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Name That Trauma :: Reader Chuckles on a Clan of Cannibals

July 14th, 2010 by aunt john · 8 Comments

Chuckles here in need of help.

I was visiting my grandparents in New Albany, Indiana (a town that is, incidentally, loaded to the gills with creepy lore) when I happened upon a television broadcast that kept me up until dawn. This would have been around 1980. It was a late-night showing on one of the local UHF stations – oh, how I miss them.

I am fairly certain that what I saw was a British horror film, but I might be wrong on that detail. However, I recall clearly that it reeked heavily of ‘70s fashion. The plot involved cannibals – not the kind that ate Michael Rockefeller but instead the kind that would invite their victims in for a game of cards before dispatching them. I remember that the main cannibal was an older woman but at some point she was joined by her daughter. One of the main conflicts involved a man – maybe the father or brother – who tried to cover up the crimes of the woman and her daughter.

The details are fuzzy but the two most traumatizing scenes are fairly clear: In the first, the older woman murders another woman by stabbing her with a flaming, red-hot poker and then starts to eat her. The second is the end of the film – a person (can’t recall gender) goes to the cannibals’ house and goes up to the attic. There we see the woman and her daughter with the body of one of their victims – possibly getting ready to chow down. In the final moments, the mother and daughter are closing in with a pitchfork or meat cleaver. The ending was very grim, very bleak – I’m not sure that I had ever seen anything like it before.

I have searched around for 1970s cannibal films but all I can seem to find are references to the more typical cannibal exploitation films – CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, etc. This film could be very obscure – UHF stations were not picky about what they showed on the night shift.

Can my fellow Traumaniacs help me out, or will I be left forever baffled?

UPDATE NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Thanks to kinderpal VicarOfVHS for the assist with FRIGHTMARE.

Tags: Name That Trauma!

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 VicarOfVHSNo Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I’ve got this one! The answer is Pete Walker’s FRIGHTMARE (1974)!

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Ah, Good job Vicar! That has got be it!

    I was going to say “Terror at the Red wolf Inn” but that didn’t make much sense.
    Frightmare, with the whole mother/daughter cannibal thing has got to be it!

  • 3 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

    The Vicar nailed it!  The film is definitely Frightmare!  The entire film is on Youtube as well!  Ok, I’m going to watch it right now.  I will report back with impressions.

  • 4 Liam ColeNo Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Wow! The spoof trailer for Bitch Killer (as seen on Man to Man with Dean Learner) uses EXACTLY the same style of titles as the Frightmare trailer. Instantly recognisable!
    Bitch Killer trailer here:

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Liam, that is awesome!!! You’ve got a better eye than “Ask Millie!” 

    I was just thinking when I watched the Frightmare trailer how cool and counter-intuitive that groovy font was!
    I think it’s so much more creepy than using typical horror-style titles.

  • 6 Dylan Donnie-DukeNo Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Just to back Chuckles up, I spent many a weekend of my misbegotten youth at the homes of various friend’s homes in New Albany, IN watching the cheesiest of exploitation flicks on Saturday nights before stealing over to Louisville to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the long-gone Vogue Theater.  (And apparently honing my mad run-on sentence skillz.)  I actually remember watching Frightmare on one of these weekends of cinematic debauchery.  It may just be me, but I think that Southern Indiana seems to enhance the effectiveness of even the lamest of horror films.

  • 7 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Jul 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Unk, no one on the planet has a better eye than “Ask Millie” – no one else could have ever made the connection between Flash and Supergirl.  Ever.
    OK, my impressions of “Frightmare” having just watched it again for the first time in approximately 30 years:
    1.  I can’t believe it has been 30 years!  I’m old….
    2.  I was surprised by how well I remembered those two scenes (the flaming impaler and the downbeat ending).  Can’t believe I did not remember the skull-drilling scene.
    3.  How in the world do you have a scene in a horror film where a girl is putting on her pants and the shot starts with her pants already on? (around 38:50)
    4.  Cannibal mom kinda reminds me of Sue Sylvester – C’mon – you see it now that I mentioned it, don’t you?
    5.  No bras anywhere.
    6.  One question – how does an ex-cannibal land such a kick-ass English country house?  Someplace that big that close to London would cost a fortune.
    7.  Overall – Not great but I’ve seen worse.  Pretty talky and some really hammy acting but the tone is decent – very grim and gruesome.  Bonus – plenty of unintentionally hilarious dialogue and performance, including the following exchange at 53:14.
    “She was a cannibal”
    “I’m sorry?”
    “I can’t put it more daintily than that I’m afraid.  She ate (pronounced “et”) people.”
    PS – Dylan DD – thanks for having my back!  My parents are preparing to buy a house in the New Albany area, having moved when we were kids and lived in Northern IN for many years now.  I, of course, have encouraged them to buy the creepiest place possible….

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm


    Thanks for the recap! I have to say the actress from Frightmare, Sheila Keith, scares the crap out of me. 

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