Not much scares me, and for the most part horror movies have always made me feel normal. My mother didn’t much like me watching them when I was young (elementary age) so I would go over to my friends’ places and get my fill of stuff like THE SHINING, IT, Freddy Krueger, whatever. When I was about 7 or 8 I was bragging to my mother (who was a child psychologist) how “fun” horror movies were. She turned on the TV (we had an old console T.V. and no VCR- this was in the early ‘90s) and said something like “We’ll see how brave you are.” (Something like that). The movie she was about to show me was the 1978 masterpiece INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
She knew I believed in aliens and I started out brave, but as the film continued and I kept seeing people “changing” into blank automatons and chasing, screaming, after the “real” people my little kid bravado turned sour and I began to seriously clam up. By the end of the movie I was breathing heavy, a combination of the movie and what my mother was doing- as I watched she became more and more emotionless until at the end, she turned to me, my sister and my friend and said in a blank, dead tone (to me). “You look frightened. Are you frightened?”
Still being at an age where reality and fantasy overlapped, I was frightened, but as she progressed with her little “experiment” the message of the movie (that anyone you know can “change” overnight, but still “look” like the person you love) began to take root. When I finally admitted I was “a bit” frightened she turned on me, shot her finger at me and screamed like a body snatcher!
I freaked out.
My sister and friend were hardly phased, but I ran upstairs and began looking for any plant in my room I could toss. When my friend’s mom came to pick her up, my mother convinced the other mom to pull the same body snatcher scream on me (except the other mom had the good sense to stop after I began hyperventilating). My mother kept this up for days, and at school I became more and more emotionless, polite and robotic until they finally dragged me to the counselor’s office (I was convinced she was “one of them” too).
For months I lived honestly believing that the body snatchers were taking over and that it would only be a matter of time before everyone was taken over, so for months I acted robotic, but at night I had night terrors (the beginning of a lifelong sleep disorder). The movie alone, at that age, would have terrified me, but Mommy made the movie real.
I can watch all of the BODY SNATCHERS movies now (I haven’t seen the ‘50s version but the ‘78, ‘93 and ’07 versions) and I do okay, but I still get the urge, to this day, to act robotic and stiff upon viewing these films… just in case.
UNK SEZ: Wow Lex, this has got to be one of my favorite traumafessions of all time (about one of my favorite movies too!). Thank you so much for sending it in. I’m not sure that I would recommend your mother’s services as a child psychologist, but I feel a certain affinity with her sick sense of humor. More than anything though, I’m impressed with your vivid imagination.
Speaking of which, I really dig the painting that you sent in to accompany your traumafession…
Folks, can you believe how awesomely kindertraumatic Lex’s artwork is? We’re going to try to get Lex to share some more of her paintings with us in the future, but in the meantime if any of you are interested in contacting Lex about her work, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are looking for somebody to illustrate something horror related, I think this is your gal! Thanks for sharing your talent with us Lex, very impressive!!!