26 Teeth

“Now just raise your hand if you feel any kind of pain.”

    The whirr of the dentist drill washed out any recognizable sounds and polluted the air with dread. The sadist tip of the tool found it’s mark.

    He didn’t even attempt to pretend this time. Raymond H. Haggarty D.D.S. glanced for just a moment at his patients frantic flailing arms. Her little stick limbs with pronounced veins nearly shot out of the hand-knitted afghan sweater. Mrs. Maurine McDonald grasped the doctor’s shoulders for just a moment before her eyes looked back inside her own skull. Raymond began his real work while Maurine was unconscious, hopefully having pleasant dreams about her great-grandchildren. A hidden smile grew behind the white disposable medical mask. Dr. Haggarty gingerly placed the more vital mask over his patient’s face and turned the nitrous oxide on.

    Raymond had his normal moment of shame sink in. It uncoiled with serpentine smoothness. He was barely nine years old peeking through the slit of his parent’s open bedroom door. Their clothes littered the floor as they were engulfed in one another. Raymond tried to keep his hurried breaths quieter than the panting of his elder’s. He matched the rhythms they kept and was never discovered. Even then it was apparent to the young boy that this wasn’t meant for him to view, but that knowledge made everything more enticing. The shame gave him strength.

With a single blink and all of existence appeared within Raymond’s vision. Decayed buildings secreted amorphous larvae bigger than city buses. The creatures weaved in and out of broken windows and structural liabilities. Men and women littered the streets intersecting these partially demolished engineering wonders. These people were creating a din of laughter, screams, and meat being accosted by countless things. This spectacle of painful debauchery was sprinkled with a slight layer of ash that made blasphemous patterns as it fell from above and blew in the wind. Moving images of unfathomable beasts came to life in the grey. Creatures with too many or not enough appendages thrusted their parts into dully colored innocence.

Pandemonium compounded to such an extreme that as Dr. Haggarty viewed the unseen his very brain vibrated to the hum of reality unraveling. Then – all in the same moment – silence. The innumerable eyes of horror that were gnawing, slithering, raping, and bludgeoning anything near jolted to a stop… and stared at Raymond.

He opened his eyes, letting the shame seep into his loins, and shivered with arousal.

The task at hand recentered in Dr. Haggarty’s mind. Hovering his free hand over the meticulously sanitized table of stainless steel with neat formations of surgical grade instruments and a small ornate box that looked very out of place. Raymond selected the mouth prop from the many options, which he slowly nestled between Maurine’s upper and lower jaw. Next, the evacuation tube sucked up the building pools of saliva behind the elderly woman’s spotted tongue. Out of habit Haggarty almost muttered, “Alright, now close,” to help the tool do it’s job better, but scrunched up his face at his nearly silly mistake. He chuckled.

    Where the doctor originally began inflicting pain he resumed. His drill began excavating one of Maurine’s maxillary second molars. Being that this ritual was well practiced for Raymond, he moved on to the tooth’s twin within minutes. The incantation required precision – only towards the end – thus the doctor’s steady and gentle hand was replaced with the rage of a stamping hoof. He excavated the second to last molars until their nerves were nearly exposed. Taking the evacuation tube once more, Dr. Haggarty cleaned the mess that collected on the brittle woman’s lower jaw.

    It was almost complete.

    Raymond removed his mask and took in a large breath of air between his barely open lips and spoke the words, “Rashuit un Vertod des ral Tet vorce,” and with the slightest movements of his wrist began carving. From the innumerable times practicing these minute overlapping circles and the three hatch marks that accompany them, the doctor barely had to focus his eyes on the work in front of him; hand becoming a separate entity that was merely connected by ever fleeting flesh and bone. The art was no longer under his control.

    “…Raasch…”

    His body quivered as the ancient word encompassed the entire room. The voice had no body from which the word formed, but Raymond could feel hot breath against the back of his neck. Equal spasms of fear and pleasure ricocheted through his innards causing tears to collect in his eyes.

Dr. Haggarty plucked the ornate box off his bench of tools and rubbed the warm hexagon between his fingers. The familiar sensation of a trillion microscopic movements from within the tiny wooden structure brought a full body heat that Raymond could never describe, but knew it was more vital than anything he had ever experienced. Indents criss-crossed the angles of the box making full loops in some cases. Their shallow depths felt like deep scars that brought back thunderclaps of memories.

Children in rotted robes swung by their necks from gallow ropes, while emaciated dogs tore at one another inches below. Raymond could smell bread baking.

Silhouettes of writhing figures caressed all manner of beast in the reflecting moonlight of a tepid lake. Long extinct serpents constricted limbs and pumped venom into arteries. Undefined bodies of muscle and fur forced their genitals into countless orifices. Raymond felt the murky water begin to boil below his waist.

Shrieks shocked the steeply sloped pressurized cylinder of weathered seats as yellow oxygen masks fell from below small illuminated depictions of seat belts and crossed-out cigarettes. Raymond looked out his small window to see the wing of the plane canvassed in pulsating tumors and bursting cysts.

He moved his consciousness back to the present and opened the foreign box with a turn, squinting at its contents: blackness. Raymond scooped out a latex dressed fingerful of the dark paste that had always lived within the container and gently squeezed it between his digits. A vast sensation of infinitesimal pin pricks surged below his knuckles. His mouth turned into a flooding reservoir of saliva.

An overwhelming scent reminiscent of burnt popcorn saturated the room and the voice whispered, “Ul sephth qwuil, Raelmyond.”

Dr. Raymond Haggarty applied the slight bit of paste to his cavity filling instrument. His heart grew weight as he lost direct contact with the substance. The doctor took a moment to steady his hand then realized he was already within Maurine’s mouth with the tool. His movements were unnaturally quick, which he only knew by the tautness of his ligaments and tendons; the eye wasn’t sharp enough to notice.

With a turn of the wrist Haggarty centered his instrument perfectly between the absent spaces of the molars and in a fractured tone uttered, “Yoerw vel sihur.” The consistency of the black substance became a liquid and drifted away from the tool. Like a glass of water in zero gravity, the former contents of the small ornate box floated in the oral cavern. A faint pulsing glow emanated from the morphing substance; equally dividing itself to separate sides of the mouth.

Placing the cavity filling tool back on his bench, Raymond waited for the numerous black shapes to find their marks. The rhythmic glow they produced now became one constant source of light, which showed every fleshy crease and crack of Maurine’s mouth. The candid internal expanse began to darken again, as swirling wisps of shadows flocked without direction around worn teeth and gums. These manifestations of negative light became a torrent amongst the still globs of unknown liquid as Haggarty watched with bloated pupils. The corner of his mouth rose a sliver and he spoke the last words of the incantation: “Tresht.”

Instantaneously all the extraordinary activity ceased. The excavated teeth slurped up the drifting material, pooling above the tiny etched designs. All of the unnatural light and shadows died out once the fillings settled and solidified into a strong replacement for the original teeth. Dr. Haggarty retrieved his cavity filling instrument, using the opposite end this time to test the strength of the reinforced molars. When he pressed on them tendrils of shade whipped from every angle, then quickly retreated back into the filling. Raymond pulled down the white mask covering his face, so it hung around his neck, and he smiled.

Closing the valve on the o2 tank, the doctor gently plucked the other mask from Maurine’s face, cleaned up any remnants of his work with the evacuation tube, and took the mouth prop out from between her jaws.

“How’re we feeling?” Raymond quietly asked as Maurine slowly roused.

She placed a hand on the her cheek and replied, “Sore. Very sore,” in a groggy voice.”

“Well,” he began as he raised the examination chair to a sitting position, “those two cavities were very close to the roots, so I really had to get in there. You’ll probably be aching for the next couple of days, but it’s better than another route canal, right?”

Maurine nodded with a blank slack-jawed expression. The doctor just smiled back at her and removed the light blue disposable bib that rested on the afghan. He placed an arm around her while helping the frail figure to her feet.

Dr. Raymond H. Haggarty D.D.S. loomed over the short woman as he showed her to the door, trying to get another glimpse into her newly adjusted mouth. His teeth were grinding right behind his lips.

As he stretched his arm in front of Maurine, opening the door for her back into the reception area, Raymond said, “Let’s see that smile.”

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

The other night I was sitting out in the backyard with Emily, my housemate. Our conversations usually take place – once the sun goes down – over glasses of wine, cigarettes, et cetera et cetera. These dialogues concern countless topics, but they get along (like a house on fire) with our vices. I like my vices. What did Dean Martin say? “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. They wake up in the morning and that’s the best they’re going to feel all day.” Whether you got the “father” gene, think food/sex is better when you’re stoned, or can only make the demon squirrels stop nesting in your brain case by masturbating with sandpaper, vices are essential to being human. With some musical assistance, allow me to explain.

 

 

How about we start with lust? Everyone loves that shit; gallivanting about, fucking and sucking to your hearts content. Who doesn’t like a little slap and tickle? Childish Gambino (Donald Glover to the uninformed) has the perfect track for this: “Heartbeat.” Now, Gambino fans know this song/video has a little more going on than just wanting to bang in the backseat of a Volvo, which’s the idea. Lust typically bleeds into something a little serious or heavy as Hell. I figure the prequel to this track deals with a relationship that burst and bloomed outta really good sex, but it got too real too fast, leaving the male side of the equation in the dust. All the serious/emotional bits in this song (“We used to hold hands like field trips”) casts a light on actually caring for someone, but it closes with the ol’ in-and-out being the constant (“I wish we never fucked and I mean that / But not really, you say the nastiest shit in bed and it’s fucking awesome”).

Them’s the bricks. Getting caught up with sex, lots of sex, has the capability of carving out your insides, but it also opens the option of finding people who may become dire in your life. I mean, banging brings individuals close whether you like it or not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s double-edged steel that can be sharper than a Hattori Hanzo blade, but lust can create passion and vice versa. And if not, well, at least you got laid.
Let’s do violence next. It’s interesting, cause I was only thinking about the physical act at first, but then thoughts and ideas popped into my mind. Shit, how often do you think about wanting to smash some stupid person in their stupid face for just being, well… stupid? Exactly. Burning Love (former Canadian powerhouse Cursed) have a new album “Rotten Thing To Say,” which is solid from “Intro” to “Outro,” but “Karla” is the track that relates best here.
A wee little true life tale about a girl locked in the basement. You know, it’s one of those “heartfelt” narratives. Nah, this is a dark one: “And there’s no more painkillers, just me, you, and this hammer.” The history of the word “vicious” was defined as “full of vice,” so I think you can see where I’m going with this. Lashing out at another person becomes easier and easier the more you do it and some people suffice an existence through this logic. Sometimes these people become serial killers. Our narrator – Karla – is one such person. She is the darkness of humanity, skulking about with lizard brain thoughts; cold. And just like the actual case of Karla Leanne Homolka who walked away from murdering unscathed, these vices go unpunished more often than not. Uh… let’s move on to a brighter topic.
DRINKING! YIPEE! My favorite pastime of boozing. Jesus, I could triple homicide for a gin and tonic right now. Huh? Right. “Young Lovers, Old Livers” is the jam for this vice. I adore the name of this song so much. We can thank the recently reformed Lewd Acts for this smash of a track. A wonderful ditty about living and laughing with a drink in hand. It speaks of how we know we’re gonna die, cause we know people who’ve passed, but we carry on: “We pour one more glass / We toast to old ghosts / We have one last laugh.” We call some booze “spirits” for a reason. Ages ago distilled alcohol was known as “lively water” or “water of life.” It’s meant to raise our spirits, but I also believe it connects us with people we’ve lost.
There’s always been this connection with booze and life. The other week I toasted to my dead friend Jeff Pahutski who drowned one summer night years ago on some lake front property my parent’s owned. As I raised my glass in his name all the memories my brain retains of him came back. Every image of that lovely man went into motion and it was like he was in the room with me. Given, that moment only lasted that long – a moment – but it was enough to make me smile. I don’t care what anyone else says, like alcohol is just an excuse to have that moment/feeling, because I equate every thing I felt with the glass of swill that I swished about that night. I know it does become a crutch (“We chase away what ail with ales all day”), but sometimes you need assistance with, well, life. At the same time, it brings people together. You party, dance, kiss, fuck, fall in love, then repeat. It dumbs us down quite a bit, but I see it as just bringing us closer to what we really are: animals. Booze cuts away the fat of what concerns us and leaves that red meat – still dripping with blood – that we wanna gnash at with our incisors. Ah man… I really need a drink.
I’m gonna close with fear. Fear? A Vice? Totally. By numerous degrees we rely on fear to hinder us. Whether it’s wanting to talk to someone you find cute or gunning it through a stoplight that just turned yellow, we stunt our actions based off of fear. “Shields” by Big Business addresses this trepidation.
“What could go wrong I can’t count the number of ways / You could be mauled or burned for starters / You could still drown in knee deep waters / That’s enough to hold up and hide in this cave.” Have you convinced yourself you’re gonna die of old age? Maybe just slip away in your sleep one quiet night some time in your 80’s? There’s a good chance of that shit not happening. Cancer, car accident, mutilated by a griffin (it could happen, but not with that attitude); these are more likely your demise. “Shields” is just letting you know that you need to get out there and live, because everyone’s number is punched the minute they pop outta the womb. Obviously you should probably be a little frightened by some things. Example: it’s probably not a good idea to get all Grizzly Man and try to play with some bears out in the tundra of Alaska. Be afraid of bears; sound logic. I’m trying to attack the root of us second-guessing those instants where we have the ability to change our whole life, yet we don’t.
It took me far too long or just the right amount of time to finish my college degree. I kept telling myself once I get my diploma I was gonna travel, but I almost didn’t. New country? All I got is a duffel bag full of clothes? Did I maybe pack some Magic cards? DOESN’T MATTER! All I’m saying is that I was scared of leaving the place(s) I call home. “Lie down and drown your good dream / Wait patiently.” I was afraid to take the next step… but I did it. I’m 27 going on 45, but there’s a chance I may not make it to 30. “You could be struck by lightning walking.” It’s a fucking option, but when/if that bolt crashes down on my head, I can at least think, “I took the next step.” Don’t be a pussy and get out of our cave.

“Cat dead, details later.”

Returners? The living dead? Walkers? I can only assume that terms like these have run their course with plenty of people in the last 10 years or so. Especially in film, zombies have flooded the market, and many genre fans have drowned in it. Given, it’s not like the abuse cinephiles have been subjected to via vampire movies in the last decade, but it’s been thorough nonetheless.

It took me a few years, but I finally got my hands on a copy of World War Z. What took me so long? Well, I had so many other novels to read, plus I was finis- nah, that’s all bullshit. I’m just a fucking cheapskate and couldn’t find a used paperback of it. Either way, my friend Elliott let me borrow his copy… I was blown away. The oral history aspect of it was one-of-a-kind, which did a superb job of convincing the reader this was a worldwide incident that took place, and we were still recovering from it on all levels. I need to get to the point that this isn’t a post about Max Brooks’ masterpiece, but how the book reminded me of my favorite zombie film: Re-Animator.

Now some may disagree with my notion that Re-Animator is a zombie flick. Their argument? “Well, the film revolves around Dr. Herbert West reanimating the deceased with his reagent solution in the hopes to defeat brain death, which in turn can cure the ‘disease’ of death. So, he isn’t creating the living dead, he is actually bringing them back to life.” My retort? “Blow me. My blog, thus my rules.” Honestly though, that is sound logic for all those anal retentive kids out their who say 28 Days Later is about rage infected individuals, so it’s not a zombie movie. Yeah… I’m one of those kids, but since no one can really argue with me via this here spot where I like to write – because I can just choose to ignore them – we’re just gonna go with my logic on the antics of Dr. West.

Adapted from the story “Herbert West, Re-Animator” written by H.P. Lovecraft (which I haven’t read because I only pretend to be cool), director Stuart Gordon (From BeyondKing of the Ants) took a yarn by one of the all-time masters of horror, sanity/insanity, and the macabre, then added a new element: comedy. 1985 for me is the year that the sub genre “splatter comedy” burst into existence covered in viscera of all colors. It’s a simple concept of just focusing on an abundance of gore gags, make them exceptionally outlandish, which – if done correctly – will leave a scene bathed in blood and humor. Besides Re-Animator, the punk fueled masterpiece Return of the Living Dead was also released in 1985. Written and directed by the more recently deceased Dan O’Bannon (his IMDB writing profile is amazing, but he wrote the story for Alien; ’nuff said) it’s easily my second favorite zombie flick of all-time… but that’s for another day.

I knew a handful of stuff about Re-Animator before I saw it. There’s the running bit in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey and Wes Bentley us the film as code for buying that sweet sweet marijuana, but there was always the talk about THEE one scene in the film. I’ll be vague: decapitated reanimated corpse + nude Barbara Crampton ÷ oral sex = This is why I don’t run the Oscars, because this gem would’ve swept up. But yeah, it’s a movie just oozing with scenes of ridiculousness where you laugh, cringe, and possibly wanna cover your eyes at the same time. How fucking often does a film have the ability to do that?

I know I’ve talked about All Freakin’ Night a few times in the past on this here interweb writing doohickey, so I won’t go on about that, but the first year I went Re-Animator was one of the five films on the marquee. I was kinda-sorta on a date with my friend Sarah, who also happened to be my good friend Stephen’s ex; yeah… high school. She told me all about this late night extravaganza, so if it wasn’t for her I probably would’ve never had the privilege of seeing a real print of it on the big screen. Dog SoldiersThe TinglerVersus, and Surf II: The End of a Trilogy (unfortunately I can’t find a trailer of it) were the other names on the marquee, so there’s a good chance that whatever autumn night back in 2002 where I sat in a theater from midnight until 10 or so in the morning was the point I realized I’ll always be obsessed with film.

Sorry… I just had a flashback sequence. Damn I used to be thin.

From the score in the opening credits blatantly ripping off the Psycho theme to the most metal line, “Your father’s been lobotomized!” this movie incorporates garbage bags full of everything that makes me smile like a drunk baby. The one element that solidifies this film as something I can watch every day and not get sick of it is none other than Jeffrey Combs (Bride of Re-AnimatorThe Frighteners). For me he’s up there with the likes of Bill Mosley and Brad Dourif for most adorned character actors in my book.

In Re-Animator Combs plays the misunderstood Dr. Herbert West who is the newest student at Miskatonic Medical School in the fictitious Arkham, Massachusetts. He’s a smarmy little bastard that’s beyond stubborn and doesn’t work well with others. Yet, he’s a star pupil based on his previous work concerning brain death with the late Dr. Hans Gruber. Combs is more or less the unintentional comedian throughout the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is the catalyst or the driving hand with majority of the violence, which the director illuminates so masterfully with realistic schlock. Dr. West hearkens back to the mad scientist characters of yore. Really, he’s just a flamboyant and spastic Dr. Frankenstein, but delivers lines like, “You steal the secret of life and death and here you are, trysting with a bubble-headed co-ed.” His performance makes me happy just thinking about it. Before I continue spoiling the film for the uninitiated, get your nubby little fingers on a copy.

As with all mad scientists shit gets outta hand eventually. I see this classic as a milestone in what a director can do to offend/entertain, but it’s not without heart. The “Igor” to West’s “Dr. Frankenstein” is Dan Cain played by Bruce Abbott. Cain is your typical leading man liked by everyone. He just wants to make it through medical school, marry his sweetheart Megan (Barbara Crampton who is STILL such a babe), and have a successful life as a medical practitioner. Gradually Cain is brought into West’s world of hidden experimentation, which rockets into insanity with such ease. The tragedy comes from Cain’s character arc, which really flourishes with the sequel Bride of Re-Animator, but that is a whole different dog and pony show.

For every Shaun of the DeadDead Alive, or Cemetery Man there’s countless piss-poor zombie pictures shuffling and/or running around out there. It’s an easy topic in film to entertain with and insert some kinda allegory to provoke the audience to think a little bit passed another machete to the skull. Given, I wish we could have an influx of good werewolf, witch, and indigenous horror sooner than later, pushing zombies back into the grave, but if it’s good it’s good and Re-Animator is the best… so I’ll take what I can get. 

“Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of -“

What’s making me happy lately? I should probably tell you then:

Horror is my go-to genre of film whether I’m drunk, dumb, or pretty sure that I’m smart as shit because of all the bad decisions I’ve made in life. So, when Joss Whedon co-writes a horror movie that’s been shelved for 3 years (yeah, this gem was filmed and stuffed into a can back in 2009) and I hear it’s not gonna make it to the current residence I’m residing in… I get a little concerned. Not the kinda “concerned” where you’re worried whether your friend has the cash to front you for the shitload of McDonald’s that you hope is in your (inebriated) future, but the sorta “concerned” where you’ll bash/gut/extinguish anything with a heartbeat to appease whatever make believe god that helps you sleep easier at night. Mine has 2 horns and big ol’ titties; what does yours look like? Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked. The Cabin In The Woods (this’ll be the first time I don’t supply a trailer for a movie  because – if you intend to watch it – you’re better off knowing nothing about it) is the best thing to spawn outta the horror genre in a few years. My memory tells me that Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon was the last horror flick to surprise me, make me think, laugh, cringe, and immediately wanna watch it again/share it with everyone I know. What makes horror so accessible is the fact that you can create a piece of art which invokes one of the purest and strongest emotions: fear. That being said, this genre can spew out a billion titles on pennies, so of course there’s gonna be multimillion pieces of shit. In the swill of crap many hopeful exceptions crawl onto land and clean themselves off in the fresh dew of some exceptionally green grass. From there the genre evolves, interbreeds with comedy (Return of the Living Dead), war (Below), and/or sci-fi (Event Horisonleaving us popcorn-poppers and cinephiles in awe. So yeah, The Cabin In The Woods is the latest titles to do that very thing and set the bar just that much higher in the most versatile genre in film.

“First time director” is a very foreboding phrase; lot of baggage can be lugged around when you hear that uttered. Everyone has to start somewhere, because then you learn from mistakes and (hopefully) become skilled in something you’re passionate about. Just like Drew Goddard – who knocked it right-the-fuck outta the park with The Cabin In The Woods – Sean Byrne did the same with The Loved Ones. I’m not well versed with Australian horror or even what I hear is their insanely awesome niche in genre film, but if this flick is a sign of what they got coming our way… we’re in for a treat. Written/directed by Byrne, The Loved Ones is a high school sex romp fist-banging the torture scenario with a pink sex toy covered in glitter and broken glass. Robin McLeavy owns this piece with her portrayal of “Princess” Lola, the sociopath who just wants to find her Prince Charming and thinks she may be in luck with self-harming pretty boy Brent (Xavier Samuels). After turning Lola down as her date for the dance, Brent is forcefully invited by her Daddy (the other show-stopper, John Brumpton) to the private little dance they’re hosting at their home. This is one of those movies that makes you wanna take a bath when it’s finished. It has that dirt and grime which gets under your fingernails and it takes days to scrap it out. All the ugliness is wrapped in such bright and colorful lighting/camerawork though that your eyes are just drawn to the screen. Reminds of the sleazefest Street Trash  or more recently Hobo With A Shotgun; films that abuse the color contrast so well on your TV it feels like you’re watching the most depraved marathon of Saturday morning cartoons. Since moving to Australia I’ve purchased little to nothing for myself besides boxed wine (“goon” to the uneducated) and a sleeping bag that only goes up to my tits. I snagged The Loved Ones for $4.95 at a Blockbuster and it’s easily the best purchase I’ve made since showing up here.

Before I close this out, I’m gonna jump from movies to music, because I saw Terror the other night for the first time. Terror is a band I’d written off for years. A lot of it had to do with shitty connotations they had with the hardcore crew FSU (Friends Stand United), which is a WHOLE ‘nother story. Other than that, I was just never really into them. Given, they’re still not my bread and butter when it comes to hardcore, but they definitely reminded me why I’m so damn lucky to be a part of a music scene that gives so much back. I don’t expect people to understand why this music is so dear to me, because it really is a bunch of angry white kids acting out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s music for everyone, but when you boil it down to the basics, you end up with middle and lower class kids who are looking for an outlet. People get angry and a lot of it has to do with the bubbling bullshit that is the world around us. The other night I was restored with happiness via a band who let everyone know that this music, this stage, and this microphone is for everyone. I’m currently nursing some damaged ribs from that evening, but I’m doing it with a big dumb smile. Also, Brisbane legends/coworkers/friends of mine Against played. It was just one of those nights that goes down in permanent memory.

Sore bones just on lone
Good nights far from home
This is far from lust
Simply life’s trust
Lucky enough to boast
About how we coast
Before we’re dust

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

Since last we spoke I’ve graduated college and made some steps towards a big change in my life… blah blah blah. Many would see this as a leap and/or bound into getting older, but I see it as a transition into a blog entry that people may actually give a shit about: Modern Day Horror.

Back when film was black and white, CGI was probably a term for an intestinal disorder, and you could get away with beating your wife, horror movies were much more simple. The dashing leading man on the silver screen fought actors in rubber suits or giant insects superimposed against some city skyline, so as to save whichever blonde love interest that was in harms way. It’s not to say that alterations of this formula aren’t still rampant today, but Hollywood mass produced these projects left, right, and center back then. Actors fought fantasy creatures in film, not real monsters. In 1960 that changed forever.

Alfred Hitchcock brought real life horror to the nuclear family. Adapting Robert Bloch’s novel Psycho, Hitchcock introduced an onscreen villain that we’ve all lived next door to. Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates, the soft spoken and polite owner of the Bates Motel, embodying that awkward individual that we have small talk with every so often. The true to life inspiration for the character of Norman comes from Ed Gein, the Midwest serial killer that gained notoriety in the late 1950’s. A grave robber who eventually murdered two women, Gein’s house was investigated by police, where a grocery list of preserved human remains were found. Ed Gein also went on to inspire other famous cinema killers like Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs).

Psycho had a disturbed man dressing up like his dead mother, mentally becoming the deceased woman, and knifing people that were seen as threats to Norman. That’s demented, but today if that was the big scoop on the 5 o’clock news you’d probably make some offhand remark, then go back to eating your Bugles. And if you read a synopsis like that on your Netflix instant watch, it’d probably come on as something to fall asleep to after the bars, but in 1960? Holy shit, no one could shrug something like that off. This was a piece of film that was set in reality with a stranger than fiction appeal. And what was the big kick in the dick for the movie going audience? The main character of Marion Crane played by Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom for those uninformed) gets some knife love halfway through the picture. Yes, central characters had died in films prior to Psycho, but it was typically at the end of the film after they’ve gone through their complete characters arc. Here we have a broad who has run off with a bunch of money that isn’t hers, is waiting for the next step in her plan, and as the audience is waiting along with her she is stabbed relentlessly by a lunatic. After this moment in cinema history nothing was sacred.

Horror has a way of reflecting what’s going on in the world and how we as humans choose to deal with it. I’d go into further detail but the documentary Decade of Darkness (it’s in three parts) tackles this topic much better than I’m willing to (I got some drinking to get to). What I can say is that Psycho pulled a Jack Torrance and chopped down the door on what can be expected from a horror movie or just film in general. Norman Bates transvestite driven slayings paved the way for the satanic shenanigans of rabies fueled raunchiness in I Drink Your Blood or the psychedelic rabbit hole/mindfuck that is Jacob’s Ladder. Psycho gave directors a new perspective on what can be a truly frightening experience in film and the lasting effects it can have on the psyche of the audience. Psycho forced you to keep an open eye in the shower, Jaws made you wary of open water, and The Hitcher asked you to think twice before picking up a stranger.

What I’m trying to get at is how a lot of horror is grounded in reality these days, which can be directly attributed to Hitchcock’s arguable opus (it’s actually Rear Window if you were wondering). All this jabbering the last few years about “torture porn” is a big part of this topic. It’s just a matter of relabeling a trend in film that is nothing new: Exploitation… but that’s a topic for another day. The most recent movie that can thank Psycho is Kevin Smith’s Red State.

A direct attack on the Westboro Baptist Church (can you fucking believe their website is www.godhatesfags.com ?), which opens like a moderate teen sex comedy, but quickly settles into the dark recesses of religious extremism. It reflects on a group of hatemongers run by one Abin Cooper (Michael Parks deserving a gosh damn award for his role) that believe killing the human “insects” of the world is a righteous act that God is asking of them. Besides the obvious correlations with the protesting of military funerals, there’s incidents like the murder of Matthew Shepard, bombing of abortion clinics, and other tragedies to remind the audience that this is a work of fiction, but it’s eerily close to the real thing. Red State is a lot like the twisted half-sibling of The Devil’s Rejects: they both had a fucked upbringing, just they came out of different wombs.

I think I’m realizing that I really didn’t wanna get all deductive with this post here, but instead just wanted for anyone reading this to go watch the movies I mentioned. I’ve been finding out over the years that a decent amount of people don’t know the twist in Psycho. That honestly baffles me. It’s like not knowing that Vader is Luke’s dad or that Andy Dick is gay. Huh…

Anyway, I hope to breath and/or hump some new life into this online archive of my words and rants, so let’s hope it gets better than the work I did here. How about I make up for it with a pin-up of Marli Renfro?

She was the body double for Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Psycho and was the cover girl for the September, 1960 issue of Playboy. I think she’s foxy.

“I threw a bunch of Grandpa Chip’s war medals off the bridge.”

You see, when I was a kid Star Wars life.  I’d sit cross-legged in my bedroom racing my speeder bike around the room until Chewie would pop out of the “underbrush”/stray clothes draped over my chair and take out the enemy with a well placed shot from his bowcaster blaster.  Eventually my favorite Wookie would jump into the landspeeder (first Star Wars toy I ever got) and race off to whatever adventure I thought up for him next.  All those toys are boxed up in my parents attic now.

Remember Bubblicious?  Watermelon was my favorite.  It was harder than Hell to fight the urge to swallow a piece when I’d be only seven chews in at the least.  My house is a couple miles out of town back in Rainier, so if I wanted Bubblicious of the watermelon variety I’d have to bike in and lay out some hard earned weekly allowance.  Walking out of the market with that treasure that takes seven years to digest, I’d never tear at the annoying wrapper barricading me from what I wanted.  No sir, I surgically picked at the little tabs and exposed it to the world before popping it in the direction of my chompers.  Now gum is nothing more than an item used when I forget to brush my teeth in the morning.

When in the fuck did I grow up?  What happened to chopped up hot dogs being gourmet food?  Why can’t I get out of bed before 9 o’clock and be excited for something, when I used to be dressed, bowl of cereal in my lap, and cartoons bombarding my eyes all before 7:01 in the AM?  Where’s that urge to go out in the woods just for the sake of going out in the foods?  Shit.

Sitting on top of my toilet is the Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, which I’ve had for years.  I flipped through it when I was younger, but it didn’t feature any new material, thus it was never read.  Now I’ve been going through it and ingesting all the commentary Bill Waterson has to offer.  A lot of the writing has to deal with childhood and how it can be scary, enlightening, but most importantly new.  Everything when you were young was new to you, at least at one point and time.  Perfect example:  the zoo.  Animals you may have only seen in photographs are now walking, breathing, and eating right in front of you.  The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was my first zoo and I can never forget the sharks.  Their big tank had a dimly lit viewing area with the giant wall of glass and numbers of sleek killers only feet away.  I knew the glass wasn’t strong enough and I KNEW if I got too close one of those Jaws Jr. may come at me and that would be that.  It’s been years since my last zoo trip and it’s a bummer wondering why.

Calvin and Hobbes bestow this energy of being young, dumb, and full of fun.  Those books follow two characters that can never get old and diluted by the evil world that never seems to seep into their shenanigans.  God, I’m jealous of that.  My best friend Chris Carson and I used to mad dash down my gravel driveway in the riding lawnmower, just like Calvin and Hobbes in their red wagon.  We’d attach the black metal trailer to the hitch on the mower, drive it to the top of my slopped driveway, kill the engine, crank it into neutral, and hope the exponential building of inertia didn’t send us into a patch of brambles.  Now whenever I see Chris we typically end up getting drunk as sin and he gets all salty towards randoms keeping an eye out for a fight.  We’ve grown up, but still attempt to dumb ourselves down to reckless kids.

So what am I trying to get at here?  Unless you lucked out and don’t have to work most days out of the week, but still can support yourself and all your addictions (come on man, you’re not kidding anyone), you’re probably worrying yourself with a bunch of “adult bullshit” that shouldn’t be your main concern(s).  Why not play with some LEGOs?  You know you wanna.  Get a game of kickball going.  Make sure you bring an extra ball because those damn balls aren’t as strong as they used to be.  Once the weather gets warm I’m gonna be out throwing water balloons like a motherfucker.  And you can bet your ass that you will not be safe from my watery wrath.

I turned twenty-five this last December and some how survived a quarter of a century.  I liked to think that I haven’t lost my dinosaur.

The point is don’t lose your dinosaur.”

“I don’t collect comics! Comics are for kids!”

I have a problem.  This problem/addiction costs me a lot of money.  For some their paychecks go to hard drugs, loose women, or sex toys that look like President Obama.  When it comes to me laying down hard earned cash for something that I wish I could stop (but just can’t) it has got to be comics.

Every Wednesday I walk the two blocks to Central City Comics and pick up my pull for the week.  This last Wednesday I snagged something random propped amongst the titles with big guns, big tits, and big pecks.

Orc Stain is one solid comic overflowing with refreshing art and a decent opening to a story which can only be described as metal with a pinch of heart.  For a million millenia the world has dealt with the constant violence and general disorder that warring factions of Orc tribes have inflicted.  Like clockwork these beasts turn on their own in order to be the next head honcho, thus no true progress is truly made amongst Orc-kind.  Here’s where an orgasm inducing guitar solo sweeps through the sweaty jungles and the Orctzar comes into the picture.  This cheiftan unites all of his fellow brothers in order to conquer the “older races” who have been able to fend off the stain of the Orc.

The other character we’re introduced to is One Eye, who the Orctzar is told he much search out in order to gain his “prize”.  One Eye never bought into the whole idea of welding weapons and setting to slaughter just to make a name for himself; no profit in it.  He instead puts to use his trusty ball bean hammer and sticks to cracking safes.  Whoda’ thunk Orcs had any skills besides storming the gates of Helms Deep?

James Stokoe is the name behind this project.  I don’t know much about him besides his skills in drawing, writing, and coloring the whole package.  One of my favorites in comics is Eric Powell who has the same MO, which garners a bottomless amount of respect from this kid here.  All that means is that I’ll be keeping my eye on Mr. Stokoe.

This is a recommendation for anyone who knows all the lyrics to the Metalocalypse theme song, saw their first animated boobs from Heavy Metal, or wishes Dio was their uncle.  I got a lot of hope for this new read as should you, so scrounge up $2.99, go talk to Gus Foster at CCC, and pick it up.  Reading comics isn’t just for kids, it’s for kids who are fucking awesome.