Most people will be too young to remember this Punky Brewster episode, the Punky Brewster phenomenon, or Punky Brewster at all. It’s possible the videos I have linked below won’t seem as psychologically crippling as they were when they were first broadcast to an unsuspecting audience of children who were inundated by positive “Punky Power” week after week. All I know is that the nightmares continue.
In the mid 80’s, a Punky Brewester Halloween special entitled “Perils of Punky” aired during its second season. It was a two parter. The end of Part One had us shitting our Underoos due to a scary monster with a freakish scream popping up out of nowhere. That was more of a startle than anything else. However, when Part Two aired a week later, we were treated to more of a psychological scare as Punky’s friend Alan was presumably killed and turned into a head-mount zombie of sorts. Rotten teeth…face poking out of a rock…looking like the face was pealed off of Alan’s skull and reanimated somehow. It was a taunting, grotesque and horrifying thing really. Nothing about it made sense. There was a David Lynch quality about it which turned our safe, morally-supreme Punky Brewster universe on its head. Soon enough, all of Punky’s friends, as well her dog, were presumably killed or deformed by a mysterious evil spirit. By the end of the second episode, Punky does eventually vanquish the evil spit (you know…with LOVE,) but by that point the damage had already been done. I remember my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Maloney, standing in front of our class and denouncing Punky Brewster the very next day. Normally she would use that time to applaud Punky for saying no to drugs or something like that.
Thinking back on all of this in my adult years, I was left wondering if I had imagined or dreamed this whole thing up. It seemed too bizarre to be real. Thanks to the magic of the internets, I was able to seek out this Halloween episode on youtube. Alas, my fears and confusion have been confirmed. This first clip mainly just sets up the story. The only scary parts happen right at the end:
The scariest part of this next clip is at 4:10 (which is what stuck with me all these years):
It’s interesting how many people have left comments on these youtube videos, admitting to having had nightmares because of Punky’s perils. They too have wondered whether this whole thing was a figment of their imagination or not. We are bonding over our shared trauma. To those who still live in silent horror, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I understand how difficult it’s been having no one to turn to…no rational explanations to be comforted by. If you believe that group meetings might help you deal with your PBTSD, I will look into organizing something.
Now that I look at a picture of Alan juxtaposed with a picture of me when I was a kid, I think I understand part of why this disturbed me so much.
Love conquers all,
SAGE “also freaked out by Large Marge” FRANCIS