Friday, June 19, 2009


A recent viewing of 1995’s Rumplestilskin gave me 90 minutes of awful fairy tale jokes, muted kills, and a medieval troll with a Bronx accent battling out a future heroine on NBC’s Passions. How surprised would you be if I told you the filmmakers were also responsible for another early 90s little person horror, the one and only pogo stick stabbing Leprechaun?  And how disappointed am I that Warwick Davis’ feisty Irishman does not even stop by for a Hitchcockian cameo? 

I don’t doubt that the director of Rumpelestilskin had that sleeper of a Jennifer Anniston hit on his mind the entire filming process and banked on a multi-film franchise wherein the baby-eating Rumpy and the shoe cleaning redhead team up for a wacky road adventure where hijinks ensue and puns are abused. More likely, there’s a script somewhere buried in a studio basement chronicling a Freddy Vs. Jason-like battle set in the petite section of a department store. For good reason, this didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t inspire me to imagine a few more notable showdowns of horror I’d like to see. 

Place your bets and sound the bells:

1.Let the Right One In‘s Eli vs. Anne Rice’s Claudia
My team: Eli
Vegas favorite: Claudia

Kirsten Dunst’s curly haired bloodsucker may seem a little too prissy to best Sweden’s latest vampire queen, but the future Mary Jane Watson had plenty of bite when it came to attacks. The fascinating Eli, on the other hand, has a slightly larger conscience that could potentially lead to some weaknesses in hand-to-hand combat. Plus, she doesn’t seem to enjoy the kill, shifting the work to her handler whenever possible, whereas the eternally young and better-dressed Claudia hunts everyone from little boys to chubby samaritans with equal relish. Should the fight become a tag-team match, however, Eli may squeak by with the help of the devoted and slightly sociopathic Oskar. Claudia is saddled with two pretty boys who are far too easily distracted by a smoldering Antonio Banderas and/or ruffled sleeves. Know the setup before putting down your cash.

2. Norman Bates vs. Leatherface vs. Buffalo Bill
My team: Leatherface
Vegas favorite: Leatherface

Ed Gein did some truly terrible things in his life, including inspiring Hannibal, the Renee Zellwegger/Matthew McConaughey starring TCM installment, and Gus Van Sant’s Psycho . We’ll overlook a few reprehensible sequels and get to the meat of a few classic villains, then throw them all in a mud pit and aim a tranquilizer gun at the winner...who is undoubtedly from Texas. Buffalo Bill has the best style and Norman Bates gets the sentimental vote, but really, how can a poodle-petting tailor and a mild-mannered mama’s boy even come close to competing with the best (and best equipped) butcher in the south?

3.Leslie Vernon vs. Man Bites Dog’s Benoit
My team: Leslie Vernon
Vegas favorite: Leslie Vernon

When these two murdering media whores butt heads, the results could easily be the best reality show of all time. But unless we’re talking Survivor All Stars , there can only be one winner. Benoit is a bit more of a utility serial killer, with methods ranging from full body gutting to inspiring fatal heart attacks in the elderly. Vernon edges out the Belgian sociopath with overall endurance and athletic ability, plus years of intense training that should hold up in any fight with a cigarette smoking pianist. At the same time, Benoit does have one major advantage over the charismatic Vernon: a revolver and good aim. Then again, when was the last time a gunshot put (and kept) a good slasher down? 

4. Ragers of 28 Days Later vs. Romero’s Traditional Undead
My team: Shamblers
Vegas favorite: Shamblers

Sure, those steroid-high sprinters would take an early lead in establishing world domination, but like Leslie Vernon, Shamblers don’t die easily. As Danny Boyle taught us and countless horror nerds have preached, infected humans are ultimately mere mortals restricted to the same biological life limitations as you or me. Give them a few months and they will starve. True zombies, however, are the cockroaches of the apocalyptic future. I’m not going to get into the biology of what happens if a Rager spits blood in a Shambler’s eye or if a slow-moving ghoul takes a bite out of an angry plague victim because it doesn’t matter. Somewhere in the world I don’t ever want to live in (okay, not true at all), there is a locked car or jammed closet door housing a Savini made corpse with one thing on its mind. And when the last of those infected breath their last rabid breath, the dead will shamble on. To eat them.

5.The Firefly Clan vs. Spider Baby ’s Merrye Family
My team: Merryes
Vegas favorite: Fireflies

I'm actually not unsure that Jack Hill’s Merrye clan--which included a young, rabid, and and skinny Sid Haig without hair--aren’t ancestral relations to Rob Zombie’s psychotic Devil’s Rejects--which, whatdya know, includes an older, rabid-ish, and not skinny Sid Haig...still without hair. The Merryes are twisted and murderous, but also entertaining and a total blast to hang out with. The Fireflies are sadistic and annoying, although they do know how to party. Sadly I don’t see beloved little Virginia, Ralph, and Elizabeth successfully fighting off the knife-and-gun wielding Baby and Otis, although Lon Chaney’s adoptive patriarch could probably take a nice bite out of Haig’s fatherly clown. 

6. Death, Final Destination, vs. Death, The Seventh Seal
My team: FFD
Vegas favorite: SSD

Though we never actually meet him or her, Final Destination’s embodiment of Death (herein known as Fred) comes off an awful lot like a Bond villain. It has a very important job in disposing of a few attractive characters, but Fred seems to find the task impossible to do without pomp and circumstance (I’m expecting a shark tank to make an appearance in the upcoming installment). In contrast, Igmar Bergman’s personification of the big D (let’s call him Sal) set the standard for fifty plus years of pop culture references (the high point being William Sadler’s take in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) by making a tall goth dude with an uncanny skill at chess. I couldn’t really hazard a guess as to Fred’s ability with pawns, but I’m sure he could think up a neat and painful way to use that pointy little cross atop the bishop piece. Of course, by the time’s he’s done that, Sal has already taken the queen and cornered the king. Checkmate.

7. Inside‘sLa Femme vs. Pamela Voorhees
My team: La Femme
Vegas favorite: Mama V

I’m calling this fight on sheer numbers. Yes, Beatrice Dalle’s baby-craving home invader is hardcore and creative, but Mrs. Voorhees axed into an entire summer camp staff AND managed to inspire a 12 film and growing franchise that defined (for better and much much worse) the 1980s. With that kind of cred, I can’t imagine Betsy Palmer losing her head over a former model wielding home scissors.

8.High Tension’s Marie vs. Martyrs’s Lucie
My team: Lucie
Vegas favorite: Marie

I declare such a matchup immediately forfeit, as Marie’s very character defies any logic. Sure, I could say that the pixie-cut Frenchwoman has proven herself a worthy successor to a camp-hating hockey fan and a William Shatner faced Illinoisian, but that would mean accepting that everything that happens in High Tension makes any sense. Which it doesn’t. So. Call the fight before it starts and give poor Lucie something to smile about. After all, the poor dear’s been through quite a lot.

9. Damien vs. the entire underage population of Village of the Damned vs. Pet Semetary’s Gage vs. Rhoda Penmark vs. The Brood vs. the triple threat of Bloody Birthday , and any other juvenile horror villain:

Toss ‘em all in a deep deep ball pit and let them sort it out. The results may be too chaotic to call, but I imagine the last two standing to be Bloody Birthday’s villainess and the overachieving Bad Seed herself. And if that fight doesn’t scare you from ever having--or looking at--children, then you, my fierce friend, are the toughest competitor of all.

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