INK by Alexandra Basting

When the lights dropped, screams began. Jason Vorhees, Georgie, Jack Torrance, The Crow, and Jigsaw stepped onto the stage causing the screams to raise higher. We screamed with the villain from Friday the Thirteenth. Heavy lyrics about the curse of Crystal Lake, bearing our horns as he commanded the stage. Too soon, the lights dropped again. Fog radiated from under the stage filling screeching lungs, and as soon as Jason stepped off the stage, Freddy Krueger took his place, singing out about the dregs of society unable to survive the wrath of Jigsaw.

The puppet from everyone’s nightmares, the main villain in Saw, the puppet who was raging on the drums high on a pedestal. Freddy continued to rage as the room screeched at the top of their lungs about the savagery of a cannibalistic massacre in Texas. People pushed, shoved, flew high above, as savagery took place below in the pit.

Beasts were born under wailing references to Animal Farm, and the crumbling of society under the gnashing teeth of the beast.

This was the place that I felt the most at home. The metal heads were my safe haven, no judgment, no hate, just people enjoying music together—never ending screams, swallow me whole as the transition from beasts baring their teeth become feelings of horror and being the only one with differences in a world of universal conformity. As someone who felt out of place my whole life, I found myself identifying with this song the most. Edward Scissorhands made me feel like it was okay to be weird, and for this song I was grateful.

Shouts and screeches become angels and devils battling in a holy war over the body of a young girl, embodying The Exorcism, the horror film that changed the game. She writhes and runs across the stage, faced with a cross that attempts to burn the evil out of her body.

Once the evil is freed, our bodies cleansed, the world becomes slower, acoustic sounds replace the fast-paced shredding of guitars and pounding of drums. The Crow and Freddy bring to life the unjust death of a bride and groom, his body being resurrected to exact his revenge over and unjust death. Near invincible, the crowd becomes under The Crow’s power.

The spell is quickly broken, savagery beginning again as Ghostface, the villain from the movie Scream, replaces Freddy Krueger. He growls lines about burying Drew Barrymore and murder committed by mentally ill men. Primal animalism rears its head once again, in the presence of Jaws, and an audience screeching “F@*k this shark!” at the top of our lungs. Once Jaws is defeated and runs off the stage in “terror”, a twisted Santa takes his place enticing the audience to growl along to his murderous antics recounting the events of the twisted Christmas horror film Not So Silent Night.

Classic lyrics, reimagined, describe the tales of thrills and creatures of the night, running rampant on thriller night honoring the memory of Michael Jackson. We the audience screaming along, still choking on the heavy fog, losing our breath with the volume of our screams and our growls.

Carrie joins the stage of villains, covered in blood as the hallways of hell are brought to life by Freddy as he joins the audience standing above, hands held high to support him as he recounts the gory tale Stephen King created. Freddy safely on the stage quickly becomes Michael Myers, an insane killer possessing the powers of the devil, brutally murdering his female victim. Myers lyrically presents the nightmare that the town of Haddonfield suffered at the hands of an insane madman. The undead then possess our stage, alluding to romance by a stake through a vampire’s heart—after all, the fastest way to a girl’s heart is through her rib cage.

We howl along as a werewolf sings somberly about tearing the city of London apart as an uncontrollable beast only to be put at bay by a nurse as they danced across the stage. Somber tales continue, as lyrical recounts Tess of the d’Urbervilles, a victim of rape and a victim of a twisted system of society and justice working against her and final act of murder, her only chance to survive as the person she was before her suffering. We then are brought face to face with the struggle of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dedicated to the tale is a fine balance of clean lyrics to represent Jekyll and the screams, and guttural growls as Hyde. Two personalities so easily represented as a constant battle between good and evil going on within.

Finally, we again are met with Freddy, a haunting nursery rhyme threatening an already messed up sleep schedule. Knifelike claws haunt our nightmares as the masterpiece created by Wes Craven is brought to life. No fear plagues the audience as we are immersed in a world of horror world building at its finest on Ice Nine Kills’ part.

For a moment, you think the nightmare is over; for a moment, you think you’re safe then the chanting begins. The words Ice Nine Kills come in droves from the audience as the lights flash on stage, as we beg for the encore we have all been waiting for. Not soon enough, Pennywise makes his way on stage with Mickey Mouse, holding a paper boat and a red balloon as Pennywise introduces himself to Georgie? Mickey? Who knows. All we know is that it’s time to join the screams and chants as we hear ‘IT is the End,’ and before you know it, it really is over.

The lights rise back, illuminating what was a twisted movie set for most people’s worst nightmares. As you leave, you recount every movie, every novel rolling in your head like a film reel. It only takes you a few moments to come to the realization. Pennywise is Spencer. Jigsaw is Patrick. Ricky is Georgie. Joe is The Crow, and Dan is Jack Torrance. You realize that they are not the men of most people’s nightmares. They are just men with a questionably healthy love for horror. I realize during the cold walk from the venue that I’m just me, one part of the savage masses. My horns no longer thrust proudly in the air; instead, they are put away while I wallow in post-concert depression.