Suggested Audio Candy:
 Fear Factory “Linchpin”
 Pitchshifter “Everything’s Fucked”
Recently I got to thinking which can be a decidedly dangerous game when you possess a Crimson Quill. It’s been far too long since I got right up to my bloody neck in grue. Not talking of paddles, water wings, and shallow end cop-outs. No, I’m fully prepared to cannonball straight into the drink, submerge myself, and allow the deep red solution to swish around my retinas some. I want it to fill me up and drown me from the inside. Actually, I just read that back and perhaps I’ve made my point enough already. My point being that I feel it necessary to bleed something out fast or else drowning is a realistic concern.
By shouting out from the top of the rooftops and not censoring myself, I’m letting it all shake loose. The problem is, I’m a bit more of a worrier than I like to admit. I take shit to heart or, more accurately, I bottle that shit in my mind and let it eat me from the inside-out. I’ve got too much fury to spunk out right now to be all fluffy pillows and toasted marshmallows so I’m gonna to scream from the pit of my abdomen, until my eyes burst in their hot-tubs, until my epidermis rots away and reveals my fleshy under canvas. That’s right Grueheads, it’s time to get a little bloody. Balls deep like a super trooper!
All this pent-up rage has got to be let out. I can’t rub my peepers and expect the world to stop busting my ass wide open, the only way through is to take a load for the team, let it swill around my pancreas and clutch on to the headboard wailing “Fuck me Jesus!” like Regan did. We use this technique when we bleed out and I have decided to name it so it becomes more palpable. It shall now be forever known, in my mind anyhoots, as the H.C.D. Theorum which breaks down into three significant words: hemorrhage, cataclysm, and deflection. Hemorrhage: an escape of blood from a ruptured blood vessel. Cataclysm: volcanic eruption. Deflection: the action of turning something aside from its course. Bleed, erupt, deflect. Simple.
My obsession with splatter started at around my tenth birthday when I received my very first VHS toploader. My father had recently been diagnosed with a callous muscle wasting disease and adolescence was beginning to loom so I really needed to act out and watching horror movies seemed as good a way as any to release my pent-up frustration. My first ever rental was Harry Bromley Davenport’s Xtro and I guess that set the tone as it was a whole carnival of fucked-up and, to this very day, there are few films I have ever viewed that are quite as effortlessly demented. Like any narcotic, I found myself craving that first buzz, and began using all of my spare time to feed my curiosity from any and every direction feasible. Tobe Hooper’s notorious exploitation classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre followed soon after and I’m fairly assured that it sealed the deal.
It was 1984 and the BBFC were beginning to clamp down on all the so-called video nasties in circulation. Suddenly, my local video store began to change, and all the wonderful cover art which had adorned its shelves started to disappear one by one as each of the 72 films placed under the spotlight were regarded as unfit for consumption. Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Driller Killer, Tenebrae…all gone. Moreover, it was as though they had never existed, as nobody dared even speak of them anymore. I was devastated as I finally had the means to view these movies and they simply vanished into thin air. However, a ten-year-old boy with a craving for carnage is a most resourceful child and there was no way on Earth I was about to give up without a fight.
Thankfully, there was a local pirate on-hand who made it his business obtaining any of the films chastised, running off sketchy copies, and selling them on to the highest bidder. It wasn’t like it is now and he was looking at a jail term for getting caught in the act of peddling such undesirables so he kept his racket on the down low and precious few people knew he even existed. In hindsight, this guy was one of life’s wrong ‘uns, and I’m fairly assured he had chloroform in his pocket every time I met him at the school gates just in case the opportunity presented itself. He was in his early thirties and still lived with his mother. Curiously, in the dozens of times I returned to his squalid home to pick up my bounty, I never actually saw her once but I did hear her voice from what was seemingly the attic. Suspect…decidedly suspect.
For as much as I harbored grave doubts about his intentions, he was the only man who could supply the fix I craved so badly so I sucked it up and used his personal service at every opportunity. Each time I received my pocket-money, I would rush to meet him and see what wares he had for me that day. For a paltry five English pounds, I could walk away with a number of fabled nasties, and my appetite for destruction was temporarily sated. Often I was left disparaged as, of the 72 films that the DPP attempted to prosecute, a fair number of them were relatively powder puff and left me severely disappointed. However, every now and then, he would come good. Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox was one such diamond in the rough and introduced me to all manner of grisly executions before Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters came along and really did a number on me.
The infamous scene in question is, in my opinion, the most sickening ever committed to celluloid by that point and was the first to force me into turning away in disgust. I had no problem with watching disembowelment or beheading but the eyes seemed a far cry more sensitive. This particular kill made me privy me to Fulci’s unflinching lens as a jagged plank of 4×4 is rammed agonizingly into the open peeper of the beautiful woman in question in desperately slow motion. As the viewer watches on in abject horror, we are placed in her POV and have to endure it closing in as it approaches with vile intent and ever so slowly. Eventually, it makes contact with her retina and punctures the eyeball with a nauseating splat as it begins pushing the peeper back into her skull. However, it ain’t done yet, not by a long chalk.
Further and further it pushes and, once soundly lodged and her eye dissected from top to bottom, it’s time for the twist. As the timber rotates, her decimated peeper begins to vacate its socket and I believe that was the moment when I decided I could take no more. This provided my first taste of defeat but there was no way I was going out like that so I promptly rewound and sounded the bells for round two. In truth, I couldn’t make it through the entire scene in its entirety until the third time of asking and, once I pushed back the bile and regained my bearings, I knew that I was a fully fledged Gruehead. Quite the can of worms had been opened and suddenly the road ahead was deep red and strewn with similar rubies of delectation…or so I thought.
I never quite matched that moment and Fulci has my eternal respect for pushing the envelope farther than anyone else had ever dared. The subsequent years were fraught with frustration as films such as William Lustig’s Maniac, Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik, and Fulci’s The New York Ripper never even made it to these shores and the whole video nasty debacle fizzled out with nary a splutter. For a few years it appeared as though the censors had the final word where, in actuality, they had failed miserably in their attempts to stem the flow. The world was changing, attitudes were slackening, and sleeping giants were preparing for the inevitable next assault. By the turn of the millennium, splatter was back on the platter and, this time, resistance was futile as the worldwide web was picking up pace and the authorities left powerless to stop the rot.
By the mid-noughties, films such as James Wan’s Saw and Eli Roth’s Hostel were doing the rounds and, moreover, turning a decent profit at the box office. The crass term torture porn was introduced soon after and, once again, boundaries of decency were tested. I prefer referring to this genre as extreme exploitation and, despite the fact that it left me largely unmoved, I was glad to see somebody taking the initiative. Alas, Fulci died in 1996 so he couldn’t bare witness to the revolution as I’m assured he would have played a key part in the resurgence, had he still been cognizant. But his memory was honored in no uncertain terms and, progressively for the past decade, everything has become fair game.
While Zombie Flesh Eaters eye gouge still remains my personal Jehovah, the most inventive dispatches and my most rewatched, come courtesy of Roth’s Hostel Part II and Robert Hall’s 2011 slasher Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2. I have spoken many times of the former, thus it is high time the latter receives the adulation it deserves. While the movie itself was, in my opinion, mildly less effective than its predecessor, one department in which Hall’s Almost Human team excelled was the SFX and, most critically, the spring-loaded torment of one over-inquisitive detective atop a stairwell. It helps that it is so masterfully shot as the killer ascends nonchalantly, having already displaced his prey’s intestines, and lets his rough serrated justice bringer do all the rushing.
At first it appears as though his attack has failed as his five-string instrument over shoots its target and becomes soundly lodged in the top step, mere feet from her position. She continues to struggle, desperately holding her gizzards in as they threaten to overspill before she reaches the apex. Then it dawns on us that this near miss is little more than tidy preparation. Before his quarry can plant her flag at the summit, Chromeskull reclaims the initiative and with some finesse. Resting his steel toe cap on the reverse of her cranium, he steadily lowers her onto the fanned blades until which point as her tonsils can taste the alloy. But he’s still not done yet. While her gag reflex is being tested to the über-extreme, he finally gets to test out his new spring-loaded blade runner and it turns out that it’s working just fine.
As the mechanism locks into place, the gates widen, ripping the sides of her once pretty face off in the process and leaving the worst kind of perma-grin imaginable. It’s enough to make George Formby grimace and Chromeskull still has another trick left up his sleeve. One final stomp and her plight is over; accompanied by a sickening squelch as her whole head capitulates under his heel conclusively. This particular kill is deserving of regal remembrance and, pound for pound, no other can have me clapping quite so much like a seal come its conclusion. Others have tried to match it for bagged kudos, and Matt Farnsworth’s The Orphan Killer came pretty damn close on a number of occasions, but none have surpassed. Robert Hall, should you be reading this now, then know this. You are and will always be the man for your achievement.
H.C.D. motherfuckers! I’m telling you, there’s no feeling as gratifying and I’ve been all in since childhood so it’s time to reveal the river. How does a royal flush grab you? I’m speaking of Matt Farnsworth, Diane Foster, Marcus Miller. Read them and weep blood Grueheads. King, queen, and the true ace of spades himself. I suggest a short shanty in honor of my inner beast. All in favor say I. Knew I could count on y’all. I’ll start with a title and let it shoot from my hip; wrangle it, sculpt it, jizz my crimson honey all over it and lick it all back up like the grateful mutt that I am. Any ideas? Okay then, I shall name this monster…Keeper’s monster.
My monster is tall, my monster is wide,
it finds a way in and gestates inside,
no way to restrain it, too burly a beast,
this monster is ravenous, wishes only to feast.
My monster has tusks as wide as they’re long,
it’s foul and it’s grimy, its odor is strong,
no pain is more searing, no fate more disgusting,
don’t wish to alarm you but it knows that its luck’s in.
My monster has balls and they drag on the soil,
they’ll fuck out your kidneys, with vicious recoil,
no clit can withstand, there’s no hope of reprieve,
don’t try and waylay as this monster must cleave,
The skin from your marrow, the glue from your bones,
your very core essence it already owns,
impregnating monster, cares never for reason,
it senses its quarry and is midway through season.
It blasts your back door through, ascends your staircase,
leans over your bedstead, then smothers your face,
leaves no sign of struggle, takes you straight to its lair,
you can wail out in terror but my monster won’t care.
Once back in its cavern, your lifeforce it sucks,
your eyes it sees out of, your pussy it fucks,
it dances around you and shadows your light,
no way of escape for its grip is tight.
It reaches inside you, and pulls out your spleen,
there’s no single fiber where it hasn’t been,
climaxing with fury, cruel honey it weeps,
conceding no option as it’s playing for keeps.
I cannot control it, it’s too far evolved,
its infinite riddle just cannot be solved,
this leaves me one option, succumb to allure,
and fuck out my monster to make myself pure.
Right then Grueheads, no more foreplay. It’s high time the bull bolts the gate so to speak and the following meticulously selected optical gallery is not for the faint of heart or easily sickened. Actually, scrap that. It is precisely for such dark souls as I believe true horror aficionados fit his particular bill rather snugly. I do not possess a gut of wrought iron and I’m just as easily mortified as the next man. Difference is that I consider the strength in weakness and I’m feeling suitably feeble right now so what better time to roll out the cadavers? It just so happens that there are precious few horror films to have evaded my microscope over the past three decades and a relative smorgasbord of inspiration to turn our stomachs collectively. Besides, I always did love me a carnival, the more caustic the better. Time for the red dawn wolverines.