Before Chucky There Was The Zuni Warrior

Most weekends when we were younger, Nettie and Pete Sr. would take my sister, Marie and I for Friday night or Saturday. Pete Sr. would go to sleep by 11pm, but Nettie stayed up all hours of the night, doing things around the house.

When we slept over, there was a ritual. Cousin Nancy would come downstairs from her apt, to join Peter, Marie and I to watch whatever scary movies Nettie could find on TV. This was before Netflix and DVDs, when you had to wait to see what the TV guide noted was on TV. Usually after 11pm there were a couple of movies that involved vampires or werewolves. Nettie would make hot tea with lots of milk and sugar in a large tea pot. She'd bake up some Oatmeal cookies or pull out the Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream with Yoohoo Chocolate syrup (I believe she even used Ubet at one time).

Peter's favorite was "Trilogy of Terror." The movie had 3 parts and we all loved part 3 with the doll (Remember, this is BEFORE the Chucky movies). Nancy was always the chicken of the group. She'd sit next to Nettie, eyes half closed, hiding behind her arm ready to scream. Peter would turn the lights out and sit on the floor. I would lay on the sofa across from Nettie and Nan. My sister would either sit with me or next to Nan. When Michelle and Tara stayed over, usually all the girls climbed onto one sofa with Nettie.

If you've seen the movie, you know that Part 3 has a Zuni hunting doll with a spirit inside the doll.  The doll looks like a warrior, with large white jagged teeth, scraggley out of control hair and a spear in one hand. We would watch mesmerized, waiting for the scariest part to happen when the doll comes alive. Then, when the best part happened, all us girls (including Nettie) would scream. In fact, when the hunting doll was running around and stabbing people with the spear, Pete would have a fork in his hand, stabbing Nan in the leg or trying to scare his mother with growling noises and scratches.

At some point one of us would jump up to turn the light on or jump on hit Peter to make him stop, but it only inspired him to do something worse.  One time during the movie, he must have left the room without us realizing it. At the last moment of the film, he ran into the room with a caveman wig on his head, Nettie's large wooden spoon and jumped onto Nan screeching like he was on fire and dying. All I remember was running out of the room and coming face to stomach with Pete Sr. who wanted to know what was wrong because we sounded like we were dying at 1 o clock in the morning.

One look at Peter and he knew exactly what was wrong.

Needless to say, our monster movie nights continued with Nettie, but we were required to keep the screaming to a minimum and Peter wasn't allowed to leave the room.

This was Peter's favorite scene. He would mimick the zuni doll's growl throughout the entire night and most of the next morning through breakfast.


Thanks to Eric for sending the blog this link:


  1. Oh my gosh, Trilogy of Terror! I remember that movie really well, and the Zuni part was the best part...the other two parts I don't even remember. You guys seem like such fun, what great memories to cherish with Peter. My friends and I went through a phase of trying to mimic the Zuni doll's voice, too. I think Peter would have topped everyone though, must have scared the heck out of you guys, including his mom, but then again, I'm sure you were used to him doing things like that! What a great and funny story, thank you so much for sharing these stories with us. ~ L.

  2. Omg! Omg! Omg! I had totally forgotten about that movie unitl this post!!! That doll was so freaky! I can imagine how scary it must have been with Peter's added effects! I have to find that to let my kids watch. Thanks for the blast from the past! Peace.


  4. by the way,,,hilarious story!!

  5. Omg that is hilarious. I remember that doll VERY WELL. It scared the crap out of me for years. What scared me even worse was when she opened the oven and it blew up in her face. I couldnt believe she was stupid enough to open it lmao! I can still hear that awful YEE YEEE YEE screaming it did. That has to be right up there with the top horror movie films because it left a lasting impression on me, thats for sure. Wish I could have seen Pete scaring you all like that, it had to have been priceless. Ahh another wonderful story, it goes into my memories of Pete as I can almost see it happening the way you described. Thank you so much for sharing your brother and uncle with us girls. It means so much to me.

  6. [falls out of chair laughing] He was such a instigator! Haha.

  7. I remember the evil Zuni doll. Haven't seen it in years. I have so many funny stories about being scared and scaring people back when we were kids. So many nights after watching a horror movie we would be hiding in the corner with knives, crosses, bibles and garlic scared out of our brains because we heard a noise, but laughing at the same time. Your house sounds exactly like mine when there was a horror movie on. I love how Nettie was so young at heart and could join in and have as much fun as the kids. Those movies are so lame compared to todays horror but as kids they scared the shit out of us. I could imagine Peter doing his best scary noises, boys love scaring girls. The more you girls screamed I bet the more Peter laughed. Again I say, I love how the Ratajczyk's did everything a bit differently, like my family. WE are the crazies!! Darcie you have put a big smile on my face tonight, my brain is over flowing with memories. Thanks

  8. This is awesome...I love watching scary movies. This takes me back to the memories of my sister and i. My sister and i watched just about every scary movie there was. We would sit up late watching movies eating popcorn,cookies,chips all the junk food we could think of..Oh yeah cannot forget the soda pop..Coke a cola,Pepsi,Tab,RC to name a few. My sister had an issue with the RC soda pop, she never drank another drop after my aunt jokingly told her what the RC stood for..Rotten Crotch ..lol Even though my aunt made that up and told my sister she was joking, my sister never picked up another can of RC. I miss those nights of watching scary/horror movies with my sister, those were some of the best times. I loved reading about your family getting together watching scary movies especially reading about nettie watching them with you...Just awesome!! I probably would have shit myself if a big guy like peter jumped out and scared the bejesus out of me while i was watching a movie like the...Trilogy of Terror or any movie...lol. Thank you for sharing :)

  9. Yum yum eat 'em up, eat 'em up!

  10. ROFL!!! Sounds like a blast!! Pete Sr. sounds like he was the calmest person on the planet. My dad would've flipped if we were all screaming at 1am...we would've never heard the end of it...lol.

  11. OH MY GOSH--I love this movie!! I think it's awesome that Nettie made all that food and then sat down and watched the movie with you guys. I thought my mom was the only one (mom, I mean) who watched scary movies. :) When we watched this we would pull our feet off the floor because we were afraid the doll would pop out from under the couch and grab our feet. Leave it to Peter to raise the scare-factor!!
    Too cool--Love & Gratitude--Patty P

  12. Haha, I remember seeing this movie as a kid, never knew what it was called though. Me and my brother would always refer to the doll as "doo-doo man".


  13. OMG< that was the funniest thing I've seen in a very long time! Thank you for the belly laugh.

    Again, thank you for opening up to all of us about your family and Peter's antics. We all appreciate this. I hope this blog is therapeutic for you as well.

  14. Hi Darcie--

    I know this has nothing to do with this particular post (but in fact, a recent, earlier one), but I wanted to leave this reply here.
    You had asked about a 'more authentic' pronunciation of your last name, and I double-checked with my Polish neighbor, who is in fact from Poland. She told me--

    Ra-Ty-Chick (the way your family has always pronounced it) is the Polish pronunciation.
    Rat-A-Chick is the American pronunciation.

    Just thought I'd pass this along. Patty P

  15. @Patty ... ha ha ... thanks for checking. I always hated the Rat A Chick pronuciation. Now I know we've been saying it right all these years.

  16. lol..my dad used to scare the bejesus out of me and whomever was watching whatever horror movie we were watching at the time...think I remember bits of that movie but might have been too scarey for me to watch..and at the time we had this creepy looking peice of wood that somebody made to look like something like that doll in the movie..hated that dang thing it gave me the creeps.always felt like it was watching me..was creepy..acck.
    anyways another good story. it so made me laugh cause I can so see Peter doing that and just laughing about it..lol..can so relate to you all on that too. my dad was good at sneaking up on ya when ya least expect it and scare the crap out of ya..lol. think I slept with the lights on for awhile after that..lol.
    oh and on your last name Ive been pronouncing it with a i or y sound and not an a sound.hope thats ok.
    hope everybody is doing fine and well over there.
    till the next blog..take care.

  17. Rose from NY now in CA1:37 PM, August 13, 2011

    horror movies are my favorite of all time!! when that knife pokes thru that suitcase and she tries to catch it, geez lady..you had to know you were gonna get cut!! what a dumby!! I would have loved to be sitting there w/Peter being mischevious!! What a man. You were so much like my family, getting together, living life to the fullest. I being from NY understand that closeness. I miss you Peter.

  18. LOL I loved that movie!! The little zuni was my favorite! we'd watch it and then I'd have to go to bed in my room that was full of dolls. scared the crap outta me!

  19. oh god.. that movie scared the shit out of me as a kid!!!!

  20. Oh my God! This was one of my all time favorite scary movies!! When it was over...I remember that I would run as fast as I could to by bedroom...and jump onto the bed, so as the Zuni Warrior could not stick me in the foot or slice my legs with the kitchen knife! Do you know if Pete ever watched the movie: "The Brain That Wouldn't Die"?? This was another movie that would scare the hell out of me as a kid. The woman's laugh was creepy. And the thing behind the door...Yikes! I just watched it last night before bed.