Help identifying a traumatizingly scary movie/TV show scene
June 26, 2014 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I've had this scene scarred onto my brain for about 30 years, I've encountered another person online who also remembers it but likewise has no idea what movie or TV show it was. His and my descriptions of the scene below.

I asked about the scene on back in 2008, and didn't get an answer. Here's my description from then:

...I must have been 5 or 6 when this happened, which would make it roughly 1983-84.

I was flipping channels one day and I stopped on a scene of a fairly brightly-lit kitchen in a home. It looked very cheap, like it was shot on video (early-’80s video, at that), and it was just generally kind of a crappy looking kitchen, too. There was a woman standing in front of the stove, where there was a pot of boiling water. She was wearing a white, old-lady-ish full-length housecoat, and she had stringy, greasy, shoulder-length black hair. Her head was pivoted down toward the pot of water, and her hair was covering parts of her face, but it seemed to me like her face was mangled or monstrous in some way, under the hair. She was shaking her head around a little and growling, and otherwise just standing there still, with her arms at her sides. The impression that my 5-year-old mind got was that the boiling water was affecting her somehow…It had either made her into a monster, or it was hurting her. I changed the channel, but obviously the scene had a profound effect on me. For all I know now, it could have been just an episode of QUINCY or something that I misinterpreted, but it was the earliest traumatic TV-watching experience that I can recall.

The cheapness of it makes me think that maybe it was local public access, in which case I’ve got practically no shot of someone knowing it, but this happened in Jacksonville, Florida in the early 80s (if that helps).

A couple of years ago I had a discussion on an IMDb message board with someone who described a very, very similar scene for which they couldn't find a source. Yesterday someone (who I think is probably that same person, based on the details in their description of the scene) asked about it on Kindertrauma. Here's their description:

A dark-haired woman is seen in her bright white light kitchen, the woman is wearing a bathrobe or raincoat and is cooking something in her pot of boiling water on the stove. The woman (quite starving) opens her nearly empty refrigerator, moving jars around, and finds a can of dog (?) food. She feeds it to her small grayish white dog (might have been a cat) pouring some food in the bowl. She kneels on the floor, if I remember correctly, and begins eating some of the pet food. As her dog comes rushing into the room, she stares at it with this horrible greenish face. I saw this in 1990-1992, but someone said (unfortunately, they just remember as much as I do) they saw it in the mid-‘80s. There might have been a scene where this hand comes out of the pot grabbing the woman pulling her face into the pot.

I didn't get the dog or the dog food part, but so many of the other details tell me that we must be thinking of the same thing.

Things I know it's not: Trilogy of Terror, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Theories on what it might be: a short, possibly student film like the ones they used to show on HBO (way way way back in the day) to fill time, an episode of an obscure 70s anthology show, a nightmare that I and this other person both happened to have.

Do those descriptions ring any bells for anyone?
posted by doctornecessiter to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This kinda vaguely reminds me of Meet the Hollowheads.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on June 26, 2014

Have you seen this thread?
posted by alex1965 at 7:12 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Have you seen this thread?

I hadn't seen that thread, but I'd seen this one. They all must be the same guy chucking Hail Marys all over the internet in hopes of finding a lead.

I concur with him that none of the suggestions offered so far in these other threads matches what I remember.

I wonder if there's possibly a database somewhere of short films that have been available for broadcast? Hopefully at least timestamped by decade? That's the path I've been attempting to walk in Google lately, but it's been fruitless so far. I'll try too, but...needle/haystack/etc.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if the other guy's memory/search might be a red herring. The details of his description and yours do not seem to quite match- his is more focused on the fridge and dog-food, yours on the pan. It is plausible that you may have caught an earlier seen... But you might have more success if you de-tangle your memory from his and search only based on that. Hope you find it!
posted by mymbleth at 10:59 AM on June 26, 2014

Occasionally the AV Club would post inquiries from readers looking for half-remembered TV shows and movies. I haven't seen this feature in a while, but I don't follow the site as closely as I used to. Maybe they could help?
posted by gern at 11:54 AM on June 26, 2014

Could it brim "A Boy and His Dog (1975)"? Has this been suggested before? I haven't seen it for a long time, but it could be a possibility.
posted by zizzle at 1:59 PM on June 26, 2014

Could it have been the video Songs for Swinging Larvae by Renaldo and the Loaf with the Residents? It doesn't match everything you say, but it does have a black-haired woman in a housecoat laboring over a stove in a brightly-light but crappy looking kitchen, and by the end she has a scary face. The video came out in 1981, so it works with your timeline.
posted by ejs at 7:24 PM on June 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

My God, ejs, I just watched that video at the age of 39, and I think I've just had my first traumatic TV watching experience.
posted by penguin pie at 4:14 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, but I've looked into them and none are it (but I agree that that "Songs for Swinging Larvae" video probably would have done the same thing that the actual offending film did to me if I'd seen it at around the same time).

At this point, if it wasn't for the other person with the very similar remembrance I'd chalk it up to being a dream I'd had.

Oh well!
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

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