Archive for grotesque

Poem: LEGACY

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by smuckyproductions

I wrote a version of this poem a long time ago, and it felt like the time to put it out there. Not all history, not all legacies, are something to be proud of. 

LEGACY

Dimming, grandfather requests
“Have kids while I can still
speak their name.”
I tell him I’ll try.

My constitution does not permit
ruining his notion with my prophecy
That our name dies in my loins
made to seek peace in
things he would wither to think of

For some grandfather, exponential greats
took arms to smear his seed in this soil
sprinkled on the bones of children
snapped to pieces by invader teeth that
gnash in ecstasy at their righteous carnage
drag their white worms to claim this
stolen ground as they have committed
an act worth celebrating –

This is my legacy.
This is what dies with me.

And what if it withers?
What is pride when boiled in that blood
of children who never got to choose
between silence and gloating?
This scaffold of corpses around a rotting cross
who refuse to really die –
whisper from dirt at beating hearts
grandfather’s, father’s, and mine
but my ears are stopped, jaw soldered
against harmonizing with them
but against rebellion, too.

In my way I lie in the plot beside him
and sew my silence in kind.

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Short Story: A FINE DAY FOR A WEDDING

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by smuckyproductions

Autumn has enfolded us fully; so why don’t we look back to the heat of summer for a little love story?

A FINE DAY FOR A WEDDING

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You’ll likely remember that Midsummer day when young Tom O’Riley got it into his head that he should propose to the apple of his eye, Amaryllis Jones. What a fine, hot day it was, too! The sun celebrated its own glow on the streets of our pride and joy Little Creek Bend, and that Tom O’Riley took to them like the stones had been lain in his name. Scarce is an individual who did not see good Tom on his way, head high and holding out that velvet pouch for all to acknowledge, the pouch that bore the jewel to sit upon his beloved’s finger.

Tom had put on his favorite checked shirt and pressed blue jeans, the ones that work had not worn down, and over his hair he wore that grand beacon of a hat, the color of raw chicken’s skin. He stuck his head up as high as it would go so even the merchants in their offices up top could see it bobbing on by. There was sweat a’plenty running under the brim and inside his best shirt, but Tom would not be stopped by anything, let alone the heat. His smile was bright enough to set you on fire if you looked at it too long. The air itself, perfumed so gently with Mrs. Bernard’s roses and the wildflowers in Farmer Leigh’s field, carried him along toward his divine purpose. Watching Tom O’Riley go to meet his sweetheart on that fine June morning was enough to melt the heart of the coldest miser, and make the mute sing praises. Even after the way it turned out.

Rare, too, is the soul who did not know beforehand of Tom’s intentions for sweet Miss Jones. They had been seen all over town, her delicate hand wrapped around his big young arm, gazing at each other like their necks had petrified. More and more did Tom’s demeanor turn on his fishing buddies down at the saloon – where once a burly and brutish bull had held court, there was now a twittery, pink-cheeked, thoughtful stallion who was always preoccupied by something he didn’t dare proclaim. Quite a thing to see, such a big boy broken up over a little flower. But she was, we all know, the loveliest flower that ever was, with skin like precious metal and hair that floated about her head like angel’s breath. Many a young soul – and, I might add, a few old ones – pined for the heart of Amaryllis. Not all of them were too pleased to see Mr. O’Riley toting that velvet pouch, either. He paid none of them any attention as he made his pilgrimage down the streets of our pride and joy Little Creek Bend. Even if he’d had a mind to look and see his competition, the brim of his hat would have prevented it. That hat, by God, was the joke of all the young folks around, for the way it overshadowed Tom’s face and weighed twice as much as his skull; but as he walked so tall and regal, his hat took on the aspect of the grandest crown.

At about ten after nine did Tom round the corner of Amaryllis’s street. Widow McNally gave him a shy little wave, and that good-hearted merchant Stalmouth tipped his hat in congratulations. Tom regarded them all with the most pleasant manly grin as he ascended the white steps of his beloved’s mamma’s veranda. He waited at the top, as if exploring all the phases of his life and all that could come after, the endless versions, and deciding that the one before him was the only one worth going for; so he rapped his hand against the door.

It swung on its hinges not into the bright and welcoming corridor that old Mrs. Jones always maintained for her guests, but a dark and gloomy one. In the dim light it was a challenge to see what was making smacking so, or to pick out the unnatural shadow at the foot of the stairs. Tom did something he had never done before – he faltered in his step. And he further surprised all us watching when he let out a high-pitched and desperate scream.

It took the watchers a moment to find the reason for his outburst, but when it slithered onto the porch, we all understood. A first impression reminded one of a tumor with the arms and legs of a soft-shelled crab, bearing an old man’s toothless face and four unevenly arranged, red-rimmed eyes; but the skin was too muddy, flecked with red, and after a good look, it was clear that the legs were covered in hair. Tom was confronted by this striking creature, in whose misshapen jaws dangled the well-chewed body of his intended. He staggered back and nearly fell down the steps as he gaped and tried to think of the proper response. The velvet pouch clattered on the veranda and was forgotten.

After dropping Amaryllis’s leg from its jaws, the creature said, “Who the hell are you?”

“T-t-t-Tom O’Riley,” the poor boy stuttered, always polite.

“Well, T-t-t-Tom, you’ve got real great timing,” the creature said. “Now, unless you’re here for a good reason, I’ll ask you to kindly go away.”

Now Tom, being a fine boy, did not appreciate being talked to in such an inconsiderate manner. He puffed up his chest and widened his stance. I daresay he felt foolish having left his pistol at home, but Tom, he was not one to shy from hand to hand combat, even if his opponent had seven to his two. “I came here today to make Amaryllis Jones my wife in the eyes of the Lord,” Tom bellowed. It wasn’t his fault that his voice cracked. “You have no right to keep a man from that.”

The creature shrugged its shoulders and lumps. “Not to be rude, but that doesn’t sound much like my problem,” it said.

“Hell it isn’t!” Tom yelled.

“I don’t like this attitude of yours,” it said. “And when a body is just minding his own damn business. How am I supposed to know you’re coming over here to do such and such bullshit? I didn’t even mean anything personal. This just happened to be the toilet that I crawled out of today. A body’s got to eat, you know. If you want to get all fussy with someone, why don’t you talk to the asshole that planned the sewers? He’s got more to do with it than I do.”

By this time, I’m sorry to say, the smell of the creature and the sight of the girl’s half-eaten flesh got to Tom, and he spilled his breakfast all over his shoes. “Now isn’t that pleasant,” the creature said in response.

But like a good boy, Tom puffed himself out again and wiped the spillage off of his mouth. “You got no right, doing this to a man,” he said.

“I’ll take you to court if you try anything,” the creature said.

Tom stepped up to his opponent, putting out his fists, avoiding Amaryllis’s head. “I want you out,” he said. “You got no right eating up a man’s wife. Get out of this house and go back to the hole you crawled out of! I see you around here again, I’ll really give you something to bawl about.”

All of us watching were real quiet while they waited to hear what the creature might say. It gurgled, twitched its hemorrhaged eyes, and then snorted in a nasty gulp of air. Something like a smile wriggled over its mouth. “Well, I guess you aren’t such a dope after all,” it said. “You smell real nice, as a matter of fact. I’ve been looking for a nice-smelling thing to keep me company. The sewers get real lonely, all that waste and bad insulation. Why don’t you come down with me, huh? What do you say?”

Sure as anyone, Tom did not have the slightest idea how to respond to that request. He just blubbered along and took a glance at his beloved, splayed out underneath him. But the creature was impatient, I suppose, and didn’t have a mind to wait around for an answer; so it reached out one of its arms and took hold of Tom’s collar, another latching onto his sleeve, then retreated into the house with Tom flailing behind it. “You’ll like it down there, a big guy like you; we’ll have a good time. And I got some new records, too…” Then they were down the hall, something splashed a few times, and there were no more sounds to be heard from either of them. His grand hat was left on top of Amaryllis, and the sparkling jewel lay soaked through in unmentionables.

Suffice to say that none of us expected it to happen in such a way; you never know, I suppose, how one day will turn out. You never know what’s going to pop out of your sewer, either. And it’s easy to imagine that folks in Little Creek Bend were confused for a long time at the outcome of Tom’s proposal. We don’t see much of that nice boy anymore, though sometimes you can hear him hollering from down there, in the bridal suite. But those folks did get what they expected, after all, even if it came in a different shape. After all, those hot days in June are fine days for a wedding.

New MINUTE MORBIDITIES: CHICKEN

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2016 by smuckyproductions

It’s finally the weekend. You know what that means. Time for a new MINUTE MORBIDITIES.

Here we have an unusual dinner guest in CHICKEN:

Share the scare, and tune in next Friday for a new grotesque treat!

New MINUTE MORBIDITIES: DOG FOOD

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2016 by smuckyproductions

Happy Frightening Friday, freaks! You might be hungry for some grotesque delights to kick off the weekend.

Lucky you – here’s a treat called DOG FOOD:

For the good of dogs everywhere, SHARE THE SCARE!

And SUBSCRIBE for a new morbidity, every Friday.

Poem: SICK DAY

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by smuckyproductions

A little poem to commiserate the post-Sundance illness. 

SICK DAY

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They forgot to load the sky
Flat void, fatigued with itself

Prone flesh in mediocre light
Soft rebellion of fickle tissue
Atrophy in frames per second
Insignificant death – just needs fresh air

Yet hard to believe
In a functioning world,
Blank sky and useless limbs
Support the theory: perhaps the world
Was just last night’s dream
And I’ve always lain here
Inside fruitless pain – pity
Eternal

Sundance Review: THE GREASY STRANGLER

Posted in Films That Haunt Me, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2016 by smuckyproductions

Sitting in the Yarrow Theater at 9 pm on January 23rd was a special experience. And by special I mean disgusting, bewildering, stupefying and inanely hilarious. It isn’t often that you witness the birth of the next cult phenomenon. In the midst of oily grapefruits, potatoes, hootie-tootie-disco-cuties and a vat of costuming grease, those of us in Park City can say we did just that. This film is THE GREASY STRANGLER.

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Looking back on it, I’m shocked to remember that there is a very coherent plot. A father and son duo, living together after the death of their wife/mother, begin a personal war when they fall in love with the same woman. But there is an even more dangerous scheme afoot – a murderer is stalking the streets, someone covered in grease and growling like a post-modern Wolfman. Also like the Wolfman, his kill of choice is a good, old-fashioned strangle. (The title is very literal.)

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Another surprise – the film is gorgeously crafted. The production design and lighting are vibrant and ultra-professional, lending it the aesthetic of a true Hollywood rom-com. That look only makes the bizarre aspects more delirious. From the opening, we are assaulted by totally insane images and conversations – greasy coffee, oozing sausages, men in pink short shorts, and endless Dada arguments about free drinks and potatoes. (Also, BULLSHIT ARTIST.) And don’t forget the prosthetic penises. Yes, I said it, prosthetic penises.

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It’s a hymnal to absurdist humor and the grotesque (in the classic sense of the word, which means ugly to a hilarious extreme). While there is a clear plot, which is more than can be said about many ‘normal’ films, there is nothing clear in the way it pans out. The film is utterly baffling in the most exhilarating way – an amalgamation of cartoonish comedy and endless goop that all serves to create a world we’ve never seen before. And I truly haven’t seen anything like this in film. Comparisons to John Waters can be made, but this film is so surreal, almost animated, that it creates its own brand of weird.

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This originality is only part of the reason I call it the next cult hit. The charm of this film hard to explain to someone who wasn’t in the theater. Listening to the audience erupt in almost-constant confused laughter, usually because the images on screen were just so out there, was undeniably special. Like “Rocky Horror” and “The Room,” I think this film is destined for midnight greatness. Its wacky quotability and immersive boldness will give it eternal life.

When viewing this repugnant and beautiful piece of work, leave all conception of film at the door. This is an experience like no other. And it’s worth it. Come mingle in the mire, the disco, and the colorful chaos that is THE GREASY STRANGLER.

Sundance Review: TRASH FIRE

Posted in Films That Haunt Me, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2016 by smuckyproductions

 

It’s hard to find good Gothic cinema these days. And I don’t mean the twee fey of Tim Burton – I’m talking grotesque, blackly humorous, and eviscerating works that examine the extreme darkness of humanity. Who would have known that this genre could be revived by a film about millennials with relationship issues? Leave it to Richard Bates Jr. to bring us a masterpiece in the form of TRASH FIRE.

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After seeing Excision several years ago, I’ve kept an eye on Richard Bates. His nihilistic, tonally various and visually gorgeous style is wholly unique in modern horror. I didn’t expect him to surpass his previous efforts with this film about a man who can’t deal with the death of his parents: in a fire that he thinks he started. When his girlfriend gets pregnant and threatens to leave him, however, he is forced to confront his past: literally. They take a high-stakes trip to his grandmother’s house, where his burned sister lives, so he can reconcile. But that’s the least of his worries.

The cast here is phenomenal. Adrian Grenier is repugnant and sympathetic at once, Angela Trimbur is empowering as his vulnerable but adamant girlfriend – but Fionnula Flanagan and Annalynne McCord truly shine as the family left behind. The former rivals Bette Davis for a Grand Guignol villain, and the latter is heartbreaking (but dangerous), the only character who has really done no wrong. Yet. Place all of these great actors in a creepy Southern house, add some snakes and fire and hallucinations, and you’ve got this film.

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It isn’t a horror movie in modern sense – it will not frighten or startle like a ghost story or survival flick. Instead, it attacks the mind, exploring very real situations with a vicious eye and finding the rot underneath. Bates reaches the heights of Robert Aldritch with his revelations, all without a supernatural occurrence. It’s Baby Jane meets Shirley Jackson meets Gen Y. This combination may not be ‘mainstream,’ but it’s all the more horrific because of that. The ending will leave you shaking and torn between morals.

Hearing Bates talk about his process after the Q&A only cemented my love for this movie. He is so passionate about these stories, and pours his own soul into them – which is why they feel so human. His personal touch makes these tales of terror touch the soul, finding their dread in humanity, but also their heart. Once the shock wore off, I felt a sense of deep melancholy – a feeling from which this film was born. I wanted to cry for these characters. That sense of catharsis and connection is the reason I love horror so much. It exposes these dark emotions in a way that we can examine and confront.

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Those who like their horror superficial can turn away now. But for a cathartic, gorgeous, funny and disturbing experience, TRASH FIRE won’t be surpassed. Bates has revived the true Gothic film – let’s hope it stays alive.