Friday, October 3, 2014

TUSK and the Cinema of Transformation: A Prelude to Chainsawnukah

Tusk (2014)
Dir. and written by Kevin Smith
Starring Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Guy LaPointe


Oh, wow. Just, wow. Here is something really unusual. It is a film about a young man who falls into the clutches of an unbalanced gentleman with a rather unhealthy fixation on the flippered sea mammal Odobenus rosmarus, more colloquially known as the walrus. What happens is, this older fellow drugs the young man, saws off his legs, and performs unorthodox, medically unnecessary surgery to alter his body so that it fits into a walrus suite made from crudely sewn-together scraps of flayed human skin. In the process, the young man loses the use of his limbs, his tongue, and eventually his mind, as the older fellow psychologically torments him and obsessively plays Fleetwood Mac’s deeply obnoxious record setting* 1979 hit Tusk. It’s a deeply disturbing, grim and frequently gruesome descent into brutality and madness. It’s also sometimes kind of a broad, wacky-accent based comedy. Huh.

Well, like I said, this is a weird one. But I sort of love it. I mean, it doesn’t entirely work, but so what? We got lots of boring old movies in the world that work. This is one movie that knows some of this isn’t quite going to gel, centers itself emotionally, and then does it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do. Not because it should, but because it must. Because it’s willing to sacrifice being merely a good film for a chance to be a truly bizarre film.

100% medically accurate.

Here’s the skinny: Mac aficionado and noted Bruce Willis sidekick Justin Long (JEEPERS CREEPERS) and Haley Joel Osment (STEPHEN SPIELBERG’S STANLEY KUBRICK’S A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, his face hidden in a coquettish walrus suit of his own making) are obnoxious shock-jock podcasters, with a lucrative business which mostly centers on finding videos of people humiliating or harming themselves and then viciously mocking them for cheap laughs. If I sound judgy, it’s only because my high school counselor never mentioned this as a possible career path and now here I am doing basically honest work for not much money like a chump when apparently instead I could be heartlessly mocking the unfortunate and raking in the dough, getting kidnapped and surgically altered into a walrus, etc. So I’m bitter, so what. Fuck these guys. #Walrusyes.

Anyway, in an effort to track down some sad sap to mock on the air, Long travels alone to the Great White North (Canada), where he eventually comes across a mysterious advertisement that leads him to the sprawling Canadian manor of one Howard Howe (Michael Parks (DEATH WISH V: FACE OF DEATH, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN 3), an eccentric old man who turns out to be quite a bit more eccentric than he first appears and, well, you know the rest. Yadda yadda unnecessary surgery, walrus suit stitched out of human flesh, murder, madness, etc.

The real surprise here (other than the fact that the movie exists, and was somehow released in mainstream theaters alongside DOLPHIN TALE 2 and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) is how surprisingly sharp the horror scenes are. Before RED STATE, I had my doubts that Kevin Smith would be able to shake off his comfortable niche of indifferently filmed, chatty slacker comedies and do something which genuinely required some atmosphere and tension, instead of just funny references. And although I was pretty impressed with that one, the fact that it didn’t exactly turn out to be a true horror movie left open the possibility than it was some kind of weird statistical aberration, that maybe Smith was genuinely up for trying something new but didn’t quite know how to go about it. Well, TUSK puts my doubts to rest, the scenes between Long and Parks are absolutely phenomenal, making the most Smith’s gift(/curse) of gab, but also handsomely filmed and with a twinge of genuine tension roiling under the surface, subtle at first and then, uh, less subtle. The horror scenes escalate surprisingly quickly, to the point where about halfway through they’ve already done something you’d assume would happen only at the end, if at all. But credit Smith for inventively finding new ways to make our unfortunate walrus man’s life even worse.

Now this is podcasting! Whooo!

Part of this, of course, is the splendid acting from Long and, especially, Parks. Smith’s quippy dialogue is usually engaging, but can sound tinny and overwritten in the mouths of lesser actors (including some in this movie). Here, though, Parks devours his longwinded monologues, turning some of the the most ludicrous plot twists this side of a Tsui Hark movie into something unsettlingly deeply felt and believable. But give Smith credit: when he feels like it, he’s actually able to craft scenes with some real build to them, the highlight being a truly gruesome surgery sequence which artfully uses visual cues to hint at the horrible things which are about to happen until at last we get a full reveal.**

The basic skeleton of the movie is with Long and Parks, and it’s pretty close to pitch-perfect. But there’s also a lot of other clutter here, mostly having to do with Long’s long-suffering girlfriend Ally (“Sega” Genesis Rodriguez, THE LAST STAND) and her attempts to find her missing beau with Osment in tow. Rodriguez gets some clunky expository dialogue and one long, strange scene where she stares directly into the camera and delivers a tearful monologue about… something? It’s a striking scene and Rodriguez commits to it nicely, but what the fuck is it doing here? The entire subplot about this character is oddly handled, it’s hard to get a fix on what she’s about and really, it’s not her story anyway, so who cares? For awhile it seems like Smith is following this character so that we know someone is working to find walrus-boy, but then they introduce another character, a wacky Quebecois detective, who ends up doing most of the heavy lifting in the searching department anyway.

Fun fact: anyone who ever spent more than 10 seconds in their life meticulously cleaning animal bones will try to murder you at some point, that's just science.

None of these scenes appear to be from the same movie that Long and Parks are in; sometimes they don’t seem to be in the same movie as each other. The detective, Guy LaPoint, is as broad and cartoonish as anything Smith has ever done; he might as well be in PINK PANTHER movie. But it seems like Smith wants us to take seriously the meandering relationship drama, most of which occurs through flashbacks or while Long is away. These conflicting tones and styles clash jarringly, resulting in a kind of cinematic whiplash as you try to reorient yourself every few minutes to whatever the movie’s trying to be at that particular moment. It doesn’t help that while there’s some chuckles in the non-walrus scenes, they’re nowhere near as strong as the horror film which composes the real meat of the movie; they’re mostly indifferently filmed and populated with underdeveloped characters who don’t have very clear arcs. It would be more palatable to get jerked around by the different plot threads if the competing stories had more to offer. You’re liable to get a different movie every few minutes in TUSK, but you’re not always necessarily going to be served the one you’d like.

Are those serious problems with the film? Well, yes. But in a way the bizarre tone changes are part of what I love about it. With some careful editing, excising of some of the subplots and a light toning down of the end, this could have been a truly great, darkly comic torture porn/body dysmorphia horror film, and a part of me regrets that it’s not. But the upside is that we get something much rarer: a truly, deeply unbelievable work of profound bad taste. The sort of thing that reminds you what the phrase “what the actual fuck!?” was all about before it was stolen by teenagers and turned into something which could be used to describe a particularly imposing egg bagel. The kind of movie that you could describe to your normal friends who think THE DARK KNIGHT is the height of cinema, and they simply couldn’t imagine what that would be like, maybe wouldn’t even believe you. The kind of movie that when your kindly old auntie asks what you saw at the cinemas and you reluctrantly and with much prodding explain, results in a long, uncomfortable silence. Only the brave tread here, my friend. Here there be monsters.

Someday, I hope ol’ Kevin Smith uses his newfound ambition to create a truly great film instead of a fascinating disaster, but man, who can complain when he delivers such a bounty of strangeness? Not this old seafarer. If you like things which are, in the strictest sense of the word, “good,” this one may not be for you, or at least not entirely. But, to quote RED STATE, don’t be so bourgeois. There’s more to life than just things that are good. “The time has come!” The Walrus said, “to think of other things!”

By the way, Kevin's been smoking a lot of weed these last few years, not sure if that's relevant or not.


The Hunt For Dread October

  • LITERARY ADAPTATION: Nope, although Louis Carroll's The Walrus and The Carpenter is referenced in the podcast, and Hemingway plays a role in the story.
  • SEQUEL: Said to be followed by two loose sequels, Smith's "Great White North Trilogy"
  • REMAKE: Not yet
  • FOREIGNER?: Depicts Canada, but filmed here.
  • SLUMMING A-LISTER: Hmmm... Haley Joel Osment was a pretty big deal for awhile, I guess Justin Long is also in pretty high profile stuff.
  • BELOVED HORROR ICON? Michael Mothafuckin' Parks
  • BOOBIES: No, but Michael Parks gets topless, if that's your thing.
  • SEXUAL ASSAULT: No, the movie is weirdly insistent that there's nothing sexual goin' on.
  • DISMEMBERMENT PLAN? Major limb loss, medically questionable surgery.
  • MONSTER: Walrusman
  • GHOST: No
  • PSYCHO KILLERS (Non-slasher variety): Yep, his serial killer nickname is "The first wife."
  • EVIL CULT: No, they're saving that til the fourth sequel or so.
  • OBSCURITY LEVEL: Mid, it got a theatrical release, but did anyone see it besides me and Alex and Dan and Andy?
  • MORAL OF THE STORY: Don't go to Canada, don't be a podcaster. Humans are the worst.
  • TITLE ACCURACY: High. Not only do literal tusks appear, but they play that stupid Fleetwood Mac song. 
  • ALEX MADE IT THROUGH AWAKE: Awake and incredulous.
Remember, all ratings are subjective to my particular whims. This is probably more of a three thumb effort objectively (some would go lower, and not unreasonably), but I loved it and don't care who knows it.


But interestingly, that’s not quite the whole story. TUSK is a ridiculous and somewhat problematic film, but it is certainly not a simple geek show, pure bad taste and shock paraded out for its camp value. There are some serious things happening just beneath the surface, just as there are in the waters of the walrus tank. As with RED STATE, Smith seems to have some real issues on his mind that he’s trying to work through, and again, the result is startlingly savage.

Ultimately, this is a movie about transformation. The most obvious one, of course, is the physical transformation of man into walrus. That one is prominent enough that you’re pretty likely to notice it. But even when the blood isn’t seeping, there’s an interesting discussion of personal transmogrification going on. See, there are ultimately three versions of Justin Long’s character Wallace. The first is the one that we’re introduced to in the movie, the successful podcaster with an already suspiciously walrus-y mustache. The second happens later in the movie, as Wallace makes a physical transformation, and later a mental transformation as well, into a creature. But there’s a third Wallace as well, one we don’t see in the movie: the Wallace from before he was successful, who his girlfriend describes as a much nicer guy, and a guy she misses.
Indeed, the person she describes sounds utterly unlike the Wallace we see, to the point where she views him as almost a separate person. The Wallace in the movie is kind of a jerk; he’s crass and obnoxious, an unapologetic bully to anyone he comes across. He cheats on his supermodel girlfriend with podcast groupies (is there really such a thing?! Damn you, high school career counselor!) and generally acts like an asshole everywhere he goes. Long is inherently kind of likable and goofy so you can sort of forgive him, especially since the suffering he endures is so hilariously out of proportion to his comparably mild assholery. But you also can’t help but wonder what happened to the guy he used to be.

What happened to old Wallace? Well, he’s still there, of course. You don’t have to have read the entire collected writings of Freud to guess that what’s really going on here is that Wallace’s dickish new persona is really a cover for his insecurities about who he is. Girlfriend liked old Wallace, who was sensitive and nerdy and down to Earth. But Wallace saw that version of himself as a loser, a failure, and reinvented himself as a callous, callow cad, his new dorky mustache a physical manifestation of his personal metamorphosis. Old Wallace is in there still, but he’s no longer in control; survival instinct has pushed Old Wallace down, and New Wallace has taken over to the point that he no longer even identifies with his old self.

Holy shit, is this review really going to keep going?

Which brings us to the movie’s more unorthodox transformation, from human to Walrus. Wallace the walrus is a somewhat inscrutable character, as his suffering has pushed him to the brink and maybe over it, but he can’t articulate exactly what he’s thinking. Howe commends his persistence, and claims he’s the first of his experiments to truly lose his humanity and go “full walrus.” In the film’s climactic fight, he seems to fully embrace his animal side and brutally fight his captor to the death, leaving him howling insanely even at his would-be liberators. But the final scene of the film asks us to reconsider how much of Wallace is really left in there. Pining for the original Wallace, his girlfriend admonishes him, “It’s good to cry. It separates us from the animals. Shows you have a soul.” Wallace has lost his humanity to the point that even transforming him back to a human doesn’t appear to be an option. But the final shot shows us a tear rolling down his horrible, mutilated walrus cheek. What are we to make of that? Well, the implication is that at least on some level, original Wallace is still in there. Even physically and mentally broken down and remade into an animal, the soul survives. Which is the real Wallace? All of them. They were all always there, they never went away, it’s really only a matter of context which Wallace is in control.

In fact, there may well be another layer here, too. We’re told that crying separates us from the animals, but how ‘bout this for an interesting bit of trivia: Walruses (like most mammals) can cry. In fact, I guarantee Smith knows this, because it’s referenced in the classic Lewis Carroll poem from whence the podcast that started all this nonsense takes its name. Of course, we don’t accept that this means they’re the same as humans; in fact, the tears of the obviously unremorseful Walrus at the end of the poem are famous enough to have come to represent false displays of emotion. “Walrus tears” like their crocodile brethren, symbolize dishonest, self-serving empathy. But is that fair? Is the problem here that Wallace has become an animal and lost his humanity and soul… or is the problem that perhaps they’re not as different as we’d like to believe? Howe, obsessed with Walruses, believes that he can genuinely transform Wallace’s character by physically removing his humanity. Indeed, he seems to honestly believe he’d be better off for it: “Are you really mourning your humanity? I don’t understand. Who in the hell would want to be human?” Just like Wallace’s gal, he draws a distinction between them, favoring the animals and finding them superior. “The Walrus is far more evolved than any man I’ve ever known.” he says; when we learn his backstory of abuse*** it’s not hard to imagine why he feels that way. But is he right? Wallace’s transformation into an “animal” brings out the vicious survival instinct in him -- the same one that drove Howe to kill his own beloved walrus and begin the madness. Seems that both humans and animals are capable of selfish brutality, just as they’re both capable of affection. These transitions between our own identities and personas, and even between different bodies and different species, seem to be much more fluid than anyone here is ready to admit. Everyone wants to draw clear lines around different species, different personas, but as Wallace is forced to discover, those lines can be arbitrary, more a convenience and comfort than a hard and fast rule.

Yep, sit down, settle in, this keeps going.


Which brings us to the somewhat broader point I’m seeking here, a point about this whole process of Chansawnukah which TUSK happily inaugurates. A point about the nature of Horror itself, and about why it is, year after year, that I find myself drawn back to it during the month of October.

See, when I tell people how much I love horror movies, and especially when I tell them that I’m likely to watch 50+ just in the month of October alone (consuming in excess of 100 hours of my precious life, ending one minute at a time or much sooner if people get especially tired of being pestered with these long ass reviews), they stare at me in shock. Why the fuck would anyone willing subject themselves to something as grotesque as TUSK, let alone THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE PART II or CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or THE WIZARD OF GORE or something? Normal movies are about relationships and experiences, they teach us something about life. They tell stories that we can relate to, maybe make us think about someone or something in a new way. They contribute something, inspire us, challenge us. What does horror do? It just frightens us, where’s the benefit of that?

It’s true that horror films typically don’t do most of that. Their fantastical plots about imaginary monsters and ghosts and psycho killers don’t have much to (directly) teach us about the real world. Their typical characters are poorly-articulated if not actively annoying cannon fodder, and the acting is usually about on the same level. They depict bizarre, extreme situations that we can’t really relate to (being turned into a Walrus) with characters we don’t like (smarmy podcasters) for the purpose of evoking one simple, base emotion (Fear, laughing at funny accents). So where’s the appeal? If anything, subjecting oneself to such things seems actively harmful.

What's not to love?!

The answer, I say, is that while normal films may endeavor to teach us something or connect us in some new way to something else in this big crazy world of ours, horror does something else: it transforms us. Those people who don’t understand us horror fans view the genre as destructive; unpleasant if not actively harmful. They have stories of how they were traumatized as a child by some horrific image they should never have glimpsed, and they have no interest in reliving the experience. But what they fail to realize (or perhaps simply don’t care about) is that destruction is not always about entropy, sometimes it’s about renewal. Horror is ultimately transformative more than destructive, even though destruction is part of that process of revitalization. It is in the very process of creative destruction that change is made, that growth occurs, that something new can take the place of the old.  We must be broken down so we can change, so we can transform. And horror has the ability to do that more than any other kind of story.

Indeed, the whole horror genre can be seen as a metaphor for both the pain and ultimately the relief of transfiguration. Nearly all narratives, of course, are about change; this is the very definition of a character arc, whereby a character undergoes an experience which alters them in some way. But the horror genre has a special interest in change, and in particular extreme changes. So many classic monsters, of course, --were-wolves, vampires, zombies, etc-- are the very embodiment of change, with a human literally transformed into a dangerous creature. These, as Claude Raines patronizing tells us in the 1941 classic THE WOLFMAN, are folk tales told so that ignorant peasants (like us moviegoers) can face the seeming contradiction of “the dual personality in all of us.” Just like the characters in TUSK, we’re uncomfortable with the idea that identity is not clearly fixed, that ordinary, normal people are also somehow capable of intense evil, and so we try to tell stories where that transformation isn’t just a superficial social one, but a supernatural physical one. It’s telling, though, that WOLFMAN writer Curt Siodmak --a German Jew forced to flee the Nazis before WWII and certainly well aware just how abrupt this change in normal humans could be-- still chose to approach that concept in the context of a monster movie. As much as Claude Raines might think it’s a cop-out for people who can’t face the truth of the world, it really is easier to deal with this sort of horror by moving it out of the normal human experience; explaining that we must physically become something twisted and inhuman to be capable of such madness. 

And of course, these monsters don't simply represent our fear of others suddenly turning into monsters and threatening us, but also the genuine horror that we ourselves might somehow, in some dark corner of our soul, be capable of the same evil. In these movies, the monstrous transformation is often contagious, spreading  like a virus from the original source to one human after another, consuming the minds and perverting the goodwill of people into something twisted and evil. Of course, brutality and chaos can spread exactly this way in real life, as cruel ideologies and charismatic demagogues infect one person after another with their insidious philosophies. In Rwanda, people who had been neighbors for decades suddenly turned on each other. In Iraq, this last decade has suddenly brought bitter violence between religious sects that lived peacefully for the country's entire modern history. 

There's a hint of something like this in the way Werner Herzog seems to subtly connect the vampirism sweeping though the community in his NOSFERATU with the pernicious creeping influence of Nazism that swept his own country not too many decades prior. And of course, George Romero's linking of sprawling, ravenous zombie hordes with rapacious, mindless capitalism neatly folds into this concept, too. But for my money, Romero's most unique examination of the potential for darkness inside seeming normal people comes from his loose trilogy of movies that most people haven't seen, MONKEY SHINES, THE DARK HALF, and BRUISER. Rather than look outwards towards society, these movies turn inwards, as their mild-mannered protagonists suddenly find that their darkest impulses are being acted upon without their consent. Sure, it's scary to find yourself under assault by violent monsters... but how much more terrifying to find that you yourself are, and always were, capable of evil you never wanted to acknowledge and now cannot control? If you can't even trust your own identity to be fixed and stable and basically good, how can you really be sure of anything? The best horror delves into the chaotic inner working of the spirit and the mind, assuring you that everything you'd like to believe is simple and consistent is, in fact, a roiling mess of impermanence and ever-shifting extreme possibilities. They shatter any illusions you may have had about a fixed and comforting world, and reveal a maelstrom of constant reinvention and often violent, destructive change.

That's right, this movie is about Nazis. I know, I know, that's what everyone on the internet says about everything, but this time it's true, I swear!

 Monster movies like WOLFMAN, or like the excellent GINGER SNAPS (which turns lycanthropy into a metaphor for burgeoning female adolescent sexuality) or the zombie or vampire traditions symbolically externalize extreme psychological transfigurations. But other horror film changes are more internal, the most consistent throughout horror films being the surprising resilience of “the final girl,” the last survivor of an attack by some sort of hostile force, who must be pushed to the very limit of experience in order to find the inner strength it takes to survive and ultimately challenge her attacker.

The quintessential “final girl” would be Jamie Lee Curtis’ “Laurie” character from the original HALLOWEEN; here, we’re presented with an absolutely normal suburban youth thrown into a scenario of immediate physical danger and malicious terror, who, unlike her friends, manages to resists the attacks of the murderous Michael Myers, to save herself and her young wards against all odds. Again, we see the unexpected incursion of a chaotic world, but in this case, the fragility of life becomes catalyst for a positive internal change instead of a negative one. As horrifying and grueling as the experience is, it is also a transformational one: as we will see by the sequels, Laurie, pushed to the extreme, finds an unexpected inner strength its hard to imagine she ever would have discovered had her babysitting gig gone as planned.**** Great inner transformations require us to be tested in equally intense physical and psychological conflict, and horror movies, --not bound by the laws of the real world, but by the fluid exaggerated logic of the nightmare-- are better equipped to depict these conflicts in ways which feel true. Horror movies let you experience these tests the way they sometimes feel in real life, with all their random, grotesquely exaggerated terror and white-knuckled panic. At their best, they tax us to the very limit of our tolerance, but they also reveal things about us we never would have expected, give us the space and the simple chaos that it takes to go further than we ever imagined possible. Some films even make this sense of growth through a crucible of fear more explicit: the villainous (?) Jigsaw in the SAW movies explicitly asserts that he’s torturing his victims to teach them a valuable lesson about life (Pinhead from the HELLRAISERS eventually starts doing the same thing in the later sequels, where he’s a life coach as much as a murderous supernatural force).

Fancy meeting you here.

And of course, Horror ultimately addresses our deepest anxiety, the one about that final transformation. You know, life to death. No other genre puts death so solidly front and center, nor does any other genre take the concept apart from so many different angles. Not only do horror movies indulge rather lavishly in killing characters and threatening others with explicit (and generally horrific) death, but they also dare to explore the other side. Plenty of genres may deal with death, and usually in a more realistic way than horror movies do. But only horror dares ask what might happen if the dead don’t stay that way, or if the thin line between life and death is really as fixed as we might like to think. These concepts are so horrifying because they’re so intrinsically a part of life, but we try to push them away, imagine they don’t have anything to do with us until we’re absolutely forced to address them. Horror films give us that opportunity, to directly confront the endlessly anxiety-ridden nuances of death in ways which may make it a little easier to digest and consider. Few other films can offer that; pretty much just A CERTAIN KIND OF DEATH and HEAVEN IS REAL, and neither of those is likely to have a coven of lesbian vampire witches in it, so fuck ‘em (admittedly, I haven’t seen HEAVEN IS REAL, so maybe it does. I don’t know).

But of course, there’s one final transformative aspect of the horror genre, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual narrative of the film, because the final and most important transformation doesn’t take place on screen, but in the mind of the person watching. There’s simply no other genre that evokes such strong feelings in people (negative or positive), and I think there’s a reason for that. Sure, you don’t like musicals, or westerns, or Michael Bay films, or whatever. But you don’t categorically hate and fear them the way some people hate horror films, and conversely you don’t love them like I love horror film. Nobody gets excited mid-June because in July, you’re going to watch nothing but French New Wave films, as many as possible. That’s not a thing. No, horror evokes extreme reactions -- partly because it is, by its very definition, an pretty extreme genre, but also because due in part to its willingness to push so far, it also has the greatest capacity to shake you, to change you simply through the act of watching it.

Some people don’t like that very much. I understand that; change is inherently uncomfortable, if not implicitly frightening. Change does not come easy; like the “final girl” in a slasher movie, a certain degree of conflict is essential for any meaningful change to happen. Comfort, stasis, aimlessness; these are the enemies of true evolution. And a lot of our entertainment is meant to foster exactly that. Most genres merely want to entertain, to provide disposable brain candy, sweet and easy and ultimately not very sustaining. Horror does not; by its very nature it has to challenge you, to shake you up, to push you further than you normally want to be pushed. I talked a little last year about how this has affected me in my own life. Because after all, I’m trying to change. I’m trying to get better. I haven’t always been the person that I wanted to be, and it was easy to do nothing, but now I’m trying to do something about it. It’s scary to change, but it’s ultimately much, much scarier to imagine staying the same. And so, even with all the bloody dismemberment, violent madness, creeping paranoia, unnecessary surgery, grave-robbing, soul-stealing, corpse-violating, even with all the evil dolls and diabolical cults and demonic possessions and hard rock zombies and brides of Chucky and killer Baboons and William Shatner movies, and even with all the crappy, uneventful, shoddily made brain-numbing artless directionless pointless no-talent pieces of shit I’m doubtless going to end up watching this month… even with all that, I look at this time of year as a sign of better things to come. A time of year to truly wallow in that glorious tumult that always comes with true transformation, to wash myself in its bloody waters and emerge reborn, better than ever, and also if possible with an even greater understanding of why you never fuck with the Chuck. Also if they could make some more HELLRAISERS with Doug Bradley I would watch those too, thanks Hollywood.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I invite you once again to journey with me, as we travel that well-worn path back to Transsexual Transylvania* (*shot in Bulgaria, for tax purposes) as we celebrate the greatest of all seasons:


*For “the highest number of musicians performing on a single,” with the Mac being aided by the entire USC Trojan Marching Band.

**It reminds me of the similarly well-constructed scene from the beginning of the much-maligned but intermittently solid HELLRAISER 3, which is meant as a compliment.

***Horrible bit of triva: This story is actually true. Apparently the Canadian government really did conspire to reclassify orphans as mental patients, what the actual based on a true story fuck is this?

****of course, Rob Zombie's remake rather cleverly turns this change wrought by suffering on its head (SPOILER: by the end of his reinvention, Laurie is so traumatized by the experience that she becomes a killer just like the one who tormented her)

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