Suggested Audio Candy:
 Notre Dame “Victory March”
 Survivor “Burning Heart”
 Chet Baker “My Funny Valentine”
 Bill Conti “Gonna Fly Now”
 Miami Sound Machine “Bad Boy”
 Joe Esposito “You’re The Best”
 Ike & Tina Turner “Rolling On The River”
 Spoonie Gee “(You Ain’t Just A Fool) You’s An Old Fool”
 Aswad “Don’t Turn Around”
 Dire Straits “Walk of Life”
 Survivor “Eye of The Tiger”
 Bill Conti “Going The Distance”
 Monty Python “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”
I have always had a thing for rooting for the underdog. Just recently in English soccer, Leicester City F.C. defied all odds by lifting the most coveted trophy in the land, even though they were 5000-1 to do so at the start of the campaign. To make this even more unthinkable, the same time last season, they looked shoe-ins for relegation and only managed to achieve the improbable by the very skin of their teeth after a rousing last-ditch battle cry. Even those disinterested with the sport invested in their rags to riches story and it has since been called one of the great sporting achievements of all time. Moreover, the entire world took them to their hearts. Not bad for underdogs right?
“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”
You only need look at Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky IV for another prime example of the little guy upsetting the apple cart. Balboa was given no chance against 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet man mountain Ivan Drago and his pal Apollo Creed had already found out the hard way that certain challenges are simply not worth undertaking. For the customary fourteen rounds, Rocky came off a particularly poor second and it appeared as though all hope was lost. Thankfully for the Italian Stallion, while he was left well and truly drunk on punches, those cauliflower ears were still operational. One exhilarating montage was all it took and suddenly the Russian started floundering. Sensing his chance, Balboa gave it everything he had in the locker, and somehow sent this titan crashing to the canvas. It was the ultimate modern-day David & Goliath and one of the few films ever to prise a tear from these stubborn eyes. Granted, I was eleven and a grazed knee could still get my bottom lip trembling, but it just felt so dang emotional watching Rocky finally figuring out how to load up the slingshot. His prize was to bed Adrian. No wonder he left it ’til last knockings.
Anyhoots, I’m feeling all sported out now, and need something a little less pay-for-view to deliver the knockout punch. Where better then than horror, a genre considerably less obliged to pull them, and literally teeming with underdogs. While any big game stars attached are pretty much assured safe passage, these valiant also-rans are far too easily overlooked. Not content with being mere bottom feeders, they give it their all and occasionally, very occasionally, are provided their hall passes for services rendered. More often than not though, they die horribly. If we’re lucky, the screenwriters have ascertained that they’ve conjured an affable character and grant them the old heroes send off. Who am I kidding? Nine times out of ten, they die horribly!
Our first fall guy just has to be Hollis. George Mihalka’s My Bloody Valentine occupies the number two slot in my favorite eighties slashers hit list and a large part of this is down to a certain Keith Knight. Hollis wasn’t at all like the other dumb teens and one particular fashion accessory set him apart instantly. I make no secret of my awe towards men of ‘tache and our portly pork loin had himself something of a doozy. This was no simple Adolf adhesive either. We’re talking curl and flick. Any man sporting one of these gregarious growlers would ordinarily be rather nippy on his penny farthing and it appeared that Hollis had peddle pushed the wrong party entirely after growing weary of line dancing at the old community hall across town. This risk seemed to have paid off for him as, where his night would have consisted of date raping a ropy old bingo hag, instead he proved something of a hit with the ladies.
Indeed, they danced to his dainty tune all the way to the nearest mine shaft and it was here that our hero was callously taken from us. Granted, he could still boast of getting nailed, but Harry Warden never was one for respecting metaphor. I would raise a glass in salute for you Hollis but I’d say you earned yourself that keg of beer. R.I.P. 1 A.O.K. 0.
Well ain’t I just the crafty little underdog? It looks like we have a dash of game on after all. Distinguished fellow that I am, I shall keep a level of decorum about me regardless of the outcome to our little side bet but I’m still holding out hope for A.O.K.’s spirited revival. It’s a faint glimmer but I’ll take those odds as Id rather have gone out like Hollis than Howard. In keeping with the rules, I shall not be suggesting each bout with bias as that would make me a rascal and I’m reasonably sure I don’t fit that demographic. What would you say Grueheads? If you had to choose from the following five nouns to describe my personality, which would you plump for? I’m just feeling so sporty right now. You ready? Select wisely remember. Who am I kidding? Knock yourselves out and give me a battering. I loves it really.
Noun 1 – Deadbeat
Noun 2 – Deviant
Noun 3 – Chronic Masturbator
Noun 4 – Rascal
Noun 5 – Fucking Nutbag
HINT: There are no wrong answers
Boy, that’s a tough one, even for me and I’m…well I’m me ain’t I? Am I? Then that makes you?..Well who’s she then? Rein it in Keeper and stop stalling like a pussy flower. This here is fight night and, it just so happens, I know a man who is very much up for the scuffle. In the black corner – parading two of his most cum-guzzling bitches (one of whom regrettably has no dental insurance) – and weighing in around 10 carats of gold embellishment and 2 grams of facial antler – he’s the hoon with the tune – the most pimp daddy in Brooklyn – he’s – Bobby – Jive Pants – RHODES!
Curtis Mayfield Superfly
This should be a cinch, my money’s on Bobby to come out swinging and, to the poor sap up against him, my advice would be stay down as he has been known to pick the odd pocket on occasion. Ten bucks are ten bucks. Of course, it all ultimately depends on who his opponent is. Ladies and gentlemen – in the deep red corner – with a reach of whatever the hell they feel like and clocking up an impressive seventy-two gallons of oozing facial pus – they’re not so hot on etiquette – have been barred from every massage parlor in Berlin –
– for one night only – or maybe two and, Bobby, you’re invited then too – it’s the fair few dozen – the only – DEMONS!
Seconds out and Rhodes is straight out of his corner and looking in fine form. Apparantly he wet shaves his head for aerodynamics and feeds both tusks at least three loin chops daily. And look at those ebony pearls in his maw. He’s confident. This is a brawler who has clearly trained hard for the fight and it looks like his bitches gave him his money after all. Either that or he’s just about to tell them slag tax is about to rise. Whatever his game, he doesn’t appear at all fazed by being considered the underdog. Hold on, what’s this? This could well turn the tide in this bout. One of his prize skanks appears to be defective. Maybe I’m overreacting but I think I’d cancel that post-match throat blasting Bobby.
Suddenly this fight has burst into life and our bitter rivals are trading blows at a rambunctious pace. Alas, it’s a little one-sided a transaction. To Bobby’s infinite credit, he makes it about five rounds before tasting canvas, and effortlessly wins over the judges with his natural charisma and unquestionable leadership qualities. But this one’s a T.K.O. and any devout Bobby Rhodes bitches out there (myself inclusive) may wish to look away right about now.
Does that look like the face of a champion to you? Or are we looking at R.I.P. 2 A.O.K. 0 here? I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody who ain’t one of those Demons can change. And to think that Bobby proposed to be my comeback king. I’m getting the fuck out of Berlin before a rematch is planned.
Too late. R.I.P. 2 A.O.K. 0 it is. Well I have to say I’m finding this all a little disheartening. As far as sweepstakes go, this one is looking so clean it’s positively filthy. Why didn’t I just back the sure thing? I’ll tell you why. It is because I am a sucker for punishment, that’s why. A douche for the douching. A glutton for bruised mutton. If I’m going to go down and, let’s call a spade a spade shall we, I’m already halfway there, then I might as well do so with a tweak in my bagballs. I need to go military for our next lamb to the slaughter and this should see us breaking our battle duck fellow hopefuls.
The name’s Steele. Walter Steele. Granted his rank is of merely Private but, should Captain Henry Rhodes pull a hamstring (or have one pulled from him), then it will be Steele left rallying the troops. That’s still better odds than the other grunts. Speaking of which, his opponent appears to have just turned up for this rumble in the jungle. More of an entourage really.
That’s right, some infidel has activated the cargo lift and, with the exception of the one ravished zombie who appears to have stepped off a little hastily, they’re seeming somewhat in the ascension. Run Steele. Run for your life. Run into a dead-end. Fret not about the wealth of numbers as you have a battle plan concocted remember? If there’s one thing that brain-dead maggot carriers aren’t prepared for, it’s expecting the unexpected.
It took Bub six fucking months not to cut himself shaving so, it’s fair to say, smarts are not exactly their secret weapon. Speaking of which, Steele has that covered and isn’t about to go out like plankton. As they close in for the T.K.O., one bullet snatches away their privilege and the knockout blow is delivered by none other than our prize-fighter, Steele himself.
Unless I’m mistaken, that makes it R.I.P. 2 A.O.K. 1 right? Curses, the judges are sniffing around his cadaver. Please don’t overturn this one guys. The rules state that, if no knockout blow is landed, they have the final say. Alas, results are now in and, considering all that was left by the ten count was a ribcage and a handful of beard trimmings, they’ve overruled the decision. R.I.P. 3 A.O.K. 0. He was robbed I tell you. ROBBED!
I suspect I only have myself to blame for backing the wrong underdog from George A. Romero’s Day of The Dead. Should have gone for helicopter pilot John as Romero made a habit out of writing strong black characters way back when nobody else would entertain it. Dawn of The Dead had Peter and, for our next match-up, I’m taking us all the way back to 1968 and Night of The Living Dead. The first name that springs to mind here is Barbara as she is our chief focus from the opening frame and has leading lady written all over her. However, as she arrives at the farmhouse, a number other survivors enter the fray. Most of them are lambs to the slaughter but there is one man present who has absolutely no problem with upsetting the apple cart.
I’m speaking of the über-resourceful Ben and he is far more than the stereotypical “house negro” audiences had come to expect. Calm and considered, it is he who provides the voice of reason on numerous occasions, and he who becomes our unforeseen patriarch. Indeed, against all conceivable odds, he makes it through ’til dawn after barracading himself into the cellar and playing the shrewd waiting game. Even Barbara perishes and, as he ventures upstairs the following morning to take one final bow, it appears we have finally found our first triumphant underdog. That is until a member of the posse congregating outside mistakes him for one of the undead and relocates a bullet in his forehead. Fate can be a cruel thing and here’s your living proof. R.I.P. 4 A.O.K. 0.
While Romero has now let me down twice, perhaps Zack Snyder can put things right with his 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead. Once again showcasing the power of the ‘tache, mall guard C.J. appears a more than safe bet. Initially stand-offish and hardly what you would call a team player, C.J. comes good when backs are against the wall and proves the dwindling group’s most valuable asset thanks to his expert marksman skills and balls-to-the-wall approach. Time and again he saves the day and is still in attendance as our odds and ends make their final dash for the marina. Alas, it is here that we part ways with C.J. as he is cornered by one too many hard targets for even his sharpshooting.
That said, my fingers are crossed for a little perspective from the judges as his end was nothing if not heroic. R.I.P. 5 A.O.K. 0. Nope.
Fuck all this urban punishment, I’m heading off to the Antarctic as the zombies will never find us at a remote research station. Casting my eye over the options, you may think me unhinged to plump for Nauls from John Carpenter’s blustery behemoth The Thing as the one item you don’t want to be packing for a sub-zero expedition such as this is…roller skates! While fairly assured that wheels and dry ice don’t mesh well, there’s something about Nauls that makes him worth hedging a bet over. Indeed, he makes it through the blood test unscathed, and that is more than we can say for poor Palmer.
Is it wrong that the sight of Garry and Childs bouncing the plank now makes me laugh more than Airplane!? Anyhoots, Nauls somehow manages to draw the long straw and all that is left is to roll down to the creature’s lair and stay in the vicinity while MacReady sets those explosive charges. Cinch right? I mean, all he has to do is skate around in circles. Regrettably, curiosity gets all too much for our veal on wheels and he trundles off into the shadows, never to be seen again. Actually, doesn’t that make this one inconclusive? That’s at least a draw right? Wait up, fresh intelligence has just come to light and this could prove cataclysmic if those papers are what I think they are. Indeed they are, the judges have managed to acquire the original storyboards and they don’t make for encouraging perusal.
Turn back Nauls. It’s still not too late.
Don’t do it Nauls. This is where it gets too late.
Now you’ve done it Nauls. I think it’s too late.
Too late. R.I.P. 6 A.O.K. 0.
Can anyone say total annihilation? Granted, I may be only too willing to go all-in for the also-rans, but I expected at least some form of rearguard action. I’m not giving up as underdogs wouldn’t give up in such circumstances. Did you see Hollis sneaking back to the bingo hall when that ropy old hag at the laundrette was provided one spin too many?
In the history of gifs I could watch all day, the above is right up there at the summit with the following one.
If town meatball Crazy Ralph was around now, “you’re doomed!” would likely be his rejoinder and, true to form, he couldn’t resist a heckle at my expense. The kids aren’t alright, that much we know, but this one could actually work you know. All Ralph has to do to make it to the credits is take his own good advice. “You’ll never come back again. It’s got a death curse!” I believe are his words. So surely even one as tenuously hinged as he wouldn’t place himself in jeopardy right? Indeed he wouldn’t and, it is with great pride that I report, R.I.P. 6 A.O.K. 1. Feels good.
You ever get the feeling that you’re pissing in a wind tunnel? Once bitten, twice shy. I believe that is how it goes. Flip that shit as Steve Miner’s Friday The 13th Part 2 has been lurking in the foliage and it turns out that being proved right went to Ralph’s head after all. Perhaps he thought he had earned immunity. Well I’ve got news for you old-timer, you’re doomed! Bicycle clip is on the other ankle now Ralphie. Not that it helps my cause. Technical amendment – R.I.P. 7 A.O.K. 0.
I believe it is high time we take five. Please allow me to enlighten you as to three times in my life when I have felt crushing disappointment. The first was when I was merely seven-years-old and during a family holiday to Brittany, France. We visited a flea market and I spotted a hand puppet on one vendor’s stall that I simply had to have. My three sisters renamed me I Want on account of my persuasive nature and cursed as I whittled down my father’s meager defenses and walked away the proud owner of said marionette. One hour later, his strings had become so densely entangled that even Geppetto would have chopped the little fella up for kindling. Needless to say, crushing disappointment ensued.
The second came thirteen years later when the video store I had planned to grow old with finally closed its doors to the public for the last time. Twenty years later, it is an Indian restaurant. One week ago, I plucked up the courage to reenter my former palace and order a slab of naan bread. They refused my order on account of it being ten minutes before opening time. I wanted to flash them my dusty old membership card just to leave these callous bastards with a bitter aftertaste but, considering I worked at the video store since my thirteenth birthday, my boss never saw fit to supply me one. Thus, I left this temple of doom with a feeling of crushing disappointment. This brings me to the third and you’re about to witness that one in real-time.
Seconds out for Round Eight and I need myself someone fiercely committed to the cause. Photographer Keith Jennings is nothing if not steadfast and proves a more than able sidekick for American diplomat Robert Thorn in Richard Donner’s The Omen. This man is far too perceptive to fall for any plummeting lighting rods or wayward tricycles. Indeed, even the hounds from hell could only wrangle themselves two elbow patches and the seat of his pants after the cemetery altercation. Should he keep his head on a swivel, then Jennings may be about to spark a revolution here. All Robert has to do is to keep hold of the seven mystical daggers of Megiddo and take his angelic cherub to church and we’re pretty much home dry.
You’d think an ambassador could follow protocol. And don’t go blaming it on that shoddy hand brake either. R.I.P. 8 A.O.K. 0.
Thom Eberhardt’s Night of The Creeps won’t let us down Grueheads, that much is for damn sure. Easily one of my personal darlings from the late eighties, it also introduces us to the embarrassingly affable J.C. and that alone is a gift worth celebrating in my book. While his buddy Chris is far more suited to leading man duties, given the fact that he hasn’t yet worked out how to power his penis, and is wearing a lamb’s wool sweater, J.C. is the Robin to his Batman, and not discouraged by the literal application of getaway sticks. My father spent a twenty-five stretch juggling a disability so I’m never one to wish hardship on the physically challenged. That said, this moment was admittedly rather amusing.
But J.C. seems far too unexpendable to dispose of as every word that vacates his maw has the potential for being golden. Alas, the restroom facilities are shameful and J.C. is left ruing not having a colostomy satchel fitted as he slips on a piss lake, tumbles into full spread eagle, and ironically becomes validated by parasitic brain burrowing alien leeches. R.I.P. 9 A.O.K. 0 it may be, but I’m just glad he got to walk again. At this point, minor personal victories will suit me fine.
I believe I have just located a cunning loophole you know. Considering I began our bout talking Rocky, that should mean that all is not yet lost, regardless of these admittedly landslide statistics. One lucky strike is all it took Balboa and I’m fairly convinced that arrived in the last of fifteen rounds. By my estimations, that gives us six more jabs at landing the all-important T.K.O. and gaining ourselves an unsolicited last-ditch victory. Suddenly I feel revitalized. Could this be the way that he felt when he strode from his corner to achieve the impossible? Am I about to make history here? Does this land me a stanza in the almanac? I have two eyes right now, both of which just roared.
Round ten is soon to be officially underway and, should this be night of the underdog, then it is here that I will be required to give my all. No more taking shit from bullies like Drago, I’m all fired up and fully prepared to play myself a wild card. To understand an underdog, one must first become said underdog. Are you seeing where I’m driving this? You’re damn right, I’m climbing through the ropes. Should the ship go down as forecast, then I want a shoulder parrot dagnabbit. Our next potential fall guy is none other than yours truly. I’m telling you, with my geriatric lungs, I never thought I’d make it up that wretched staircase.
In the blue corner – weighing in at around 175 lbs dripping wet – in his big ring debut – some say he’s a Keeper – others don’t – ladies and gentlemen – for potentially thirty seconds only – I bring you –
Look at those peepers. Do they look like the eyes of a man about to come out anything other than swinging? Let me fill you in on the details. The film is Matt Farnsworth’s The Orphan Killer: Bound X Blood and I play security guard Robert. Not what you would call the most honorable of English chaps, this is no Brave Sir Robin we’re looking at here. I’m the scum beyond the topsoil, the very congealed clay of humanity, one of life’s little workplace philanderers. One could even say Robert is something of a randy groper and he’ll answer you by letting you sniff his digits. Any ideas what they smell of right now?
That’s right. Robert prepared for the big fight in the stock room and new girl Audrey Miller just happened to be there in her short floral dress and knee-highs simply begging for a part. Robert unduly obliged and it turned out his wrench didn’t fit the screw. But he still bagged himself a clammy handful.
That in itself, should have his opponent on the ropes. So it would seem but I sniff a spanner hurtling into the works as we speak. To Robert’s knowledge, his adversary is Marcus Miller, the notorious Orphan Killer. Perhaps our referee can clear things up. In the deep red corner – weighing in at whatever it was before and 110 lbs extra – previously known as the Nutbag From New Jersey – now representing as the Nutbag From New Jersey and his Nutbag Baby Sister – united in hate – bound by cruel blood – I bring you – the Audrey & Marcus Miller tag team combo.
Fiddlesticks. Looks like he tried to lift the wrong flap, so to speak. It’s one thing facing up against Dolph Lundgren but nobody mentioned Brigitte Fucking Nielsen. Two heads may be better than one but not when it doubles up the lights required to put out. In true Underdog fashion, allow me to elaborate a dash more on Robert’s plural painstakers. One is 6″3 MMA legend Matt Horwich and the other has spent the past year hitting the bag at Glendale Sports Center, C.A. Were you aware that this is the gym where MMA powerhouse Ronda Rousey learned the ropes? Now let’s take a look at my fighting credentials shall we? Won: 1: Drawn 2 Lost: Half a molar. I’m dog meat. Nay pig swill. This pair is going to feed Robert to the jackals but not before having their sick little way with him.
Around two dozen palm prints to the face later (multiplied by around a dozen takes), a couple of bruised ribs, and with fiery lip blister perilous poised to do the old weasel pop, things are looking decidedly grim. As Robert inhales two grubby fingers, which then commence to lead his raggedy white ass to the nearest active steam pipe, all is appearing rather lost. What would Balboa do in his boots? He’d land a fortunate flurry and earn himself that post-match massage from Adrian. As for Robert, well it’s tough landing a right hook when your face is being blasted by toxic fumes.
Perhaps if he plays dead, they’ll leave him alone. Forget about the whole stock room incident Baby Sister, he really meant no harm. At the very worst, he would have donated a low-level STD but nothing a little Vagisil wouldn’t clear up in six to seven weeks. You’re even now right? Right?
Turns out they’re not quite there yet. Next up is the workshop and I’m a tad perplexed by the array of hardware strewn about. There’s a rather inhospitable looking hunting knife over there. Surely she wouldn’t.
The rotten bitch did. However, it could have been worse. At least Big Brother didn’t spot the rubber mallet.
The grimy bastard did. It’s not looking good for Robert and, if ever a face cried “mommy”, then the above mug shot fits the crime. Looks like Crazy Ralph wins after all. Just to clarify that this particularly crispy Golden Retriever didn’t make it home, it all ends in cannibalism. R.I.P. 10 A.O.K. 0. and the final bell has now tolled. That said, Baby Sister left Robert with a parting gift when planting a bloody kiss on his right thigh and, through my own twisted logic, that still makes this underdog a winner. At least in his own eyes. Winning isn’t everything Grueheads, sometimes it’s just as triumphant being A.O.K.
Underdogs of War
Like any good Italian pizzeria, I shall leave us with our very own wall of fallen heroes. To keep things spicy, see if you can spot any red herrings amongst the crop, as one or two may have actually defied odds after all. Fat lot of good it did me when I was getting my flame-grilled ass handed to me but I’ve never been one for bitterness. Unless I’m mistaken, we’ve ascertained that the underdog is pretty much dead and buried right? Well in that case, I feel a stirring one-liner coming. Long live the underdog. Fuck it, I didn’t fancy missionary with Adrian anyhoots.