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Looking back on Horror (a year in Babylon)

BC Furtney visionWell, here we are. This is a milestone of sorts, as you’re reading the twelfth instalment of my column, Horror of Babylon. Which, of course, marks one year of bloodshed & mayhem featured exclusively here at This Is Horror. A more gracious web host, I can’t imagine. I remember discussing the idea of such a thing with editor Michael Wilson, roughly in the spring of ’11, before TIH became the monster it’s so quickly revealed itself to be. Soon, in fact, I fully expect it to break free from whatever office currently houses it and rampage across the countryside, wreaking havoc, kicking ass and taking names…or lives…

I can’t recall if Michael broached the column idea first or if I did, feels like that many moons ago. Honestly, as I worked on the first one last June, I figured it’d be a one-off project and I’d be politely shown the door after its debut, likely for saying one goddamn inflammatory thing or another. However, as I quickly found out, it’s practically impossible to do or say anything too harsh, controversial, or objectionable in This Is Horror’s sandbox. As it should be. Still, I test Wilson every now and then, by facetiously inquiring if I’ve been axed from the collaborators roster. The answer’s always the same. “No such luck, your column’s due, back to work.” Alrighty then. Typin’ it up here, boss! Truth be told, I enjoy wrangling HOB, this bastard sub-beast, and the creative freedom that goes along with it. The second Wednesday of each month, the only meddling I can expect is my rough Amerikan prose being King’s English-ized (Editor – I’ll leave the ‘z’ in given it’s your anniversary column ‘n’ all) for our more refined readers, then thrown to dogs all over the globe, maggots and all. Having worked with certain rags in the past who gleefully quote you out of context, if not change your comments entirely, I can’t express what a rarity it is. This Is Horror stays gold, Ponyboy. Gnaw on it all night, you’ll only break your fuckin’ teeth.

Searching for great content

Having never opted for too much commitment to anything, I often find myself assessing situations encountered or topics debated on whether or not they’d make good column fodder for the coming month. Adhering to that keeps the process lively for me, and hopefully unpredictable for you. As for an overriding theme or unifying factor, I say humbug. Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve no idea what’s going to splash across the computer screen from one month to the next. What’s this I’m on about then? Dunno, I’m attempting to write my way into some profundity. See how it goes? I’m freewheeling here, bear with me. Call it a year’s summary. Remember when sitcoms used to gather Texas Chainsaw Massacreup their wackiest clips as the networks approached sweep’s week, then shoot an episode where the cast sat around a campfire or some shit like that, light-heartedly and poignantly reminiscing? I don’t think they do that anymore, but then I stopped watching sitcoms long ago, so don’t take my word for it. Anyway, this is like that. I used to think Markie Post from Night Court was hot, so imagine she’s there beside you – probably headless, since This Is Horror, after all. Place her head in your lap, if it sounds good. Or hell, take John Larroquette if you like, whatever you’re into. He narrated the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and if you don’t know, now you know.

Without further ado, welcome to some of Horror of Babylon‘s greatest hits & misses, wherein we’ll chew off our own arm to begin the year anew. Start the clock, Wilson!

Social Networking

Ugh. In the span of a year, I hate to report that it’s only gotten worse. I personally know some people who don’t communicate with friends if not via Facebook. Have they read Orwell’s 1984? If so, can they make the correlation? We live one time people (well, I’m on #2, but that’s very rare. 20/7 is my other birthday, by the way, but you won’t find me on FB, so you’ll have to call), let’s live for real, not for virtual. Missing someone? Call ’em up and hear their voice. Or better yet, take a roadtrip and give ’em a hug. One of the last truly great horror films I’ve seen is The Strangers. One reason it’s great is due to its utter plausibility, but I’ll tell you this: it’s fast becoming a fantasy scenario, because if you really tried to ask Liv Tyler if Tamara’s home, she’d never answer the door because she’d be too preoccupied on fucking Facebook.

The Book of Revelation

Jesus H. Christ. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the massive groundswell of right wing religious fervour in the U.S. this year is odd to say the least, and no longer as chilling as it is laughable. Presidential candidates  addressing Satan in their speeches? C’mon. I’m on record as a non-believer. The bible – any bible – is great fiction, but sorry, that’s all it is. I’ll never convince them, they’ll never convince me, but we can have our opinions and that’s what makes a free society great. If you believe, that’s fine and good for you, but believe over there because I don’t want to hear it. Amen, or whatthefuckever.

Escape from New YorkThe State of Horror

Sad to say the bean counters haven’t been incinerated in the Rapture. No, they’re alive and well and currently remaking – or is it re-imagining – one of our favourite films because they lack the vision and the guts necessary to take any creative chances whatsoever. Glorified bankers tell audiences what they want, audiences listen and get used to being unmoved by disposable cinema, cue the new generation where it’s all the norm. Sounds shitty? It is. There are bright spots, though. I can count ’em on one hand, but they’re out there. My favourite recent news is the “cancellation” of the Escape From New York remake. Hallelujah, I almost found god…but he looks strangely like Snake Plissken. And of course, they snuck that stinkbomb Lockout into theatres, with a plot that seemed really fuckin’ familiar. Can’t quite place it. Hmm…

To Read or Not To Read

I’ve actually eased up on my view of this topic, since the original indictment last November. Sure, a twenty-something kid recently approached me in the bookshop I manage and asked if fiction was “real or not real” but hey, he was trying. I’ve also moved mega-truckloads of the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies to kids and adults of all stripes. Horror or not, people are still reading. For that alone, I thank the imaginary heavens. Besides, my own first novel is on the shelves and quite a few people have taken a blind chance on its rather uncompromising story, even without any prodding from the author. Seriously, I don’t want them to know I’m right there, making sure the staff clocks in and out. I’m about to retire to do this shit full-time anyway (hint-hint). Furtney’s supposed to be jailed or institutionalised somewhere…I really shouldn’t joke about that.

Real Life Horror

Seems there’s always too much to go around. HOB covered some unpleasant territory to start 2012 and sadly, there’s more. It always seems to hit too close to home in some fashion. Most recently, the mall that houses my current shop employed a security guard who jumped to a more lucrative armoured car gig. Let’s face it, the kid wasn’t the brightest bulb. In an ill-conceived February heist, 22-year-old Ken Konias shot his partner in the head and absconded with 2.5 million dollars, eluding the FBI for two months until his capture last month in a Florida crack-house. He’s now presumably awaiting his inescapable death sentence. Talk about pissing it all away.

Home Entertainment

DexterWhat can I say? We recently got cable On Demand, so I guess after avoiding TV for the better part of 20 years, I’ve been cornered. I’m currently finishing Season 6 of Dexter, which in my eyes is the show’s high water mark. An intricate, layered narrative with every character crucial and dialogue sharpened to a fine point, just amazing fun on every level. Dexter, you’ve outdone yourself. I still think Mad Men speaks to me more. And what about those late night Skinamax flicks? Boob tube, indeed.

That’s all for now, people. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in Horror of Babylon‘s upcoming lucky 13th month…I think. Thanks again to This Is Horror, for this platform from which to spew forth. I’ve been watching this hell-bound train gather momentum for a full calendar year and now it’s speeding too fast to jump clear. I could try a Cushing/Lee and pull the pin on this car before the whole train plunges off the cliff and lands in a fiery inferno at the bottom. Or we can all hang on and cackle with the wind in our hair – and beards – as the wheels leave the track and we take flight. Sounds good to me. All the fun’s down below anyway.

Wilson! Am I fucking fired?!


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