1. making marks that cannot be erased, removed, or the like: indelible ink.
2. that cannot be eliminated, forgotten, changed, or the like: the indelible memories of war; the indelible influence of a great teacher.
When you go to the movie theater and you’re handed a vomit bag with your ticket you can be pretty sure viewer discretion is advised. In 1972, my older sister convinced my father to take her and a gaggle of her friends to see the R rated movie Mark of the Devil. I was in third grade at the time, and I’m not sure why, but I was permitted to tag along.
I remember the vomit bag, and oh boy, do I wish I still had it (unused of course). I just think it would make an awesome collector’s item. It had the name of the movie printed on it, a photograph of the penultimate scene, and a guarantee that it was the most horrifying movie ever made.
The aforementioned penultimate scene involves the extraction of a young women’s tongue. This is after she’s been tortured for most of the movie for being a suspected witch. Mark of the Devil is set in the 1700’s and tells the story of a disillusioned witch hunter who rebels against his mentor.
Having never seen a horror movie before, I didn’t know enough to look away from the most disturbing and gruesome scenes. My experience up until that point had been watching B movies from the 50’s and 60’s on Creature Feature and Chiller Theater.
While the tongue scene was definitely gross, the image from the film that disturbed me the most was very benign compared to today’s standards. You see worse on prime time TV.
It was a severed forearm lying on a table. That was the image that brought me closest to using the bag, and its the revulsion I felt at that moment that continues to make horror movies a daunting proposition for me. I can read the written word on the page, the most horrific, violent, grotesque descriptions a writer can dish up. But often when I’m watching a thriller, horror or suspense movie, the tension I’m feeling is the stress over whether I’m about to see a gory image on-screen.
And that kind of sucks because I love zombie movies, and zombie movies are frequently fraught with gore. It’s damn hard to find a good zombie movie that isn’t. It’s not a horror movie, but I wanted to see 127 Hours in the worse way. Couldn’t muster the intestinal fortitude. Maybe I will someday. Since I obviously have an interest in horror it certainly behooves me to develop a stronger palate. I hear the last 15 minutes of Texas Chain Saw Massacre will alter my brain forever. And who doesn’t want that?