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

Traumafession:: Trouble on a Scary Santa Train

July 3rd, 2017 · 1 Comment

Pretty standard fare, I suppose:
I was three. There was a special attraction Santa Claus Train ride. Mom was all excited and I was, too. Then we got on the train. First came the clowns. Loud ones. With balloons. Cue me burying my head in mom’s lap and shrieking. Nonstop. Santa Claus came along and I screamed louder. He wouldn’t leave me alone.. One wrecked event for mama, and a lifetime fear of….wait for it….’tainsrides’ (?!) for me.

-Trouble

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Traumafession: Beth L. on The Believers

June 8th, 2017 · 1 Comment

Hey guys! I have a weird one for you. When I was about ten I watched a movie with my dad and for years I only remembered the very beginning. There was a scene with a mother making coffee who somehow electrocutes herself by standing in a puddle while touching a faulty coffee maker. It terrified me because I imagined it happening to my own mom and I still think about the scene sometimes when I make coffee. I was talking about it with a friend who told me it was called “The Believers” and I found the scene on YouTube! It’s dubbed but it’s definitely the scene I remember as a kid! I wanted to share it with you. Thanks for all the trauma memories!

Beth

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Traumafession:: Leia M. on Ghost, Six Weeks and A Mom for Christmas

May 30th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Evening,

The late hour, lack of work tomorrow and a bit of whiskey now necessitate that I point out a handful of unlikely traumas: those that appeared, not just in movies that wouldn’t be labeled as horror, but moves that are best known for their moments of romance and/or sentimentality. Yes, for a burgeoning existential only child in a spacious house with relatives much older than she, no piece of media could ever be guaranteed trauma-free.

I’ll start with what in my opinion is the most quality film on this list (which might not be saying much): GHOST, otherwise known as the sexy pottery movie. I think even as a child I was not one to concern myself with the supernatural, so it was not those elements of the movie that got to me. Rather, aside from the underrated gore of, say, a dude impaled on a broken window pane, the scenes of karmic revenge filled me with a disturbing moral ambivalence. It was quite possibly GHOST that made me realize it brought me no pleasure to actually see bad guys tortured. Though I found said bad guys repulsive and wished them no happy returns, watching their abject terror and confusion over the onslaught of an invisible antagonist still left me more sad than satisfied. In retrospect, this was probably a very formative moment.

Now to travel down quite a few notches to a movie that made Roger Ebert’s worst-of list back in 1982 (my birth year, by the way). SIX WEEKS is one of those films you caught on network TV in the middle of a Sunday afternoon and years later barely believe you saw what you saw. The romantic leads are WHO? The plot was WHAT? And didn’t a, like, twelve year old dying girl talk about wanting to have sex all the time?

But the weird matter-of-factness and, dare I say it, realness, of stuff like a dying twelve-year-old talking about how sex is on her bucket list – because OF COURSE IT IS – is just the kind of thing that could draw young me into a sappy mess like this vehicle to begin with. And I barely remember anything about the ride… except the dread I felt over the constant awareness of this girl’s expiration date. And the harrowing – yes, I’m saying harrowing – sudden death scene where she’s on top of the world in the subway, swinging around the poles, and suddenly she’s screaming in pain from a terrible end-of-life headache the science of which remains ambiguous (she’s got leukemia she chose not to treat), then looking her father-figure straight in the eyes before collapsing. I mean, just effing awful and sad, all the more because I can’t remember the other technical weaknesses about the movie that no doubt make it dumb.

And finally, at the bottom of the schmaltz totem pole: A MOM FOR CHRISTMAS. Yep, a Disney family holiday movie with Olivia Newton John. I’m just going to let you take a minute to read the plot synopsis from imdb:

The story revolves around 11-year-old Jessica (Juliet Sorcey), whose mother died when she was three years old. Her father, Jim (Doug Sheehan), is a workaholic with little time for his daughter and hasn’t been able to spend time with her since her mother’s death 8 years prior and still seems to be mourning her. Just before the Christmas holiday season, Jessica wins a free wish from a wishing well. Her wish for a mother for Christmas is granted by Philomena (Doris Roberts) and Amy (Olivia Newton-John), a department store mannequin, is brought to life to be a mom for Jessica. However, there is a catch and Amy can only be a mother to her until Christmas Eve.

Now I ask you: What about this DOESN’T scream horror movie? Yet my life experiences up to this moment have led me to believe I am the only person who has ever entertained this thought. Aside from being yet another movie that, like SIX WEEKS, filled me with the dread of a terrible countdown to The End (Amy, a.k.a. Mommy, in essence will die on Christmas Eve), there’s a disturbing moment where the little girl has a spat with Amy, and out of hotheadedness wishes for her wish to be reversed, which causes her to look across into Amy’s apartment window AND SUDDENLY SEE HER AS A LIFELESS JOINTED MANNEQUIN, when it later turns out she is actually fine. GAH!

So there you have it. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts! As much as this site has taught me about horror films, some of my favorite scares (and entries on this site) have been those that are a bit less likely.

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Traumafession:: Eric D. on The Death of the Guyver

May 29th, 2017 · No Comments

EVIL TOONS. What do a babysitter, the Japanese and cartoons have to do with personal trauma? Don’t worry this isn’t a molestation story, Pearl Harbor is safe and despite the title, this has nothing to do with Fred Olen Ray‘s 1992 film, which I rather enjoyed- you should check it out. Think cartoons are kids stuff? Well, this has to do with some very “different” cartoons from the ones you probably grew up with…

When I was a kid, I got sent to a school guidance counselor because I would draw pictures of monsters eating people, etc.; people were clearly worried. Having reassured said guidance counselor that they didn’t have a little maniac on their hands-at least not one that would act out-I was given a clear bill of mental health. Flash forward some time and a chance encounter with certain anime had me questioning whether anyone was checking on the collective mental health of the Japanese.

During a babysitting session with a friend and his older sister, we watched what would be my introduction into a substratum of the cartoon world I couldn’t have possibly imagined existed and which would end forever the child’s innocence under which I labored. It was called The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor, specifically the fifth episode “The Death of the Guyver“.

It was the most brutal vicious violent thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe what I was watching and it took me a long time of quiet reflection to come to terms with what I had just witnessed and it ultimately rearranged the way I viewed the world and our place and role in it. I didn’t know cartoons killed one another- I mean, after all, to the best of my recollection, this never occurred on The Flintstones; I don’t recall Fred ever bashing Barney’s brains out in one of his frequent fits of rage.

The thing that struck me about The Guyver as I got older is that aside from the combination of sci-fi and horror and the initial shock of the violence, there are themes which in my younger years, went way over my head. It explores the great unknown of human origins and our purpose on this planet and comes up with an impersonal answer-in essence we are all biological weapons of alien origin- can anyone really say we aren’t? I can’t.

Little did I know that The Guyver was far from the only, let alone the most brutal horror anime out there. As I worked my way through the Elysian Fields of the video store isles I would come to know the anime section very well. What I found went far beyond what the western horror films I avidly consumed would show; everything from rape (sometimes of the tentacle variety), torture, cannibalism, mutilation and child killing all rendered in excruciating detail.

Urotsukidoji, Violence Jack, Genocyber, DevilMan, Ninja Scroll; all contained the violent, unsparing, anti-humanist ethos of violence as an inseparable, essential part of the whole of life, which we Westerners are so removed from and fearful of. Thank the universal force for reacquainting me with these facts through the medium of cartoons.

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Traumafession:: Reader Clegane on Aguirre, the Wrath of God

May 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

Greetings from Ukraine! I’m a long-time lurker of your amazing site and want to tell my little story of Kindertruma and TV. I was eight and was alone at home, I was sick from school, ma was at work, pa went out to the shop and told me not to play with matches, not climb on windowsills, the usual stuff. So I sit and found TV. And found Aguirre, the Wrath of God

I was eight, I didn’t know a thing about what’s happening on screen, but I knew that I see a walking Death himself. I was scared. I forgot how to turn TV off. And there was no one else in the house.So I watched all the movie. All the movie. Until the raft. And then my pa returned. And said the worst thing to top the movie, “This is a real story.”

The second story is much worse. I was ten or eleven and got a children’s book from the library. About how Cortez conquered Mexico. And found a description of Aztec market: pots, clothes, baskets, edible dogs, slaves, red pepper, jade things, human flesh. WHAT?! I reread the paragraph twice. Nope. I threw the book away and looked into the ending of it right away. It was the first part! Aztecs gave Cortes a big battle and he lost. The library didn’t have the second part. I was quite afraid to ask about anything Mexico-related for three weeks.

Thanks for your awesome site again!

Reader Clegane

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Traumafession:: John Shipley on Beyond The Door’s TV Spot

May 18th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Greetings Kindertrauma friends! I’d like to share some trauma.

When I was child, nearly every piece of horror I came across freaked my shit, whether it was a photo in Cornelius Ryan’s “A Bridge Too Far” or a snippet of Night Gallery caught from behind the couch. And because my parents didn’t let me watch scurry movies — and it was the 1970s — I only caught random sounds and images. Inevitably, they were built up to be much more terrifying than they really are, or ever could be. And nothing — NOTHING — freaked my shit more than the TV ads for “Beyond the Door.” Seeing it now (thanks, YouTube!) it’s easy to see why. And just so you know, I was 8, so those “Exorcist” ads were terrifying, as well, and because it was a prestige picture — and a runaway hit — would show up during tame prime-time fare. But that campaign was subtle — a slamming door, the shaking bed, the candle-flame exploding. But they were teasers, and saved the best stuff for the actual experience of watching the movie. The “Beyond the Door” campaign actually crammed most of the best stuff into 30 seconds: the head 360, the makeup, the devil voice, levitation! Plus, it was Juliet Mills of Nanny and the Professor, with green teeth and yellow eyes. So help me God, she had yellow eyes! It got so bad that I would see her standing there in the baby blue nightgown and immediately plug my ears and cover my eyes and peak at the mayhem from between my fingers. I grew up in the Bay Area but have a friend from Baltimore who has similar Kindertrauma from this one.

John Shipley

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Traumafession:: GCG on The Toolbox Murders (1978)

May 16th, 2017 · 1 Comment

“Will you take me? Take me to your secret world again…”

Watching the original The Toolbox Murders recently, I suddenly realized I had seen this movie already when two kitschy plaques appeared on the wall of doomed masturbator Dee Anne Devore’s apartment. In Old-West-saloon font, one read: “BEER 5¢ a glass.” The other was square and orange, showing Linus sitting with his thumb in his mouth, holding his security blanket, an illegible remark in a word balloon above him. It’s the kind of stuff you find in Salvation Army stores tossed on dusty, half-empty metal shelves. I knew with immediate clarity upon seeing the second plaque that I had secretly rented the film on VHS in 1982 while my parents were away for the weekend. It was in an oversized clamshell case, courtesy of VCI, with the “Bit by bit… by bit, he carved a nightmare!” tagline, the hammer pictograph in place of a capital T in the title, the man in the black balaclava holding a drill, and the terrified woman with recoiling forearms strategically covering the nipples of her bare breasts. Pure sleaze. I have no idea how I rented it at the age of eleven, because the proprietor of that same store had refused to rent Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip to me another time I was alone in his shop. Safeguarding me from the F-word and honest descriptions of the black experience in America, he decided I could handle the cruelest misogyny in the saddest ‘70s apartment building in Southern California: El Patio del Sequoia (which exists to this day in all its stucco glory as the Saticoy Villa Grande in Canoga Park; the sequoias are now palm trees).

But it was not the nail-gunning of a naked porn star that reminded me I had seen this video nasty, which, by any measure, is a memorable scene, especially backed by George Deaton’s melancholic easy-listening country music from which I quoted the lyric above. No, it was the glimpse of Linus that reminded me, and I knew, too, what the illegible word balloon contained, because I had this same orange plaque on my bookshelf as a child.

Linus says: “I love mankind… It’s people I can’t stand!!”

Oddly enough, this sentiment captures my attitude at 46, but I didn’t feel this way as a child, so I have no idea why a self-fulfilling prophecy was propped to one side of my dog-eared Susan Cooper books back then. But like any bric-a-brac that routinely crosses your field of vision as a child, the image of this plaque remains in the shallowest reach of dormancy, to the extent that the color orange reminds me of this plaque before it reminds me of anything else quintessentially orange: pumpkins, road cones, circus peanuts, Protestants in Northern Ireland.

I also love Linus’s sentiment in the context of The Toolbox Murders, a slight revision of which might represent Vance Kingsley’s Weltanschaaung: “I love my dead daughter… It’s women I can’t stand!!” Kingsley’s dichotomous virgin-whore rampage punishes prostitutes, lesbians, and self-pleasuring bean-twiddlers alike. His equally misogynistic nephew (Wesley Eure from Land of the Lost) even drops the murdered Devore’s dildo vibrator like a severed limb once he realizes what he’s holding. “That’s disgusting!” he says in reference to perhaps the least disgusting thing in this movie.

Watching the film the other night, I didn’t really remember Uncle Vance’s kills (outside of what I could recall reading about them online)—in order: spade drill bit for the middle-aged woman who apparently had a regular dalliance with Kingsley, perhaps in the way of sex work; claw of a hammer and a screwdriver for the thinly coded lesbian couple; and, of course, nail gun for the explicit masturbator. None of the gratuitous nudity and death seemed familiar until that orange plaque appeared. Maybe in my just faintly pubescent oblivion, the rawer moments did not disturb or register as deeply as misanthropic Linus in a field of orange.

What all horror movie aficionados/–das see in their minds’ eyes when they hear or read “Toolbox Murders”—whether they’ve seen the movie or not—is the quickly deteriorating sobriety of Cameron Mitchell’s dumpy figure in a black trench coat and that balaclava with the halo of red and white stripes. Until I saw the film recently (apparently for the second time), I could never distinguish that poster image from an actual viewing experience. To bring this story to an overweening pretentious height, the Linus plaque brought specificity and certainty to my inexact memory, in the same way that Proust suddenly had several thousand pages of personal precision to relate after tasting that madeleine dipped in lime tea. Instead of a life of fin-de-siècle French privilege and aesthetic emotional discernment, I just had a sleazy date with Dennis Donnelly’s cash grab, but it’s more about the trigger’s mechanism than the substance of what was triggered.

I know now what I was forgetting or repressing since the age of 11, and it wasn’t boobs and blood. It was the plain dreariness of settings drawn from everyday life, and there’s nothing more quotidian than El Patio del Sequoia in 1977. People being murdered here is the least of their problems—or I should say: What else could you expect in a place like this?

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Traumafession:: Unk on the Masks in A Gun in the House (1981)

February 22nd, 2017 · 1 Comment

I’m currently trapped in a scary mask spiral and the swirling center of said spiral seems to be the year 1981. After being reminded of the hosiery-headed creep in THE BOOGEY MAN (or THE BOOGEYMAN depending on where you live) I had a flashback to the fateful night I recorded SNL as a kid and accidentally captured the terrifying commercial for NIGHTMARE (or NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN depending on where you live) which concludes with a dude in a grubby mask hammering down a splintering bedroom door (HERE).

But for my money the scariest 1981 masks of all just might be the ones found in the TV movie A GUN IN THE HOUSE. Although AGITH ends up being rather wishy-washy and long-winded, it sure has its share of harrowing moments especially for a small screen affair. I mean, if I never see SALLY STRUTHERS being forced to crawl on her knees while masked intruders (whose relationship seems directly lifted from THE HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980)) laughingly pour peach brandy on her head again, that will be fine by me. There’s no doubt this dramatization of the perpetually hot topic of the pro and cons of gun ownership was strongly influenced by the plethora of masked slashers then currently stalking cinemas (one of the masks even looks like it could be a left over prop from the previous year’s TERROR TRAIN). In any case, I know I was one kid who got a little bit more freaky strife than he bargained for tuning into to this flick way, way back in the day. So let’s make your old UNK squirm in his seat and check out the frightening masks from A GUN IN THE HOUSE below….

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Traumafession :: Reader Donny O. on The Last Starfighter

February 6th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Hey guys,

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

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

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Traumafessions:: Jason L. on When Havoc Struck and The Acid Queen

January 17th, 2017 · 4 Comments

I’m sure you all are going to laugh but here’s my first (and probably worst) Kindertrauma.

In the late 70s, on Wednesday nights, my parents would go to church and leave me with my grandparents. I’d sit and watch TV with them for an hour until my parents came home. I remember watching The Muppet Show and this show right after called When Havoc Struck. That week my grandpa said “We’re gonna watch these bridges collapse on TV”. Sounded like a fun time (not). If you’ve ever watched WHS you know it starts with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (the familiar dun dun dun dunnnnnnn) with a fiery looking logo. Then Glenn Ford comes on and introduces various incidents of disasters/accidents, etc. The tone of the show is already scary from the images, movies, sounds and music.

This episode showed exactly what it said it would, bridges falling down. Halfway into it, they show the 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse. It’s the actual movie reel of the actual bridge collapsing. The bridge was susceptible to high winds and it would move up and down with the wind. Then one day it twisted itself to death and it collapsed. I remember being a little freaked out at this until they actually showed a picture of the roadway rocking back and forth. This (I don’t know why) scared the hell outta me. I ran into the kitchen and hid in the laundry room until it was over. I was shaking and my mom had to give me medicine to calm down so I could sleep. Then that night I dreamed about it.

It took a long long time before I could actually open a book about bridges and see the pictures of it. THEN in the early 90s, a commercial for Pioneer car stereo featured the bridge. At first I was shocked but then I enjoyed watching it and laugh about how I thought this was scary.

So, what brought me here is that episode is now on Youtube for all the world to see:

And the commercial:

And yes, The Acid Queen scared me too.

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