The True ABCs of Death: D is for Deviancy

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Suggested Audio Jukebox:

[1] Pitchshifter “Genius”

[2] The Hollies “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother”

[3] Ramones “Cretin Hop”

[4] Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”

[5] Sky Wikluh “Balcan Sex God”

[6] The Dead Kennedys “Holiday in Cambodia”

[7] Snake River “Conspiracy Breed”

[8] The Cramps “Don’t Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk”

[9] The Primitives “Crash”

[10] Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know”

 

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deviancy
noun: The fact or state of diverging from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behaviour

 

It’s time to dig deep Grueheads. The True ABCs of Death sequence has arrived full circle and has now made the journey from A thru Z in its entirety. However, I’m just having too much damn fun to stop now. Thus, in an attempt to be the gift that keeps on giving, I have opted to return to a few letters that resonate particularly strongly with me and it was only a matter of time before I arrived back at the letter D. You see, society has a canny way of informing us all what is deemed as acceptable practice and it tends to be a somewhat black and white affair. While “fitting in” is necessary to a certain degree, I’d much rather get my freak on from time to time and engage in acts outside of the ordinary. Being a mindless drone seems such a dull pursuit and following the Joneses ultimately leads to some place decidedly droll. Give me a dash of deviancy any day of the week and, as long as nobody gets hurt, I’ll gobble that shit up like a dog does street feces.

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The horror genre is positively brimming with deviants and many of them have been explored already during our alphabetical pilgrimage. Thus, I have decided to shun the usual suspects and place a few less fashionable sickos under the microscope. In order to do so, I will be checking the darkest recesses and leaving no stone unturned as I search for the unsung screwballs of modern cinema. Of course, there will be plenty of familiar faces as certain subjects are simply too ripe for the picking and I will never tire of singling these crackpots out for special treatment. However, my aim is to introduce you all to a new fresh faces along the way and deviate from the most-trodden path wherever possible. Our journey has to start somewhere and it seems only right to ease you in with a bona fide basket case to set the tone. We’re headed for the mean streets of downtown New York City and the hotspot for many a deviant. Fret not as I have packed provisions.

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They say that you can’t choose your family and Duane Bradley knows that only too well. Indeed, he bears the cross to prove it and his deformed Siamese twin, Belial, insists on travelling with him wherever he goes. Conjoined at birth and separated against their will, the brothers have plenty of beef with the meddling medical minds responsible for performing the procedure and are looking to exact their revenge. While Duane has every right to be narked, Belial drew the decidedly short straw when it came to looks and resembles a glob of spat out bubble gum. This makes public appearances a risky pursuit as we all know what happened to Frankenstein when he attempted to mingle with the locals and he looked like Joe Black in comparison with Belial. Besides, Duane got the getaway sticks and that ruled out platform heels and ankle bracelets. Alas, the only place fit for a freak of nature such as he is a wicker basket and, to his brother’s credit, he carries his burden commendably.

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So we’ve ascertained that Belial has no legs to stretch but he still needs oxygen from time to time and it gets mighty boring cooped up inside his straw-woven receptacle day and night. Moreover, he is growing tired of Duane’s success with the opposite sex and resentful of his blossoming romance with nurse Sharon so decides to throw a spanner in the works. Sneaking out of his basket at the dead of night, he slides into bed alongside Sharon with molestation on his mind and finds himself soundly thwarted by the lack of any discernible genitalia to plunder her fortress with. While a little harmless groping isn’t out of the question, she takes exception to the intrusion and Belial is left with no choice but to shut the bitch up before she can scream for help. Needless to say, mutilating his girlfriend drives something of a wedge between our brothers and it all ultimately ends in tears. Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case is something of a low-rent classic and, while Belial never achieved his goal of appearing on the cover of GQ magazine, he was granted a second and third outing. Moreover, while not in the possession of any reproductive organs, he still managed to find a way to sow his seeds and his rowdy offspring inherited his looks.

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Henenlotter evidently had immense fun with Belial as, in 1988, he fashioned another tag-along cretin every bit as cantankerous. Leech-like parasite Aylmer isn’t consigned to a basket and his unwitting host Brian agrees to chauffeur him around in the back of his shirt collar instead, with psychotropic results. You see, arms and legs aren’t part of the deal during Aylmer’s birth plan and, while Belial is never likely to win any beauty pageants, at least he doesn’t resemble a top-heavy turd dipped in neon emulsion. All that Aylmer has going for him is his winning smile and it’s hardly going to bag him the honeys any time soon.

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Granted, God can be a particularly callous architect but, in the interest of fair play, he provides Aylmer with his own special purpose and what a doozy it is. What he lacks in poster boy looks, he makes up for in intellect and this makes him something of a chat room messiah. Moreover, he has the ability to learn and a built-in syringe to extract information wherever he deems fit. This sucks for Brian as, every time Aylmer secretes his hallucinogenic blue fluid into his host’s frontal lobe, he becomes his bitch and the only payment plan acceptable is brain food. Hopelessly addicted to the freely available narcotic, he is left with no choice than to do his master’s foul bidding in the name of indulgence and this wreaks havoc with his once healthy sex life. Fellatio no longer has any feeling and, while Aylmer is engaging in deep throat on his behalf, Brian’s the poor dumb bastard left to clean up the mess come the inevitable cum shot.

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While Belial and Aylmer would stand out like sore thumbs in an identity parade, other deviants aren’t quite so easy to recognize. Take Manu and Nadine for example, on the surface they appear no different from your everyday ropy hookers and would appear to pose little in the way of threat outside of venereal disease and the customary pre-menstrual strops. However, looks can be mighty deceiving as these particular whores are every bit as partial to deviancy as the aforementioned and, having watched Thelma & Louise one too many times, have taken it upon themselves to embark on a crime spree for no other reason than their own sick sexual gratification. Manu has additional motivation for her unruly behavior, having previously been accosted and subjected to gang-rape whereas Nadine is more than happy just to act out for the sake of sisterhood. Considering they live in the south of France, driving a 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible into the Grand Canyon isn’t an option so their short-lived road trip reaches far less satisfying closure.

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Porn filmmakers Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi spewed out Baise-Moi in 2000 and the clue here is in the title, which translates to Fuck Me. It has no airs or graces, precious little in the way of either style or substance, and is amateurish at best and worthless trash at worst. Granted, the shoestring budget doesn’t help their cause but it’s more than just a lack of resources that makes it such cinematic silage. Not a single character possesses even the vaguest degree of likeability and, while our femme fatales cover much ground, their personal journeys are virtually non-existent. In short, it’s pretty much lacking in anything resembling either enjoyment or taxing character study and the fact that it mercilessly runs for a meager 77 minutes is the only reason I reached the end credits without suffering a stroke.

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To the film’s sole credit, it caused a whole heap of controversy, even in its native country where minds are decidedly more liberated than most. What needles most is rookie errors, pretty much every single scene is accompanied by painfully distracting audio, the acting is borderline offensive (although Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson certainly can’t be accused of not giving their all), it’s poorly shot, and leads nowhere fast. I’m not one for knocking industrious endeavor and certain quarters consider Baise-Moi to be something of an overlooked exploitation classic but Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoît Poelvoorde’s 1992 mockumentary Man Bites Dog does it with so much more class and this leaves the viewer feeling violated for all the right reasons. Tragically, Lancaume committed suicide in 2005 after struggling to make the transition from pornography to mainstream cinema and that’s as close as we get to poignancy I’m afraid.

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On the absolute flip side, we have Srđan Spasojević’s notorious 2010 shocker A Serbian Film and this is widely regarded as one of the most contemptible movies ever committed to celluloid. If you’re looking for deviancy, then you’ve come to the right place as it delivers us to the kind of seedy locales even our darkest nightmares would struggle to conjure up and restrains us while we watch the worst possible atrocities known to man. That said, it has something in abundance that Baise-Moi could have done with just a dash of – heart. Ignore all the naysayers if you possess a gut of wrought iron and play voyeur for 104 minutes with semi-retired porn star Miloš as it will be time you will never forget, regardless of extensive shock treatment. This is a hard film to openly recommend as its audience is decidedly niche and, certain scenes, far too punishing for any but the strongest dispositions. However, it is also one of the best films I have ever had the ominous pleasure of being exposed to and an absolute masterclass in no punches pulled filmmaking.

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Miloš isn’t the deviant I wish to speak about as, regardless of the acts he engages in throughout, he is nothing but a reluctant pawn in the game, rent-a-dick if you will. Dosed up with a cocktail of drugs that leaves him aggressive, sexually aroused and suggestible, his free-will is tampered with to such a degree that he can barely be held accountable for his actions, however repellant they may be. The real crook is his director Vukmir Vukmir, a man so loathsome he named himself twice just to ensure that we never forget it. While Miloš does his dirty work, Vukmir barks his orders through earpiece and plants each wretched seed like the vile puppet master that he is. The results are beyond heartbreaking, particularly during two key scenes that never made it past the censors for good reason.

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I’m not ordinarily one for censorship and am comfortable enough in my own membrane to watch pretty much anything that doesn’t involve snuff and come out the other side intact but others may not be quite so fortunate and they are left with two choices: either offer A Serbian Film the widest berth imaginable or view it in its edited format and accept that certain atrocities just don’t need to be witnessed. I’ve watched it uncut once and would do so again without procrastination but I take shock with a pinch of salt and consider myself fairly battle-hardened. There are few films as divisive as Spasojević’s debut, but fewer still so pitch perfect in their execution. As for Vukmir, this is pretty much the epitome of deviancy and single-handedly the reason that Serbia will never make my shortlist of proposed holiday destinations.

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There is only one place conceivable to take this from here and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1975 art-house film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom is literally chock-full of deviants. Adapted from the novel The 120 Days of Sodom by none other than the Marquis de Sade, it focuses on the fascism of post-Mussolini Italy in the 1940s and is every bit as shocking now as it was forty years ago. However, historians hold Pasolini’s film in lofty regard, regardless of the degradation it showcases. If debauchery, brutality, sadism, mental torment and extreme perversion are your bag, then you may have just found your new favorite movie as it shoehorns in enough of each to put you off your meals for a calendar month. Even defecation is on the menu as eighteen kidnapped teenagers are forced to chow down on human feces for the purpose of the libertines’ sick amusement. A date movie it most certainly isn’t and once was enough for Keeper as I prefer bowel movements to be a personal affair and still blame Pasolini for my indifference towards chocolate brownies even now.

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Meanwhile Nagisa Oshima’s 1976 film Ai no Korīda, also known as In the Realm of the Senses, reminded me how thankful I am to have a penis and I have never since taken it for granted. Indeed, I owe at least 66% of my extracurricular masturbation to this particular movie as I’m damned well going to milk my gland for all its worth before Sada Abe can get her greasy paws around it. Set in Tokyo in 1936, it charts the ill-fated affair between the former prostitute and hotel owner Kichizo Ishida and it can’t be argued that he doesn’t bring any rough justice on himself. After molesting her (never the best grounds for a healthy relationship), the two embark on a voyage of sexual discovery which starts innocuously enough but escalates in no time as she starts to becoming increasingly possessive.

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Kichizo encourages her to spread her wings and this involves strangulation during coitus and, eventually, this leads to his demise. However, Sada isn’t deterred by her lover’s lack of pulse and continues their courtship after the death rattles subside, severing his member and carrying it around as an eternal keepsake, while carving “Sada Kichi the two of us forever,” into his chest just to make sure that the mortician doesn’t get any ideas above his station. Love makes us do the strangest things and Lars Von Trier’s avant garde 2009 masterpiece Antichrist can further back up that particular claim.

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Focusing on a married couple known purely as He and She, it starts with the worst kind of tragedy imaginable – the untimely death of their only child which they are accountable for, given that they are midway through intercourse when the bough breaks. With a massive void left in their lives that never looks likely to be filled, they retreat to a cabin in the woods to pine over their lost infant and healing is promptly taken off the agenda. He witnesses all manner of bizarre hallucinations and befriends a talking fox, whereas She becomes fixated with sadomasochism and bludgeons his testicles with a large slab of wood, before drilling a hole in his leg and bolting a grindstone through the wound to keep him from heading off on any woodland expeditions without her. To make things fair, she then proceeds to cut off her own clitoris with a pair of scissors, as you do. Perhaps marriage counselling would have been a wiser course of action but grief works in mysterious ways and Antichrist offers excruciating testament to that.

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The first par in the Danish director’s celebrated “Depression Trilogy”, Von Trier was in a particularly dubious place when writing this nightmarish piece of experimental fiction, having been in the throes of a personal meltdown himself. It’s a deeply affecting film, one that crawls beneath your epidermis and itches for days afterwards, but also a fascinating case study as it looks at the dynamics between man and woman in the wake of personal tragedy and throws up a number of discomforting answers. Given how fragile his mind was at the time, there is an honesty to Antichrist that is rarely seen and a truth to its characterization of two decidedly flawed human beings perpetually lost in a place with absolutely no available exits.

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Speaking of which, down-on-his-luck romance novelist Paul Sheldon finds himself between a rock and a hard place in Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1987 novel Misery after his car careers off the road during a blizzard, leaving him with two broken legs, a dislocated shoulder and temporarily bedridden. When Annie Wilkes agrees to be his wet-nurse for the foreseeable and takes him into her remote country home, he appears to have landed on his feet. Moreover, she confesses to being his “number one fan” and promises to provide him with the very best care as he recovers from his injuries. To show his appreciation, Paul gives her a sneak peek of his recently finished and unpublished latest manuscript Misery’s Child and, at this point, it’s all looking like flannel baths and hand jobs. Unfortunately for him, Annie takes great exception to the way in which he concludes his story and takes it upon herself to vent her frustration in a manner far less than hospitable.

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To her credit, she does offer him a chance to make up for his error by suggesting he begin work on a sequel righting the wrongs of killing off its main protagonist and, under duress and realizing that all the birds clearly aren’t in the nest, he agrees to her terms. However, the moment her back is turned, he starts looking for a means of escape and this proves to be a bum move on Paul’s part as Annie is forced into taking extreme measures to prevent him from fleeing before completion. After a botched attempt at poisoning his carer during a candlelit dinner and a consequent dash of wanderlust, she forces the issue some by smashing his feet to smithereens with a sledgehammer and suddenly that hand job is looking increasingly unlikely. Wilkes is the worst kind of deviant as she is convinced that her actions are for his own good and considers herself to be doing him a great service. Easily one of the more prosperous King translations, Misery supplies us with a formidable turn from Kathy Bates and a suitably downtrodden one from James Caan. It also reminds us of the lengths certain fans will go to in order to appreciate their idols. Fuck writing pulp fiction for a living, I think I’ll take that gig as a short order chef and perform any hand jobs myself.

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James Muro’s 1987 body horror number Street Trash provided the perfect tonic for any budding deviants courtesy of a long-sine discarded consignment of Tenafly Viper liquor. Downtime Manhattan is positively teaming with vagrants and undesirables and the new taste sensation quickly becomes a hit with the locals although repeat purchases are not on the cards. You see, this crate of Viper is over half a century old and way beyond its best-by date. One swig and you don’t have to wait until the next morning for your hangover as it melts you down into human slag before you can so much as lick your lips. Have you ever taken a dump and reached for the chain, only to find that it will be your final flush? Try a tot of Viper and you’ll have a good idea how that scenario plays out. Take it from me, you’ll be tee-total in no time or raw sewage in even less. Muro’s film is a deviant’s wet dream and an alcoholic’s very worst nightmare. Virulent Viper aside, what other movie introduces you to a game of piggy-in-the-middle with a severed penis? To my knowledge the answer is none and that makes it alright by my estimations.

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Continuing with the current theme for deviancy of the more light-hearted variety, New Zealand’s most valuable commodity Peter Jackson wasn’t averse to taking a walk on the wild side before he embarked on his Middle Earth pilgrimage. In 1989, he presented us with his very own antithesis to The Muppet Show and suggested we Meet The Feebles. His darkly comical satire featured all manner of wrong ‘uns, from gutter press house flies with a penchant for stool hopping, to drug-addled knife throwing alligators, and big-boned machine gun-toting hippos in suspenders and garters who make Miss Piggy resemble a harmless choir girl in comparison.

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Kermit the Frog wouldn’t last five minutes with Heidi and Beaker would blow a gasket just being in the same room as this bad-tempered bitch on heat. That said, the hippopotamus doesn’t have much representation in modern cinema and does admittedly possess one hell of a frontal rack. Does that make me a deviant? If so then I’m guilty as sin as I’d gladly plunder this feeble should no muppets be available. I’d just make sure I pulled out before she decided I was surplus to requirements and go jack up with the croc instead.

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Boy, there are so many sickos in the world and I have barely even scratched the top off the pimple yet. I’m feeling a couple more for the road and where better to search for suchlike deviants than in the vicinity of any freeway automobile pile-ups? I couldn’t close without mentioning Canadian maestro David Cronenberg at least once and his 1996 film Crash was considered a little too close for comfort for some as it showcased our sexual desires when faced with such wreckage. On the surface, film producer James Ballard and his wife, Catherine appear to be no different from your average married couple and their open marriage is endorsed fully by both parties, so each to their own I say. Divulging sordid details of their extramarital exploits gets them off and their sex life is certainly in no danger of floundering any time soon. However, scratch away the metallic paint and there’s an unhealthy fascination with carnage that could be construed as mildly unhealthy. After being involved in a head-on road collision that damn near claims his life and leaves his opposite number widowed, James develops a hankering for life in the fast lane and Catherine too shares his arousal.

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Moreover, the couple soon discover that they are not alone in their fixation and meet some colorful characters all too willing to share in their new-found fetish. One of these is Gabrielle, a beautiful young woman whose legs are encased in steel braces due to a near-fatal accident and James discovers that a vulva-like scar on her upper thigh makes for an ideal substitute for a vagina and enters it accordingly. Only Cronenberg can make bodily deformity such a tantalizing proposition and, with Rosanna Arquette exhibiting said point of entry, I’d be more than happy to engage in sloppy seconds once James has shot his fuel. Crash is a mesmerizing film and, in a career littered with high points, may well be his pièce de résistance. It places the viewer in the driving seat and goes pedal to metal in oncoming traffic, teasing us with approaching head lamps as we prepare to plunge faces first through our windscreens and taste bittersweet asphalt. I’d love to know what runs through that glorious elongated cranium of his and would happily give his excess fluids a lick, alloy or no alloy.

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Okay, last orders at the bar and remember to steer clear of Viper as we all know how that is likely to conclude. I’m searching for a special deviant to close with, one to send us out with a bang and all signs point to Alex Forrest. Adrian Lyne’s 1987 thriller Fatal Attraction was a cautionary tale too far for numerous alphas culpable of infidelity and single-handedly coined the phrase “bunny boiler” in the process. Successful New York attorney Dan Gallagher seems to have it all. A healthy marriage to a beautiful woman who dotes on him, sweet little cherub daughter, idyllic home, and a cute little white rabbit the likes of which magicians produce from their top hats for their opening act to rapturous applause. Life is sweet for Dan but, like many middle-aged men with his charmed existence, he cannot resist straying from the path of righteousness for a little down and dirty extracurricular activity. With his family away for the weekend and a pair of testicles overspilling with unspent semen, he falls for the one-night fling chestnut and chooses poorly with his partner in crime.

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First things first. Why on God’s green earth he opts for Alex when his significant other is far easier on the eye is anyone’s guess and one which I struggle to locate an answer for. That said, one’s Johnson can become momentarily blinded with a little intoxicating liquor and the promise of some no-strings coitus while backs are turned and Dan is powerless to resist as high-flying business associate Alex offers him a warm spot to rest his cock and balls against. No sooner have his sailors walked the plank, than the game begins to change in no uncertain terms and she develops an obsession to take things further that he has absolutely no intention of honoring. Suddenly it dawns on Dan that the hairy brains of the operation may have provided him with a bum steer of sorts as things continue to escalate until which point as his cover is in clear and present danger of being soundly blown. While the ramifications of his illicit night of passion appear to be compromised marital status, he doesn’t even know the half of it as Alex is anything but balanced and refuses to be cast aside.

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A failed suicide attempt offers enlightenment as to the severity of his plight and he acts chivalrous more out of damage limitation than actual concern for her well-being. In the back of his mind, it would have been better for all involved if she’d finished the job but he does the “decent” thing and attempts to let her down gently. However, Alex has already proved that she has precious little to lose and knows full well that the same cannot be said for Dan. Thus, the only logical move in her eyes is to boil his daughter’s bunny and leave it to simmer as a stark warning that he isn’t getting off the hook quite so lightly. Having to explain to his little girl that little Flopsy is on its way to the rabbit hutch in the sky, he decides to come clean about his skullduggery and, needless to say, his wife Beth is left devastated by his revelation. Moreover, with blackmail no longer an option and any bunnies now out of the equation, it’s time for extreme measures and this makes bath time an ominous proposition.

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There’s a message here guys and it concerns keeping your dicks in your pants as the grass is seldom greener on the other side. What makes Fatal Attraction so terrifying to married men is that shows just how rapidly one moment of madness can come back to bite you in the ass and tells its tale of cause and effect in a tongue we can all relate to. While men worldwide took Lyne’s film as a welcome wake-up call, it’s the bunnies I feel sorry for as they no longer became quite as popular a domestic pet. Moreover, stewed rabbit tastes rather delightful with a dash of side-relish and Elmer Fudd was swiftly called out of retirement to help hunt down these wascally wabbits. Had Dan overcome his desire to play away, then Bugs Bunny would likely have still been alive and well. The last I heard, he was hors d’oeuvre at a charity fundraiser in Memphis and its all down to Dan’s duplicitous behavior. Kind of makes you think before you fuck doesn’t it? Seven minutes of rigorous masturbation and the whole sorry mess could have been avoided.

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That’s all I’ve got Grueheads. I’m well and truly deviated out for the foreseeable and ready to engage in some more wholesome pursuits after unearthing some of the most unsavory examples in modern cinema and breathing in their noxious gases for the best part of three hours. Time for a little model citizen behavior methinks. Indeed, I’m off right now to help a few sweet little old ladies across busy intersections and donate my old clothes to local charities. Being a deviant is thankless work and all comes out in the wash come judgement day anyhoots so I’ll leave it to the real sickos and get back to being the Samaritan that I keep threatening to become. Of course, even the most uncontaminated amongst us spank the monkey right? We’ve got to have some pleasure and we only need to look at poor Dan Gallagher to know that any semen not cashed in prior to engagement is just asking for trouble. Call me a wanker and I shall hold up my hands, thus causing my trousers to drop to my ankles but, compared to the deviancy we’ve explored today, I’m really not all that demented. Just a man with a penis and a little too much time on my hands.

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Click here to read E is for Exploitation

 

 

 

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