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Traumafessions :: Reader Emily W. On Magic

July 27th, 2008 by unkle lancifer · 24 Comments

When I was around four or five years old I watched a movie called MAGIC starring ANTHONY HOPKINS. The plot, as I remember it, involves HOPKINS giving in to the will of his evil ventriloquist dummy after which murder and mayhem ensue. The visuals alone are enough to, even now, make me panic. The dark seventies era cinematography coupled with the hideously creepy dummy have warped me for life. I have nightmares of a dummy, dressed in his little tuxedo, walking around the house of his own volition ready to overpower me. Sometimes he is armed with a knife. Even while typing this letter, my heart rate has increased. Of course, once my older brothers discovered my irrational fear, they used it against me as much as they could. I can remember my older brother holding a ventriloquist dummy while chasing me around the house as I screamed and cried. Recently, when the movie DEAD SILENCE (about a woman and her creepy dolls) was released, I had to change the channel every time the commercial appeared on T.V. My psyche will never be the same.

UNK SEZ: Emily you are not alone in your distaste for ventriloquist dummies, many folks seem to share your point of view. For a quick overview of the cinematic history of these little wooden terrors, I suggest you check out the wonderfully named blog THE UNHEIMLICH. On the surface these tales seem akin to the killer doll sub-genre, but they actually have a consistent psychological subtext all their own. Often the ventriloquist dummy is used to represent the dark side of their master’s nature, a shadow identity bent on gaining absolute control. Coincidentally, I recently came across just such a tale in the unlikeliest of places, in an episode of FANTASY ISLAND! The one and only ANNETTE FUNICELLO played the ventriloquist “Maryanne” whose meek personality begins to get overtaken by that of her brassy MAE WEST-talking, moxie-filled puppet named “Valerie” (I swear to God, I’m NOT making this up!). Bizarrely, Mr. Roarke’s solution is to turn the doll into a real person and let the two cat-fight it out. After some crazy strobe light effects that include ANNETTE shooting lasers out of her eyes, the dummy turns into none other than the most beautiful woman in the galaxy, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA‘s MAREN JENSON, strangely clad in top hat and pantless tuxedo. Now alive, Val point blank informs Roarke that she means to kill Maryanne the first chance she gets. On evil Val’s actual to-do-list, murdering Maryanne comes AFTER screwing Maryanne’s boyfriend and humiliating her in front of a room full of swirling, laughing phantom faces like the kind found at the beginning of NIGHT GALLERY. Luckily, sweet Maryanne gets the upper-hand before “De plane!, de plane!” comes back to pick her up. I can’t say the show was all that scary, but last night I made a vow to myself that Mr. Roarke must be honored as an Official Traumatizer in the near future. That guy is nuts!!!!!! Plus you all DO realize he’s got some serious magical powers, right?

Special thanks to the second loveliest woman in the galaxy, Candace Vivian for taking this photo right off the T.V.!!! Candace is also a big fan of FANTASY ISLAND, but her favorite episode involves a shirtless JOHN SAXON and a conniving mermaid!

Cool dummy pix swiped from HERE

In the “and you thought MADAME was scary” department:

Tags: Traumafessions

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff AllardNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Magic is the most boring movie that happens to have the most heart-stopping, nightmare-inducing, psyche-shredding ad campaign ever. The TV commercial for Magic with ‘Fats’ reciting a creepy rhyme remains the single scariest 30 seconds I’ve ever endured. When I eventually saw the movie itself on TV a few years afterwards, it put me to sleep. Some nice performances and an admirable attempt at an upscale psychological thriller but it missed the boat, in my opinion. Still…that  commercial is the best.

  • 2 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    All I ever saw of Magic was the trailer and believe me that was enough. To this day, I don’t think I could make myself watch that movie. Just theses lines, “Abracadabra, I sit on his knee.
    Presto, change-o, and now he is me!
    Hocus Pocus; we take her to bed,
    Magic is fun…when you’re dead.” are enough to send chills down my spine.
    Does anyone else remember that Christmas catalogues always seemed to devote at least two pages to ventriloquist dummies? I loved looking through Christmas catalogues as a kid, but I always wondered what kid would want one of those things.
    I am also a big fan of Fantasy Island and very disappointed that only one season has been released on DVD. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were a Saturday night tradition for many years.

  • 3 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I agree that the commercial for magic is ten times scarier than the movie. Here it is:

    The scariest T.V ad I have ever seen was the one for the movie NIGHTMARE aka NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN
    When I was a kid I used to tape Saturday night live and SCTV because I could never stay up that late (no longer a prob)
    On one of these tapes during SNL in 1981 they showed the ad for NIGHTMARE and it freaked the shit out of me
    I of course rewound and watched it again and again

    This is the trailer and not the same T.V ad:

    The T.V ad was pretty short and just consisted of the scene near the end of the trailer of the guy breaking down the door with the axe
    I still think that it is a scary as hell shot the way it’s filmed upward from the floor at such a twisted angle.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    We get FANTASY ISLAND on ON DEMAND with our cable. They are showing the 3rd season now. I can’t believe how twisted it gets sometimes and it’s always funny seeing all those 70’s stars. I remember seeing an episode back in the day where Mr. Roarke battled Satan and it freaked me out. I would love to see that one again. I really hope they get around to putting all the seasons on DVD. I would buy every one! A couple years ago they tried to resurrect the series with MALCOLM McDOWELL as Roarke but it didn’t take off. There’s really nothing like FANTASY ISLAND it is a really bizarre show and I  had forgotten just how supernatural it all was.

  • 5 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Unkle, I am so jealous about your cable on demand! I remember the Satan episode you are talking about. If I am not mistaken Roddy McDowell played Satan. The first episodes portrayed Mr. Roarke more sinister that he was later in the show. My husband bought season 1 of Fantasy Island and season 1 volume 1 of The Love Boat for my birthday. We are a couple of dorks watching episodes on Saturday nights the way they were originally shown. Yes, I am a dork!

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 9:16 pm


    Dork or Coolest person ever? I say the latter! The unbeatable combo of LOVE BOAT and FANTASY iISLAND was a giant part of my growing up. In fact, I used to babysit a couple of kids across the street (yes somebody actually trusted me with the safety of their children!) and I always watched those two shows after the critters were asleep. 
    Do you recall that they once did a crossover? I vaguely remember it but since it involves child possession, LONI ANDERSON and the village people, I must find a way to see it as quickly as possible!
    you gotta read the synopsis of this should-be legendary television event:

  • 7 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Unkle, I can’t believe I don’t remember this one! I watched every week. If you find a way to see it please let me in on it! It sounds pretty darn cool! Mr. Roarke was the coolest character. He didn’t take any crap off anyone! On a different subject, did you like The Incredible Hulk? I just got the first four seasons dirt cheap at Sam’s Club. I haven’t watch any yet though. The 70’s and early 80’s T.V. shows ruled.

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Yes, I did love the hulk. I remember It had kind of a depressing quality the way poor Bill Bixby had to travel from town to town and I remember there was some reporter guy who was always trying to expose him. I have not watched that in years. I ‘m glad it’s on DVD and I can catch up with it now.

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    You might want to take a look at this:

  • 10 sbdNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Not to derail the Fantasy Island/LoveBoat thread, but I personally can’t imagine anything that would make my nads shrink in fear more quickly than having to watch an act featuring Carol Channing – and a Carol Channing ventriloquist dummy.  That voice.  aieeeee……

  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Whatever you do, do not watch this!!!

  • 12 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 27, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Unkle, Yeah, Mr. McGee was always chasing the Hulk. That was one of the touches in the new Hulk film that I enjoyed. There was a quick moment where a guy named McGee was filming the Hulk’s confrontation with the military. My husband didn’t even catch it. That life-size Tatoo was kind of scary. I must admit that he was my least favorite part of Fantasy Island.

  • 13 Jeff AllardNo Gravatar // Jul 28, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Hey Unk, Thanks for that awesome Nightmare trailer – if I had seen any part of that as a kid it would’ve definitely damaged me for life!

  • 14 sbdNo Gravatar // Jul 28, 2008 at 3:48 am

    OK, I won- no, wait!  I did!!  Craaaaaaaaaaaaap…..

  • 15 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Tattoo reminds me of Twiki from Buck Rogers not only because of his size but because wherever he goes he is followed by his own highly annoying theme music. If I was him it would drive me bonkers.

  • 16 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 28, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I never thought of that before, but you are right. Since I’ve been watching episodes, again I have noticed what a little pervert Tattoo was. He was always hitting on chicks and most likely looking up their skirts.

  • 17 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 28, 2008 at 11:26 pm


    I never understood why it was supposed to be so cute that Tattoo was such a pervert either. If Mr. R said that shit it would never fly in a million years.
    Tattoo was always talking about how he wanted to get it on with the guests. I mean, at the very least it’s unprofessional.  If he was my employee i would watch him like a hawk.
    I understand that being a little person is not easy but it’s not  exactly a free date rape card either.  

  • 18 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Jul 29, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Ahhhhh yes, the COMMERCIAL for MAGIC (and, no, I am not gonna click the link and watch it…I’m scared it would STILL freak me out 30 years later!) Every so often my best friend will break into that nursery rhyme that ends in “….MAGIC is fun….when you’re DEAD”  and I go from being American Bad-Ass to World’s Biggest Pussy again!

  • 19 micksterNo Gravatar // Jul 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I’m surprised that Mr. Roarke wasn’t tied up in court from the numerous sexual harassment charges levied against Merv the Perv aka Tattoo.

  • 20 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jul 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm


    Well he was eventually fired because he is not in the last season. I guess we know why.

  • 21 FilmFatherNo Gravatar // Aug 1, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Unkle, that YouTube link in your first response for the Magic trailer is actually for the nightmare sequence from the Brave Little Toaster. Here’s a link to the Magic spot:

    Sweet Jesus, that commercial scared the crap out of me as a kid.

    “Magic is fun…we’re dead.” = TRAUMA
    Announcer VO: “Magic. A terrifying love story. Rated R.” = TRAUMA+

  • 22 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 1, 2008 at 11:53 am


    Thanks for getting us the right link!
    I gotta learn to double check those things! 

  • 23 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Aug 6, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    This has to be the best trail of comments EVER. It started with Magic and ended up with Fantasy Island. Two similar themes though! Anyway, based on part one of the posts, I wanted to say that Silent Scream is the ad that terrified me as a kid. I believe that’s the one.  I’ll have to You Tube it and double check… As for Part II, I can’t believe Fantasy Island is on demand somewhere in this world. It kind of restores my faith in humanity. There is this great episode where Mr. Roarke goes up against Satan, played by Roddy McDowall. When McDowall screams “Damn you Roarke!” it’s priceless! I actually think he shows up in more than one episode, but the one I’m thinking of is when Carol Lynley sells her soul to save her ailing husband played by Adam West. Roarke finds the loophole and all is well. Great show.

    I like Tatoo, btw. Well, I like the actor. He had a pretty horrible life but seemed like a really genunine guy. Still, I love the part Unkle wrote about the free date rape card. Exactly where would one get one of those? 🙂

  • 24 ScrewedUpTeenNo Gravatar // Jan 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm


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