The Gag


Suggested Audio Candy:


Garbage “Bleed Like Me”



I’ve watched rather a lot of horror movies over the past four decades. During that time I have been made privy to all manner of monstrosities, watched more heads roll than a Roman emperor, seen enough throats slashed to walk around constantly in a polar neck, and survived A Serbian Film. Indeed, should you dissect my cerebral cortex and prod around inside, then I would imagine that more information has been retained on this particular topic than any other. I would say that constitutes being regarded as something of a connoisseur or, at least, a serious obsessive compulsive. Whichever slipper fits, I know my stuff when it comes to this glorious genre and intake intelligence daily, nay hourly, in my bid to become the ultimate film trivia quiz champion. Actually, I’m not doing this for world supremacy, simply an adoration for all things macabre.

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A lot has changed since I was a lad. Back then, any new release was considered an event to be savored, whereas now, it is nigh-on impossible to keep abreast of the influx. Teenagers worldwide are just beginning their pilgrimage; while middle lifers like myself are entering our second childhoods. I have three wonderful nieces, all of whom adore horror, and it is great to be able to chew the gristle with them about a passion that we all share. Indeed, it is the reason why I appraise films also. I love sharing my thoughts and knowing that may lead to discussions elsewhere. It matters not whether I am witnessing them take place or not; simply that it’s on our agenda. I’m a film buff period and believe that, should I be sliced wide open, then over half of my body mass would consist of film reel. That leaves 25% for my marrow, 18% grue and the other seven would likely be compacted red meat. Of the other fifty, horror owns the monopoly and barely a day passes when I’m not running myself a blood bath.


Speaking of which, I often ponder how many gallons of profondo rosso have washed across my peepers over the years. The gag has always fascinated me intensely. By this I refer to the precise moment of impact and resulting canvas splurge. We all live for the kill and are prepared to lower our standards and compromise our IQ for 80+ minutes, so long as we’re provided a kicker. It is hard to recall the precise moment when I learned about the gag, long before it even had a name. However, if memory serves, then an old Hammer House of Horror episode from Tom Clegg by the name of The House that Bled to Death, would perhaps have beaten Ben Gardner’s disembodied head by a leaky faucet.


As the overhead drainage pipe split began to splinter, over the sorry heads of a drove of petulant pre-scholars no less, the house lived up to its claim by actually bleeding out. And yes that soon turned to gush. I ran straight to my local neighborhood independent toy store (which later became the liquor store that I accidentally arsonised by ten-years-old) and purchased ten finger monsters. What’s more, I would have bought another clutch for my toes if they han’t been so darned extortionate. Here, I always keep them close to my personage at all times in case I fancy scaring myself. Don’t poke fun of the one sitting on top of the pile; he’s got anger management issues. Now that I think about it, how do I know that you won’t mock the whole bunch? You have to promise me Grueheads. Finger monsters have feelings just like you and I. Okay lads, you can come out now.


Scary ain’t they? What do you mean meh? They’d kick your ass. Anyhoots, enough of the insolence, I’m trying to create an ambience here. Back to the bleed. I was fortunate enough to catch Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive at my local multiplex and struck raw red oil on that one. Before Peter abandoned us for middle earth, he acquired himself a fondness for the gag, and suddenly the whole world wanted to tickle his beard. I’d have got my fingernails right into his follicles for presenting me with 300 liters of rouge for the film’s crescendo. We want him back you Hobbit bitches! It was only ever a loan. What do you mean he gave us The Lovely Bones? I’ve seen more blood on a tampon. Yes, I know it’s an excellent film. But it’s not Bad Taste is it? Please excuse me, I’m currently at odds with my mind. It happens. You don’t know the half of it.

Metallica Killing Time


Enough of the digression. If you asked me for my favorite shade of red then I would point you towards our Italian friends and you can hustle them for the recipe. Dario Argento, a man after my own heart. No seriously, I’m about to get a restraining order. Fret not Grueheads, I’m here all week. Anyhoots, Dario. Dario. DARIO! DAARIOOO!!! Mia cara Il mio caro amico – Sorry Dario, that’s all I’ve got. No it’s not… Grazie. I don’t know where exactly you concocted your rich blend but can imagine you and Carlo Rambaldi in some dingy basement, giggling like a pair of bambinis, whilst filling up your vials excitedly. Whatever you did, it worked a treat and I’ve never wanted to lick a head wound as much as I did the first time I watched the opening of Suspiria. Tell you what, I’ll pull up a slide.


It’s a beauty ain’t it? Nice little open heart stab directly afterwards too. Don’t thank me, thank Dario. And while you’re at it, send my kindest regards to Asia. The video nasties all used the exact same reservoir to fill their buckets with grue and Herschell Gordon Lewis keeps a job lot stashed in his cellar. He already had a vat of the stuff left over from Blood Feast but Dario perfected the blend. After teasing us with trickles for his Animal Trilogy (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Cat ‘o’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet) he let it splash in 1975, ironically one year after my birth. He let me breast feed for a bit, find my feet, then blammo. Blood mother. Blood!


I’d make a lousy mortician. You see, for all my Keeper swagger, I don’t much care for the sight of blood. A split scab is okay and, nose bleed, a photo opportunity in waiting. But one absent chunk of flesh or a protruding bone fragment am I come over all queer. I’ve been on a film shoot and we used up a fair few liters of blood but none of it was authentic. Having said that, there was this one 100 lb pig. For argument’s sake, let us assume that his name is Phillipe. It wasn’t us governor, he was dead when we found him. After purchasing Phillipe from the kindly butcher and transporting him via ice cooler to our intended crime scene, in 100 degrees plus conditions I hasten to add, we sacrificed the sleeping hog in the interests of good wholesome vintage horror cinema. Our intention was to slay a victim, clad from head to toe in an all-in-one relaxation garment or onesie as they are known in the UK, then slip piggy into her clothing and perform the all important axe blows. Phillipe was our stunt double, if you like.


I felt a little bad for Phillipe at first as myself and FX guru Simpat Beshirian carved him open from asshole to appetite, removed each limb, and retrieved his tiny brain for another scene being filmed later that week. Then I thought of the exclusive honor of being remembered perpetually as Phillipe and becoming a personality, albeit one not credited. If you ask me, Phillipe deserves his very own IMDb page, and I plan to create one post-haste although I may hold back on uploading any images for his profile picture. It was a dirty job and someone had to do it. Poor Simpat couldn’t have been expected to do so solo in blazing temperatures. Call it my attempt at conquering my fear. Did it work? Show me a two-inch scalpel injury and you’ll soon have your answer.


That reminds me, I need to fill in an organ donor card as soon as possible. I wonder whether I can donate my organs to horror? What’s good for the pig right? I would never do to another what I wouldn’t want done to myself and, if it makes for a killer gag, then feel free to hack off my appendages. Actually, hold fire on that as I may come over queasy. I’ll tell you when I’m dead. For now, there are hemorrhages to hover over and bloodletting to let. One thing is for sure, I’ll be searching for the gag at every available opportunity. In fact, there seems no better way to wrap things up than to provide one of my little slide shows to celebrate the almighty gag in all its deep red glory. It’s in my pipes already, shipped over from Dario’s dungeon in Italy, and mi casa is currently preparing to bleed to death. Umbrellas up Grueheads.

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Click here to read Keeper’s Grue Banquet






  1. Irrésistible cet article ! Mordant et si drôle ! Personnellement j’en redemande. Grâce à ça je dormirai comme une princesse cette nuit. Une princesse du macabre s’entend… A quand la suite ? Des tonnes d’hémoglobine et de tripes pour toi Keeper <3:-* Em

    Irresistible! Biting and so funny! Personally I want more. Thanks to it I will sleep like a Princess tonight. I mean a Princess of the macabre… Can’t wait for a number 2! Tons of hemoglobin and guts for you Keeper of the Crimson Quill <3:-* Em

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed. I never tire of speaking about bloodshed and live for the gag so any opportunity to celebrate deep red is one I will gladly take. You’ve got me thinking about a sequel too y’know… Much love Emilie.

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