copyright 2014 by Gary Pullman
Bodies severed at their waists. Eyes without irises or pupils. Furry faces full of fangs. Cheeks stitched from the corners of the mouth to the ears. Mouths devoid of lips. Decapitated bodies. Skulls showing through flesh. Bloody necks slashed and slashed. Faces streaming blood. Crowns of skulls cut away. Craniums transformed into slug-like monstrosities. Faces without noses. Eyes become fanged mouths. Flesh pockmarked and riddled with open sores.
The results of special effects, these images of violence horrify because they display death, dismemberment, injury, monstrous transformation, and disease. They are graphic reminders of our humanity—and, thus, our vulnerability—as much as they are mementos mori.
These pictures remind us of the facts: we are not only going to die someday, but we are, in fact, dying day by day.
Life itself reminds us of our mortality, but in much more subtle ways, ways that seem too small to disturb us more than a moment, if at all.
Our skin wrinkles and sags.
Our hair grays, recedes, or thins.
We put on a little weight.
Our joints ache and stiffen.
Our ears and noses sprout hair.
Our ears get bigger.
Age spots appear on our faces and hands.
Our bones become brittle.
Vision or hearing erode.
We become forgetful.
We wear dentures where, once, we had teeth.
We fall and we cannot get up.
But these signs of aging (and of eventual death) occur gradually, giving us time to adjust and to accept the inevitable. We say that we are getting older, not that we are dying.
And, yet, we are dying, day by day, a wrinkle here, an age spot there.
But we become accustomed to our fate.
Images of horror—of death and destruction, injury and pain, madness and loss of control—don't allow us such a luxury. Such depictions shock and frighten.
They get the blood running and the adrenaline flowing, preparing us to fight or to take flight.
In reminding us of death, they also remind us of life.
Such images remind us to stop, to think, to listen, and to smell the roses. . .
. . . while we can.
Before it's too late.
And the bogeyman hiding within emerges, born of blood and flesh, pain and bone, reducing us, at last, to food for worms.