Note: This piece is edited down from the original “uncut” post – if you want to read the original, longer, darker version, it’s posted here.
Even this shorter version is not only longer than most of my pieces (highest word count yet) it’s also the heaviest. It’s not meant as a kind of preachy manifesto; instead I woke up one day, thinking out of the blue about a video clip on Yahoo! News that reported on the newest, scariest drug on the streets (it makes PCP look almost tame). Experts explained it was probably behind a rash of exceptionally disturbing, gruesome homicides. The same clip also helpfully more or less told you how to find it on the internet and what it sold for, even adding that it isn’t branded as an illegal narcotic officially yet.
When you’re online, you read a Yahoo News story about bath salts. When you read a Yahoo News story about bath salts, they tell you how easy it is to score bath salts. When you score bath salts, you turn into a psychotic cannibal, get naked, and eat a homeless man’s face. Don’t get naked and eat a homeless man’s face. Call your local cable provider today.
I hoped the blood-curdling report and the clips showing what it’s reduced people to (I’ve never seen a man being arrested on the news screaming in utter terror so long and so loud that he blew his voice out, and I’d like to compartmentalize it, but so far, no luck) scared most people away. Anyway, I saw that the lungs mentioned above and below hadn’t been identified yet, and that the coroner seemed a mite casual about the whole thing. “It seems odd,” one quote read, “that they didn’t have any other body parts attached to them” Yes, odd. I suppose you could call it that. I tried to limit links to reference sites, and also be careful not to use links you just click on and walk into a buzzsaw of deeply disturbing info and photos. I try to keep the vibes here at Horror Boom relatively positive; I want horror lovers to enjoy reading and visiting, and come back and have more fun –not to bum anyone out or ruin their day/night. I did several re-writes to do my best to ensure that. OK, you have now been warned that the following post isn’t a non-stop feel-good jamboree. Oh, and I swear even more than usual. So there’s that. If you’d like to read the original, longer
unrated director’s cut extended version of this piece, which is also a shade or two darker, click here. I worked hard on it, but the consensus was the first version was 30% longer than it needed to be, and could use some trimming. If you have a little extra time, you may want to read the long-ass version after you read the “abridged version” contained below.
Well well, hasn’t the news been interesting lately! A little too fucking interesting than many of us would like, and you’re taking to a decades-long horror geek. Movies, novels, short stories, TV shows, comic books, whatever I can get my hands on that I know isn’t going to be shitty. The last several weeks, it seems like at least once a day, I read some headline I would glance at, move on and go about my business for a split-second, then say out loud, “Wait, WHAT?” after it registered. Each time, I actually paused a minute before clicking on it, thinking: maybe this is information I don’t really need in my head. So far I’ve clicked on everything, though, unless there’s even a hint of animal abuse involved. In that case I put as much distance between myself and that information as quickly as possible; anyone reading this who has also practically sprained their fingers reaching for the remote to hastily change channels when one of those sad, sad, very sad ASPCA ads calling for donations pops up in a commercial break*.
Five or more years ago, if a friend pointed the crazy-ass headline above out to me, I would have burst into horrified laughter. Now, not so much. Maybe it has to do with turning
forty, thirty-seven, maybe it’s due to me reading the headline five minutes or so after I woke up, or that I was home alone when I read it (instead of with a friend and some alcohol in me), but I sure as hell didn’t laugh. Nor did I see much humor in the situation when the whole Miami face-eating story first hit the news. When the next Real Time With Bill Maher aired and John Waters was on the panel, HE didn’t joke about it (though he didn’t take a crack at it in the first place), but I guess I’ll wait and see. I found it frightening. No, the first horror reference to leap to mind in association wasn’t YO, EPIC ZOMBIE APOCALIPS is finally HERE, so fuckin’ strap in BIAYOTCH, WOOOOH YEAH!!! like 90% of the article’s readers racing to be the first to post a comment with the “best” zombie joke. OK, the horror reference that came to mind for me right away was the comic series Crossed, but I didn’t celebrate it (and if you’re familiar with Crossed, you know if THAT shit ever did break loose, the last thing you’d do was celebrate)** . Just disturbing as hell. Each detail was more disturbing. The fact that it took a much larger amount of bullets than normal to take the guy down, the fact that the number of Facebook ‘likes’ had already reached the mid-five figures within hours of hitting the news (Click ‘thumbs up’! Classy way to show concern for a fellow human being.) The fact that victim and attacker were both naked and had no previous connection, the fact that the homeless man survived and was in the ICU even though his face was ‘gone from the beard up’,*** the fact that the killer growled at the cop when warned to stand down at gunpoint, that it took three shots to take down the attacker, the fact that a witness (the one I saw seemed excited and a little too enthusiastic that he might be on the nightly news) said he still had part of the face in his mouth at the same time and shook his head around like a dog. This… just… no. That was what my brain decided (to protect my mental health) right before it yanked my attention on to something else.
No-one’s actually said this to me yet, and I hope to God it never comes up. I don’t want anyone blurting out something along the lines of, Hey, come on, you’re like seriously into horror movies! How could you not totally love this? Uh, because I have enough common sense to know that movies are fiction? Because I’m well aware there’s already enough scary, batshit, depressing stuff going on in the world without me having to go out of my way to look for more to try to top it? Even though I can’t explain in one articulate, organized sentence (with less than twenty words, anyway) what psychological need draws me in to the horror genre and keeps me there–I mean, six goddamn months and I’m still stalled at the stage of jotting down basic notes for the About section of this blog– I knew one thing for certain long before I was old enough to drink legally: it was all about escape.
Maybe I should back up a little.
I was reading about the exceptionally brutal, grisly murder of Chinese student Lin Jun a few days ago. The piece of shit that stole Lin Jun’s life, as well as the lives of many small animals, has a craving for attention and media fame that makes the media whore known as (sigh) The Octomom look classy in comparison. So, I’d rather refer to the crime and the victim, the human being, the beloved man whose father, mother, sister and uncle had to fly from China for his remains –the collected parts of his body they’ve been able to recover thus far. His head is still missing at the time of this writing.. The only comment from the family released to the media so far is his mother’s heart-wrenching quote: We come to take you home now. She’s reportedly so devastated with grief and pain she can barely stand up. You can look it up on Wikipedia, but I since I began this piece, I discovered that the Huffington Post had an exceptionally thoughtful article on remembering the victim, and not giving the killer the 15 minutes of fame he’s admitted motivated his crimes. I recommend it (unless you feel that any article about the crime is twisting you into emotional time-bomb), and it focuses more on the tragedy while deliberately keeping gruesome descriptions to a minimum. It does have a photo or two of the evil bastard posing for a head-shot (he seems to have a very high opinion of his looks, though he resembles a constipated weasel with at least one STD) and his mug shot. In both, the monster has the same dead, inhuman, dead eyes; lights on, nobody home. There’s a gallery you can click on, but I don’t know the contents, because I didn’t want to give the evil, toxic little piece of shit what he wants: any further attention.*****
Deep breath. Anyway, when I was going through the comment section in one of the more graphic features –in which every once in a while, someone would have the motherfucking nerve to complain about the video being taken down and even offer to pay a few bucks through PayPal if anyone who had burned a copy could send them an email — a memory came to me.
Back in college, probably 1988 or 89, I was driving home after a night class. I turned a corner to discover that an area (of a few blocks) had been blocked off by the police, EMTs, and even a news van or two …with plenty of rubberneckers standing around. Being the responsible, mature undergrad that I was, I blew off studying, parked, and wandered over to see what had happened. One of my first thoughts was they were shooting a movie. Then I heard some middle-class white kids I’m guessing were ages 12-15 talking, complaining about not being able to see anything. I asked someone who looked official, but non-threatening, what had happened. She told me there was a homicide: a shooting. I backed off and didn’t ask any more. It turned out that the kids were mad because a make-shift yellow tarp had been stretched out between two police cars, and now they couldn’t see the body (oh, boo-fucking-hoo for them). Two women, probably about the age I am now, were pretty sick of hearing them complain. Clear as if it were last week, I remember one of them finally saying, “OK. Look, if you want to see a dead body so much, why don’t you go watch a Friday the 13th movie or something?” They all responded, almost in unison, “Yeah, but that’s fake. This is real!” I thought, OK, just … just fuck this whole thing, walked back to my car, and went home.
Even back then, when I could act like a self-involved little bitch without realizing it, I didn’t want to see “real”. If I wanted to see someone’s head explode, I’d watch Scanners. I wanted to see a dead body (not that I was desperately wishing to), I had plenty of Italian slasher flicks on VHS that my good friend George, who had started his own rental place called Scarecrow Video, had recommended to me. If I wanted to be shocked (and feel slightly ashamed of myself for not turning off the TV) I could watch one of the uncut (rare at the time) Ilsa movies.
What’s my point? I like to think everyone can tell the difference between a horror movie and real life. “It’s getting weird,” was one of the quotes from the L.A. Sheriff working on the case of the missing (or found, to be more accurate) pair of lungs. Good. Kind of an understatement, but still, good. That all this crazy shit is happening is bad enough but somehow it’s reassuring that at least people are pointing our how horrifying and exceptionally grisly these events are. Right now, when people walk down the street and seeing a pair of lungs on the sidewalk while they’re checking Facebook updates, they don’t just casually steer clear of them, then go back to their Blackberry.
I sometimes think of those bloodthirsty kids so excited to see ‘the real thing’ every time I’m reminded how easy it is to see ‘the real thing’ on the internet. If they never grew out of that phase (eek), they must be satisfied now. As it stands currently, if you have a computer and don’t care about whoever sees your browser history, and are semi-savvy about doing a search, within minutes you can watch horrifying drug cartel murders filmed and purposely leaked by Mexican drug lord’s henchman (AKA Narco Sicarios. Boom, just learned something), American contractors beheaded by batshit terrorists, and perhaps the most vile out there up until the Lin Jun murder, actual murder footage filmed by three bored, shitty rich kids in the Ukraine (dubbed the ‘Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs’ by the media). I don’t even want to go into the evil shit depicted in the video, and am glad to this day that I didn’t do more than read what the video consisted of. No wonder kids are growing up WAY faster than they did–well, than we were at that age.
I have found that fellow horror fans (especially ones from my generation) have two things in common when it comes to documented, borderline “snuff” media: 1. they/we cannot stomach and/or tolerate any animal abuse or harm in any form-most of us don’t even want to read or hear about it- and 2. they/we have no interest in seeing non-fictional footage of anyone killed on camera, whether it’s a someone being hit by a vehicle, a suicide, or worst of all, a homicide deliberately captured on film.
The response is almost always the same regardless of age, culture, or gender: No, I don’t need to see that. We don’t need to watch a video of a fellow human being getting shot in the face during a robbery. We don’t need to see the graphic autopsy of a car-crash victim. You want to see an autopsy that’s intense, from what is agreed to be one of the best genre films ever? Just watch or re-watch John Carpenter’s The Thing. There’s at least two bizarre, nasty, absolutely unique , and really fucking awesome autopsies (performed on some THING, not some ONE) you’ll ever see, and there’s no danger they’ll take a tiny part of your soul with you when you watch them. You want to see something very bleak, depressing, graphic and brutal that one human does to another? We’ve already seen that in Martyrs, Inside, and A Serbian Film. You’re probably familiar with the kind of film you really only need to see once. They’re actually scary, because they’re horror movies that did exactly what they set out to do: horrify and disturb you. Two out of three of them–the French ones– gave me nightmares, even though I watched the ‘making of’ features and commentary for the purpose of trying to get a little emotional distance. You won’t exactly be feeling festive for a while after you see them, but at least you know, when it comes down to it, they’re just movies. They aren’t reality. We’re smart enough to know the difference– and that’s the point I wanted to make.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Deep Rising for probably the fifteenth time since I bought the DVD 10 years ago, featuring a REALLY fucking cool sea monster, plenty of giant tentacles with teeth, fun, slime and gore leading up to the final scene where you see the awesome Lovecraft-ian leviathan in all its glory. Check out the trailer below. Not exactly HD, but you don’t need it to see how fun it is.
I have a review, just not posted yet (plus IMDB edited it really heavily, so I’ll re-do it and post it, promise). By halfway through, you’ll agree that being eaten by ‘Jaws’ would be preferable any day over THIS thing making a meal of you. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly why, and will probably recall the first very memorable scene that reveals what happens if this monster gets hungry and you’ve there (“Oh God! It’s Billy!”). As for the creature effects for the movie? I think this may have been one of the last films Rob Bottin, the genius responsible for the awesome monsters in John Carpenter’s The Thing, worked on, and the monster effects exceeded my high expectations. In my review, I proclaimed that it was the second best sea monster movie ever made, (#1 was and will probably always be Jaws). Between that review and now, I saw The Host (whose monster qualifies if you don’t count the fact that it’s easily able to dive out of the water and survive while crashing around on land, barreling directly towards humans to eat them-it likes to swim around, but unlike Jaws and Deep Rising, you’re not safe just because you’re not in the water or even in a small land-level building). So, Deep Rising remains in the top three on my list …no small feat! I’m happy to say I was lucky enough to see all three of them in the theater, back in the day when they still had cinemas consisting of one giant theater and one screen. Yes, only one movie could play at a time! I may change the subject when someone asks my age, but I’d rather be on the other side of forty and have had the varied rip-roaring, kick-ass movie-going experiences I did.
*the comedian Patrice O’Neal, who passed much too young in 2011, did a really funny routine about how much he hated seeing the ads. His specials are worth seeking out if you dig stand-up and aren’t easily offended (if Chris Rock’s HBO specials don’t offend you, this probably won’t). If you have Netflix, Patrice O’Neal – Elephant in the Room is available on streaming. Update: Hey! After I wrote this, but before I posted this, I found the clip with the whole routine about sad animal commercials. It’s bleeped, but just as funny. If you love animals and hate those ads, you’ll appreciate this. The embedded clip is on the fritz so for now, just click this link to watch the bit directly on You Tube.
Man, I really miss that big guy.
**Unless you were already infected and turned into one of the Crossed. If you don’t read it and aren’t familiar with it, you don’t want to know what the infected do for fun. Oh, OK. If you are feeling brave and want to skim the Wikipedia page on the Crossed series, it explains the premise ( just beware of plot spoilers).
***also disturbing: the fact that, like a complete fucking moron, I viewed a color photo confirming this …not to mention the additional disturbing fact that it only took me a few minutes to find that pic. Not my proudest moment, and though I only looked at it for less than ten seconds (which seemed like ten minutes) I’ll probably be able to call it up MUCH too easily for years.
**** the Huff Post article gives this information, but I feel it’s worth repeating and spreading around: Various community efforts are being organized to help raise money for the devastated Lin family. It’s possible to donate to the Concordia University Chinese Students Association’s Jun Lin Rest in Peace Foundation at any RBC branch. To learn other ways to donate, contact Yan Shi at 514-848-2424.