Last night was Fright Night with a couple of friends and colleagues of mine, Felicia Luna Lemus, and T Cooper. I’m a fan of both their writing, which is compelling, edgy and completely charming—each in its own way. Well, last night I went over to their place for a late night Fright Night.
We watched Grudge 2. The writing, design, and directing pure noir manga, and not without its soft core pervy side—cute manga girls in school uniforms. With mini-skirts. Well, there are plenty of them in the movie. Be still, my heart. Along with The Grudge, it makes for a great double feature.
The title creature—be it grudge, curse, or ghost—is a new, scary archetype for Western audiences unschooled in Japanese horror imagery. He/she/it/they appear(s) as several ages, genders, generations, races, and species—shape-shifting into and out of any number of people’s bodies… their own, or the bodies of their victims. You never know if one of them is sitting right next to you, right now.
That’s what’s scary. And that’s what scares people about anyone who’s an outlaw that can pass for normal. People think we’re going to hurt them because, hey, that’s what ya see in the movies. So, even when our intentions are kind and honorable, the idea that outlaws can pass scares the poop outta people.
Shape-shifters have been archetypes of horror for a couple of decades—someone or something who looks harmless, but they will probably kill you. It’s clear that trans-people embody that archetypal horror. Oh, you’re not a real man! Ewwwwww! or I thought you were a woman, you freak! But that sort of culturally imbedded disgust isn’t limited to trannies. People who subscribe to the oppressive values of the dominant culture despise or ignore anyone who breaks a cultural binary—be it age, race, class, gender, sexuality, gender, citizenship, religion, looks, or ability. But we terrify a culture when we can look and act just like them. And that’s the horror and beauty of The Grudge.
The film’s namesake cannot pass in any culture on earth. The native avatar of the Grudge(s) inclues deathly white/grey skin, fingers that clutch at you from anywhere, dark sunken eyes, and long, fine, black, hair. It’s not hair so much as it is liquid prehensile pain, reaching out in long strings of black blood. Sometimes, their hair can pour out of your head. The Grudge shifts, appears, disappears—wherever and whenever it wants to.
Felicia and I screamed throughout the movie. T hollered. By the end of the evening, we were all out of breath and laughing—it had the energy of group sex with yum orgasms for all. Good art can feel like good sex, and it can lift me out of some deep blues. Getting home last night, I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t scared. I was invigorated. So, I made this 3 second video. Enjoy, and don’t get too scared!