Name That Trauma:: Marko on a Monster Kid

Hi, I hope someone can help me identify something I watched as a kid. None of the things I can remember may be reliable. It may have been from the 70s or 80s. The little I can remember is, a man goes to a mansion to do some type of work for a woman. I don’t think he was a workman, maybe a writer…detective…scientist I don’t know, but at the end the man sees a monster/alien child emerge from a dimensional portal and the monster kid keeps saying mama mama mama. It may have been from a horror anthology TV show or movie. Hope someone knows what it is.

Thanks, 
Marko

Name That Trauma:: Rick B. on a Giant Yellow Alien Ball

Hi,

While probably a benign little heart-warmer or lesson-imparter which was in no way meant to be unsettling, I’m haunted by a short film shown at summer camp. Reckoning it’s from the mid 70s to very early 80s, as the music was all burping Moog (at least in memory).

The most I can offer is a hazy recreation of a single moment… young girl at her open bedroom window, nighttime, she peers out into the woods and glimpses a large, (yellow?) ball come slowly bounding down the distant hillside, perhaps during high winds or a storm. I feel as though the ball was an alien visitor, maybe even a sinister presence? (And I’ve seen Dark Star, so this isn’t my memory conflating two extraterrestrial balls…)

That’s it. The rest was promptly erased by hikes, horseback, and failed attempts at leather-work. Hopefully enough for somebody to go on, any relief will be most welcome, with thanks in advance!

Cheers,
Rick B.

Nightbooks (2021)

I was feeling under the weather recently and wanted to watch a horror film but I wasn’t in the mood for anything that was going to bum me out or destroy my last shred of will to live (you know how it goes). Luckily I found the PG-13 dark fantasy/gateway horror flick NIGHTBOOKS hanging out on Netflix because it completely shifted my mood and delivered everything I could possibly ask for, especially during spooky season. It’s surprisingly dark and intense at times (I’m pretty sure it references SUSPIRIA) but there’s great humor too and the characters are super relatable and the message it delivers is something that’s useful no matter what your age. Based on a children’s book by J. A. White, it somehow successfully transported me back to the eighties and I was swearing I was watching a lost Joe Dante flick for much of the runtime.

Winslow Fegley stars as Alex, a kid obsessed with horror movies (posters for THE THING, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, CANDYMAN and others align his bedroom wall) and writing scary stories. Feeling alienated by others for his interests, he swears to forever reject his passions and destroy all of his writings in his Brooklyn apartment building’s furnace. Before he can achieve his goal though, he is enticed into a neighboring apartment where he spies a TV playing THE LOST BOYS and a tempting slice of pumpkin pie. Suddenly he is trapped in a newfangled telling of Hansel and Gretel with a wonderfully sinister witch named Natacha (Krysten Ritter who is aces and born for the part), her prisoner Yasmin (Lidya Jewett) and a trouble-making mystical cat (who I immediately fell in love with) named Lenore. To stay alive, Alex must rekindle his love of storytelling to entertain Natacha, and frankly, she’s a bit on the detail-oriented, critical side.

Our heroes may be trapped but their prison is a fantastic place to spend time for viewers. Natacha has an endlessly spiraling library, a neon garden full of truly threatening spider creatures and a menagerie of Hummel-like figures of her past victims. I don’t wish to spoil anything but what’s going on in her backyard is even more eye-popping, psychedelic and candy-coated Wonka glorious.

Eventually, strong bonds are formed, the mischievous cat reveals an appreciative heart and even Natasha inspires a tad of sympathy before her comeuppance. Most importantly, Alex learns that what makes him different is exactly what makes him special and I’m all for everybody getting down with that way of thinking. Do yourself the sweet favor of watching NIGHTBOOKS this Halloween season. It really is all any horror fan could wish for.

Name That Trauma:: Naja M on a Svengoolie Skeleton

Hi, The movie I am asking about is not one that scared me. I barely remember it. The reason I do want the name is because it’s the background of one of our most awesome childhood memories, and I really wish I had the name of the movie when I tell this story to people.

In the early 1970’s, I was 8 and my little brother was 7. We took a bus, by ourselves, 4 blocks down S. Ashland Ave to Chicago’s People’s Theatre on 47th Street to see a horror movie hosted by the ORIGINAL Svengoolie! Back then, an 8 year old could get into an R movie as long as they had money for a ticket. No one enforced the somewhat new ratings system. At that young age we were both already Svengoolie and horror movie fans because our babysitters loved to scare us on the weekends watching Svengoolie. We sat right up front in the old theatre watching Svengoolie do his thing in front of the movie screen. It was the time of our lives (up to that point haha).

Now for the movie. I barely remember it! I can remember there being a sit down dinner at a long table, possibly in a castle, but maybe an old mansion. Of course there was a pretty American blond at the table, as well as a few other Americans. They seemed to be visitors. The second (and only other) memory I have of the movie I think is near the end. A man is trying to get into a shed or cellar, maybe crawlspace. Once he gets the door open, the woman he loved is nothing but a skeleton and hair. The whole movie gives me a feel of Americans visiting England.

Does this ring a bell for anyone? I realize after this long that my memories may have taken on a life of their own.

Thanks! Naja M

P.S. This is my second submission over the past 10 years. Last time I think you got it after just a couple hours.