Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Stealers Wheel “Stuck In The Middle With You”
 Ill Niño “What Comes Around”
 The Cranberries “Zombie”
 Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy”
 Alice Cooper “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)”
 Rolling Stones “Let It Bleed”
 Republica “Ready To Go”
 Scorpions “Winds of Change”
 Black Sabbath “Heaven And Hell”
We all make choices. From the moment our sleepy eyes open and we decide whether to drag our weary bones to the toilet to relieve ourselves or simply piss our bed sheets (what do you mean, that’s just me?), our days comprise of thousands of different choices. Some are no-brainers like whether or not to pour ourselves that first fix of early morning caffeine and others are far more challenging such as whether we can be bothered to make a seven-minute expedition to the nearest grocery store to pick up provisions as the milk has turned into cream cheese overnight. I’m useless for at least thirty minutes from the time I wake up and in no fit mental state to make a solitary informed decision. Auto pilot kicks in to assist me in my half-hour of need and, once sufficient oxygen has got to my brain, I thank it for not chaperoning me straight into oncoming traffic and resume control for the remains of the day. Barely a minute has passed before my next choice presents itself and my blank screen requests a topic to discuss. This is a tough one as it likely accounts for the lion’s share of my waking hours and, should I plump for basket weaving, then my next conundrum will be whether or not to perform Seppuku and plunge a katana blade into my abdomen or simply gouge both eyes out with a rusty pitchfork. For the record, I’d opt for the former. You see how this works?
That’s right, my task this bright sunny day is to pose myself all manner of questions and see where that leads us. Some will be of the bread and butter variety and others far more perplexing and difficult to decipher. I figure that we all make choices so this should be a beneficial exercise for all and hopefully provide a little clarity along the way. Fret not as I shall endeavor to pick posers that affect us all and refrain from the more mundane tea or coffee-style brain teasers. Given that horror is the adhesive that binds us all, I guess there would be few better places to commence than there. Of course, I shall attempt to supply a fair trial to both options and consider the evidence before forming my judgement as weighing up pros and cons will prove critical to making an informed decision. So, without further ado, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty shall we? Considering last night I refurnished an age-old appraisal for Freddy vs. Jason, I’d say we have ourselves our very first match up. This one shouldn’t be too taxing.
Let’s consider the options then. Momma’s boy Jason Voorhees has a long history of slaughtering co-eds under his tool belt and, at last count, had notched up a tally well into triple figures. He is a resourceful fellow and, while the machete is his prefered weapon of dispatch, isn’t averse to plunging pretty faces into nitrogen and smashing them like marbles just to mix things up. Granted, his mother Pamela did most of the dirty work on his behalf early doors but, since having her top box subtracted by that ever-pesky final girl, the ball has been in his court. To his credit, he hit the ground running and punished his fair share of disposable teens without dalliance. However, after a while, Jason started to take this position of great responsibility for granted and eventually let his wanderlust get the better of him. Manhattan seemed to be where the cart vacated the tracks and, while he was learning the subway layout, Freddy Krueger was being provided with an exclusive opportunity to banish him to the sidelines.
Freddy himself was nothing if not creative and made a mockery of boundaries by choosing dreamscapes as the elected playground from which to do his vile bidding. Jason may have been a victim of circumstance but Krueger was a rotten egg from the start. Luring infants into his boiler room, only to relieve them of their innocence, he deserved the lynch mob’s wrath and can have absolutely no complaints about being dealt their rough justice. However, even wrong ‘uns like he deserve a second chance and, when he discovered that he could infiltrate the nightmares of the kids of Springwood and wreak merry havoc, it appeared as though he had found his exclusive angle. So what did he do? Pursued a role as stand-up comedian and spent more time dreaming up inane one-liners than performing the tasks at hand. Let me make this abundantly clear, Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor knew precisely how to milk the teats of their audience to maximum effect, Freddy Krueger really should have stuck to his day job. By the time Jason’s failed expedition to The Big Apple had concluded, his nemesis was making his bid for Broadway. Granted, had he been successful, then he could have obliterated Liza Minnelli and done us all a favor, but tying up the laces of his clown shoes posed too much of a problem and he tumbled straight into the scrap heap.
Okay, so let’s consider the facts. Jason was indeed wasteful and amounted to precious little after such an enthusiastic start. But he let his actions speak louder than words and the strong silent type routine ensured that he upheld that air of consternation. Meanwhile, Freddy was too busy flapping his chapped lips to avoid the inevitable pratfall and frittered boundless potential in his time as supposed Dream Master. Thus, this decision is the very epitome of no-brainer. For your crimes against slasher, I hold thee in contempt Freddy Krueger and sentence you to an eternity wearing the woolen sweater of Pamela Voorhees. Let’s see how your third degree burns like that one. As for Jason Voorhees, you can consider yourself providential to be allowed off the hook as your crimes are only marginally less heinous. However, consider this a warning son, you know your place and it certainly isn’t Manhattan. Get back to Camp Crystal Lake at once and I don’t want to hear a peep from you until you’ve perforated at least two skinny dipping dozen co-eds. Fail in your quest and I’m telling your mother.
Now that we are off and running, it’s time to settle another score. Who is to blame for the zombie apocalypse? Is it mankind for failing to adhere to the numerous warning signs provided by mother nature? Or perhaps George A. Romero should be found culpable for digging up the topsoil in the first place? This one shouldn’t take long. You see, while Romero may have been responsible for waking the dead, their history stretches way back to centuries passed and, sooner or later, they were found to clamber forth. Besides, whatever mischief they have gotten up to over the past decade, it’s hard to point the finger at George as he made such a damn good fist of it. Just because Justin Bieber is an irritant, that doesn’t make it kosher to track down his mom and give her a donkey punch. He has to be held accountable for his own actions and, by the same token, the undead need to stand on their own two feet and accept responsibility for becoming a laughing-stock. Moreover, we have brought this on ourselves by not adhering to our planet’s simple code and now we have a population explosion on our hands. Real smart humanity.
Take the military for example. Should they have not been predisposed playing Plants vs. Zombies on their smart phones when transporting barrels of toxic green slime to the barracks, then perhaps that bump in the road could have been averted. Scientists aren’t off the hook either as they simply have to meddle in things they haven’t the vaguest idea about. Suddenly, we are overrun with dead heads and Donald Trump is looking a shoe-in for President. Check those ballot boxes and I bet at least half of his votes come from mindless meatbags. Romero can’t shoulder the blame for that one as Day of The Dead provided a stark reminder that, while the military and medical science are too busy locking horns, some bonehead is powering up the cargo lift and inviting hundreds of ravenous rotters inside for afternoon tea. Are they satisfied with a slice of Battenberg an a mug of Earl Grey? Are they fuck! Braiiins are their staple diet and they won’t cease their chow down until every last cerebellum has been digested. Indeed, Romero should be provided with a medal for giving us the heads up. It’s what we do with that intelligence that counts. Therefore, he is free to roam the Earth, while the rest of humanity deserve everything that is coming to them.
Wendy and Danny Torrence are next on our agenda. You see, all Jack desired was a little me-time to continue work on his new novel and perhaps shoot the shit with his old pal Lloyd. However, every time he looked to be making progress, his solitude was compromised. So he did what any struggling author would do when consistently browbeaten by their nearest and dearest – he took five from his typewriter and made an emotional plea for a little peace and quiet. Granted, he did this by way of woodsman’s axe but, considering some rotten old wench was hogging the bath tub, he can hardly be blamed for taking drastic measures. Danny may have thought that he was just engaging in the usual infantile hijinks trundling through the Overlook Hotel’s hallways on his three-wheeler but it was because of his telepathic prowess that poor Dick Hallorann missed the Pam Grier marathon and ended up as firewood. Moreover, Danny’s refusal to accept a moccasin to the back of his knees as penance led to Jack’s eventual hypothermia. Children should be seen and not heard apparently but Danny got it all ass about-face.
That said, his mother deserves to shoulder the blame for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, she should have kept her son under control as Pulitzer Prize-winning novels don’t write themselves and she had precious little else on her to-do-list. For this reason alone she deserved to perish but there’s another reason why she should consider herself fortunate. Seldom has a face been so tempting to punch as hers and rarely has a fishwife been so snivelling and spineless. For as much as the woman in the bath may have been left to soak a tad too long, I’d still bend her over the towel rail before jousting Wendy Torrance’s ovaries with my pugil. When speaking of winters of discontent, this one springs to mind as the most disheartening and Jack was well within his rights to take matters into his own hands. Danny’s punishment is to be sent straight to bed in Room 237, whereas mommy dearest is required to afford her downtrodden spouse with one free swing. This time, make it count Jack, for all our wellbeing.
Next under the microscope is a topic that I happen to hold rather close to my heart – the slasher movie. Is it better to burn out than to fade away? Back in the eighties, this sub-genre was enjoying its heyday and its majesty coincided with my own cinematic development. For a time, the whole world bought into its rudimentary approach to shameless entertainment and a new embittered juggernaut was introduced on pretty much a bi-weekly basis. Having already penalized both Freddy and Jason, I’m not about to point the finger in their direction. However, somebody has to be accountable for slasher’s ailing fortunes as it fell from grace faster than a sky-diving sack of cellulite and, by the time the nineties loomed large, was a woefully spent force. To its credit, it bowed out gracefully and spent the majority of the next two decades lying low but eventually opportunity came knocking once more. Things have a tendency to travel full circle and, considering the amount of eighties children now primed to break their directorial ducks, it was inevitable that slasher would rise from the flames like the proverbial phoenix.
Victor Crowley and Chromeskull burst onto the scene, closely followed by the likes of Marcus Miller and all manner of other masked hopefuls. However, the question was whether or not we had learned our lessons during the interim as this particular sub-genre was traditionally hamstrung by rules and regulations. Engaging in any kind of sexual pursuit was a sure-fire way to earn yourself ventilation, splitting up and going solo would invariably end in tears also, and the only hope appeared to be chastity and an allergy to slutty make-up. Slasher was one big tick-box exercise and it was only a matter of time before the appeal waned. This presented its chance for a second wind and the results were wildly varied. Crowley certainly made the bayou his own and cannot be accused of skimping on the annihilation front. Chromeskull wasn’t fussy about who he put to task and possessed a serrated blade that stated absolutely no preference. Meanwhile, Miller even found the time to locate his voice box and, while reciting eighteenth-century Hungarian literature was never his forte, his mean-spirit was something to be celebrated. Slasher was now firmly back on the map and, while not quite the force it once was, I’ll never bite a hand that feeds me.
Indeed, work is still afoot as the new age is positively ripe with opportunity. Voorhees, Myers, Krueger and the like may be somewhat past their prime but good old-fashioned slash and stalk still begging to be exploited. If I were making a slasher movie, then the first thing I would do would be to toss away the rulebook and start afresh. Prevailing virginity would no longer provide a fast pass to the final credits, late night skinny dippers would be rewarded with at least ten-minutes of invulnerability for showing us their wares, those being pursued wouldn’t necessarily possess the balance of newborn fawns and be afforded more time to run the gauntlet as opposed to peek-a-boo followed swiftly by adieu, and I’d toss a fair few cats amongst the pigeons for the purpose of additional carnage. Fuck fading away like Stevie Wonder in the eighties, slasher is a most welcome ingredient in my cinematic diet plan and, therefore, welcome to burn baby burn.
Would I rather have my stomach lining compromised or epidermis loosened? This one is tricky as I happen to be rather fond of gushing grue and deep red is a primary color that I will never tire of. That said, there’s something to be said for clenching those sphincters too. Fear has its benefits and the adrenaline surge supplied by a well-placed jolt or influx of creeping dread is moreish in extremities. I’m the first to egg a film on in its bid to terrify me and, while little can boast such an achievement nowadays, I live in hope of an undermined bladder. The issue seems to be that we have long-since become desensitized to unforeseen terrorization and it takes a lot more than ominous audio and some anaemic oriental wench with greasy follicles and well-bitten nails clambering forth from our television sets to provoke a coronary. Nowadays filmmakers have to work hard for their spine chills and it has been way too long since a movie truly rattled my cage. Scott Derrickson’s Sinister achieved touched cloth courtesy of its adventures in lawn mowing but instances of bona fide consternation have otherwise been regrettably few and far between.
As for splatter, well I’ll never grow weary of watching a windpipe fountain cascade and my only bone of contention is the increasing trend for CGI. As long as effects remain practical, I’m like a swine in entrails and there just so happen to be countless ways to skin a cat. However, should a dispatch be implemented well enough, then grue is no longer requisite. My case in point is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as Leatherface announced his arrival with a simple cranium tap and left the death rattles to do the rest. Our imaginations are more productive than anything conjured up viscerally in scenarios such as this and our old friend fear is provided a welcome run-out. It’s no good sitting on our soap boxes declaring ourselves impervious and far more gratifying to place ourselves in the shoes of whomever is being tormented. When I watch Jaws, I’m right alongside Quint, Brody and Hooper singing sea shanties and revealing my scars, not hovering forty feet from sea-level in a chopper mocking the Great White’s mechanics. I want to be chum line, a mere minnow like the boys, and fear is never far away when you commit yourself truly to the cause. Thus, I consider this particular head-to-head a stalemate as dread and deep red go hand-in-hand in my estimations.
Are remakes worthless endeavors or as vital as spanking the monkey? There are arguments for both when you consider some of the rancid reboots that have surfaced over the past few years. While some have brought no shame to the game, others have squandered their potential and, by doing so, pissed on their forerunners from an elevated vantage. For every Evil Dead there’s a Prom Night failing to reinvigorate the formula and it reeks of studio-led opportunism to me. While that may be true, a little perspective is key here as fresh-faced upstarts may well be unfamiliar with the origins and deserve to be catered for accordingly. Take the Deadites for example, back in 1981 they were a force to be reckoned with but the claymation would surely be too crude for those new recruits reared on techno-savvy blockbusters. Reinvention is not to be sniffed at as The Thing proved over thirty years ago. It’s part and parcel of evolution and tough to discount as petty endeavor. What ruffles my feathers most is watching latitude spurned and distinguished works from yesteryear not handled with the due care and attention.
If I were to be tasked with giving Leatherface a fresh lick of emulsion then my first act would be to strip away the gloss and reveal his grotty undercoat. There’s a reason why road trips to Texas were so unappealing in the seventies and it’s all about celebrating that dynamic. We don’t wish to be pummelled with 3D, neither do we care for made-over mansions that appear to have been recently refurnished. Where are the bird bones and rickety sliding doors? Come to think of it, where the fuck is Grandpa? Granted, he may be approaching his 105th birthday and no longer so adept at grasping the hammer but he was never likely to win any whack-a-mole tournaments when Earth, Wind & Fire were burning up dance halls. You think Ma Bates is rotting away in some push residential home? No, she’s still cooped up in Norman’s attic, waiting patiently for her milk and cookies. Keep your eye on the prize and there’s every reason for a dash of modern-day reinforcement. Miss a trick and we are no longer wary of rolling fog banks.
Then there’s the contraception debate. I’m the first to admit that condoms are little more than local anaesthetic for our Johnsons and refuse to rubber up on this principle alone. However, we would never have been subjected to countless Children of The Corn sequels had a little forward-thinking been facilitated. Isaac was the result of one such reckless exchange and prophylactics could have saved us all the migraine. I’m not about to blame the Thornes for Damien’s somewhat less than immaculate conception but whichever womb was responsible for his gestation has rather a lot to answer for. Personally, I believe that the blame cannot be placed at these terrible tykes’ doorsteps as shoddy parenting is often the cause of bogus wiring. Alex Forrest was in her late-thirties when she felt those guttural twinges of Fatal Attraction and I’m sure she was a delightful toddler. Detachment issues no doubt played their part here and you can’t blame that shit on lack of precaution. Ultimately it boils down to the individual and, while there will always be a few bad seeds in every crop, most of the time childhood neglect is responsible. Let’s not get it twisted, I’m still not about to don a rubber sheath before poking around in the lady garden. But my reaction speed when pulling out is now second to none.
Leaving horror be momentarily, I feel it necessary to pose the million dollar question? Is flatulence amusing or simply puerile? It’s easy to argue for both sides here as, while I have never heard a fart that didn’t raise at least a smile, it is hardly the most sophisticated transaction. That said, rubber ducks can only attest to making bathtime mildly more pleasurable and a few impromptu bubbles can provide a rather wondrous makeshift jacuzzi. Moreover, when they burst, the aroma of colon seasoned with soap suds is a curious thing and not to be dismissed out of hand. Then we can crank things up a notch further by releasing our gases in enclosed spaces such as crowded elevators and watch on with mirth as the daggers are thrown. Who can tell where that godawful stench came from? We all have an anus and are therefore on an even playing field. My inability not to grin like Pee Wee Herman in Wally World blows my cover every time but I take consolation in the fact that I’m getting off at floor three and the yuppie to my left is now cursing his penthouse apartment.
Meanwhile, farting can also allow us to express ourselves musically. Whether falsetto or baritone, each presents an exclusive opportunity for percussion and are even more glorious once we master how to hang out a note. The key here is not spending our rectal allowance all in one fell swoop and, instead, threading said tune through the eye of our needle with control and restraint. I’ve known farts to last for thirty seconds or more and such endurance demands to be credited. Others are over in the time it takes Justin Bieber to insult the Polish and that’s the beauty of individuality right there. I’m soundly in the pro-fart camp and not ashamed to admit it either. Indeed, should I relinquish a verse and not be greeted with warmth, then I would take great exception and fart once more just to needle my audience further. Of course, with any playful pastime such as flatulence comes a dash of risk as too much slackening can end in catastrophe and soiled underwear. Thankfully, I’m something of an expert in this field and, while the material to the rear of my cotton whites is more threadbare than the front side, there’s no reason for my seventy-two-year-old mother to fret reaching into the laundry basket.
I guess there could be no better place to conclude our tête-à-tête than by tackling the real burning question. Good or evil? I know which way my bread is buttered in this particular debate as I would choose kindness over blindness any day of the calendar month. That said, one cannot exist without the other and the key is in striking a balance. My sense of humor is more geared to the latter as others’ misfortune provides me with infinite amusement and I’m not ashamed to admit it either. Comedy is at its most fulfilling when of the black variety and, should I be kindly assisting a senior citizen across a busy intersection and her femur pop out of its fixture, then I’m snorting back snot before she hits the tarmac. While that may seem callous, I will happily drag her ailing bones to the opposing side before further tragedy strikes and offer genuine concern for her well-being. However, when I lay down to sleep that night, that moment is likely to be playing on perpetual loop in my head and accompanied by the theme song from Chariots of Fire no doubt.
Being good has its benefits too and I endeavor to be a pillar of my community wherever possible. This entails smiling at strangers, paying it forward at every opportunity, and spreading happiness as opposed to unpleasantness. Indeed, I pride myself on my agreeable nature and hopefully that will have been duly noted by the time final judgement beckons. Sure, there are sprinkles of evil in my tapestry and I hold my hands up on this count. But my intentions are sound, my conscience relatively clear, and my place in heaven still apparently reserved. Once I’m there on my fluffy cloud plucking away at my golden harp, I’ll remain true to myself and bust a gut the very moment some cranky old fossil takes a sip from the glass of water on his bedside, only to unwittingly swallow his dentures. But I will also wish him a full and speedy recovery. Good it is then with just a smattering of evil for the sake of humor.
So that’s choices all sewn up and, as we approach the end of our journey, there appears to be more work afoot. Should I take a well-deserved breather and kick back some? Or perhaps there is no rest for the wicked? I haven’t passed wind for several hours now and the stomach cramps are becoming a little overbearing. Thus, I need to decide whether to raise a cheek here at my current coordinates incognito or dash inside and share these toxins with my mother. Late night masturbation is a foregone conclusion but perhaps I should alternate hands for a change of pace? It’s an ongoing chore making choices and one which I’m only too happy to engage in freely as I’d take free will over considering myself above the process in a picosecond. Perhaps I should close with a poser for you fine people just to place the ball in your courts. So here goes: am I beyond therapy and is there any hope for the Keeper of The Crimson Quill? I think we all know the answer to that one. Right then, time for daily dose of shock treatment.