My Kindertrauma:: The Fly (1958) By Unk

The weather is so incredibly perfect today that it reminds me of the days in my youth when I’d hide away in a wood-paneled TV room with the air conditioner blasting, watching classic horror movies like THE FLY (‘58). I can never thank local Philly stations like 17, 29, and 48 enough for providing such perfect escape from the sun and my fellow humans. I’ve got a soft spot for many a classic monster movie but I have to admit there’s something special about THE FLY because it truly horrified me in ways that many could not. It’s just such a grotesque and tragic concept and the ending is just plain freaky.

Ironically I don’t believe anyone is even in any real physical danger throughout the course of most of the film.  It’s really about the horror of making a humongous mistake that try as you might you just can’t fix, and then eventually begging someone you love to help you commit suicide so you can escape your hideous error. Somehow the relatable humanity of it all makes it more uncomfortable for me to watch than its peers. It stresses me out way down deep like a record scratch or a creased book cover or a stain on a favorite shirt.

Incomparable Vincent Price stars as Francois Delambre who learns his sister-in-law Helene (Patricia Owens) likely crushed his brother Andre (David Hedison) in a hydraulic press. It seems like a pretty indefensible act until you learn that poor Andre was sporting the head of a housefly thanks to colossally botching an experiment with a molecular transporter. To be fair, his intentions were swell, if it worked the transporter would have made all transit obsolete, but by some bad luck (or karma for previously testing the device on a cat) a house fly flew into the machine and their molecules got all kinds of mixed up. The only way to possibly fix things is to find the housefly that now has a miniature human/Andre head and reverse the process. This is when I start getting agitated and my neurosis kicks in. How the hell are you supposed to find a fly? They are so hard to wrangle! Worse still, in my mind, is that Andre’s son actually catches the fly but is told to let it go by his mother who is ignorant of the dilemma at the time! When Helene finally does understand the gravity of the situation she has several opportunities to capture the fly and louses every single one of them up. It’s very frustrating to behold and if I were her, I’d probably never stop kicking myself. If you are a person cursed with both morbid self-criticism and chronic empathy you don’t want to witness any of this. It’s as exasperating as watching a bank heist gone wrong movie.

But it’s the ending of the film that delivers my kindertrauma. After everyone involved has failed spectacularly in every possible way, the fly with Andre’s head is spotted in a spider web in the garden (too late to save Andre from his crushed skull but not too late to verify that Helene isn’t an insane murderer). Consistent with everyone’s luck in this movie, tiny Andre is wrapped in webbing, about to be eaten by a huge (compared to him) spider and is screeching in a high-pitched wail “Heeeelp Meeee!” I acknowledge that this scene is so bizarre that it reflects many shades of unintentional humor as well, but the look of abject fear and pitiful helpless misery on Andre’s face is profoundly disturbing. His expression kind of reminds me of the stretched-out distorted ghoulish faces that scream in the opening credits of NIGHT GALLERY; visages that also cause me anxiety. He’s just so minuscule and powerless in the face of a heartless devouring universe (and perhaps they all are). Mercifully he is crushed by a rock.

Somehow all ends (momentarily at least) well in THE FLY. Helene’s good name is cleared and Uncle Delambre and his nephew basically skip off to the circus. I, on the other hand, remain tormented by what I’ve seen and can still hear that horrid pleading voice buzzing in my head, “Heeelp Meee”!

My Kindertrauma:: Satan’s Triangle (1975) By Unk

Over the years I’ve brought up the 1975 made-for-TV movie SATAN’S TRIANGLE numerous times on these pages. For some reason though, I’ve never truly dived into my own personal experience with the film, which is bizarre when you consider it is my ground zero Kindertrauma and the main catalyst for this space even existing. SATAN’S TRIANGLE destroyed my fragile psyche for a good long while. It haunted my mind like no other and there was a time when I never thought I’d escape its grasp. Of course, like many a Kindertrauma, it’s likely a major factor in my becoming a horror fan too, as it hard wired me into forever searching for another film that I could be so deeply mortified by, gnaw upon, and eventually find some kind of gratifying truce with. I was eight years old, and I begged my mother to allow me to watch it. It was the seventies; nothing was more intriguing than the Bermuda Triangle or Satan. I thought it would be exciting and fun (it was for a bit). I didn’t know that the simple act of sleeping was going to become an impossible obstacle; I didn’t know my little brain could torture me so.

SATAN’S TRIANGLE concerns a boat discovered by the coast guard that is occupied by three dead bodies and a terrified female survivor. Doug McClure portrays Lt. J. Haig who is unable to safely remove Eva (Kim Novak) from the vessel thanks to helicopter issues and must then spend the night on the boat as she recounts the events that lead to the tragedy. She explains that the ship came across a strange priest drifting in the ocean and brought him on board only for supernatural happenings to occur resulting in the deaths of all aboard, most notably a man seemingly floating in the air in one of the cabins. Haig is easily able to explain the natural causes for all the events including the floating man who is actually pierced on a mounted swordfish. All is well and the gist of the tale seems to be about proving that every so-called supernatural happening has a perfectly logical explanation behind it. What a relief, except the next day when the two are picked up by the helicopter it is discovered that the corpse hanging from the mast was actually a woman and not the priest (Alejandro Rey) as previously believed (and seen). As this news is relayed aboard the helicopter, Eva begins to smile in a horrifically sinister way and suddenly transforms into the priest who throws Haig out of the helicopter and ominously demands for the soul of the terrified pilot who opts to crash into the water instead. Shortly after, Haig is seen floating in the ocean flagging down rescuers now sporting the most creepy, evil grin on his face! He’s not Haig, he’s the shape-shifting Devil!

It was over and I proudly survived. Sure the movie sorta sneakily lead me down one path only to slam me with a psychological lead pipe from behind when I was ill-prepared but I was still standing (for now). I took my victory lap up our carpeted Brady Bunch-style open staircase and then I came to my bedroom door. But it wasn’t my door anymore. It was a black, rectangular void leading into an infinite abyss. I could not go into that room. I cried and I begged and my mother, in her infinite apathy, delivered threats and eventually pushed me inside. What was I afraid of? There was nothing there. Only darkness….and the devil… the devil could find me anywhere.

All I’d have to do is think of him and he’d see me like a glowing lighthouse and find me. He’d possess me and take my soul and nobody would know I didn’t exist anymore. I’d be replaced and nobody would miss me. Hiding under the covers I devised a plan- all I’d have to do is NOT think of Satan and then I’d be safe! Ever tried not thinking of something? It’s hard. Try not to think of a blue elephant and guess what? He’s right there in the center of your mind; maybe he’s even tap-dancing or riding on a unicycle or…devouring your soul and taking over your body.

My mind was not my own and it would not shut up. I want to say this went on for months but maybe it was just weeks in kid-time. Every night, as I tried to sleep, I’d fear Satan would come and get me, alerted to my existence by my betraying loudmouth brain. I remembered the illustration of him in my Bible book and I knew he was real because that book only dealt in cold hard facts like the story of Noah’s Ark. My lone comfort was a red transistor radio that would distract me but sometimes the song “Someone’s Knocking on the Door” by Wings would come on and I’d become so terrified that the “someone” knocking on my door was Satan that I’d have turn it off. I was sure if I ever saw the movie again I’d lose my mind. I’d even check the TV Guide to make sure it wasn’t airing. The only thing that saved me was pure exhaustion. One night my brain tried to pull me toward the hell-zone but I was simply too tired to torture myself anymore. And that was it. I got older and it kindly became a fuzzy memory.

When I was an adult and the Internet came around, this TV movie was the first thing I searched for. I wasn’t even sure if it was real or just a dream at that point. I had even forgotten the title. But I found it! It was real! I ordered a bootleg VHS of it (which I’m sure I still have). Did I dare watch it? Would I go insane if I did? I watched it again as an adult and I loved every creepy minute of it. Certainly, other people had similar bugaboo films that caused havoc on their peace of mind as kids. I wanted to hear their stories and feel less alone. That’s pretty much how Kindertrauma came to be. I’m not a very social person but I found if I ever asked a person “What movie traumatized you as a child?” I was always fascinated and strangely comforted by the answer (and I always will be).

SATAN”S TRIANGLE ultimately became a big part of my life but what was once a negative experience transformed itself, thanks to some kind of alchemy, into a positive one. I’ve gotten over my childhood fear (and I now love that Wings song) but I have to admit that every now and then I’ll witness a certain type of insincere duplicitous smile and I can’t help feeling something churn deep down in the pit of my soul.

Traumafession:: Cosmo M. on The X-Files episode “Badlaa”

Oh, my goodness! The first time I experienced kindertrauma happened in 2001 when I was 7 years old and THE X-FILES was a popular tv show. Deep Roy played a character called the “Badlaa” which is also the title of the episode. In this episode, the little monster crawled inside you, and ate you from the inside out! His character seriously scared the crap out of me for years after I first witnessed him. I vaguely remember seeing him on a cart without any legs, starring into the camera after someone jumped into the pool, and exploding out of a dead person’s stomach at the coroner’s office.

The way he was depicted sitting on the dolly gave me the creeps. I had never seen anything that didn’t have any legs before. Those shiny brown stubs, that I now know were just his knee caps, just made my imagination run wild. The fact that he didn’t have legs was disturbing to me and the implications for how his character lost his legs made me lose sleep for years when I would imagine what the experience was like losing your shins.   

The pool scene was horrific as well. I remember there was a teenager that fell victim to the Badlaa in a pool, whom I could empathize with. My family would frequent the local pool in the neighborhood as well as the pool at my dad’s local gym. Some folks have the unreasonable fear of a shark in the swimming pool, but not me. All I could imagine was Deep Roy swimming after me. It probably made me a better swimmer because if the thought of his character ever popped into my head, I would ace it to the edge of the pool and hop out.

Lastly, there was that scene when he pops out of a dead person’s stomach when agent Scully was performing an autopsy, jeez! I can remember that hand popping out of that person’s guts covered in blood sending shivers down my spine. There were blood streaks across the floor from where he scooted across after exiting the dead man’s belly. Oh man, truly disturbing for a young child.

However, these experiences have led me to have an affinity to the horror genre. There’s nothing quite like a good controlled scare; it helps us feel alive. Gets an emotion out of us that’s also fun to experience. The gory scenes from the TV show set fourth my appreciation for the artform as well. Some of my peers don’t quite understand why I like gory films. Obviously, they are fake but the effort people put in to make our stomachs churn is real and I’m thankful for all the hard work that goes into them. At the time when I was a kid, it seriously freaked me out but in my adulthood I’m thankful I have an appreciation for the artform of horror. 

Traumafession:: Director Chris Moore on Night of the Living Dead (1968)

I wasn’t usually allowed to watch horror films as a kid unless they were rated PG (or possibly PG-13 if my folks were feeling liberal) or if they were on TV where all the gore, sex, nudity, and language would be cut out. The general rule was that, if it was made before 1970 or so, it was probably okay for me to see. With this rule in place, I tried my hardest to find whatever appropriate horror films I could get my hands on. 

One night, while browsing the aisles of my favorite mom and pop video store, Video Library, I saw it. It was staring back at me, taunting me with its bright pink border surrounding a garish and gory piece of art in the middle. It reminded me of the outside of those cheap haunted house rides I’d see at the state fair every October. People were chewing on human flesh, a car was on fire, and a bloody woman was screaming at the bottom. I had to know what horrors were contained inside this tape!

I brought the tape to my father who inspected it, looked at the back of it, and nodded with approval. It was black and white and not rated. How bad could it be? He even said he’d watch it with me in case I got too scared. “Night of the Living Dead!”, he said. “I remember this one. You’ll be fine.”

We got back home, popped the tape in the VCR, and the film started with a static shot of an old country road like many of the ones we had on the outskirts of town. The music was foreboding, but I had my dad there. What could go wrong?

While the first scene did make me uncomfortable, I didn’t get the first true jolt until Barbara got to the farm house, went upstairs, and saw the decomposing head on the staircase. I shrieked when she did and covered my eyes. Maybe I wasn’t ready for this. 

I got my wits together and powered through the rest of the movie, still uncomfortable and terrified I’d have to see that terrifying head again. This movie wasn’t like the Vincent Price horror movies I’d seen. This was stark, brutal, and took no prisoners. No one was safe, including the audience. 

It wasn’t until young Karen came towards her mother in the basement that I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and I might not be able to handle the rest of this movie. As she approached her hapless mother and grabbed a garden tool off the wall, I could feel my palms getting sweaty. Surely, they weren’t going to show this, were they? As Karen backed her mother into a corner and started stabbing her to death, I ran out of the room, screaming. 

I didn’t see the rest of the film for at least another decade and, if you want to know the truth, every time I see that scene, I still want to run out of the room. Thank you, George Romero, for giving me one of my first true horror film experiences. 

UNK SEZ: Our good pal Director Chris Moore (BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN, TRIGGERED, A STRANGER AMONG THE LIVING) has an awesome new movie out called CHILDREN OF SIN and as usual, it’s as thought provoking as it is fright inducing! Check out the trailer HERE!

Traumafession:: James Lewis of LARPing Real Life on Reflections of Murder (’74)

The Frankenstein Monster, submerged in a bathtub, slowly emerges from the water and sits bolt upright. Its hair is matted to its squared-off skull. The dark, half moons of its dead eyes are rolled back in their sockets. It steps out of the tub, dripping water on the floor, and towers over a cowering woman in a white gown…

I have carried that image in my mind for as long as I can remember. I’m fifty years old now, and I can recall being terrified by it as a child of five. For 40+ years, I had no idea where that image came from or why it’s played on a never-ending loop in my head. Unable to track down its source, I’d come to accept the possibility that there was no movie, no TV show from which it came. It was just something my five-year-old brain invented, something it created to deal with some real life fears, perhaps. As a last ditch effort, I thought I would reach out to the Kindertrauma crew with a “Name That Trauma” post. It couldn’t hurt, right?

Before I could pen that post, however, the universe figured it had tortured me enough and decided to cut me a break. By chance recently, I caught sight of a video thumbnail on YouTube that stopped me dead in my tracks. There it was. THERE IT WAS! The very image that had haunted me all my life. The exact image! Feelings of excitement and relief swept over me…as well as a sense of confusion. It seems that the Frankenstein Monster of my nightmares was really…Sam Waterston?

The source of my lifelong trauma is a made-for-TV movie called Reflections of Murder. A remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 classic suspense film Les Diaboliques, Reflections of Murder aired on ABC in November of 1974 (when I was three!). It was written by Carol Sobieski, who also wrote The Toy (1982), Annie (1982) and Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and directed by John Badham, who would go on to direct feature films like Saturday Night Fever (1977), Dracula (1979), Blue Thunder (1983), and WarGames (1983). Starring opposite Sam Waterston and completing the movie’s love triangle are Tuesday Weld and Joan Hackett.

I hit play on Reflections of Murder as soon as I saw that thumbnail, but I don’t know if my viewing was a watch or a rewatch. Though my mother and father were as lax as most 70s parents when it came to my TV-watching habits, I doubt that they would have let me watch the picture with them in 1974. I can only imagine that I saw the image of Sam Waterston in the tub in a commercial, and it stuck, shambling after me my whole life like a Romero zombie. Many years later, I saw Les Diabolques, and when Paul Meurisse as Michel rises up out of his own tub of water, I had the feeling that it was familiar, but the camera angles were somehow all wrong. He sat up on the right side of the screen, looking left; my Frankenstein Monster looked to the right. Little details, sure, but they were big differences to my memory.

So how did reliving the source of my childhood nightmares go? When Sam Waterston emerges from the bathtub to surprise his wife, I have to admit to being a tad underwhelmed, but not by much. It’s hard not to compare and contrast it to the same scene in Les Diaboliques. The distorting effect of the water does much to contort Waterston’s face as he sits up. The scleral lenses he wears also give him the dead eyes of Boris Karloff’s Monster from Frankenstein. While Clouzot and company kept their scene silent musically speaking, Billy Goldenberg, who also wrote the music for such made-for-TV movies as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973), Helter Skelter (1976), and This House Possessed (1981) uses shrieking violins and skittering strings to punch up the proceedings in Reflections of Murder. There’s a very Psycho-like feel to all of it. While Goldberg’s score works in the context of the film, I prefer the silence in Les Diabolique. It allows the wife’s groaning as she dies of a heart attack and the water dripping off the husband as he stands in the tubs to take center stage.

When all is said and done, however, I have to say that Reflections of Murder is a pretty darn good little thriller. While perhaps lacking in the black-and-white moodiness of the French original, Reflections of Murder’s setting and muted, 1970s color palette does create a unique sense of gloomy atmosphere all of their own. The entire picture, with its rainy locale, spooky schoolhouse, and falling leaves, has a wonderful, autumnal quality to it. Compared to other made-for-TV movies of the 1970s (and we’re talking the Golden Age of MFTVMs), I think it more than holds its own and is well worth checking out.

I am also very pleased to have finally solved my little mystery. For a while there I was really doubting myself. I was thinking this was my own personal, one-man Mandela Effect. Instead, I have a fun story to tell and a new film I can recommend to people.

Now…if I can just prove to the world that it’s “Berenstein” and not “Berenstain”…

-James Lewis of LARPing Real Life

Traumafession:: Sebastian P. on Round The Twist’s Toy Love

Long time listener, first time caller! That’s what the kids say right? Well regardless, I’ve had this one little television show haunt me for as long as I can remember. It’s a little Aussie icon known as Round the Twist. More specifically, the episode Toy Love.

This episode was demented. It’s like some psychologists banded together and wrote an episode scientifically designed to scare as many kids as possible. This girl called Linda is stalked by a doll she attempted to throw away and they made this thing look like something plucked straight from hell’s toy store. The very fact the episode establishes that it can move faster than the eye can see and can cause actual tangible harm to you was enough for me to check for dolls under my bed every night before I slept. There is a light touch of comedy with how the doll wasn’t vengeful about Linda abandoning her and was trying to reunite with her Michael Jackson figure. Though watching it today, that Michael Jackson doll being in the same bed as a young girl might be the scariest thing in it.

Apologies if that was a bit long winded but I apparently had more to say on the matter than I realized. But regardless, I have to thank you for reading this far. Warmest regards from down under! Included is a link to the episode HERE.

Traumafession:: Jim C. on The Michelin Man

The Michelin Man!
My dad worked for Brockway trucks is the early 70’s so whenever there was a truck show in town he would take me to see the big rigs. Naturally that fucking tower of squashed marshmallows was always there dancing around and just waiting for the moment he could find me alone and eat me! I don’t care what anyone says. That white fucker was scary!

Babes in Toyland (1986) By Electric Babysitter

So I was just having a lazy, December day and looking for something holiday-ish to watch for the podcast. After perusing, I decided to revisit the lovably, bizarre 1986 Babes in Toyland. I was hoping you hadn’t covered it, but I just read the review on the site, it was spot on! May I piggyback off that review and contribute my two cents, possibly make a humble, holiday recommendation? 

I watched this version of Babes in Toyland as a kid. I didn’t know there were other versions of this story growing up, so this movie stuck out as even weirder back then. I’m pretty sure my family got our vhs with a McD’s value meal. Which makes sense because this movie, similarly to Mac and Me, pairs well with a cheeseburger. Extra cheese, please.

Probably the “worst” things (although I would argue that they’re part of the charm) about BIT are the Toyland set and props. Admittedly, they kinda have a Spahn Ranch, local theme park vibe…kinda like the set up from The New Kids (1985). But low budget aside, you can’t beat the eclecticism of this cast. I mainly just wanted to briefly give props to three special ladies that stood out during my rewatch: Jill Schoelen, Shari Weiser and Drew Barrymore.

First off, I love the coziness of a movie with low-key scream queen, Jill Schoelen. As previously mentioned in the review, she was in The Stepfather, Cutting Class, The Phantom of the Opera, When a Stranger Calls Back and my personal favorite, Popcorn. ???? I feel like she’s always had such a likability factor about her. In BIT, she comes off as the ideal big sis, and I love her chemistry with lil Keanu!

Shari Weiser, who I just recently learned about during this deep dive, was the actress that played the Trollog (too long, don’t ask) in BIT. She was also in Follow That Bird, but most importantly, she also played HOGGLE in Labyrinth! Don’t you just love when you can connect the stars of your childhood? (Side Tangent: I also just found out that the guy that did the voice for Max in A Goofy Movie also did the voice for Thackery Binx the cat! ??)

And of course, Drew Barrymore, who is SO adorable in BIT. I’ve always rooted for Drew, especially considering what she went through at such a young age. BIT falls into my favorite time in Drew’s career, mid-80s to pre-Scream (basically the “Little Girl Lost” years). Drew was only 11 when she starred in BIT, and considering her history, there was a line Drew’s character says towards the end that resonated when I did my rewatch. She says, “I always wanted to be a kid.” Heartbreaking!

Babes in Toyland is not the greatest thing ever, but I won’t deny the warm and fuzzy nostalgia I experienced watching it again. The copy of BIT we had growing up was about 90 long, that’s the version currently on Prime. If you’re interested in the Snyder Cut version, there’s the “Director’s Cut” on YouTube. It has way more of Drew’s lip-syncing singing, and clocks in at almost 2 1/2 hours long! May I make a suggestion? Watch the 3 hour original broadcast upload on YouTube. It’s a weirdly, comforting time machine…and it’s brought to you by McDonald’s. 

If you care to listen to me ramble on more about Babes in Toyland, as well as other things TV/movie-related, listen to Electric Babysitter on whatever podcast platform and visit me on IG! 

Warm Holiday Wishes,
Electric Babysitter

Traumafessions:: Maniac (’80) & Don’t Answer The Phone! (’80) By Matt Forgit Author of You Better Watch Out: A Christmas Horror Comedy

Picture this, if you will: A goofy, sheltered, nerdy, chunky, sensitive, and guileless ten-year-old boy who watched Scooby-Doo and read Nancy Drew and Choose Your Own Adventure books. This sweet, innocent ten-year-old wasn’t interested in sports or hunting, like the other boys his age, and spent his time listening to Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and The Go-Go’s cassette tapes and roller skating. Shockingly, this super-cool boy didn’t have a ton of friends. Unbelievable, I know.

Surprise (to no one) twist!: It was me. I’m talking about me. I’m still pretty goofy and chunky. Sadly, I never outgrew either of those things. Anyway, back then, my mom had a friend named Joy, who had a son my age, a mullet-haired kid named Todd. Joy and Todd asked if I’d like to sleep over at their house (something I was not great at— most of my rare youthful sleepovers ended with me calling my parents to come and get me in the middle of the night). My mom encouraged me to go. Joy was a fun, loud mom who resembled Demi Moore and let us drink soda, eat sweet treats whenever we wanted, and swore a lot. She and Todd took me to my first video store and asked me what I wanted to watch. Although I suggested such classics as Clue and Sixteen Candles, my wholesome recommendations were ignored. Joy and Todd rented the double bill of 1980’s Maniac and Don’t Answer the Phone!

I had never seen a horror movie. I had never seen an R-rated movie. I had seen Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and found them thrilling and amazing, not scary (I even had a Gremlins metal lunchbox and Gizmo doll). I still believed there was a monster in the car wash that would eat me, since my older neighbor Rob told me so (eat a bag of fried dicks, Rob!) and that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were real. I was not prepared for the psychological terror, gore, special effects, and extreme horror of Maniac and Don’t Answer the Phone!

We started with Maniac. Joy turned all the lights off and we sat in front of their big, boxy TV as we were introduced to sweaty, creepy, tormented Joe Spinell as the titular madman. Look, it’s New York City! I want to go to there! Wait— what’s a sex worker? Why was everything so grungy and dirty? Where was Molly Ringwald when I needed her? Then came the scalpings. And the mannequins. And the exploding heads. No matter how much the victims begged, pleaded, or prayed for their lives to be spared, he gave them no mercy. There was nowhere for them to run or hide. He was always there. I knew nothing about SFX or Tom Savini back then, so every note felt real and true, especially since the movie was filmed in a very matter-of-fact, almost documentary sort of way.

I cried inside for the poor lady who Frank Zito chased through the subway to the bathroom and stabbed. I shuddered as Frank Zito slowly sunk his knife into the poor lady he tied up and gagged. I hated every second of it. My world of Care Bears, Thundercats, He-Man, and Pound Puppies died a little that day, along with every doomed victim of Frank’s rampage. I could not take my eyes away from the screen. Joy and Todd seemed to really into it and cheered and laughed during the scary scenes. I, on the other hand, had that pre-diarrhea feeling throughout the whole film. And if I hadn’t been traumatized enough, the presumed dead killer’s eyes opened at the end. He’s not dead. I could be next. He might be waiting for me under my bed. My bowl-cut hair might end up on a lady mannequin.

But Joy and Todd weren’t done. They clearly did not notice my expression of sheer terror. It was time for Don’t Answer the Phone! Right away, the movie featured talk and images of the Vietnam War, pornography, psychology, twisted religious ideology, and another psychopath (this one named Kirk Smith) with deranged connections to a dead parent and predilection toward killing women. I knew nothing of any of those things. All I knew was if any of the scantily-clad ladies in the movie answered the ringing telephone, they were going to be strangled, throttled, chased, and killed as they screamed bloody murder. Somehow, Kirk Smith was always easily able to get inside their houses. That meant my house was not safe. I was not having a fun time at this sleepover. Nobody was having pillow fights or putting the undies from the first person to fall asleep in the freezer. This was Sleepover Nightmare, my own real-life horror movie. At the time, I was no Sidney Prescott. I was, at best, Chunk from The Goonies. These were not gentle, easygoing scary movies to delicately introduce me to the world of horror. These were full-on, in-your-face, how-much-can-you-take splatter flicks. I could not take any of it.

Yes, like E.T., I phoned home. I called my mom and she had to come get me at midnight to take me home to my own bed, where I stayed up all night long, staring at the closet because Frank Zito and Kirk Smith were hiding inside of it. I stared at our rotary phone suspiciously. I would never trust that ear-piercing ring again. I would never visit New York City, because that’s where the scalp-wearing mannequins lived. It wasn’t until Jason took Manhattan that I was willing to discover NYC. I kept my nightlight on, wondering who liked these sorts of movies, and why would anyone make something like that. I still have this penchant for dramatics and imagination.

It would be the next year, when my dad let me watch Friday the 13th Part 3 on Fox Channel 5, that my love for horror blossomed. From there, I rented April Fool’s Day, Chopping Mall, Night of the Creeps, and Waxwork, and watched The Fog, The Howling, My Bloody Valentine, The Hills Have Eyes, Spookies, Night of the Comet, Killer Party, Black Christmas, The Changeling, and A Nightmare on Elm Street on cable television. I discovered great, strong, capable final girls who fought back, like Ripley, Alice, Ginny, Chris, Trish, Nancy, Laurie, Sally, Jess, Regina, Samantha, and the like. I met Jason, Freddy, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Billy, Andrew Garth, and Harry Warden, who were genuinely scary and threatening, but not so much so that I couldn’t sleep at night. Though I’d had a rocky, jarring initiation into the world of horror films, I just needed to find the ones that gave me my groove back. I got it. Scary movies are fun, entertaining, and can be extremely cathartic and exciting. And though I still love Molly Ringwald, I have seen Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre more times now than I’ve seen Pretty in Pink.

BIO: My name is Matt Forgit and my first novel, You Better Watch Out: A Christmas Horror Comedy, is available on Amazon. If you’d be so kind and forgive me for this shameless plug, I’d appreciate if you’d check it out (and buy it!). I don’t have a huge publishing company behind me, so any and all support is helpful and very, very appreciated!

Traumafession:: Mike R. On a Disturbing Hunger Project Commercial

Aha! I finally found it! Picture yourself a kid in the 1980’s. You are watching The Brady Bunch or an old horror or Sci-fi movie. Then, it goes to a commercial break. And after a Fruity Pebbles and record store commercial comes THIS.

It scared the hell out of me at first sight. And not only do you begin to see this commercial all the time; you don’t know when and if it will show up in a commercial break thereafter.

I began to fear commercial breaks. They showed it on Saturday morning TV, afternoon movies, Star Trek reruns. I had nightmares about this gaunt kid coming after me.  I would turn away from the TV on commercial breaks and fear the stab of creepy music. 

Mike R.