“Attacked In My Own Home…”

I would like to thank the folks at Netflix for introducing me to foreign films and television series that rely on English subtitles to explain car chases, gun fights, and explosions. There was something on the other night, a movie made in Lithuania, in which a refinery exploded and the subtitles read, “Sounds of explosions.” Now I understand that subtitles are not only for those who do not speak Lithuanian, but also to assist the hearing impaired. This begs the question, “How would someone hearing impaired from birth know what an explosion sounded like?” I could not be trusted to write subtitles for anything. If a politician was speaking, I would be inclined to write, “Sounds of raucous moose farts.” Naturally, this would be for a Canadian movie.

There are great movies with English subtitles on NetFlix. In past months, I watched a flick called The Wave. This is a disaster film from 2015 about an unstable hillside that falls into a fiord, creating a tsunami, that wipes out a resort in the town of Geiranger, in Norway. The plot focuses on a man and his wife, who save their family against all odds. Part of the family is a teenaged son, who I would have gladly thrown into the fiord myself. The movie was great, and I watched it as part of a program called “Read One Good Movie A Week.” This flick was originally filmed in Norwegian, a language spoken only in Norway for a number of good reasons.

But Norwegian films are not the reason why I am writing this “Rampage.”

NetFlix has introduced me to Korean film makers who are second to none. The plots, the detail, and the cinematography of the three most recent Korean movies I have watched are top shelf. And the English subtitles do not read like the assembly instructions for cheap cabinetry made in China.

The first of these movies was The Train To Busan. This is a 2016 zombie apocalypse movie that left me on the edge of my seat. Now I have grown weary of the zombie movie genre, and of the various cable TV zombie offerings. They are simply depressing and miserable. This movie was not. Spoiler: the zombies can run like hell and pull down a gazelle. And The Train To Busan was more about various types of people — unlikely heroes and more likely douches — as opposed to the deceased eating guts. I have now watched it several times. I am astounded by the fact that douches in Korea are like douches everywhere else.

My second venture into Korean film was a movie called The Tunnel. This is a 2016 picture about a car salesman, on his way home to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, when shoddy construction in a remote highway tunnel prompts a collapse that buries this guy alive. The director’s contempt for Korean bureaucracy is well-developed in the plot. The movie was compelling to the point where I barely noticed the subtitles.

Under The Black Moonlight is a two-part 2016 Korean television horror series that has more twists per half-hour than a writhing snake. It is the tale of a college art class that is dealing (badly) with a psycho killer. One of the student artists can smell death, or more correctly, those who are about to die. I have experienced this same feeling on long biker weekends. This movie is far from the slash and dash horror genre, incorporating a dated screenplay development with great effectiveness. It stars Kim Soo Yeon, who has replaced Jessica Alba (in my mind) as the most beautiful woman in the world.

But this essay is not about Korean films either. It is about the recent blood-curdling events that took place at my house while I watched a genuinely scary movie.

I’d finished writing about midnight, when the bright moon was in strongest contrast to the noire atmosphere of Under The Black Moonlight, which I had been watching for an hour. Things were heating up with the characters of this series, as the director explored the unhealthy, psychotic nature of a major player. (I instinctively hated this character as I fell in love with the first victim.) It was at a turning point in the plot, when I was elevated two feet out of my chair.

Let the record show that I write best in subdued light. I compose in a trance on dark rainy days, but I cover the most literary ground at night, in a house where the only light comes from my screen and an LED desk lamp (with 45 dimming options). I was exhausted from working for 16 hours and open to suggestion. That suggestion was someone or something trying to break-in through the bay window in the living room behind me. The window shuddered as something slammed into the wall underneath it, followed by a scraping sound. My first conclusion was that the mountainside had fallen into the fiord. I struggled to remember the Norwegian phrase for “shit.” (It is “lutefisk.”)

To my credit, I did not scream like a 12-year-old girl, though I thought about it. Screaming would only infuriate the zombies, if in fact, zombies were involved. The slamming/scraping sound was repeated with greater intensity, and I thought the window would shatter. Only a crazed psycho killer displays this kind of tenacity. Taking a deep sniff, I could not discern death.

I spent eighteen years living in the wild Adirondacks of upstate New York. Bears and wolves routinely passed by my cabin. So did a mountain lion, once. When threatened by mammals that devour their prey while it is still squeaking, the Adirondack Renaissance man reaches for the caliber of choice and beats his chest. I live in New jersey now, and can only legally beat one thing, and that in private.

The window again shook as the wall took another hit, followed by the insistent scratching sound. My next thought was to call the police. Two things stopped me: 1) Doing so would confirm that I was an ineffective modern urban man-creature, bereft of testosterone; and 2) My phone was on a charger, directly under the living room window. I have seen a hundred films, sans subtitles, in which some chump goes by the draped window to retrieve a mobile phone, only to be pulled through the shattered glass by a huge tentacle; a mangled and pocked bloody arm; or the jaws of a great white shark.

Screw that.

I hit two keys on my computer to trigger the stereo system, blasting Blue Oyster Cult’s The Reaper at a mind-numbing volume. Then I turned on every light in the house. My nearest neighbor is 264-years old and as deaf as a post. The only way she could appreciate any of this would be if I hung subtitles in the living room window, which of course, was the epicenter of my torment. Still, it seemed like a good idea and I taped to the glass three sheets of paper, covered with large type that read, “Sounds of a screaming man being ripped apart by an unknown night creature.”

My neighbor’s name is Gert Smert, and she was a sharp shooter with Annie Oakley’s Rodeo and Flying Circus. She is always watching my place through binoculars. She fired a star shell into the air and three mortar rounds into my yard in less than 20 seconds.

The attacks stopped.

In the light of day, I discovered my house’s I Love Lucy era aluminum siding had been scratched. I determined that a fat-assed raccoon had discovered the two pairs of nesting birds (gentle house finches) under the eaves and made an effort to get the eggs. According to the evidence, this vermin made it as far as the windowsill.

A representative of the home owners’ association knocked at my door later that day to inquire about the Blue Oyster Cult tunes at 1:30am in the morning. I told him my story and showed him the damage.

“Those scratches were caused by a werewolf,” he said. “They are protected under New Jersey law.”


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