“Matinee” by Vince A. Liaguno from Night Shadows: Queer Horror (Bold Strokes Books 2012). Edited by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann.
So, here’s the thing. I’ve been mulling this over since yesterday’s post, and yes, it’s true – I need something to like, even a little bit, about one of the characters or the situation. It’s all a matter of degrees, though. I don’t need a story to have a happy ending; it could simply have a happier one.
This story delivered just that. Adam is a slasher flick fanatic who spends every holiday at the local cinema. Sometimes he’s the only one who shows up, and he tells himself he prefers it that way. When people do join him, he silently rails against them, dismissing them as poseurs. In truth, though, he’s lonely, and scared, and angry because he grew up with a fairly vicious, self-absorbed mother. She lashed out at him and destroyed his sense of trust. Destroyed his self-esteem.
The story does a great job of drawing you in and then pushing you away. Adam is attracted to the kid who runs the ticket booth, but also scared of him, when the kid aims homophobic remarks toward him in order to impress a girl. When the kid later seems to offer him a few crumbs of friendship, Adam becomes fixated on him. He works it up in his mind that they are kindred spirits, best friends. Of course that sets him up for a fall, but that’s to be expected. This isn’t a romance. Things are going to go terribly, terribly wrong. But you know what? I like Adam. I get Adam. I feel sorry for Adam.
That makes all the difference.
Yesterday afternoon, mulling all of this, I kept coming back to the movie Fright Night. I don’t know if they’ve re-made that one. I seem to have a memory of hearing that they did. If so, I’m not talking about that. I mean the real one, circa 1985. Yesterday I kept remembering my favorite moment from that film. Now, I liked the whole movie very much, and I’ve seen it many, many, many times, but there is definitely a moment I like best. It’s when Charley Brewster’s best friend “Evil” Ed meets vampire-next-door Jerry Dandrige. Dandrige makes him an offer. He wants Ed to come over to the dark side and be one of his minions. For Ed, it’s a dream come true. He thinks Dandrige is cool, thinks his house is cool, thinks being a vampire would be cool. I did, too. I never understood why Charley—supposedly a classic horror movie buff—didn’t get it. Why was he so against Dandrige? Everyone else understood. Peter Vincent was envious of Dandrige. Charley’s girlfriend Amy saw the vampire’s appeal. Ed was the one, though, who let the viewer vicariously make that deal with the devil, attractive only because Dandrige’s un-life was appealing. Absolutely, hands down, favorite moment.