Could it be that our real existences can frighten us deeper than what imaginations may conjure?
Atmospheric movies and artful live stagecraft can make flesh crawl. Or even startle audiences out of their skins.
Before overreliance on special effects began overwhelming the plots, classic chillers like The Mummy (1932) or Frankenstein (1931) solidly established the moods then primitive SFX cleverly delivered upon. Though gore, blood, and viscera thickly splatter our era’s horror screens, I will suggest two which still have abilities to make those huddled in safety before screens recoil.
In Alien, the appearance of the first Xenomorph continues to jolt the unwary. Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects such an abrupt interruption to domestic tranquility. The sequence shifts the movie on a dime from routine into frantic.
Another movie terrific for shocks is Hellraiser. Finding pleasure during the most excruciating sensual exchanges doesn’t so much intrigue as honestly scares because really isn’t it just S&M ramped up to some senses obliterating power?
Fortunately, none of us will be voyaging among the stars. So, there will be no possibility of encountering Xenomorphs over the dinner table, much less any table. And despite the extremes of the Cenobites populating Hellraiser and its sequels, it must be admitted there’s a fetishist subset whose intricate skin piercings can bear the weight of those particular bodies aloft. Scant few of us will be submitting to such, um, gratification.
Theirs deviates mightily from the Pleasure Principle, no? Who among you reading this intends subjecting him- or herself to the above’s exquisite torrent of terror?
Yet Alien and Hellraiser are movies. Scriptwriters of the first and Clive Barker’s source material for the second have gone places, have had characters enter situations beyond ordinary life. Viewers watch them, live vicariously through them, then gratefully re-immerse themselves in far less perilous lives. After 90 minutes-two hours of shocks, the fears which had enveloped them recede. These become further removed outside the theater.
Not so in real life. On our plane, the fears can be ever-present, solid flesh and viscous blood. Not only that, they also have actual power to channel our lives.
In Las Vegas, as a resident, not a visitor purposely shielded from the city’s absolutely desperate sides, such should’ve turned left instead of having gone right scenarios are inescapable. Away from touristy areas, meth heads whose chronic homelessness has rendered them barely recognizable as human. Say this for the fentanyl gulpers, they hide well in the shadows. Either that or they still have families who believe each can still be saved. Those devils won’t bottom out until abandoned.
Young people, probably predominated by West of the Rockies rural types lured to Las Vegas’ neon, stumble along these sidewalks into traffic begging “spare change” while consciously marring themselves through tinting their hair mange and becoming living canvases for ridiculous tattoos. Perhaps they’ve deluded themselves that such vagabond living is romantic. No. It’s poor. It mainly reflects badly on whoever is convinced he or she is making worthwhile statements through being untethered from conventions and traditions which adhere society.
Too many horrify now. Wait until those appearances become stigmas. Maybe then they’ll start sharing our dismay.
Yet few of us will opt to get insanely inked, while none of us will become victim to any sexually subconscious apparitions or menaced by extraterrestrials seeking hosts for their spawn. Instead, life in Southern Nevada means being engulfed by everyday earthly frights.
Living in a desert, Mojave residents can expect over 320 sunny days. Okay. 340. As seen in other arid southwestern cities, this is the sort of climate that generally encourages healthy living. Out under the sun, wearing skin exposing attire, active to some extent, often maintains a better well-being as well as brighter appearance.
Las Vegas is the exception to the above.
In the past, topics of these posts have dealt with retirees. Either the behind-the-scenes people who made the old Sin City stars radiate, or the Born and Raised (BAR), who having spent entire lives here were rendered immune to being dazzled by luminaries. Particularly the self-important ones.
If there was one necessary lesson either group could’ve taught younger generations so easily beguiled and swayed by empty celebrities whose renown derives from nothing discernable but is promoted as fabulous by fulsome PR, it would be how to keep one’s head.
Unlike the aforementioned pensioners, a group of seniors does not sparkle or add to any memories of the Las Vegas that has been imploded, razed, then paved. Mostly older seniors from what had been good old Industrial America or military careerists, their connections have become more tenuous as the years pile. They’ve spent and expended productive lifetimes elsewhere. That’s apparent by the company they keep, the tenor of the pursuits occupying their moribund days.
It’s no exaggeration stating that seniors bound by gossamer to Las Vegas may well be considered marooned. During the initial rushes of relocation decades ago in their late 50s/early 60s, natural social attraction – strangers finding comity with strangers in a new address – eased the new residents’ transitions. Through these same narrow interests cliques, associations, formed and probably overlapped without end.
For the longest, didn’t this suffice, if not thrive altogether? It was the closest replacements to “family” and deep friendship Las Vegas might ever provide to them.
Few of these newcomers who grew into long-time residents had family or friends nearby. At least hardly anybody within spur-of-the-moment travel distance. Close family might’ve felt obliged to visit. But when they did, those became expeditions. Factor in multiple generations, the younger’s urgencies increasingly taking precedence, length between visits stretched while durations shortened.
Then at a crest, say their mid-70s through mid-80s, mortality started chopping that membership. And these members weren’t going to be replenished through any younger retirees. Wouldn’t they repeat as the earlier cohorts had? Find and envelop themselves in the same age range then proceed?
Besides, it’s a good bet newer retirees possessed greater financial savvy as well as upheld themselves in better health. If they’d ignored the second before relocating to Las Vegas, anybody smart enough, anybody desirous of living his or her fullest for the longest rather than just fall into an existence of excrescence will do what they can to slow decay.
Doubtlessly there are links between our physical and mental beings and socializing. Say what will be said about senior assisted homes, those residents receive attention. And people living in 55+ housing do look after another after a fashion. Sure, for the most part the Las Vegans featured in this post have retained their independence, a dilapidated one.
They might’ve been a terrific study group in order to determine the decline rate of lonely and alone seniors into decrepitude.
When those one has surrounded him- or herself have steadily peeled off and left a last Mohican, what effect results?
Just a casual survey of the advanced aged precincts fingerpaints a dour picture.
While it might appear frivolous, grooming is a vital sign. Indeed, we do dress to impress. Well, adults do. We keep our hair neat. Our nails manicured. All to draw esteem from others comprising our circles. And when the circle comes down to one?
Even if it hadn’t been meticulously sustained, if it’d just been kept up, appearances got care. Yet once loneliness followed aloneness, presence became irrelevant. Those elders who still retain acquaintances are markedly more “presentable” than same-age seniors still grieving their last Mojave-made buddy or gal pal.
The slide becomes more lamentable as time mounts while activities disappear. Since those with whom one consorted in these are gone, how to fill those vacant hours?
In Las Vegas that decidedly two-edged sword is a 24/7 liquor store. If you’re a visitor (or even a resident) looking to start partying or extend it during the last hours before dawn or into morning, you’ve found an endless fountain.
If, instead, you’re, let’s say, a lonely somewhat despondent senior. What next?
Were you ever robust and hail, now you are defined by thin bones, sagging skin, startled eyes above an agape mouth. Thankfully you mustn’t think about phoning livery. That task must’ve migrated into your involuntary reflexes.
Having the driver round-trip you to a package store maybe two blocks distant to purchase that day’s 24-oz. six-fix or pint of hooch isn’t a daily extravagance. It’s your routine. The second thing life has come down to, this other thing towards which you look. Again, daily.
The first thing? Goof balls some indifferent doctor who’ll never be mistaken as a gerontologist has prescribed. They won’t alleviate your ailment. Nothing but not waking up again will fix that. But the 30-60-90 pill amount will for a time help remove you from your misery.
Then, there inside your home, a place little cleaned and less straightened, blinds/shades drawn tight against merciless sunlight, the television channeling nostalgic black & white programing, when little gray crowded life, suspects had few rights even if they were innocent, and “those people” (“those people” dependent on who you are and where you once squatted on the “shit flows down totem”), you further narcotize your waken hours as a pill-poppin’ day drunk.
Miserable as the above is, the worst must be still serviceable but neglected vehicles parked in driveways. Neglected, not abandoned. Not just a car in the driveway. But two. Now and then three, jamming blacktop. Perhaps when there’s a trio, the third performs as one of the most eroded lawn ornaments extant. Each vehicle with at least one flat tire. Plenty with two. No shortage of listing cars in Las Vegas.
One day their superannuated drivers just decided to stop driving and walked away. They left a plethora of car models to oxidize under the Mojave sun.
Several owners have stuck “for sale” signs inside the windshields. The majority haven’t. An all well and good gesture for owners still having commercial instincts. Except windshields invariably face residences not streets. And when the sign is correctly directed towards passing eyes, thickly grimed glass obscures asking prices or “OBO” scrawls and any contact phone numbers.
Forewarned let’s hope we may avoid the fates described.
Happy Halloween. Feliz Dia de los Muertos.