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...:::Traumafessions:::...

Dead & Buried (1981)

April 4th, 2019 · 10 Comments

The other night I was struggling with the age-old question of what to watch when I suddenly realized I was in the exact perfect mood for Gary Sherman’s 1981 shocker DEAD & BURIED. This must have been the very first R-rated movie I had ever seen because once upon a time, nobody asked about your age when you were in the back seat of a crowded car at the drive-in. You’d think that over the decades I’d come to find this movie less frightening than the first time I saw it and you’d be partially correct but the truth is, it still leaves me thoroughly creeped out. Here are some of the reasons I still find this underrated and relentlessly bleak, paranoid classic uniquely disturbing.

THE OPENING SCENE. D&B opens with a photographer taking photos on a beach. He meets a beautiful young woman (Lisa Blount) who slyly seduces him and just when he’s about to seal the deal, he is instead beaten by random townspeople, tied to a poll with a fishing net and then set on fire while the mob encircling him smiles and take photos. No matter how many times I see this movie, this startling introduction never fails to alarm me. Perhaps even more unsettling than the brutal violence is the way the fish netting twists, distorts and mutates the victim’s face. I can’t think of a more distressing visage, it’s as if it foretells the burn scars he’s about to acquire. Somehow the poor dude lives and is taken to a hospital but his recovery is short lived. Completely vulnerable and covered head to toe in bandages, he is visited by the same treacherous young lady who instigated his assault. Dressed in nurses’ garb she presents the worst remedy ever conceived- a hypodermic needle administered straight through the eye! Imagine surviving so much only to endure a crueler fate when you’re in the most vulnerable state imaginable- it all still upsets me. 

THE LOST FAMILY. Right smack in the middle of the film we
are unceremoniously introduced to a couple and their young son who are lost in
the remarkably foggy town. To avoid hitting a man that darts in front of their
car, they crash into a telephone pole. Although we’ll find out shortly the car
is quite operable, the beyond befuddled couple decides to venture into an
abandoned dilapidated house to search for ice for their child’s head (yes,
these people are insane). Making matters all the more surreal, the original
sound of this scene must have been lost because this entire portion of the film
is abysmally dubbed, resulting in tons of superfluous dialogue and general
awkwardness.

It seems every move and decision the trio makes is frustratingly ill-advised. At one point the mother even surmises that the owners of the (clearly abandoned) abode must be in the basement fixing the fuse box and suggests that her husband go down to verify her demented fantasy. It’s truly crazy-making watching this family stumble about while the shadows of maniacs wielding weapons loom just out of their view. Nonsensical and partially infuriating as this entire segment is, it’s also beautifully shot and genuinely unnerving to me. Eventually, crazy townsfolk are jumping out of every closed door and crevice like demented jack-in-the-box clowns engulfing the terrified trio. As the family somehow makes it back to their vehicle, the way the ravenous mob is presented as a mass of menacing silhouettes following them is stunningly nightmarish (and brings to my mind the finale of THE DAY OF THE LOCUST). It’s hard not to feel bad for the hapless child, who is dragged about like a suitcase throughout and has no say in the blundering decisions of his ineffectual guardians.

THE FOUND FOOTAGE. The entirety of D&B is filmed in a gloriously gauzy and grainy way that rather resembles peering through dusty cheesecloth. Remarkably the murky-visual-ante is upped even further when Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino) develops a mysterious roll of film for his wife (Melody Anderson) and decides to check out its horrific contents. I won’t give away the devastating plot point he discovers but I will say it is presented in a POV semi-snuff looking way that leaves you with the unclean feeling of having witnessed something vile and atrocious. Years before THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, D&B presented this grittier than a Philly mascot slice of visual miasma and it still feels as disorienting and downright icky as ever. I don’t know if it’s the leering oldsters, the decrepit surroundings or Joe (CHILD’S PLAY) Renzetti’s persuasive score but combined with the clips sleazy revelation it really gets under my skin. I can almost smell the moldy dank air as I write this and I also get a poisonously putrid Lovecraftian vibe. 

Not everything in D&B makes sense but I believe that is part of the reason I find it so disturbing. Some folks are able to “fall out” of a movie when it presents something that is unlikely to occur but I sometimes find such lapses in logic remind me of the relentless way an inescapable nightmare works. I get the feeling that the writers didn’t fully lock down exactly what is going down in Potter’s Bluff, there are mentions of voodoo, witchcraft, and pseudo-science but when a definite explanation is teased by the central culprit it is soon nipped at the bud with, “I’ll take my secrets to the grave.” I’m fine with that. I find the horror in DEAD & BURIED especially potent because it is so darn amorphous and impossible to fully pin down. You get the sense that Potter’s Bluff is a town abandoned by light and rationality long ago and now it’s kind of stuck in an endless death spasm. I wish I could chalk up the way DEAD & BURIED hits me in my psychological Achilles’ heal to mere nostalgia. The truth is the inescapable mortality that engulfs the town like an impenetrable fog may be even more unnerving to me today than it was when I witnessed it in my youth.

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Tags: General Horror · Traumafessions · Uncategorized

Traumafession:: Mike R. On a Disturbing Hunger Project Commercial

February 12th, 2019 · 5 Comments

Aha! I finally found it! Picture yourself a kid in the 1980’s. You are watching The Brady Bunch or an old horror or Sci-fi movie. Then, it goes to a commercial break. And after a Fruity Pebbles and record store commercial comes THIS.

It scared the hell out of me at first sight. And not only do you begin to see this commercial all the time; you don’t know when and if it will show up in a commercial break thereafter.

I began to fear commercial breaks. They showed it on Saturday morning TV, afternoon movies, Star Trek reruns. I had nightmares about this gaunt kid coming after me.  I would turn away from the TV on commercial breaks and fear the stab of creepy music. 

Mike R.

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Traumafession: Brian K. on Mister Rogers and a Dead Tree

February 6th, 2019 · 7 Comments

Okay, you ever have one of those childhood memories where you think ‘That couldn’t  possibly have happened, I must have misremembered it?’ But then it turns out it did happen?

I recall an episode of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood that must have aired in the very early 80s. The citizens of the Neighborhood of Make Believe are delighted to meet a tree that could both walk and talk. And then…SOMEONE MURDERS THE TREE! I distinctly remember one of the human characters grimly walking through the neighborhood, CARRYING THE TREE’S CORPSE, a la the father in Frankenstein carrying his dead daughter’s body through the village. I assumed I’d just hallucinated this, but I did a google search and apparently, it happened just as I remembered it: HERE.

This allegedly was Rogers’s response to children having to deal with a lot of high profile murders and attempted murders at the time (John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul). But what the hell, man? Really?

Did anyone else see this episode? Does anyone have a clip?
Love the website.
Brian K.

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Traumafession:: Andrew H. on The Believers (1987)

June 19th, 2018 · 4 Comments

For decades, I was haunted by a movie where a mom dies by getting electrocuted in a kitchen. I couldn’t remember the details and when I saw it, I didn’t know what the title was. It was a scene that terrified me and stayed fresh in my mind for nearly 30 years.

Recently, my wife and I went and saw Hereditary in the theater. We loved it. Once we got home, we immediately did a horror deep dive and started watching movies with similar themes. That’s what led me to the 1987 voodoo, child-sacrifice thriller The Believers.

The movie starts with the death of Martin Sheen’s wife by electrocution in their home. As his son watches terrified while screaming, Sheen’s wife played by Janet-Laine Green seizes up and dies in front of their eyes. That’s how the movie starts before we even get to the credits.

I was probably six or seven when I saw this on HBO around 1990. For years, I thought it was part of the film Pulse starring Cliff De Young, but it wasn’t and I could never track down the scene even when internet searches became an option. The thought of this movie where a mom got fried in her kitchen always stuck with me, lingering in the back of my mind and occasionally popping up.

Now that I’ve seen it again thanks to Heredity, I can say it’s not nearly as traumatic as I remember, but it’s still a very effective scene. I don’t recall trying to watch the rest of the film when I was younger, probably because I ran away from the television terrified, but as an adult I can say The Believers is a pretty good flick.

I recommend seeing this one not only for the scene that scared the hell out of me, but also for the other traumatizing parts in the film. The Believers features a lot of great familiar character actors and has a pretty great story written by Mark Frost of Twin Peaks fame. I liked it, even though it still kinda freaks me out.

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Traumafession:: Sophia D. on IT (1990)

May 15th, 2018 · 7 Comments

Something has been driving me crazy. I have a pretty clear childhood memory of a scene in the movie IT (1990) where Pennywise the clown says “Beat it, Audra! Beat it! Beat it!” in a mocking fashion and laughs scarily. But I’ve watched the movie a few times in the last couple years and the scene is mysteriously nowhere to be found. Google is no help and it’s making me BONKERS. Is this just something I hallucinated as a child? The only thing I’ve found that remotely corroborates my memory is this meme:

I know in the final scene Bill says “Beat it, Audra, beat it” while he’s trying to wake her up on the bike, but I swear I remember the clown saying it too. Does anyone else have this memory/can anyone produce a clip? Thank you!

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Amanda M. on Incident at Dark River (1989)

May 1st, 2018 · No Comments

I caught part of a movie on TV when I was a teenager. There was a little girl with a doll playing in a river. Soon, she becomes deathly ill and has to go to the hospital. Some time later they let her out, only she’s pretty much in a catatonic state, and only days later she dies. Her mother finds her body in her bed and begins screaming and crying. It was at this point I changed the channel, greatly disturbed by what I’d just seen. I never forgot it, though I didn’t know what the movie was. I tried to find it today, and although I discovered what it was, I couldn’t find it to watch online. It’s called Incident at Dark River: A Father’s Revenge (1989). I tried to find it on youtube, but all I could find was the trailer. There’s another movie called A Father’s Revenge, from 1988, but it’s not the same movie.

Here’s the trailer for Incident at Dark River:

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The Horror of Losing My Dear Wife by Randolph M.

December 6th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Dear KINDERTRAUMA brothers and sisters:

First of all, I would like to point out that my dear wife was an ardent Stephen King fan. She used to watch me browsing KINDERTRAUMA and giggle at the silliness of it all. To be able to take celluloid horror with a sense of humour like that is something she naturally had, and I didn’t. I took the movies/TV shows far too seriously as a child. She could chuckle at MAGIC, IT’S ALIVE, THE SHINING, SUSPIRIA, SCHIZOID or whatever Z-grade flick was showing at the local drive-in, etc. I couldn’t.

Nothing out of the wildest dreams of Dario Argento, Larry Cohen or her favourite Stephen King will ever match the horror I felt watching her die after battling breast cancer for seven years. If a director wants to make a truly horrifying movie, s/he will have cancer as the “monster in the dark,” ever lurking, always waiting. It is far more truly frightening than any bloody monster, mutant or alien.

I remember watching some of the old Hammer Horror flicks with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in her last weeks of life (including the unintentionally hilarious DRACULA: A.D. 1972), and considering how really silly they were compared to my lady warrior’s real-life struggle. She made Xena The Warrior Princess or Buffy The Vampire Slayer look like Mary bloody Poppins.

To all of the KINDERTRAUMEN: The next time your loved one wants to hold your hand or grab you whilst watching a horror flick…let them. You know what you are watching on TV, celluloid, DVD or your other favourite medium is fake and temporary. The REAL horror in life is losing someone you love, which I am facing right now. I would rather go face-to-face with “the Xenomorph,” the “Davis baby” or Damien Thorn.

I could binge-watch all of THE OMEN films and laugh at them compared to the real struggle of watching someone you love lose their final battle. The same goes for the silliness that was THE AMITYVILLE HORROR that was ultimately proven to be a hoax. Even the most effective horror directors can say “CUT!” and Robert Englund can go have coffee with his co-stars, or have fun playing Lou Cifer on MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN (which was a hilarious turn of form for Mr Englund!) taking the Bundys and their neighbours to Hell.

I cannot do that now. I remember watching the Director’s Cut of ALIEN when she and I were the only two people in the cinema and she would grab hold of me during the more suspenseful moments of Sir Ridley Scott‘s very effective “what-you-don’t-see-is-more-frightening-than-what-you-DO-see” direction.

We were going to rent THE CAR after I showed her the trailer on YouTube and have a good laugh at it.

All those reading: Enjoy the entertainment, frightful as it may be, with your loved ones, while you have a chance.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Mary C. on Bizarro Santa from Space Ghost Coast to Coast

December 4th, 2017 · 2 Comments

I recently ran into something that messed me up as a young child (6? 7?) and seeing how it was Christmas-related and it’s December now, I’d like to share it to you guys.

It’s Bizarro Santa from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

See, I was a huge fan of C2C, Zorak was the best, tied with Space Ghost, but this episode I’m not even sure what happened in it except there was Santa Claus and he was “ho ho ho”ing, and suddenly everything went dark as an eye grew from him and he mutated into his “true” form, an Eldritch thing dubbed “Bizarro Santa”.

Bloody hell. This was on Cartoon Network, mind you, the show had yet to move to Adult Swim. Thankfully I repressed it in time for the real Santa to deliver my presents, as I remember seeing it around the holiday season.

The episode in question’s called “Girl Hair“. Check it out.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Danielle P. on The Electric Company and Jack Bowser

October 25th, 2017 · 1 Comment

When I was a kid I grew up on PBS. There were some spooks here and there (like how Sesame Street started a phobia I outgrew around the time the subject I’m focusing on happened) but right now, I wanna talk to you about the 2010 Electric Company show. It’s not as good as the 70s although my brother and I watched it.

You had killer lollipops, Morgan Freeman as a vampire, and monolith words.

I had freaking Jack Bowser.

See, there were these stop-motion skits that sended up 24, starring a dog parody of Jack Bauer; “Jack Bowser.” He’d always be trapped somewhere and he had 24 seconds to read a sentence correctly or else he’d explode. And every time, he got out unscathed.

I don’t know about you, but these skits just creeped me out. The black background, the sound of the timer, and the creepy-looking dog. I remember always wanting the dog to die for some reason. It’s the sadist in me.

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Tags: Traumafessions

Traumafession:: Dustin in Minnesota on The Soupman (1980)

October 16th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Greetings traumathusiasts!

It’s been a long time since I have posted, but I do try to at least visit the site every week. This place has been great for naming my past traumas, especially now that IMDB removed all of their discussion boards.

That said, I am traumafessing this 1980 episode of the apparently religious program Insight. I saw the second half of this by chance once or twice around 1980 or 1981, and never caught it again. This episode is called “The Soupman,” and the part that scared 10-year-old me was how this gang treated Joey, one of their own members.

I had read books like “The Outsiders” and watched films such as “My Bodyguard” and “Over the Edge,” and had a fear of and fascination with delinquents.

I have attached a link to the episode (HERE).

Enjoy!

Dustin in Minnesota

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Tags: Traumafessions