USA’s Saturday Nightmares:: By John Sullivan

I was an ‘inside kid’.

Sure, I went to school and rode bikes and journeyed to 7-11 to pick up comic books and Slurpees.

That was my afternoon. But my night?

Movies. Lots and lots of movies.

My parents gave me a TV time limit. I had a few hours a week. It was sort of an allowance. I had to be smart, and budget my presence in front of the tube.
I used all those hours on Saturday. Here’s why:


Saturday Nightmares was my youthful gateway into horror films. In an environment where my parents were permissive enough to let me watch some TV, but not permissive enough to let me rent R-rated horror films, Saturday Nightmares provided a mainline fix that my pre-teen (and early teen) self desperately needed.

USA’S Saturday Nightmares was a prime-time (8 PM – East Coast – old school USA network) non-hosted weekly horror movie feature forum that consisted of several elements:

0 – The Intro. As I mentioned, this was an un-hosted venue for horror films but the intros were awesome. In the early days of USA’s Saturday Nightmares, it was a little more commando. They were stark black and white shots of grotesque monster movies. It looked cheap, and felt cheap and that informed the scariness of whatever film the show was threatening to air. After a few years, they amped up the budget and it became an early CGI ‘tour’ through a museum of horror icons. Regardless of which intro or bumper I preferred, they were atmospheric and foreboding. In other words, even if the movie sucked – I was still scared to watch it.

1 – The Horror Movie. This was usually some semi-obscure thriller that was molding in a VHS bin somewhere. I’m not industry adept enough to guess where the USA network programmers got their material, my guess is it was whatever they had access to. I mean, ‘Bloodbath in the House of Death’? ‘Scared to Death’? ‘Devil Times Five’?, ‘Up From the Depths’?, ‘The House Where Evil Dwells’, ‘Spookies’?, ‘The Being’?, – I can go on. And I will. But this show dredged up some of the most lesser-known, cheap thrill horror movies that could ever be IMDB’d. For a kid who was only exposed to ‘Salems Lot’ and ‘Gremlins’, Saturday Nightmares was a goldmine. R-rated horrors edited for television. Therefore, parent-friendly.

2 – The Anthology Shows. It wasn’t just a horror feature showcase. Oh no. It had frosting on the cake. Following the movie, Saturday Nightmares wasn’t done with you. They aired three different syndicated horror anthology shows. Among them: The Ray Bradbury Theater, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Hitchhiker.

‘The Ray Bradbury Theater’ was more of a slow-burn horror anthology. The stories were generally fantastical and had a more broad nature. Not all of the stories presented were from the mind of the great Ray Bradbury, but many of them kept the tone of some of his earlier works. I remember one called ‘The Playground’ with a young-ish William Shatner that haunts me to this day.

‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ had a more crime-oriented atmosphere and a typical just-desserts twist ending. I’d compare the stories presented akin to EC Comics’ noir books.

‘The Hitchhiker’ was probably inappropriate for a kid my age. It was a port from an HBO series, and consisted of a lot of sex and murder. A lone, scruffed Hitchiker tells stories of lust and death. It was heavily edited for TV, so the impact was lost on me. I do remember some of the stories were compelling, but they had to cut out all the naughty stuff.

3 – The Short Films. Oftentimes, one of the Saturday Nightmares features would end early, and they would have to stick in a mysterious short film to fill out the run time. Short films are commonplace these days, especially on YouTube – but in 1988, it was rare to see a cool, scary short flick. Somehow, the USA Network was able to find some frightening brief bits to pad out the run-time. I remember one was about a man engineering a gigantic mouse-trap…for himself. It was his method of suicide. Dark, right?

I WAS 10!

The first film I ever saw on USA’s Saturday Nightmares was ‘The Loch Ness Horror’. It involves – you guessed it – a bunch of people running away from a rubberized Loch Ness Monster puppet. It’s…garbage. However, the nostalgia of gunning my BMX bike back from the comic book store to make it home before sundown to watch ‘The Loch Ness Horror’ stays with me.

I think I bought a Hulk comic that day. Memories fade…

My parents had to endure my love of USA’s Saturday Nightmares. We weren’t a rich family. We had a modest house on Long Island with one TV. So, if I watched something – they had to watch that thing. In a strange way, my parents are well-versed in horror movie trivia because of that environment.

-‘Hey Dad, remember ‘Demonwarp’?

-‘Is that the one with the murderous Sasquatch and George Kennedy, and the zombies you made us watch’?


-‘Why couldn’t have you been a doctor’?

I was a weird kid. I lived for Saturday Nightmares. Whenever my parents had a dinner party, they knew I’d be out of their hair watching something like ‘Jaws of Satan’. Just to be clear, that’s a film about a king cobra possessed by the Devil.

My Dad’s buddy, after wandering into the TV room:

‘What are you watching’?

‘Jaws of Satan. Killer king cobra movie’.

‘What the hell is Fritz Weaver doing in this crap’?

As low-grade as many of the movies shown on Saturday Nightmares were, they did expose me to a world beyond the A-list ‘thrillers’ that masquerade as horror movies.

Later on, as USA became more mass-audience oriented, the films became more commercial. ‘Demons of the Dead’ was replaced by ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3’. ‘Girls Nite Out’ was replaced by ‘Friday The 13th V’. Not that there’s anything wrong with those particular films, but I could see them anywhere. I respected the unavailability of the unknown titles.

Soon after…

Saturday Nightmares was kicked. USA rolled into original programming, and became the home of ‘Psych’ and ‘Burn Notice’. I’m sure those shows are fine, but I miss the ‘go for broke’ programming of the 80’s. What is ‘Burn Notice’ about, by the way?

I got older and discovered eBay and Amazon and YouTube. I was able to find a lot of my favorite niche horror films on that landscape.

My Saturday nights got booked with grown-up things. Girls, life, girls.

I work as a screenwriter now. I’ve written the (self-proclaimed) B-movie classics ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Prophecy: Uprising’, ‘Prophecy: Forsaken’. ‘Recoil’ (not a horror film but Steve Austin is kinda scary).

I’ve got a few new thrillers in the pipeline.

I like to think that USA Saturday Nightmares contributed to my silly career.

I leave you with the Wiki link for USA’s Saturday Nightmares.

Every flick is a classic. Sorta.

Now, I’m off to find a VHS copy of ‘The Loch Ness Horror’…


Book Report :: Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy!

One of the more fascinating websites you’ll ever encounter is AWFUL LIBRARY BOOKS, a joint hosted by librarians and dedicated to the discussion of which books are ready for that big library in the sky. I’ve now rummaged through the entire place and I’m sure to return again. If you are prone to nostalgia like I am, you’ll probably feel the same way. I can’t decide if it is beneficial or detrimental that our disposable culture tends to quickly cover over embarrassing mistakes with fresh new ones, but it’s nice to know that the local library erases the chalk board at a less frequent rate and we can still discover nearly forgotten trash treasures there (at least before they get weeded!) Personally, I think THE MORK AND MINDY STORY will always be relevant but time marches forward and I suppose each generation gets the MORK AND MINDY they deserve.

During my mostly pleasant and often humorous perusal of AWFUL, I came across one book that takes the cake in the Kindertraumatic nightmare department and so I had to share it with all of you. The book is entitled DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK, MOMMY: A CHILD’S BOOK OF SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE and holy cow what were the people responsible for this thing thinking? I won’t even get into the issue of whether Satanic cults like the one described are real (on the documented abuse front, Satanists are certainly lagging behind the Catholic church) because even if they did exist, how would this book ever help rather than terrify an abused child further? Even in the warped reality described, if you suspect your kid has been involved in something so heinous you may want to take more productive actions then reading them a bed time story about the horrors they have experienced. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt, the chance that this book helped more kids than it needlessly freaked out is roughly nil.

I guess I have to understand that this was published in 1990, landing on Earth smack in the middle of the Satanic Panic craze that was sweeping the nation like a precursor to the Macarena. Secret Satanic cults hiding in the woodwork have become less popular in the media these days but it looks like child abuse in all its multitude of forms is chugging along as always. I guess that is to be expected when time and resources are wasted chasing phantoms rather than dealing with harsh reality. I know I needn’t give something so out to lunch the time of day, but this book even has the nerve to try and drag Halloween into the scapegoat pyre! Not cool.

We joke around a lot about the stuff that unintentionally made it harder for us to sleep as kids around here. In most cases it involves misinterpreting innocent things or maybe overestimating our own bravery when it came to absorbing scary stuff at a young age. I’ve always contended that there is a healthy side to such fears, that they are an important part of learning to process and overcome intimidating obstacles. This book, on the other hand, is another thing altogether. This is fucked up. Not only is it irresponsible and poorly done, it strikes me as the type of thing that causes the type of anguish it’s pretending to salve. I have to give it some credit though, when designated “do-gooders” on a mission add to the Kindertrauma archives, they sure do leave everybody else (even those purposely working in the field of horror) in the dust.

Dirty, Filthy Horror

So I came across a German trailer for THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976) sneaking around YouTube and it got stuck in my head. The trailer is so dark, damaged, scratched up and weathered that it feels like an unscalable wall of gloom. I’ve never seen the film look shabbier and I’ve never seen it look as intriguingly sinister or lurid either. Maybe I’m experiencing a rubber band effect from being exposed to too much slick high definition lately, but it got me thinking about the movies I enjoy that gather strength by the fact that they revel in their own grunged-out grittiness.

PSYCHO (1960)

PSYCHO may seem like a starkly handsome film now but when you compare it to HITCHCOCK’s earlier flashier flicks, it’s obviously a deliberate step away from artifice and glamour. Marion Crane stumbles into a world that is rotting and falling apart and HITCH’s emphasis on keeping it candidly real went so far as to showcase the first flushing toilet seen in American film. PSYCHO is nothing if not about the blemishes and stains that can’t be scrubbed away; not even in the shower.


Some folks might assume NOTLD’s shabby chic aesthetic is due to its age but if you consider the fact that it was released the same year as ROSEMARY’S BABY, you get a better idea of just how scrappy and low brow this production is. The film’s non-existent budget surely influenced the end result, but director ROMERO’s blunt news footage approach turned the minus of poverty into an integral plus. NOTLD’s public domain status insures that a dingy looking copy is never more than a Google search away.


Remaster it, put it on DVD, smack it with a Blu-ray high definition stick, hire a zillion cherubs to polish it with Jesus’ tears, it doesn’t matter. TEXAS CHAINSAW will always look like it’s been dragged through the mud since the beginning of time and that’s why I love it. No need for blood, the ultimate horror here is derived from committing the unspoken American sin of looking under the carpet where the trash has been swept.


Here’s another example of a limited budget being an asset. SNBN is dark, cold and grey throughout and it utilizes its authentically well-worn locations to their creepy fullest, but it is the film’s cracked and crusty sepia toned flashback sequences that really chill the bone.


I may have just created a portal to hell by including CATHYS CURSE and PSYCHO on the same list and I’m fine with that. CATHY’S CURSE’s heap of garbage, ratty demeanor is not an artistic choice but the result of brain damaged filmmakers and the reality that nobody would want to remaster the film due to the process involving having to watch it. I stand convinced that every repulsive rust and avocado hue from the seventies dived into this celluloid cesspool to die. That said, one of my favorite aspects of this abomination, besides its doctrine of non-stop nonsense, is the fact that its base fugliness is heightened by its shredded, war torn ill kept state. What a Mess-terpiece!


I’ve never seen a copy of this movie that doesn’t look like hell and I don’t think I want to. Huge chunks of it are completely indecipherable but that’s part of what makes it work for me. SOAWN goes beyond delivering nicked and damaged visuals; it offers a wave of crunchy crumbling sound too!


Here’s an underrated movie with no shortage of atmosphere. D&B has several shockingly gruesome set pieces but for me there’s one ragged insert that shadows over the others. In it, one the main characters is revealed to be not quite what they seem via a battered and dingy amateur home film, the texture of which contrasts with everything else we’ve seen.


Finally available on DVD, I was initially disappointed when I threw NIGHTMARE’s disc in my player and noted the extensive scratches and damage that it still retains. My chagrin dissipated quickly when I realized that NIGHTMARE’s sleaze trash, grind house nature was in fact perfectly framed and amplified by the scourge of visual imperfections.


I have to include this recent discovery. One of the great joys of watching COT is basking in its ramshackle mangled mahogany state.


How ironic that when Hollywood jumped at the chance to capitalize on BLAIR’s success with a sequel that the first thing they jettisoned was the original’s coarse and crude threadbare look. C’mon, the film’s ace in the hole for igniting imaginations was its unrefined, vague as the shroud of Turin visuals.


From the kaleidoscopic channel surfing static strewn barrage of HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES to the acrid dusty rust heaps of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS to the swirling melted Jolly Rancher bag of his HALLOWEEN re-duo, ZOMBIE’s visuals are never not rug burn raw and bursting with imperfect unkempt energy.


Hey, so that was an eclectic (sloppy) assemblage of films wasn’t it? I almost included SE7EN(1995) and PLANET TERROR (2007) but decided that rather than earning the holes in their jeans, they bought them pre-weathered at designer stores. Maybe I should have separated the films by those that were scruffy on purpose, those that were ratty due to budget and those that were torn up due to not being well preserved but I didn’t. I mostly just wanted to talk about the wondrous effect that the marred, sullied, untidy image has on me when I watch a horror film and what can I say? I like things a little messy. It’s a matter of taste.

Special Report :: Christmas TV History’s Joanna Wilson on “Edith’s Crisis of Faith”

“Edith’s Crisis of Faith” features the character Beverly LaSalle, a transvestite and female impersonator, played by Lori Shannon. Beverly appeared in two earlier AITF episodes, “Archie the Hero” in 1975 and “Beverly Rides Again” in 1976. A friend of the family, Beverly returns to the Bunker home in “Edith’s Crisis of Faith” in order to invite them to her scheduled performance at the prestigious Carnegie Hall the week before Christmas. The Bunkers are happy to see Beverly and accept her invitation while Edith, who considers Beverly to be “like family,” returns the gesture and invites the performer to Christmas dinner at the Bunker home.

What comes next is disturbing and unexpected. Though the action takes place off camera, we learn that son-in-law Mike Stivic and Beverly are mugged. Eventually we see Mike in the hospital in bandages–he was beaten but will be fine. Mike describes the mugging saying that Beverly had successfully defended him against the gang of violent attackers but then the gang turned on Beverly with a lead pipe. Mike says, “I guess they figured out what he was and they just started smashing him with the pipe.” A doctor tells Edith and Archie in the waiting room that Beverly has died. “Just because he was different,” Gloria later adds. The rest of “Part 1” sees Edith numb in her grief at Christmas time.

The storyline continues into the following episode “Edith’s Crisis of Faith, Part 2” where we see more fully how deeply Edith is affected by the death of her dear friend. Not only is Edith unable to put aside her grief, she finds she can’t even be happy at Christmas for the sake of her two year-old grandson Joey. Even worse, Edith who is usually a person of unwavering faith now questions her belief in a God that would allow someone as kind, gentle and good as Beverly be so tragically murdered. She won’t go to church at Christmas and even suggests that she may never go back. Archie encourages her to return to church but Edith’s disillusioned response is: “Why? What good does it do?” Edith’s family is beside themselves trying to cheer her up but Edith is inconsolable. She even runs out of the room when Archie offers a prayer over the family’s Christmas dinner. Eventually, Mike is the only one able to offer any comfort to Edith. Mike reminds her that we can’t always understand everything. Though Mike’s answer is simple, he is actually making a complex point that a crime such as this is beyond reasonableness–it may never make sense. Watching a character as gentle and decent as Edith suffer so terribly is torturous and emotionally draining.

What many may find difficult here is that this deeply emotional and tragic episode occurs at Christmas–the one time of year most people want to feel uplifted, optimistic and hopeful. That may be the exact point the writers of this episode may have been communicating–juxtaposing this sad episode with the usual bright spirit of the holiday. It also makes it difficult to re-watch year after year as we all so often do with Christmas TV sitcom episodes.

However, the tone of this painful episode is handled correctly. AITF had perfected the appropriate manner in which to handle the sensitive issues of the day in previous episodes that dealt with topics such as racism, bigotry, war, politics, cancer, and more button-pushing issues one wouldn’t immediately associate with family sitcoms. Even other Christmas episodes of AITF took on hot topics such as Edith’s breast cancer scare, the divorce of Gloria and Mike, and my favorite: 1976’s “The Draft Dodger” where Mike’s friend, a draft dodger on the run, comes to Christmas dinner to share a table with Archie’s friend who’s son was just killed in Vietnam.

Yet, Christmas may just be the most appropriate time of year to remind ourselves of our desire for a world filled with peace. Hate crimes such as these unfortunately still exist and occur all too frequently. Part of what makes AITF such a groundbreaking show is the fact that its take on subjects such as this are still relevant today. Perhaps the depth of emotion felt in “Edith’s Crisis of Faith” can serve as an annual reminder to grab our loved ones even closer and find compassion and acceptance for everyone.

Though a situation comedy, the jokes are never at the expense of the social issue but are aimed squarely at the insensitive fool, Archie Bunker. This show so successfully tackled social issues that many other TV series in the 1970s and 1980s went on to try to do the same thing with varying degrees of success.

UNK SEZ: Thanks so much Joanna for sharing such a wonderful post! I have a strong recollection of this episode as well and you really captured what made it so memorable.

Folks, not only is Joanna one of Kindertrauma‘s favorite people in general but she is also the author of the books THE CHRISTMAS TV COMPANION and ‘TIS THE SEASON TV. You can pay her a visit at her official home base CHRISTMAS TV HISTORY!

Kinder-Editorial :: Kinderpal Erczilla on the Death of Blockbuster Video & the Awesomeness of Evil Dead 2

I come to both bury Blockbuster Video and faintly praise it. With Blockbuster Video filing for bankruptcy protection, it signals the final nail in the coffin of brick and mortar video stores. Blockbuster itself signaled the end of the greatest video stores of all, the mom and pop owned video store.

My appreciation of all things horror was heavily influenced by the gamble that was picking out a video off of the shelves of the local video store. The proprietors hardly had a clue of the deviance and insanity contained inside some of their tapes. Often the artwork would creatively disguise the crapfest one was about to rent, as in the case of RETURN TO HORROR HIGH or BLACK ROSES. The best moments were when one was able to mine through the stacks of slasher movies and ALIEN rip offs and discover a movie that would rock your socks off.

My older sister and I had such a moment when we picked up EVIL DEAD 2 off of the shelf of our local video store. The store was actually a gutted, double-wide trailer that reeked of mold and old newspapers and the poorly made shelves lined the wood paneled walls. There was a rickety old fashioned bar door that separated the normal videos from the porn tapes. The horror and science fiction tapes were of course very close to that rickety bar door. The store was the perfect mixture of sleaze and low rent cheesiness.

The video box cover with a smooth skull with intact eyes and the three star review from non other than ROGER EBERT were all it took to convince me. The experience was like no other and it shaped my taste in movies from then on. It was one of the only movies that I can recall rewinding and watching from the beginning just as soon as the credits started rolling.

When I heard that Blockbuster was going to open up a store in my small northern New Mexico town, I could hardly wait for it. The reality was rather disappointing. The small horror section was filled with popular mainstream titles and edited versions of movies that I had already seen. The mom and pop stores started to close one by one and took all the magic and mystery with them.

Netflix and streaming video is king now and I certainly appreciate them, but lost is the tactile experience of picking up the video box and being scared and titillated at the same time. If you don’t like a movie now, you can just click on a new title to stream or mail back your DVD and get a new one in about a day. If you made a bad choice with a video rental you had it for two days and had to beg your parents to let you go back and get a new one before the weekend was over! No one will be traumatized by having to keep TROLL and GHOULIES for an entire weekend anymore.

Andrew Koenig vs. The Fog

How sad the news about the suicide of actor ANDREW KOENIG (and so soon after the suicide of fashion designer ALEXANDER McQUEEN, who one would think had everything.) ANDREW was the son of WALTER KOENING (STAR TREK’s Chekov) and many of us grew up knowing him as Mike’s pal “Boner” on GROWING PAINS. By the way, I’ve already noticed some people on line are jumping at the chance to make jokes about this man’s death and it really makes my stomach turn. Maybe the world really is as ugly as ANDREW must have imagined. Wait, I shouldn’t say that, the world isn’t ugly at all, it’s people who sometimes are.

I just want to say to any readers out there of any age who might be finding themselves thinking about suicide, to stop putting energy into that thought RIGHT NOW. I know things can seem bleak at some points in our lives and if you’re dealing with depression, as KOENIG obviously was, it can appear downright impossible. I’m not trying to Wilson Phillips you here but things will change.

Because I can only view the universe through the goggles of the horror genre, let me use THE FOG as an analogy for the times that darkness and despair enters our lives. I am of course referring to JOHN CARPENTER’s classic and not the indefensible remake. (Chin up, RUPERT WAINWRIGHT, I was perfectly courteous toward STIGMATA.) When the fog rolls in uninvited it not only allows worm-faced ghost zombies to knock on our doors but it literally clouds our vision. The everyday things we find comfort in disappear from view. The thing that is imperative to remember is that the fog does indeed roll out of town. It may seem like the world will never go back to normal, but indeed it will. You need to find the nearest lighthouse, climb up on top and wait it out like Stevie Wayne. Don’t be afraid to give one of those ghouls a good whack with their own hook either. You might find your plight lasting longer than the one night of horror suffered the citizens of Antonio Bay but trust me, the ghastlies will at some point exhaust themselves and disperse.

Folks will tell you to seek help from friends and loved ones but most likely, if you’re feeling this way, you’ve already found little solace in that area. My advice is loose yourself or hideout in the arts until the coast is clear. I don’t care if it’s reading, writing, painting, listening to music, playing video games or (the most effective cure all) watching movies. These things will never let you down and they will always be there for you when you need them. It would be irresponsible for me not to also say that professional help is a Google away and that you just might have some bad chemicals doing the Macarena in your brain but in my opinion, they have yet to invent a pill as powerful as art.

Listen I know, as a teenager I remember thinking about telling life “You can’t fire me, I quit!” on several occasions but I’m so glad now that I kept passing those open windows. (There’s a good book to read, THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE.) If I had bit the big one I would have missed MORRISSEY’s solo career, seven seasons of BUFFY, the re-imaging of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, GOD OF WAR on PS2, HALLOWEEN H20, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY, THE GOON, and oh hells no… MY BLOODY VALENTINE in 3-D!?! Plus a zillion other great things including five cats and Aunt John (I’m sorry I can’t guarantee an Aunt John for everyone who sticks this ride out, I wish I could.)

The point is, things change at the drop of a dime; things won’t always look the way they do now. I know life can seem like an actual horror movie sometimes but maybe if you hang on tight like Stevie, you’ll never have to endure a sequel to what’s currently rocking your boat. Take care of yourself kids, regardless of what you may have heard, every life is equally important and whatever you do, watch out for the fog!

“I don’t know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don’t wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog.”

Michael Jackson :: The Good, the Bad & the Monkey

I’m really sad about this whole MICHAEL JACKSON being dead thing, but I have found some solace in the fact that it seems that everywhere I have gone in the last couple days his music is being played. I have to say, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Off the Wall” are a lot better than I remembered. On the other hand, the resurgence of “Dirty Diana” is really starting to get on my last nerve. I HATE that song and no amount of untimely death seems able to cure me of that distaste. The chorus alone sounds like how it must feel to have someone remove a blackhead from the tip of your nose with a rusty chisel. M.J., What were you thinking?

I know this has a questionable (or perhaps alleged) affinity with the subject of kindertrauma, but out of curiosity and an honest desire to speed along the grieving process, I ask you dear readers: What is your favorite AND least favorite tune by the King of Pop? I know talking about your least favorite song might seem like a negative way to recognize the recently departed, but if Mike has taught us anything it is that sometimes you have to take the good with the BAD (pun recognized).

So spill your guts kids. What M.J. song begrudgingly gets your toe tapping and what song still makes you want to smack an anonymous stranger over the head with a 2 X 4?

Kinder-Editorial :: Kinderpal Mickster on the Horrors of Snoopy Come Home

snoopy come home!

Utter joy is what I felt when I first learned there was a feature length Charlie Brown cartoon, and it would soon air on CBS. What I didn’t know was the traumatizing effect it would have on me as a child. One might assume it was Snoopy leaving Charlie Brown to live with his previous owner, Lila, that disturbed me, but that event was only a drop in the bucket of despair that is SNOOPY COME HOME.

Let us begin with the discrimination and prejudice endured by Snoopy. Right from the beginning of the film, Snoopy is cast out of all his favorite spots simply because he is a dog. A familiar deep voice (THURL RAVENSCROFT) sings, “No Dogs Allowed!” throughout the film. Even Woodstock is not immune to these senseless acts of bigotry. At the beach, library, bus, hospital, and apartment complex Snoopy is deemed unworthy.

snoopy come home!

Next, we are introduced to a future serial killer. As Snoopy and Woodstock are making their journey, they encounter a seemingly harmless little girl. The soon find, however, she is not harmless at all. Before you can say Lizzie Borden, Snoopy has a thick rope tied around his neck, and Woodstock is shoved into a cage. This diabolical girl likes her victims clean, so she proceeds to almost drown poor Snoopy in the tub. Her next step is to dress her victim, and play tea party where she purposely spills tea then blames Snoopy. She puts Snoopy across her knee and spanks him. This is truly twisted stuff. Snoopy makes a break for it and attempts to call for help. Unfortunately, she retches the phone from his paw and drags him to the local vet. Luckily, Snoopy escapes the vet’s office and rushes back to the crime scene to help Woodstock get away. Nail-biting action ensues as the psychopath chases Snoopy and Woodstock through the house of horrors. In the end, Snoopy and Woodstock barely escape with their lives. I find it interesting psycho-girl keeps calling to her mother about her new pets, but there is no reply. My theory is the mother has already been dispatched PSYCHO-style by this miniature serial killer in the making.

The final death nail, for me, was the going away bash held for Snoopy after he announced his plans to live permanently with his former owner, Lila. When even Lucy begins crying over Snoopy’s imminent departure you know it is for real. I cannot recall if I made it through the entire going away party before slipping off to my bedroom to sob uncontrollably. Once again, as she always did, my mother came looking for me. She encouraged me to return for the rest of the movie. Happily, I returned just in time to see Snoopy come home to Charlie Brown.

Many years later, I shared this film with my niece. I wondered if I had been a total wimp when I had watched the movie as a child. I soon found my niece had an almost identical reaction to the movie. I, like my mother, had to coax her into finishing the movie.

snoopy come home!

Kinder-Editorial :: Intolerance Abounds at the North Pole! by Sam Snowman

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Hey kids, with relatively few shoplifting days left until X-Mas, your Unkle Lancifer and I are off today looking for some last-minute steals. Thankfully, Kinderpal Mickster was kind enough to pass along this essay she received from Sam Snowman, narrator of the RANKIN & BASS classic RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. Take it away Sam:

It has come to my attention that the North Pole has become a hotbed for intolerance over the years. I believe that I have pinpointed the source of this lack of understanding. Santa Claus himself appears to be the catalyst for the effects plaguing this area. Santa, by his example, has made clear that individuals considered “misfits” should be taunted and bullied. Let us look at the list of offenders.

Donner is the first to notice that there is something different about his son, Rudolph. Immediately, he panics because he knows Santa will not tolerate such differences. This is soon confirmed when Santa comes by to congratulate the couple on the birth of their son. When Santa sees the red nose, he warns Donner that Rudolph won’t be able to pull his sleigh in the future, if his nose remains red. Donner, regardless of his wife’s objections, decides to hide Rudolph’s nonconformity so that others will accept him.

The Head Elf has obviously been trained well by Santa to squash nonconformists like bugs. His borderline violent reaction to Hermey’s dream to be a dentist drives that point home. How dare Hermey want to do anything other than toy making?

Comet and the other reindeer start making fun of Rudolph the moment his red nose is revealed thus revealing that they too have been infected by the trickle down effects of prejudice.

An unidentified person obviously banished the misfit toys to the island ruled by King Moonracer. Though I can’t be certain, I speculate that Santa was involved. Of course, he would not want the world to think he produces misfit toys. The only way to make the problem disappear would be to get rid of those toys.

Discrimination against females is also a huge problem in the North Pole. Santa belittles Mrs. Claus at every opportunity, and Donner totally disregards his wife’s opinions on the subject of child rearing. When it comes time to search for Rudolph, Donner is quick to tell Mrs. Donner that this is, “Man’s work.”

With all these examples of intolerance, I want to assure you that there are a few individuals with accepting hearts:

  • Mrs. Donner wants to do right by her son, but she allows her husband to make all the decisions
  • Clarice accepts Rudolph and even finds his difference attractive. She risks punishment from her father to help Rudolph
  • Yukon Cornelius calls Hermey and Rudolph misfits, but does decide to help them in spite of their differences
  • King Moonracer allows the misfit toys to inhabit his island. He tells Rudolph that he cannot hide from his problems. He also requests that Rudolph speak on the behalf of the misfit toys when he returns to Christmas Town

In the end, it took the misfits’ rescue of Donner, Mrs. Donner, and Clarice for individuals to admit their prejudices. Donner apologized to his son, the head elf agreed to let Hermey open a dentist office, Santa asked Rudolph to pull his sleigh, and Santa agreed to pick up the misfit toys.

Unfortunately, a tall, bespectacled elf that wishes to remain anonymous shared his opinion with me, “You can’t teach an old elf new tricks. Santa is still an intolerant douche bag. He only agreed to have Rudolph pull his sleigh because of the great blizzard, not because he accepts him.” He went on to add this chilling detail, “There is proof that Santa dumped the misfit toys over Siberia with nothing but an umbrella to cushion their fall.”