Have you ever felt the need for vengeance? Sure you have, you are human just like everyone else. Wanting to seek vengeance is a pretty normal thing, especially when you are really pissed off at someone for doing something bad. But what if that drive for vengeance becomes an obsession. You find yourself stuck in a realm of existence where everything you once deemed right and true to now be forgotten ideologies and philosophies on life? The person you once was is now a former shell, a ghost or specter of who you are now.
I can remember when I was a young middle schooler and when I got my first actual bully. So I was sitting in my seventh grade period classes called study hall. A common thing to have where you were supposed to spend that time to either study or do homework. This was seventh period which means it was the end of the day. Which also means most of us were well out of focus for learning or hitting the books. Thus always making this seventh period study hall more of a time for social interacting and goofing off. The thing was, the teacher didn’t care. He was the football coach at the school which means he wasn’t one of those serious teachers. What is it with football coaches being teachers? They’re always history teachers? It’s like the school needs them to coach football but decided to make them do something else and history class was the only thing that didn’t require actual teaching. I’m not saying that all history teachers aren’t teachers. It’s just I’ve never seen a football coach as a science teacher.
On this one occasion for my seventh period study hall, the chaos was getting pretty intense. Me and my friends noticed another class outside the school. It must have been a P.E. class because these kids were all running. So we all decided to mess with them in the most juvenile way we could think of. By flipping everyone off with the middle finger!
Most of the kids in the P.E. class were people we knew and were laughing. All of my friends stopped and sat back down in their chairs. But I didn’t. I kept flicking people off and even started yelling to them. Unfortunately, one of the kids trailing in last place was a kid known as Allen and I decided to focus my efforts on him. I mocked Allen for being fat, slow and sucking his moms titties. Yea, I was a kid and kids do dumb things. But little did I know that I just opened up Pandora’s box. You see, Allen was a single kid who lived with his dad. His mom wasn’t in the picture. She may have been dead and it is something I will never know. But this pissed Allen off and he kept walking on and I went back to goofing off with my friends. Thinking I was the coolest dude in the world.
So seventh period goes by and so does eighth and the final ninth period. The day is going normally and I am feeling pretty good. At this point the final bell rings and I head down to my locker to then walk home with my friends. Now, where the lockers were was a tight area next to a stairwell at the far end of the schools west wing. There’s loads of people in there and absolutely no teacher in about five hundred miles. This was the early nineties and being a kid was much less monitored folks. So people are bumping into each other, kind of like a mosh pit. I get jarred real hard and kind of took two stumbled steps forward. I didn’t think much of it cause it was common to run into people from time to time.
But then another shove came and I found myself losing balance. Before I knew it some unknown person was pushing me against the wall. Then the fists started flying. Everything happened to fast that I couldn’t tell who the hell was punching me. But I reacted in the typical manner. I put my hands up and blocked. But the punches were flying and catching me in the right places. I could hear people in the locker hallway going silent. Some people were yelling words that sounded more like a blur. Then everything suddenly stopped and two hands shoved me so hard into the wall one last time that it took all the breath from my body. I kind of arched myself downward in a dizzy state. It took me a few seconds to come back to reality and when I looked up, there was Allen walking away. He looked like bigfoot walking in and out of all the kids that were standing there frozen like trees. I was kind of shocked and didn’t move much. I wasn’t hurt but felt more embarrassed by the whole thing. To be honest, I knew I had it coming. So that happened and I took my bruised up ass home.
But guess what? Allen attacked the next day in the same way. I thought the first encounter was just a good release of pent up frustration. But no Allen struck again. Fortunately I was a little more prepared and covered up once more. But Allen was bigger than me and in middle school, that’s all that matters. Allen came after me like that for about the entire week. Some days, nothing happened and I went different ways out of the school. I was like a guy avoiding dues to the mafia and I was every day, trying to get out of the city. But Allen would find me and started attacking at different times of the day. This was my punishment for the entire week. I lived in fear and under the shame of being mocked by my fellow classmates.
Then all of a sudden, Allen stopped coming after me. I never told a teacher or my parents so I knew nothing outside this situation stopped it. Maybe Allen just got tired of it or maybe his mom came home. I don’t know. But I wasn’t done, I wanted revenge! No way could this fat clown come after me for an entire week and kick my ass. Everyone at school was mocking me over Allen. So I did the only thing I could think of. I went home and watched action movies! That’s right folks, as a kid the philosophy on getting good at anything is to watch movies or play video games! You want to be a good football player? Watch Varsity Blues! You want to learn how to be a teacher? Watch Kindergarten Cop! You want to be a kick ass fighter? Play this shit out of Street Fighter 2! Which is what I did.
I played day and night and practiced in my room. I watched the 1986 movie Cobra with Sylvester Stallone and thought how badass would I be if I used a match as a toothpick and wore aviator sun glasses with leather gloves on my hands! The only gloves we had were dish washing gloves so that display of badassery wasn’t going to happen. I would imagine Allen was my Macho Man WWF Wrestling Buddies doll and beat the hell out of it. “TAKE THIS ALLEN YOU FAT PUSSY!” I knew I’d be ready and I got real pissed just thinking about Allen getting me in the corner and not fighting back. All this pent up anger was coursing through my veins like a wild intoxicating drug. I wanted Allen’s decapitated head on my wall. I wanted his loser dad to cry about losing his wife and now his only son! I wanted everyone in the school to stop making fun of me! I WANTED VENGEANCE!
So the weekend went and on the following Monday, I went to school ready. I was like Jerry Mitchell from Three O’Clock High waiting for Buddy Revell. Watching that caged clock high up on the wall getting closer to 2:30. At one point I was so pumped and thinking about being Ryu that I started to chuckle inside. Allen was going to get a surprise this day!
But then Ricky Murphy, that stupid ass face. He started pissing me off in my eighth period shop class. He wouldn’t stop singing Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. I didn’t need that song right now. Ryu needs hard rock music. Ryu needs to be left along. But Ricky wouldn’t stop even after asking him to. The rage swelled up inside. This cock thinks he’s so cool, but he’s not and I was going to do something about it. So the bell rang and I followed Ricky outside the class. There, in the hallway I jumped.
I started pushing Ricky and hitting him. Other classmates stood there in shock. But all I did was smile. I connected a few blows and Ricky just remained perplexed. The kid didn’t even fight back. Finally he smiled and said “Nate, what are you doing?” Obviously I wasn’t Ryu. I wasn’t Cobra. I wasn’t anything close to that. I slowed down and let my breath settle down. Still my I kept my fists held high and didn’t say a word. I looked around and other kids were giving me dirty looks. One girl that I liked named Jill gave this disgusted look and walked away. What had happened to me? All this anger and sworn vengeance. It turned me into a bully! I looked at Ricky and told him I was sorry. It was in this moment that all this built up macho aggression came crashing down and I went out of the school to cry.
All I wanted was to fight Allen. Ricky wasn’t a bad guy. All he did was live with his weird and leathery looking grandma. For the most part he was cool. At this point I didn’t care about Allen. I did more damage to myself and to the kids I wanted as my friends. This was worse than Allen hitting me a few times. Allen didn’t have to do shit for this kind of embarrassment. The worst thing is, I never saw Allen again. I don’t know if he moved or what. But I never ran into him again. But there was always this idea in the back of my head that my actions molded opinions of me that day to other kids. Like nothing I could do would make people think I was an ok guy that wasn’t mean.
You see, that’s what vengeance can do to a person. It can alter you, turn you into a monster. Maybe you had good intentions but in the end, you’re so clouded by revenge and violence that you mess up royally. You become the worst thing. You become not you. With this in mind, I think my choice for day two of my Horror Movie Marathon be a great modern horror film called The Head Hunter.
The Head Hunter is a 2018 fantasy/horror film directed by Jordan Downey. It stars Christopher Rygh, Cora Kaufman and Aisha Ricketts as the “head.” The film was shot on a minimal budget of forty thousand dollars but has garnered a decent amount of attention from critiques and fans. It actually has a rotten tomatoes rating of 100%! But that’s not why you should like any movie.
The Head Hunter is about a bounty hunter living in medieval age that hunts monsters for a neighboring kingdom. After his daughter is killed by a certain beast, he vows to hunt it down and seek vengeance. As time goes on our hunter gains quite the collection of monsters and is becoming an asset to the kingdom. But will he ever find true closure with his attempt at revenge?
Man do I love this movie. After watching it for the first time, I knew it had to be in my marathon. I’ve always been a sucker for certain horror films. For instance, I love underwater horror movies like 1989’s Leviathan and DeepStar Six. It’s the atmosphere of underwater inescapability that draws me to them. But I also love a good fantasy horror film since I am a huge epic fantasy reader. I read Lord Of the Rings every single year. I’ve conquered The Wheel of Time, The King Killer Chronicles, Narnia, The Stormlight Archive, Game of Thrones, The Sword of Truth and many more. I just love that medieval setting. So to have two of my most favorite genres come together! That is right up my alley folks.
What is odd is that Jordan Downey isn’t really known for this kind of film. Downey is the guy that brought us the Thankskilling movies. Yea, the movie about the killer foul mouthed puppet turkey. It’s not what I would call the most awesome of horror films. Funny at times but very cheap and stupid. Downey has only done a few films but The Head Hunter is one that tells me he is stepping in a right direction. What you get with The Head Hunter is a brilliant spectacle of a hero braking the norms of the typical heroes journey.
What I mean is, in Star Wars you have our hero Luke. He has a duty to accomplish a goal. To fight evil at all costs. But he won’t cross the line or sell his soul in doing so. He starts off in a low place and learns to fight. He goes through highs and extreme lows. To the point where you think it will brake him. He goes toe to toe with a much stronger bad guy and the entire time, you’re cheering him on and wanting to be him. Finally, the hero wins and gets to party with little teddy bears! That’s the heroes journey of Star Wars. Something you’ve seen done many many times. But that’s ok because these kinds of story cliches are important to a society. Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Rocky, Ellen Ripley and The Mighty Ducks all teach us to be true and fight on. To be good guys. But The Head Hunter brakes that.
What we get is a beautiful style shot film of the hero at the low and remaining there. His journey is dark and disturbing. The hunters struggle is ongoing and his pursuit of seeking to destroy evil is what will be his downfall. I don’t want to give too much away but what partakes is an interesting perspective of dealing with things like loss, grief and revenge. For every monster the hunter slays, it leaves him as joyless and lost as before. This is great because normally a hero achieves victory and he’s walking tall. Nothing can take him down. But in all reality, it is a pipe dream. We get this by the hunters way of dealing with his strife. He has all these decapitated monster heads spiked to his wall in his house. But he doesn’t delight in their decay. He doesn’t seem to seek and end. Every time the kingdom has a bounty available, he stops whatever he is doing and takes the job. He even partakes in dark matters by using monsters blood to heal himself whenever hurt. That in itself is symbolic of his fate. His fight is not against monsters but himself. The Head Hunter serves as a message of truth, that to be the hero one must not necessarily be a seeker of vengeance. To do so can lead us down a dangerous road of turmoil and spiritual mutation. What becomes of our hunter is an example of that. He is blind to true peace and Christopher Rygh does this without a great deal of dialogue.
This brilliant and soft toned story is given to us in minimalist way. The sets are simple and it looks as though it was shot in the woods. Making me think of the great Bronze Age slashers that were shot in the woods because it was cheap. But The Head Hunter lets the environment speak for itself. It gives us a tone that leaves us nervous and begging for the sun. This movie proves that millions upon millions of dollars with special CGI effects aren’t needed. It captivates the horror imagination just as good and if not better than something like IT: Chapter One.
Things are not moving one hundred miles an hour and it focuses on the hunters face to give us a true understanding of his ordeal. It is not a conventional monster movie. In fact, we never get a good idea of what exactly this man is so hellbent on killing. But it is captivating and full of energy because things get pretty intense when he does actually meet his objective.
It is not the most scary of movies but does have some creepy moments. One of my favorite shots is when he dawns a helmet to fight an invading creature. It gives you a good idea of how terrible fighting with armor is because its like holding a finger in front of your nose while trying to see straight. He has no peripheral vision which makes the attacking monster all that scarier. Kind of like Agent Starling in the basement of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.
To say this movie needs more attention and credit is an understatement. It is a wonderful display of horror done right and horror that can give us more than just blood and guts. The ending will leave you speechless and thinking about yourself as a person. It may even make you think about our society entirely. With so many groups out there fighting for justice, equality, taxes or whatever mission statement their Facebook page states. You have to wonder if their fight for an idea is superseded by their desire to only destroy and cause chaos. In my opinion this movie makes me think of groups like the KKK, Antifa, The Proud Boys and BLM. They’re all the same. People that are dealing from tremendous amounts of pain but have been blinded by their own suffering, delusions and anger. They can burn down homes and attack other people and are not aware of their terror. They don’t see what they are becoming, they don’t see the heads on their wall like the hunter. They’re their own worst enemy. But that’s my pedestal moment and I promise not to do this much.
If this is what Jordan Downey believes is a good horror film then I am hoping he brings us more just like The Head Hunter. This is why I have chosen 2018’s The Head Hunter as my day two pick for Horror Movie Marathon 2021.
Thanks For Reading!
Thanks for reading my post! Below are four more films from the past day twos of my Horror Movie Marathons! Check them out! Also, do me a favor and give me a comment and a like. It’s better than giving me money.