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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

9/21/2006

INTERMISSION


9/05/2006

DIARY OF CINEMATIC CHILDHOOD TRAUMA PART 2
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Despite All the Murderous Goblins
Big monsters — your Godzillas, Gargantuas, Gameras, your various Kongs — are a direct and straightforward bunch. I appreciate this. I’ve always felt like you can trust a big monster. Yes, big monsters wreck things, and I suppose occasionally step on people (maybe even babies), grinding them into a thin, wet paste. But who among us wouldn’t agree that wrecking things has its own special charm? And the grinding, I imagine, is often inadvertent.

Regardless, even these actions are typical of your standard, wholesome human-monster transaction, and there isn’t a lot of creepiness or backstabbing involved. Witness, too, the regular befriending of pretty blonde ladies and cheerful Japanese children by big monsters. You know? So I think we should all be in agreement here: big monsters have an important role to play in, like, the ecosystem, and deserve our respect and understanding.

Medium monsters — a mummy or Dracula, for example, or a zombie or Moss Man — are significantly smaller than big monsters, and with this decrease in size comes a corresponding increase in scariness. This is because scariness is positively correlated with surprise, and, as researchers have shown, a medium-sized monster can do a better job of hiding than a big monster, enabling him to spring out and get you while you’re unawares.

Also, some medium-sized monsters — I’m thinking of vampires, pod people, victims of possession and Damiens — have the ability to masquerade as normal humans or even loved ones, lulling you in with a familiar façade even as increasingly distant and vacant-eyed behavior generates a terrifying sense of unease. I hate this. Frankly, it’s a damn relief when a sneaky medium monster finally reveals its true nature, springing an awful trap or two and draining your soul and leaving behind a wizened husk or whatever.

I should say that this scariness is mitigated a bit in the case of aliens and mutants, because these varieties of monster, at least, are governed by the laws of science. Oh, and you know what else? Some medium monsters are, if you ask me, just a little too liberal with deploying the jokes and wisecracks, even if this trait also decreases the scariness factor. I guess I’m chiefly thinking of that butthole Freddy Krueger here, though there may be others. Anyway, all those puns really chap my ass.

Small monsters are the worst. Just the pits. They make up for their reduced size by hiding and being extra creepy, and sometimes by traveling in batches. I hate small monsters. I hate them so much. And I feel that all the sneaking around and subterfuge is unfairly scary. It’s certainly not welcome in my house. Why can't medium and, especially, small monsters just rampage in a wholesome, normal way? Why?

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a movie that's jam-packed with small monsters. Really awful ones… Terrible, prune-faced little jerks. Once, during a journey through the Amazon that was as much about introspection as adventure, a particularly revelatory snort of ibogaine made it clear that Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is the source of my hatred for midgets, children and dwarves, and is the fuel that drives me, should I inadvertently stumble across one, to punch and beat them without mercy. People occasionally comment on this, so I thought I’d bring it up.

One interesting bit of trivia is that Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark never hit the theaters, and was only shown on TV — I heard it was originally broadcast as part of a commie plot to turn America’s youth into candy-ass scaredy-pants babies, and, since the only people still around who buy into that pinko stuff are dumb hippies, world leaders have dubbed the movie too frightening and banned it, so it's not readily available on DVD. Anyway, that shit didn’t work on me, commies, and if you say it did I’ll, um, cry.

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Despite a publishing schedule that would embarrass snails or glaciers, I’m nothing but intrepid in my efforts to consistently deliver thoroughly mediocre Internet time-wasting on this site. You can see here that I’ve mustered up a double-dose of gumption and procured the dangerous artifact through secret contacts in an elusive underground network I can’t mention, but whose name possibly rhymes with eBlay.

Some people might be reluctant to patronize a dirty bootlegger, probably because there’s no assurance of quality. Certainly, this can be an issue, but let’s face it — with just a little footwork thrifty shoppers can score all kinds of swell, rare movies at a price that’s a lot less than you pay for those pills that make your weiner hard, so it’s a cheap gamble. I’m not saying I’ve always received top-notch service, but some of those eBay eBlay sellers are good people looking to build a loyal clientele, so they try to prepare nice products and sometimes even include little extras.

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Here you can see where my DVD came with a delicious hot dog — plump, juicy and tricked out with sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup and all the fixin’s, just the way I like it! Well, actually, wait a sec... No, I'm sorry. Just sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup. No additional fixin’s.

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OK, let’s start this baby… Hey, nice menu screen. See? In addition throwing in a satisfying, all-American hot dog someone went through the trouble of firing up the ol’ Commodore 64 to provide purchasers with a distant approximation of professionalism. Extra points for the pentagram, of course.

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Whoah, that’s a big fuckin’ cat head!

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Hey, alright, William Pederast is in this and — Hey! Is that the Burnt Offerings house? It is, isn’t it? Goddamn it.

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So the premise here is that a young couple moves into a house that’s full of evil goblins. The wife lets them out of, like, a magical fireplace. Perhaps naively.

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For some reason the goblins are all up the wife's butt, pestering her and whatnot, and nobody believes her. Oh, for pete's sake, not literally up her butt.

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Hell, she's not even sure she believes it herself. And her husband is no help. He's all wrapped up in his career, and you can tell she feels left out. In addition to haunted.

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The movie is totally reflective of its time. Think about it — this was the apex of the ERA movement, when cries of "Burn your bra!" filled the air and shrill, bitter feminists tried to compensate for their personal failures by making everyone else miserable fought hard for a long-overdue reevaluation of the life choices traditionally available to women. The wife's fear of not being taken seriously, of being left behind as her career-minded husband pushes ahead, of getting sucked down into a scary basement by a gang of small monsters — they're all intertwined.

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Superfically, it might seem to be a simple goblin movie, but even a cursory analysis shows Don't Be Afraid of the Dark to be a savvy — Hey! Hey Fonzie! How long do you plan to air out that thumb, dude? Jesus.

Anyway, in addition to oppressed housewives it also works well for scaring the holy bejeesus out of little kids, just because those goblin-y little sadists are prune-faced and horrible and it’s really scary to think they might get you.

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The movie doesn't show the monsters for a while, building tension I guess. When you do finally see one, you're totally, like, "Dude. No way."

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They spend most of the film whispering menacing stuff. Hey, why do goblins, like, think out loud in every movie? They always have lisps and they always think out loud and, like, narrate their own actions. "Yessss, yesssssss, we’re coming to get yooooouuu. We’re coming down the stairsssss and rounding the corner and we’re ssssneaky and etc." They also have a propensity for chanting stuff in unison when they get worked up. "Yessss, yessss, get her, we'll get her, get her GET HER! GET! HER! GET! HER!" Groups of midgets and dwarfs do this a lot in movies too, even if they’re not evil. Have you noticed that? Who started that, the Wizard of Oz? Oompa-Loompas? Is it racist? I think it might be racist.

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Oh, there's an old guy who argues with the husband. "In my day we buttoned our shirts all the way up before leaving the house!"

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"Shut up, old man! You can’t make me button up my shirt and you can’t keep kids from dancing to our rock ‘n’ roll music!"

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You know, maybe the way the goblins look was a deliberate strategy. Like maybe their generally scrotal appearance is symbolic of Sally's fear of marginalization in light of traditional gender roles. Ahhhh... You know what, forget I said anything. I don't want to accidentally end up with a master's degree here.

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What a dick.

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Here you can see a cameo appearance by me. I play a doctor who hooks Sally up with pills. That’s what happened, back in those days. Housewife sees a goblin or two, they declare her hysterical and fill her up with juice. It was a different time. Sad.

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Apparently the goblins have the power to make curtains all billowy. Yeah, that’s my first reaction when the house turns blue and the curtains billow and the goblins start whispering my name in unison. Go investigate.

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Uh oh. See what happens? You go foolin' around without regard for haints and spectres and your ass will get tied up and dragged all around. Which is fine, if you’re an adult, and that’s what you’re into, and both adult and goblin know what they’re getting into and are fully consenting.

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Hmmm, I, uhhh... I’m pretty sure Sally is kind of into this.

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I didn’t really notice this as a kid, terrified out of my mind like I was, but watching it now it’s clear the filmmakers intended there to be a discomfiting sexual aspect to this sequence. I mean, they throw Sally on the ground and wrap some rope around her ankles a few times and it’s "Oooooh" and "Ohhhhhhh" and "Ohh, you dirty goblins" and not really as much resistance being put up as you might expect in the event one of those little creeps was fixin’ to eat your soul or whatever. I’m not going to dwell on this, because I don’t want those goblins involved in me getting a boner.

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Anyway, career boy finally gets convinced about the goblins by old Pops Buttonedshirt, but no dice. The goblins tied her up and, apparently, gave her a decent orgasm, maybe, and now she’s all spooky and in the basement forever. You can't really tell from my shitty screencap, but here he's looking down through the haunted chimney into hell and yelling, "Saaaaaaalllllly!!!" The end.

Next week: ghostly hippies. Well, maybe next week. I guess I don't really have such a great track record with that sort of thing.

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