Name That Trauma:: Phil on Death by Laughter

Kindertrauma,

Can you help me? I’ve been trying to understand this memory for years:

It begins with the main character checking into a hotel or mansion to stay the night. That night, their sleep is interrupted by hysterical laughter. The next morning, they open the bedroom doors to investigate. There is a brief shot of a bed in disarray. In my memory, the bed is covered with blood and the corpse is visible, but that might be my imagination. This memory convinced me that I could be killed by my own laughter.

The source: I saw this on a videotape between 1981 and 1983. It was recorded by my grandma and shipped to us overseas. We were living in Paris, France, so there is a slim possibility that it was a French TV broadcast, but I’m pretty sure the actors spoke English, so it was probably one of Grandma’s tapes. Grandma mostly taped things off of Chicago area TV, but sometimes she would rent movies and cross tape them. She loved mystery anthology TV, so there’s a decent chance this was on a show like Mystery!

Incidentally, this is not the most traumatic thing Grandma sent us. That honor goes to Un burattino di nome Pinocchio. This Italian animated Pinocchio movie is way too true to the book. The animation walks the line between beautiful and deeply uncanny. “Highlights” include Pinocchio getting hanged from a tree, Pinocchio getting stripped naked and roasted over a fire by a blue cannibal, and the Blue Fairy dying while a bird explains it’s Pinocchio’s fault. If you’re not already aware of this childhood-ruining film, then you should be. It’s on youtube. I’ve tried to rewatch it, but the memories are too intense and I can’t last more than five minutes.

-Phil

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SmallDarkCloud
SmallDarkCloud
9 days ago

I’m curious about this one! It isn’t ringing any bells with me, though.

Carlo Collodi’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio is much darker than most film versions, though even the Disney film does capture some of that. In the book, Pinocchio accidentally squashes the cricket (a minor character). The earlier Roberto Benigni adaptation (he’s done two, one as Pinocchio and one as Gepetto) includes the hanging scene.