My name’s Grant, and I write a blog called FIRE BREATHING DIMETRODON TIME where I watch wonderfully fun old adventure shows and movies with my son, now five, and see how he enjoys them. Since he’s still small, we haven’t hit anything like the heights of horror that you all celebrate, but he’s been mildly frightened by various threats like the Sleestak and a couple of Batman’s enemies.
I’d like to share a ridiculous traumafession of my own. I get the impression that quite a few people were traumatized when Annie Ross got turned into a cyborg in Superman III. It rocked me as well, but perhaps in not quite the same way as most.
I saw Superman III in theaters, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t give me the creeps until a year later, when it showed up on HBO. So this is 1984, and my best buddy and I had pretty impressive collections of Mego’s 8-inch tall superhero dolls. He and I really were, in the words of parents, “too old to be playing with dolls,” but I enjoyed being a kid and was in no hurry to discover girls and guitars yet. I had superheroes and Shogun Warriors to play with.
Mego dolls had been out of production for at least five years by that point, but we were still scouring garage sales and anywhere we could think of to find new Mego bodies – Star Trek, Dukes of Hazzard, Emergency, whatever – to customize into new characters for our various Justice Leagues. Of course, since we were 12, we didn’t have the skills necessary to make good costumes for the toys, but we did have lots of paint, multi-colored electrical tape, duct tape, and imaginations.
So one day that summer, I was playing in my room and decided that Superman was going to get grabbed by an indestructible robot – Biotron from the Micronauts – and turned into a cyborg like Annie Ross in the movie. So I interrupted the action and spent about an hour carefully cutting out detailed little duct tape circuitry for Superman’s hands and face, planning to sic the Man of Steel on his low-powered colleagues like Falcon, Human Torch, and Green Arrow.
And somehow, admiring my handiwork, it suddenly sunk in that this was really terrifying. I was actively bothered by what happened to Annie Ross‘s character in the movie… and my toys weren’t fun anymore so I quit playing that adventure. I remember having this sinking feeling in my gut, and the next time HBO showed Superman III – because we watched favorite movies every single time HBO showed them, probably within a week – I started dreading her conversion so much I couldn’t enjoy the movie anymore. Then I started having nightmares. Then I packed up the toys and started paying attention to girls and guitars.
Sadly, very few of those toys have survived into adulthood, although my Mego Supergirl is still with me, her shoes long lost and replaced by spare Batgirl boots with red electrical tape, and my Shogun Warrior Daimos still looms from atop a bookshelf, with a little bit of 40 year-old duct tape to help on its sides where a previous owner tried peeling away the sticker from around its massive robotic waist.