Name That Trauma:: Cat_Pi on a Living Toy & a Creepy Grandmother

I just came across your fantastic site and think that you could help me! There are 2 movies I’ve been trying to figure out forever.

The first one is from the 70’s or early 80’s and I remember seeing a toy attack a woman. It might have been wooden and might have had a yellow pointed hat. I remember someone (the woman or maybe a man) chopping it up with an ax and then it came back together again. It might have been put into a bag at some point. I’ve researched tons of movies and haven’t found it. It is not Trilogy of Terror, it may have been Asylum but still didn’t seem right. This movie started my aversion to living toys. Any help would be great!

I also remember a movie or horror anthlogy show where a boy was crouched in the corner of a house while his creepy grandmother or someone called to him from the bedroom. I watched the trailer for Grandmother’s House and I don’t think this is it.

Thank you!

UNK SEZ: Ack! Not knowing the answer to a killer toy NTT drives me crazy! The only movie I can think of is PINOCCHIO’s REVENGE! Pinocchio is wooden and he has a pointy hat- although it’s blue rather than yellow. The bigger problem is that it’s from 1996 which doesn’t fit your timeline at all! Oh well, I need some kind of of image on this post, so up there he goes! Does anyone have a better guess out there? And what about that creepy grandma? Help us out! In the meantime, let’s watch the trailer for PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE simply because it’s awesome…

Name That Trauma:: Christine C. on a Spider Spewing Skull

Hello Kindertrauma,

I recently re-discovered your website the other day while messing around on Google, and while I am not a horror fan I must say that the stories and blogs you all post are quite fascinating. In fact it got me thinking of a childhood trauma that I still, to this day, can’t seem to find or remember. Perhaps you could post this as a Name that Trauma feature.

I was watching tv with my family (it must have been in the early to mid-1980’s) and the program broke away for some commercials. One commercial started out as a blank black screen, and, slowly, a skull emerged from the darkness. Once the skull was visible, a spider crawled out of its mouth. Then, a pair of eyes opened in the skull’s sockets-EEEEEKKKKK!!!!! This last part reduced me to a sobbing, shaking ball in my mom’s lap, and I don’t rememer anything after that (except that I was forever terrified of disembodied eyes). Was it a movie? TV show? Promotion for some Halloween event? If any of your staff/forum members have any idea please post it. Thank you.


Christine C. in Albuquerque, NM

P.S. Some other traumatizing (but not nearly as destructive) moments from my youth include Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk, the Tyranosaurus Rex puppet from The Land of The Lost, and the evil laugh at the end of Michael Jackson‘s hit song “Thriller“.

UNK SEZ: I think I’ve got this one Christine! It sounds like what you caught was a TV spot for HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH! The ad begins with a black screen (and some horrifying kiddie laughter) and then a witch’s face appears (which could easily be mistaken for a skull). The face looms closer to reveal a spider crawling out of its mouth and we then close on two very disturbing eyes! I remember catching this on TV myself and I agree it’s a doozy! It’s one of those superior ads that lets your imagination run wild by not showing any scenes from the movie at all!

Post Childhood Traumafession:: Mickster on The Strangers (2008)

I was still married when I first saw The Strangers (2008). The movie really scared me, and I was not anxious to watch it again. The thought of random killers invading the sanctity of my home with the intent to murder me was truly unsettling. My niece had her own traumatizing experience watching the movie, so sometimes we taunt each other about watching the movie again. We generally have the same response of, “Not just no, but Hell no!” each time. Fast forward to the fall of 2011, I was in the midst of turmoil as I was going through a divorce. Due to the uncertainty of my situation, I was already on edge and as a result, I stopped watching horror films. One particular Friday night, I said, “The Hell with this,” and decided I was going to watch a movie from my favorite genre. As my status on Facebook, I said I was going to watch a horror movie and did anyone have any suggestions as to which one I should watch. My niece, of course, taunted me with The Strangers.

So, I decided that perhaps I would watch it again. I set about doing my evening chores; so I could sit down to view the movie. I was almost done when my doorbell rang. It did not just ring once; it was a double ring. I was startled because I was not expecting any visitors. I quietly peaked out my front window to see if there was a car in the driveway. There was nothing in the driveway, and it was completely dark outside. I, of course, did not open the front door, and I immediately set my alarm system to instant. The doorbell did not ring again, but the damage was done. I was completely unsettled and spooked. I did not watch The Strangers that night; in fact, I did not watch any horror movies that night. I have since told my niece that if she wants to me to watch the movie again she will have to come to my house to watch it with me and spend the night otherwise my response will be a definite, “No way in Hell!”

UNK SEZ: Thanks Mickster! What a great idea to write about a movie that traumatized you as an adult! I have a few of those myself! If anybody else out there was freaked out by a film that they saw when they were fully grown we’d love to hear about it! Who says you have to be a kid to be traumatized?

Sunday Streaming Double Feature:: Deadly Lessons & The Demon Murder Case

I wish a space alien would ask me what I think is mankind’s greatest achievement because my answer would the 1983 made for T.V. slasher mystery DEADLY LESSONS! I remember how excited I was the night this aired and why shouldn’t I have been? It’s like THE FACTS OF LIFE GO TO HELL and it stars my favorite person who ever lived, DIANE FRANKLIN of AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION and SUMMER GIRL fame! Actually, as far as the cast goes what we have here is an embarrassment of riches: ALLY SHEEDY, NANCY CARTWRIGHT, BILL PAXTON, DONNA REED, LARRY WILCOX & DENNA “cousin April” FREEMAN all collect paychecks! Read a fuller fawn-y review HERE!

Next up is THE DEMON MURDER CASE, another T.V. movie that left a strong impression on me. Its description of the devil scared the living crap out of me when I first saw it and little did I know that within the year I’d be moving into the town where the story it’s based on took place (although TDMC is set in Rhode Island rather than Brookfield, Connecticut). This is yet another case that Ed and Lorraine Warren were heavily involved in and it stars Philadelphia native and FRIDAY THE !3TH star KEVIN BACON! Read more about this traumatizing title HERE!

Why am I lumping these two movies together besides the fact that I think they both rule? As it turns out, THE DEMON MURDER CASE aired on March 6th 1983 and DEADLY BLESSINGS aired the very next day March 7th! What possessed me not to remember that? Maybe it’s because there was so much awesome going on in 1983 that back to back viewing satisfaction wasn’t a unique enough occurance to stand out. For more 1983 goodness, check out our 1983 Funhouse flashback puzzle HERE!

Traumafession:: Senski on Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”

Although it’s routinely pilloried as one of the worst singles of all time, Bobby Goldsboro‘s #1 song from 1968 – “Honey” – has always given me the creeps since childhood. The five weeks it spent in the top chart position were nestled between the dual assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, a vulnerable time indeed for America, and one during which you can certainly imagine the nation turning to a song about (possibly) suicide and (definitely) grief. But it was an infamous performance on a comedy show that made it temporary nightmare fodder for me.

At face value, the song’s lyrics about a husband mourning the passing of his wife do not portray him in a very sympathetic light; he laughs at her foolishness, accidents and stupidity when he probably should have been paying closer attention to a deeper problem. Some have conjectured the song’s subject was suffering a terminal disease (this was two years before Eric Segal‘s “Love Story” would become a best-seller) but in later years I’d come to picture Honey taking her own life. I prefer to interpret it thus for two reasons: 1) The narrator implies he wants to join her in death but is too cowardly to do so (I’d love to be with you / if only I could), and 2) the song returns to the beginning at the close, as the husband is trapped in an endless cycle of grief. Yes, it’s schlocky in retrospect, but at the time it was chilling. I see Honey as a fragile, willowy flower child, a free spirit easily crushed; think Mia Farrow.

Cut to a random Sunday night in the Senski household, where “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was a weekend staple. The edgy variety show must have decided that the song was ripe for taking down a few pegs, and decided to invite Goldsboro to sing it on air. But there was a catch; the producers decided to stage a series of tableaux, each depicting a scene from the lyrics (a smashed car, a planted twig, etc) with Goldsboro wandering around the set. The most vivid memory for me was a box of tissues – one partially removed from the slot – and used ones littering the floor, as though a ghost had been seated at the kitchen table, weeping. Now, keep in mind that I was not quite five and hadn’t truly grasped the concept of suicide. My mind considered three possibilities, all very unsettling:

1) The man had left his house exactly as it was the day she died or disappeared, however long ago this may have been;

2) Honey had been mysteriously taken away by the song’s “angels” for reasons I did not know, or;

3) Honey was still there as a ghost haunting the house.

Goldsboro has said in later interviews that the show received a tremendous amount of mail, most of it negative, for trying to put a humorous spin on a song about tragedy. I didn’t think it funny at all, and though I have not viewed this in almost 45 years, I can still picture those Kleenexes as though grasped by a phantom hand. I’d love for someone to unearth a video of this musical staging, or learn if anyone else saw this and experienced a severe case of gooseflesh.

Traumafession:: Kevin Sommerfield of Don’t Go To The Reunion on John Larroquette & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Having started horror at the young age of 5, not much scared me as a kid but what scared me, REALLY scared me. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to start my horror movie experience off with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre before I even started kindergarten. Something scared me more than the chainsaws, blood, flesh, and Leatherface…that something was John Larroquette. His narration at the beginning of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so cold and ominous, would give me nightmares for weeks. Seeing Night Court reruns on television added fuel to the fire. Hearing Larroquette‘s voice brings chills up my spine. I still can’t watch the film without fast forwarding through the opening…

UNK SEZ: Great traumafession Kevin! I’m with you on that narration. Not that there’s any part of TCM that I am not terrified by. I was a teen when I first saw it and it really shook me up. I don’t now how you survived seeing it younger than that! I’m really looking forward to DON’T GO TO THE REUNION! It looks right up my alley! Folks, if you want to learn more about Kevin’s movie check out the official site HERE! Plus you can keep up to date by liking SLASHER STUDIOS’ Facebook page HERE! And do check out the trailer below….

Name That Trauma:: Reader Andrew D. on a Non-Gigantic Daimajin

Hello again! I have been trying to think of the name of this film for quite some time (years), but I just never can. It was a late 80’s or early 90’s horror film involving a group of teenagers getting lost in an evil dojo or something similar. Maybe there was a part involving an asian restaurant. My longing to find out which movie this is was sparked today by seeing something referring to DAIMAJIN. Even though those movies were from the 60’s, there is a particular scene in the film I am trying to remember that involves a statue that is slightly larger than a normal person that resembles a Daimajin (except it is not gigantic) coming to life and grabbing a member of the group as they are walking around the creepy dojo (or whatever it is) and pulling them off into the shadows. That is all I really remember, but the movie totally scared me when I was younger! I was wondering if you or anyone else can help me find this film or experienced the film when they were younger. Thanks so much!

Name That Trauma:: Reader Allison B. on a Brain-Flavored Ice Cream Eating Elevator Ghost

Hi Kindertrauma!

I’m looking for something that would have been on TV sometime between 1990 and probably 1998, although I’m not sure if it was originally a theatrical release or (more likely) a made-for-TV feature (I do know that it was a longer format than the 30-minute Are You Afraid of the Dark? series, for instance)… Anyhow, a girl moves into an old house or hotel with family members and gets to know a boy who hangs around. He seems to always be eating strawberry ice cream in a fancy-pants sort of dish with a long spoon. One of the big reveals is near the end of the film, when the boy turns out to have died there many decades before. He was a rich little brat who lived alone in a hotel room, and one day he fell down the elevator shaft and dashed his brains out at the bottom. As I recall, it turns out it was always vanilla ice cream, but when they found him his brains and blood had mixed with the ice cream to make it all pink and lumpy. Et voila: strawberry ice cream, which I’ve never been able to eat since.

I get the impression there were other ghosts that had seemed like guests, but the boy always stuck out because of that corny but effective ice cream gimmick. I’ve looked at Disney’s Tower of Terror (1997), and while it looks like a similar premise I really can’t find a rich boy with brain-flavored ice cream in the skimming I’ve done so far. Any ideas?


Allison B.

The Conjuring (2013)

ALAN MOORE once said “ Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images to achieve changes in consciousness.” I couldn’t agree more and have I got a spell for you. THE CONJURING is a scary, endearingly romanticized, elaboration of a some-say ‘true” haunting. I’ m not going to get wrapped up in the authenticity of the story because any tale, true or not, that inspires a movie as swell as this is all right by me. If things are grandly exaggerated, that’s fine. That’s what urban legends are fueled by, that’s what tall tales stand up on and that’s what fills every history book in every elementary school in America. Hyperbole is what storytelling is all about and we’re all guilty of tweaking the truth to make it shine a little brighter. If we can force ourselves to believe that Thanksgiving isn’t a shameful travesty then surely we can humor a harmless ghost story every once in a while too. Wow. Even in the heart of summer I hate on Thanksgiving!

JAMES WAN is a wonderful director. There I said it! I said the director of SAW is wonderful! He beat me down folks! I tried to resist but it’s over. INSIDIOUS was a left hook and THE CONJURING is a right hook and then some. I give up already! It’s not a fair fight when he has PATRICK WILSON on his side and I just have bitter, misplaced feelings of exclusion on mine. Anyway, our tale is about a nice family (The Perrons) who moves into a haunted-looking house and discover that it is indeed infested with invisible forces that yank them out of bed and according to at least one source, smell like farts. Who ya gonna call? Why notorious married supernatural specialists ED & LORRAINE WARREN (WILSON & VERA FARMIGA) of course! Now, I know there are some people who are not fans of the real life Warrens (Ed has passed away) and think of them as cons. I never met them so I can’t say. I just know they were really nice to the Smurl family in that excellent TV movie that scared the crap out me called THE HAUNTED (1991) so I’m going by that. Plus if WAN was of the mind to aggrandize the couple ,he sure casted well. On a side note, JAMES WAN, can you cover the Smurl haunting in the sequel pretty please? And can you release the movie on the same day as SMURFS 3 so that Box office Mojo is forced to write the headline SMURLS SMASH SMURFS!? Do it!

THE CONJURING is getting enthusiastic reviews, which is nice as most horror movies are pummeled for simply existing. I notice though that many critics feel the need to temper their kudos by saying it’s well done but a “typical” haunted house tale. Personally, I think it has a lot of merit outside of just being a well-oiled scare dispenser. The frights aren’t random jolts, they’re tethered to something solid and concrete. They’re not simply about being in dangerous situations with the unknowable they uniformly concern the worst fear of all, that harm might come to someone you care about and worse still, it may be your fault. Ed fears that Lorraine looses part of herself each time they involve themselves in such things, Lorraine frets that their daughter Judy is swinging between being neglected and endangered. The Father of the haunted family (RON LIVINGSTON) is anguished over putting his family in peril and the mother (LILI TAYLOR at her best) ends up personifying everybody’s worst fears by melding with a spirit who has killed her own offspring and has supernaturally strong-armed others to unthinkingly do the same.

I can totally relate. Let me tell you, for full horror pleasure it’s all about the empathy. People who don’t have it are missing a world of flavor! Sorry, I’m going to talk about myself again. But isn’t that the nice thing about blogs? You get that personal touch. Do you know what you get from magazines? Paper cuts! So as I was saying, we too recently moved into a haunted-looking house. When we got here I realized that the previous owners took all the screens from the windows. This freaked me out because we have five cats and I didn’t want them running away. They were all scared out of their minds and oh, God, what have I done to them? I started imaging the worst. The cats slipping between doors, getting hit by cars, freezing in the streets, lost. It got worse, I’d be hammering a nail and think, what if I dropped the hammer and it landed on a cat’s head? It got ridiculous. What if one crawled into the dryer? It got nuts. What if the cat choked on a discarded pistachio shell? My dreams were filled with drowning cats; cats on fire, cats crushed under poorly installed air conditioners. It was exhausting and I could not make it stop. The resolution of THE CONJURING that involves something as simple as recalling a moment of pure connection with those you care about resonated with me. Maybe focusing on that thought alone IS enough to expel the witch in my head.

Oh, I get it! I’m mentally ill! You know how folks with screws loose think the T.V. is talking to them? They see signs and coincidences everywhere and they get messages, lots and lots of messages? Well, that’s how I interact with movies. It’s been that way ever since I was a kid, the movies, especially the good ones, they tell me things! This one really went out of its way to whisper in my ear. The new house, the five kids, my favorite episode of THE BRADY BUNCH playing on the T.V., a ghost with the same name as my cat, a clown music box (mine plays “Send in the Clowns”), a porcelain lamb, a rooster painting, an embroidered owl, landscape T.V. trays folded against the wall- how is this not my home?

I found this movie frightening enough (WAN is gifted at sneaky distraction and leaving enough blank canvas for the viewer to paint themselves) but that really wasn’t the most important thing for me. For as much as THE CONJURING embellishes the dark it is depicting, it puts forth equal effort accentuating the light. Maybe that won’t please those who follow horror as an endurance sport but who cares about tourists? As corny as it may be, I love that this movie has a strong conscience. Remarkably it doesn’t stop at giving you distinct characters; it makes a point of concerning itself with the relationships between those characters. (Seriously, the sparkage between WILSON and FARMIGA is so dynamic somebody oughta shove them in a THE THIN MAN remake.) In real life, things did not end on such happy, tied in a bow terms. The Warrens were asked to leave the case and the house remained (and is said to still be) haunted. That’s the “true” story and who the hell needs it? I like this much better! Reality, take a lesson from fiction, ya lazy bore! I’ve never been one for happy endings in horror flicks but this one suited me just fine. I say sequel time! Send in the Smurls! Don’t bother…they’re here!