There was a moment during the editing of the podplay where I was suddenly taken aback, "Hey, this is some sick shit. What the hell, dude? Where did that idea come from?" It took me about two seconds to reach back in my brain and figure it out as the source was a typical entry in the childhood-trauma department and therefore has never completely gone away.
I was about eight or nine years old and when my Mom would go shopping at the Base Exchange (grew up an Air Force brat and this was where the military would go for their department store-esque purchases), I'd have to tag along. Once inside, she'd go off and do her thing and I'd go over to the magazine rack and wait it out reading whatever I could find until she was done. Usually this would be a comic from the Marvel universe or, if I was particularly lucky, MAD Magazine - perfect for sporadic reading. But this time, there was something there that usually wasn't (and, tellingly, was never present afterward).
It looked like a comic book, but there was no superhero on the cover. Instead there was a desiccated, face - a grinning, rotting corpse staring straight at me. Naturally, I had to pick it up. Flipping through the pages, I'd never seen anything like it. Violent imagery that landed with great impact probably due to the fantastic artists rendering the nightmares. I don't know who drew the particular issue, but here's a pretty good example from artist Jack Kamen:
There were three stories, blood, knives, axes, corpses. This wasn't supposed to be on display for some kid to come and look at, I was in illegal territory and freaked out. So, naturally, I had to explore further.
The story I read was something called (to the best of my recollection, I have been unable to find this since) "The Organ Grinder." It centered on a husband and wife who clearly hated each other. Maybe one found out the other was cheating, I forget the reason for the conflict, just that it was there. Anyway, in a fit of rage the wife ends up killing the husband and then - to dispose of the body - SHE CHOPS HIM UP AND PUTS PIECE AFTER PIECE OF HIM IN A MEAT GRINDER UNTIL HE'S NOTHING BUT A GORY SOUP! Holy shit! Totally repulsive and nauseating. Naturally, I had to explore further. The wife rinses the 'husband soup' down the drain and mops up the mess until everything's spotless. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
When she's finished taking care of the corpse she fixes herself a nice warm bath, strips down (what's up titillation!?) and slips in. And then it happens... bloop.... BLOOP... Bubbles start coming up from the drain and then suddenly THE REANIMATED GRUE THAT WAS HER HUSBAND COMES BACK UP THROUGH THE DRAIN, WRAPS HIMSELF (ITSELF?) AROUND HER LIKE THE BLOB OR VENOM OR SOMETHING AND PROCEEDS TO SQUEEZE, CHOKE AND DROWN HER UNTIL SHE'S DEAD. That's it. Over. Done. Shellshock. Magazine back on rack. Leave the store and ride shotgun in the family station wagon contemplating the transgression I'd just experienced.
It really freaked me out, but you know what? When we were back there the next week, I was looking for that magazine. This, I've noticed is a common trait among horror fans - especially as kids - that we can experience something that completely terrifies us and yet return to that well again. And again. There's a great podcast about exactly this over at The Daily Grindhouse (one of the first ten episodes when they were hosted by G and The Man Called Perry. It's possibly the Monster Squad episode where they interview Fred Dekker). And there's a website called Kindertrauma completely devoted to this exact phenomenon. You should check it out. (In fact, I'm going to see if anyone there can figure out what magazine it was I was reading - Tales From the Crypt seems likely but could be something different entirely. If you know, leave a comment below, I'd love to revisit it.)
Anyway - there you go. A little insight into the seed from which would eventually grow "Bea Little." I can only hope that some unsuspecting youngster happens across the podplay and freaks him or herself out so much that years later they create something equally twisted. Because apparently, terrifying is fun.