Hi, longtime listener, first time caller. Love, love, LOVE this site! But to save time, I’m gonna cut to the chase (sort of).
I was rarely bothered by scary movies as a lad, but some commercials and PSA’s haunt me to this day. I remember when the National Enquirer used to run TV ads with their tagline, “Enquiring minds wanna know!” One of those had a photo of Marilyn Monroe that the special effects folks animated, so she said, “Murder.” Still gives me the creeps.
Anyway, I’m writing about a PSA from the 80’s. I lived in Florida, so I don’t know if it was a local or nationwide ad, but I remember it clearly…
A man picks up a lady in his car. I do not know for sure, but I believe she was supposed to be a prostitute. In any case, after some banter, she gets in the car and, as it pulls away, we see that the lady/possible prostitute is now a rotting, skeletal corpse that shouts one word: “AIDS!”
Well, I don’t know if that helped discourage prostitution or encourage abstinence or safe sex practices at all, but I DO know it gave me nightmares. I didn’t really understand what AIDS was, exactly, but I doubt ads like this generated much sympathy for the unfortunate victims of that condition. I actively avoided that commercial from then on. And prostitutes.
I have looked online for this PSA, because I think seeing it now, as a middle aged man, would lessen its impact and render it harmless.
Can anyone else find this trauma?
Long time, first time. Since you and your readers have such success in tracking down traumas, I was hoping that you could help me with mine. It must have been a PSA from the mid-seventies, and was probably exclusive to the New York City area, given the content. A grave-sounding narrator described the action as it happened – a man with a rocking 70’s-‘stache is reading a newspaper on a subway platform. He drops it to the tracks, and leaps down to retrieve it. You know were this is going – the train comes, and the PSA ends with the sound of a train breaking, and a series of still images of the guy holding his hand in front of his face, eyes wide, the train’s headlights brighter and brighter on him, each still closer and closer to his face.
My father took the train to work and read the paper every day. This so traumatized me that I remember standing in our kitchen pleading with him to leave his newspaper if he ever dropped it. I’ve been unsuccessful in finding it online – searching for “70’s NY subway PSA” yields only the “New York – let’s clean up New York” litter PSA. I’d be most grateful if your readers could help me pick off this almost-40-year-old scab!
Hey there, love your blog. I was hoping somebody could help me out. There was an arcade game that I remember from my childhood (early ’90s) that terrified me. I don’t remember the objective of the game or how it was played, but there was an animatronic, anthropomorphic rat that was the size of a small adult. It was in a glass box, and it may have been wearing a suit, but like a tattered hobo suit (it might have also been wearing no clothing and had really grody/tattered looking fur). Playing the game made it rattle around or animate somehow I think, but it may have just blinked and made a noise (I think it was a creepy, cackle laugh). Something about the rat was really crusty-looking, like it wasn’t cute or friendly looking I think it was deliberately supposed to look sort of gross/scary.
The one I remember was located in a Chuck E. Cheese on Long Island (although I’ve had friends tell me they remember the game from similar establishments). It had nothing to do with any of the franchise characters, and the one by my house was (I believe) removed when they removed the ball pits and replaced them with the toddler area. It was by the ball-pit in the one close to my house, sort of toward the back of everything, and every now and then if I got disoriented in the ball pit I would find myself too close to it. I’m really hoping, with all the birthdays that have been held in those kind of places, that somebody would have a picture with that freaky rat in it/remember the name of the game.
Let’s take a field trip over to HULU where we can watch the 2014 documentary KILLER LEGENDS for the price of free! It’s from the folks who brought you CROPSY yet I kinda like it better than CROPSY because it’s stuffed with clips from so many of Kindertrauma’s favorite films. KILLER LEGENDS explores the classic hook hand urban legend and its connection to THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, the hysteria surrounding tampered Halloween candy, the classic “the call is coming from inside the house!” routine and Chicago’s longtime issue with rampaging killer clowns. I probably would have preferred that the filmmakers stayed off camera, left some of their chatter on the cutting room floor and resisted the temptation to tell an old lady that her home was once the scene of a heinous murder, but why look a free flick in the mouth?
I love your site and I’m hoping you guys can help me track down a story/record I had when I was a kid. I had a bunch of 45 records growing up (in the late 70’s early 80’s) and on one of these records there was this cool story about a witch that came down the chimney of a house and terrorized some kids. Unfortunately, that’s all I can remember about the story but I remember that scene scaring the hell out of me. I think the story of Peter and the Wolf was on the other side of this record. Any help you guys can give would be appreciated, keep up the great work.
UNK SEZ: Thanks TK! Hopefully one of our knowledgable readers will remember this one! In the meantime, you gave me the idea to listen to BORIS KARLOFF narrate PETER AND THE WOLF while we wait…
UNK ALSO SEZ: For some reason this NTT made me think of the old board game WHICH WITCH? Let’s check out this TV commercial too…
WITCHING AND BITCHING (2013)
Once upon a time a decade ago, I was visiting my parents in Texas for Christmas. Whilst there, I rented a VHS tape (English dubbed!!) of ALEX DE LA IGLESIA’s THE DAY OF THE BEAST at BLOCKBUSTER of all places. I wasn’t expecting much but I wasn’t about to pass up a movie set on Christmas Eve involving the birth of the antichrist. I was blown away by the film and happily stunned by IGLESIA’s fearlessness. Over the years I’ve tried to keep up with his work as best I could and although he never knocked my socks off in quite the same way again, I could always rely on the director to be interesting. His latest flick is currently on Netflix under the title WITCHING AND BITCHING, which is a terrible name for a movie especially when all you’d have to do is translate the original Spanish title “Las brujas de Zugarramurdi” to end up with the superior calling card “THE WITCHES OF ZUGARRAMURDI.” I realize that ZURGARRAMURDI is a mouthful but no pain no gain. Oh well, what’s in a title anyway? The important thing is that WITCHING turned out to be my favorite movie of IGLESIA’S since DAY OF THE BEAST. This is the director I fell in love with. I appreciate that as an artist he got the itch to explore various genres and styles and but THIS is the movie I’ve been waiting for all these years.
I’ll lighten my writing load by saying W&B is like FROM DUSK TO DAWN making a pit stop at THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW before crashing through THE WITCHES and then slamming into THE TEMPLE OF DOOM crossed with DRAGNET while texting PETER JACKSON’s DEAD ALIVE (1993). I know I’m doing the film a disservice by listing random associations but I can’t help how my brain works…or doesn’t. Point is, this runaway train of a movie is darkly hilarious and giddily imaginative and takes great joy in lampooning grizzled gender conflicts and spanking sacred cows. The cast is a non-stop treasure trove of both legendary and burgeoning talent and it’s always a red letter day for me when Spain’s answer to BARBARA STEELE, MACARENA (DAGON, 6 FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE’s TO LET) GOMEZ graces the screen with her lovely presence. All in all, the infectious vibrant audacity that bubbles from this brew makes the mundane mainstream horror we’re usually subjected to taste like gruel in comparison. Bold and drunk with rampancy, W&B is lovably nuts and more fun than a barrel of flying monkeys.
PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (2013)
When the remake of CARRIE appeared on Netflix the dumb side of my brain was like “Yay, I wanna see this!” and then the other slightly brighter side of my brain was like “Err, you already did. You rented it from Redbox and it stunk!” See, there’s something worse than being a bad remake and that’s being a movie so vapid and joyless it fails to even register. I view PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS as the universe’s attempt to apologize to me for allowing that pale counterfeit CARRIE to roam the land. Because telekinetic horror doesn’t grow on trees, I’ll gladly accept this offering. Director MARK HARTLEY’s tribute might not be any great shakes but at least it exhibits a genuine affection for the source material instead of simply sighing and covering the bases like an exasperated drone. It’s got a snazzy gothic look and it’s smart enough to periodically step aside and simply allow PINO’S DINOGGIO’s persuasive score to do the convincing.
I admit it gets rather silly, especially considering the short lived classy tone it musters out of the starting gate, but even at its most ridiculous (coma bound Patrick’s telekinesis has a soft spot for blink and it’s dated technology), it’s genuinely affable in a desperate late ‘80s kind of way. And how am I supposed to resist the snide drollness of CHARLES DANCE as a sadist doctor? He’s so good in this that he made me sad all over again that he was chomped on like a hot dog by a Xenomorph in ALIEN 3. And then there’s my longtime frenemy RACHEL GRIFFITHS who I’m guessing has been patiently waiting her entire career to take on an icy Nurse Ratched role. Hey, this remake is actually superior to the original and that’s more than enough to aspire to (and a feet the CARRIE retread didn’t have the luxury to even fantasize about.) Yep, I’m all for PATRICK and I’m awarding extra points for shoving a lighthouse and an improbable twisty road on a cliff into the mix.
HERE COMES THE DEVIL (2012) & AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (2014)
Don’t make the mistake I did and watch these two flicks back to back or you’ll end up with a dueling demon doppelganger double feature that feels like an extended miniseries. I’m going to have to give the edge to the earthier Spanish language stab HERE COMES THE DEVIL. It’s about a family taking a car trip, loosing their kids and then sensing something’s radically off with the tykes once they are recovered. It’s got a strange, lasting vibe thanks to its appropriating of groovy psychedelic seventies zooms and flash edits which manage to camouflage its weaker moments or at least render them more forgivable. Plus it’s like a fun size, Whopper Jr. version of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK with less sun umbrellas and zero petticoats.
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR is a bit of a disappointment. It’s from NICHOLAS McCARTHY the writer/director of THE PACT, which I’m a big fan of but it suffers from lousy conclusion disease. It acts like your new best friend, sharing fine acting and a compelling, mysterious plot and then it kicks you the shins and makes off with your shoes. I’m still trying to rationalize its infuriating close, which should have been dialed up or dialed down or presented any which way than how it is. As it stands, it sort of retroactively makes everything that came before it suddenly feel like a meandering prologue. Maybe if I had watched it first I’d feel less had but I didn’t, so here I am. I’ll give McCARTHY a praise cookie for his talent with a tone of tangible dread but it’s a stale cookie in honor of his use of red hoodie imagery.
THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014)
This phony documentary’s smudging of the line between dementia and demon-entia works so well you’ll wonder why nobody has ever exploited the similarities before. Honestly, this one almost lost me early on with a questionable scene depicting progressively creepy DEBORAH materializing BEWITCHED-style on a counter top. Almost anything I can think of would be more effective. Personally, I’d be more taken aback if she was secretly taped eating out of the trash, at least that wouldn’t defy the laws of time and space. Maybe I just perceived the scene incorrectly? In any case, it was almost enough of a misstep for me to throw in the towel but I’m glad I didn’t because I would have missed, what eventually becomes, a memorable descent into darkness and proof that there may be some unturned rocks on the found footage trail after all. Ultimately what makes this modest foray work and raises it above the typical trek are its two impressive central performances. Both JILL LARSON as Deborah and ANNE RAMSAY as her concerned daughter are sensational separately and even more so when they’re playing off each other. Their believable relationship and convincing familiarity adds an extra level of authenticity that allows the scares to hit closer to home.
ODD THOMAS (2013)
I love this ODD THOMAS movie. It is based on a novel by DEAN KOOTZ (which kicked off a popular series) and it’s about a young man (ANTON YELCHIN) who can see the dead and is committed to helping them out when he can. There’s a nifty nostalgic ‘80s-era small town, almost Dante-esque (meaning GREMLINS rather than THE DIVINE COMEDY) atmosphere and the characters are immensely likable and it’s even sweetly romantic and surprisingly moving when it’s not shoving CGI ghouls down your throat. I’d say it’s probably director STEPHEN (DEEP RISING, THE MUMMY) SOMMERS best work so it’s a real shame it didn’t get the proper attention and the clout to warrant its deserved sequels. Just talking about it makes me want to watch it again and I won’t be surprised if it quickly gathers a devoted cult following. If nothing else it stands as a nail in the coffin to the idea that a limited theatrical release signifies a lesser film.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2 (1994)
PART 3 is mostly useless and the 2009 remake is a soul-killing travesty but those harsh facts fail to dilute my enduring affection for the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS or its plucky 1994 sequel. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, Netflix is a great place to get reacquainted with it as it looks all sharp, sparkly and colorful in HD. NOTD2 introduces us to Melissa, the younger sister of the first film’s evil Angela who attends a religious school with a bunch of aggressive classmates who insist on calling her “Mouse.” As part of an ill-advised Halloween prank, Mouse’s adversaries trick her into visiting Hull House, the location of the original demonic massacre, and naturally all hell breaks loose anew.
The jewels in this flicks crown are the great JENNIFER RHODES, as a nun presented as an uptight shrew who later reveals herself to be a kick-ass ally, TV mainstay ROD McCAREY as a doubtful priest, a cameo by THE WALTON’s RACHEL LONGAKER as an unlucky, door-to-door Bible thumper and I’m just going to admit it, CHRISTINE TAYLOR as a jerky blonde. Seriously, between this, THE CRAFT and CAMPFIRE TALES, I think TAYLOR is an undervalued ‘90s horror presence (she did strike near Chris Hargensen levels of bitchery in THE CRAFT after all). And please note how one character snarkily and prophetically refers to TAYLOR’s character as “Marcia” a year before she played her in THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE.
All in all, I can’t resist the surreal, female Freddy vibe going on throughout NOTD2 and even though it trades some scares for more outrageous winking humor (just as Freddy did), it’s perhaps only one BAUHAUS song shy of being as stupendous as its predecessor.
Who dares to endure a killer clown movie? It almost has to be bad, right? Everybody and their brother feels they can pull off such a thing and they’re always wrong. Evil clowns make swell DVD covers but the films within are usually uninspired dreck and no laughing matter. But wait! I loved STITCHES! STITCHES is the exception to the rule! It’s genuinely funny, admirably dark, has memorable characters, freaks you out if you want it to and most importantly, showcases some delightfully squishy kills. Why, I may have even winced at one point and it made me miss the days when I winced more often. Oh, and it’s nice to see a movie about teenagers with actual teenagers in it even if sometimes I had to prick up my ears on account of the Irish accents. This movie is just all kinds of fun and belongs on the shelf next to not to be taken too seriously films like RUMPELSTILSKIN, ICE CREAM MAN and JACK FROST. Ouch, that sounded like an insult, I just meant that STITCHES is an exceptional horror party movie best watched with friends be they real or imaginary.
This one was pretty good. I’d prefer a more traditional ghost story, one less gimmicky and repetitive but it’s entertaining enough. I think it would make a fine companion movie to DONNIE DARKO but maybe I’m just saying that because it takes place in the eighties. Yes, it features a Rubik’s Cube because back then Rubik’s Cubes were as ubiquitous as cell phones are today. You tripped over them wherever you went, people had drawers full of them and if a day went by in which you didn’t hold one in your hand, you felt so very empty and alone. Hey, HAUNTER’s got STEPHEN McHATTIE in it and I like that even though that makes me worry that LANCE HENRICKSON has one less job. All right, I’m probably a little too old for this movie. It does a really good job of capturing the chasm that grows between parents and teens and I think I would have appreciated that much better if I was younger. Aunt John dug this movie more than me, which is a rarity. Not because he’s younger but because he liked that the movie is trapped in a world where SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES still reign supreme. If you like ghosts or the eighties, you should give this flick a shot- just be warned that it tries a little too hard to be puzzling.
LIZZIE BORDON TOOK AN AXE (2014)
Speaking of McHATTIE, Lifetime network’s LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK AN AXE is available to stream on Netflix currently as well. If you’re a stickler for historical accuracy it will undoubtedly make your brain explode but McHATTIE, CLEA DUVALL and especially CHRISTINA RICCI are immensely watchable and I was entranced by the gritty/glossy crime scene as fashion spread visuals. Lots of folks made a stink about the use of modern music in the soundtrack but it didn’t bug me at all. I mean, the music in a movie is not meant to be taken as actually happening in the movie is it? I’ve always regarded it as an emotion enhancing overlay of sorts and so I don’t get why it should be locked into the time period of the events depicted. Then again, I may be blinded by my RICCI-bias, it knows no bounds.
DON’T BLINK (2014)
Shame on my lowbrow tastes! I know full well on Netflix there are a variety of thoughtful, independent well-received horror flicks by budding auteurs concerning paranoid body dysmorphia, gender subjugation and the overall dehumanizing effects of modern technology and yet I bypass them all in favor of a tale detailing the trials and tribulations of a road trip gone sour starring BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN and MENA SUVARI. If you’re not in the mood for MENA, worry not as it isn’t long before she literally disappears! In fact, everybody in this movie vanishes one by one as in “poof!” one minute they’re there, the next they’re not! Is this a terrible idea for a movie or a modern twist on WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE? I don’t know. Half of me thinks this approach has a clever, existential TWLIGHT ZONE effect and the other half of me is suspicious that the makers of the movie needed to save money on special effects in order to afford the swank upscale lodge featured in the film that the cast and crew presumably got to stay in. This joint is so fancy it has a tree growing out of the living room! Anyway, I didn’t hate this movie even though it was practically begging me to and at least it features a fine, unhinged performance by ZACK (SCUT FARKUS!) WARD.
Truth is, the standard “young folks gather in an isolated place to be killed” flick is far less likely to trigger my disgruntled curmudgeon response than an undeservingly glorified movie might. Plus courting films with a slim chance of succeeding is a valuable part of the Netflix experience for me. It reminds me of the good old days when choices were so scarce you HAD to bump into a turkey now and then and there was no way anyone could warn you. Netflix is still going to hell for stomping out video stores but I gotta slap it five for making flicks you wouldn’t want to be caught renting discreetly available at no extra cost. Not that in any way excuses the savage extraction of fourteen seasons of LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT under the cowardly cover of night in the early hours of January first 2015, an event that will henceforth be referred to by me as the MELONI-ocalypse.
Every time I’ve tried to search Youtube for this, I’ve come up with either the famous PIF where a camera is slowly gliding through a burnt-out house with dubbed on shrieks, or the other one where a kid ends up burning down his home because he was too careless lighting the fire in the living room and was more interested in reading the Dandy or whatever. This isn’t either of those. Instead, this is something that I saw once, and only once, during the always-unsaleable ad-break time of around about 5:45 am during an edition of the ITN Early Morning News in 1996.
The PIF began with two kids playing with matches in a blacked-out room – I think they were meant to be sister and brother. The older girl inevitably dropped one and a conflagration started. Which was nasty enough, but then the soundtrack went insane, ultra-heavy delay being applied to the girl screaming “MUM, MUM, MUM, MUM, MUM -” and then there was a massive film splice and the sound cut out and the action froze, the girl’s face remaining on screen mid-scream.
No word of a lie, my blood genuinely ran cold. I was rooted to the spot with fear. I have never been so glad as I was when it was faded out and part 2 of the bulletin began. The fact that there seems to be absolutely no mention of this PIF anywhere on the net, and all my searches for “PIF matches kids fire” or variations thereof all come up with the other two PIFs I mentioned earlier, makes me wonder if it was actually some terrifying broadcast from another dimension that only I could see.
UNK SEZ: Chris, I think I may have found it! I just googled “playing with matches PSA” looking for an image to illustrate your NTT and it popped up! Can this really be it? It seems so much like what you described….
As a fairly long-time devotee of Kindertrauma, I have tried to contribute my few submissions to the Kindertrauma “family” (which is much like the “Manson Family”) in the fields of “oddball” topics that have child-traumatizing elements, such as “Sesame Street” film segments or apocalyptic nuclear war themes. To continue that direction, I would like to address a field that, for people like me raised in evangelical Christian homes in the mid to late 1900s, caused potential traumas that are far greater than the scary movies and stories of monsters and ghosts – the threat of demons grabbing one and dragging them off to Hell, and the prophesied imminent End of the World.
As an older adult who still espouses Christian beliefs, and has even contributed to the field by writing on serious research topics in the field of prophecy in the Bible which still holds my respect, I have to clarify that my work has been of an intended non-exploitational nature (if that is possible) and targeted for a mature Christian adult audience. However, even in the pre-Internet and cable television days of the early 70s, it was very possible for a new generation of “Christian scare” literature and films, bolstered by a revival of Last Days apocalypticism and phenomena such as the Thief in the Night “last days” films (which everyone should watch on Youtube if not having been seen them in their churches previously), to randomly fall into the hands of easily-scared or otherwise fascinated children, such as yours truly.
On my “watch” as an impressionable child of the early 70s, the “grand daddy” (and reigning champion) of all “Godsploitation”, “Christian scare” literature was the “Chick tracts” produced by the enigmatic and reclusive Jack Chick. His small rectangular tracts were ubiquitous in the 1970s public realm – Chick Publications reportedly claims to have sold 750 million tracts since 1960, and having been translated into over 100 languages – what other type of propaganda literature (good or bad) can make such a claim in terms of its impact on society and its worldview, even if communicated in the shadows, and its message preserved in unspoken form in the back recesses of the readers’ minds?
In 2003 Los Angeles Magazine did an extended expose on Chick and his impact (HERE). It notes that, “In the pocket-sized tracts, people are stabbed, burned alive, and eaten by snakes. There is cannibalism and human sacrifice. The apocalyptic works are equal parts hate literature and fire-and-brimstone sermonizing, with a tough-guy Christ – ‘Jesus is not a weak fairy’, he writes – as protagonist”. They note that “Chick is the world’s most published living author”, with his works “handed out on subways and campuses or left behind in diners and bus stations”, and his tracts having been displayed at the Smithsonian. The screenplay writer of the film Ghost World was noted as saying of Chick’s work, “I had never been so terrified by a comic book”. They note that his work, targeting the Satanic work of Catholics, gays and a long list of culprits (including those who use any Bible but the King James), was banned by many Christian bookstores, denounced by Christianity Today, and led Chick to quit the Christian Booksellers Association, thereby cementing his reputation as the king of “Christian outsider literature” (my term). His few favorable subjects include Israel and Tony Alamo, a Los Angeles-based cult leader.
I must have come across my first Chick tract as a six or seven year old at a restaurant or public bathroom – where most Chick tracts are discovered. Inside I found the most grotesque and stupifyingly horrifying images that have seared into my mind and nightmares, as they have with millions of others for decades. Like many such younger readers, I am sure, my mother told me to discard it because it was “not good” – which of course led me to crave the perusal of its contents as taboo, “forbidden fruit” of dangerous knowledge and ideas. They permanently form the enduring, defining images of demons and Hell in all of us who have been touched at a tender age by them.
While they may seem a little more quaint in today’s “Saw”, “Hostel” era of “no limit” depravity, they still pack a mighty wallop – magnified a hundred fold for sheltered youth. While the Chick Publications website features their scores of famous tracts, with online illustrations of their pages, I would like to mention four Chick tracts that I have not forgotten, almost forty five years later – indelible images not privy then to the notes-sharing and discourse now possible with the Internet, and rather kept in the isolated thoughts of those damned to find such a tract on their own in the mysterious pre-Internet world of discovery.
The first, The Beast, (HERE), clearly warns the reader of its contents with a cover picture of a father, mother and child – marked on their foreheads with the dreaded “666”, and thus damned for eternity. The contents reveal widespread death from the Flood, gay encounters in “today’s world” (with one perpetrator’s phrase of “You know you’re the only man for me” remembered by a senior friend of mine fifty years later), Lucifer worship, the Antichrist embraced at the Vatican, guillotining, black eyed and fanged demons, werewolves, a Goat of Mendes, and the Lake of Fire – all in one tract!
The next, the cleverly quaint Somebody Goofed (HERE), reveals an adult mentor of a child sneering at others who appeal to the child to follow Christ (and avoid “overdosing on speed”) or be “eternally lost”, leading to the eventual car wreck and descent to Hell, where the “mentor” reveals himself to be in fact a ugly, masked demon who intended to drag the child to hell.
The tract The Last Generation (HERE) has a cover with a costumed super-villain offering a syringe of drugs to youth, features death camps for Christians, a Damien-like child informant of his parents because they are “straight” and who sacrifices cats and dogs on Halloween, reincarnation and the Mother Goddess, all taught to children in public schools, concluding by noting that “Little Bobby died in his sins, because he never prayed a prayer”.
The legendary This Was Your Life (HERE) shows a man who dies, and is forced to watch all the creepy and lecherous thoughts he ever had, until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The purpose of my post is not to mock or belittle the message (and warnings) of Christianity, but rather to spotlight an iconic, social impacting role of a “king traumatizer” and controversial but undeniably influential individual from the magical days of the youth of my generation and evangelical circles, and the amazingly “traumatic” influences of religious extremist expression (even when communicating spiritual truth) in the “good old days”, which really weren’t so “innocent” in comparison to the “Dungeons and Dragons” and demon-filled video game culture of today.
If you like exploring such topics, please trot over and check out the hundreds of free archived radio shows I hosted over on my website FUTURE QUAKE.
I was an introverted only child with an admittedly unhealthy love for my own possessions (thanks Brave Little Toaster). Edward Scissorhands, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Gremlins 1 & 2 were definitely some of the few somewhat-traumatizing movies I experienced during my childhood, but at least I knew that they lived in a world of make-believe, or they were puppets. The kid from the Problem Child movies, however, lived in my world–the real world–and while there might not be so many kids with the brains for the sheer amount of hate-filled evil he wrought, there were definitely a few in my classroom with the personality for it.
I remember watching Problem Child 1 at a sleepover when I was 7. The scene where he decides to trash his bedroom is what really horrified me, setting it on fire, just because he didn’t like clowns. Those were TOYS. That was his HOME. To me toys had inherent personalities–and as we all know just as adults from watching Toy Story: when toys with personalities are about to get melted down–even that jaded, stone-hearted bear–it’s SAD and AWFUL. Oh yeah and then there was the animal abuse of that poor cat he feeds soap to. At that young age, I still lived in dread that my parents hadn’t finished making babies and I might get some little demon brother or sister like the Problem Child. It was a fear I lived with nightly for years. And I blame the Problem Child for my unwillingness to have kids of my own now. Now how many supposedly awful and evil movie villains actually have that kind of effect on an adult’s big life milestones?
Then in Problem Child 2 (another movie forced onto me at a sleepover), he sets a sprinkler off in the whiny little girl’s room, soaking her stuffed animals, confirming my fear that not only would he trash his own sanctuary, he’d trash someone else’s.