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We're extremely proud to include Bram Stoker Award winner Mark McLaughlin's column Four-Letter Word Beginning with `F' as one of the features EXCLUSIVE to HORROR GARAGE!

Mark McLaughlin

Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in more than 800 magazines, anthologies, newspapers, and websites, including Horror Garage, Doorways, Hungur, Cemetery Dance, Space & Time, The Black Gate, Galaxy, Writer's Digest, FilmFax, Dark Arts, Midnight Premieres, and two volumes each of The Best of the Rest, The Best of HorrorFind, and The Year's Best Horror Stories. Collections of his fiction include Pickman's Motel, Slime After Slime, Motivational Shrieker, At the Foothills of Frenzy (with Shane Ryan Staley and Brian Knight), and All Things Dark and Hideous (with Michael McCarty). Also, he is the co-author, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of the poetry collection The Gossamer Eye, which won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. His most recent poetry collection, Phantasmapedia, was a finalist for the Stoker Award.

In September 2008, Delirium Books/Corrosion Press released Monster Behind the Wheel, a novel Mark wrote with collaborator Michael McCarty. In that same month, Skull Vines Press released Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster, also co-written with Michael McCarty. These and other books can be ordered at www.horror-mall.com. Be sure to visit Mark online at www.myspace.com/monsterbook and


Ordinarily, I discuss a multitude of movies in every installment of my online column here at HorrorGarage.com... but this time, I'd like to concentrate on just one. This column is all about Fear (that's the four-letter word beginning with 'F') and the movie in question stirs in me a very deep fear indeed: the fear of a civilization gone wild, lost in an endless labyrinth of wanton depravity.

This movie has done more to shred the moral fabric of our great nation than all the world's street drugs and hardcore porn combined... and yet, most people do not recognize this lewd, repugnant motion picture as the malignant destroyer of souls that it is. This cinematic roadmap to Hell is actually one of the most popular movies of all time, and it's about time somebody... namely me... tore away its facade of wholesomeness to reveal its ungodly, maggot-infested innards.

But before I tell you about this movie, I believe a little explanation is in order... some background information to help set the stage for what I'm about to tell you. You see, I may write horror fiction, but that doesn't mean I want our country to descend into the seething depths of moral decay. I share a social concern with many of today's parents. Like them, I can clearly see that the media is filled with lurid images of sex, violence and degradation. You can't turn on the TV or radio, listen to a CD or watch a movie, without hearing about fly-girls and booty calls. Fly-girls? I once saw a movie in which a guy had a head like a gigantic housefly, but I don't recall that he had a sister.

As for "booty calls"... For those of you not familiar with the phrase, a booty call is when somebody contacts someone else to tell them they must soon provide sexual gratification. These days, if a movie doesn't feature at least four or five booty-call scenarios, a major studio won't even release it. What a deplorable state of affairs. Here's what I'd like to know: whatever happened to the good old days, when movies had real heroes who were dedicated to preserving a woman's sainted virtue?

In the old black-and-white silent movies, the heroes were always looking to protect the integrity of fair damsels. Take, for example, Charlie Chaplin, the adorable Little Tramp (in this instance, I should point out that "tramp" does not mean a person with loose morals, but rather, a man of the road... an adventurer). When the Little Tramp raised his eyes to heaven and shook his fist, the words on the caption card that followed usually read, "I shall save Pearl, for she is good and pure!" or words to that effect. Surely the Little Tramp never cried out, "Yeah, shake that thing, fly-girl! Time for a disco booty call!"

The Little Tramp probably didn't even know what a booty call was... Though in one of his movies, he played a character who was so hungry, he cooked and ate a boot. He probably would've thought that a booty call was a call to the boot factory to order more delicious boots.

Yes, movies were decent and pure back then, as was civilization in general. But then movies began to change... sound soon figured into the mix, as well as color. And the most wicked movie of all time featured sound and color... but it didn't start out in color. No, sirree. That movie tried to lull its viewers--or perhaps I should say, victims--into a false sense of security by starting out in black-and-white. By the time it exploded into loathsome, fleshy color, the audience was well on its way down the Yellow Brick Road of madness.