Name That Trauma:: Helpful Jones on an Evil Tree


Reddit pointed me to you and it looks like you may have the most in-depth horror movie knowledge base and knowledgeable fans, so I hope you will recognize this movie.

I only have brief scenes in memory. I watched it on broadcast TV in the late 70’s or early 80’s. The setting and fashions made me think it was made mid to late 70’s. Outdoor scenes make me think far north-east US (Vermont to Maine), but it could also be the Ponderosa region of the western US.

All I can recall is that it was a movie about a young girl (early teen or pre-teen) and the villian was just a regular ol’ tree. I want to say it was an evergreen tree. It stood maybe as tall as the eave of a house and no taller than a single story roof-peak. 

The tree was never shown to move (other than a gentle breeze moving the branches) and it made no sounds, but it could change locations and was stalking the girl. Anytime the tree was shown, it was just a tree planted in the ground.

What was vivid in my memory is that at the end of the movie, the tree was covered by a rock slide and killed, or so we thought — there was a final scene where it showed the rock pile with a sprout sticking out of the rubble to let you know the tree still lived.

I’ve tried to search for this movie from time to time, but I’ve always come up empty.

It’s not “The Guardian” from 1990, or “From Hell It Came” from the late 1950’s. It was definitely pre-1983 as I remember watching it before I moved to Europe.

I wish I had more/better description and I hope it rings a bell with you or your fans.

HelpfulJones (wishing I could be more helpful)

Name That Trauma:: Jason S. on a Floating Father & an Exploding Statue

Hey! Ran across your site and was hoping you could help me solve this mystery that’s been haunting me for almost 40 years:

I saw this on TV on a mid-summer’s night, probably in June, probably around 7-8 pm, probably 1988 but possibly as early as 1986. We were watching a movie or show on TV at home, possibly on HBO since I think we had it at the time, but also possibly another cable or broadcast channel. A neighborhood babysitter was watching me (age 14-17?) while my parents were out, so possibly a show geared toward the babysitter’s age. She might have also brought over a VHS.

The show was about a family in the suburbs. I remember the plot was divided into two distinct parts (?) In the first part, the show was about a family and the dad was possessed by an evil spirit or something. I remember this one scene where the dad floats flat on his back out of bed down the hallway of the family’s home, upstairs. Eventually/somehow the family works together to rid dad of being possessed and everything returns to normal. In the second part, dad is fine but I remember some evil dude from beyond the grave who was possessing the dad comes to life and starts wreaking havoc on the town, and the family tries to stop him. I remember this one scene where the evil dude busts out of a statue in the graveyard in the middle of town (?)

I’ve seen zero horror movies since (yep, scarred for life), so would be interested to know if this is easy to identify or another curiosity lost to history.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute!

Name That Trauma:: Lighthouse Ghost on a Dead Wife, a Cabin, & an Attacking Puma

I can’t be certain what year the movie was made, but I and my entire 7th grade class saw it in 1982. Our teacher seemed to think she’d reserved a Disney movie or some other kids’ film. I have searched and searched to find the name, production company, country of origin, anything, because I would love to revisit this weird short film with no dialogue. Here’s what we saw, as well as I can remember:

We see an old man bringing home his beautiful new wife, who looks about 30 yrs younger than he is, into a one-room cabin in the woods. The entire thing is set inside this cabin. They clearly have her expressing innocence with the eyes and the shyness, and then we see them living life. She’s cooking for him, etc, he looks happy, there seems to be much emphasis on her beauty. She dies- I can’t remember why/how. He’s devastated but lays her on the table and brushes her hair, puts her prettiest dress on her, etc, readying her for burial. But there’s a puma outside and he can’t go outside. He’s trapped in the house with his dead wife. The puma then seems to be stalking him, trying to get in, yowling outside, and eventually, the cougar breaks through a window, into the house, knocking over the lamp, and the man grabs his gun, but can’t see where the puma is. Then in the darkness, there’s a huge ruckus, the man’s breathing all freaked out, the puma screaming, and then silence. The man’s breathing is still (understandably) freaked out. His shaking hand finds and manages to light a candle. His dead wife is still on the table but the cougar is gone except for the bloody paw sticking out of the dead wife’s mouth. He gasps, which puts out the light again. The movie ends.

This is where the class, a mix of silence and uneasy laughter, just sat there, and my teacher said, “Maybe you all don’t need to tell your parents about that.” And said she’d be reporting the movie to get it out of the school catalog.

Name That Trauma:: Cam on a Meat Cleaver Murder

Hey Folks!

I got a bit of a weird one. When I was a very little kid in the 70’s or early 80’s I remember seeing the opening to a movie that really scared me. It was an animated title sequence that the closest thing I can think of is very similar to Moon Zero Two (HERE) and Catalina Caper’s (HERE).

The scene that stuck in my head during the opening was a little impish man with a giant meat cleaver cutting an old lady in half, As she sat in an easy chair knitting something. There were several murders like that during the animated credits but that was the one that really stuck with me and sent me scurrying out of the den in a panic.

The movie I was told was a horror/suspense comedy. So my dad admonished me for being so scared of it. But my overactive imagination just couldn’t let it go!

Anyhoo! Thanks for letting me submit this and I adore your site!


Name That Trauma:: Julie B. on a Bedridden Corpse

Hello Friends!

I have been trying for a few years to find the film that terrified my sister when we were kids, but with no success. It was shown on Sammy Terry’s show, our local late night horror host here in Indianapolis, and we had snuck downstairs to watch it. It was well past our bedtime, and we were never allowed to watch anything that awesome, so this was a covert operation.

It was the opening scene of the film (or very near the beginning) and the setting was a very creepy, very dark Victorian mansion (or a castle?) on a stormy night (Classic!) People are gathered around the curtained bed of an old woman who had recently died, and when they pull back the bed curtains for the reveal, she is in full rigor mortis, eyes staring directly into the camera with a rictus grin.

My sister shrieked and bolted upstairs, we got in trouble, and that was it for Sammy Terry for a while. I was able to torment her with that face for a long time afterwards though, which felt like appropriate payback for ruining a good time!

That was decades ago, but I’d love to find the film to see if it’s as terrifying now as it was then, and because (obviously!) I need to retraumatize my sister.

Thank you so much for your help!

Name That Trauma:: Rob B on Psychics & Seances

Hey, guys, this is my second post here. I received some help from the fan base about another movie I was trying to identify, and I was hoping you could help me with a couple of others, to wit:

1) I believe this first one was a made-for-TV movie from the 1970’s. It begins with an old man (I believe it was Will Geer or a similar actor) out in the country, examining the ground closely as he walks along, eventually finding the spot he seems to be looking for; he buries a knife by the handle with the blade sticking up out of the ground, and walks off looking quite satisfied. I honestly can’t remember anything else that happens until the moment of truth at the climax of the movie when a physical fight breaks out between two of the characters (m/m, m/f?) and the antagonist falls backward, right on the blade of the knife that was buried so cryptically at the beginning of the film which saves the day. Obviously some kind of psychic foreshadowing took place at the beginning, and I seem to remember the theme of more second sight related activity during the film but that’s about it — the very beginning and the very end.

2) This was a British production, also from the 1970’s (at least the video quality makes me think so) and involves a wealthy widow (I believe) who is trying to make contact with her deceased husband (or family member) on the other side. She has recently made the acquaintance of a somewhat younger man and they begin to develop a relationship as the age gap is not so pronounced. He accompanies her to one seance which involves people seated around a table, questions being written down, sealed into envelopes, and placed in a basket; the medium, a rather portly, middle-aged woman, opens the envelopes one by one and answers the questions, until the younger man jumps up, snatches the wig off of the medium’s head (“she” is actually a female impersonator) and explains the con and how it works with the help of a confederate concealed among the “guests” (it’s quite clever when it’s explained, actually.) This cements the widow’s feelings for this younger man (and his for her, ostensibly) as genuine, which, as we find out, they are not, as he is really an unscrupulous fortune-hunter solely after her money. At another seance at the climax of the movie, a Native American warrior appears and manages to kill this fortune-hunter by shooting him with several arrows that manifest themselves physically, thereby rescuing the widow from his dishonorable ambitions.

These titles of these two forays into the realm of the psychic and seances have eluded me for some time, and any help anyone could give me in identifying them would be greatly appreciated, Thank you, as always!

Name That Trauma:: Robert B. on a Mummified Mommy

A few years back, I watched a documentary about a pair of Swedish brothers whose parents had home through a bitter divorce when they were younger; the mother had become obsessed with trying to wrest away a vacation property that she and her husband had owned that her life became focused on this legal case to the exclusion of almost everything else in her life. it seems. She became a hoarder, living a hermit-like existence, and eventually stopped communicating with her sons. They eventually made their way to her apartment to check on her only to find she had died, and laid on the bathroom floor for so long she had mummified, and when they picked her up found this indelible stain on the bathroom tiles they tried to clean fruitlessly. They also had to sort through mounds of paper, legal documents, etc., and although the landlord asked them not to, they burned copious amounts of her papers in the fireplace. I don’t know if this movie actually fits the parameters of kinder trauma, but it was pretty disturbing when I watched it a while ago, and your readers seem pretty good at coming up with answers for this kind of thing, so if anybody remembers this film, I’d appreciate the help. Thanks!

Name That Trauma:: Sebastian L. on a Disintegrating Woman

Hello Kindertrauma! I have a very vivid memory of a terrifying TV moment that I experienced in the late 90s that I am hoping to finally resolve. It probably goes without saying that while this scene is seared in my mind, my recollections of it may not be entirely accurate. It’s very likely my imagination has filled in the blanks over the years, so take all details with a grain of salt!

From what I recall, there are two adult women (one younger and blonde, the other closer to middle age and in a blue sweater – I think her name is Melanie) sitting in a darkened living room watching TV. They’re watching old home movies of a young girl dancing, and it seems like the girl is Melanie’s daughter. This isn’t a happy scene, however, as Melanie seems to be depressed, and is watching the tapes to relive better times. Maybe she’s become estranged from her daughter, or perhaps her daughter has even passed away. The younger woman tries to comfort her, telling her that everything will be alright, and she may even try to encourage Melanie to turn off the tapes. At one point, the younger woman gets up to go into the kitchen, as Melanie lights a cigarette. While she’s in the kitchen, the younger woman hears a loud noise coming from the living room. She walks back in and it’s clear that something weird has happened. She finds the TV playing nothing but static, and sees Melanie just sitting there in the shadows, cigarette between her fingers, staring off into nothing. The young woman tries to get her attention, but she’s unresponsive, and after a moment, she disintegrates into dust. The scene ends with the younger woman screaming.

I suspect this was a cold open to a TV show, as not only is it very likely that it came on after something else I had been watching, but I also remember it cutting into opening credits (though I don’t remember the details of this at all). I’m fairly positive I saw this on my local (Canadian) station, and for years I’ve thought it might be an episode of either the Outer Limits revival series, or an episode of Da Vinci’s Inquest, just because I remember seeing ads for those constantly at the time. However, I’ve done a bit of digging into the Outer Limits and haven’t found anything, and Da Vinci’s Inquest seems like more of a cop drama than a supernatural one, so honestly I’m not sure how viable either of these leads are. Still, of all the weird, unsettling things I saw on TV as a kid that stuck with me, this is the one that I remember most clearly (probably due as much to its emotional intensity as its outwardly creepy climax), and I’m hoping that this will be enough to spur someone else’s memory. I’d love to finally put this near-lifelong curiosity to rest.

-Sebastian L.

Name That Trauma:: Chris R. on Crime Fighting Kids

I have childhood fragments of a ( not terribly traumatic) show that I have no idea how to go about researching. I don’t believe this was a movie but a series, and I know it from a teacher wheeling a TV into a room and playing either a cable feed or VHS tape. This would have been early 1980s probably pre-1983.

I recall a show with a boarding school for genius kids who solved mysteries and/or fought crime. There was a team of them of mixed ages, mostly white I believe they had a token African-American kid. One kid I believe wore glasses, which we know indicates he must have been Very Smart Indeed.

I recall these kids having what seemed unusually large beds in a housing situation with a pretty awesome timbered roof/attic area, and I recall there being some form of “secret” compartment behind one or more headboards where at least one kid kept crimefighting gear Batcave style.

To the best of my recollection, the kids weren’t superheroes of any sort, they were just smart and foiled crime Scooby-Doo style. Maybe they were in an orphanage?! I recall no plots, but I feel like this was a series I only saw one or two episodes of, not a movie.

Any help is welcome. This has bothered me for years.

Name That Trauma:: Michael C. on a Tiny Sister Who Gets Squashed

Hi Kindertrauma,

Thanks for the recent columns on Trilogy of Terror, Don’ Be Afraid of the Dark, and Salem’s Lot…all three scarred me for life when I was 10. I remember Horror Week on Channel 7’s 4:00 Movie in Washington DC featuring the first two.

Anyway, I hope that someone can help me find this terror. I don’t know if I’m making it up, or misremembering, or conflating multiple movies, or what. It may have been a TV movie.

I seem to remember a story involving sisters and painting. In the story, one of the sisters somehow gets shrunk to a tiny size, like smaller than a thumb. I think she had long blonde hair. Eventually the other girl squishes her under her shoe and uses the resulting red goo as paint on a canvas. This scene sticks with me. Was it a movie, or a horrible dream?


Michael C.