The night sky was full of light shining from spotlights, lit billboards and flashes of cameras in front of the famous Raymond MK Theatre in Hollywood. The theatre is also referred to as the RMK or Coliseum because of its Ancient Greco-Roman exterior design while sporting a glamorous Art Deco interior the likes of which convinced the plebeians that this is the very birth spot of the design. Dark green carpeting and white marble walls and pillars with ash-colored etch with repeated fan designs and carvings of faceless Valkyries lifting orbs towards the sky. The red carpet outside was abuzz with reporters, fans and Hollywood elite who came out tonight to witness the premiere of “Thunder of the burning Heart” directed by Hollywood’s modern directorial genius Dario Alighieri. Alighieri is credited with bringing back Silent Films to the modern big screen, his trademark in using unknown or washed up actors and launching them to stardom.
A white stretched limo pulled up to the red carpet and all attention is on it as the door swung open and out stepped Dario wearing his trademark all white three piece suit and velvet red overcoat. Dario is in his mid fifties but with his artistic shaman-like lifestyle he looks no older than forty. With a Pope-like wave to the crowd, he’s met with a wave of cheers and flashing of cameras. Dario briskly walked past reporters and was ushered inside the theatre where he immediately asked to be taken someplace private before the showing begins. Dario’s senses now calmed in the sudden deafness of the greenroom he was taken to. Leaning back on the sofa, Dario looked at his cell-phone and sent a quick message to one of his assistants if the accommodations for the after-party have been met before turning his phone off and stuffing it into his inner pocket.
Realizing that he turned the phone off before hearing back from his assistant, Dario grunted as he pulled the phone out, turned it back on and tossed it next to him on the sofa before getting up and walking into the small bathroom in the greenroom where he rinsed off his face with cold water and looked in the mirror at himself, his finger nervously tapping the side of the sink. He’s never been this nervous about a premiere before, that was because he remembered directing those films. Dario has no recollection of writing, casting, filming and editing this film that’s being opened in his name this night! Dario can’t remember what happened the past year, only that he sat at his computer trying to think of a new story before being bored looking at the screen for hours and going to bed just to wake up a couple weeks ago and seeing that he was Front Page news again for a new film premiere.
It’s been years since he’s touched black market drugs and he’s been sober from alcohol for several years so he knows he did not black out after some binge. He’s seen the production pictures that he must have taken while filming, as he usually does, and everything looks phenomenal! The set, costumes, cast, everything! It was pure genius, his magnum opus that will put his past productions to shame and cement him the title of greatest director of all time. After seeing the pictures, his worry was cleared but he was not sure what to still think. Did he really direct this film? He is in the photographs on set with cast and crew, maybe he overworked himself and a creative form of amnesia took over him. Maybe an undiagnosed STD has afflicted his mind; he did have a wild start in the 80’s when he made a lot of underground artistic films. Over and over his fears would be replaced by curiosity about the film before falling back into fear of his memory lapse.
Emerging from the greenroom, Dario was met with associates and those who want to be seen with him charging to be at his side as he’s made his way to the auditorium to take his seat. Dario keeps it a tradition of his to not make a speech before premiering a film. Dario always believed his films would do the talking for him and if he has anything to say, he would say it at the after party. From what Dario saw in the production stills, it looked like the movie was filled with romance, the like of which was not seen on screen since Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in ‘Gone with the Wind’, action scenes with dashes of suspense to keep the plot interesting. In other words, this movie has something for everyone to enjoy! Dario sat in the seat that’s dead center of the entire theatre surrounded by his people, more like hanger-ons, and both critics and those lucky enough to afford invites or tickets to the event. Dario looked around at the faces of people around him before noticing a woman a couple rows back from him staring at him but whether it was because of the distance or the lights in the theatre fading to black, it looked like the woman had no face.
Looking forward to the main curtain as it slowly rose, the screen glowed from the projector as the credits to start the film began to flicker on the screen accompanied by beautiful orchestral music. Dario sat with his hands cupped under his chin as his worries about this mysterious film began to fade away along with the lovely soundtrack as the title card faded into view and quickly cut away to a scene of a man tied to a rock having his entrails pulled out by a ghoulish being that was slurping the organs into what could only be assumed was its mouth. Dario’s eyes bugged out in horror at the sight that seemed to become even more gruesome as other images depicting gory acts accompanied by enthusiastic fornication between hideous creatures, the likes of which Dario would never see in his wildest fever dreams! Dario covered his mouth, what was this?! Panicked, Dario looked over at one of the critics who had a smile on his face as he was leaning over to another critic praising the special effects and makeup that made the actors look lifelike. He looked over at another critic who looked enthralled by the film in front of her and only muttered that it was beautiful.
Dario looked back at the screen and back at the critic, this must be a cruel joke, the film has now been playing for nearly twenty minutes and the horror on the screen only intensified as images of adults, children, and animals are shown being eaten or ripped apart by different creatures before the camera. Dario noticed now how the scenes are being filmed; it’s as if someone was filming the film as if it was one of those “found footage” films, a point of view type film, the camera was being held by hand. This is not HIS style; he would never film a movie this way! Looking around the theatre Dario was sure he would see people disgusted with what was on the screen but instead he saw people praising it, some were clapping with delight at certain parts. As Dario looked around he began to notice that more and more people’s faces looked to have…melted off or morphed into faceless things. A hand tapped Dario on the shoulder from the direction of one of his producers who told him he outdid himself with this picture, turning to face him; Dario was met by the faceless producer whose skin acted as a thin covering of the skeletal outline of his face.
Frozen with fear, Dario smiled and nodded before finally turning back to the screen that now showed an emaciated crone with long black oily hair looking blankly out from the screen. So far with the exception of the beginning credits, the film was completely silent but now the silence was broken by the banshee-like screams of the woman on the screen as her head violently snaps and shakes in multiple directions at great speed making her hair fly all over the place. Dario covered his ears as everyone else in the theatre sat in silence fixated at the screen. The screaming scene lasted god knows how long, looking at the clock Dario reckoned the film so far has ran close to an hour but it felt like minutes! Dario sprang up from his seat and side stepped his way through the aisle he was seated in and briskly walked to the door leading to the lobby.
Gripping the brass handle of the door, Dario looked back at the horrific film he’s convinced now was made by something else and saw the main house of the theatre full of faceless heads turned toward him, their invisible eyes Dario felt all over him as he gasped and swung the door open and ran to the lobby that was unusually quiet and vacant. Dario looked around the lobby as he caught his breath. Looking towards the door leading out to the red carpet, there was nothing, no lights, no people, no traffic. Dario froze as he looked out the glass door when he realized he saw a reflection in the glass of someone behind him at the door leading into the theatre. Snapping his head around, Dario saw the faceless woman who he thought he saw just as the film was about to begin. The woman, Dario assumed by her slender built and dress, towered over Dario who was six feet even in height. She wore a black full length dress with black patterns that resembled a spider web pattern.
The woman’s arms where folded in front of her as she stood blankly staring at Dario with her faceless head. Dario ran toward the door leading outside, threw the doors open and fell onto the red carpet and out into the street. Like in the theatre lobby, there was no sounds, no signs of life, just the night with only the street lights illuminating anything. Looking up to the sky was like looking up into a vast void of infinite darkness, no stars, no clouds reflecting the city lights. Just darkness that light cannot touch. Dario ran down the street, his shoes hitting pavement and the humming of the streetlights being the only sounds in this world. After running several blocks away from the theatre, Dario slumped against a telephone pole gasping for air as he turned to look behind him to make sure he was not being followed by the faceless woman. Huffing for air, Dario pressed his sweaty forehead to the back of his hand that’s touching the phone pole silently praying thanks for being away from the dreadful being that’s in the form of the women before trying to calm himself to come to a conclusion of what to do next. The humming of the streetlight next to the pole stopped humming with a click sound as the light turned off as did the rest of the lights along the street leading back to where he ran from.
Dario staggered back from the phone pole and stood silently facing the direction of where he ran from. In the distance he saw a light pole turn back on as something moved in the distance into the darkness and another light pole lit back to life again showing movement into the shadows and then Dario heard it, the sound of something running on pavement, high heels on pavement. Shaking his head as he mumbled desperately his disapproval of the current event, Dario came to the realization that the faceless woman was now running towards him at a steady pace like a track runner! Dario let out a scream as he turned and began to run into the darkness away from the woman, looking over his shoulder trying to keep a distance between himself and the street lights that turn back on as the woman runs past them. Stumbling over his feet, Dario was able to keep up his own pace before noticing a light in the distance and began to gain speed as he took the dot of light in the darkness around him as a sign of hope.
The light got brighter and brighter as Dario got closer to it, maybe it’s a car with headlights on or a barricade with a spotlight, maybe the world has gone to hell and there’s a military checkpoint, who knows but Dario doesn’t care, it’s a light and he knows where there’s light in this world it could mean salvation or escape from the faceless menace that’s now chasing him. As the light came closer Dario felt as if he recognized this light but could not think of it at the moment but the next sensation he felt literally knocked him back to the ground. On his back, Dario shuffled around and got back to his feet, it felt like he hit a wall made of cloth. He tried to proceed forward but was stopped by an unseen barrier and as soon as he brought his hand to touch it he recognized the feeling, a film screen. Shielding his eyes he looked towards the light and saw where it was coming from, a projection room in the middle of a packed theatre with faces looking at him in awe.
Dario’s terror was being projected for the entertainment of others as he struck at the invisible screen trying to find a way out of his own horror movie as the faceless woman approached quickly from behind causing the light to fade leaving the audience in fright as the credits began to roll, and the darkness of the theatre fades as the lights became brighter and the audience applauds and whistles as they begin a standing ovation. As the film attendees clap they turn towards the center of the main house to where the man of the hour was seated during the premiere of his first horrific masterwork, the director stood with his hands up waving to everyone around him and took a bow from the center seat of the house and smiled warmly to those standing closest to him, as his first premiere left its mark on Hollywood, it also signaled the last premiere for Dario Alighieri.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This story was inspired by the music video for the song Square Hammer by the band Ghost.
Daniel S. Liuzzi, a Poet and aspiring writer from New York who is a lover of Sushi (anything Japanese really), Video Games and a good movie. Writes mainly Short stories of Strange Fiction, Fiction and Horror. Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag. Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.