Traumafessions :: Reader Kelley J. on The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978)

First of all, I love your website. It’s a walk down a dysfunctional, horror-infused memory lane. I was surprised to see that you haven’t reviewed the late 1970s made-for-TV adaptation of Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home. It was called “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” when it aired on the small screen. Bette Davis scared the living hell out of me as the Widow, back in the day. This flick had it all, a secret society, bizarre fertility rituals, an unusual way to guarantee that next year’s corn crop will be a success, murder, suicide and a kind of Stepford Wives mentality among the women of this deceptively peaceful village.

Kelley J.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Kelley! I agree with you, there’s not enough HARVEST HOME around these parts and I too am surprised that we have not covered it more extensively on these pages. I’m just going to place the blame on dopey UNIVERSAL for never properly putting TDSOHH on DVD and for releasing it on VHS only in a highly edited form. Luckily I found the entire miniseries on YouTube. The picture quality is for the birds but it’ll just have to do for now!

Sunday Viewing:: Ghost Story’s House of Evil and Doorway to Death

Ever since our pal Crabbymoon identified a recent NTT as an episode of GHOST STORY aka CIRCLE OF FEAR, I’ve been on a binge-mission. I had started the series on YouTube years ago but it disappeared as soon as the universe discovered I was enjoying it. Thank Goodness Crabbymoon rekindled my interest because a recent Google dig unearthed the series in its entirety, looking far sharper than it had before. (You can view the entire series HERE and I’d suggest doing it pronto because something tells me this ship is sailing soon.) Not every episode is a goldmine but there are more than a few standouts and even the lesser offerings are laced with super potent LSD (Lurid Seventies Décor). I haven’t watched them all yet but allow me to spotlight two segments, both directed by DARYL DUKE (THE SILENT PARTNER).

HOUSE OF EVIL is a must see. Written by ROBERT BLOCK, it stars a young JODIE FOSTER as Judy, a deaf-mute girl who discovers she can communicate telepathically with her grandfather who happens to be played by MELVYN DOUGLAS. It’s a sweet set up until you learn that grandpa dabbles in black magic and his inheritance is hate. DOUGLAS and FOSTER are not surprisingly both phenomenal. There’s a scene involving grudge-gramp instructing unsuspecting Judy on how to make voodoo dolls out of raisin cookies, tooth-picks and swatches of stolen clothing and there’s something truly mesmerizing about its patience and the weaving of Douglas’ voiceover with dreamily random piano cords. It doesn’t hurt that this supernatural tale takes place in a slightly remodeled version of the BEWITCHED house.

DOORWAY TO DEATH is a later episode written by HAMMER regular JIMMY SANGSTER during the shows retitled CIRCLE OF FEAR second season. This is the first episode I ever saw and it remains hard to beat in my book. SUSAN DEY, LEIF GARRETT and DAWN LYN (Dodie!) are siblings who have just moved into an apartment building in San Francisco. This is a rather unusual ghost story as the younger kids explore the third floor they encounter a room that leads to another dimension where a seemingly nice man spends an inordinate amount of time chopping wood in the snow. It turns out his axe has chopped more than just logs and the silent apparition has his eye on DEY as a replacement for the wife he killed. As with HOUSE OF EVIL, director Duke brings a lyrical dreamy quality to the story while never letting up on the suspense. So far these two kindertraumatic episodes are my favorites but I’m keeping my mind open as other installments include the likes of JANET LEIGH, KIM DARBY and PATTY DUKE. Back to YouTube for me.

Traumafession:: Casper on Mercedes McCambridge in Two for the Money (1972)

Dear Kindertrauma,

I am writing this trauma on behalf of my father who shared with me a piece from one of his haunting childhood memories. He could not remember the film’s title rather only the singsongy words spoken by the film’s antagonist. With some tireless Googling of what little information he could provide, we finally identified a scene from the 1972 TV movie “Two for The Money” which featured Mercedes McCambridge as a psychotic knife-wielding killer. She shrills out the memorable line “WITH A HEY NONY, NONY, NONY, MEN WERE DECEIVERS EVER, WITH A HEY NONY, NONY”. This stuck with him over the years and still makes the hair stand straight up on his arms.

After identifying the movie and skipping forward to the nightmarish scene which occurs at the end of the film (available on YouTube HERE @ 1:01:00) we searched through McCambridge’s career only to find out she voiced the Demon in “The Exorcist”. What a creepy old bat!

Anyway, I hope that some of you will remember this one and enjoy it just as we have.




Name That Trauma:: Reader X on a Dead Soldier’s Kept Promise

You were recommended to me by Sound on Sight.

First, there’s no kids in this movie I’m looking for.

I believe it was the movie of the week on ABC during the mid-70s.

It’s about this woman who’s about to be remarried. Her first husband died in Vietnam. She starts getting phone calls apparently from her first husband. All he says is, “Remember the promise.” She thinks it’s the promise she made to always be faithful to him. There are a couple attempts on her life. A buddy of the dead husband has been around during this time. And the climax is at a lake and the buddy is trying to kill her. Somehow he gets in the water. When he tries to climb out, something grabs his leg. Michael? I believe that was the dead husband’s name. The buddy gets dragged back into the water and drowned. After it’s over, there’s a flashback where the first husband is reminding the woman that he’ll always protect her.

For some reason I thought the name of the movie was, “When Michael Calls.” But, my research has shown that is another movie.

Any help would greatly be appreciated.

Name That Trauma:: Mike J. on a Camera-shy Slasher Skit

I’ve got this vague, traumatic memory of a comedy skit from the early ’80s. It must’ve been on some network or cable special. It may have even been a skit on the show “Fridays” for all I know (I just know it wasn’t SNL).

It was a pre-taped skit parodying the holiday home movie cliche. Someone with a video camera is walking around, taping family members at a gathering. It’s, like, a big, extended Italian family’s celebration (maybe a birthday, or Christmas). Parents and uncles and grandmas are all waving to the camera and mugging. But there’s this one lady — I think she’s an aunt — who isn’t into it. She keeps shielding her face whenever the video camera catches her, saying she doesn’t want to be filmed. She gets progressively more annoyed as the other family members laugh about it, tell her to relax, etc. Finally, she gets so pissed she storms out of the party. But the next scene cuts to her running down the street, with the POV of the camera chasing her. She’s still waving her hands and screaming that she doesn’t want to be filmed, but now it’s like a slasher movie.

Then gets chased to the beach and runs into the ocean to escape the home movie camera. Then it cuts to her drowned body washing up on shore.

I remember it as being really funny and absurd, but dark enough that I’m still curous about it to this day.

Name That Trauma:: Kim R. on Floating Toys That Transform

Hello! I have this bizarre memory of watching something when I was super super young, maybe 3 or 4 (1989-90?) and to this day I can’t figure out if it was real or not. I remember a small boy going to bed and then all of a sudden all the toys in his room start floating and form together to create a giant, scary robot looking chicken?? No amount of googling turns anything up. Would love to have this mystery solved if it’s real!

UNK SEZ: Thanks Kim R.! Hmmm, I guess this trauma happened way too early to have anything to do with the TV show ROBOT CHICKEN so that’s out. For some reason I keep thinking of 1985’s MAKING CONTACT even though I’m pretty sure there is no robot chicken in that movie. Oh Well, I’m going to put that bonkers flick below just in case somebody wants to watch it and I’ll also keep my chicken fingers crossed that one of our fine readers knows the answer you’re looking for!