The True ABCs of Death: O is for Obliterate



Suggested Audio Candy


[1] Rammstein “Feuer Frei”

[2] Gerard McMann “Cry Little Sister”


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There are few things in horror movies as satisfying as the moment when a carcass is torn limb from bloody limb before our very eyes. It’s the ultimate put down and is ordinarily reserved for the most hateful protagonist as they finally receive their deserved comeuppance. There is nothing which says game over quite so efficiently than complete all-out annihilation. Plus it gives us guzzling Grueheads plentiful spraying claret to sate our overwhelming appetites for destruction. The following films all feature eradication in its most final measure so prepare for thine cup to runneth over as we’re overdue a good bloodbath and I’m running one as we speak.


Our grue-soaked pilgrimage starts rather logically with Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and, in particular, poor old Mr. Cotton who, while searching for his promised pleasure, unwittingly unleashed the Cenobites and opened a rather hefty can of worms in the process. A Rubix Cube would have been the thinking man’s choice but the allure of that small puzzle box was too strong for weak-willed and weary traveler, who tampered with the cube in his boudoir desperate to reveal its secret. Bad fucking move Frank.


Those Cenobites can be a most unruly mob and, led by the inimitable Pinhead, they know exactly how to diddle with your karma. For Cotton, this involved having a multitude of metallic chains, armed with probing hooks, flail out of the cube, embedding themselves in his pelt and commencing to pull him taut like an elastic band. There’s only so much a weasel can take before going pop and, when this happened, we were the recipients of a downright dousing as chunks of forlorn Frank’s flesh were sent in all available directions.


Stuart Gordon had a similarly conclusive demise planned for journeyman actor Ken Foree in his 1986 schlock extravaganza From Beyond. Poor Ken, who at 6″4 is one of the larger to life characters in horror cinema, didn’t stand a chance as he was set upon by a swarm of decidedly embittered bees. They made short work of the gentle giant, stripping the gristle from his bones and leaving behind them a hollow shell. Presumably he regretted his decision to use the shower gel with honey extracts for his pre-filming rub down.

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Brian Yuzna has been responsible for some truly memorable movies over the years and, while Faust: Love of the Damned was strictly middle-tier Yuzna, it still displayed more than enough outrageous optical imagery to ensure that its 98 minutes weren’t wasteful. The scene in question bared a canny resemblance to the kind of tomfoolery found in his audacious 1989 oddity Society as Mònica Van Campen was found culpable of treason and provided with fitting punishment.

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If she had any desire for larger breasts and buttocks, then she likely regretted her preferences after Andrew Divoff granted such like the Wishmaster that he is. Have you ever heard of cosmetic procedures which turn awry? You know, breast implants that explode at high altitudes and stuff like that. Well try this on for size. Her bosoms and bubble butt were so bodacious after a few seconds of enhancement that she was left resembling a burst satchel of cellulite. On the plus side, she could now lick her own asshole. I’d pay good money for that privilege.


The Spierig Brothers’ Daybreakers offered a decent stab at a vampire flick and Edward Dalton learned the hard and messy way that sometimes it’s better to carry out your research on animals rather than vampiric night crawlers. He tested a substitute to hemoglobin on his subject in an attempt at combating diminishing blood supplies and initially a raised temperature and a bout of projectile vomiting appeared to be the only side effects, until his patient broke out in angry-looking pustules and commenced to pop like a piñata. On the plus side, Dalton was left more than aware that his alternative wasn’t viable. Back to the drawing board.

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Freddy Krueger always knew how to make an entrance. The crispy critter had the distinct advantage of dream weaving when announcing his arrival and found numerous inventive ways in which to provide payback to the teens whose parents executed him all those years ago. A fresh-faced Johnny Depp found this out first hand when Glen ignored his parents’ advice not to fall asleep with the TV on. Fred was laying in wait amidst the mattress strings and commenced to haul the youngster in, obliterate and ultimately send a sickening tsunami of splatter northbound where it ran in rivulets along his ceiling. Not the ideal surprise for Glen’s mortified parents.


By the time Freddy’s Revenge appeared a year later, Freddy had dreamed up a melange of different methods in which to make his presence felt but, after listening to the spineless Jesse whine on about his dead budgerigar to pal Grady for long enough, he could stand no more and promptly exited the whiny lad the quickest way he knew how – straight out of his mid-torso. Quite what Grady was thinking hanging out with a dick with ears like Jesse I will never know. Oddly enough, his parents weren’t overjoyed when they walked in either.



There is good reason why they put health warnings on music. Vampires have very sensitive hearing as it turns out and Richard Donner’s mercurial The Lost Boys proved this point with its death by stereo set piece. Young Sam made his grandpa proud after hooking one of Nosferatu’s hell children up to his home entertainment system and proceeding to jolt him with a few thousand gigawatts of the hot stuff. The result was beyond messy as the arch-fiend imploded in style.


Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan may not have been a horror film per se but it didn’t hold back on the coulis, particularly in its book-ended set pieces. The final battle was punishing in the extreme and many of the troops perished as they stood their ground and dug those heels in. Back then, the sticky bomb was still in its infancy and, despite the fact that it could dismantle a tank’s treads with a solitary blast, there was a fair degree of risk involved for those placing the charge. The resulting blast offered full view of radius as our foot soldiers discovered the hardest way imaginable that timing really is everything.


One cannot talk of obliteration without making mention of the great Peter Jackson. Long before becoming an honorary hobbit he birthed Braindead and pushed the envelope farther than was customary at the time with hundreds of gallons upon gallons of glorious grue spraying left and right without any restraint whatsoever. The scene where Lionel revved up his trusty mower and massacred a whole room full of party-crashing zombies was the stuff of legends and finally he found his testicles. One can only imagine the clear up job afterwards.


Have you ever wondered the kind of mess a giant airborne anvil would make if dropped from the spire of a church onto a poor unsuspecting passer-by’s head? No? Must just be me then. Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz did the math and it turns out that both the splash damage and need for Ibuprofen were fairly extreme. Wright and pal Simon Pegg spent their pubescent years watching splatter-slathered horror and the proof was in their uneven pudding. As for the poor pleb who took the anvil’s brunt, well he was well and truly head fucked.


As you should already be aware, I have never been the biggest fan of the Final Destination series. It seemed as though the makers had the monopoly on obnoxious teens that deserved everything death had forecast but its one key strength was always in the dispatches, which grew more elaborate as the series wore on. The first film gave us all a stark warning as to the dangers of not following our green cross code as the petulant jay walker Terry stepped off the sidewalk mid-gripe and took the brunt of a No.16 bus straight in the face grill. Did she deserve her obliteration? Come on now, they all did.


Likewise, the Saw franchise made its living through inventive and gory set pieces and, despite the sequence beginning to lose its charm a little as it wore on, was responsible for some of the most ingenious methods of dispatch yet committed to celluloid. Saw 3D showed Jigsaw at his most cantankerous, gifting us a magnificent mass slaughter as a group of white supremacists were introduced to the ingenious Horsepower Trap in an abandoned junk yard. Evan was glued to his seat, his girlfriend chained beneath the elevated automobile’s back wheel with barbed wire and his two prejudiced pals also hooked up before him.


Jigsaw explained that he had wrongly judged people by the color of their skin and his lesson was that everyone is the same color on the inside. He had a thirty-second countdown to reach a lever before the car fell off the jacks, crushing his girlfriend and causing a chain reaction which would obliterate them all. Needless to say, he was unsuccessful and the car dropped on his girlfriend’s pretty little face, then accelerated, ripping one friend’s appendages from their sockets, driving full pelt into the other, before crashing and sending him careering through the window. This awesome group ruination showcased Saw at its most rowdy and resourceful and gave Chester Bennington a chance to show us his lungs.


Meaning to remove completely, leaving no trace; to wipe out; to destroy, horror is the perfect place for a dash of good old-fashioned obliteration. Whether heads pop like champagne corks, bodies burst open akin to well-teased pimples or limbs rocket from their sockets, it’s all good fun. I just feel sorry for whoever is on clean-up duties afterwards.




Click here to read P is for Pestilence



We Need To Talk About Brian




One of the unsung heroes of body horror, Brian Yuzna has been responsible for many a fucked up soirée. With a résumé that includes Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III, The Dentist 1 & 2, the above mentioned Faust: Love of the Damned, and, ahem, Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, there are many examples of just how sweet this man’s sickness is. For as deranged as his work has been, he has never quite been so utterly unhinged than when spewing forth his enigmatic ooze-fest debut Society. I never knew what a shunt was before being offered a glimpse of what really happens at key parties behind closed doors but, thanks to Brian, it’s now on my bucket list.


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