Oddtober 2020: WNUF Halloween Special

WNUF Halloween Special is one of the best “found footage” films the horror genre has produced in years, which is kind of grim because it was released in 2013.  It doesn’t really matter if the premise has had every drop of ingenuity and decent story-telling wrung out of it.  If it worked once, why not keep doing it until not even the mafia will finance your film?  Given my dim view of other films that mine this vein, the only reason I selected this film on Shudder is because I was doing mindless chores and wanted some background noise. Five minutes in, I understood this wasn’t just another V/H/S.  So I stopped it so I could watch it later and pay attention, and forced Mr. OTC to watch it with me.  Good times.  (By the way, I could only find this on Shudder and couldn’t find it elsewhere to stream, sorry.)

The premise is fairly simple: The news station on WNUF, Channel 28, in some northern town some time in the 1980s is hosting the “first live on TV seance.” We are watching a VHS video someone recorded of the news program that aired right before the Halloween special, wherein we learn about this little town and all its problems. Periodically, the film fast forwards through repetitive or uninteresting sections, mimicking what we all used to do when we recorded network television back in the day, placing the audience in the role of an active viewer of the tape. Interspersed throughout the news and the later seance special, we see commercials that are so absolutely true to 1980s concerns, mores, cultural issues and consumer habits that it was hard not to cringe at how awful the 80s really were. The program for the seance begins after the news, and the audience learns that a son slaughtered his parents in the house, and a couple who are paranormal investigators, a hapless priest, an oily reporter and a cat find out that the dead should be the least of anyone’s concerns.

The only way to discuss this film is to recount both the plot and the running commentary Mr. OTC and I engaged in, as we were delighted and utterly appalled by how much this film got completely right, balancing perfectly between retro cringe and upbeat nostalgia, lampooning and lauding the 1980s.  I’ll swap back and forth between the plot and the best of the commercials, but know that if I could explore every commercial without writing a novella-length discussion, I would.

The film begins with a fast forward through commercials, some of which are helpful PSAs (“Wait! Stop! Think! There’s nothing sexy about STDs!”) and then the news begins.  We meet hosts Gavin Gordon, looking like a young Fred Willard in a vampire costume, and Deborah Merritt, with perfect mom makeup, wearing a witch hat and a saccharine smile.

First thing they tell us about is the upcoming special with reporter Frank, and make terrible Halloween jokes.  “No, you didn’t tune into the Transylvania Public Access station,” Gavin says.  Then they give a rundown of the evening’s news stories: a religious organization is praying for the end of Halloween because Satan is bad, the ads in the governor’s race are getting dirty, and they announce Frank Stewart is going to take us along as he traipses through a murder house.


Mr. OTC: Did you see that smile and little shrug she gave him.  You know that wasn’t on the cue cards.  He’s ad libbing and she hates him.  I bet he even bounced the whole Transylvanian cable access joke off her beforehand and she told him she’d strangle him if he did it and he did it anyway to piss her off.

Me: Really?  I got the impression those two are having an extramarital affair.  That’s weird sexual tension, I think.

Mr. OTC: No reason it can’t be both.

Where the Dead Go to Die, a film by “Jimmy Screamerclauz”

Film: Where the Dead Go to Die

Director/Producer/Writer: James Creamer, aka “Jimmy Screamerclauz”

Type of Film: Extreme horror, animation

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It was, in part, inspired by yesterday’s entry, Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy.

Availability: The best place you can find this film, which was made in 2012, is on Amazon:

Comments: This discussion is happening in a deliberate vacuum.  In my search to find the film, I couldn’t help but notice the very low ratings this animated movie has received. I deliberately didn’t read those reviews, which is standard operating procedure for me, but I mention the low ratings as well as my intentional ignorance about this film so hopefully my very specific perspective will make sense to those who may know more about this film and its origins than I do.  Had I not watched this film with a specific bit of information in mind, I suspect I would have panned it myself.  But that little piece of information makes a big difference in my perspective.

I follow an Instagram account called Gorrific_Extreme and it was this account that led me to Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy. In the comments on the entry about the book, jimmyscreamerclauz made the following comment:

That book is disturbing and completely fucked, but eventually inspired Where The Dead Go To Die. Also seems less crazy and far fetched in this day and age….

So yeah, I had to track down both the book and the film it inspired. And jimmyscreamerclauz is unfortunately right: given what we know now about Jeffrey Epstein, the Lolita Express, Nickelodeon and Dan Schneider, it’s harder to dismiss claims of extraordinary sexual abuse. Though it must be said, those cases are more terrestrial than the “flushed down the toilet so Walker, Texas Ranger could rape me then carried by hot air balloon to the cemetery where I was forced to dig up corpses” narratives that came out of the McMartin scandal, the inspiration for Don’t Send Me Back, Mommy. Five years ago, had a starlet complained that she was pressured to have sex, and when she refused she was raped by a producer, and it was an open secret, and that famous renowned actresses may have set her up for that rape, I would have waved it away as bullshit.

But even as I realize mankind is not as depraved as the Satanic Panic narrative wants us to believe, we still suck and do terrible things.  The McMartin case is firmly debunked by all reasonable people, but just because one thing is a manufactured drama doesn’t mean children don’t come to grave harm daily, though generally in far less fantastic ways. This film covers the more realistic harms – child abuse by parents and child porn creation – along with other, stranger and nearly impossible harms (but even those “impossible” harms show up in current Pizzagate narratives, more on that in a moment).

It’s a hard film to watch. The content is over the top, and it’s over the top in a way that is not wholly unfamiliar.  The animation reminds me a lot of the cartoon, Xavier: Renegade Angel, a sort of crude, early Second Life look.  And the content, strangely enough, reminds me a lot of old Adult Swim shows.  Remember Hand Banana, the rapist dog thing from Aqua Teen Hunger Force? How about the time Carl got auto-raped so badly with a broom that the handle poked through the top of his head? The pool full of elf blood?  And don’t forget the gross, Christian misery of Moral Orel. This film takes all of that extreme content further than we could be shown on cable television, but for those who enjoyed the random, nonsensical violence of such cartoons, Where the Dead Go to Die may seem extreme but it’s not wholly new.

I think the sort of shambling and random nature of the narratives in this film are seen as unique due to the lack of proximity to similarly random, outrageous sexual violence, and the narrative is indeed a stagger through various hells.  The film has three chapters:

–“Tainted Milk” is clearly a riff on the old Lassie films.  Labby, a black dog with glowing red eyes, tells Tommy, an unhappy kid whose parents are equally unhappy, that the baby his mother is carrying is the Anti-Christ and must be killed.  Tommy can’t bring himself to do it so Labby does it for him. This chapter is rough – all of the content is rough, really – featuring forced abortion, emasculation, murder and bestiality.  Followers of serial killer lore will also hark back to the dog that supposedly egged on David Berkowitz to shoot happy couples as they made out in parked cars.

–“Liquid Memories” features a character whose name I did not catch.  He looks a lot like Jesse Custer from Garth Ennis’ comic, The Preacher.  He likes to kill people in churches and before they die he inserts a needle into their necks to extract their final memories.  He injects himself with the memories of a dying prostitute who has crawled into the church for help, experiences her psychedelic and horrific memories, and promptly kills himself in response.

–The final chapter, “The Mask That Monsters Wear,” is the longest and most upsetting. Ralph was born to fundamentalist whack jobs who refuse to get a parasitic conjoined twin removed from his head because God has plans for all His children and that would be murder.  They torment Ralph with the notion that he is abusing his brother by wearing a ski mask that covers his head and blame him for what happened to his brother. Ralph is treated kindly by a neighborhood girl named Sophia.  She is abused and pimped out by her father, who also makes kiddie porn of her.  I am unsure of her age but she and Ralph are in grade school, and Sophia sounds like she is no older than ten.  Kindred spirits, Sophia and Ralph develop a deep friendship.  In what was strangely the most heart-wrenching scene in the film, Sophia finds out that Ralph keeps bugs that come into the house so his mother can’t kill them. Sophia tells him the bugs are worse than dead because now they are trapped in the jar habitats he keeps them in.  She takes him to a place in the woods she calls her “garden,” full of pretty flowers, and they release the bugs.  Sophia says it is the happiest day of her life.

But then Ralph is recruited into the porn movies Sophia’s father makes, and finds out his own father is also involved in Sophia’s abuse. After Ralph is forced to have sex with Sophia on tape, Sophia reveals his bugs destroyed her garden.  Ralph’s involvement in her abuse kills what is left of her spirit.  Ralph, disfigured and emotionally abused himself, runs amok and kills his parents, strangling a rabbit near a well that a voice comes out of from time to time, a voice that speaks to Ralph, Sophia and Tommy.  Ralph’s corruption is now complete.

The key for me understanding all of this and how it all links together is the book that inspired it (though clearly the film has a lot of influences and inspirations).  Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy, is an attempt to offer help to children who suffered satanic ritual abuse and mirrors the McMartin pre-school case.  I am unsure what Doris Sanford’s motives were in writing such a book – as I explain in yesterday’s entry, her books became more outrageous over time, beginning with self-help books for kids whose parents have depression and eventually including books for kids who survive prison/death camps.  Though I found the book ridiculous, I approached it with seriousness, willing to see what it brought to the table, and I approached the film it inspired from the same perspective.

The at times tenuous links in the content seem less tenuous when you look at this through the focus of Doris Sanford’s work.  James Creamer is parroting back to us what many insisted happened during the Satanic Panic.  I suspect the good, moral folk who believed in stories like McMartin, who genuinely think such atrocities happen routinely to children, would condemn this film because it’s violent and obscene. But it is no more obscene than court transcripts from the McMartin case, Michelle Remembers, or any other Satanic Panic tell-all.  Every horrible element from this film can be linked to a genuine Satanic Panic account or belief.  The Satanic Panic belief will be followed by the detail that describes it in the film:

–Unborn babies ripped from wombs/Tommy’s mother’s baby being torn from her womb

–Evil animals used to control or harm children/Laddy the dog urging these kids to do terrible things in the name of God

–Killing bunnies to frighten children/Ralph strangles a rabbit at the end to show his utter loss of innocence

–“Naked Movie Star” used as a game to make child porn/Sophia’s father making porn of her with neighbors and Ralph

–Claims sacrifices happened at the Episcopal church/the unnamed man who kills people in churches

There’s more but those are the more obvious correlations. Interestingly, though this was not a claim in any of the Satanic Panic beliefs from the 1980s through the mid-1990s, the serial killer who extracts spinal fluid for memories is a bit on the nose when one considers the Pizzagate belief that children are held in terrified captivity because terror makes their adrenal glands produce hormones that jaded celebrities remove and drink.  Sometimes the adrenal glands themselves will be removed, according to these legends, and Pizzagate and QAnon message boards are full of accusations that weird beverages consumed by famous people contain AdrenoChrome harvested from abused and forsaken children. I did a search on “adrenochrome” in the Pizzagate Voat and there were dozens of entries. (I wanted to link to the search but no matter what I did, the link would not work. If you’re curious, and if Voat is accepting new registrations, maybe make an account and read through the above search and Pizzagate as a whole because there are so many rabbit holes to fall down.)

I am unsure how far back claims that elites were drinking brain fluids from children go, but if they post-date Where the Dead Go to Die, it’s a sign that there is literally nothing so far-fetched that people will not believe it, and there is nothing so horrible someone can do that a person sufficiently plugged in to the zeitgeist cannot predict it.

In the end, this film parrots back at Satanic Panic True Believers the very things they believe, yet if they ever watched this film they would be outraged and upset. Increasingly I see this as an excellent gambit to use in argument culture – repeat back what others say and watch their reactions to hearing themselves in a different voice.

Like I said, the reason I was able to stomach this film was because I understood some of the source material.  I don’t know if those who hate this film would reconsider if they knew what I know or what anyone who has studied the Satanic Panic would know.  But it makes a difference.  It gives the at times hallucinatory and seemingly gratuitous gore a tether that leads back to the witch hunt cycles that plague mankind.  Once you have the premise behind even the most outrageous display of depravity, you find yourself unable to dismiss it out of hand and you may even find yourself taking it seriously like I did.


This film is a reflection of beliefs that ruined lives, and it’s also a wallow in the worst mankind can do.  It’s content that is very hard to take in and I don’t think I will watch this film again, but to be fair one reading of Michelle Remembers  tends to be enough for the average whacked-culture student.  But watching it with its inspiration in mind enabled me to see this film in a wholly different light than I would have had I just randomly stumbled across it online.

I have no idea if you want to see this film, and I can’t really recommend it because my experience with this film is very specific.  If you’re a gorehound, you may want to have a look. Similarly students of the Satanic Panic or those very interested in the current Pizzagate lore will find this film interesting  The rest of you may want to give it a pass.  But at least now you know it’s out there, and that one beleaguered woman thinks that once you look past the DIY or Die-style production and link the content to the notions that inspired it, it may not be as pointless a wallow as others seem to think.

Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy by Doris Sanford

Book: Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse

Author: Doris Sanford, illustrated by Graci Evans.

Type of Book: Children’s book, illustrated, utter fiction

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, it’s no My Friend, The Enemy: Surviving Prison Camp, but it has its moments.  Also, discussing the background of this book takes up much more intellectual space than the book itself.

Availability: Published in 1990 by A Corner of the Heart, it’s out of print, but if you have money to burn and enjoy that sickening feeling you get when you realize you have a relic of an entirely different form of child abuse than the book professes to tackle, you can still get a used copy on Amazon.  However, the book is so reviled that Amazon will not permit me to link to it directly.

Comments: The late 1980s and early 1990s were a weird time. All over rural and suburban America, white people became very afraid of Satan, and sometimes even “real” Satanists participated in the freak show of Satanic Panic.  Some of us listened as Bob Larson, huckster and self-taught exorcist, attempted to exorcise demons out of Trey Azagthoth, from the death metal band Morbid Angel.  Glen Benton, front man of Deicide, spent a lot of time taunting Bob, and frankly that time could have been better spent injecting heroin straight into his balls, but, like I said, it was a weird time.  Geraldo, Sally Jesse Raphael and Oprah had the pre-cursors of soccer moms convinced that Satanist wolves infiltrated every corner of the planet – but mostly white, middle-class pre-schools, it seems – in order to pass as sheep, ready to savage their children.

It was a very dark time, my sarcasm aside. Families were destroyed because poorly trained and dogma-afflicted therapists and hysterical, mostly fundamentalist Christian, parents believed children could not be led into making up salacious details about abuse that never happened.  They believed children when those children, after hours and hours and sometimes days and days of leading and suggestive comments, told impossible stories about abuse that they claimed was heaped upon them at day care centers. The McMartin pre-school case is one of the best examples of the Satanic Panic run amok.

A mother, whom members of the community later admitted was utterly unstable and had a history of making false accusations, was convinced that Raymond Buckey, son of the owner of the McMartin day care center, had sodomized her son.  She went to the police during a time when law enforcement was willing to believe such claims without much in the way of evidence, and during the investigation letters were sent to parents of children who attended the day care, asking them to check with their children to make sure Raymond hadn’t, you know, raped them repeatedly.  Predictably, parents became hysterical and some of the most poorly trained therapists ever to worry about men in hoods in the woods pressured McMartin attendees until they remembered any number of absolutely impossible situations, involving every McMartin employee, as well as random strangers unlucky enough to be lumped into the group of suspects.

McMartin kids, under the questioning of a therapist who really needed there to be a terrible scandal and shaped one that fit neatly with her bizarre beliefs, insisted that sometimes they were flushed down toilets into tunnels under the school and used in Satanic orgies.  They claimed they saw lions and horses killed, as well as rabbits being frequently killed in front of them to make them compliant.  They claimed they watched as babies were sacrificed at the local Episcopal church. They claimed Raymond Buckey could fly, that they were filmed naked and their abuse was taped as a game the adults called “naked movie star.” Nary a photo or film clip was ever found. It never really seemed to register with the therapists involved that something was wrong with all these weird stories, not even when kids could not identify Raymond, their supposed rapist who flew and killed rabbits, but did identify Chuck Norris as one of the men who harmed them. No one felt a bit unsettled when the kids spoke of being taken from abuse locations in hot air balloons, or that the kids were taken to cemeteries during the day and forced to dig up corpses, which their day care instructors began to stab repeatedly, hacking the bodies up before forcing the kids to rebury them. Even more bizarre physical evidence was used to prove the accusations of kids who had no physical signs that they had been abused, let alone repeatedly raped, cut, or beaten.  The now utterly debunked “wink” anus test was used on little kids, and as a result those little kids ended up being sexually abused by the people set on saving them from abuse.

That’s a problem that comes up a lot in Satanic Panic cases – if the kids weren’t victimized by those accused of abuse, the accusers put the kids through such nightmarish questioning and physical examinations that they were definitely victimized.  Some of the McMartin kids have grown into adults who believe the system failed them, permitting the people who sacrificed endless numbers of babies to Satan while raping them and their friends to eventually go free.  They feel traumatized and victimized and their lives have been ruined.  While a lot of people look at this kiddie book as a real life example of Liartown’s fine book parodies…

The world is a terrible place and we know this because only two of these books are fake.

…it’s only funny if you don’t know the truth behind it.

As I type this, I know people who really are into Dave McGowan’s Programmed to Kill, the belief that Bush the Elder led a pedophile cult that preyed on kids involved in the Franklin Scandal, and every minute detail from the whole of the recent Pizzagate weirdness are going to come call me a black propagandist, insinuate I get paid by the Podesta brothers to write such articles or accuse me of being a pedophile.  Same as it ever was.  Every such commenter reads a refutation of their hobby horse and feels it is an apologia for child abuse as a whole when it’s really just other people questioning their intellectual fitness. It makes me glad this book is out of print. Perhaps it’s best they waste their time leaving me silly comments because otherwise they might actually engage in real life advocacy and no one, especially children, needs that.

Now to the book.

Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy is a direct response to the McMartin pre-school case. It even brings up the game “naked movie star.” (The key, or should I say “Kee,” therapist involved with the McMartin case, took a slightly bawdy rope skipping chant and turned it into a tacit admission of kiddie porn involvement – “What you say is what you are, you’re a naked movie star!” Our weird chant when I was a kid was a vulgar variation of the song “Tah rah rah boom dee-ay.” We all had them but, again, it shows a lot about the mentality of the professional adult who immediately believes such silly rhymes mean kids are being gang raped.)

The story is pretty basic – little girl gets Satanically abused at her day care, she tells her parents, who work hard to help her recover, and assure her that God was really sad she was abused.

The illustrations in the book are drawn by Graci Evans and they do a decent job of revealing some McMartin realness.

Pay close attention. Note the pregnant woman with the tiny cups on a tray. She’s probably gonna sacrifice her baby to The One with Horns and those cups held sedatives for the kids. Also note Allison’s drawing – a rabbit with bloody ears.
Okay, so some of the children are naked and that noose is really small. Children whose parents bought this book unironically deserve reparations.

I’m unsure what to think about Doris Sanford.  I can’t really find much information about her, aside from basic obituary-level information – she appears to have died in 2018.  She began her foray into self-help books for kids by discussing the impact of parental depression on kids, and how hard it is for kids to process death, both helpful and useful books.  Even her books about sexual abuse at home seem charmingly helpful in comparison to Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy. But over time her titles became more… upsetting.  How many kids were out there who survived death camps and also had access to American book stores?  The kids in Rwanda weren’t gonna see Doris’ book about death camps, nor were kids who suffered in the Balkans. But she wrote a book about it. And she wrote this book, and no matter what alarmists tell you, Satanic Ritual Abuse is rare and hardly has an audience large enough to support a book helping the children who survive it.

Was Doris a True Believer in Satanic Panic?  Was she jadedly making a buck off the backs of people who were clearly already willing to torture their kids?  I have no idea. Worse, her book may well have been the lesser of several other evils.  I remember a woman on my street when I was a kid who would give out Jack Chick tracts and a dime to each kid on Halloween.  My mom made me go to her door each year that I trick-or-treated because she wanted to see what lunacy I’d walk back with. I lack the will to look up the exact title, but I remember one year I got a tract about how some kid died and when he went to heaven God showed him every terrible thing he’d done on some sort of celestial slide show projector, and I began to worry if my mom was trying to tell me God had a rap sheet on me a mile long and I needed to get my shit together.  Really, she just wanted to see what crazy crap the woman was giving out that year. But I remember being very upset that God had basically set up surveillance on me and was collecting evidence of every sass back, every lie, every thing a child does because she’s a child, in order to shame me when I died.  At least Doris’ books had decent production values.

So I guess what I am saying is that people love witch hunts and that will never not be true, and every generation has their own unique way of terrifying kids with images of Satan.

But this book, all kidding aside, is an excellent relic of the time that spawned it.  And for all I know it was a legitimate and sincere attempt to address what at the time seemed like a terrible societal ill.  But the utter perversity of the accusations, the beliefs people had about well-organized cabals preying upon the most privileged and well-protected children in human history, shows a sort of sickness within that even now people don’t like to address. What do you do if your mother is certain you were sodomized in a tunnel by an American icon like Chuck Norris, who most definitely did not have large chunks of time he could be away from film and TV sets to hang around in subterranean lairs to rape toddlers?  How do you cope with the rectal exams you were forced to endure because adults really believed you were taken away in hot air balloons to be raped in the Episcopal church? What does that say about the secret fantasies and moral bruises of those who believed such unbelievable, foul, bloody and sexually perverse things?

I have an answer of sorts in a film I will discuss tomorrow, an animated film inspired by this specific book. See you then.

Tool by Peter Sotos

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Tool

Author: Peter Sotos

Type of Book: Sotos-esque

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because Peter Sotos is the sort of writer whose prose is so indescribable that I have to call it Sotos-esque.

Availability: Published in 2013 by Nine Banded Books, you can get a copy here:

You can also get a copy directly from Nine Banded Books.

Comments: I finished reading this book at 3:00 in the morning and didn’t really sleep that night. I read it in one sitting and though it only took a few hours to read, when I was finished I felt hollowed out. Sick. Queasy. Not unlike how it feels when you crash after a speed bender. Jittery and empty yet all too aware that sleep is not coming. Parts of this book were like being flayed.  I think anyone who was ever victimized finds Sotos a daunting read, but of all the books he has written that I have read thus far, this one was the most upsetting to me.  And the reason I was so upset was because that which is wrong in this book is often wrong in me.

Of course we all know that I read upsetting books because I like being upset (or sickened or awakened or whatever happens to me when I read really difficult content). But even within that paradigm I take a beating when I read Sotos.  Without engaging in too much self-analysis, I can only assume that at the end it was a beating I needed or truly wanted in some way.  This is why I read Sotos.  Because on some level we have similar thoughts – a book like this could only be devastating to a person who has already been down this road.  To the unaffected reader, it might just come off as vulgarity or pointless obscenity.  Despite being trained to analyze literature in an academic manner, I prefer to react in an emotional manner to the books I read.  I don’t really care about the schools of thought and the tradition of transgression that many attempt to apply to Sotos’ work.  When I read him I care only about my reaction, how he pokes at my own obsessions, how he knows so much more than anyone else about the will to harm and the will to survive harm.

I don’t know how this fact had not jumped out at me before, but in every book, keeping in mind every little bit of genuine autobiographical data he gives, Peter Sotos is playing different roles and channeling different people.  He is exploring humanity by speculating about the worst things that go through the minds of the worst people.  Because he is taking on the roles of other people, Sotos, in a very real sense, is engaging in psychodrama. And that is why I am so wrung out at the end of each book he writes. His psychodrama speaks to my own worries, neuroses, experiences and fears.

This is purely incidental. Peter Sotos is not writing for you or for me. Never forget that. Any meaning you take from Sotos’ words may have nothing to do with his intentions as he wrote the book. He’s not trying to relate to us. His psychodramas are his own. They are so deeply personal and unintended for purgation of others that it’s very interesting to me the extreme reactions his writing creates, especially in those who find themselves angry at what they consider Sotos’ wickedness.

That having been said, no matter how incidental any connection I have to this book may be, this book was a great emotional purge for me. Even in the extremity of another person’s psychodrama I found little pieces of my own experiences, most of them unpleasant.  Clearly something in me is perverse enough to enjoy being poked psychically.  It’s a useful pain, I think.