Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Momentary Interlude

As we prepare for the launch of CCRB: The Podcast...

Wait, I didn't tell you about that?  Yeah, that's TOTALLY gonna be a thing.  Tell your friends!  I'm thinking the first ep will be available in a few weeks just so we can get a head start on things.

AYNWAY!  As we prepare, I have taken a mild break from TROPEFEST II to start another project.

MYTH-TAKES WERE MADE will be my retelling of the Greek myths.  I think you'll get a kick out of it.  Just because I'm SO excited about it, here's the first chapter!


To tell any story properly, we must first start at the very beginning. And our collection of tales would be absolutely incomplete if we did not do the same.

Enter fucking Chaos. Chaos, the Greek word for “chasm”, is the first of the known primordial gods. He was a giant expanse of nothing where all of the elements were jumbled up and confused and eventually, Chaos got super-lonely, so from Chaos came Gaia, the Earth, Tartarus, both a god AND a place, grandfather to monsters, and Eros, the god of love…

Wait, what? Eros came BEFORE his mom? What fuckery is this? How the hell did this happen?

Yeah, it gets worse. I told you to buckle the fuck up.

So, there they were. Earth, Hell and Love. Together at last. Fit to make the world their bitch. And, in the meantime, Chaos just kept on going with the spawning. Divine jizz everywhere, staining the carpet and getting in people’s eyes. After the big three, there came Erebus (darkness) and Nyx (night). Because nobody needed to fucking see or anything.

And, because no set of Greek Mythological tales would be complete without some sweet, sweet, incest action (ick), Erebus and Nyx got bizzay and brought into the world Aether and Hemera (light and day). Uranus and Pontus (heaven and ocean) were the result of Gaia flicking her bean because she’s a strong, independent, woman who don’t need no help from no man.

Everything went fine for a while until Uranus decided to play “ride the bologna pony” with mom. Heaven and Earth, goin’ at it like two pigs in a sack. All rollin’ around, destroying the landscape and frightening little primordial whatevers. Condoms? Who needs condoms? We don’t even know what incest IS, yet. I bet Eros watched. Kinky fucker.

And from all that, we got the Titans. Gigantic, ugly motherfuckers who ruled as gods during the Golden Age and also lived on a very climbable mountain, Mount Othrys. Since there were no actual people, though, they didn’t the respect they deserved. Which is to say, none. Because they didn’t really do a hell of a lot to earn it other than just exist.

ANYWAY, the first round of Titans was comprised of Mnemosyne (memory), Rhea (fertility and motherhood), Oceanus (the sea, duh), Hyperion (the sun/heavenly light), Coeus (rational intellect), Cronus (the harvest and, later, time), Phoebe (irrational intellect and prophetic wisdom), Tethys (fresh water), Iapetus (mortality), Theia (sight and a clear, blue sky), Crius (constellations), and Themis (divine law and order).

Oh, and there’s more, because, seriously, fucking out of boredom is an OK thing, I guess. (It totally is. I recommend it.)

The second set was a little more genetically diverse, but not by a whole lot. Hyperion and Theia went all horizontal and brought forth Helios (the Sun before he got replaced by Apollo), Selene (the Moon before that little upstart virgin, Diana, got in the way and who also went by the name “Mene” which is where we get our word “menses”) and Eos, the Dawn, who managed to keep her job.

More about all of these guys later, for sure. Even though some of them got replaced (We’re getting to that! Hush.), they still get to play along for cash and prizes… and babies… and kidnapped lovers…

SO! Everything was all hunk-dory until Cronus got a wild hair up his ass and said to Uranus, he said, “Dad, you totally suck because we all know you hate your kids and you’re totally gonna be the butt (hah) of asshole jokes for all eternity.” Which he did because not only did Uranus father the Titans, but he and Gaia also popped out the Hecatonkheires, three one-hundred-handed giants, and the Cyclopes, one-eyed motherfuckers with a taste for flesh and, for real, who wouldn’t feel a bit of revulsion knowing that your kids were cannibals? I know you’re supposed to love your kids unconditionally but there are limits to everything. Hell, there was recently a London newspaper opinion article where a mom basically disowned her kid for getting a tattoo. Parents can sometimes suck out loud. Like Uranus who banished the Hecatonkheires and Cyclopes to Tartarus (the place, not the dude) which was deep within the earth (the goddess, not the place) and caused Gaia great pain.

Cronus continued by saying “You sent the ugly kids away and I think that it’s time someone better than you came along and took over because you are obviously derelict in your duties as a man, a god and a father. Eat it, dickface.”

And with that, Uranus, using a sickle that Gaia had crafted especially for this purpose, jumped his dad and castrated him. This was not just a circumcision, folks. This was straight up removal of twig AND berries. And, of course, Uranus didn’t survive the ordeal because he was all kinds of “Quiverfull” creepy and he needed to leave that poor woman and her uterus alone but spent so much of his time dick-deep in Gaia that he didn’t know what to do now that he had no dick. After this, he was no longer a “he”. He was just the sky, the only thing left of him as being even remotely thought of as human-shaped was his pants-prizes.

Cronus, with his dad’s severed junk in his hand shouted to the world “I’M YOUR KING NOW, eew,” and splattered Uranus’ dick blood around while trying to shake the gore off of his hand. Thus sprang forth the Titanes Theoi (“straining gods” which sounds like they’re totally the culprits behind constipation but that just isn’t true at all). The Giants, basically made up of anger and spite, the Erinyes (The Furies), who took “basically” out of the equation (more on them later), the Meliae, the first tree nymphs, and the Telchines, the fish children who were basically humans with sea lion flippers for hands and how that made them skilled metallurgists is completely beyond me because thumbs are a fucking thing but we have to accept that genetic abnormalities do not make a person a failure and more power to them.

Finally freed of the blood, he tossed the offending genitalia into the sea and, from this, we get Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Because OF COURSE she’s made of something soft and wet. Apparently, sea foam is post-mortem Uranus spunk and now you have one more reason to avoid that beach vacation. More on Aphrodite in a bit. She’s important.

Now that his dad’s junk was safely out of his hand and Papa was deposed, Cronus took a look at his brothers and sisters and said to the Hecatonkheires and the Cyclopes, “Y’know what? I don’t particularly want to look at you, either, soooooo...,” and banished them back to Tartarus, because fuck you, Mom/ex-girlfriend but, to be fair, he DID give them a pet, this time, in the form of the great dragon Campe.

Cronus and his sister, Rhea, ruled as king and queen and during their reign, there was no need for rules and laws because everyone got along peacefully and immorality was not even a thing, yet. People just did the right thing. At least, until Cronus received a prophecy that said that his own sons would overthrow him as he did with dear, old Uranus. Once he got that news, he was all “Oh, no, fuck that” and hatched a horrible plan.

Oh, he went about his daily business of sticking it in Rhea and having her give birth to the gods we all know and love (Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon) but he just kinda sat at her cooch with his mouth open and ate the kids as they were born. The romantic paintings don’t show you THAT. Mostly because it’s kind of a gross image and I’m sorry I put it into your heads. (I’m not really sorry.)

BUT! And it’s a big “but”, much like my own. BUT, Rhea still had one more child and Gramma Gaia and Rhea hatched a cunning scheme. Before Cronus could get all up in there during the birth of Zeus, Rhea took a trip to Crete and gave birth to him there in secret. She then took a stone (called the Omphalos stone, which is where we get the term omphaloskepsis or “contemplating your own navel”), wrapped it in swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus who swallowed it whole. I mean, the lie the rock and everything. Cronus might have been clever but he wasn’t THAT clever and he was apparently blind. Who confuses a rock for a baby? Come on. Now.

The story gets a little hazy, here, at least in terms of the upbringing of Zeus. They say that he was raised by Gaia. They say that he was raised by a goat named Amalthea while his own personal rock band/personal guard, the Kouretes, danced and sang so loud that Cronus couldn’t hear his cries. They say he was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea who hid him from Cronus by hanging him by a rope from a tree so he was between the earth, the sea, and the sky and, thus, indetectable by Cronus, the ruler of all three. Whichever is the real story, we don’t know and we don’t care because that isn’t the interesting part.

The COOL part is when Zeus reached adulthood. Adulthood that somehow did not end up warped out of control due to being raised by a goat while hanging from a fucking basket and having to listen to musclebound proto-Greeks get their disco on for 18 years or so. I mean, other than that whole “I’m basically being raised for the sole purpose of killing my father and becoming ruler of Heaven and Earth so I guess I’m SUUUUUPER entitled to pretty much everything” thing.

Nobody knows for sure but either Metis or Gaia handed Zeus an amphora of Ipecac and said “Go get’im, tiger,” and sent him on his merry way. He eased his way on down the road to Mount Orthys and met up with dear, old Dad. That conversation was either totally “Yo, man, I got something good for ya,” in which Cronus, who was never taught not to take candy from strangers, just downs the emetic or “This wine is off, kid,” and Zeus just says fuck it and disembowels Papa causing the contents of his stomach to spring forth in reverse order, starting with the fucking rock that he was stupid enough to swallow. That rock was set at Pytho under Mount Parnassus as a sign to the mortals that the new guard is here.

Zeus then got the Hecatonkheires and the Cyclopes freed and the Cyclopes got busy arming Zeus and his male siblings (Oh, hey, did I mention that these stories are rarely feminist in nature?). Zeus got super-rad lightning bolts, Poseidon got a trident and Hades got his helmet of darkness. They needed all of this stuff because war was coming. A war called the Titanomachy, the first of all wars.

Zeus and all of his brothers and sisters (who, apparently, fought unarmed?) and the Hecatonkheires and the Cyclopes waged a war with the old gods and the Titans so vast and so widespread that it changed the face of the planet. Zeus prevailed, though, and confined most of the Titans in Tartarus. There are some notable exceptions: Atlas, Epimetheus, Prometheus, Menoetius, Helios and Oceanus.

After all of this, Gaia, being extremely tired of being used as a prison by her first husband, her son/ex-boyfriend, AND her grandkid, had finally had enough and with the advice of her therapist, gave birth to Typhon, the father of monsters, as revenge for her children and their unjust imprisonment. It didn’t really do a whole lot of good, though, except for guys like me because you’re gonna hear ALL ABOUT the monsters.

Now, Cronus, during all of this, is not fucking dead. He fought the whole time. We’re not quite sure where he and his PTSD ended up, though, after the war. Some say he was imprisoned in Tartarus, too. Some say he was locked up in Nyx’s tastefully decorated cave for eternity. Some say he escaped to Latium and became a king and lawgiver. In none of these stories is he ever considered a god, again.

And, so, with the evil ancestors defeated and those unsightly cousins FINALLY out of the attic and co-mingling in society, because ugly kids need fresh air and love, too, our TRUE stories begin.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


It's time to step into the Wayback Machine and have a jolly trip to 1980... or, rather, sometime before 1980 but it's not quite clear in which decade our "jaunt into Horror-Adjacent City" pick for today, The Private Eyes (not to be confused with the 1976 Jackie Chan flick of the same name), occurred.

We DO know that it's in the early 20th century and we ALSO know that Inspector Winship (Don Knotts) and Doctor Tart (Tim Conway) are morons that managed to get exiled from America and are now working for Scotland Yard because that always happens to people that get expelled from their own country for being a fucking hazard to themselves and others.

Seriously.  Tart invented a gun that fires itself but only every hour on the hour.  What the fuck use is that?  Comic relief, that's what the fuck use that is now hush and let an old man reminisce.

You would think that she would at LEAST wait for the opening credits...

Winship and Tart are at the Morley Manor, a quaint English mansion, to investigate the murder of Lord and Lady Morley.  Among the suspects?  Their adopted daughter, a homicidal butler around whom you cannot say the actual word "murder" (Bernard Fox, best known as Dr. Bombay in Bewitched), creepy German head of household affairs (fans of the American remake of The Grudge will recognize Grace Zabriskie as Emma, a psychic dementia patient) who rules the staff with an iron fist and the quickest knee to the groin East of the Pecos, a racist portrayal of a samurai chef, stereotypical busty maid in short frilly uniform, hunchback groundskeeper with no tongue, and racist depiction of a gypsy groundskeeper.

Ready for inspection.
 This is 1980, kids.  Malice-free racism was still in full swing.  We're working on it.  Be thankful we didn't get a legit African witch-doctor up in here.

ANYWHOSAWHATZIT!  This plays out pretty much like your standard Agatha Christie "And Then There Were None" mystery as the staff is dropping off like flies while our resident morons try to figure the whole thing out.  In case you all were wondering, this type of movie is the definitive forerunner to what we now call slasher flicks which is what lands it in the "horror-adjacent" category. 

Poor Dr. Bombay.
As for our leads, Winship is the serious one but that doesn't make him any brighter than Tart, our addlepated but lovable moron with a penchant for harboring differently-abled pigeons.  Watching these two bumble their way through this mystery farce is a master class in fucking stupid.  From they way they accidentally find themselves in hidden passageways to they way they fight over lighting a goddamn candle, you can smell the dumb coming from your blu-ray player.  It's a strong stench but not an unpleasant one.

Why does the dumb one have A) the writing duties and B) a fucking doctorate?
I gotta say, kids, I love this movie but that probably has more to do with nostalgia than anything else because by any professional standards, this movie sucks on toast.  Watching it again brought up some very nice memories of my childhood watching this kind of thing with my Mom.  It's got a simple story but it's funny in that Sheckey Greene kinda way where pratfalls were king and dad-jokes reigned supreme.  It's no Clue by any stretch of the imagination and, frankly, if we're looking for any kind of intellectualism in our horror-adjacent comedies, neither of them hold a candle to Murder by Death, but it's a fun way to spend a couple of spooky, but not scary, hours with the family and a bucket of popcorn.

You might want to ask your little kids something to distract them at around this time, though, because the "boobs are not pockets" concept is definitely a "teen" conversation.

It does make me sad to know that this was the last movie Conway and Knotts made together (not counting a cameo in Cannonball Run II) but those two had a comedic rhythm that was unstoppable and I miss that sort of thing.  I haven't seen any kind of comedy duo, lately, that compares.

But, YES!  I still recommend this one, preferably as part of a theme night with the aforementioned Clue and Murder by Death.  Because they're all awesome in their own ways.

Just beware the dreaded Wookalar.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

James Franco got paid HOW MUCH for this?


Wanna go exploring?  I sure as hell don't.  I don't like the outdoors at the best of times and the thought of doing something no one else has done in the great outdoors makes me want to vomit a little .  Wanna know why?

Because exploring the great outdoors is one step closer to exploring outer space and, as cool as that would be, I would be the very first to get a face full of alien dick.  Don't get me wrong.  Living in a Ridley Scott film would be awesome but I like my face and organs where they are, thanks.

All of that being said, let's look at Alien: Covenant.

So, after the events of Prometheus, which were never really explained to the folks on Earth, it seems, the Covenant is out to colonize a whole new planet and, in the process, get a radio signal from "planet number 4".  Turns out it's Doctor Shaw singing old John Denver tunes all creepy-like.

These people are all stupid and shouldn't be the founders of a new home planet.
Since our crew is full of cinematic morons, of COURSE they go to investigate and thus our mystery begins.

Since this is super new, I'm not going to get too deep into the events because I DO recommend this film and I'm gonna tell you why.  I mean, you're here, right?  That's what you wanted, yes?  Is good?  Is good.

A TON of folks went into this film thinking, "AWW, YEAH!  Ridley's gonna melt our faces and we're gonna get back to the straight-up horror from Alien!"  Those people are presumptuous assholes and need to sit the fuck down for a sec and really watch this movie.  Because while we DO have the horror of the first film and the action of the rest, there's more to this film than meets the eye.

Not counting the things that will snatch that eye right out of your head.
I'm sure you've noticed that each of the films in the Alien franchise has a very different feel and theme.  Regardless of whether Mr. Scott envisioned any of this for his original intellectual property, each person that has come on board has brought a very different flavor of film to the series.  Aliens went super-patriotic and blended that with a woman's need to nurture.  Alien 3 told a story about the mistreatment of prisoners.  Alien: Resurrection went totally off the rails and gave us the horrors of genetic engineering.  Prometheus started giving us a very religious feeling about the whole thing.  What are our origins?  Where do we come from?  Are we part of a vast experiment?

And, now, Covenant, where we describe our relationship with our "gods".  David, our android pal from Prometheus has moved on.  He found the Engineers' homeworld and, because he is our resident fallen angel, has displayed a decidedly antagonistic attitude about it.  David is, for all intents and purposes considering that he is NOT a human being, insane.  Insane and full of hate.

And well-armed.
Not only does he hate humanity for not treating him as the living thing he believes himself to be, but he hates the engineers for fucking up their own process.  For not coming back and finishing the job.  Because he thinks he's better suited to it than they were.  He cannot create biological life on his own (see the Biblical character "Satan") so he must tinker with the life that is there.  Which is why we're seeing such rapid shifts in the xenomorph biology throughout the course of the film.  We go from the spores that the Covenant crew are infected with to the neomorphs, pale and sickly-looking, as our "natural" infection straight to the facehuggers and familiar xenomorph shape due to David's ministrations.

So, not only is David our representation of the origin of evil but we can also throw a full-on fear of GMOs in there, too.  I mean, a potato isn't scary but people seem to think that one that was bred to be heartier and maybe had it's DNA tweaked to resist fungus is.  A neomorph is a bit more of an immediate threat, really.

But what I noticed in reading other reviews the most is that people didn't care for the atmosphere of the film.  They didn't want it to be deep and insightful.  They didn't want it to be the mystery/thriller it was.  And it WAS a mystery.  We kind of knew that David was shady but we didn't know what he was really doing until the end.  We had to cope with a fucking "evil twin" plotline, which I'll forgive BUT JUST THIS ONCE.  We needed to watch this misotheistic Machiavelli hatch his evil scheme so that we could move forward towards seeing the things we're used to.

Like this.
Frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I liked that it was much more nuanced than the main franchise and I like that it kept the flavor of Prometheus while adding the tiny twists and turns.  I like that it wasn't just straight-up face-murder.  I mean, it was a little predictable but when you're dealing with prequels, some of that is to be expected.  I fully expect the third prequel film to have David ruling an entire planet of xenomorphs and plotting to spread them throughout the universe in an effort to rid it of all biological life or incorporate the best of all species into a single, deadly, organism, because that's how the xenomorphs work, kinda like the Borg in Star Trek.

If you haven't seen it, do.  You may not like it the way I did or see the things that I did but I like to think that a little post-horror needed to find its way in here and Ridley Scott succeeded beautifully.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Welp... That's All Wrapped Up...

In the interest of saving my reputation as someone who watches bad movies for pleasure, I have suffered through another couple of hours of celluloid trash for you.  I do this because I love you.  It's for your own good, really.

Today's shitheap?

The Mummy (2017).

Because, really, we needed to take all of the humor and fun out of the Brendan Frasier 1999 version, move it to the present day, add a few new characters and references to other classic movie monsters so that audiences have "easter eggs", and gender-swap the whole thing so that it LOOKS like a whole new movie but, in all truth, it's really fucking not.

That face says it all, really...
SO, the deal is that Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, an utter dickhead who spends his life an an antiquities thief in the military who, for real, just should have ended up incarcerated for the shenanigans he pulls with his buddy, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), at the very beginning of the film because he deserted his unit hunting for a town that's basically named "Curse".  That's even before they found the tomb that was a giant health and safety hazard because of a whole shit-ton of free-flowing mercury (which was used because it supposedly holds evil spirits at bay).  We get introduced to Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) as part of the aftermath of the drone strike that opens up the tomb.  She hates Nick, too.

As we all should.

See that hole?  Just fill it right the fuck back in.
Moving forward, Nick does something monumentally stupid and raises Ahmanet, our titular Mummy (Sofia Boutella)... yes, she's female, no that's not meant to be punny... unless you want it to be, I guess I can't stop you.  Rude.  ANYWAY, as part of this whole schtick, Nick gets saddled with the curse.  The curse of Ahmanet choosing him to be her vessel for Set, who, according to people that really didn't do their fucking homework, is basically the Dark Universe's (Yes, that's what Universal is calling their remakes of their classic monster films... I don't know why their team couldn't have gone cooler but the logo is nice, I guess) Egyptian Satan.  And possibly her baby-daddy because she gets ALL up in his grill a number of times throughout the film.

Yeah.  Because moldering linen, missing flesh, and the ability to summon sand and vermin are so fucking hot, right now.  She also kills Chris and keeps him around to haunt Nick into doing more stupid shit, a la Jack Goodman from An American Werewolf in London.  YAY, hallucinations and what very little humor they left in the film! 

And double irises.  Thus confounding cosplayers FOREVER!
We also get introduced to Prodigium.  A secret society, led by Dr. Jekyll (Yes, that Dr. Jekyll and portrayed by the always UNFH-worthy Russell Crowe... seriously, that man can wreck every inch of it, for real.  Call me, Russell.  Call me.) that exists to hunt supernatural threats.  Because of COURSE it does.  It's absolutely amazing that these things can cause such massive amounts of property damage and loss of life that no one knows they even exist.  These folks must have some Men in Black level memory-erasing bullshit to deal with every fucking window in London being broken down into sand and flung willy-nilly, blinding and choking the entire fucking city.

So, yeah.  This movie got pretty much nothing but negative reviews from everybody most fucking deservedly because it's in that grey area between Action and Horror that nobody likes or wants.  As an action film, it was middle of the road.  As a horror film, it was not enough.  Just because you throw in a soul-sucking dead thing who can create more dead things to follow her command and her goal is to stab Tom Cruise (which... seriously?  I'm down) making him the living embodiment of fucking DEATH, does not mean you have a horror movie and, listen right the fuck up, Universal, these ARE horror movies.  Stop fucking pandering to the lowest common denominator and fucking scare us.  I know you can.  You've done it before.

Oh, look.  Evil fan service.  Her lack of nipples is disturbing.
For me, I didn't hate it.  It's not a great use of your time.  You COULD be volunteering somewhere or walking with children in nature but if you feel the need to spend a few bucks and get out of the Summer heat, you could do much worse.

But, I didn't fucking like it, either.  I am not a fan of making the utterly devoid of human compassion jerkface the main protagonist (and this is brought up a few times without any tangible glimpses of redemption on the part of Nick).  I don't like that they took what could be a very strong female character and made her simper at the man who saved her life for the remainder of the film.  I don't like that they took the villain and made HER simper at the man she wants to turn into a god.  She HAD the power.  She didn't HAVE to do anything but wreck shit and rule Egypt for fucking ever  (and, y'know, pay Set back for his part of the bargain).  But, no.  Let's take a being that can literally sand blast the pyramids to dust and make her vulnerable to a fucking poison dart so we can entomb her alive for 5000 years to come back to wave her decrepit genitals at Tom Cruise, The Tiniest Scientologist.

I'm not going to say that you should skip this one.  There ARE elements of this movie that I enjoyed greatly.  There are a metric ass-ton of Easter eggs that it's fun to watch for (like the Book of the Dead from the Frasier flicks popping up and all sorts of delicious nasties in glass jars).  The special effects are decent and I actually really liked Sofia Boutella's performance.  I liked that they basically gender-swapped the entire story.  I liked Russell Crowe in a well-tailored suit, and WHO DOESN'T?!?  None of these things make up for a lackluster story with too many extraneous elements and a complete lack of judgement when it comes to time and distance.

It's not good, it's not bad.  It's just meh.  Bland.  Not necessarily boring.  But bland.  Salt required.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Updates and such...

Hey, kids! 

I'm still here.  I'm still watching horrible movies but my life has been upheave-eth-ed again and I had to take a little break while I continue to write TROPEFEST 2.  Hopefully things will calm the fuck down again so I can concentrate.

I miss you!

Uncle Bob

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Haunters Against Hate

I know it's early, yet, but Halloween season is coming up soon and I thought I would spread around some good news.

Because of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, many folks exhibited, shall we say, less than polite reactions to the slaughter of 50 LGBT Americans to the tune of "Let's give everybody guns so they can wipe out the rest of the faggots."

A group of haunted houses/SFX artists/actors/graphic artists/etc. have banded together in the Ohio Valley to stand against this hate.  Because we all know that hate, in any form, is wrong and it really is the scariest thing of all.

They call themselves Haunters Against Hate and they straight up asked the Ohio Valley Haunts Review team to stop coming to their haunts because of their remarks.

Apply cold water directly to that burn.
I fully support this organization and, frankly, will help them in whatever they do.  They are heroes in a country where hate crimes are on the rise (fuck you, Trump... you AND your campaign trail stochastic terrorism).

Check them out.  Buy a t-shirt.  Attend their haunts.  Do some good and have a spooky good time doing it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The World’s Biggest Trigger Warning

This title is not a joke. This post is without pictures for a reason.  If discussion of rape in fiction, or in general, upsets you due to personal reasons, I do not blame you for an instant and would much rather you skip this chapter than find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. This chapter will be as snarkless as I can make it because when it comes to this subject, I. Do. Not. Play.*

Barring murder, which is a crime that really won’t go unreported for long, rape is probably number two on our list of heinous things that human beings can, and sadly will, do to one another. Rape statistics, though, can be wildly misleading depending on the country one is in. Inconsistent definitions of rape can take 0.2 reported instances per 100,000 people in Azerbaijan to a whopping 132.4 per 100,000 reporting rape in South Africa (oddly, one of the countries with very progressive laws regarding rape in several circumstances which came about due to local superstitions claiming that having unprotected sex with a virgin will cure AIDS which caused grown-ass men to rape BABIES, sick motherfuckers).

It is a supremely under-reported crime and this is what makes people think that it isn’t actually a problem. Statistics can’t even really be considered accurate because there are SO many reasons why it will go unreported. Fear of retaliation. Not wanting to get the offender in trouble (Wait, what?). Unsure if a crime was actually committed or if the local laws will consider it rape (many countries will only recognize “male-female” rape and almost NO studies have been performed in regards to “female-female” or “male-male”). Not wanting others to know because of shame and stigma. A lack of trust in local law enforcement. Not knowing HOW to report the crime.

And, as a big detractor. in many countries, a person who reports rape but cannot prove it will suffer criminal penalties themselves (alongside those countries where extramarital sex has its own set of punishments, thanks, self-righteous Abrahamic religions). In Africa, several countries have laws that institute the death penalty for consensual sodomy so if a victim cannot prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were raped and not a willing participant, guess who’s on the chopping block?

The statistics I found in regards to the US ( can also vary based on the circumstances of the incident. Was the victim forcibly raped? Was the victim drugged against their will? Was the victim otherwise inebriated or incapacitated? Was the act violent or coerced? Those statistics tell us that nearly 20% of women in the US (and 11.5 percent of women in college) have been raped based on surveys and only 16% of those crimes were reported to law enforcement.

Keep in mind that I am deliberately mostly sticking to figures regarding women, here. This is because there is one trope used in several kinds of fiction that disturbs me on a number of levels. The child born of rape.

We all know that rape is often written into a fictional work as a power-play. It’s mostly (read “99.9999999% of the time) unnecessary but can provide tension and a cause for a rape-revenge scenario. In works by female artists, it’s used as a cathartic move. In works by men, it can be either sympathetic, created out of solidarity toward women, or just a sick fantasy. (Seriously, this is the one kink I will actively shame someone for. Yes, I get that it’s impossible to rape someone who refuses to withhold permission but there are going to be those times when you say no and if people don’t expect it, there’s gonna be a problem.) A lot of times, particularly in bad Mary Sue fanfiction and despite what some politicians would have you believe regarding the human female’s ability to “shut down” a pregnancy, that fantasy extends to a child born of a violent and unnecessary union.

As a sub-trope, though, the child of rape can bring us to some interesting places. Most often because the child of rape is largely portrayed as the evilest evil thing that ever eviled evilly.

We all know that marital rape is actually a new concept and even serial killers don’t always have horrible childhoods so we know that "rape children are evil" REALLY isn’t true. Thing is, though, it does provide a thought-provoking facet to an otherwise two-dimensional character’s life, whether the victim or the child. In Night of the Demon, a girl is raped by Bigfoot and bears his child. Even the Final Girl isn’t immune, as seen in The Prey.

In terms of just the children, though, on the heroic side, we have those characters that are wholesome and good despite their parentage. Of course, on that same side, we have the character that wants to white knight for their wronged mother and slaughter the son of a bitch that hurt her. And, on the other hand, we’ve got the villains.

Oh, yes, the villains.

The ones who kill for fun. The ones whose parents treated them as if they were a curse. The neglected and abused children who, through no fault of their own, get back-handedly blamed for the crime committed against their mother and grow up believing that they are monsters so they act like it.

We all know that Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm St) was called “The bastard son of 100 maniacs”. The deformed murderer in Dario Argento’s Phenomena is a product of such a union. The killer from Cherry Falls was the child of a woman that the local police chief (and father of our Final Girl) and his jock buddies decided to “have a little fun with”. Eleanor from Byzantium, while not technically a villain, is still a vampire. In rare cases, because fiction usually assumes that a rapist is male, the child is the result of the mother raping the father, such as La Morte D’Arthur where Mordred is the result of Arthur being tricked into getting Morgan Le Fey pregnant and in Black Christmas where jaundiced and yellow-eyed Agnes was conceived in much the same way.

It may not be right to almost celebrate rape with the enjoyment of these characters but their origin does give you something to think about no matter how bad the rest of the movie is. Would they be different if their parentage was legitimate? What if they ended up being adopted and lovingly cared for? Are characters like this written as a subtle means of promoting a pro-choice message? Why did the creator imagine them with this particular origin?

I mean, I get it but of all of the different means of becoming a villain, why is rape kind of a go-to? Why does an innocent child have to be written with that stigma. Is the pathos worth it? If the writing is well-handled and the actor doesn’t go off the rails with it, sure. As long as it’s not a cheap shot to the nuts, go for it. If the rape itself is treated with the respect an actual crime is due then, by all means, give us the goods.

Just don’t sell us on a crappy character with this background being shitty based solely on the shittiness of their conception.

*If you are a victim of sexual assault and need someone to talk to, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or use their online chat at Hell, I can be reached on Facebook and Twitter if necessary.*