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 OperaWhen 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.

Traumafession: Brian K. on Mister Rogers and a Dead Tree

Okay, you ever have one of those childhood memories where you think ‘That couldn’t  possibly have happened, I must have misremembered it?’ But then it turns out it did happen?

I recall an episode of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood that must have aired in the very early 80s. The citizens of the Neighborhood of Make Believe are delighted to meet a tree that could both walk and talk. And then…SOMEONE MURDERS THE TREE! I distinctly remember one of the human characters grimly walking through the neighborhood, CARRYING THE TREE’S CORPSE, a la the father in Frankenstein carrying his dead daughter’s body through the village. I assumed I’d just hallucinated this, but I did a google search and apparently, it happened just as I remembered it: HERE.

This allegedly was Rogers’s response to children having to deal with a lot of high profile murders and attempted murders at the time (John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul). But what the hell, man? Really?

Did anyone else see this episode? Does anyone have a clip?
Love the website.
Brian K.