all the things you once tried so hard to forget…
June 12, 2008 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Kindertrauma is about the movies, books, and toys that scared you when you were a kid. It’s also about kids in scary movies, both as heroes and villains. And everything else that’s traumatic to a tyke!

Be sure not to miss Traumafessions, or the section on scary toys.
posted by stinkycheese (64 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
What, nothing for Poseidon Adventure? My parents should have never taken me to see that when I was 4... on the other hand, it made me learn more about large ships.
posted by crapmatic at 3:41 PM on June 12, 2008

I'd nominate the donkey transformation scene in Pinocchio. Pink Elephants on Parade was a lark compared to that.
posted by JHarris at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2008

Their choices seem too obvious. I mean, is anyone surprised that a kid might get traumatized seeing Poltergeist? I was hoping to see a discussion of all the things I was supposed to enjoy that freaked my shit out. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes immediately to mind.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2008

When I was really little, something like four, I had seen something, possibly even a cartoon, with some crazy old hermit living in a cave (kind of like the guy in Monty Python sketches, but this was before they were ever filmed) and I had a nightmare that I can remember somewhat vividly to this day decades later. He was chasing me, I couldn't run no matter how hard I tried, I woke up screaming bloody murder. My terror even freaked out my parents, and they are as unflappable as parents can be. It's amazing how some memories can stick with you.
posted by caddis at 3:49 PM on June 12, 2008

101 Dalmations: Cruella DeVil. She kills puppies and wears their skins! A Disney version of Ed Gein! All the more horrible because most children will identify strongly with the puppies.
posted by SPrintF at 3:49 PM on June 12, 2008

I thought "Kindertrauma" was going to be a post about the horrors of Kindercare. Which as a newly preggo mom who is looking at daycare options, that would have been the scariest thing yet.
posted by dasheekeejones at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2008

The flying monkey scene in Wizard of Oz made me poop myself.
posted by dasheekeejones at 4:05 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

OH GOD. Possibly the only bad thing ever about Mr. Rogers.

What was more terrifying was that she looked a lot like my babysitter.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 4:07 PM on June 12, 2008

Only one person besides me was traumatized by the Child Catcher? Maybe it's the movie's ersatz mittel-European setting but the minute I saw the the ersatz mittel-European word kindertrauma he sprang to mind. Terrified my brother too IIRC - we can't have been the only ones.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:09 PM on June 12, 2008

Watership Down! More like "Watership Frown", right? Or "Watership Wet my Pants in Front of My Older Cousins and Couldn't Stop Crying".
posted by I Foody at 4:09 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

Traumatic to a tyke isn't new,
posted by Mblue at 4:15 PM on June 12, 2008

Kindertrauma is one of my favorite blogs, and I read it daily. If you like what you see, check out the other members of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers, a consortium of the web's best horror bloggers.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:30 PM on June 12, 2008

Does anybody remember the Disney movie The Black Hole? With the robot that spinning blades for hands? Crazy scary when I was a little kid.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:33 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thanks, Faint of Butt. This piece on torture porn in horror films looks great.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:35 PM on June 12, 2008

Time Bandits. Saw it when I was 6 or so. I didn't even remember the movie, just being terrified out of my skull.
posted by aspo at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2008

Seconding Black Hole, blender death through a book even, holy crap Disney.

#1 had to be that creepy-ass old owl from The Secret of Nimh, though.

(Of course, the true scariest things of my childhood, but which were not intended for children, were the VHS box cover for Ghoulies and the monster from Terrorvision.)
posted by Durhey at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2008

Well, my dad took me to see "Enter the Dragon" when I was about 11. That was pretty horrifying but I get that I wasn't the target audience.

Also, when I was about 8 my sister (one year older) told me that there was an excellent film playing at the Baptist display at the local agricultural show called "Blazing Hell" and she made me promise not to tell mum and dad that we were going to see it. It contained all kinds of lovely things, including bikies going to hell and maggots crawling out of their faces and one guy saying to other 'jeez I'm glad I've got a friend with me' and the other pulling off his face and saying in an evil voice "There Are No Friends In Hell" and he was a demon underneath. I had nightmares for months and was convinced that everyone around me was actually a demon wearing a mask (I managed to get myself out of that by reminding myself that *I* wasn't wearing a mask so it was reasonably likely that my parents weren't and so on), I wouldn't ride my horse past a certain tree because I knew that the Devil was waiting behind it to leap out at me and carry me off to Hell. Yay religion!

On a more pertinent note, the Blue Meanies with their horrible apples which they threw at people to paralyze them in "Yellow Submarine" freaked me at as a littlie too.
posted by h00py at 4:50 PM on June 12, 2008

Seconding Black Hole, blender death through a book even, holy crap Disney.

Oh yeah, and how about when they took the mask off one of those freaky robot dudes in the robes and it was like this crazy walking undead person?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 4:59 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

There was a live-action Pinocchio special that aired sometime in the 1970s. Scared me to death. I mean...his nose! It grew! Also scary: Sesame Street had these strange cartoons about...mountains with faces? Whatever they were, the faces would morph into all sorts of strange expressions. Eeek! (Apparently, my elementary-school self had something against shape-shifting.)

For some reason, The Black Hole didn't bug me, despite the whole robot-as-murderous-food-processor thing.

On a more conventional "yikes!" note, in my early teens I once made the mistake of paging through an issue of Creepshow. Oops. Let's just say that the lights stayed on for some time after that. Visuals have always bugged me much more than the written word, which I suppose is why I was reading Stephen King at age eleven without any ill effects (that I've noticed?). This is the only story that ever gave me nightmares...
posted by thomas j wise at 5:18 PM on June 12, 2008

Freeeeeky! Virtual Hugo doll.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:22 PM on June 12, 2008

Two things stand out in my mind that really freaked me out as a kid:

1) The werewolf Nazis that massacre a family during a dream sequence in An American Werewolf in London. The kids were watching The Muppet Show.

2) The trolls around the campfire in the animated version of The Hobbit. I think it was the animation style that weirded me out.
posted by alejo at 5:24 PM on June 12, 2008

Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories. A good number of the stories are harmless enough, but there are some real fcked-up doozies in there.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2008

I don't ever remember a movie ever freaking me out as a tyke.

As a nominally advanced reader, I did read the Stephen King short story "the Boogeyman" when I was 9ish or so. It's a fine story about, well, the boogeyman who dwells not in all closets, but any closet, and kills children. Leaving just a trail of stinking sea slime after. That was stalking the main character's family, and murdered all his kids one by one each time they moved.

I really shouldn't have read that story at that point in time. You live and learn!
posted by Drastic at 5:28 PM on June 12, 2008

The TV series Dark Shadows would always freak me out--most terrifying character on that show as far as I was concerned was "The Hand"
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 5:36 PM on June 12, 2008

Yes, Village of the Damned is in there.... Just the poster for that movie gave me one of my most memorable childhood nightmares. Images of both remain with me to this day. I didn't see the movie until much later; it was still a little creepy for me. No X - The Unknown, though... scary ionizing-radiation person-melting scene there. Just a minute....OK. And of course there was the movieiewith thee aonealscenelwne oh no fwherre a oh god nno! I thindkewlI reallaey alahave tolaeavenowk........................
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 5:39 PM on June 12, 2008

My sister used to tattle on me when I watched Dr Who. Man, she could have just left the room, but no. I had to turn it off. Darn sisters.
posted by GuyZero at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2008

The Ghoulies poster it is. I also had a creeping fear of Claymation, specifically Will Vinton and Art Clokey stuff -- it had an unsettling, juddery, hallucinatory quality that I can appreciate now without having trouble sleeping.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:54 PM on June 12, 2008

Can't sleep, clown'll eat me.
posted by chihiro at 6:05 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I was four or so I had the misfortune of being by myself in a dim silent house (Mom was probably napping) and turning on the TV to find some kind of mystery series that featured a woman walking into an attic. Sitting in the middle of the attic on a rocking chair with her back turned to the lady was a nun. The nun was talking to the lady in a creepy voice and all of a sudden she turned around and SHE HAD NO FACE! A FACELESS FREAKING NUN! I'm sorry but that should not have been allowed on network TV before 9 p.m.

My parents also subjected me to the "V" television series - you know, where the people pulled their faces off on a regular basis. Scarred!
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2008

I was always petrified of brussels sprouts.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:38 PM on June 12, 2008

I managed to do the following before I was 10:

1) Stayed up late at a friend's house (she had fallen asleep) and watched A Clockwork Orange on HBO,


2) Watched both Night Gallery and Trilogy of Terror with my older brother on Halloween.

Yeah. I had some bad dreams.
posted by oflinkey at 6:43 PM on June 12, 2008

Planet of the Apes.
I was seven.
Roddy McDowell was cool, as was the orang-utang leader-fellow.
You could have a conversation with them.

I hate my mother.
posted by Dizzy at 6:51 PM on June 12, 2008

Three words: Mummen Fucking Schantz
posted by Rock Steady at 7:06 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

The video for Thriller freaked me right out as a child. My older sister used to lock me in the bedroom turn off all the lights and play the record. ::shudders::
posted by aclevername at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2008

For Space Kitten: The Yip Yips.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2008

I was a little bit past the age when one would expect to be traumatized by movies like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, but dammit if Large Marge didn't mess me up for life.
posted by MrBadExample at 8:32 PM on June 12, 2008

Poltergeist was nothing! I've already mentioned my intense, life-long terror of the episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Arnold is chummy with a Central Park mime who eventually has an epileptic seizure.. thus scaring the shit out of Arnold and me! No wonder Gary Coleman is.. well, he's not completely normal, is he?
posted by Mael Oui at 8:35 PM on June 12, 2008

I was always petrified of brussels sprouts.


What about the ones that were tiny and cute?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:38 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

For me:

Seconding the donkey transformation scene in Pinocchio
Pinocchio: Emperor of the Night
Return to Oz

The Jabberwocky scene in Alice Through the Looking Glass

I loved Watership Down as a kid, and watched it over and over, and by about six or seven, had started to seek out those things which would scare me, and became a horror movie fan.

One of my nephews loves Finding Nemo, but is terrified of The Incredibles, which I've never understood. Nemo has far more truly Nightmare-Fuel moments by my count. Can anyone explain this?
posted by Navelgazer at 8:51 PM on June 12, 2008

It could be worse---you could have been read German fairy tales...

We just had a conversation today about the OG Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass...zomg Jabberwocky and the cake that won't cut...and flipping Carol Channing and the oneandoneandoneandoneandoneandoneandoneandone is twooooooooooooo....and the flipping Jam tomorrow...and the playing card guy...neverending terrors.
posted by TomMelee at 9:10 PM on June 12, 2008

I came here for one and only one big trauma, but JOHN CRYE has already addressed it over there....

"I was eight years old when MAGIC, starring ANTHONY HOPKINS was released in theaters, and it provided the single most frightening image of my childhood. I did not see the actual film until almost twenty years later, but in 1978 the ad campaign was enough. The ad was brilliantly simple: the grinning head of a ventriloquist dummy speaks an ominous nursery rhyme in a nasty falsetto. Then his eyes roll back in his head. I think I may have only seen the ad once through before that visage simply popping onto the TV screen would send me screaming from the room. My older brother used to love to wrestle me into the den and force me to listen to that dreadful sing song voice… "

I was four. Fuck you creepy ventriloquist puppet!

Click here for afforementioned creepy.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:18 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Uncle Arthur story that really got to me went something like this:

Kids are sick in the children's ward of the hospital. Every night a few die. Jimmy, tired of suffering, wishes to die. Johnny, the religious one, tells him how to do it: just raise your hand and when Jesus walks through the ward, he'll collect your soul.

But Jimmy is too weak to keep his arm up. So he asks Johnny to prop his arm up with pillows. And Johnny does.

And Jimmy dies.

This macabre story was supposed to teach some great Christian moral. All it did was leave me with a life-long irrational fear of falling asleep with my arm raised up.

On the other hand, the story about heaping coals upon the head of one's enemy by being really nice to him has done me well. I nearly drove a harridan bitch mad with frustration by being nice to her while she was rude and vulgar to me. Being nice really is the sweetest revenge!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 PM on June 12, 2008

Apparently as a little tyke this orange singing an aria from Carmen scared the crap out of me. I don't remember the fear all that well but I hated the clip for many years afterward.

Drastic, like you I read "The Bogeyman" at far too young. Kept me up many a night. I'll still get weirded out sometimes if the closet door is open....just a crack...
posted by five toed sloth at 10:17 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ughh! The giant ants in Them! really freaked me out as a kid. They used to show old movies on TV on weekend afternoons and the giant ants and the scary sound they made gave me nightmares for a while.

Also, if you can believe it, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol inspired some nasty fever dreams when I was coming down with some childhood illness ... German measles I think. I still can't watch that show with any enjoyment.
posted by gudrun at 11:02 PM on June 12, 2008

Return to Oz.

I'm still afraid of Wheelers, headless women, and electroshock therapy.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:11 AM on June 13, 2008

Navelgazer named my other childhood trauma, The Return To Oz. HALL OF HEADS!!
posted by Mael Oui at 1:20 AM on June 13, 2008

Things that freaked me out, since we're all sharing:

Tenniel's illustration of Alice when she has an absurdly long neck. I used to turn to that page, look at it for a second, then hide behind the sofa for a bit. Then I'd do it again.

Doctor Who theme music (of course)

People without faces: Cf Sapphire and Steel and the photographs, That episode of Star Trek with the magic teenager, the cover of The Reassembled Man

Tales of Moominland: Invisible girls and people lying on the top of shelves abound.

My brother telling me that Darth Vader's TIE-fighter had crash landed in New Zealand.
posted by Sparx at 3:22 AM on June 13, 2008

Yeah yeah yeah, we were all traumatized by traumatic things, but could someone please tell me why the Screen Gems S from Hell was so disturbing? 'Cuz it was.
posted by whuppy at 5:51 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sparx: I had a similar freak out upon seeing this engraving which featured a devil with a long neck and beaked mouth menacing a (clearly terrified) man. I have no memory of the name of the artist or the book -- it was just too long ago -- but I couldn't sleep with the lights out for at least a week.

To guarantee childhood trauma: Goya.
posted by Kikkoman at 6:50 AM on June 13, 2008

What scared the crap out of me as a kid was an episode of the (terrible) old show "The Outer Limits". The "Galaxy Being" episode. Other episodes scared me too, but that one really got me big time. So big, in fact, I recently bought the series on DVD. LOL. Cheesy as the show is, that creature still creeps me.
posted by Goofyy at 7:03 AM on June 13, 2008

A friend's mom took us both to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when I was 6. I don't remember being particularly scared, but she was mortified and apologized a lot to my mom afterwards. What did scare me was E.T. The beginning when he's hiding in the shed, I watched that part through my hands. Fortunately, when the agents came and took the sick E.T. and Eliot away my little brother started crying so we had to leave.
posted by Who_Am_I at 7:39 AM on June 13, 2008

Not clicking on Senor Cardgage's link. Not...not...not...ARRRGH

Wasn't there a parody film--like the Scream series--that featured, among other things, the Magic ventriloquist's dummy, flying around on its own?
posted by thomas j wise at 8:06 AM on June 13, 2008

Besides the commercial for Magic the thing that most traumatized me as a kid was, of all things, the freakin' encyclopedia. You never new what deep sea fish would pop up on the next page. And, for some reason, pictures of deep space freaked me out, too. How I developed a love of learning, I'll never know.
posted by kimota at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2008

I mostly avoided horror movies as a kid (and still do), but a combination of Amityville Horror and Haunted Wisconsin freaked me right out, for at least a month each.

My relationship with my cabbage patch doll was far less enjoyable after a neighbor kid told me that they were the work of satan and that the proof of this was that someone tried to baptize theirs with holy water and when it hit their "skin" it boiled.
posted by drezdn at 10:16 AM on June 13, 2008

I was 6 years old when the movie of Pink Floyd's The Wall came out. My family used to watch Siskel and Ebert's "Sneak Previews" show every Saturday, and, when they reviewed The Wall, they showed a clip from the "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" scene: school kids wearing gas masks marching down a walkway into a meat grinder.

I couldn't stop seeing that in my head for months.

Good times.
posted by anthom at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2008

Only one person besides me was traumatized by the Child Catcher?

Me, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:26 AM on June 13, 2008

Let's see...the tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is locked out of the storm cellar. I was terrified there would be a tornado and my family wouldn't tell me. I can't image where I got the idea they would do such a terrible thing. They've always been nice to me.

And, we had a record album with a dramatization of the Tell-Tale Heart on one side and The Headless Horseman on the other. The jacket art freaked me out. I used to walk by the box we kept it in and get scared just knowing it was in there.

Oh yeah, and the cover to Tales to Tremble By. My older brother had a copy.

I was a scared little kid I guess.
posted by marxchivist at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2008

I've joked about reading Shockheaded Peter to our newborn, but I would feel far to guilty about actually going through with it. Though maybe it would keep him from sucking his thumb.
posted by drezdn at 10:39 AM on June 13, 2008

Seconding Charlie and the Chocolate factory. WTF with the psychedelic ferry? I mean it's just nasty - the characters are scared, the imagery nightmarish, and wonka hinting at immanent death throughout. Good times for the little tykes.

And a broadcast commercial for Ruby that I saw at my uncle's house freaked my little 9 year old self bad. The underwater skeleton? <shudder>
posted by Pliskie at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2008

I would just like to give everybody who contributed their own horrors a hug.

And remind some folks of:

Marianne Dreams (the book) and PaperHouse (the movie)

Under the Volcano

The Tomorrow People, seventies version, when it got all asian and freaky
posted by Sparx at 2:41 PM on June 13, 2008

a woman walking into an attic. Sitting in the middle of the attic on a rocking chair with her back turned to the lady was a nun. The nun was talking to the lady in a creepy voice and all of a sudden she turned around and SHE HAD NO FACE! A FACELESS FREAKING NUN!

Man, that sounds an awful lot like a scene from the movie The Sentinel, which is a freaky fucking experience at any age. The nun had a face but no eyes.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:44 PM on June 13, 2008

Chitty-chitty-bang-bang made me cry.

I was three.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on June 13, 2008

Sparx, one of the commercials for The Tomorrow People has always stuck with me. It's the one where there's a boy sitting on his bed seemingly having a conversation with a giant bright light beyond his mini-blinds. That and the way British shows always seemed to be filmed in a different light than American shows made it seem really ominous.

FelliniBlank, I'm going to have to check out The Sentinel, for all I know it could have been that.

By the way...

Does anyone remember an episode of a TV show where a guy came into the possession of a big, glass jar with murky liquid in it and at the end he sees a name in the jar and he realizes the name is on a barrette and that the barrette is on a woman's head inside the jar? I think it was in black and white. It seems awfully gruesome to have been on television but I swear I saw it. If I made it up, I was one twisted kindergartner.

Also, anybody remember a movie where a guy murdered his wife and ground her up into sausage? Then his wife's cat took revenge by knocking the radio into the guy's bath and electrocuting him? It seems like it should have been in Cat's Eye, but it wasn't.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:30 PM on June 13, 2008

whuppy: It was the Viacom V of Doom that scared me.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 PM on June 14, 2008

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