The Victim (1972)

Ack, can’t we slow this October thing down? This weekend is Halloween and I’m not even properly spooked yet unless you include the other night when I had to get up to use the bathroom and I was super worried that I’d have a heart attack if I bumped into that scary plague doctor dude from that creepy Polish viral video.

To be honest, as much as I appreciate everybody’s enthusiasm for the holiday, sometimes all the desperate commercialism and pumpkin latte caramel spice crap can dampen my fervor and that’s when I need to go old school! In an effort to achieve the desired mood, the other night I realized that I had to find a super rainy movie with lots of howling wind and tons of hoary lightening sound effects. I’m comforted by the fact that nearly every stormy seventies TV offering features the same familiar cracks and crashes. If I’m especially lucky I’ll stumble into something that sports the same stock footage of lightening that appears at the beginning of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND.

Happily I stumbled into the 1972 TV movie THE VICTIM starring ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY and holy crap, EILEEN (BAD SEED, BURNT OFFERINGS) HECKART!!! If you’re keeping tabs that’s a score, a score and a double score (I probably just lost some of our younger readers just then to whom I say buh-bye). MONTGOMERY plays a lady named Kate who visits her sister unaware that her sister was recently murdered. The killer decides that they might as well kill Kate too and the whole movie is her running around in an empty house in the middle of the night trying to avoid being murdered. It actually has a very similar premise as this Australian movie I just watched called LADY STAY DEAD (1981) but it also reminded me a bit of THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with its minimalism and limited location.

The ending kinda sucks. I’ll be real. It’s even a little extra frustrating because it could have been easily saved by one line of dialogue. It sort of just leaves you hanging and even though I can’t say it doesn’t give you all the information you need, it certainly doesn’t emphasize it in a satisfactory manner. But that’s just the very end and I can’t negate an entire song just because of one weak note at the close. Otherwise, I absolutely dig the mood and music of this baby and felt it hit the spot. Even though I never caught this corny creeper as a kid, everything about it makes me feel like I’m staying up late and braving the danger zone. If you are of a like mind check it out but I’d say wait till late at night and make sure to pretend your computer is a portable television set. It’s not at all scary but it will put you in the mood to be scared and that tastes a lot better than cinnamon pumpkin spice gingerbread crap.

Sunday Viewing: Monsters Season 1, episode 13: Glim Glim

You guys have to meet Glim Glim if you have not already had the honor. He lives in a Christmas set episode of MONSTERS from 1989. He looks a little like McDonald’s “Grimace” crossed with a pickle with Sigmund the Sea Monster tentacles. Poor guy, his space ship crashed on the planet and he accidently killed a bunch of people because of some virus he brought with him but he’s trying this best to correct the situation. Sadly his high-pitched voice makes communication impossible (although viewers are privy to his thoughts) and his appearance (not to mention his track record of inadvertently killing people) is a major hurdle in making new friends.

Christmas is right around the corner though and what better time to express one’s good intentions and offer an olive branch? GLIM GLIM is awesome. The world needs more GLIM GLIM and it needs it now. GLIM GLIM was written by PAUL F. WILSON (THE KEEP) and is the lone directorial effort of PETER STEIN the cinematographer of both FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 and PET SEMATARY. It also stars a young JENNA VON OY who a few years later would star in BLOSSOM and not BATTLESTAR GALACTICA as a character named “Six”. This is a very special episode, as they say, so if you don’t have tissues remember toilet paper works just as well.

The Incredible Werewolf By Mickster

When Werewolf premiered on Fox in 1987, I was instantly hooked. A prime time show about a handsome werewolf trying desperately to cure his lycanthropy? What’s not to like? When the Chiller Channel began airing episodes of Werewolf a few years back, I was stunned to realize that Werewolf and The Incredible Hulk share many of the same qualities. I loved The Incredible Hulk when I was a little girl, so I am surprised it didn’t occur to me back in 1987 that Werewolf is essentially The Incredible Hulk. Not convinced? Sit back and I will explain.

Eric Cord (John J. York) and David Banner (Bill Bixby) were changed by freak circumstances. Eric’s best friend, in werewolf form, attacked him, and David was altered by an accidental overdose of gamma radiation.

“Alamo” Joe Rogan (Lance LeGault) and Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) are essentially the same character. Each is relentless in their pursuit of their quarry, “Alamo” Joe as a bounty hunter and Mr. McGee as a tabloid reporter in search of a juicy scoop for his paper.

Eric and David stumble upon people in need, as they search for a cure for their alter egos. In “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf,” Eric hid in a young boy’s tree house eventually helping the boy and his mother from her abusive boyfriend. In “Death in the Family,” David saves a young, crippled girl whose evil family members are plotting her death, so they can inherit the family fortune.

While in the form of their alter egos, Eric and David never harm innocent people even though they are supposedly unaware of their actions during the change, which shows their goodness.

Eric and David must move on at the end of each episode before their pursuers catch them and to continue pursuing a cure to rid them of their alter egos for good. Eric is in search of the originator of his “bloodline” that, at first, he thinks is Janos Skorzeny (played by a scary-looking Chuck Connors) because killing the “head” werewolf will cure his lycanthropy. David, a physician, tries to cure himself and is constantly seeking the means to do so.

See? Werewolf and The Incredible Hulk are the same show! It is a shame that Werewolf only lasted one season. I thought and still think that it is a cool show. So, are there any Werewolf fans out there that agree with the Mickster?

Traumafession:: Unk on Death Scream (1975)

How in the world can I still have a trauma to confess after all these years? I’m pretty sure I did go on about this one in our comments section back in the day but I never got around to doing a proper post. That is because when I tried to watch it again, I found it lacking which is weird considering it stars RAUL JULIA whose peepers can usually carry anything. It’s O.K. though, my trauma isn’t about the whole movie; it’s only about the scary opening scene. The opening scene of DEATH SCREAM (1975) remains a tense view for me even if what follows is deadly dull.

The first scene of DEATH SCREAM is based on the real murder of Kitty Genovese who was raped and stabbed to death outside her apartment building as she was returning home for work in 1964. Weeks later her death became national news when it was reported that her attack was witnessed in one form or another by thirty-eight neighbors who did nothing to aid her. Exactly how many witnesses and exactly how much they may have seen would later be debated but the fuse of the story had been lit and public outrage followed. It’s not the numbers or the confirmed details that make this story horrify though, would it be half as shocking if there were only nineteen witnesses? The fact is you could probably turn on the news tonight and find a story that involves bystanders turning a blind eye. I know because watching the news the other day is what made me remember this trauma.

I know I saw this made-for-TV flick when my family was living in California and since we left in ‘76 that means I must have seen it the night it premiered on September 26, 1975. Yay for me! I was eight. Why was I watching this movie when I was eight? (Sorry, I gotta go down this rabbit hole) That means this trauma actually predates my SATAN’S TRIANGLE trauma by a few months and that’s the one I’ve always cited as my first. Hmmm, well, I’m not changing my plea. There’s really no comparison when I think about it. DEATH SCREAM was more of a “horrified by human ugliness”- trauma whereas SATAN’S TRIANGLE was more of a “Oops! Your soul is damned for eternity!” type of thing. Apples and oranges.

Let’s move on before I start telling you about how my mother left me unattended on a beach when I was three. You won’t believe the cast of DEATH SCREAM. Besides RAUL JULIA being a cop whose daughter is HELEN HUNT and whose love interest is KATE JACKSON, they also somehow crammed ED ASNER, TINA LOUISE, CLORIS LEACHMAN, ART CARNEY, DIAHANN CARROLL, LUCIE ARNEZ, SALLY KIRKLAND, TONY DOW and NANCY “Quicker Picker Upper” WALKER (among others) into this cinematic psycho clown car.

The first scene has THE HOWLING’s BELINDA BALASKI playing the role based on Kitty. She’s arriving home from work but must first make her way through an eerily empty parking lot. If you’re a kid from the seventies, this might appear to be any number of cop shows. We’re talking clanking high heels on asphalt and cats toppling over trash cans before a trench coat wearing shadowy figure lunges. What’s especially harrowing about this attack is how many times BALASKI’s character nearly escapes and how that relief is repeatedly denied. Frustration reigns too as we are constantly torn away from her plight and into the apartments of the building’s residents, being untimely forced to hear their weak justifications for inaction.

To be honest, it’s not quite as nightmarish as I recall. In my mind’s eye, I’ve always remembered NANCY WALKER hanging out her apartment window 227-style casually looking down upon the proceedings. Thankfully, it appears I made that creepy LYNCH-vision up in my head. Look, I’m not saying I’d be running down the stairs with grease paint under my eyes carrying a bazooka either but I’d like to think I’d do something. What, nobody’s got a potted plant to throw? All right now I just envisioned a DONKEY KONG style video game where you’re NANCY WALKER dropping plotted plants out of a window to ward off murderers. I share that not to make light of a grizzly scenario but to illustrate how unhelpful my brain constantly is. Now I feel bad. This is based on a real tragedy and all I can think about is how well NANCY WALKER rocked her Zira from PLANT OF THE APES hairdo. I’m going to utilize my side-step to identify another clear current of queasiness; it’s not like they picked nameless shmoes to play the cowardly bystanders in this flick, these are my TV pals! It’s like that famous quote,” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for both Grants Ginger and Lou to do nothing.”

I’m now hopped up on chewy Spree so it’s best that I go. The scene in question is below. It freaked me out as a kid and what it says about humanity still makes me barf today. Kitty Genovese, I’m so sorry. NANCY WALKER, I miss you.

Traumafession:: Bill S. on G.I. Joe’s There’s No Place Like Springfield

In or around 1985, the popular G.I. JOE cartoon aired an episode that was unlike anything seen for children’s programming.

The episode was titled, ‘There’s No Place Like Springfield‘. This episode found the character, Shipwreck, waking up to a place that is unfamiliar to him. He’s told things that don’t make sense to him. Shipwreck’s mind slowly starts to unravel as he tries to determine what is real and what is illusion.

This is a psychological thriller, culminating in some horrifying visuals for children.

Here’s some moments from this episode!

Father’s Day Viewing:: Haunts of the Very Rich (1972)

Happy Father’s Day! Today I submit for your viewing pleasure the very father-tastic made-for-TV flick, 1972’s HAUNTS OF THE VERY RICH. It stars the father of JEFF & BEAU BRIDGES, LLOYD BRIDGES, Mary Richards’ father figure ED ASNER, America’s most favorite dad ROBERT REED as a reverend (or father), TONY BILL who fathered one of my favorite movies, FIVE CORNERS, CLORIS LEACHMAN who played somebody who shared the same father as Mrs. Garrett on THE FACTS OF LIFE and the father of Julie’s baby on ONE DAY AT A TIME, MICHAEL LEMBECK.

This sorta reads like a precursor to that show by TORI SPELLING’s pop, FANTASY ISLAND although it’s sadly HERVE VILLECHAIZE-free. It’s about a bunch of rich people who get trapped on an island and thanks to forces beyond their understanding, come to realize how wretched existence is when hopes are dangled in your face like carrots on strings and repeatedly snatched away. If I could throw us all in a time machine back to the days when this flick’s SARTRE-lite rug-pull was still a mind blower, I would but Father Time just won’t allow it. Thankfully, seventies era slo-mo shots and background music brandishing hellish death sirens singing “ahhhh-ahhh” will always retain their eternal creepy power ‘round here. Enjoy, and have a mutha of a Father’s Day.

Alien Abduction Triple Feature:: Intruders (1992), Progeny (1998) & Visitors of the Night (1995)

I remember years back talking to a friend on the phone in my old apartment. We were yacking about creepy things you shouldn’t yack about if you don’t want to get the creeps. Suddenly all the lights went out and I stood in blackness. The phone spit out some garbled non-language that couldn’t be the voice of my friend and then went dead. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me but I could hear loud multiple foot stomps pounding down the staircase outside my door. “This is it,” I thought. They’re coming for me and this is the end.” How did I forget that this was going to happen eventually?

Then the lights went back on. It was just some citywide blackout. Nothing was happening. There was nobody in the hall. What was all that stomping though? There’s only one apartment above me and the floor-quaking racket I heard sounded like a dozen bulls charging down the stairs. It was nothing to worry about. I called back my friend and joked through the sticky paranoia. The thing I couldn’t shake was how my quickly my mind traveled from alpha to omega and the weird sense that the world disappearing beneath my feet was something inevitable that part of me was secretly resigned to or prepared for. I went to bed that night knowing that with the drop of a hat my sense of security could vanish and that Crazy Town was just a curtain drop away. Maybe I can better explain the episode by comparing it to a terrifying dream that when recounted, sounds terrifically lame.

Anyway the above non-incident returned to my brain while I was watching the 1992 alien abduction miniseries INTRUDERS. Anyone who has seen FIRE IN THE SKY (1993) can tell you just how scary alien abduction can be but this movie has something even more unsettling. I’m talking about faceless dudes who disguise themselves as telephone repairmen (!) and have no problem walking through walls. These guys get under my skin because rather than fly in ships, they just skip through dimensions and probably pal around with the likes of THE MOTHMAN.

I’m just saying if I get abducted, I’d prefer a straight forward U.F.O. deal complete with large-eyed, skinny grey beings over that weird reality warping jive where there are no rules or boundaries and you’re likely to find out your whole existence is fake and part of some experiment and you don’t even have a body and are just a brain in a box somewhere being fed nonsense through an electrode. If something like that is going on, I don’t want to know about it. Furthermore if any extraterrestrial shape-shifting shadow creature out there is thinking about enlightening me with trippy COMMUNION-style mind-fuckery in which I have to talk to a doppelganger of myself wearing a magician’s outfit they should stand warned that I will simply cover my ears with my hands and go “la-la-la”.

Let’s change the subject. INTRUDERS is extra special because it was directed by the undisputed super king of wonderfulness, DAN CURTIS, who enriched all of our lives with such delights as DARK SHADOWS, THE NIGHT STRANGLER, TRILOGY OF TERROR and the traumadelic BURNT OFFERINGS to name a few. INTRUDERS was originally a miniseries, so it’s a little on the lengthy side but what are you in such a rush for anyway? Stars? You want stars? How’s about some RICHARD (THE EVIL) CRENNA as a crow eating smarty-pants, MARE “BEST peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I have had in my entire life” WINNINGHAM as a convincing abductee and MONKEY SHINES’ own JASON BEGHE as a guy who is not a quadriplegic and doesn’t have a monkey nurse that’s in love with him. You also get ALAN AUTRY who played a cop in HOUSE and SUSAN BLAKELY of MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF fame. Remember that one? With RUTH BUZZI? It’s practically TEEN WITCH 2– so good.

Because it takes place in the ancient days of 1992, INTRUDERS is chuck full of psychological mumbo jumbo like hypnotic regression therapy and the theory that folks dream up alien abductions to cloak repressed memories of sexual molestation. Remarkably, it tries to get away with switching gears near the end and painting the entities as good natured and kind even after we have witnessed them raping, stealing babies and shoving painful metal objects up people’s noses for three hours. I’m sorry but nice creatures don’t steal you from your bed, drug you, shove who knows what into you and then dump you like trash thirty miles away from your home, forcing you to do a walk of shame in your pajamas.

INTRUDERS is kind of all over the place but CURTIS knows how to create a dark creep-tastic off-kilter scene when he wants to. There’s one bit that finds MARE’s character remembering an early encounter from her youth. It’s all gauzy and dream like and ends shockingly with a scowling mutant alien hybrid kid turning to face her. It’s alarming as only CURTIS could pull it off (sort of like the ending of the “Bobby” segment of DEAD OF NIGHT) and I stand shocked that nobody has ever sent in a Traumafession for it. No, I wasn’t bowled over by the entire affair, as there’s one too many cliché ridden “open your mind” diatribes but there are at least a half dozen successful scenes that will make your house seem darker than you remember.

Not soon after INVADERS was done I realized that I had to re-watch 1998’s PROGENY. This is a movie directed by the sometimes brilliant BRIAN YUZNA (SOCIETY) and written by his frequent cohort STUART GORDON (RE-ANIMATOR). It seems like most folks hate or dismiss this flick but I can’t resist saluting its colorful freak flag. Due to its subject matter it’s easy to poke fun of but its never not entertaining and that’s good enough for me. I realize normal genre fans will not be equally over the moon over the idea of COMMUNION’s LINDSY CROUSE (!) playing a psychiatrist or THE MUMMY’s ARNOLD VOSLOO rampaging against invisible people in his boxers but certainly THE THING’s WILFRED BRIMLEY as a gynecologist and CHILD’S PLAY’s BRAD DORIF as a nerdy U.F.O expert sweeten the deal.

PROGENY is an alien abduction version of ROSEMARY’S BABY that is a perfect mate to INVADERS as it touches many of the same bases including forced impregnation, baby swiping and shoving metallic objects up people’s noses that self destruct when you remove and attempt to analyze them. It’s far-fetched, cartoony and histrionic (VOSLOO is like RAY MILAND on steroids and that’s a compliment) but let’s give it credit for braving toward gooey uncomfortable places that many a dry alien flick avoids. This is no way as thought provoking as YUZNA’s SOCIETY yet it’s somehow more consistent and feels a little more complete.

Like YUZNA’s INITIATION (aka SNDN 4), it sort of plays like CRONENBERG for dummies and yay on that. YUZNA returns to collaborate with wildly creative make up effects artist SCREAMING MAD GEORGE and that’s good news too. The alien beings depicted here have translucent, white flesh that reminds me of spring rolls and twisty tubular forms that are like ugly balloon animals made from condoms. At one point there is an abduction flashback that contains an awesome giant LOVECRAFT-ian super monster and it’s wonderfully laughable and horrifying at the same time. This may be the sillier side of abduction but its sweet lunacy tastes great after INVADERS.

Let’s do one more! How about a LIFETIME movie called VISITORS OF THE NIGHT from 1995? This one stars everybody’s dream date MARKIE “the mullet” POST, PET SEMATARY’s trustworthy DALE MIDKIFF, PONTYPOOL’s scarecrow- faced STEPHEN McHATTIE and singer of the international smash hit “lollipops & gummy bears” CANDACE CAMERON. This was a semi-facetious watch for me that totally paid off in that it features an evil Christmas tree with impeccably placed glowing eyes and worse, a devious grin (perhaps only myself and anyone crazy enough to trip on acid while watching a MARKIE POST movie will catch this subtle feature).

This is an evil Christmas tree! Please tell me you see the face!

This last slice might be my favorite but only because I watched it the most recently. It’s noteworthy because it concerns not only man vs. alien but mom vs. teen! Sadly it gets super duper schmaltzy toward the end and acts like a LIFETIME dog whistle howling about a mother’s love knowing no bounds. In doing so though, it kind of reveals the key to all three movies and how they’re all really about people feeling powerless and worrying about the fact that they have zero ability to insure the safety of those they love. I’m not saying I don’t believe in U.F.O stuff, just that after watching these three flicks back-to-back ,I wonder if the real fear trying to be expressed is the fear of doctors, hospitals, operations and faceless authoritarians that can snatch you away at any time. I’m going to have to look further into that. Suffice to say all three of these movies involved childhood trauma, lost time and elusive memories of some sort so they are ever so welcome here.

If you’ve been abducted recently or simply like watching other people being abducted while sitting safely on your couch this triple feature is for you! Check ‘em out before they disappear like an alien implant under investigation!

The Horror Of:: Mazes & Monsters (1982)

The other day 2 Warps To Neptune posted a TV GUIDE ad for 1982’s MAZES AND MONSTERS and reminded me that I’ve been sitting on a cheap-o DVD of that TV movie for years. It was finally time to revisit it again as I hadn’t seen it since the night it first aired. All I could remember was being really excited about it before it came on and really disappointed afterward because there was only one monster in it. The fact that the teleplay, based on Rona Jaffe’s novel of the same name, was not exactly a glowing endorsement of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS (my favorite game at the time) never occurred to me back then.

MAZES involves a group of college friends who get thoroughly immersed in a role playing game. One (played by a young TOM HANKS) gets so into it that he looses his mind forever just like those poor kids who ate LCD-laced Halloween candy in the ‘70s and are screaming their heads off in an insane asylum to this very day. (Oh how those poor nonexistent kids haunt me, they must have nonexistent arthritis by now). This movie is all about stoking fears and why shouldn’t have folks been afraid of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS? It promotes community, cooperation and using one’s imagination and so it is obviously the work of Satan. Man, Satan not only has the finest tunes, he has the finest games and movies too! Why am I not a Satanist again? Anyway it’s easy to forgive MAZES’ hokey paranoia now and there’s plenty of fine horror goodness to be found within its paper mache walls, so let’s take a look inside…


Check out this bounty! TOM “HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE” HANKS, WENDY CREWSON of SKULLDUGGERY & THE GOOD SON notoriety, DAVID WALLACE who set the world on fire with THE BABYSITTER (1980), mega-hit HUMONGOUS and the double GEORGE infused MORTUARY, CHRIS “VAMP” MAKEPEACE, scowly SATAN’S SCOOL FOR GIRLS star LLOYD “one take” BOCHNER, ANNE FRANCIS who stole your heart in FORBIDDEN PLANET, MURRAY HAMILTON who double dunked in JAWS and JAWS 2, VERA MILES who owned PSYCHO and PSYCHO II like a monkey owns a banana, SUSAN STRASBERG who single handedly prevented my suicide with THE MANITOU and apparently CHRIS HIGGINS the king of FRIDAY THE13TH: THE SERIES as well, though I can’t find him without his beard, try as I might. That my friends is what we call an embarrassment of riches.


Look at this crazy rubber suit monster with glowing eyes. It’s not scary…except it kind of is. It’s so fake looking and so alarmingly out of place that it somehow becomes freaky. It reminds me of when CHRISTOPHER WALKEN sees all those folks wearing insect masks while on the bus in COMMUNION. In both cases the creatures only exist within the mind of the character seeing them and so who cares if the effect is sorta iffy. The point is, these guys are going coconuts like an OSMOND and therefore can hallucinate whatever they please! Hey, the special effects in my figments of insanity are sub par too; that doesn’t make them any less disturbing!


Halloween parties in movies are always a plus. How cool are these kids that they have both a ROAD WARRIOR (released May 21) poster and a BLADE RUNNER (released June 25) poster hanging on their dorm room walls? And just consider that both of those classic movies had only been released months earlier that same year. (MAZES & MONSTERS premiered on Dec. 28).


Get ready to drool all over your keyboard! If you are electrocuted, don’t sue. At the start of the picture MAKEPEACE is driving around some town called New York and he speeds by a movie theater playing CREEPSHOW (Nov. 12)!

And then later when HANKS has taken a turn for the deranged he hits the streets to stumble into a marque boasting a showing of my beloved THE SLAYER (October)!

Then like a shameless seductress, HANKS saunters by a movie palace playing AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION (Sept. 24). Wha? All of my needs have been met.


I guess Rona Jaffe thought as long as she was throwing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS under the donkey cart she might as well cast aspersions on TOLKIEN too.(Hey, writing a novel in a couple of days ain’t easy! What was she supposed to do, make up her own mythology?) Turns out the M&M game features two castle towers and so when HANKS’ character is having a psychotic breakdown that could have been prevented by any educated adult treating the actual source of the problem rather than blaming a game, he heads to the World Trade Center. He’s under the delusion that he can fly just like all of those poor kids who ate LCD-laced Halloween candy. Seeing the interior of the trade center, the size, the multitude of people rushing about on their daily business, is haunting. Because you know, an actual REAL horror took place there, a horror that incidentally cannot be blamed on either LCD-laced Halloween candy or role playing games. And really isn’t that the chattering mob’s big cowardly secret? That by focusing on benign phantoms they can avoid the uglier, more troublesome problems of the world?

M&M is not too impressive but it’s pretty awesome anyway. It’s mind blowing how stupid and alarmist it is until you remember that people act the same way today only about different stuff. So maybe we can learn something here. The next time somebody blames a video game or a pop star or a violent movie or a different lifestyle or whatever the scapegoat de jour is, for the decline of morality, tell them they look like a Gorvil and that the zipper on their rubber suit is showing.

My Night Gallery Traumafession By Senski

This Traumafession is likely to go on a bit, guys; please indulge me.

I was born in 1962, too young to be a fan of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Since I was raised in a small town, and in the era before cable, I was severely limited by what I could see in syndication; for almost two decades that television institution that was TZ eluded me, and I would not see my first episode until I was almost 20. However, I was a regular reader of Gold Key’s entertaining TZ comic book – a title I began collecting when I was five. Through its illustrated pages I discovered that every tale was presented by a dapper man named Rod Serling, much in the same way that horror comics were graced by hosts in prior decades. Was he a writer? Director? Actor? I did not really know, but I knew he was associated with all things eerie and fantastical, and that made him a kindred spirit to me.

Then one day in 1969 I was flipping through the pages of a TV Guide – how exciting it was to see what entertainments lay in store for the week ahead! – and there, eight days after Halloween, was a highlighted box promoting a new TV movie named Night Gallery – hosted by Rod Serling! Missing it was unthinkable. I can still remember being curled up on the end of our old green sofa, pillow at the ready to stick in front of my face. The gentleman on the screen looked a little older than the one drawn in the comics; the hair a bit more modern, the skin more lined and leathery, but it was him. And with a voice like he possessed, how could he present anything BUT the weird and wonderful? The first tale,”The Cemetery,” was simply the most frightening thing I had seen in my life up to that point. I stayed awake for “Eyes” but had to be trundled off to bed by the end of “The Escape Route;” I was slipping in and out of sleep.

But I knew this: I was mesmerized. And my devotion to Mr Serling began in earnest on November 8, 1969.

When NG returned to NBC’s schedule in 1970 as part of the “Four-in-One” concept with a mere six episodes, I was ready, and far better at fending off sleep till the end of an episode. For the next three years, NG would become perhaps the greatest pop cultural touchstone in my life. My friends and I would reenact episodes on the playground, quote lines from Serling‘s intros (The Doll: “…and this one you’d best not play with”), and I, little nerd that I was, always got to play Television Horror Anthology Host. When we had to write plays for a 4th Grade class, I wrote a NG episode about a demonic hotel guest who refused to check out – and the painting was a Crayola masterwork of said demon hovering over the Planet Earth. I looked up the stories by the authors featured on the show, beginning a love for short supernatural fiction that has remained undimmed by time. I can point to incidents in my life that occurred on evenings dedicated to viewing NG, so transfixed are those moments in the mind’s eye. In fact, as I type this, I am sitting beneath a print of Tom Wright‘s painting for “She’ll Be Company For You.”

Night Gallery made me who I am. It defines Horror for me. I am unabashed in my love for the series (with the exception of the humorous vignettes). It genuinely grieves me to hear how Serling was mistreated during the series run and how he largely disowned the enterprise, but when it was good – and that was often – it was brilliant. And if, heaven forfend, there are any Kinderpals who are not familiar with NG, start with The Caterpillar, The Sins of the Fathers, Green Fingers, Certain Shadows on the Wall, The Class of ’99…so many delights await.

But that is not the subject of this Traumafession.

At some point in the production of the series, Jack Laird filmed what we in the TV business would call B-roll (secondary footage) for inclusion. It consisted of a number of disembodied heads, dressed in black, and shot against a black backdrop; you can see some of these faces worked into the opening credits for the first and second seasons. But he also used a montage of these heads at the station break; the time for affiliates to sell local commercials. Backed up by a faster version of the main title theme, and obscured by the show’s title, I found these faces to be terrifying. I could not watch as the music played, finally peeking when the piece had climaxed. At 9:30 every Wednesday night I was trained to look away. To the best of my knowledge, this footage has never been included as supplementary material on any of the NG DVD releases, and has been unseen by the public for decades…until now.

Freshly posted to YouTube just a little over a month ago, these “bumpers” are back. According to the poster, they were courtesy of a gift from authors Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, whose book Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour is not only the definitive volume on the show, but is a benchmark for how books covering a television series in-depth should be written. Scott and I communicated years ago on a forum dedicated to the show, and I was delighted to provide him with the printed stories behind several NG eps, for which he sent me a multi-CD set of music from that show that I treasure. Now at last I can see exactly what frightened me: Face Number Two. I imagined that bizarrely androgynous visage appearing over me while I slept, and woof! Sleep no more. There are three bumpers: 1) The full cut; 2) A tighter edit that eliminates the final face and speeds up the music; 3) The rather dull backdrop of gallery paintings backed by Eddie Sauter’s shrill Season Three theme.

Enjoy. And thanks for reading!

Sunday Viewing:: I Saw What You Did (1988)

I wish I could tell you I was watching something more gruesome and horrific this past mischief night but the fact is, I was taking in the 1988 T.V. movie I SAW WHAT YOU DID. Melody M.’s recent traumafession on the same year’s THE BLOB reminded me that there is never enough SHAWNEE SMITH in my world. Like THE BLOB, I SAW WHAT YOU DID is an eighties update of an earlier classic (the 1965 original was directed by WILLIAM CASTLE and starred JOAN CRAWFORD) and no matter how you feel about remakes, who among us is strong enough to resist an eighties flavored spin on anything?

They sure picked the right director for this tale of phone abuse, FRED WALTON previously helmed the at least partially terrifying WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (not to mention its sequel and the much loved APRIL FOOL’S DAY). Although he sometimes makes you wonder what the difference is between suspense and stalling, there’s no mistaking that this isn’t WALTON’s first terror by telephone rodeo. Joining our pal SHAWNEE is future WISHMASTER foe TAMMY LARUREN and FULL HOUSE’s CANDACE CAMERON BURE as kid sis Julia. Our story involves the girls learning what we all must eventually learn, that if you keep making random prank phone calls you run the risk , at some point, of contacting at least one CARRADINE brother and that’s never a good prospect.

All right, maybe this flick won’t scare you but it’s fun, brimming with the giddy nostalgic pleasure of misbehaving as a kid whenever your left alone long enough to do so. It’s s tame for the most part but it’s not without a rather creepy slippery slope undercurrent. It sort of operates like a cross between 1985’s SMOOTH TALK and one of those paranoid educational films that offers up the worst case scenario for mischievous girls who stray from the proper path. As always, because it’s on YouTube you should not take it for granted that it will always be there and a DVD release is pretty unlikely, so I say check out below while you can and party like it’s 1988!