Traumafessions :: Micha Michelle of *Baking With Medusa* on Fortress

Hello boys,

Just thought I’d relay this timely seasonal traumafession.

I had a bad patch of serious nightmares from 1980 to about 1988. It all started with JAWS and ended [practically overnight] with the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. For some reason TOBE HOOPER cured me of all evils, and now I have nothing but love for a good horror flick. Anyways, back in the dark days of scaredy-cat mania, I happened to see the film FORTRESS (1986). This is an Australian film based on a true story that went strait to cable in the U.S. I was about 11 years old. My mom was taping FORTRESS on VHS for my dad, ‘cause he was at work [back in the days before Tivo]. She told me not to watch it, that it would be scary. Of course I watched it anyway, I just couldn’t resist. I prolly should have left the room, but then I would have no traumafession to relay… so I suppose it eventually paid off.

My mom did her best to help me cope with my over active imagination. She always said, “When you get scared… just think of happy things like unicorns, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.” Once I saw FORTRESS though, the old tried + true happy thoughts technique was completely useless. After this movie, images of Santa where tainted by, loud abusive language, kidnapping, sawed off shot guns, decapitation and the ultimate trauma… skinny dipping with all your classmates in a desperate attempt to escape evil kidnappers dressed like Father Christmas and Dabby Duck [too much to explain there, your just gonna have to see it for yourself]. Santa is supposed to bring you presents, like that Hardy Boys record player you asked for, not shove a gun in your face, right???

I recently revisited this film, and I have to admit, it rocks. So glad I was able to enjoy it the second time around. This film must have made a huge impression on me, cause I remember just about every terrifying detail. Basically a teacher and her students are abducted by a pack of cartoon-masked kidnappers [including Father Christmas] from a remote school in Australia. This is one bad tempered Santa. I don’t wanna spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, so I will say no more plot wise. Just do yourself a favor and watch ‘till the very, very end. Not so great acting, the teacher is far to condescending and the kids are at times a bit too whiny, but a super fun movie just the same. Besides, the fat synthesizer score is awesome. So if you’re a collector of bad Santa flicks, kids in horror, or 1980’s synth movie scores, be sure to check this one out.

Just be warned that after seeing this, Santa will not longer be able to save you from your nightmares.

Happy holidays + take care,


AUNT JOHN SEZ: After slobbering uncontrollably over the spectacular assortment of screen shots Micha was kind enough to send over with her traumafession, it dawned on me that I vaguely recall catching FORTRESS on cable in the mid-eighties at the height of my RACHEL WARD phase (AGAINST ALL ODDS anyone?) Another thing that got me drooling is Micha’s Craft Corner, a.k.a. *BAKING WITH MEDUSA*. She is seriously crafty and, did I mention, amazing with screen captures. Here are some more stocking stuffers from FORTRESS:

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12 years ago

Yeah, Fortress is great. Love the great twist end.

Amanda By Night
12 years ago

Wow, this looks good!

My mom was from Australia and she also bought me that Hardy Boys record player! It’s kismet!

12 years ago

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. I saw this many times on cable in the Eighties. It’s totally kick ass. Need to see it again!

12 years ago

That Santa mask is terrifying! YIKES! I’d like to see this movie!

12 years ago

I love this movie. A lot of people do not realize that the guy who wears the Dabby Duck mask is Vernon Wells, the mohawked Wez from “Road Warrior” and Bennet from “Commando”.
The creepiest part for me was the Cat Mask guy, and the creepy themes song they play when he enters the barn. Also, for a film that was accessible during the day in the ’80s, this film had some heavy stuff – with the baddies talking of gang-banging the teacher, and making references to one of the student’s “big titties”.

12 years ago

Hoo boy.  This was a surprisingly savage film.  I must admit, however, that my strongest memory of “Fortress” is the Rachel Ward underwear scene – definitely one of my earliest “Hmmmm, girls are more interesting than I thought” moments.