Sunday, September 14, 2014


Genre: Horror

Note to readers: This is a sequel of sorts to an older story of mine titled Exploitation. Read Exploitation at this link:

By Daniel Skye 

            Halloween. Poltergeist. The Exorcist. Rosemary’s Baby. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Prom Night. Terror Train. Phantasm. Hellraiser. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Evil Dead. My Bloody Valentine.
            Jeffrey Miner was convinced he’d seen every horror film the world had to offer. That was until his friend, Dan Coscarelli, introduced him to a flick called Bonesaw.
            Made in the early 70’s, the film was brutal even for its time. It was way more savage and aggressive than Texas Chainsaw or Halloween. The blood and gore was ample and so very realistic. The actors were virtual nobodies.
            Jeff had never seen them before in any other films, and he assumed like many horror movie stars of the 70’s and 80’s, that they probably faded off into obscurity. The guy who played the villain was a real gem. Jeff couldn’t determine if this unknown star was simply a very convincing actor, or if he was some nutcase the director picked up at the local psych ward.
            Squirming on his couch, Jeff forced himself to watch Bonesaw alone all the way through to the end credits, where he spotted the name Jack Hopper. He took to the internet and typed the director’s name into a popular search engine.
            Jack Hopper’s IMDb page listed two movie credits. The first was Bonesaw. The second was a film called Ravage.
            Ravage, also filmed in the 70’s, was pulled from theaters a week after its release. It was never released on VHS or DVD.
How could one film be so violent, so offensive that no studio would dare let it see the light of day? Jeff scoured the internet for information about Ravage, but his searches turned up nil. He couldn’t find any information about the cast or crew. All he confirmed was that the film was written, directed, and produced solely by Jack Hopper, and the villain was played by Lucas Hopper, most likely the director’s son or relative.
He hit up every horror website and forum he could think of in search of a bootleg copy, but none seemed to exist. He tried finding it on YouTube, Netflix, and other video streaming sites. No luck.
Jeff was starting to wonder if this film was merely a myth, an urban legend meant to drive devoted horror fans mad.
Day and night, he thought about that film. The title and the mystery surrounding the film couldn’t escape his mind. To Jeff, this film was a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. One way or another, he had to see it.
Weeks passed as Jeff continued to scour the web. He checked his email one day and found a message waiting for him from Dan Coscarelli.
“Check this out,” the email said. The accompanying link led Jeff to a website that promoted a special, one-night only screening of Ravage in Jack Hopper’s hometown.
“We have to go see this,” Jeff wrote back.
“Duh,” was Dan Coscarelli’s reply.
The screening was to take place at a VFW hall in Eden Harbor on Saturday, June 22, 2013, and the event was to be hosted by Jack Hopper himself. On Friday, they had their bags packed into the trunk of Jeff’s Oldsmobile Cutlass and we’re ready to go.
Dan Coscarelli had invited along another horror aficionado, Nick Foley. Jeff wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of spending an entire weekend with Nick Foley, but he figured enough booze would get him through it. And they had four cases of beer packed away in the trunk.
Since Dan offered to drive the whole way there, Jeff raided one of the cases early and grabbed six beers for the road.
They weren’t even clear of Greenville before Nick started his incessant babbling.
“Have you ever seen Oldboy?” Nick asked. “I’m not talking about the remake; I’m talking about the original.”
“Yeah,” Jeff said. “I saw it.”
“It’s one of the best revenge films I’ve ever seen. I could go on about it for hours and hours.”
“Well, please don’t,” Jeff said, cracking into the first bottle of beer.
“What about Audition? That film made my skin crawl.”
“Saw it,” Jeff muttered, guzzling his beer.
“How about Sinister? Now that movie scared the crap out of me.”
“Seen it,” Jeff said, finishing the first beer.
“Wow, you’ve seen a lot of movies. I’m surprised we don’t hang out more.”
Jeff didn’t respond. He just popped open another beer and wondered if this kid would ever shut up.
“Ever been to a convention?” Nick asked. “I went to a horror convention in New Jersey a few months ago. I got to meet Zack Snyder. He directed the Dawn of the Dead remake, you know?”
“I know,” Jeff said, already exasperated.
By the time they were three towns over, Jeff had pounded four beers. They took a brief pit-stop so Jeff could empty his bladder and grab more beers from the trunk. He grabbed a few extra for Nick, hoping the alcohol would tire him out and finally shut him up. He didn’t look like the drinking type. A few beers and the problem would be solved.
Nick accepted the beer with gratitude and chugged it down in a desperate attempt to appear cool and to try and keep up with Jeff. Not an easy task, as Jeff would tell you himself.
Cherrywood was a good three hours from Greenville, but to a few gore-hounds like Dan, Nick, and Jeff, the trip was worth it.
A few beers deep, the alcohol had not taken the effect on Nick that Jeff had hoped for. Feeling quite buzzed, Nick was more talkative than ever. But Jeff at least managed to shift the conversation from movies to things like cars, music, and girls.
“You got a girl in your life?” A drunken Jeff asked Nick as he started to warm up to him two hours into their ride.
“No, not currently,” Nick said, almost embarrassed to admit it.
“You’re…you’re not a virgin, are you?”
“Hell no,” Nick said, forcing the words out. “A lot of hot girls go to those conventions. I’ve had plenty of con-pussy. I went down on this girl that was dressed like Sailor Moon at the last con.”
“People exchange the strangest facts when they’re under the influence,” Dan remarked.
“Sailor Moon?” Jeff repeated. “How old was this chick?”
“She was old enough,” Nick said, lying through his teeth. There was never any girl at that convention, or any convention for that matter. He was just trying to fit in. “You got a girl?” Nick asked Jeff, trying to take the focus off of himself.
“Nah, I broke up with Brittany months ago. I was trying to get with this chick named Lyndsey. But it turns out she’s a dyke.”
“She’s not a dyke,” Dan corrected him.
“Of course she is. She wouldn’t sleep with me.”
“Just because a girl won’t sleep with you, that doesn’t make them a dyke.”
“Says you,” Jeff said, taking a swig of his ninth or tenth beer. “When was the last time you got laid?”
“Two weeks ago at Mac’s party. Me and Nikki Larson in the guest bedroom.”
“Jesus! Nikki Larson…I hope you used protection.”
“You’re one to talk,” Dan laughed from behind the wheel. “What about that sleazy girl Tiara you used to fuck? Double bagging it wouldn’t even offer protection against that slut. You’d have to triple bag and top it off with a shot of penicillin.”
“Hey, no need to get personal,” Jeff muttered. “I was just making a joke. And for the record, I got myself tested after I moved on from Tiara. I’m clean.”
“Says you,” Dan said, repeating Jeff’s line in the same monotone fashion.
            “You ever bang a chick without a rubber?” Jeff asked Nick, and Nick shuddered as the conversation shifted back to his sex life, or lack of a sex life.
            “Can’t say that I have,” Nick said. “I always use protection.”
            “Nothing beats skin to skin,” Jeff assured him, twisting the cap off another beer and flicking it out the open window.
            “I wanted to try it once,” Nick said. “But the girl said no.”
            “It happens. At least she didn’t turn you down completely, right?”
            “Right,” Nick said, laughing nervously.
            “I mean, it sure doesn’t bother me getting turned down by that dyke, Lyndsey. I’ve been turned down for almost every reason you could think of. But I still go back for more.”
            “I got turned down by a blind chick once,” Dan interjected again.
            “Ouch,” Jeff said. “That’s gotta be the worst form of rejection.”
            “Nah the worst form of rejection is when you’re whacking off and your hand falls asleep on you,” Dan joked.
            “I believe that’s called a perfect stranger,” Nick said.
            “You would know,” Jeff said, and Nick blushed, hoping neither of them noticed.
            “We should’ve brought some weed,” Dan said with regret.
            “Maybe we can score a bag before the screening tomorrow,” Jeff said. “Someone in this town has to sell pot. It’s a given.”
            “I’ve never smoked before,” Nick said.
            Jeff laughed. “Kid, you’ve got a lot of living ahead of you.”
            By the time they reached Cherrywood, it was dark and Jeff was passed out in the passenger seat, a collection of twelve or thirteen empty beer bottles scattered around his feet.
            They checked in at the front desk of the Sails Inn, the hotel that Dan had made reservations at. Dan and Nick retired to their rooms, letting Jeff sleep it off in the car.
* * *
            Jeff awoke with a nasty hangover and severe dehydration. He left the car, first in search of water. When he acquired a bottle from a nearby vending machine, he chugged it down like he did with the beers and then went off in search of coffee.
            The Sails Inn had a coffeemaker at the front desk, and the clerk offered to pour Jeff a cup on the house. Before Jeff could ask the clerk if he’d seen his friends, Dan approached the front desk.
            “Ah, you’re awake,” Dan said. “And you’ve got coffee. Excellent. At least you won’t be grumpy.”
            “Kiss my ass,” Jeff replied.
            “I’ll just leave you alone until that coffee kicks in. Nick and I will be in the car when you’re ready.”
            Jeff finished his coffee, thanked the clerk, and joined them outside. In the car, Nick was looking at brochures he had acquired in the lobby, and Dan was checking the directions he had printed for the VFW Hall.
            “We should drive by this place, at least so we know where it is,” Dan told Jeff. “We’ve got plenty of time ’til the movie starts, so after we drive by the place, we can look for some bud.”
            Dan started the car and passed Jeff the directions. “You navigate.”
            “I’m too hung over to be navigating.”
            “Then give the directions to Nick and let him navigate.”
            Jeff passed the directions back to Nick and they were on their way. The VFW Hall was just half a mile, or two rights and three lefts from the Sails Inn.
            The place didn’t even look operational to Dan. But he tried to think of any VFW Hall that looked active in the daytime, and he couldn’t think of one. He expected a small crowd would be formed by show time. Jeff was wondering if the place had a bar and if they’d be serving liquor at the screening.
            Two blocks from the VFW Hall, they crossed paths with a teenager. He was wearing a black hoodie and carrying a skateboard under one arm. “Pull over,” Jeff told Dan.
            Dan pulled off to the side of the road and Jeff rolled his window down. “Hey,” Jeff said to the kid with the skateboard. “We’re in town for the weekend and we don’t know anyone around here. You know where we can score a little bud?”
            “I think I might be able to help you,” the kid said. “The name’s Trent Resnik.”
            “Nice to meet ya, Trent. I’m Jeff. This is Dan, and that’s Nick in the back there.”
            “Pleasure,” Trent said. “I don’t have anything on me, but I have some back at my house. Can you give me a lift?”
            “We don’t really know you,” Jeff said. “But on the other hand, we do really need some bud.”
            “So is it a yes or a no?”
            “Hop in the back with Nick,” Jeff said. Trent opened the backdoor and climbed in.
            “It’s just down the road,” Trent told them and Dan started driving again. “Hey, are you guys in town for the big screening tonight?”
            “Yes,” Dan said. “How’d you guess?”
            “We don’t get many tourists here in Cherrywood,” Trent said. “Not much to see. But the screening has attracted a lot of outsiders. You know, my dad is friends with Jack Hopper. I can show you where the guy lives.”
“You fucking with us?” Dan asked.
“No, I’m not fucking with you,” Trent said. “He’s got a farmhouse about two miles from here. Make a left at the stop sign and I’ll take you right past it if you want.”
Dan made an immediate left at the stop sign and they were on their way. From that point on, it was the scenic route. The houses became less and less frequent as they drove on. A clear blue sky painted a beautiful, yet ominous backdrop.
They eventually drifted past a corner mailbox that read HOPPER and Trent advised Dan to hang a right. Dan cut the wheel to the right and clouds of white dust kicked up from the dirt road he had turned onto. The house was a good five-hundred feet away from the road.
It certainly wasn’t the kind of celebrity pad you’d see on television. Jack Hopper’s place was a decaying old farmhouse with no cattle or crops on sight. Beside the property, an old Quonset hut with a corrugated roof and sides that looked like something out of World War Two. The whole exterior of the hut was coated in rust.
There were several others vehicles parked alongside the hut. A silver pickup truck with New Jersey license plates. A black BMW with NY plates. A blue Ford Firebird with Pennsylvania plates.
Something about this didn’t sit right with Dan, who was eyeing up Trent through the rearview mirror. “How many people live here?” Dan asked.
“Just Jack and his son as far as I know. You guys wanna go inside? Jack loves meeting his fans.”
“I think we’ll pass,” Dan said.
“I’m afraid I must insist,” Trent said. “When I said my dad was friends with Jack Hopper, I never really explained how. You see, my dad sort of works for him. And that sort of means I work for him.”
Harry Resnik, Trent’s father, stepped out from the door of Quonset hut wearing a butcher’s apron that was stained red. He was carrying something behind his back that Dan couldn’t quite make out until Harry was in front of the car and pressing it against the windshield.
It was a pistol.
“Get out!” he screamed through the glass.
“Better do what he says,” Trent suggested. They all stepped out of the car slowly and Trent followed.
“Good work, boy,” Harry said to Trent. “Now you park their car alongside the others and you get going.”
“Yes, sir,” Trent said, following his father’s command.
Harry led the three to the Quonset hut at gunpoint and forced them inside. There, a man in his sixties stood behind a camera set up on a tripod. He was a gaunt fellow; his skin crinkly like leather, but lacking in color. His hair was a memory of the past. This was Jack Hopper in all his glory.
The corrugated sides of the hut were caked in blood, and several blood stained pairs of handcuffs dangled from the ceiling. “I’m sorry to inform you that the screening has been cancelled tonight,” Jack said. “But you’re going to be part of something better. You’re all going to take part in the sequel. You think you’re true diehard horror movie fans? Let’s see if you’re up to the test. The others certainly weren’t.”
“The others?”
“Fans like yourselves that traveled here, hoping to get a glimpse of something special. I guess they got more than they bargained for. They were just throwaway victims you see at the beginning of every cliché horror movie. But you guys have the potential to be my supporting cast. I already have a main star attached.”
Jack motioned to the seemingly lifeless young man lying on the floor of the hut. A man that Dan Coscarelli recognized as Clive Whedon. He had been abducted from a hospital on Long Island months ago and nobody had seen him since.
Clive had been drugged and rendered unconscious as Jack was building up to the final act.
“And I already have a villain,” Jack said as Harry cuffed their hands to the chains of the ceiling. The door to the hut opened and Lucas Hopper emerged. “I call him Crater Face. Wait ’til the world gets a glimpse of him.”
As Crater Face stepped closer, the three friends understood that the nickname stemmed from his deformity. Lucas suffered from Parry-Romberg Syndrome. It’s a rare facial syndrome that is characterized by progressive degeneration of tissues beneath the skin, usually occurring on one side of the face.
In layman’s terms, he has a bit of a crater face. It looks as though the whole left side is being pulled into a sinkhole.
Nick’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body went limp as he lost consciousness for an undetermined amount of time.
* * *
            Nick awoke, praying it was all just a dream. But as his eyes adjusted to the lights, he could see it was no dream. He was still chained beside Dan and Jeff, both of whom were bruised and badly beaten. But they were still alive.
“Tell me when you’re ready, daddy,” Crater Face muttered, speaking out of one side of his mouth.
“I’m always ready,” Jack said. “The camera’s rolling. Just do your thing, son.”
Crater Face wandered over to the tool bench and ignored the three friends’ pleas for mercy and freedom. “Let’s see what we have here,” Jack said, turning the camera and zooming in on the tool bench. “Scalpel. Nail gun. Sledgehammer. Chainsaw. Hatchet. Machete. Butcher knife. All the ingredients required to make a successful horror movie.”
“What do you want me to do?” Harry Resnik asked.
“You?” Jack said. “I’m afraid your services are no longer required.”
Crater Face snatched the nail gun from the bench and squeezed the trigger twice. One nail pierced his throat. The second went through his left eye.
“Another throwaway victim,” Jack said, laughing sadistically. “Now let’s see what you’re made of.”
Crater Face perused his tools of destruction again and picked up the machete.
“Please don’t,” Nick begged. “I still have so much to see and do. I don’t want to die a virgin.”
“I knew it!” Jeff remarked, as if this revelation made any difference.
“So what if I’m a virgin?” Nick said. “I just don’t want to die. Please, I’m begging you! Just let us go and we’ll forget all about it! I swear!”
“Enough chitchat,” Jack screamed. “Off with their heads!”
With one slash of the machete, Nick’s head was severed from his shoulders. It rolled across the floor of the hut and stopped somewhere near Clive’s unconscious body.
“Again!” Jack shouted. As his son raised the machete, Jack had second thoughts. “Stop!”
Crater Face lowered his weapon.
“I have other plans for these two. Grab the scalpel, and skin this one alive,” Jack said, pointing at Dan.
            “No, please don’t,” Dan said as Crater Face placed the machete down on the bench and picked up the scalpel. Tears were streaming down Dan’s face. He tugged at the ceiling chains, thrashing and flailing around in a futile attempt to free himself. “I have a family–a mom, a dad, a sister. They need me, and I need them. Please reconsider. Please just let us go. You don’t have to do this.”
            “Please, save your tears,” Jack said. “It’s a waste of good suffering.
            Crater Face lumbered over to Dan and made a small incision at his temple that caused him to wince. Then a second incision in the other throbbing temple.
            “The first Ravage wasn’t a success because the studio couldn’t understand the brilliance of it. All those victims died at the hands of my son. It was real as real gets. Too real for people to handle at the time. So they disowned the film and had all the reels burned. But I have a feeling this sequel will do much better in today’s blood-and-gore saturated market.
Of course the film won’t be released in theaters. Instead, we’re going viral. We’re going to broadcast the sequel across the internet. YouTube and any other streaming site we can upload this bad boy to. I have a feeling it’s going to be wildly successful.”
Dan released a bloodcurdling scream as another long incision was made across his forehead and Crater Face dropped the scalpel and slowly began to flay the skin.
Dan screamed and thrashed around. Out of desperation, his knee rose up and struck Crater Face in his nether regions. He fell to the floor, cupping his hands over his swollen privates.
“Get up, you idiot!” Jack screamed. “We have to finish this!”
Clive had begun to regain consciousness and it was all coming back to him. His friends Zack and Eli being brutally butchered in this very hut. His escape. His abduction from the hospital. The months he spent chained up in Jack Hopper’s cellar.
He remembered it all, and he was livid.
The scalpel from the floor found its way into Clive’s hand, and he plunged it into Crater Face’s eye. A horrible squeal echoed through the Quonset hut. Clive grabbed the sledgehammer from the tool bench and took a swing in Jack’s direction, smashing the camera to pieces.
Jack backed into one corner of the hut, cowering, begging for mercy. “The keys,” Clive said. Jack tossed him the keys for the handcuffs and Clive went about setting his new comrades free.
“Please, don’t kill me,” Jack begged. “I was just trying to make a movie that every true horror fan could appreciate. I’m simply an artist.”
“Please, no tears,” Dan repeated. “It’s a waste of good suffering.”
They all grabbed a weapon from the bench and advanced on him.
* * *
            Jack Hopper was kept alive long enough to experience every agonizing moment. Every stab, every cut or slash, every whack of the sledgehammer. In the end, his body was nothing more than a puddle of blood and a stack of broken bones.
            Free from the Quonset hut, they checked the Oldsmobile and found the keys were still in the ignition. A maimed Dan crawled into the passenger seat and let Jeff drive for a change. He floored it out of the driveway in reverse.
When Jeff reached the road, he put it drive and intentionally mowed Hopper’s mailbox down. Then he sped off into the looming night.
“I’m going to get you both to a hospital,” Jeff assured them. Shock was starting to set in on Dan and with the loss of blood, Jeff wasn’t even positive he’d make it to the hospital.
Jeff caught the glare of headlights in the rearview mirror and saw the truck gaining momentum behind them. It was the silver pickup with Jersey plates.
Crater Face stuck his hand out the window and aimed steady with the nail gun, firing away. The first shot shattered the driver-side mirror. The second nail that was propelled from the gun got lodged in the glass of the back windshield.
Another couple of nails and Jeff knew the glass wouldn’t hold up. It’d shatter and they’d be easy targets.
“Are you guys buckled in?” Jeff asked.
“Yes,” Clive said. Dan was too weak to respond, but Jeff could see his buckle in place. So he pumped the gas and got ahead a bit.
Then he slammed down on the brake pedal. The silver pickup collided with the back of Jeff’s Oldsmobile. Jeff knew the vehicle wasn’t built like today’s cars with fiberglass or plastic. The Oldsmobile was solid and had absorbed the impact of the crash as Jeff had expected.
The trunk was damaged beyond repair, but aside from a few bumps and bruises, none of them were harmed in the process. Jeff glanced in the rearview mirror and saw no movement in the silver pickup that was smashed to bits. He called 911 and slumped down in his seat, waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
* * *
It was too late for Dan. He died before the paramedics could make it.
Clive Whedon was given a cellphone and got to speak with his family for the first time in months. They were so relieved just to hear his voice. “I’m coming home,” he promised them.
Jeff was virtually delusional when the cops tried to question him. He didn’t know where to begin. He’d seen so many sights that could not be erased. And now the police were asking him to relive these horrors again and again.
Clive told them to search the farmhouse and the Quonset hut, to look at the video tapes. They’d find their answers there.
When they finally managed to pry the door of the silver pickup open, the cops found nothing. Crater Face was gone. He’d left a small trail of blood that traveled across the road and ended near the woods.
The cops were certain they’d find him, and Jeff didn’t doubt it. He just wondered if they would live to tell the tale.

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