Diane Franklin Double Feature:: Deadly Lessons and Summer Girl

Hey, today is DIANE FRANKLIN’s birthday! I don’t have to tell you that DIANE FRANKLIN is wonderful in BETTER OFF DEAD (which we recently discussed) or that she excels in the new wave classic THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN or that she’s downright heartbreaking in AMITYVILLE II: The Possession (which everybody with a working brain agrees is the best in the series). All of that (along with the understanding that FRANKLIN is as talented as she is beautiful) is common knowledge. But did you know that DIANE starred in two of the very best made for TV movies ever made? It’s true! I’m talking about the highly entertaining small screen slasher extravaganza DEADLY LESSONS (1983) and the riveting usurper thriller SUMMER GIRL (again, 1983). If you think I’ve talked about these gems before you are right and you should also prepare yourself for the fact that I’ll be talking about them till the day I croak. Due to the general dumbness of society neither of these sensational flicks are on DVD but cry not because that’s what YouTube is for! Let’s have a double feature! Happy Birthday DIANE! You rule forever!

Name That Trauma:: David A. on a Giant Raggedy Anne Doll

Dear fine folks at Kindertrauma,

I’m hoping you can help me with a memory that has plagued me most of my adult life. Before I started elementary school in the very early eighties (had to be 1981 or 82) and became a slasher freak at far too young of an age (thanks to the advent of cable and my hesher older brother), one memory of freakiness remains lodged in noggin.

My beautiful Mom, like most homemakers, was a total die-hard soaps freak and because there was nothing else for me to do at the time, so was I. I remember being vaguely caught up in the various plots of Days of Our Lives, Another World and the Young and the Restless. On one of these or possibly another I am forgetting, there seemed to be some sort of inheritance scheme involving a young woman with questionable mental stability. Someone somewhere was trying to drive her crazy and it seemed to be to get at her fortune (or possibly her man…I was about 4 yrs old, after all). The way they were doing this was by dressing up in a giant Raggedy Ann costume and tormenting her when she was alone. I seem to remember creepy music box-type music and that the camera would get this sort of hazy/psychedelic/fish-eye lens effect to symbolize her broken mental state. It seemed to stem from some kind of childhood trauma having to do with Raggedy Ann which scared the lady (and me too!).

In any case, this always stuck out to me as a brief moment of horror creeping into Mom’s soaps and I, for the life of me, have never been able to figure out what I saw or met anyone else that knows what I am talking about. Does this ring a bell with any of your readers? If so, do they know what soap or what the hell was going on? Or should I doubt my own mental state? In any case, if I start to see any giant Raggedy Ann dolls showing up around the house, I’ll let you know…

UNK SEZ: Yikes, I think I found your trauma, David! Apparently the soap in question was ANOTHER WORLD circa 1982. If you check out the video below (around the 4:40 mark), you’ll get a glimpse of the tormenting doll costume! From what I could gather, a character named Alma Rudder donned the garb to drive a lady named Blaine insane (At the beginning of THIS episode, Blaine discusses the nightmarish encounter with her shrink). Thanks for sharing this David, I can see why this freaked you out as a kid!

Traumafession :: Reader Donny O. on The Last Starfighter

Hey guys,

I love your site. When I was about nine or ten my father took me to see “The Last Starfighter.” I loved the movie but one scene nearly made me pee my pants. When the main character is sent off to battle aliens in space he is replaced in his home by a duplicate version of himself sort of like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” At one point, a blanket is lifted off of a bed and we get a glimpse of the duplicate before it is fully formed and its skin is pasty and its eyes are popping out. As a kid who had only seen rated G movies up to that point, it was totally gross and totally shocking.

UNK SEZ: Oh yeah! You’re talking about Beta Alex, the quirky doppelganger of Alex Rogan (as played LANCE GUEST of HALLOWEEN II fame)! We love THE LAST STARFIGHTER around these parts! Why, it was even directed by NICK CASTLE who played the original shape in HALOWEEN! Thanks for bringing this one up Donnie! As an added bonus, Aunt John made the gif below so you can stare at slimy Beta Alex as long as you like! Enjoy!

Sunday Streaming:: Daughter of the Mind (1969)

Earlier this week we had a Name That Trauma involving a father staring into a fireplace and lamenting the loss of a child. I didn’t come close to being able to identify it but it sure reminded me of a Name That Trauma from our early days (HERE) which turned out to be the 1969 TV movie DAUGHTER OF THE MIND. If you ask me, this ghost tale based on a book by PAUL GALLICO (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) goes a bit off the rails with its bonkers explanations but that doesn’t dilute the haunting quality of many of its supernatural scenes particularly the chilling opening that closes with a ghost child (THE TOOLBOX MURDERSPAMELYN FERDIN) admitting, “I hate being dead.” So let’s say we check out DAUGHTER OF THE MIND today, I’d say it’s perfect Sunday Streaming fare/Super Bowl counter programming! Not sold? Do the names RAY MILLAND and GENE TIERNEY mean anything to you? Hey, it’s even got the exact same opening theme music as WHEN MICHAEL CALLS! What’s that all about?

Name That Trauma:: Kelly M. on a Possessed Hamburger

Hey! First of all – love your blog! It’s so comprehensive, plus funny – it’s amazing 😀

Down to brass tacks – I vaguely remember watching a movie on TV maybe 7 or 8 years ago which still nags at me sometimes. I believe it was a horror movie – here are the details I remember:

* Youngish guy working at a burger joint late at night.

*A burger he’s making is sitting on the counter when lighting strikes the building and happens to be directed to the burger.

*It proceeds to come to life and psychologically manipulate the young man into taking over the world, used either CG or claymation that was very eerie.

Thanks for your work!


UNK SEZ:
Thanks for your kind words, Kelly! Aunt John, our resident BETTER OFF DEAD-fanatic, is emphatically certain that you are talking about SAVAGE STEVE HOLLAND‘s kooky off-kilter classic BETTER OFF DEAD (1985) and I’m inclined to agree. As much as I wish we lived in a world with many a possessed hamburger movie to choose from, I’m sad to say we probably don’t. Check out the scene below and let us know!

Name That Trauma:: Dan C. on a Creepy Fireplace Vision

Been checking your site out for a while now and it’s astounding! Going so deep into this stuff brought out an early childhood memory that I had forgotten about, prob cuz I obsessed over finding all my other kindertrauma’s years ago and found em all! So asking this as a serious long shot, cuz the scene I will describe to you was on a soap opera, and considering this had to be 1980-1982…well I just can’t imagine it exists anywhere or sticks out in anyone’s memory.

But here it is, an older man in his older man den is sitting down drinking (probably brandy or whatever) and staring longingly into the roaring fireplace. Superimposed on the fireplace is the image of little girl on a swing, laughing. This was obv supposed to be some memory that has brought upon a mournful feeling in the guy. I don’t know if she was dead, missing, or what, but it creeped me out like crazy! I think I remember this was right before an add break and I remember hearing either “Nadia’s theme” from Young and the Restless, or something like it, adding to the creepy factor. But it could have been another soap. I was only like 4 years old, so this is very foggy in the detail department. I’ve looked at some soap fan sites to see if I could find something in the plot lines of those years to match, but with no luck. Maybe? Somebody out there? Anybody?

80s Beat:: Featuring Flatliners (1990) and The New Kids (1985)

I love budget DVD sets exactly as much as the last time I told you I love budget DVD sets. They’re cheap, the picture quality is usually decent and there’s something exciting about ending up with a bunch of titles that you normally wouldn’t seek out. It can be a gamble but while securing a beloved staple you just might meet a new favorite film or two. Plus as an oldster who was around during the early days of 100$ VHS tapes, I stand stunned that such a thing is even possible. Oh and they take up very little space!

An important thing to remember when shopping for budget sets is to never be swayed by the cover! The cover art is usually too busy to give much useful information so you have to check out the small print on the back. I hope you brought your glasses! My most recent acquisition comes from my old pals at MILL CREEK who frankly, rule. The cover design is pretty darn clever in how it apes old 80’s teen magazines. They even went and put a pin up poster on the reverse side for an added knee-slapper. I would buy this anyway because I pretty much dig any and every teen oriented flick from the eighties but some horror junkies would walk right by it because their eyes are trained to only be attracted to the colors red and black. But slow your jets horror fans! There are films in this pack that might be of interest to you!

FLATLINERS (1990)
Even though FLATLINERS looks all slick and flashy and JOEL SCHUMACHER-y and even though it’s about as mainstream as movies get thanks to JULIA ROBERTS running about in it, there’s no denying the fact that its plot points toward the valley of Kindertrauma. Besides concerns with death and the afterlife being frequently stoked, much time is spent reminding us how past traumas influence our present selves. I’d probably rather that the flick dared to dive into the deeper and darker end of the pool but there are still some genuine creeps to be had and a bit of a hallucinatory NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET vibe running through its veins. I’ve got particular affection for KEVIN BACON’s character’s storyline which finds him having to endure the same bullying he inflicted upon others as a child.

THE NEW KIDS (1985)
How can any reasonable human say no to a teen revenge thriller from the director of FRIDAY THE 13th, SEAN CUNNINGHAM? Especially when said thriller sports the likes of LORI LOUGHLIN (AMITYVILLE 3-D) as the recipient of unwanted attention by a wild-eyed, snowy-haired, psychopath portrayed by JAMES SPADER (JACK’S BACK)? Did I mention that the proceedings culminate in a showdown in a run down offseason amusement park? This movie is Exhibit A of why I’m hooked on these sets. I like the movie enough to own it and return to it occasionally but not enough to spend big bucks for it or concern myself with extras. Also, TOM ATKINS has a small part! Of course I need this on my shelf!

AND THE REST….
1985’s THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN may not be horror but it’s hard to imagine any 80’s horror fan not enjoying the ride. How can you deny a road movie with STEPHEN KING killer-car horror alumni like YEARDLEY SMITH (MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE) and KEITH GORDON (CHRISTINE)? It’s impossible! Don’t try.

If you happen to be in the mood for a teen sex comedy but you also want to upset JOHNNY DEPP then PRIVATE RESORT is the movie for you because he hates it and wishes it would disappear! The rest of the grab bag is pretty square but there are some early roles for big talents like ROBERT DOWNEY JR. (TRUE BELIEVER) and RIVER PHEONIX (LITTLE NIKITA). I can’t say I’m too interested in LIKE FATHER LIKE SON or SIDE OUT but you never know when you may want to hate watch something. Honestly I’m just going consider this a 3-pack of FLATLINERS, THE NEW KIDS and LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN and consider all of the other movies ‘extras”. Three great movies out of eight may not seem like a winning ratio but if you consider how many times I’m likely to re-watch BILLIE JEAN it’s a steal.

Anyway, buy enough of these types of sets (and I do) and you can rest easy knowing you are prepared for a rainy day or a long stay in a nuclear fallout shelter, whichever comes first. Also, if you think I’m not going to take this opportunity to post PAT BENATAR’s “Invincible” video from the BILLIE JEAN soundtrack you are sorely mistaken….