As John Carpenter ages into his RED LINE 7000 phase, a horror genius named Don Coscarelli has quietly stolen the title of the new Hawksian Drive-in fuzzy horror guru. What is fuzzy horror? I can only tell you it encompasses all of Coscarelli's films, the early Sam Raimi, Cronenberg, and John Carpenter til he started doing cable TV, Quentin Tarantino --if he ever made a horror movie. It's a loosey goosey termite art digging and goofing around - simultaneously mind-expanding and brain-addling. It never has to rely on vicious sexual violence, in fact when there's sex at all it tends to be fairly chaste. Who loves fuzzy horror? Any one who suddenly found themselves cheering watching BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA just because it happened to be the 80s and never looked back, and has seen both THINGs more than a dozen times each. Why is it Hawksian? Because it's still scary even though it tends towards humor; it transcends genre and is based on character interaction, a droll shared language, the gallow's wit of RIO BRAVO, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, THE THING, THE BIG SLEEP, and TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. And having interesting things to say and do because there's so much less pointless twisting and random acts of shock designed solely to get bad (better than no) publicity and it understands the two bros being cool language of deadpan calm and running jokes. Why fuzzy? Because it can get pretty sloppy, best to watch late at night, feeling good. Fuzzy horror rewards fuzzy viewing... and the films only get better with each new view, cuz the fuzzy has made you forget most of it anyway.
I won't go too much into JOHN DIES plot - you can just mosey over to Netflix streaming and watch it, and then come back to this scintillating post. But let's just say this - that dude up in that picture with the sunglasses and mysterious device? He played the infantry trainer ("Medic!") in STARSHIP TROOPERS, another fuzzy horror masterpiece.
I will say also that time looping is involved but I liked this film way way better than LOOPER. And I believe in time travel, if only via one's third eye. And when a movie makes the third eye hallucinations real it works, because it's a movie and so exists totally on the hallucinatory level. Unfuzzy directors feel compelled to separate the two - what is just a dream and what is real - like we'll upend the apple cart if not brought safely back to the grind. An example of this unfuzziness is AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, wherein the wolf must come out of David through grand physical agony or it won't be 'believable' --and if you want to have a pack of Nazi werewolves with machine guns, then you must make that part a dream. If John Landis made the dream the real and focused on those Nazi werewolves for the whole film, than hot damn, that would be hardcore fuzzy, and also a bit like the opening of THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME.
Because what mainstream science still can't quite admit, but which leading edge scientists are realizing to their amazement, is that the universe is subjective (see books like The Subjective Bioverse) and if we can move past notions of size, perspective, relation, and spatial relativity, then space/time travel is possible regardless of the distances between solar systems. As humans with limited to no ESP ability we can't imagine space travel any other way except by carting our bodies from point A to point B, in a vessel relative to own size. The closest we have to ESP now is the cell phone and wireless router, but while we take those things for granted - sound waves that beam all over the globe constantly, billions of voices soaring up and down like ping pong balls between humans across their orbiting satellite nets and we take it for granted while scoffing at alien abductions. Perhaps this is why what was absurd fiction a mere century ago is taken for granted today and yet no one dares broach the subject of dimensional travel's validity as a scientific fact based on the subjective experience of hardcore psychedelic drug trippers. In other words, if you can imagine it, it will be. It's on its way. At least in the movies. Even back in the day, Lovecraft was tapping into some really groovy shit, man. He knew the tentacles from the fifth dimensional rift were ever pulling that gate open. But the only way he could express it is through fiction.
All of which serves as a flawed introduction to my praise of Don Coscarelli, a man who I've written of in the past as being suspiciously like myself in extrasensory speculation, to the point that one of my pet intervention metaphors, self-performed eye surgery. Check out this exchange in the film after Dave calls a priest because John seems possessed.
Dave: What do you think it's like, Father?
Father Shellnut: What's what like?
Dave: Being crazy, mentally ill.
Father Shellnut: Well, they never know they're ill, do they? I mean, you can't diagnose yourself with the same organ that has the disease, just like you can't see your own eyeball. I suppose you just feel regular, and the rest of the world seems to go crazy around you.
Now check this from an old post of mine in the C-Influence:
Eyewitness testimony can be considered “fact” in a court of law but means nothing to science, which cripples itself through its dismissal of everything “subjective” as if there was something that wasn’t (...) Our collective disbelief about things beyond our comprehension is itself beyond comprehension, revealing the fundamental impossibility of trying to think about nature objectively from inside an organic brain (sort of like trying to perform eye surgery on yourself without a mirror) (5/27/11)I have no choice, therefore--considering the film's avalanche of uncanny coincidence-- to believe the film was written by me in the future.
I mean this as no disrespect to JOHN DIES' creators, Coscarelli and author James Wong (a pseudonym so they say). But I'd know my handiwork anywhere. Of course all three of us are clearly inspired by Lovecraft, William S. (and Edgar Rice) Burroughs, Alan Moore, and maybe even Hunter S. Thompson, so who knows who I really am? I always hoped Lovecraft might read my work one day in a time travel loop and be inspired to write the Chthulu mythos based on my own August Derleth-based fiction. That's probably not in our immediate 'future' but one thing I do know: if time is elastic and we are all one, then we are all one right now, connected through an elastic time tentacle, everyone of us, back and forth through time in order to play not just many parts ala Shakespeare but every part, right down to Vishnu's former Indra ants in the Brahmavaivarta Purana. In other words, if you weren't me before, you are now, just reading these words binds you to me. This is how we become our own great-grandmothers, and why karma never fails, nor Ramboona.
Such weird collapse-of-time distortions in JOHN DIES AT THE END are only one of the great side effects of a black ooze-style drug dubbed 'soy sauce,' a mix of the black ooze from the X-FILES and the black centipede meat of the NAKED LUNCH, and the Black Sheep Dip from my own unpublished novel... and of course, probably, some real naturally amazing drugs like psilocybe mushrooms and Salvia Divinorum. Aside from time dilation, this soy sauce allows one a Zen-like calm as well as the ability to read minds and to astral travel, which includes visiting an Interzone-style alternate reality that imagines if we had gone on to invest in biotech that was a literal fusion of biological material into technology, to have computers and Lovecraftian mutli-tentacled horrors fused into one entity that sucks and intellect and experience of the entire world through its crab-claw-tentacles, ala Corman's ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (or David Cross in FUTURAMA: BEAST WITH A MILLION BACKS - see my 08 post, and More Tentacles from the 5th dimensional Rift). Or if SKYNET was a giant octopus. That's not even forgetting the tiny nanobyte brainputating spores that take over bodies ala the manipulatin' monsters in THE THING (1982), GHOSTS OF MARS (2001), and the ones that just dissolve humans from the inside out, like those pinpricks in THE FLESH EATERS (1968), all super fuzzy.
And of course we can't not mention Don's own previous films, including the definitive fuzzy, the PHANTASM series, which depicts one of the more frightening post-death Archon soul harvesting procedures, and the zany melancholy of BUBBA HO TEP, wherein the real Elvis and the fake JFK battle a mummy from the old west.
More similarities with my own work to solidify my case that I am the future author of this work: Pay close attention to the banners hanging on either side of the church pulpit in the above still, as I get ready to lay down more of the massive flood of similarities to my own work that will bear out the theory I shall become John Wong. Note that the phone Dave uses in the scene depicted on the far left banner is a hot dog, similar to the banana and Marlboro phones in my QUEEN OF DISKS! (2007)
What's that you say? Everyone does the old banana phone gag? Well not when addressing psychedelic transdimensional time slippage! Another similarity is that the 'Mall of the Dead' where some the ghost door to another dimension dwells is most similar to my 'Mall of Time' from an old unpublished short story about a guy looking for a special cigarette that gives the user and out of body experience (based on a time when I briefly lived in the head of a Chinese baker) at a conceptual mall . Here's an excerpt:
The mall of time had been designed to appeal to the tactile senses to lure the net-dazed shopper back in. The theme was an evolution of history with spacey gadgets on one end and gradually decades receding as you walked down the aisles until you past the dawn of man and into some weird cannabalistic pagan wordlessness. Eighties clothes and jewelry down to seventies retro, flapper prom tuxedo shops, Cowboy Dan's, and then farther back still… through pre-Columbian dining room sets, a series of moving sidewalk exhibitions with tinsel rain and roaring plastic volcanoes and the voice of Christian Bale narrating your trip through time. The roar of a dinosaur as we reach the kid's robot dinosaur displays, and, if you are a tripper, looking for the special cigarettes, back farther still...
... and as we took the escalators down and down and ran giddy but full of dread along the black tiles, our shoes echoing amid the cacophony of music and the crowd thinning down to only us, and Bale’s voice on the loudspeaker as it discussed the mating habits of the terandadon, that flying dinosaur that was the missing link between birds and reptiles. Down where we were heading the music got quieter and the lights got lower, and the animatronic dinosaurs became lower to the ground, hiding in the shadows and in the coin fountain now bubbling with fake moss and plastic sludge. Blood and mud filled the air, like a slaughterhouse zoo.Right? Coscarelli's film is a little different, but the idea of a mall being associated with interdimensional time travel is the same, and and I dig the writing of James Wong, who also writes really bizarre, perceptive stuff for Cracked. Am I totally comfortable in saying that Wong is me in the distant future? Yes. Do I 100% believe it? Well, that can best be described in a line from the film, espoused by the Arkham University-style detective in the film:
Detective Lawrence 'Morgan Freeman' Appleton: I'm an old school Catholic. I believe in hell. I believe it's more than just murderers and rapists down there. I believe in demons and worms, and vile shit in the grease trap of the universe. And the more I think about it, the more I think that it's not just some place down there. Oh no, that it's right here with us. We just can't perceive it. It's kinda like the country music radio station. It's out there in the air, even if you don't tune into it.
So what does that tell you? That Don Coscarelli is amazingly prescient about the realities of post-death alternate dimensional enslavement, forging a direct link with theories espoused by everything from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the writings of Nigel Kerner, Nick Redfern, and David Icke. He understands the collapse of reality that comes from opening up past mainstream science and Christianity's tight-ass gates and out into the land where just entertaining crazy ideas becomes better than either fiction or reality, i.e. mythic.
So much written about something that most of us, in our limited ideas of heaven and hell can even admit has happening. That's the only way to describe it, in a mix of past, present, and future tenses. The heaven and hells of the bibles is all around us; the future, present, and past exists simultaneously. The heaven and hell we create for ourselves is created with each breath. Karma is so instant that the retribution may precede the crime, and this also explains the lucky in love unlucky at cards truth, which I have experienced firsthand. It's real, son! And if this time travel is possible than people from the future have already manipulated our past to suit their own ends. The Hassidic Jewish community has mastered this which is why they continue to dress the same as they did before the stock market crash, to as not draw attention to themselves. Do I believe that? Not really, yet it was revealed to me by the alien intelligence from whom I get all my secondhand news!
The psilocybe intelligence on the other hand feels a little younger, a less austere -- the cool hippie teacher instead of the stern egocidal gardener; not quite as carefree as the marijuana spirit, but like a space jockey from 1967 who moves into your body with you like a fun out of town visitor you loved from high school who sweeps into your life and encourages you to abandon responsibility and sneaks you into all the coolest wildest clubs and teaches you how to see the spirits between the cracks of reality, but after awhile he starts to get on your nerves, but it takes hours and hours for him pack up his duffel (stealing your watch as well) and you're like it was great having you around but now you're getting on my nerves, bro; and you're still seeing his shadow a week after he's allegedly gone home.
So as you can see, these 'poison path' pen pals do take a bite before they go. Your mileage and enlightenment may vary - as set and setting is all important. Only fools, madmen, and artists would ever go it alone. But how else will you get writing done?
If this rambling 'review' has been more about me than JOHN DIES AT THE END then I apologize. All you really need to know is its kinfolk, where it exists in the family tree of midnight cult goofball fuzzy, alongside THE EVIL DEAD, TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL and REPO MAN and right up the street from Don's PHANTASMs, and sitting at the same table as Cronenberg's NAKED LUNCH, BUCKAROO BANZAI, NIGHT OF THE COMET, and HAUSU. With even maybe a smattering of HELLBOY and CONSTANTINE waiting in the corner. It's ANTS IN YOUR PLANTS OF 1939 meets 80s John Carpenter. That should be enough for you, or indeed any man, woman, Indra, or ant. As long as you're fuzzy you're gonna be all right.