Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ebay and Childhood Trauma

A friend's blog post about finding a long-lost cookbook on Ebay (for making clown cakes) made me think of my own recent long-lost finds on Ebay. I was the absolute weeniest child when it came to scary movies. Now I love them, but until the age of fourteen or so, I really should have been kept away from the horror oeuvre.

When I was five years old, my best friend had a slumber party, during which we watched what I remembered as the most horrifying movie ever made (actually, it was an hour-long TV show, but in the throes of utter terror, it seemed to go on forever). People were stranded on an island with a mud monster. Two scenes stuck in my memory: 1) The monster reaches his arm into the cabin, and the people shut the door, cutting the monster's hand off. The hand falls into some spilled salt and catches on fire. 2) To kill the monster, the people trip him so he falls into the ocean, where the salt makes him catch on fire.

Beginning in the late 90s, I began searching the internets for "The Mud Monster," even though I was pretty sure that wasn't what the show was actually called. A few years ago, I started getting some hits -- other people my age who were completely traumatized by the show, too. I found out the show was actually a failed series called "The World Beyond." And, finally, I found the episode with the mud monster on Ebay! Starring JoBeth Williams! And, OK, it's not very scary, but I see why my five-year-old self freaked out.

The hand-cutting-off scene and the tripping scene were exactly as I remembered them. Even funnier, there was a scene where the people discover the monster has destroyed their boat, and they accidentally drop their last bag of salt (their only hope!) into the bay, and that image of the bag of salt dropping down through the water created the strongest flashback to the utter despair I felt watching that moment as a child.

Even more recently I went on the hunt for a children's series that aired on Nickelodeon in the early 80s. The time slot on Nick was called "The Third Eye," and they played children's sci-fi series. The one I remember was called "Under the Mountain." Twins Rachel and Theo must save the world from a race of slimy brown tentacle creatures called the Wilberforces. Scenes that stuck with me: 1) Rachel and Theo each have a small white stone that is some sort of weapon. During the final attack, it's imperative they don't drop their stone for any reason, but Theo does, casting doubt on the weapon's effectiveness. 2) Cousin Ricky waits for Rachel and Theo offshore in a small boat, while the slimy Wilberforces mill about on the beach. Ricky thinks he's safe, because the Wilberforces are only interested in the twins, but suddenly they attack his boat from below, dragging it and Ricky down with their brown tentacles. You see dead Ricky floating face-down along the shore.

Ricky's harrowing, violent death was really not appropriate for children, IMO. It scared the crap out me. I just bought the series on Ebay and rewatched it, and again, it's not all that scary, but again, I see why my ten-year-old self was impressed. One thing that really surprised me: it's a New Zealand series, and the kids have the thickest Kiwi accents. How come I didn't remember that?

Did work in hand with Willow this afternoon and got a most excellent collected trot with some almost passage-y moments. Kept that feeling for fifteen minutes under saddle and called it a day. Good girl!


Erica said...

The internets and the ebay are cool!!

Chris Burkholder said...

Didn't you have a brother who used to wait for you to be alone in a room, and then lie down outside the doorway and reach his hand into the room, and tap his index finger slowly until you screamed?

Good times... ;-)

halfpassgirl said...

Yeah, and that's why I'm the screwed-up wreck I am today.

Chris said...

can you possibly upload the video of the world beyond? I'd love to see it.

halfpassgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
halfpassgirl said...

I'll see if I can at least post highlights from The World Beyond.