Richard Laymon has always been hard for me to pin down.
I tend to pay a lot of attention to the subtext underneath fiction. It's very difficult for me to accept a story at face value. I always try to derive deeper meaning to the work, often when it isn't there, or I try to tease out the creator's motivations. Horror is particularly fertile ground because so much of the genre is symbolic. It's also often troublingly regressive. Horror is the genre of Don't: don't go into the woods, don't disturb the home, don't have sex, don't transgress, don't stray from the straight and narrow.
So I've always had a hard time wrapping my mind around Laymon. In short, he is either the biggest misogynist or the most subversive commenter on male entitlement in horror fiction.
Reading Laymon is a squicky affair. He writes a lot about sex, but it's the kind of hyper-described soulless mashing of anatomy that turns off anyone short of a Penthouse forum reader. It's always aggro, vaguely abusive, and unerringly predatory. Which isn't to say those things can't be fun, but there's something distancing and uncomfortable about the way he writes sex scenes that makes me feel like I'm watching particularly vicious porn in a room full of leering, past-their-prime frat dudes.
On the other hand, he never portrays predatory sexuality in a positive light. His leering men are usually brutal caricatures of unrestrained male sexual aggression. I've written a little about him in the past and it seemed that the point of his stories was that there's a slippery slope between entitled creep and misogynistic psychopath.
Laymon has sadly passed away. I've only been able to dig up a handful of interviews with him and they rarely address the subtext of his work. I do find it fascinating and ultimately rewarding. Either he was a complete creep or he was a master at getting into the mind of creeps and forcing us to see life from their perspective.
Night Show is the story of Tony, AKA The Chill Master. Tony is an 18 year old kid with severe psychological issues. He gets off on scaring people, he has no understanding of boundaries, and he becomes fixated on people he's attracted to. We first meet him as he kidnaps a girl who had previously rejected him, then tying her to a bannister in a supposedly haunted house. Following that misadventure, he leaves his home in upstate New York for Hollywood, intent on apprenticing with gore effect maestro Dani Larson. Dani is at first unsettled by Tony's outlandish behavior, but reluctantly takes the young man under her wing. He becomes fixated with her and works to sabotage her new relationship and take his place as her new lover.
I really enjoyed this book. Aside from the fact that it hit all my Fangoria Magazine/Tom Savini buttons, the way that Laymon portrayed Tony's mental instability felt spot-on. He felt like a more accurate depiction of a psychopath, at once charming and manipulative but fixated on his own needs and unable to understand how his actions affected other people. What made Tony so dangerous was that he just didn't get it. He didn't understand how his behavior affected other people. His social abilities extended only as far as his own needs.
Most psychopaths in genre fiction aren't truly insane. They're evil and sexy. They sit in their little see-through cages and glower at the haggard detective with a knowing smile on their lips. That's not a person with a serious mental illness; that's just Dracula with no superpowers. Tony is sick and needs help. The potential damage a sick person can do is much scarier to me than just another bad-for-bad's-sake dude.
My favorite aspect of Tony's insanity as that he doesn't physically hurt people. Sure, there is violence in the book, but Tony's Chill Master schtick never actually causes permanent physical damage. I've seen dozens of stories where a person's fixation on violent media turns them into killers (looking at you, Scream) but Tony asserts his power by terrifying people, not hurting them. We're never quite sure how far he's willing to go as he becomes more fixated on Dani and the tension of escalation is more rewarding than simply dropping bodies like a slasher movie.
I suppose I'm always going to wrestle with my reactions to Laymon's work. He's a good enough writer to keep reading, but his subject matter and presentation make me want to take a shower. The ambiguity of his intentions will always get to me and I'm sure I'll hate the next book I come across. But I've enjoyed my experiences with his work, so long as I take long breaks between reading his novels.
isn't a question of physical proximity to other people. Ask anyone who
has ever lived in a big city or grew up significantly different in a
small-minded little town. You can be surrounded by people, even people
who know your name, and wind up feeling like the last person left on
kind of isolation can twist a person. I have a hard time believing that
there is a lot of pure sociopathic evil in the world. Instead, I
believe that the worst people in the world are the product of curdled
bitterness. People get despondent or mean, start seeing life in a
twisted way, and look for structures that support their newly-warped
perspective. It seems like living damnation to me.
Pretend you're a sixteen year old kid. You're terrified of your violent
father, whom all the adults in your town seem love and admire. Nobody
in school likes you, you're too timid to stand up for yourself, and you
have no chance of ever getting laid.
Worse, you're psychic. Most people with no self-esteem simply imagine the terrible things people think about them. You get to actually hear it. You know that everyone around you can't stand being near you. Something about who you repulses them.
Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it?
imagine that a magical woman visits you in your dreams. She's alabaster
white, she says that she loves you, and that she can make you the most
important person in the world. She will give you the sex that you've
always dreamed about and she will give you the power to return to the
world all the pain it has ever given you. And, once it's all done, you
will be king of everything. You aren't the
worthless weakling everyone said you were. You were different. You were
Evil Ernie is the patron saint of violent revenge fantasies.
fantasies are nice. They're about the powerless regaining power, the
underdog working toward the kind of fairness real life seldom offers. We
tend to romanticize vengeance stories and ignore the innocent people
hook behind Evil Ernie is that he has to kill everyone in the world in
order for his lover to be reborn. In the meantime, everyone he kills
becomes one of his army. The newly-dead members of his revolting crusade
revere Ernie as something
between a rock star and a god. It's a zombie apocalypse where the
zombies are as intelligent as they are malicious.
universe of Evil Ernie is somewhere between superhero comic,
pro-wrestling jamboree, and slasher film. Ernie wages an endless war
against humanity and everything he takes over turns into a twisted
parody of itself. The baseball teams still play games, albeit with
severed heads as balls, young lovers go on romantic massacres, and
sitcom families argue about how best to carve
the thanksgiving victim.
so much ripe material to cultivate in the Evil Ernie mythology. His
origin story is steeped in very human themes of isolation and madness,
his armies create a morbid carnival in its wake, and his world is full
of muscle-bound psychopaths and deranged soldiers and slinky vampire
angels. It never quite came together as a story under original creator
Brian Pulido's reign, as his reach often exceeded his abilities, but the
potential is there to refresh the zombie apocalypse subgenre. Or, at
turn it into a delightful Looney Tunes cartoon.
all that good stuff has been jettisoned in the recent remake. Most of
the story seems to center around "Evil" Ernie (who's actually a fairly
nice emo boy) fighting his way though the prison his white trash father
is incarcerated in. Lots of family drama and emotional vacillating, not a
lot of gleeful over-the-top chaos. Original Halloween vs.
Rob Zombie's Halloween.
I were writing Evil Ernie, I'd stick close to the original ideas that
shaped the character. I like the idea that he's a weak, bullied kid
tormented by his peers and elevated by a twisted version of love.
There's always been a sense of ambivalence as to whether or not Lady
Death actually cares about him or if she's just using him to escape her
hellish prison. I would like to see that built on and expanded
further. Their relationship is operatic and high drama but they're both
insane supernatural psychopaths. People fall in love for all sorts of
reasons and some of them are very bad indeed.
also keep the trappings of the heavy metal universe Evil Ernie operates
in. Monster movie iconography, grinning skeletons, comically gory
abattoirs, blood, chrome, and viking bullshit. Brian Pulido definitely
drew on 80s metal icons. Evil Ernie looks like a cross between Pulido
himself and Iron Maiden's Eddie the Head icon. It's cool, but I like the
way the remake made him younger and smoothed out his hair. The
curly-haired metal guy look might be a little too 80s and making him
younger makes him more vulnerable and more likely to be suckered by Lady
big mistake the remake made is trying to make Ernie too conventionally
sympathetic. He's a character of the id. We want to see him rampage and
cause destruction so long as it's safely confined to the page. It's fun
watching apocalyptic carnage from the monster's perspective. We
sympathize with him because we can understand the feelings that lead him
to become a monster. He's an outlet for us and he looks like he's
having a good time doing it.
always felt that horror audiences secretly cheer the monster. They get
to cut loose in a way that we aren't allowed to. But the bizarre paradox
is that we demand the monster's destruction. We cannot allow evil to
remain free for long and we celebrate its demise. Ernie lives in a world
where the monsters win. Every evil thing that he does reshapes the
world in his own image. He creates a place where people love him, where
he doesn't have to be tormented or alone anymore.
A lot of
horror stories answer the nature vs. nurture question of evil squarely
on nature. Monsters do monstrous things because they are monsters. End
of story. Evil Ernie is an example of Nurture evil. He is the product of
cruelty. Obviously there's a limit to how much you can sympathize with a
mass murderer, but Evil Ernie is fascinating examination of the dark
side of giving power to the powerless.
(Note to all y'all: This is part of a series I write on my tumblr where I discuss how I'd write major comic book characters. If you'd like to read more, check out Cable, Dr. Strange, and Green Arrow.)
I learned how to tell stories by running role-playing games.
I've run Call of Cthulhu for fifteen years. A friend of mine bought me the book at some point in high school (thanks, Jeremy) and I fell completely under it's spell. I played with a group all through college, I've done six years of convention horror events and I got really, really good at this stuff. I've never met anyone who runs horror games better than I do.
This is how you do it.
1: Most of the ideas a lot of GMs have for increasing player tension (taking their gear, taking their character) aren't so much scary as GM Fiat. Yes, most role-players, especially people who favor combat games like Dungeons and Dragons, rely too much on weaponry. This shouldn't be a huge issue for games like Call of Cthulhu as most of the monsters are barely effected by human weaponry, but plenty of groups run under the philosophy that anything dies if given enough rounds.
This is a problem for most horror fiction in general. When you look at stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's really an action show with people beating up monsters instead of criminals or soldiers or whatever. Most RPG characters are at least competent in combat.
The shortcut to good character conflict is to put your PCs in situations that your characters AREN'T already equipped to deal with. There's a reason so many great stories involve meek characters who rise to challenges or strong characters learning compassion from being forced to interact with softer counterparts. Figure out who your characters are and then create situations that take them out of their comfort zones.
2: A lot of GMs believe that horror role-playing is primarily about off a bunch of player characters. Horror role-playing isn't about amassing a body count but it's about creeping out the people at your table. A dead character is at best a distraction. It's not that hard for a GM to get a body count. It's a lot harder to get people emotionally invested enough to scare them.
In that vein, don't get too in love with descriptions of gore. Good gore can be evocative, but too much gets fappy.
3: (the big one): You HAVE to control the environment you play in. You cannot scare people in a brightly lit room with music playing and cell phones going off. You can maybe evoke the trappings of the horror genre in your game but without the proper physical environment you're just playing an action game dressed in fangs and a taffeta cape.
You have to play in the darkness. Because I favor the simplicity of Call of Cthulhu's rule system, I play in a small circle, either by candle light or by a single very dim light. My character's most important scores are written very large on index cards so they can be seen in dim light.Have your players use their cell phones so they have just enough illumination to read the cards for their skills. Have dice corrals so they don't hop all over the place in the dark. Distractions are kept to a minimum and I take a ten minute break every hour so people can pee and fiddle with their phone. If you're doing your job right, people will need breaks in tension.
4: You have to cultivate a ghost story voice. I tend to view horror role-playing as an interactive campfire ghost story, which is why I take such effort to control the environment. Keep descriptions very short, but with strong central imagery for the players to work off of. For scenes of high tension, where I have my characters creeping through an old house, I drop my voice low and make it soft and feminine. When my players encounter a scene of awful violence, I break up my descriptions and raise my voice in hysterics. When I come to a point of obvious danger, I stop speaking abruptly and force the characters to make their choices from a point of imbalance.
And, yes, I occasionally slam my hand on the table. I used to scream, but that shit was corny. A heavy book slammed down gives you the jump scare you occasionally need without being comical.
5: As much as you need to cultivate the right physical environment, you also have to cultivate the right group.
There are a bunch of people I play with in other genres who I'd NEVER put in a horror game. They like goofing around, they undermine mood, and they don't engage with the in-game world in a serious way. They're basically playing Grand Theft Auto in any game they're put in. That's totally fine and they're a lot of fun when I run superhero games, but I need someone who's willing to buy in to the mood. A lot of people simply can't.
6: Combat is the hardest thing to pull off in horror gaming. Most RPG combats are either tactical by nature, where you have to problem-solve as much as fight, or they're like a football game where two groups of bruisers whale on each other. Combat takes the GM's role from active to reactive, where the players and their decisions are in charge and you are bouncing off what they do. It turns atmosphere and storytelling into a series of numbers.
Horror is about powerlessness. Most gamers don't like that feeling. If you want to get that feeling across, have your player's goal be less about killing or subduing the monster and more about escape.
Example. Most character-to-character fights are like Jason Bourne vs. some other Treadstone assassin. They're both highly competent and evenly matched and it's a skill-vs-skill thing until the hero triumphs. A horror fight should be like Leatherface trying to capture a frightened teenager. She crawls into someplace small to hide, he's reaching for her, she's kicking his hand away and hitting his arm with a wrench she grabs off the ground. He's stronger than she is, she can't do much damage to her, but she might be able to fend him off.
7: As an example, I ran a CoC event every year at a gaming convention. I requested a private room so I could control mood and set the scene for the players before starting. You have to create fairly conservative scenarios when you're running convention games and I ran a nice simple story involving Cthulhu.
The hook of the story involves the ghost of a little girl. The girl's father was a well-known and successful artist who started having dreams about R'lyeh. As his visions became more apocalyptic, he drowned his daughter in his bathtub to spare her from the second coming of Cthulhu before hanging himself. The players all knew these facts before entering the family's abandoned house in search of some Evidence.
When they got to the house I turned ALL the lights in the room off except for my tiny central one. I described the house in very simple terms, basically that it looked like a normal for-sale property but knowing the sad history of the place gave it an ominous feel.
When they said they approached, I paused. Without saying anything like "are you sure", I made it clear by slowing down the way I spoke and pausing at points that they were entering hostile territory.
After screwing around and searching a couple of rooms, I had them make listen checks. One made it and I whispered in their ear that they heard splashing and the sounds of struggle from the rear of the home. The player passed the information onto the others (it works better than a general address to the group, which prevents the game players feeling like a hive mind and casting doubt on the bearer of the information)
They find the bathroom that the artist drowned his daughter in. I make it a point to describe it as antiseptically white and clean but that the tub is full and there are lots of strands of jet black hair (my ghost child had long black hair.) As they're standing in the doorway, I dropped a heavy book on the table to symbolize the bathroom door slamming shut. As the players freak out I describe, in fast breathless panic tones, the sound of the father drowning the daughter from behind the door.
At this point I ask the person who has the lowest current sanity score to make a POW x3 check. He/She does and I make a note of that. I tell that player that their character has wandered off. The other players have been distracted by the sounds and they believe that it's possible one of their number could have slipped off.
At this point, I have the others making a listen check. While they're doing so, I tell the POW x3 player that he/she is in the master bedroom and he's looking at the ghost of the artist who hung himself. The hanging didn't go well. I have him/her make a sanity check and, whatever the results, I ask him/her to freak out when the other players find them.
The players return with their listen results. They hear the sound of a rope creaking and realize their friend is missing. The sound leads them to the master bedroom, they see the ligature mark on the beam, and the other player is freaking out. In the bedroom is the clue they needed.
That's it. No guns fired, no players wound up dead, but that scene works EVERY DAMN TIME.
Running horror games has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It taught me a lot about creating and sustaining atmosphere, helped me perfect my public speaking skills, and given me the tools to tell a story. Over the last few years I've shifted to writing both prose and scriptwriting, but I've also come to miss the immediate thrill of running scary games. You have to think on your feet, your audience constantly challenges you, and you learn how to read your players and develop new ideas on the fly. All of these skills are essential for all types of storytelling and I am deeply grateful to the games that help me develop as a writer.
"Oh my god, it's official, zombies are over, there's now officially a necromantic love story made by a major studio!"
It's the way it goes, isn't it? Something new horrifies people, then people become familiar with and codify it, then they humanize it and make it either funny or cuddly and lovable. Sure, he's a dead thing and he's part of a faceless mass of ruined humanity devouring everything in his path but he's also lonely and conflicted and, gosh darn it, he just wants to connect.
Not to say it was a bad movie. I watched it for a couple hours in a typical Monday night movie crowd of teenage girls and creepy single men (ummmm....) and I never once looked at my watch. It's a nice little story: boy meets girl, boy doesn't eat girl, boy's fragile reconnection to his lost humanity inspires other zombies, girl convinces skeptical dad that zombies can change, human and zombie fight against worse zombies, stuff happens, the end. The hooks are all there, it hits the beats correctly, and there's some nice moments in it.
Having said that, it's probably more of a rental than a see-in-theaters.
The kid playing the zombie is very good. He's expressive and does a lot with struggled dialogue and creaky body movement. Watching him struggling to communicate and feeling his frustration with his limitations reminded me a lot of Bubs, the zombie with a soul from Day of the Dead. The problem is, the object of his affections doesn't have much spark to her. She also winds up doing a lot of unforgivably stupid shit for someone who grew up in a post apocalyptic hellscape. Still, she gets home and everything seems to work out.
In the end, the movie is....a'ight. Nothing particularly grand, but an enjoyable viewing. The AV Club's infinitely better review pretty much nailed it: "For a movie about a love so powerful that it brings people back from the dead, it’s curiously tepid."
I guess that's pretty much all can be said about it. It's right at the cusp of good and meh, but at least I don't have to pull out my old worn drum and start beating on about how this is the death/resurrection of the zombie genre.
I grew up fairly well off and I became one of those kids who wistfully follows my interests through life because I never learned a sense of practicality. After all, nice homes and long resort vacations to Honolulu were just part of life, right? If things just work out that way, why don't I try my hand at whimsical tales of horror fiction? It just seems soooooo fulfilling. I mean, who'd ever toil in drudgery when they can simply follow their muses through the fields of wonder.
Things changed once my childhood started to end. My parents separated, my family lost our childhood home, my dad lost his business, my mom lost her job in the recession, we lost our home in California, and things just got really sucky for a bunch of years. I'm sure people who had it worse than I did feel a certain sense of schadenfreude from our problems and I will always acknowledge how fortunate we were when I was very young, but it sucked. It really really sucked.
It was tough for me to adapt once things started to change. Suddenly there were elements in my life I couldn't take for granted anymore and I had to figure out a way to make good things happen. It's been tough, though. I have lived in a procession of tiny, communal spaces. Some were good, some weren't, but I'd still love to have a place to call my own.
I probably wouldn't murder people to get it, though.
Dream Home starts with one of the most graphic and horrifying murders I've ever seen committed to film. The killer is a meek bank employee, the victim is a security guard in a posh high rise. After killing the guard, she kills the security camera feed and massacres her way through the office complex. Her motive? Lower the property values enough that she can afford to buy a home there.
The film switches back and forth between the killer's day-to-day life and the night of her big murder spree. As a killer she's a a brutal pitiless monster, but I was never completely off her side. Part of it is due to actor Josie Ho's portrayal of the character's vulnerability. Cheng Lai-sheung is smart and ambitious but she simply doesn't have the means to get what she wants. Her coworkers fritter away money on hedonistic trips to Kabukichō but she saves every penny, works two jobs, and takes care of her ailing father. She's doing exactly what you're supposed to do to succeed but she never gets anywhere.
We get the sense that Cheng has been run over her entire life. Her family was evicted from her childhood home by Triad thugs so developers could build high priced condos, her mother died too young, her father stubbornly refuses to take care of himself, and her coworkers are pushy and unambitious. Even her love life is a hot mess. The most heartbreaking scene in the movie is her liaison with her married boyfriend. She rents a hotel room on an hourly rate and picks up dessert for the two of them. They sleep together, he sneaks away in the morning, and she finds out that he stuck her with the other half of the hotel bill. The final image of the scene is her on the ferry ride home, eating both desserts.
Cities can be very lonely places and Dream Home portrays Hong Kong as cramped, unaffordable, and ugly. In those circumstances, who wouldn't dream of something better?
As sympathetic as I was to Cheng's plight, I have never rooted for slasher victims harder.
The violence in Dream Home is somewhere between parodied and sickening. It's not a typical slasher movie where people shut down immediately after being attacked. They crawl and beg for mercy but she dispatches them with merciless efficiency. I did like the blue-collar implications of her using tools from her construction worker father's tool belt, but it means that people need a few whacks from a sledgehammer before they expire. It's ugly work.
I'm told that there were some behind-the-camera arguments between actress/producer Josie Ho and director Pang Ho-cheung about how farcical they wanted the violence to be and the end result falls somewhere in the middle. It's graphic and most of the people don't really have it coming. Asian horror tends to do squicky violence really well and I liked the counterbalance between Cheng's quiet life and the crimes she committed.
Dream Home is very much an economic horror film. The recent financial crisis plays a big part of the backdrop of the movie and it's a tale of haves and have-nots. In that way, it's more relatable than a lot of horror films with more esoteric subject matter. I'm not afraid of vampires or being possessed by the devil. I am afraid of being broke as fuck forever. I'm afraid of my student loans, I'm afraid of my career path leading me to destitution, I'm afraid of struggling to live in places that I love and never getting anywhere.
I want a place to call my own. I want something comfortable, with a beautiful view and an interesting neighborhood, where people I love are near me and I can feel safe.
I'm not saying I agree with what Cheng Lai-sheung did. But I understand.
I've seen The Crow so many times that I never need to watch it again. I've internalized it. It's a part of me.
It is a beautiful film. There isn't anything like it, beyond Alex Proyas' follow up Dark City.
It also carries an extra edge because the film's star, Brandon Lee,
died making it in a horrific shooting accident. Fourteen-year-old me was
a martial arts movie nut. I'd been studying shotokan karate for a year
or two and I became one of those white kids who wore Bruce Lee
tee-shirts. I'd seen Brandon Lee's big premiere Rapid Fire and I
was excited to see what else he could do. I was devastated when I heard
what happened. I bought every magazine covering the story, from People
Magazine to Black Belt, and I devoured every scrap of information on
what happened, as if information could provide control over grief. By
the end, I came to the conclusion that it was a dislodged shell casing
propelled by the gunpowder from a blank, plus it was the dark juju from a
film featuring such dark subject matter, plus it was the secret masters
of the martial arts world getting revenge on the Lee family for Bruce
introducing martial arts secrets to the world.
came along during the right time of my life. I was really into horror
and the occult. I was creeping into my goth phase. I had a headful of
fairy tales, an angsty heart, no sense of scale or irony, and a mean
streak fused with an adolescent's desperate desire to be loved.
movie is a fairy tale. After a couple are murdered for nebulous reasons
involving fighting tenant evictions and slum lords, the boyfriend comes
back as a half-insane revenant. Guided by his spirit-crow, he butchers
his assailants more-or-less effortlessly before returning to the grave
with his angelic girlfriend. It's a story of True Love. Eric and Shelly
are Meant To Be Together and they can't rest until he Puts The Wrong
I'm not entirely sure when the film is supposed to
take place but I assume it's one of those five minutes in the future
kind of things. The Detroit in the film can't exist in real life. It's
always night and the city is almost pure obsidian. Everything is wet and
dirty and broken. The people are either junkies or sociopathic thrill
killers or Ernie Hudson. The crime lord behind it all reminds me less of
Scarface and more of the myth-speaking douchey yoga teachers in my
neighborhood. In other words, it's stylized beyond reality. It creates a
world of its own and works brilliantly within its own context. In a
weird way, The Crow is an inversion of the Warren Beatty film Dick Tracy, which is another neo-noir set in its own unique world.
It's impossible not to be on Eric Draven's side. He's a walking raw
nerve. He can brutalize a corrupt pawn broker and heal a junkie's
poisoned body. He's pain and rage and empathy incarnate. At his most
insane, he reminds me of Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker.
There's a scene where Draven interrupts a gang meeting looking for his
last victim. When the Amazing Interracial Gang cut him in two, he
recovers and massacres the room to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult's
song "After The Flesh." Midway through the massacre he stops, picks up a
sword, and says "you're all going to die" in a dead man's ice-cold
voice. It thrilled me in a way I can only describe as visceral.
Yet, as influential as the movie was to my younger self, I I think I outgrew it.
big issue I have with the movie is the whole idea of True Love. Eric
and Shelly were perfect in every way. We see less than five minutes of
their entire relationship and it consists of them being adorable, her
smiling down on him like an angel, and the pair of them goofing around
with masks and burned food. We never see them disagree or doubt or
fight. In other words, we never see them act like two human beings in a
real relationship. These days, I think it's interesting how we never
really learn anything about Shelly. She's a cypher. She exists to be
perfect, to be raped and murdered, and to be the ideal that inspires an
ultimately horrible massacre. She isn't a person, she's a statue on a
I don't have a lot of patience for avengers these days.
There's always something patriarchal about them. You sullied my
woman/family and took them away from me, so I have a man's right to do
whatever horrible thing I want to in order to avenge it. I'm also too
old for fairy tales. I'm too old for simplicity. "True love" doesn't
exist. Real love is lumpy and complicated and painful because people are
lumpy and complicated and painful, but there's an authentic beauty in
that fragility. It has more weight because it has more humanity.
If I were rewriting the screenplay of The Crow,
I'd make it abundantly clear that it wasn't Eric Draven running around
in the tragedy mask. Eric Draven remains moldering in the ground. The
thing moving through the city butchering people is an idea, a figment,
and it commits atrocity because it's a broken thing created by pain. In
other words, it's a slightly more noble version of the girl from The Ring.
am looking forward to the remake, if it ever actually comes into being.
There's a lot of meat on these bones. Grief and anger are central human
emotions and, in many ways, The Crow is one of the purer
revenge stories. Because Eric Draven is unliving and insane, he is
Vengeance Incarnate. There's a line in the comic that always stuck with
me (yeah, I know the comic is significantly different) where he asks a
person if he sees Eric's smile. It's sad and evil. Sad because he's
utterly alone. Evil because he's dead and he still moves. You see? A
dead man visits you.