link to “Poison” from THE ELECTRIC COMPANY too…(UNK SEZ: Thanks to Jamie JoAnne Russell for that link HERE.)

Well, I want to make a traumafession, an adult one, I can’t see the poster for AIRPORT ’77, the one with the sunken plane, I didn’t send you a link because I really, really can’t look at it, and it has been not so much time that I discovered that poster as an adult but… I like the sea and swimming but thinking about the depths and what you could find there… glubss … I have a bad time looking at photographs of the bottom of the sea or great fishes like sharks or whales too, maybe this traumafession could be the weirdest in kindertrauma but after knowing some people and their traumas with the WARNER BROS. logo or the TRI STAR Pegasus…

Feel free to correct my poor grammar and my poorest writing style if you want to publish this traumafession on the webpage!

UNK SEZ: Yay! I’m always happy to hear from Francisco from Spain! Don’t worry Francisco, your English is fine because the language of trauma is universal! You may not want to watch the trailer for AIRPORT ’77 below because things get muy submerged!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Cara on a Fatal Football

OK, so I am trying to help my friend solve his trauma. These are all the details I have:

He saw it in the mid-to-late ’90s but that doesn’t mean that is when it was made. No help there I guess.

There were kids involved, under some sort of mind control/body snatching. At one point there are football jocks, and one throws a football that turns into some sort of weapon by way of some TERMINATOR 2 looking silver liquid. The weapon then kills someone.

We know for sure that it isn’t THE FACULTY or DISTURBING BEHAVIOR. Any idea what it could be?


UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Kudos to reader Ben Sher for naming it with PROM NIGHT III: THE LAST KISS!

Streaming Alert :: The Skeptic (2009)

2009’s THE SKEPTIC has a measly 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What? That is waaay harsh. I’m here to tell you that it’s pretty good and if you read reviews from those who approached the film in the right spirit you’ll hear mostly the same. Frankly, I’m a little stunned that so many picked this particular movie to rake over the coals when there is so much worse out there. It’s not like it’s incompetent or something, it’s just a tad on the meek side. The most common complaint from critics seems to be that THE SKEPTIC feels like a television production from the seventies or eighties. In my world that’s not a minus, that’s a plus. I can get into a quiet movie that doesn’t embarrass itself trying to shock me every five minutes. If you are a fan of haunted house movies and you can tolerate a movie with modest goals, I see no reason why you would not find THE SKEPTIC reasonably entertaining. It’s certainly not as horrendous as an 8% approval rating would suggest. Geez critics, lighten up.

TIM DALY (STORM OF THE CENURY) plays Bryan Becket, the title skeptic who inherits a seriously impressive house from an Aunt who has kicked the bucket. Bryan is a grounded, rational lawyer who is proud of the fact that he believes in nothing. You won’t be surprised to learn that he ends up having to reevaluate his worldview when once in the house he experiences what appears to be ghostly phenomenon. An eccentric psychic lady named Cassie (ZOE SALDANA, of the same year’s STAR TREK) convinces Bryan to let her stay in the place too and together they learn that it’s Bryan himself who is haunted by a dark past.

Another big complaint thrown at writer/director TENNYSON BARDWELL’s film is that it has all been done to death before, but I think it’s actually pretty rare to find a haunted house flick that delves into an adult male’s psyche and allows its protagonist to be as vulnerable and broken as DALY becomes as he unearths a history of abuse. The performance leans toward the histrionic at times but there’s something compelling about watching someone who thinks that he has all the answers discover he doesn’t have a clue. One scene involving a creepy doll caught me completely off guard when, unhinged to the extreme, DALY’s face distorts in half laughing/half crying anguish to the point where he was completely unrecognizable. TYNE would be proud.

I guess sending a movie this unassuming into theaters is a bit like throwing your Grandma in a wrestling ring. I probably would not have been too happy if I had paid 15 bucks to see it either but it’s a comfy snug fit for late night Netflix Streaming (where it’s currently available.) The journey the character takes is heavy-handed but still worthwhile and I have to admit to getting sufficiently wrapped up in the mystery of the house (and what a house!) There are a couple decent scares too, nothing to keep you up at night but sufficient enough to keep you on edge. The original script actually was written in the eighties and that might explain why it’s a bit hokey, but I found the general temperate approach a refreshing change. It may sound like I’m just old and out of it but I like the idea of horror movies coming in as many types and tones as possible and that includes reserved and earnest (not to mention consistently autumnal) flicks like this. The New York Times’ Stephen Holden is quoted as saying, “I’ll take a bunch of teenagers terrorized by chain-saw-wielding zombies any day.” Me? I’ll take both.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Becca V. on a Bouncy Bed, a Tape Monster, & a Charcoal Substance

THANK you for your help with my recent trauma!

Are you game for another challenge?

I’m not sure how your website works – if I’m allowed ONE per year or whatever.

BUT, if you’re game to help with some more, the following are THREE – COUNT ‘EM – THREE TRAUMAS for the price of one, though two of them are for sure short films, and one I don’t even know WHAT the heck it is.


This was a short film that ran on NICKELODEON during its earliest days. I remember being so upset by this film that I would actually change the channel and run around the house finding things to do when I wanted to watch TV and it was on, waiting for it to end. It was a short animated film about a boy or girl, can’t remember which, trying to get through a scary night. There were two sequences in particular that bothered me.

One was a very long sequence in which the kid’s bed would bounce up and down with increasingly angry breathing sounds coming from something beneath it, like a loud inhalation and exhalation of breath that would grow in intensity until the kid’s bed was flying up to near the ceiling and dropping back down with every breath. This goes on for a long time and then the kid V-E-R-Y slowly gets off the bed and looks under his bed, and after a long long long sequence of silence and angry-faced shadowy bat-creature SCREAMS up across the screen out from under the bed.

The other part features a sequence of dialogue that I remember almost word for word. It showed a pendulum with a blade on it coming out of the kid’s ceiling and swinging lower and lower with every beat of the following poem being spoken by the narrator: “The dividing line ‘tween real and dream is like a razor’s edge so KEEN!” and on the word “keen” the pendulum is about to hit the kid in the head/body and then the pendulum disappears with a “pew pew pew” sound effect.

This is followed by a softer-spoken line as morning comes and the kid’s made it through the night where the narrator says “… to be dissolved by warm sun-rays that broke the spell.”

I may have the words slightly wrong, but anyone who can track this down would shock and surprise me.


This was another short film that would air on NICKELODEON from time to time featuring a man who was running around a house being chased by an evil creature that looked as though it was made up of PILED-UP AUDIO TAPE! The monster’s movements were in stop-motion. Whenever the monster itself moved, it was accompanied on the audio track by a very slowed-down voice speaking like a monstrous sound “Rrrrr SHhhhhRRRh hHHHRRRHHRHHRHRHRHHHHHH!”

The man would sometimes hide behind doors, and the monster would poke little bits of the tape through the bottom of the door. When these little tendrils of tape would appear, there would be accompanying high-pitched super-fast speaking on the audio of the short film.

At one point, I remember the man uses a magnet he finds to fight the monster, and it works to stop it temporarily from grabbing him. Eventually, though, the man gets eaten by the monster and the tape wraps all over his body and leaves behind his clothes. Then, the monster goes over and uses its little tape tendrils to type something on a manual typewriter, which I never understood from not having seen the beginning of the short but which seemed like it was some kind of invitation to someone else to come visit the house where the tape monster lived, the context suggesting the monster was sending out letters to friends of each victim to lure more people to the house to be eaten.


This was a film that I THINK was black-and-white, seen on T.V. in the afternoon on a Sunday in the early-to-mid ’70s. I don’t remember much of the details, so this one will be a challenge I think.

All I remember was that it featured a scene of a big house near a cliff face, with waves crashing on the cliff face. I also seem to remember someone finding bits of rock/stone/charcoal or something like that in their sink, and being upset by it, like it was crystallized water or something. My memory wants to say there was a bit of narration at the beginning where a voice or text was saying something like how modern society has never faced many of the great threats from the past but as we continue to explore our world we will encounter more of these forgotten terrors, or SOMETHING hyperbolic like that.

The upshot of it all was that the charcoal substance, if you touched it, it turned YOU into the same charcoal substance. I think someone got turned entirely into it, or it turned all the water inside of them into the same charcoal substance. It is not THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (that was a whole other trauma).

Becca V.

AUNT JOHN SEZ: The answer to the second one is the 1975 short RECORDED LIVE. As for numbers one and three, I am not too sure. Can someone please help Becca out in the comments?

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Now it’s Thanksgiving day and myself and Aunt John are taking the day off to eat and mostly drink things! If you have no family to visit today make some toast and popcorn and revisit our wildly unpopular posts HORROR MOVIES FOR THANKSGIVING! (HERE.) and KINDERTRAUMA’S GUIDE TO PISSED OFF NATIVE AMERICANS! (HERE.) Happy Thanksgiving and remember only Turkeys drink and drive!

Ten Turkeys To Gobble!

It’s almost Thanksgiving, the day where you act thankful but I’m not thankful for rampant gluttony and smallpox blankets; I’m thankful for bad movies! When I use the word “bad” I mean it in the way the kids do these days and that means the opposite! “Bad” means “good” in the world of hip-hop! What will they think of next? Lots I guess. Here are ten movie turkeys that brightened my life with their inability to walk a straight line and touch their nose when I pulled them over to the side of the road. Yes, these are recycled posts but what am I a mule? Look, I even blurbed myself which frankly is just as much fun as it sounds. Gobble.

10. THE DARK (1979)
“There’s no escaping the frustrating, unfocused, half-hearted pace.” (MORE.)

9. STAR CRASH (1978)
“Moments in, I realized that my eyeballs were about to get reamed.” (MORE.)

8. FATAL GAMES (1984)
“Its perpetual atrociousness makes it strangely worthwhile.” (MORE.)

7. SCREAMTIME (1986)
I think SCREAMTIME is a way better movie than INCEPTION. (MORE.)

6. BLOOD SHACK (1971)
“I have always regarded it as the worst film I had ever seen in my life.” (MORE.)

5. THE VISITOR (1979)
“Spectacularly daffy enough to be absolutely critic proof.” Full review HERE.

“Not one moment of normal human behavior to be found anywhere.” (MORE.)

3. JAWS OF SATAN (1981)
“A perfect amalgamation of everything that makes movies not good.” (MORE.)


“If (it) were just incompetent that would be one thing, but it goes far beyond that, it willfully defies rational thought.” (MORE.)

Humongous (1982)

Even though I’m as poor as an unemployed church mouse with a moth in his wallet and holes in his tiny mouse socks, I decided that I deserved to purchase HUMONGOUS on DVD as my hair has literally turned gray while waiting for it to appear on said format. It may not be the best movie in the world, but it has always scratched my slasher fan itch even though its cramped and fuzzy VHS presentation always left much to be desired. SCORPION RELEASING’s new, far less dish-watery, widescreen offering doesn’t fix all of HUMONGOUS’s faults but it sure does make the movie a less frustrating and more enjoyable watch. It might even change a few people’s minds about this underrated whipping boy of a movie that’s not nearly as pointless as folks like to pretend.

Our tale begins with a woman being raped. We don’t have to wait long for the culprit to get his comeuppance because dogs immediately maul him and his victim smashes his head in with a rock. Next, somber opening credits share snapshots of her life. The pictures are all happy until we reach one that was taken after the ugly incident where her smile is replaced by a scar. Thirty-eight years later a group of hard to like young folk jump on a boat and go for a joy ride. They save a stranded boater within some heavy fog and he tells them the story of “Dog Island.” The home of the lady who was attacked all those years ago who now lives in isolation from the world surrounded by her protective dogs. It’s implied that the woman has gone “mad” but if living in a big old house on your own island surrounded by canines is “mad” then I want to be mad too.

After the telling of the campfire-free campfire story, one of the douchier members of the group (who has been acting up all day) gets it in his head to take over the boat but instead crashes and blows the thing up leaving everyone swimming for dreaded Dog Island. If HUMONGOUS has any bone to pick it may be with the consequences of blind male aggression. Life would be so sweet if it wasn’t for gross rapists and spazzy yacht sinking acts of machismo.

Once our friends set foot on dry land it’s time to get murdered but not in the order that one might assume (The old adage ”killers don’t make slashes on gals who wear glasses” is wrong.) Thanks to some subtle clues like dog bones everywhere, someone falling in the lap of a corpse and a journal that conveniently explains everything, our sleuths surmise that the lady and her dogs are dust but her savage monster offspring is living large. Although somewhat sympathetic (when not crushing skulls) the malformed creature comes across as a seven-foot stand in for thoughtless male destruction. He’s almost a tape recording of the original violence he spawned from set forever on repeat. Not to ruin the ending but the last image of the film of its lone survivor staring off coldly suggests that the ripple effect from the original vicious act will continue on.

Directed by PAUL LYNCH (The original PROM NIGHT), HUMONGOUS can get on your nerves for holding a decent hand yet often failing to play the right cards. I have a feeling LYNCH unwisely went with the false theory that showing less would somehow magically make his film more suspenseful. Less may be more when filming a haunted house tale but if you’re doing a movie about a giant mutant rape-baby, subtlety is not your friend. Even polished up on DVD, HUMONGOUS sticks to the shadows and lingers in black spaces more than it should, sometimes it works to its benefit and sometimes it shoots itself in the foot. Overall though, the coastal atmosphere, the use of real lived in locations, the Ginny Field-style psychology, the eerie score and the joyful aberrance that abounds have always been enough for me.

Truth is, it’s no use complaining about the film’s creaky nature because it is a major part of its charm. Better lighting, better acting, better kills and a more satisfying monster reveal would have been great but that doesn’t feel quite right for a movie called HUMONGOUS. I could complain that it’s filled with cliché’s but honestly, I chomp on tropes like Skittles, they are as comforting as street signs leading me home. I might bellyache that you don’t really get to know the characters but truthfully I don’t want to know them. I know enough characters thank you very much. Is it all right if I just want to hang with a monster on an island for a while and then leave without exchanging numbers and promises of holiday cards? HUMONGOUS the movie is really very much like its theatrical poster, cheap, primitive, goofily deviant and inexplicably awesome. It doesn’t deliver the brutality it appears to promise but there are more than a couple accomplished visuals and tons of weird moments that stick in your head. It’s no masterpiece but like a scraggily child’s drawing stuck to the fridge, I just might prefer it to one.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Buffy M. on a Trapped Teen

I was hoping maybe you could help me with a movie title. I have been looking for it forever. I remember watching it on T.V. late at night when I was younger. This was in the late ’80s early ’90s. I remember toward the beginning of the movie there is a teen-aged girl and she somehow got trapped in a house. She is looking out the window of the room and sees a guy get hit in the head with a shovel or a mailbox. She falls back from the window and lands on the floor. After sitting there she lifts up her hand and there are a few maggots on her palm, she brushes them away quickly.

I could be getting it confused with another movie but I thought at the end she somehow finds her way out of the house but it’s like shes crawls out of a drain or something and there is this crazy looking lake or something. She may have been helped by a troll?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!


UNK SEZ: Hmmmm, the guy getting hit with a mailbox doesn’t exactly fit but the rest sounds like it could be DARIO ARGENTO‘s 1985 flick PHENOMENA (although if you caught it on T.V. it was more likely titled CREEPERS). The girl (JENNIFER CONNELLY) being trapped in a house, finding maggots in her palm, escaping through a drain and ending up at a lake all fit. There is even a mutant kid who looks like a troll- although he was not so much trying to help the girl as kill her. Check out the clip below (It’s the Italian version) and let me know if it rings any bells!