Authors: Alan Spencer
Tags: #horror;movies;vampires;B-movies;monsters;cult film;demons;zombies;exploitation
War is hell when the enemy is an army of B-movie monsters!
A possessed movie reel is played at a theatre in New Jersey, releasing B-movie icon Mr. Ratchet into our world. Mr. Ratchet plans to play his film, The Final Flesh, at theaters across the planet with the help of villains dredged up from the most vile and offensive horror movies ever made. Movie monsters made real.
Once The Final Flesh makes its midnight premiere, it's the people vs. B-movie terror. Only a theatre manager, a man with a serious anger problem, and a B-movie aficionado can prevent full-scale war from annihilating everybody on earth. Can the rag tag team come up with a plan to save the world, or will everybody be sent packing straight to hell? Be warned, this war will be epic!
This novel is for the fans who begged me to write another “B-Movie” book.
Plan B was real. The package arrived on Jules Baxter's desk only days after the previous monster attack in Chicago had ceased. This package would serve as the catalyst to a global scale war. Scrawled in red ink on the front were wild slash marks spelling out Jules's name and the business address for The Odyssey Theatre. Jules knew it wasn't a bill because there was no return address. Holding the package in his hands, judging by the weight and the way the object moved inside, Jules knew what it contained from prior experience. Film reels were shipped here by the batch regularly, but this package was much smaller. Tearing it open, he uncovered a single film reel. It wasn't enough for a complete film. That made the item all the more interesting.
Jules couldn't wait to view it.
The Odyssey Theatre would be permanently closed down in a matter of months, or whenever the bill collectors decided to spring their trap and take over his property. Since his wife, Darlene, died of breast cancer two years ago, the heart and soul of the place died with her. His ambition to run a quality establishment had been erased after eleven successful years of business. But all of his troubles were forgotten by this mysterious short reel.
What could be inside
, Jules kept thinking.
Oh, I bet it's something so cool.
Jules decided to give himself a special showing of the mystery reel after hours. The afternoon and evening went by agonizingly slow, but it was worth the wait. The staff had clocked out and were off the premises. Jules, a sixty year old overweight man, forgot about his financial failures and loneliness and enjoyed buttered popcorn and sat in the middle of Theatre 4 for his private showing. He had to set up the reel himself, having to hurry from the projection booth to find his seat so he wouldn't miss a single second. Watching in anticipation, a random scene from the film
Morgue Vampire Tramps Find Temptation at the Funeral Home
played out on the large screen. The footage was grainy. The print damaged by age. It didn't tarnish the experience. Jules watched with wide eyes and a big smile.
Footage of a graveyard surrounded in thick fog played out for five minutes. Nothing happened: no new scene, actors, or dialogue. Only the churning of fog. The soundtrack was creepy chamber music. The music got louder, and before the first scene panned out, a beam of bright white light streaked down the side aisle of the theatre. Where the beam stopped, the woman materialized. She was dressed in a red usher's uniform. She pointed her flashlight and held the beam on Jules.
In the sweetest voice she asked, “Why are you watching the movie all alone, honey?”
Jules lost his composure. Warm tears edged down his face. He rushed to touch her, to smell her hair, to reassure himself she was real. She was young again, in her twenties, with curvy hips, long black hair and a soft face. She was dolled up with ruby red lipstick and blue eye shadow. It was Darlene, or as Jules lovingly called her, “Darling.”
It was Jules's wife.
“Darling,” came a joyful gasp from Jules. “It's really you.”
His wife drew him in for a long embrace. How Jules needed her touch. That one of a kind feeling. One he could never have again, he believed, until tonight.
Darlene drew him in for a kiss. They tore each other's clothes off in a wild display of passion. As they made love against one of the seats, the collection of vampire tramps, the naked black reptilian creatures with leathery wings, exited the theatre unseen. They flew high into the night. There was much work to be done.
The dead had failed to live up to their full potential in the previous attacks against the living in both Kansas and Chicago. Playing the ghost-possessed movie reels and unleashing B-movie villains on unsuspecting mankind wasn't enough. They needed a solid plan. Darlene, in the body of the vampire from
Morgue Vampire Tramps Find Temptation at the Funeral Hall
, stood in the kitchen of the Langley household. She left Jules at the theatre, after giving him the fucking of a lifetime. He was still passed out in the theatre, the sad, sad man. Jules would be hers to control. And how she'd use him in the coming months.
Darlene had ripped the heads off of Mr. and Mrs. Langley, a retired couple, and placed their bleeding heads on two stovetop coils in the kitchen. Decapitating calmed Darlene. Shedding blood reminded her their plan to kill every last living person in the universe would succeed this time. The other vampire tramps, the five of them, waited in the living room for Darlene's next instructions. The group craved to slaughter everybody in sight, but if they did that now, somebody would stop them again like the other two times.
So what to do this time?
They needed a plan for war.
Every living person would die and join the dead in their eternal suffering. But Darlene couldn't perpetrate this on her own. She clutched a set of reels in her hands. They were stolen from Jules's private collection from his house two blocks from the Langleys'. On the steel canister label, it read
Mr. Ratchet's Morbid Theatre of Death
. Darlene asked the vampires to set up the film projector in the living room, which was also stolen from Jules's house, and they played the first reel. If Mr. Ratchet couldn't help her, Darlene wasn't sure what to do. But if she was correct about this movie and its potential, the solution to her problems was Mr. Ratchet himself.
Five minutes into the feature, fog unrolled from the hallways of the Langley household. The foundation creaked, as if the whole house could collapse at any moment. Blood trickled down the walls, gushing in wicked torrents. The sound of screams echoed from beyond the afterlife from upstairs and down. Boiling water from cauldrons stirring poisons and curses, and on top of that, crypts being opened and closed, of dead feet pattering the floor, of infernal moans of pain and pleasure. The house was active with morbid emanations.
Then the walls stopped bleeding. The carpet tore in large sections. Chunks of wood exploded. From the floor sprouted movie projector after movie projector, spinning with movie reels. Twenty different projectors were going at once. From the hallway, out of the thick fog, arrived Mr. Ratchet. He was a white haired old man in a cheap silver suit, big red bow tie, fancy black shoes and the biggest smile.
Mr. Ratchet greeted the vampires. “Welcome to my morbid theatre of death, ladies.”
Darlene beheld Mr. Ratchet in all his glory. “Tell us how to start this war, Mr. Ratchet. I want to do it right this time. Everyone must die.”
Mr. Ratchet carried a leather duffel bag and shook its contents. “And everyone will die, my sweet. All you need is a good plan, and I have one. But I'll need your help first, and the help of all of your friends, and their friends too. The plan will require a little patience. We can't go wholesale slaughter on the universe until our numbers are so high, nobody can stop us. And this war will require my new movie process called “Blood-O-Vision”. First things first, I need more of you to gather as many reels as possible. We'll set up base in movie theatres across the world. Then, we'll introduce audiences to “Blood-O-Vision”. Nobody will survive my new movie process.
Jules Baxter was hard at work. The numbers of reels in his office at The Odyssey Theatre had increased. What had been hundreds were now easily over a thousand reels. He kept snipping and stacking strips of film reels. Enough frames. Snip. Enough frames. Snip. Enough frames. Snip. Where the scissors rubbed at his pointer finger and thumb, the skin had broken and blistered. He wrapped his hand up in gauze and tape, though red was spotting through the dressing.
He was tiring. His eyes would close. Jules would sleep for twenty seconds then jerk back awake. He couldn't let Darlene down. Wherever she was, she wasn't in his office. She would be back, and he wanted to impress her with his work ethic. Everything was for Darlene.
A movie played against the wall called
Five and Die Laundry Service.
Jules always played a movie against the wall of his office while working.
The scene showed a middle-aged woman reading a novel in a laundry mat. The timer dinged. She bent down to switch her laundry to a dryer. Digging out the clothes, she shrieked when she caught a severed head among the batch of clothing. Then a naked man's torso. Then a wad of guts leaking soapy water out both ends.
Horror stricken, the woman stumbled onto the floor. She ran for the front door and bumped right into the owner, Rover Van Greet. He was six feet tall with a barrel body dressed in a finely pressed white shirt and black slacks. Rover carried a big box of laundry detergent simply labeled: SUDS.
She screamed at Rover, “There's body parts in the machines! You have to believe me. Just take a look.”
The man didn't hear her. Rover said in a calm tone, “I can see why you're upset, ma'am. Are you using the right detergent, lady? This stuff will dissolve your bodies, no problem. You have to let the entire cycle run first. Bones won't even be left behind if you follow the instructions. Did you follow the instructions? Well, let's take a look-see. Maybe you didn't use enough suds. My clients always leave happy, ma'am. Not a trace of evidence of murder left behind. Guaranteed!”
“OH MY GOD NO!”
Before she could do anything, Rover sprinkled the suds over her head. Her face melted into clotted pink pudding. The mess gathered on the floor. Rover used a hose to spray the victim's goop down the drain.
Jules couldn't work anymore. His eyes were too heavy. His hands were too weak to keep cutting reels. He kept seeing double from concentrating so hard. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The nightmare soon arrived.
It involved Darlene's final days before her death. Darlene was much older in this dream. She was hooked up to life support. She had been in a coma for five days. The cancer had spread into the rest of her body. It was the moment he realized she wasn't going to survive, the moment he knew she would be gone forever. That horrible moment.
Startled awake by that terrible sensation, Jules was covered in a cold sweat. He was sitting in the chair and started to snip and cut more film strips.
Enough film frames. Snip. More frames. Snip. More frames. Snip.
Knocks on the door.
From the corner of the room, his deceased father was switching the reels out to start a new film for Jules to watch. His dad hummed under his breath, trying to decide which to pick. “Hmmmâ¦
, or how aboutâ¦hmmmm,
Arm from the Sky
â¦no, it's too soon for thatâ¦how about
Hook 'em and Cook 'em 2
? Yeah, that one sounds really good.”
His father set up the movie to play.
The opening showed a night fisherman on a lake sitting in his boat. He had just cast his line and sat there drinking a beer. While he was whistling, he caught a floating can of beer pass his boat. Then another can. Dozens of cans floated by.
“Whoa, I should start calling this Beer Lake.”
The fisherman was frantic snatching the beer cans that were bobbing by. “I'm getting sloshed after I catch some musky. Drink a cold one, then eat a hot one.”
The last can he grabbed, a fish hook whose jagged silver design looked like an “8” suddenly shot out at him. Snatched by one prong at the wrist, another on his palm and another right through the knuckle, the fisher did his best to jerk his hand free. Then another hook was cast from the water catching him in the nostrils and his left eye. Another was cast, catching his other eye. Two more snagged each side of his lips. The fisherman was screeching in pain as six different parts of his body were pulled under the surface. The mutated musky fish swam up for their feastâ¦
Jules turned his eyes from the film to regard his father. The man appeared out of thin air. Tommy Baxter used to be a judge for the county for thirty years before his heart burned out, and he died of a coronary. He was a plump man like Jules, his head bald except for a nest of gray hair at each side. The man loved cigars, and he was smoking one now. The smell of it reminded Jules of childhood. Tommy had the voice of authority. His cigar cherry brightened as the stout loaf enjoyed another drag.
“Jules, you're doing a fine job. I'm glad you're the way you are, son. Helping us, I mean. Death changes the way you look at things, you know.” Tommy's voice was suddenly ravaged by hate. “When you swim in the blood of the suffering, the blood of the dead, the dead who've been shown no mercy through the ages, shown no second chance at life, you'd understand why sleeping on this task is UNACCEPTABLE. It's important we finish this and do it right this time. Then you'll know why we're doing what we're doing. You must not sleep until the special midnight showing of
The Final Flesh
. Everything will be clear once
The Final Flesh
is shown to the masses. Until then, keep on working, Jules.”
Jules went back to work with greater determination.
Jules Baxter was hunched over his desk at The Odyssey Theatre. He'd been doing this for nearly two months straight. He had long since cleared away any items involving managing the theatre, and the business altogether. Payroll, bills, inventory, taxes, all of his business documents had been trashed to clear room for his new work. He left everything else involving the theatre up to Penny Baxter, his niece. This was more important. Darlene wanted it done, and he'd do anything for her.
Anything for his sweet beloved wife.
Jules's hands spooled out another length of film strip from a movie reel. He cut out the necessary frames, set it in a pile, and then cut more frames, set it in the growing pile, and kept at his job, repeating the same steps. When he had cut enough frames for the pile, Darlene would take it and do her end of the job. He didn't know what that end entailed, and he didn't ask. He did ask, actually, but she told him not to worry. So he didn't worry. She was alive, and that was all that mattered.
Jules had to keep the movie projector playing movies in the office. It was the only thing keeping him going. The Orion projector was right next to him on a cart. The movie was projected across from his desk on the blank white wall. The movie
was near its climax. He enjoyed a short break to watch a scene before gathering another reel from the enormous pile on the floor. Jules was hip-deep in a sea of reels.
“They're coming. Aim your guns. Take down the flock. They've stolen one baby too many. These birds are vile and evil!”
The scene pans to a line of soldiers aiming M-16's at the sky. The shot changes to three long-billed storks flapping their wings. The storks were stock footage, the film much grainier than the shot of the soldiers.
Then the beak and puppet head of a stork comes down and jams the tip of the sharp beak into the general's eye. It went through the back of his head, and up flew the stork carrying the general into the sky. The soldiers broke the line and scattered in fear.
Then the shot pans to many house windows without showing the entire house. Fuzzy white headed puppets smash through the glass. With their beaks, they reach in to grab a wicker basket. The storks fly into the sky with several family's newborn babies.
If Jules hadn't worked for weeks on end with little to no sleep, he would've laughed at how the babies were conveniently in wicker baskets next to the windows.
The sound of wood hitting wood, the birds peck the soldiers to death. Through the back of their heads, strings of brains are sucked up into the beaks. The entire fleet of soldiers are dead. On the horizon, cars drive up to meet the birds. They are locals from Varney Carn, Missouri. Women in plain non-flattering dresses. Baby-sitters. Mothers. Grandmothers. All of whom have lost their newborns to the storks.
Each of vehicles come to a screeching halt. Out the women come with shotguns in hands, ready to take on the threat in the skyâ¦
Jules was distracted from the film. His office was large enough for his desk, his file towers and promotional posters he saved from previous movie showings. Now the space had somehow expanded. It wasn't logical, but neither was his wife coming back to life. He didn't care. He was happier this way. Reality, or false reality, Jules embraced it. This was for the best.
He stood up to stretch. The kink of his spine was electric. He had been hunched for hours and hours on end, working tirelessly to perform the simple job of cutting reels and piling them up.
“Take your shoes and socks off,” a voice suddenly called out to Jules from a distance. Darlene sat on a red and white checkered blanket. She wore a red skimpy swimsuit. She was sunbathing.. Her black hair was fanning out from the blowing wind. The breeze was just right. Cooling, but not too cold. “Lay next to me and relax. I'll rub lotion on you.”
Jules sat down, his entire body sore. He was older, and she was so young. How come she was here when she was dead? And how was this beach scene in his office possible? He stepped on what felt like real sand and smelling the salt water come off the ocean. The questions melted away as Darlene took his shirt off and rubbed sun lotion into his shoulders and whispered sweet nothings into his ears.
Darlene talked about how they first met at a showing of
at The Odyssey Theatre. Jules ran the place for two years on his own before he met Darlene Purtee (He liked calling her Darling Pretty; cheesy, but it got the job done. The woman married him!). She was the only other person who attended the showing. They were both in their late middle age. Jules had seen her come and go into movies alone many times before that day. Sometimes she'd buy popcorn and licorice and a Diet Coke, and other times she didn't buy anything. That particular day, she hadn't purchased any concessions, so Jules bought her favorite goodies and sat right down next to her and gave her several free tickets and the treats on one condition. They call the movie a date. Six months later, they were married and co-owned the theatre. She was a hardcore movie fan. Darlene ran a local fan club in honor of classic movies. Jules allowed the group cheap rates to attend the movies they requested. He ordered the reels and fulfilled their requests. Romance blossomed so naturally between them. But when she died, the film group disbanded. It seemed Darlene had that special power over people. Without her, the magic was gone. Her radiance was missed to the point the theatre slowly became less popular. The business was failing. Any day now, collectors would kick him out. But that didn't matter. Here Darlene was kissing him, holding him close and reminiscing about those good times. It was like she was never gone.
He tried to ask her why he was cutting up the reels, why he was confined to his office, how come she was back from the dead and in a much younger package, but each kiss, each touch, melted him and those concerns. He closed his eyes and lapped up the affection and attention as she unclothed him and they made love with their backs to the ocean.
Jules didn't see the group of scantily clad women playing volleyball on the beach in the far background. The beach bimbos spiked, served and scored to win their game. A cooler of beer was opened as the guys guzzled them down and watched their girlfriends in action. Behind them, a transient in a tattered overcoat, dirty hobo face and long hair helmed a metal detector. The detector beeped. He dug his hands into the sand and retrieved an axe. The beach called out to the bum, and the bum listened. The bum's thoughts were attuned to the spirit of the beach. Attuned to the spirit of
The Beach Bum Slasher
. The man who drowned years ago while crowds of beachgoers did nothing to save him, too caught up in their game of volleyball to save the drowning man.
The beach whispered to the transient, “
You will now become
“The Beach Bum Slasher.”
Use this axeâ¦carve my name into their backs.
Avenge me. Carve âRicky Black' into their backs. Cut off that blonde's tits. Slice their heads off. Then put them on different bodies. May they rest in pieces. I summon you. Avenge. Me
The whispers, “
Ricky Blackâ¦write Ricky Black into their backs
,” repeated as a mantra. Then, “
Cut those tits offâ¦cut those tits offâ¦titsâ¦off
The transient, guided by the spirit of
The Beach Bum Slasher
, went to work on the young beach goers hacking off heads, tits, and carving names into their backs.
Jules was oblivious to it all.
The beach vanished. Darlene disappeared again. Jules returned to his task. There was no night, or day, or hour break. Time didn't exist. Only work. Jules's hands were bleeding as he clutched onto those damnable scissors to cut yet another strip of film. He shivered from fatigue. Jules opened and closed his eyes, and no matter how many times he did that, his eyes felt gummy and dried out. He was hanging onto his sanity, frail and thin as grainy super 8 film.
Movies used to be his solace. His reason for living. His absolute passion. The very reason he acquired so many bank loans, zeroes to his debts and dust bunnies in his savings account. Movies were entrenched in his childhood. His house growing up was literally behind The Red Ruby Cinema House. He spent the majority of his childhood catching cheap flicks. Jules's fascination with movies increased from there. He didn't have any real friends in high school. He was overweight. He also had a streak of uncontrollable flatulence. They called him “blow ass”. When he'd tie his shoes, he'd let one go. Jules would be walking down the hall, stepping up stairs, or answering a question in class, and he'd let out a fart. And they didn't smell pretty either. He was taunted mercilessly.