We’re usually taught to respect our elders, but there have been plenty of characters in film who never quite got that memo. There’s a long and proud tradition in movies of elderly abuse and bad doings being transgressed on the 4:30 dinner crowd. This is the generation that did things like survive the Great Depression, fight the Nazis (and the Reds!), raise our parents and all too often us. One would think they’d earned a bit of consideration like guaranteed Social Security, adult diapers that don’t leak or generally not getting the shit beat out of them and snuffed like some third-rate red shirt. In this CHUD list, we’re going to take a look at a batch of old timers who, unfortunately, turned into having-a-really-bad-timers.
The Film: Deadly Friend (1986)
The Director: Wes Craven
The Elder: Elvira Parker (Anne Ramsey)
Every neighborhood has an Elvira Parker. Widow or spinster? Who is to say. But a lifetime of disappointments, spurns, and god knows what other woes that we’ll never learn, have left her angry and alone. She’s closed herself off from the outside world, content to while away her twilight years as a hermit (hermette?). In a neighborhood where every law idyllically flows into the next, hers is isolated by a fence; an ugly, utilitarian chain-link fence at that. Though she ostensibly wants to be left to her solitude, to watch TV and wear hideous knit robes, she clearly delights in the periodic contact she has with neighborhood children — so she can be mean to them. When three harmless and well-meaning teenagers, Paul, Tom and Samantha (plus Paul’s bitchin’ robot friend, BB), lose their basketball in Elvira’s yard, Elvira wastes no time in busting out her shotgun and taking cruel pleasure in pointlessly keeping the kids’ ball. Cause she’s a crusty old bitch.
The Abuse: Decapitation with the bluntest object imaginable.
It happened in 1986. Mark the time and date. We’ve reached cinema’s apex of gonzo comeuppance.
For the very basketball that Elvira sadistically seized from those teens is later thrown right back in her face. Literally. In her face. In, through, out. It is not unheard of for a sphere to completely demolish a human being’s entire head. Though usually we’re dealing with a solid object made of dense, heavy material. A cannon ball, if you will. It is a death generally reserved for period war films, like Glory. Possibly Elvira’s cranky lifestyle was caused by a disease that made her skull extremely soft and fragile, because what should take gunpowder and a ten pound metal ball is accomplished in Elvira’s living room by an undead teenage girl throwing a regulation sized inflatable basketball.
Lack Of Respect By: Robot Samantha (Kristy Swanson)
Samantha used to be a regular girl, until her drunken and abusive father accidentally killed her by knocking her down the stairs. Fortunately she lives next door to an 80’s nerd. And as we all know, in the 80’s, all nerds could build their own sophisticated robots. So Sam’s nerd neighbor brings her back to life by giving her the brain of BB…
…a robot who Elvira had destroyed earlier with her trusty shotgun, when Sam and her friends tried to retrieve their basketball in the middle of the night. Now part Samantha and part BB, and apparently all super-powered badass (despite the fact that her only cyborg component is a computer chip in her brain), Robot Samantha is out for revenge. And as the saying goes — revenge is a dish best served right through a motherfucker’s face.
Did She Have It Coming? Karma is a bitch. While no one deserves to get hit in the face with an air-filled rubber ball so hard that their head literally explodes, the simple fact remains that if Elvira had just given the kids back their basketball none of this would have happened, and her head would have most likely continued to stay unexploded for the remainder of her life.
Could the AARP Have Helped? Well, technically AARP’s “Divided We Fail” program is meant to address financial and health care stability for the elderly, but shut-in syndrome is a serious issue for seniors too. The AARP could have reached out to her and encouraged her to become involved in some socializing programs. Bingo, maybe. Or who knows, maybe there is a club for angry old crones who hate children. They could meet up once a week to sit on a porch and heckle the no-good brats scampering around the neighborhood, periodically threatening them with shotguns when they dare to stray too close to the house.
If Nature Had Taken Its Course? While the clean-up certainly would’ve been considerably less gruesome, Elvira’s natural death would nonetheless have proven a grotesque spectacle for the neighborhood anyway. A recluse with no known friends or family or visitors? Remember this story? The only way anyone would know if Elvira died would be once the smell had become so putrid that it was detectable all the way from the sidewalk.
What Andy Rooney Might Say: I have said it before and I will say it again. I do not think basketball is a proper sport. Where are the pads? The helmets? I suppose some may find entertainment in heads coming off both willy and nilly, but I don’t like it. I don’t need it. You ever see heads coming off because of baseballs? No sir.
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