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Traumafessions :: Reader David O. on The Legend of Lizzie Borden

November 2nd, 2011 by aunt john · 6 Comments

Hey Unk!

Seeing as it’s the season of horror and whatnot I wanted to present one of my traumafessions from childhood that stuck with me through the years. The year was 1975 and I was an impressionable 7-year-old infatuated with television and all things horror. Oh, and BEWITCHED. So imagine my surprise to see that ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY was starring in a made-for-TV movie called THE LEGEND OF LIZZIE BORDEN. Now, I had no idea who Lizzie was or the hideous crime she allegedly committed, but after watching the movie I was forever scarred by the image of my beloved Samantha Stevens taking an axe to the heads of her father and step-mother! Most of the film is a courtroom procedural drama, with tidbits of flashbacks of Lizzie and her family near the turn of the 20th century. In other words, pretty boring stuff for a second grade kid.

But then WHAM; ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, as Lizzie, takes off her clothes (scathing!), gets the axe from under her bed, and proceeds to bury it into her step-mother’s head, with blood spurting all over the place. So there I was, befreaked by the thought of someone killing their mother, much less with a sharp, shiny axe. Lizzie cleans herself up and continues to go about her business, as if there is nothing amiss with the dead body in the bedroom. Well, it quickly becomes obvious she didn’t get it all out of her system because in a little while she goes for round two, one again stripping nude and dividing her father’s skull in two while he laid on the couch for what he expected to be a nice afternoon nap. Again, blood and gore abound! After that it goes on for a bit with the trial and blah blah blah until she’s acquitted of the murders.

And therein started my unhealthy infatuation with axe murders in the movies. Thanks to that movie I never looked at Samantha Stevens the same way ever again. Here’s a clip of the good stuff, starting at the 3-minute mark:

Happy horrors!

David O.

Tags: Traumafessions

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 wings1295No Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I remember being freaked out by this… and also confused. Lizzie Borden was a big part of my childhood, and of almost every kid I knew, since we grew up in Fall River, Mass.

    When we were at the bus depot, it was right across the street from the Borden house. We also made many trips to the cemetery where the Bordens are buried.

    So it was one of those terrors that was very close to home. And then Samantha Stephens played her in the movie! Ack! Talk about the wrong worlds colliding!

    So very confusing to see sweet Sam as the menacing, dark Lizzie. Very disturbing.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

    It’s turning into Elizabeth Montgomery week round here and I’m so OK with that…

    I remember the day after this movie aired on TV it was the talk of recess!

    The Lizzie Borden rhyme; “Lizzie Borden took an axe…” has got to be one of the coolest/creepiest parts of childhood.

    (and maybe the inspiration for “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”???)

    I hope kids are still singing it out there somewhere.

  • 3 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Oh man that scene at the end where the camera pans around her and that creepy music is playing freaked me out so bad back then and still does!

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

  • 5 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for the great Bewitched clip! I needed that after watching the super creepy ending of that movie again.

  • 6 FatherOfTearsNo Gravatar // Nov 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Ah, a classic filming technique at that time period: Using a wide angle lens for the creepy parts! Yes, seeing some of the actors that I watched on TV as a child doing something evil was a bit shocking. Samantha Stevens going “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” was a stunner. I also talked here a while ago about “good ape” Roddy McDowall being cast as Satan in two “Fantasy Island” episodes. The big shocker was seeing Patrick MacNee play Count Iblis in “Battlestar Galactica” (1978). In the early 70’s “The Avengers” were syndicated reruns on a local TV station and I always watched them. John Steed evil?!? Yikes!

    On a related note how many of you “Nanny and the Professor” fans found this a bit bone jarring:

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