We are sitting in an after hours club called "Secret Turf," Larry Talbot and I. It’s located deep under the city streets in what looks like a dank cave, carved below the sewer lines. The bartender is a fat balding man with a bad case of perma-scowl. A group of bikers, all bearded, sit at a table drinking some viscous looking red liquid out of chipped goblets. On their backs are patches with "The PACK" emblazoned on them in what looks to be real blood. A couple of women lounge by the jukebox. They look like cats to me…but they keep pumping quarters into the machine, playing Aqua’s Barbie Girl over and over again.
For once I am comforted by the six foot eight inch frame of Talbot’s manservant/minion Olaf…although even he seems a little ill at ease.
Larry, indifferent to my increasing unease as I come more strongly to feel like an appetizer on a platter, shoves this picture across the table to me…the same image you see above.
"Here," he says. Something about being here makes his voice slightly more guttural. The word emerges as more a growl than a communication.
I look down at the image and back to Larry.
"What’s this?" I ask.
"Tomorrow’s image," he says. He beams at me exposing sharp way-too-white teeth.
"You’re kidding, right?" I say finally.
"Kidding? I don’t kid," says Larry softly. "Your objection?"
I look back at the image and then up at Larry (who is looking just a little bigger at the moment) and open and close my mouth several times.
"Well…yeah. Frankly, Larry — it’s a little creepy."
He chops his hand downward in a dismissive gesture. "It’s a doll in a chair. What could be creepy about that?"
"You drew scars on its cheeks…and those eyebrows…and that mouth with teeth."
Talbot sniffs. "I did not."
"Did too," I insist. "And not very well either."
Talbot looks away from me and studies the room. When he speaks his voice is soft. "It is SOOC."
I snort a little too loudly, drawing instant attention from The Pack, Olaf and the cat girls who have started sniffing the air. I half wave to everyone, try hard to smile and clear my throat.
"Larry — we are not going to have this discussion again. There’s no way this is SOOC. YOU drew this crap on the doll and frankly….well…it’s a little disturbing. I mean half the people coming to my stream already think I’m loony tunes and–"
Larry makes that chopping motion with his hand again.
The cat girls have started Barbie Girl again and the jolly little beat is so freaking discordant that I have a sudden desire to get out of here.
"And, not only is it SOOC," continues Larry, "But Easy Rider is going to love the story."
He shoves a piece of paper across the table to me. I look at the title: "The Most Underrated Horror Movie of All Time."
I read it and look up at Larry. "You wrote this?" I ask.
He nods. "A long time ago."
"This guy’s a dweeb," I say. "What’s more –"
Words freeze in my throat. Spit dries up. Larry is suddenly in my face…and I MEAN ‘in my face’ and his lips are drawn back. He speaks in a low growl: "I was different then. Less than now. Easy Rider will dig the article. POST IT."
So I did. By the way…seeing as it’s Halloween and all (gee…funny Larry should show up now, huh) Larry asked me to ask YOU guys…what’s the Scariest movie you’ve ever seen? Here’s his:
THE MOST UNDERRATED HORROR MOVIE OF ALL TIME
by L. Talbot
I am alone. It’s midnight. I am watching the most underrated horror movie of all time: "The Fearless Vampire Killers." My popcorn is in front of me. It is untouched. At the jaded age of twelve I sit in a room lit only by the flickering glow of the television and try very hard to tell myself that I always sweat like this.
The film starts like so very many of the Hammer vampire movies that have preceded it: a Heroine with an Enviable and Constantly Heaving Bosom, a Wise Old Man who knows more than he is telling, the Passionate Young Man and of course the Eternal Vampire.
At the beginning of the movie I am chomping on popcorn and enjoying the characters. One of the supporting vampires reminds me of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof which is a concept just creepy enough to produce its own delicious icicle-in-the-gut thrill.
I am contemplating the happy possibility that Sharon Tate (she of the Enviable and Constantly Heaving Bosom) may actually get naked at some point, when IT happens.
Film director Roman Polanski starts breaking the rules.
These vampires are coarse, more like animals. There’s no trilling of strings as the vampire creeps slowly toward his cringing victim. Polanski’s vampires are at home with their brutality. They take blood from humans with a jolly and thoroughly casual attitude that puts me in mind of a wholesome family tucking into a tasty pizza. They attack necks with a happy matter-of-fact chomping and are completely indifferent to the abject agony their feeding causes the victim.
Some of these vampires come out during the day.
They are unimpressed by anyone brandishing a cross.
Yikes! Vampire movies have rules, I think to myself. You don’t mess with the rules! Once the movie is over, how are twelve year old boys expected to make the long dark trek down darkened hallways to the safety of their beds if there are no rules?
But there’s one scene that stays with me still and This Scene is the reason I KNOW this movie didn’t deserved the critical drubbing it got upon its release in 1967.
Here’s the background: our heroes have been captured by the vampires. (Of course. Even a twelve year old saw that coming.) They have been taken to a creepy castle where it has been decided that Sharon Tate is going to be offered up as a main course at a vampire banquet.
They escape – but along the way they wind up in the banquet hall. I mean IN THE banquet hall. Surrounded by vampires. Hundreds of them. None of these vampires know their dinner is walking among them. If they are actually going to get away, our heroes need to pass through this teeming sea of fanged death undetected. There’s a macabre minuet. There’s harpsichord music. All the while our heroes are surrounded by nasty bloodsuckers casually doing unspeakable things.
If discovered, they become food.
I am breathless, trapped in the horror of it all. My entire world is focused on the television screen and I feel a slow creeping dread. Even Sharon Tate’s bosom doesn’t distract me. As they move through the room, surrounded by horror after horror, there looms a mirror. The only people reflected in this mirror in a room FULL of vampires are our heroes.
Yikes! I think. What’s the matter with you people? Can’t you see the MIRROR??? Don’t you know that if the vampires see you in the mirror they will know you’re human and will tear you to pieces? As I think this dark and urgent thought, one of the characters notes the presence of the mirror with shock. He elbows his companion sharply, and points. He sees it! He knows that the mirror could give them away.
Thank you, God. I nearly collapse with relief. The characters can hear me. Good. Maybe they/we will survive this night after all.
That’s when something wet brushes against my neck and everything in my chest plummets directly and immediately into my ankles. My head is throbbing with sudden shock and I cannot breathe.
My leaden hand shoots backward and touches something furry as air squeaks out of me. It is a tortured sound. I whirl to face my attacker.
It’s the family dog looking confused and sort of tired.
I collapse, blood throbbing in my ears, and it is some seconds before I find any humor in the situation.
The movie’s almost over. The heroes are galloping away from the Creepy Castle. But Polanski has just one more surprise in store. It’s a surprise that will rob me of that reassuring sense that all is well with the world because the monster’s dead.
It turns out the monster isn’t dead.
Tagged: , The Most Underrated Horror Move of All Time , Larry Talbot , Secret Turf , the worst Photoshopping on the planet , and no I’m not losing it just having fun so relax.