WARNING!! GRAPHIC GROSSNESS APPROACHETH!! I can see the question marks over your heads already... it's really very simple. I witnessed an event on my recent trip to Paris that made me think I was in the new George A. Romero film, "Land of the Dead", or at least on the special effects lot. Oddly enough, I had just been to the catacombs - foreshadowing has never been so obvious. On the Seine, a river known for the beauty that surrounds it, I hop on one of those giant tour boats for a spin up around Notre Dame and back to kill about an hour. It's the equivalent to the NY Circle Line. I'm on the top deck snapping pix of the bridges from underneath, the amazing architecture lining the Seine & just trying to ignore the obnoxious tourists on this vehicle. I, of course, am far from obnoxious and minding my own business. It starts to rain a bit & I go downstairs to the glass enclosed area, sheltered but still easy to take a gander at what Paris has to offer from here. There I am standing in the front of the boat next to a gentleman who I took no notice of previously (and that would change SOON) staring out the huge windows. The rain kicks up a notch and a gust of wind slams shut one of the giant glass and metal doors at the front of the boat. The tourist next to me (a middle aged asian man) turns to me with his left hand raised vertically, knuckles toward me and lets out a grunt/uhhuhhhhgh/death metal rumble sound. I look at his hand and make a similar sound back to him, definitely more high pitched, less like a death metal vocal than he did, perhaps a bit more black metal. His fingers had been cut off below the first (top) knuckle...
...apparently he had his hand in the door jamb when the wind slammed it shut. I was the nearest person to this guy & I get the front row seat to the Parisian tourist's equivalent to witnessing Monty Python's Black Knight scene in the Holy Grail.
So his fingers are not entirely severed; actually when he shows me his hand, each upper knuckle with nails still intact are hanging by bits of skin in front of his fingers as if each finger had it's own little albatross hanging off it.
He just stood there, he groaned a bit, but really , he just stood there and he did not move his hand from in front of my face. Thanks guy, really, thanks. It's no wonder I had a very light dinner that evening. But I have to say, I was more mesmerized than anything. I noted that blood was bubbling (like oil, black gold, texas tea) a little bit on the top of (what was left of) each finger before it cascaded down his hand & arm into a big sticky mess on the floor. I grabbed him by the shoulders and sat him down, thinking it was only a matter of time before he passes out from the loss of blood. He never winced or panicked, and as the rain got heavier, more people came downstairs, headed toward the front of the boat & then headed toward the back twice as quickly. I got someone to donate a scarf to the cause (a designer one no less, oui! oui!) to cut off the circulation to his arm so the poor fella wouldn't bleed to death. The flesh right where the contact had been made was really ground up, and some of the fleshy bits reminded me of pencil shavings if they stay intact & somewhat circular as you get them out of a manual sharpener. Finally one of the guys who worked on the boat came downstairs to see what all the fuss was about --I had been shouting "EEEMERRRGENCEEE" in the best french accent I could muster for awhile by this point - he took one peek onto the carved up mess of a hand and muttered something & took off to figure out what to do as we were in deeep sheeet (or at least water).
As it ends up, the boat has to anchor in the Seine, from what I undertand we could not get permission just to turn around in the river. The boat police show up (imagine here a red inflatable raft or dinghy with an engine) in about 10 minutes; the storm is fully raging now; almost to Cape Fear level, but not quite; lots of thunder and lightning, and now, HAIL. Slightly larger than marble-sized, the hail is slamming it's way down the steel steps of the boat and making it a hazard to move, and the situation much worse. One of the police gets off his little boat & tries to get on board & falls in the drink; he gets fished out by the other cop & they both come aboard onto a floor of what looks like spaghetti sauce with eyeballs in it. A gust of wind hits them while they're getting their gear out & a stretcher goes overboard along with a bag holding medical supplies and walkie talkies - I know this because I was on that boat for a very long time & witnessed the retrieval process. Another batch of cops show up and fare better, they all get aboard without incident and barely slip on the hail. I have taken the seat directly behind the "victim" to hold him steady, although I did not really notice a difference in his condition since the initial injury (aside from losing a good amount of blood), he must have been in shock and on autopilot, kind of amazing that he didn't pass out. One by one the police take a gander, each grimacing and grunting at the initial sight of this guy's hand, but prepared to wrap him for transit. Taking care to place each finger bit back atop it's home pedestal of a stub, they wore gloves and acted with precision, finally wrapping the entire mess in gauze. The man did not speak french or english, so I don't really know how or what was communicated to him, but they took him to shore and I'm sure to a hospital.
In the back of my head throughout this entire ordeal, was a little voice telling me I should be taking photos. I didn't. I couldn't, I guess I felt it was, umm, impolite. I thought I'd be kicking myself but I'm not, the situation was really fucked up and I'll have a pretty vivid memory of what happened for a long time, besides, let the pros do it. If you want to see some real gore, check out Romero's latest, the aforementioned Land of the Dead. It's good & gory. Fave scenes: special effects king Tom Savini as the Machete Zombie (you see him here as Sex Machine in From Dusk Til Dawn), there's a navel "piercing" scene that's quite a hoot, product placement of a Misfits patch on a character called Mouse, and a lot of the silhouettes are more explicit or at least more effective than the real good bloody red stuff. After witnessing my own pile of bloodiness, I'd have to say that Romero gets the color red right most of the time; sometimes a little too bright red here & there, but I'm sure that's for effect, but that's the dilemma of any horror movie. From the tomato soup pinkish blood in DePalma's "Sisters" to the raspberry preserves of "Evil Dead", everyone has their recipe. If you like your gore mixed with punk rock, a bit of fun & good old rock & roll, check out George Is Dead playing this Saturday at Connections in Clifton NJ. Bon Appetit!