Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Björk “Army of Me”
 Nicole Alonso “Rock With Me”
When does a good film become a great one? Is entertainment enough or should there be something deeper to set it apart from the rest? Today my dear friends I wish to chat a little about a movie that I have made no secret of my stance on since viewing it for the first time last spring. After having the exclusive experience of Crawl or Die, I promptly scribed an appraisal to illustrate just how much it had swept me off my feet, and have since become one of an army that I believe is about to take the world by storm. Fret not as this militia has no intention of pillaging our livestock or sprinkling anthrax on our crops either. The fight is of the very best variety, good vs. evil, and we happen to fall into the former group as we aren’t from outer space or looking to wipe out humanity. By my estimations, that makes us wingmen, gunners, runners, battle hardened heavies with guns blazing and each of them pointed directly at the stars.
Oklahoma Ward’s Crawl or Die is everything I adore about science fiction and I knew from the very start that I would be sitting here a year later, still singing its praises. What I hadn’t entertained was the whole metaphorical prowess of this glorious movie. Seems like a no-brainer right? Woman pursued by extraterrestrial critter through a network of increasingly tight tunnels and crawlspaces. That would appear to be it in a nutshell and, indeed, that’s pretty much your basic synopsis. However, there are a number of things that set this light years apart from the competition and I plan to get to each in turn as we dig deeper into the trenches and face this beast head on. You see, I have taken great inspiration from this particular movie and in ways that I never before so much as contemplated. It just so happens that I know a thing or two about cramped confines and can relate Tank’s battle to my own circumstances effortlessly. Moreover, I can relate Tank’s battle to the plight of independent filmmakers and every last one of us to boot and herein lays a wonderful thing called social commentary.
This is what makes the likes of George A. Romero’s Dawn of The Dead so timeless well over thirty years on. When a film strikes a chord that can be plucked by all, its place in cinematic history becomes relevant. Ward’s film does precisely that if you search for its buried treasure. That is, after all, what we’re here for. Why else would spelunking appeal? We want to locate hidden meaning, tune optical transmissions into our own frequency, extract something intimate from any piece of art we gift our precious time. What Ward has fashioned, stunningly I might add, is the truest form of interactive movie. Should we feel like life is draining our resources at every turn, then we choose to crawl. If it feels like the walls are closing in around us, then we elect to do likewise. It’s either that or die and death can come in numerous different guises when metaphor is called into play. Basically it all boils down to not surrendering hope and Tank reminds us all why we do that.
So about this Tank then. Well Nicole Alonso has provided this particular film aficionado with the most bankable female role model since the mid-eighties and there is nothing that pleases me more than the combined waft of perspiration and gunpowder, especially with estrogen thrown into the mix. Iconic just doesn’t do Tank justice. There should be a thousand illustrators taking notes right now as she has graphic novel written all over her and I know it is only a matter of time before the collective penny drops. Strong as an ox, resourceful and instinctive, proud in the face of extreme prejudice, Tank is all that and a fair few bags of chips. She is quite aware of the overwhelming odds and determined to upset them at any cost whatsoever. Her objective is unsullied, crawl or die trying. And damn can Alonso crawl. Indeed, the name Tank really couldn’t have been more apt.
noun: a heavy armoured fighting vehicle carrying guns and moving on a continuous articulated metal track.
I’d say that effectively covers it. Tanks are much like sharks in a respect as backwards movement is a nose bleed just waiting to happen but woe betide any sucker who drops onto their flight path. Alonso’s character is of the heaviest artillery and does anything but shrink beneath ultraviolet. I’ve been crying out for a heroine like this since around the time I discovered my adolescent release valve and, therefore, Tank flashed straight up on my radar the moment she first exhaled dust. In years to come many more will share my sentiment I’m sure and I’m aware that the TANKArmy is building up a head of steam as we speak as rumors of a sequel solidify. That’s right Grueheads, Crawl or Die 2 is incoming, and the blast radius is set to further widen as this tantalizing prospect upgrades to grand reality. Ward and Alonso have already dug in and are primed to reconvene crawling soon. I’m dying to see that explode.
I commonly refer to my office as my own personal fallout shelter as it is out in the elements and could barely accommodate a swinging pussy. When I have needed to crawl, I’ve searched high and low for stimulation, and ninety minutes of Crawl or Die has taught me well where to find it. Forward, not in reverse gear, trundling through any obstructions and holding onto that never-say-die attitude that has gotten me this far. Any wounds inflicted en route are nullified by bursts of adrenaline as a goal is nothing whatsoever if you don’t strive to reach it. Tank has every right to throw in the towel as the walls close in around her but she waivers that shit as here is a chick who refuses to be beaten. Crawl or Die the brand is very much singing from the same hymn sheet; defeat is no longer an option as it never was in the first place and why fix something that clearly ain’t broken? The tracks have been laid and these foundations are as formidable as the construct that will soon follow.
This is where we come in TANKArmy and Grueheads alike. Indeed, not just us but the entire independent horror industry as a whole. Crawl or Die deserves to be embraced, nurtured, celebrated by all if we wish for its impact to be maximized. What started as a small indie venture with masses of heart, spunk, and gusto is so much more when you dig a little deeper beneath the topsoil. It is what we cry out for as horror fans, a skirmish we can identify with, with two champions to cherish and on opposing ends of the zoom lens. Oklahoma Ward is holding the reins and his beast is literally chomping at its leash right now. Before you all go rushing out and getting those tetanus jabs, fear not as Tank is on taming duties and I have a sneaking suspicion she means business you know.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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