Quiet Desperation

Show me the gore, I’ll show you the door

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 10/15/19

For unknown reasons, I have never wanted to enter the rhythm of a Black Sabbath concert, or walk down the mall with fake blood on my face, or a fake severed head under my arm. Maybe you can tell me …

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Quiet Desperation

Show me the gore, I’ll show you the door

Posted

For unknown reasons, I have never wanted to enter the rhythm of a Black Sabbath concert, or walk down the mall with fake blood on my face, or a fake severed head under my arm.

Maybe you can tell me where the entertainment is in pretend zombies and vampires, and in haunted houses dripping with viscera.

Fangs for the memories?

Death has fascinated the living: forever.

The Egyptians spent their lives preparing their royalty for death. More specifically, afterlife. And they have provided us with everlasting memorials, and archaeologists with everlasting employment.

Author (“Peter Pan”) J. M. Barrie said, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

That’s one way to look at it. However, I have no plans to precede death with faked death, via violent video games, or action films, or staggering through Douglas County looking like I survived a shooting.

I admit I was a fan of Universal’s 1930s horror films, especially “Frankenstein,” “The Wolfman,” and “The Mummy.”

Additionally, “The Invisible Man,” directed by James Whale (the subject of 1998’s “Gods and Monsters”), while not exactly a horror film, is close to one, and holds up to this day as an example of exceptional filmmaking.

For part of the film, actor Claude Rains resembles a mummy.

Those films, while depicting violence and death, were bloodless.

Along the way, films changed along with everything else.

Actual deaths have been shown on television, and are readily available online.

“Simulated Deaths” is director Quentin Tarantino’s middle name, but he wasn’t the first.

Director Sam Peckinpah, and others, choreographed death and made it look fashionable.

When I was in college, I heard about a band named Alice Cooper. A band comprised of young men named after a female would have been enough to counter the Beach Boys, for example, but when I heard their live act (as it were) glamorized death, I veered away from them.

It turned out “Alice” was a scrawny kid from a Phoenix suburb who became a pretty good golfer, and not much of a threat to the women and children of America.

Nevertheless, I don’t comprehend the attraction.

I am not a deep-dish philosopher, but if I were one, perhaps I would say that we sometimes offset the fear of death or the reality of death with things like “Day of the Dead” and zombie crawls.

Perhaps there is a factory-installed gene we share that makes us want to create and watch and play violent video games. I just wasn’t given one.

There have been discussions for years about the relationship, if any, between real-life horrors and shock films that feature exceptionally realistic decapitations, severed arms and legs, and buckets of blood.

The thought of being the director of what are called “splatter films” in the aftermath of something like the Las Vegas mass shooting would be untenable to me.

If there were no real-life instances of horror perhaps I would have a better understanding.

When I hear about two children being submerged in an oil tank by their father, I am not tempted by a matinee of anything similar.

Many others can find a significant difference between actual gore and staged gore. Not me.

Spoilsport? Absolutely.

My porch lights are off on Halloween.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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