Today I’m thinking about those things that make you squirm with discomfort in yours eat. Every now and then you’ll come across a good scene that you can almost feel just from watching – empathetic and sadistic at once, your mind tells you not to look but you find yourself looking closer. We’re all desensitized from years of watching violence, but every now and then we’ll catch a gem that makes the most jaded of us think, “That’s fucked up”. Or maybe even, “That’s fucked up. That must really hurt. That must be so fucking agonizing…….”
So here are a few notable scenes of unbearable pain I’ve enjoyed watching over the years.
This is one of the better examples of Stephen King books that have been put to film. It’s about a guy whose kid gets run over by a transport truck, so he resurrects him by burying him in the local magic Indian burial ground (these are actually surprisingly commmon in New England but you need to know who to ask). Of course the ground is tainted, and what comes back to you isn’t what you knew before. The guy’s kid comes back as a little fucking menace, and that kid stirs up some shit to remind us all that bringing the dead back to life is hardly ever a good idea.
The best part is when he goes after the nice old man across the road. He lures the old guy (played by Fred Gwynne, that’s Herman Munster to you younguns) up to the bedroom and hides under the bed. Fred Munster gets on his hands and knees to look for the kid, and said kid comes up behind him and slices through the Achilles tendon on the old man’s leg. The Achilles tendon is the one at the back of your leg, right on top of the heel. That semi-soft, flexible ropey thing right on top of your heelbone. Reach down and feel for it. Got it? Keeping it attached to your heel is essential if you want to walk and/or avoid excruciating pain. Think about it for a second. Give that tendon a squeeze. If you squeeze it laterally, it doesn’t take much pressure before it feels pretty uncomfortable. It feels like it’s under a certain amount of tension too, doesn’t it? If you were to sever that thing, it seems that that tendon might just whip back into your calf and give the tissue on the inside of your leg a nice little towel snap. That wouldn’t be pleasant at all and you’re well advised to avoid such things.
Not in the cards for the old man though. Scalpel into the back of his foot. Nice and slow - although it’s all relative, I suppose. The little fucker didn’t slash right through it, but he took a second or two and did it right. The look on the old man’s face is just classic too. It’s one of those “oh shit” looks, but he was probably in too much pain to see, feel or think anything except for a blinding, overwhelming and hyper-real sense of pain that was overloading his brain. Good times.
My first exposure to the genius of Clive Barker was when I read one of his earliest books, The Damnation Game. One part of that book sticks with me today and it really belongs on film. A few dead guard dogs were Raised From The Dead to defend their owner. But they were halfway rotted, and being dogs, they smelled (their own rotting) meat wherever they went. They didn’t feel pain when they ate the rotten flesh hanging off their own bodies… corpses. One of the dogs had a large wound in his neck, so when he ate pieces of himself, the chewed up pieces fell out of the neckhole and onto the ground. So he picked them up and ate them again. Now that’s cool.
But what about Hellraiser?
“Take it, it’s yours…….. it always was.”
There are too many good parts in this movie so I’ll stick mostly with the beginning, when the box is first opened by Frank Cotton. See, Frank was a bit of a dirty boy and he wanted to experience every sensual pleasure that life had to offer. So he bought a magic box purported to show you exactly that. He opens the box, and a multitude of hooks start pulling him open. I’ve had regular old fishhooks stuck in me lots of times, more often in the back of the neck than anywhere else. It’s never that bad but it’s not comfortable. The thing about those hooks is that they’re just the beginning for anyone who feels them. They’re just a tiny indication of the approaching experience’s intensity. Besides, if you open that box on purpose then you asked for it, didn’t you? You wanted a sensual experience, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU??? Of course you did. Now your soul is going to get torn apart. You should have just stayed home and beat off.
What about the process where Frank has to rebuild his body from the corpses of others in order to escape the Cenobites and return to this dimension? That process took a while, and he spent a lot of time in various stages of, um, disrepair. Crawling around the attic with his organs dragging on the ground, probably picking up dust and dead spiders and shit. Eventually he has enough muscle tissue formed that he can stand up and walk around, but the he still has no skin. Nobody likes an open wound but this guy’s entire body was skinless. Think about how it would feel to be skinned alive, and then think of it in reverse. Think about how a scab itches, and then think about your whole body itching like that. Well at least it’s healing.
Mother’s Day is a Troma Video masterpiece and I’ll have to give it more space at another time. If you’re not familiar, Troma is an independent video company that mainly makes cheap horror movies. More than a few of them suck ass, but some of them are great and I’m glad Troma exists to make the good ones. Like this one!
Three girls go camping in the woods and are kidnapped by a couple of crazy backwoods dullards and their crazy Mom (not before they go skinny dipping though, don’t worry). There’s this escape scene where one of the girls is lowering her friend out of a second storey window in a sleeping bag attached to a rope. When one of the captors walks by, she has to keep her friend suspended in the bag for a minute or so. That rope’s been digging into her hand already, and the longer that fucking guy stands there, the more the rope is slowly spinning and digging its way into the flesh of her hand. But if she makes a sound their chances are shot, and by the time the guy finally moves away, there’s no flesh left for the rope to dig into. That minute takes an eternity. This movie is low budget but those guys knew what they were doing with their money. That rope scene looks fucking excruciating.
So come on, these aren’t all of my favorites and I know I missed a lot of yours. Those little bits and pieces that you love not being able to turn away from. What are they?
Ramones - Pet Sematary