The Blob by
100
(137 Stories)

Prompted By Trauma

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

In the universe of trauma, it seems pretty trivial to describe a childhood horror movie.  Looking back now, it is hard to believe that I would be terrified by the old sci-fi low-budget 1950’s film, “The Blob”.  I was surprised to learn from Wikipedia that it was Steve McQueen’s acting debut, and music was by Burt Bachrach.  Not a critical success at the time, it nonetheless holds a place in the pantheon of B movies as a modest retro icon.  We can all laugh at how the creeping blob turned increasingly red as it swallowed people up.  Ha ha.

Perhaps it is the nature of trauma that it is intensely personal and often private.  I saw the film when I was seven.  I was spending the night down the street with my best friend at the time, Phyllis.  She had an older brother, George, who talked us into the trip to the movies at some local ex-pat, maybe even military, venue in Saigon.  It hadn’t been part of the plan when my parents said it was okay to do the overnight at Phyllis’ house–which I think they didn’t completely encourage as the parents were conservative military types they didn’t click with.

I knew the story wasn’t real, but the quivering pinkish blob that hid under a bed or behind a door and grew larger after devouring people was a perfect monster for a child, something that went bump in the night but even creepier.  George didn’t seem scared at all, and I didn’t want to be a cry-baby, but I was truly frightened.  When we returned to Phyllis’ house, I couldn’t sleep.  We shared a bed, and every rustle of the bedclothes made me think it might be the blob coming to get me.  I left the next day, and never said a word about my terror.  I’m not sure my parents even realized we had gone to the movies.

The traumatic part was that I couldn’t shake the fear.  Every time my mind would wander back to the film, I would get a deep and sharp pang of dread inside.  It seemed embarrassing to admit and so I didn’t tell anyone about the terror that lurked within—not my sisters, my parents, a teacher or even Phyllis.  It also didn’t go away—not for a week or a month, but for a couple of years, even after we had been back in Michigan for some time.  It was my own terrible secret that haunted me.

Eventually I was able to move on, maybe just due to being a bit older and having more distance on the experience. It was replaced by fear of nuclear annihilation, fascism, and climate catastrophe I suppose—oh to have only a scary movie to fear.  I feel lucky that it was just “The Blob” and nothing worse that became my private dark and terrible secret in my childhood years.  I can scarcely imagine the pain so many children carry from far worse trauma, but I know it can be hidden, and I know it is important that we listen to traumatized children (and older people) who are able to share their stories.

 

Note:  Per Wikipedia, this trailer is in the US public domain because it was published there between 1928 and 1977 inclusive, without a copyright notice.
(See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Blob_(1958)_-_Trailer.webm)

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry


Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    Khati, this is a wonderful description of childhood trauma. I had a similar scary movie that haunted me for a long time. Of course some children face terrible trauma in real life, and we know that must have much worse effects, but the terror of a scary movie can be very real to a child. The fact that you saw this movie in Saigon, which we learn from a throwaway line in the middle of the second paragraph, is an added bonus.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Poor kids—we have no idea sometimes what is traumatizing them. You can relate to the scary movie. I guess parental guidance is a good idea… I do count myself lucky to only have had the scary movie that made such a sharp impression for sure.

  2. Yes Khati , wouldn’t it be grand if creepy movies were the only things to scare us now instead of what’ we see every night on the news!

  3. Jim Willis says:

    Hi Khati. I remember The Blob, although it didn’t have the emotional punch that you experienced. The movie that produced that trauma for me came later: The Exorcist. Although I was in my late 20s when it premiered, I remember waiting a couple months before venturing out to see it. Even though I was primed for what was to come, memories of the movie still gave me nightmares in the days following.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    The terror that you felt was absolutely genuine, Khati (I’m sure seeing it in Saigon made it even creepier). These movie monsters take on a life of their own in young minds and are very difficult to shake. No shame in admitting it. I was young (maybe 7) when my parents took me to see “Ben Hur”, that grand epic (I was too young to understand the Christian part at the end). The lepers scared the bejesus out of me. I had nightmares for weeks after. I forced myself to watch it again as an adult and found it mild, but saw how it could have frightened the little girl in me.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I can totally relate to your story, but the movie that traumatized me as a child did such a good job that I can’t remember its name. But I was pretty sensitive. For some reason I hated the ending of Dragnet when a sweaty hand held the mallet in place to pound out the Mark VII logo. I never understood why it upset me.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      There is an entire industry devoted to scaring the bejeeesus out of us—and some people seem to like it. I don’t get it, nor how people can be evil to others—though I imagine it comes out of their own pain somehow. Still. You devoted your life to making kids loved and resilient so good on you!

  6. I think your piece very accurately captured and presented us the child’s eye view of a terrifying film. IN my case, it was a particular episode of the Twilight Zone that similarly haunted me–until I rewatched it a couple years ago, at age 71, with my collegiate son!
    For young children who have loving families, I don’t think fear of fascism (as distinct from actually being carried off to a camp) or anything is that traumatic. I think having mean, painful, or injurious things happen to oneself within the confines of the (non-loving) family has to be the most terrifying.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      It seems a lot of people have been haunted by different scary p programs—Twilight Zones had some disturbing episodes for sure.
      I agree that the things that worry me now are different than the things that kids mostly worry about, and that loving families are key to resiliency. Peace and love to all

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    When “Day of the Triffids” first came out in theaters, I was six, and saw the ad for it on TV. It absolutely FREAKED me out. I was convinced that the triffids were coming for me. It got worse when I noticed that the very tall sunflowers that grew in the vacant lot next door, right on the other side of a thin wall from my bedroom, actually MOVED as they tracked the sun during the course of a day. I figured they were in league with the triffids and were spying out our weak points….

    • Khati Hendry says:

      I never heard of The Day of the Triffids—but it sounds like a similarly creepy invasion by weird monsters. Glad I never heard of or saw it—the Blob was enough for me. It must have been hard to have the nefarious sunflowers growing right there, following the sun in cahoots with the triffids—that is too close to home. I have recovered from the Blob and hope triffids are safely in your rear view mirror, but who needed added fear and anxiety as a kid?

Leave a Reply