Name That Trauma A Go Go :: Grokenstein on Four (Count ‘Em) Four Freaky Films


I’ve been holding onto these for too long because they aren’t exactly horror-movie-type traumas; they range from artsy dramas to crime thrillers from the ’40s, but they all have something in common: they all disturbed the hell out of me at some point (as a child or as an adult), and Googling accomplishes nothing. I hope you can help!

Thanks in advance,


1. Made in South Africa? Dysfunctional black family moves into a suburban neighborhood. At one point, Mother is excited by dresses given to her by a clueless but well-meaning white lady neighbor. Angry daughter, offended by this “charity,” throws the dresses in a metal drum in the backyard and sets them afire; Mother tries to save the dresses and gets burned. (White lady is watching from her window, horrified.) Daughter is pregnant, perhaps through rape; has baby then kills it by deliberately dropping it on floor. Father and Mother decide to move. Father goes to retrieve the family’s life savings, but on the way home runs into “old friends” and comes home hours late, having gambled it all away. Mother yells at him. He slaps her. They pick up their few remaining possessions and start walking. THE depressing END. Late ’80s or early ’90s.

2. Two men scuffle in the off-limits area of some sort of large indoor aquarium, and one ends up being drowned. There is a wide shot from the inside of the aquarium in which we see the drowning man’s face screaming soundlessly at the top of the shot as a fish watches from a respectful distance. After the deed is done, the killer rolls the body into the tank with a big splash. Quite probably ’40s or ’50s.

3. Spy thriller? Mystery? Go-Go dancer meets her boyfriend, who is (unbeknown to her) a killer looking to set up the hero. Boyfriend knocks out/kills dancer with a karate chop (!) and throws her down some stairs. The hero finds the dead dancer just in time for the dancer’s co-worker to show up. Thinking the hero did it, she flees back to her room with him in pursuit. She pulls a gun on him and they struggle while he tries to explain. The gun goes off. The co-worker slides to the ground, fatally shot. As she dies, she whispers, “Explain this.” Definitely ’60s.

4. Euro-drama about a nanny/governess who bonds with a wealthy woman’s young daughter, to the increasing dismay of the girl’s emotionally-disturbed mother. The mother eventually fires the nanny to reclaim her role. The distraught little girl tells Mother that she will never love her. Mom responds by taking the girl’s doll and wrapping it in plastic. The hysterical girl screams that “(doll’s name)” won’t be able to breathe. Nevertheless, Mom puts the doll (still wrapped in plastic) away out of the crying girl’s reach. Cut to the nanny, walking away from the home with her bags; she narrates for a little bit (some soothing nonsense about how things eventually got better) and then the credits roll. Late ’80s/early ’90s again.

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11 years ago

I’m pretty sure #4 is Zelly and Me. Awful movie.

Binrow The Heretic
Binrow The Heretic
11 years ago

Don’t know the answer to any of the Traumas, but what the heck are the photos from?!?

unkle lancifer
11 years ago


Those are from “Jason of Star Command”

led tv ireland
11 years ago

Jason of Star Command, this movie sucks soo much that it sucks even writing about it…

Darren MacLennan
11 years ago

I _think_ that the film with the African-American film might actually be an Australian film, with Aborigines instead of African-Americans, but I’ll be damned if I can remember the name; the scene where the woman holds up the baby is one that I remember. I think that she sends it into the Dreamtime or something instead of actually killing it.


11 years ago

Darren: Oh, that was definitely the missing piece! We’re thinking of “The Fringe Dwellers,” directed by Bruce Beresford. It is indeed an Australian film about Aborigines. A lot of people were apparently put off initially by its bleakness.

I must confess, both “Fringe Dwellers” and “Zelly and Me”–which JM Kaye identified–were movies a roommate brought in decades ago, which I initially ignored while working at my desk, only to be in full jawdropped FTW mode by the end.

Thanks, both of you! …Now I just have to decide if I really want to subject myself to them again, or wrap myself in the far gentler trauma of the pit scene from “Toy Story 3.” (“Zelly” is only on VHS or online VHS-rip; “Fringe” is on Aussie DVD available through Amazon.)