Friday, July 15, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 25: Character you wish you could be.

When I walked out of the theater after seeing House of 1000 Corpses, the first thing I did was throw the horns in the air and scream “DR. SATAAAAAAAAAN!” like Chris Hardwick does in the movie. The second thing I did was turn to Leah and say “I want to be Captain Spaulding when I grow up.” Captain Spaulding is the only horror character created in the new millennium (with the possible exception of the Saw puppet) that I would consider truly iconic. Think about it, what other character since Ghostface first showed up in 1996 can you say holds their own in a lineup with Freddy, Jason, Michael, Leatherface, and the other classic icons of horror cinema? Sure, House of 100 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were both chock full of memorable characters, but the Captain stands above all the rest. He’s my hero, and I would definitely want to be him. I even was one Halloween, see?

Why would I want to be him though? Well, it boils down to two things, his style and his job. When I say his style, I’m not talking about fashion here. I do not want to dress in clown suits all the time. Then again, they do look comfortable. I spend a month and a half in heavy makeup every year, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day. Then again, I do know women who wear almost as much makeup as Spaulding on a daily basis. What I’m talking about is his demeanor, how he carries himself, and how he speaks.

Remember when you were a kid and you looked at the older kids and thought “he is so cool. I want to be just like that!” That’s how I feel about Spaulding. In the commentary track for House of 1000 Corpses, Rob Zombie describes Captain Spaulding as a “lovable asshole.” That’s very fitting. He’s one of those people that is an absolute prick but is so funny and does it with such style that you love him anyway. He’s a serial killer, but he’s so damn charismatic that you just give him the old “Oh, Spaulding” and a finger waggle. He’s like your cool as hell, crotchety, dirty old man uncle who you can’t hold anything against and will always rule no matter what he does. He’s obviously a villain, but he’s too much fun to dislike. I want to possess that kind of sheer magnetism and that “you like me whether you want to or not” factor.

The things he says also leave me with that “man, I wish I had thought of that” envy. I personally speak fluent smartass and can come up with some unique expressions, but Spaulding is the King. He is one of the most quotable horror characters ever. I can only think of one other character with lines as good, but he’ll come up later in the countdown. We all have that one friend who we like hanging out with because you never know what is going to come out of their mouth. Can you imagine what a riot it would be to hang out with a guy who constantly spouts stuff like “For the love of Jane Russel’s big fat horse’s ass on toast” or “fuck your momma, fuck your sister, fuck your grandma, and most of all fuck you?” If I could come up with brilliantly profane yet strangely eloquent lines on the spot one after the other like he does, I would be rich. Kevin Smith himself can’t write better lines than Spaulding comes up with. Or I could be one of the greatest stand up comics in history.

Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t do either of those things. Why? It’s because Captain Spaulding already has a career I would kill for. I can’t think of a job I’d enjoy more than running a roadside museum of oddities and murder ride. A friggin’ murder ride? Are you kidding me? I love offbeat roadside tourist traps, I love sideshow type entertainment, and I love haunted attractions. Hell, I love fried chicken too. This would be perfect! I want to run a place like that. I’ve always said I would be a happy man if I could find a way to make a living scaring people year round. Captain Spaulding’s living the dream, man, and I’m jealous.

While Spaulding did go down in a blaze of glory along with Otis and Baby at the end of Devil’s Rejects, it would be a travesty if that is the last we see of the character. He could come back. Hell, stranger resurrections happen in horror flicks all the time. It would be a stretch to have all three of them some back. He was in the back seat, so it’s conceivable that fewer bullets hit him. Plus, he’s just too ornery to die. If not a movie of the further adventures of Captain Spaulding, I wouldn’t mind a prequel. Cutter Altamont’s pre-Captain Spaulding adventures are fascinating too. The only problem with that is finding an actor to play a younger version of Sid Haig, and I can’t imagine anyone actually pulling that off. I think the best possible use of the character, however, would be in an anthology show. Imagine turning “Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen” into a weekly series with Spaulding as the host. How cool would that be?

I actually did get to meet my hero once. Those of you who know me in real life have probably all heard this story a thousand times, but I’m going to tell it again anyway. It was at DragonCon in 2004. It was about 3am. I had been awake for three days, and I was drunk off my ass and stoned out of my mind, but I remember this moment with crystal clarity. I was walking, well, more accurately; I was stumbling through the hotel lobby, on my way outside for a smoke, when I saw Sid Haig walking with a very large guy who I’m guessing was event security. I decided to run up behind him and tap him on the shoulder. He turned, motioned to the security guy to back off, and gave me a tired, annoyed, “what the hell does this drunk want” look. I told him “Sir, I’m a big fan of yours. I don’t want to bother you, and I don’t have anything to sign, but if you would just say something from the movie that would be awesome.” I didn’t even say what movie. Without missing a beat he rolled his eyes and said in perfect Spaulding style: “Boy, if you don’t get out of my face and quit bothering me I’m gonna put my big clowny foot all up in ya ass!” Then he shot me the trademark wide eyed grin, turned around, and walked off. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Indeed, I wanna be just like that guy. Long live Captain Spaulding.


Andrew said...

Ah, hah hah!
That is an awesome story.

I, too, have a special place for Captain Spalding (although I prefer his Devil's Rejects iteration to the Thousand Corpses one). You can tell Sid Haid is a cool guy.

Cash Wampum said...

I remember being very uncomfortable when I watched 1000 Corpses for the first time. The part when Spaulding is coming off like he's been insulted by the city slickers and he's getting more and more pissed off and you think he's going to go bat shit insane on those poor kids just to seize the moment and bust out laughing at them for falling for his shit. I don't know who was more relieved after that, the characters who just shit themselves or me. I'd say its probably the best "syke" moment since Joe Pecci is Goodfellas.

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