Thursday, November 1, 2007

Finale: A Forgotten Horror Star, Part Ten

Hello there. Hope you had a great Halloween. Jane and I did. We got lots of cards and good wishes, and even some nice gifts from the drunken severed head's parental units. (No, they aren't Hallowe'en geeks like me. It was our anniversary, after all.) And we now have the end to the Laszlo Revik story! (I was sure I was going to have to watch every darkened crook and nanny-- I mean nook and cranny-- for film monsters out to get me!) But Samhain has ceased, and so the grand finale to the tale of Laszlo Revik, the horror star most deserving of typecasting, reaches its end below. I hope you're enjoying this tale from the demented mind of filmmaker Ted Newsom, who has my gratitude for sharing it with The Drunken Severed Head. Considering he was close to being burned to death recently, I am especially grateful-- and amazed.

When we last left off, Sam Lee's gal, Eva, had dumped him, and Lorrette Edleman, who had tried to get the get the Revik films away from Sam, was found dead in her bathtub with no blood in her. And the news reported that cable executive Andy Hensley was murdered. (Just to get you in a good mood for the rest of the story.)

Did you see it, Max? What a Chinese fire-drill, and thank God! The cable company dumped that preppy twerp who had taken Faye's place, to take the heat for it all. No, he had nothing to do with the surreal video switching, the broadcast tower explosion or the fire—but someone had to take the fall, and we all he think he earned it. In my opinion, more smug little 25 year old executives should get fired more often. It cleans the gene pool.

I’ll back up. Sam was sweating bullets. He’s under indictment, the cops have issued a warrant, and he’s a fugitive from justice. His own lawyer thinks he’s nuts and killed three people. Jeff and I tell him our theory—that Laszlo Revik is planning the ultimate comeback—Life Eternal through the alchemy of movies, planting his essence, his”self” directly into the minds of millions—and that in some eldritch fashion, he’s managed to send “unreal” emissaries out into our 3-D world as unwilling proxy assassins: the mummy, the werewolf, the Invisible Man, Dracula. And like everyone who ever tried to outwit Dr. Ghoul, Sam Lee is getting what he asked for—but getting royally screwed in the process. Sam didn’t argue, but he still planned to get the hell out of town. The police would never buy a supernatural/sci-fi load of crap like that and they’d throw the book at him (just the way Revik set up the “cured” Lawrence Talbot in HOUSE OF DR. GHOUL, btw). He wanted to make up with Eva, grab her and get out of the country. That’s when we “found” Eva.

Someone—in retrospect, we can guess who—had left a message for her at the theater rehearsal, saying said Sam needed her right away at the studio. Some secretary saw Eva in a hallway near the green-screen stage, but by the time we got there, zip, gone. No trace. A couple minutes later, after the Revik marathon started, we were in the booth, and on the monitor, there she was in Lugosi’s arms, swooned out like Helen Chandler, being swept into a secret passageway. She was in the maid’s costume from her stage play with the curly wig, but by God we all recognized her. Literally, she was in the movies.

I did tell you I have a passing knowledge of the arcane arts, didn’t I? Just part of my eternal quest for truth and fun. Well, it never came in more handy than right then. Sam came to his senses quickly. Happily, Brinke was with us; li’l ol’ Scream Queen Stevens is no slouch when it comes to this stuff, either. Plus, it balanced out the yin-yang energy a little. Jeff pulled the typed transcripts of the movies’ dialogue tracks and found the words in the ritual used by “Dr. Ghoul” in the original film to “cross into the other world,” as Revik puts it. And we sent Steven off on his little “off-campus” mission. He’s such a sweetheart, so fey, really, he was the last person who should’ve gotten stuck with a commando raid, but nobody else was available.

So the timecodes are clicking away, thirteen different evil movies being beamed to every time zone on the globe, that degenerate’s gaunt image and black thoughts and expressions seeping directly into kids—and adults—everywhere… and all monitored from here. With Jeff commandeering the control booth, me and Brinke invoked the powers “Joseph Elwin” had mastered. Sam stood there on the green-screen stage in costume, Jeff hit the composite switch—and that’s when Sam Lee left. And that very instant, a new character appeared in the prison scene of HOUSE OF DR. GHOUL.

I’m sure no one nowhere noticed what was happening yet. How could they? Nobody’d ever seen the movies. So when the screen showed a guy who looked exactly like Sam Lee face to face with a condemned Larry Talbot from 60 years ago, that was just apparently part of this “cult movie.” Well, Sam stayed in character, but he followed my suggestion to change the script. He told Talbot how he’d been framed—and told him he could still will himself into a werewolf and kill Revik. Sam ran out of that shot—hell, out of that whole movie entirely—as Chaney looked through the bars at the Moon and started to change.

Jeff played with the controls like a silent-movie house organist on amphetamines, cutting to this movie, to that one, to another. He tried to maneuver Sam’s image (moving left to right) to a monitor showing Eva. It wasn’t easy—and that’s when the broadcast became something out of Salvatore Dali or Ed Emshwiller. Shots of black and white gangsters on a heist abutted color shots of innocent kids lured to Paris catacombs—Dwight Frye seemed to be in the same movie as William Hudson—Russian commie generals were electronically intercut with lunatics raving in Eastmancolor and Techniscope. And through it all, like the ringmaster of an insane circus of horrors, was Revik, at age 45, age 75, age 60.

Oh, I didn’t explain Steven’s little job. We sent him to the top of Mt. Holly to the transmission tower. They’re blasting a new road up there by the old Merrye house, but at night, of course, there’s nobody minding the store. All he had to do is steal some dynamite, light it near the tower, and hope he doesn’t go to prison for ten years.

Just before the big power surge, the last thing I saw on the broadcast was the “new” scene from DR. GHOUL MEETS THE VAMPIRE. Sam found Eva—and Lugosi entered. Sam’s now all macho and heroic, but Dracula and Eva put him straight. Revik had killed his daughter Lorette in that hotel tub—but made it appear the work of the vampire—or Sam, take your pick of chumps. After Revik kidnapped Eva and brought her through the portal into the film world, Dracula hid her away. THAT was the footage we had seen earlier. “Now, Mr. Lee,” Lugosi imperiously intoned to Sam, “are you any wiser than you were before?” We – and they—went pale when we heard Laszlo Revik answer, “No, but I am.”

There was Revik in the doorway, brandishing the crossbow stolen from the dead Allen Gordon. He reminds them, “A wooden shaft through the heart is deadly to vampires—and humans.” And he lays it all out, the classic villainous gloating in the final reel. Eva will be his courtesan throughout eternity, doomed to submit to the most debased orders imaginable, her torment repeated unto infinity. And Sam gets to be David Manners forever—a helpless, hapless jerk, forced to watch the woman he loves at the mercy of a soulless fiend. “Behold the price of betrayal!” And with that, Revik fired an arrow—not at Sam, but right into Dracula’s heart. The disintegration scene was choice—outdid even Armand Telsa’s gooey finale in RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE. But Revik looked up and our kids were gone.

Sam and Eva fled through one film, then the other, with Revik’s voice-over following them. Jeff kept hitting switcher buttons, trying to maneuver their scenes away from shots of Revik (not easy—since he was in every one of the films, all running simultaneously).

They took refuge in the Frankenstein movie. Karloff didn’t respond to “Mr. Karloff,” and Eva had to remind Sam they were play-acting, in another universe. In THAT movie, Dr. Ghoul had blackmailed Baron Frankenstein into reviving his Monster as a slave, in exchange for raising the Baron’s wife from the dead (Revik did—but she was a 20-year-dead cadaver. You can’t trust the guy, I’m telling you, you just can’t trust him!) The Baron understood that this was a battle with pure energy, a disembodied force—but that his machinery had helped bring the evil into his world—and ours. One lever thrown—one minute and double-kablooee.

That’s when the broadcast ended. Steven had come through. Ka-blooee. But the movies were still running and creating that malignant energy—which now had no place to go. In the telecine bay, things started to smoke. The control panel went hot under Jeff’s fingers. We got the hell out into the parking lot. And Jeff made an educated guess and patched in a dvd player—and hit the button marked “Eject.”

It worked. Sam and Eva reappeared in the green-screen studio. Zeke—the poor black-T-shirted schlub—tried to stop them from getting into the manufacturing warehouse, but Sam (bless him) kicked his ass, and started to light the nitrate prints. It was too late. Revik—Dr. Ghoul himself-- followed them, with the revived Frankenstein Monster, who eyed Eva with a no-good smile. Yes, Revik told them, his essence HAD been in the films, but now it was transformed into pure electrical energy, and was on its way to the minds of millions. All around him in the warehouse, boxes and boxes filled with the thirteen wicked films of Laszlo Revik.

That’s when the Wolf Man showed up. Talbot had tracked his enemy Revik through the green-screen portal. The Monster and the Wolf Man commenced a battle royale as Sam and Eva tried to escape the warehouse, now filling with smoke. Revik used the crossbow and killed Talbot— then locked the Monster behind in the burning building. The end? Not hardly.

Outside, we watched the whole damned place go up in a blaze of fire, electrical bolts and black smoke. Through the flames we saw the face—looking at us—gloating. Victorious. We then understood the meaning of the title of his last, “posthumous” film: The triumph of evil. Energy cannot be destroyed—only transformed—or transmitted.

And that was what Lorette had tried to tell us, with that strange symbol, finger-painted with her own blood: ground the energy. Transmit it.

The fire engine sirens and police choppers started closing in around the inferno as me, Sam, Jeff and Eva threw together a half-assed, improvised electrical ground, with automobile jumper cables attached to a water pipe on one end—and the satellite broadcast tower on the other. The jets of flames kept whipping out of the building at us, and the firemen and cops kept trying to get us out, all the while with that ghastly, huge face glowering above us, the weird greenish fire enveloping him like a cloak. We did it—clamped one end to the dish.

The fire roared as if it hated us. Multicolored arcs of electricity leaped from the burning building to the huge broadcast antenna, making it glow in the night. The “face” we saw in the fire stretched its mouth like the painting, “Scream” (or the mask in the movie, for that matter.) and our ears hurt from the metallic screech. Almost too fast to comprehend, the giant satellite dish took on a molten-metal glow—and a pencil thin beam of light shot from its center antenna, pointed up at the night sky.

At that point, all we could hear was emergency sirens, and yells, and the crackling roar of a nice, normal three-alarm fire.

You have never heard such a beautiful sound.

Sam actually hugged Eva (I guess I’m out of luck) and she said, “Where did he go?” Sam shrugged. But Jeff and I both heard—swear to God, both of us—the voice of Boris Karloff whispering, “Out—out into the Universe.”

So, like I said, the broadcast screw-up was all blamed on the idiot executive, which is fine. The cops had a semi-easy time pinning the deaths on Andy Hensley (hey, everybody hated him, and he was dead. Makes a GREAT fall guy.) I don’t know that anyone came up with a plausible story about who blew up the transmission tower. I told Steven, “If anybody asks, just say, ‘It was terrorists.’”

That’s it for Laszlo Revik and his thirteen “cult” horror movies. None of the films ever did run in their entirety, the film elements, the master recordings and the dvd copies went up in a neat little inferno. I think our little metaphysical pyromania made the world a better place. Maybe there’s certain films best left unseen, certain cinematic knowledge that movie buffs were not meant to know.

Gee. I hope nobody used Tivo.

1 comment:

Dane said...

Very nicely done! This was fun.

Also, regarding this:
" They’re blasting a new road up there by the old Merrye house, but at night, of course, there’s nobody minding the store. All he had to do is steal some dynamite, light it near the tower, and hope he doesn’t go to prison for ten years."

My jaw dropped. I just watched Spider Baby for the first time last night and fell in love with it.


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