This Review Is Not About LONGLEGS

MAY 31, 2024


As a legit Nicolas Cage fan (meaning: I love his work and daringness as an actor, not his ability to generate memes) I was quite curious how I'd feel about Longlegs, because while it gave him a meaty role as a serial killer, it's also a film from Osgood Perkins. And so far, while I haven't DISLIKED Perkins' films (of the two I've seen, Gretel & Hansel and Blackcoat's Daughter) I also felt a disconnect from them; any one shot (particularly Gretel) looked terrific, the actors did fine work, etc., but I couldn't quite invest myself in their storylines. But this one seemed more up my alley just on premise alone, so I figured that plus Cage would, if nothing else, give me enough to chew on and discuss in a review (the other two left me so indifferent I didn't even bother).

But as the title explains, this review is not about Longlegs.

Because as it very sadly turned out, about five hours before the lights dimmed for the movie, I got a phone call from a friend who has, best to my memory, never called me before in his life; in fact he's someone who has bemoaned the idea of people actually calling someone at all when texts or emails would suffice. So I knew it couldn't be good, and it wasn't: he was telling me that our mutual friend, the great Scott Wampler, had suddenly died that morning. After screaming and crying and drinking a glass of whiskey (long before I drove, I assure you), I decided to still head out to the theater, thinking the movie would make for a much needed distraction. But it didn't work; I was unable to focus on much of it, as I just kept thinking of the fact that I was never again going to see or speak to my friend again. For what it's worth, the girl next to me seemed borderline hysterical at some of its scarier moments, so I suspect folks will really dig it when it comes out (this was a special advanced screening; it hits theaters July 12th). But me? My eyes just kind of looked in the general direction of the screen while I wondered things like "What's going to happen to Conan?"

(Conan, his dog, is thankfully in good hands.)

Making it worse is that, while he wasn't someone I talked to every week, I had actually been in contact with him more than usual recently. Scott and our other pal, Russ Fischer, had recently launched a Hellraiser-themed podcast, Jesus Wept!, and they had asked me to come on to talk Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (not that it's a particular favorite or anything, but as the series' most blatant attempt to make Pinhead more of a traditional slasher icon like Freddy or Jason, they thought my masked murderer-loving ass would be an ideal choice to talk about it). Our recording was set for Wed the 5th; I had emailed Scott earlier in the day to double check how we were recording, and two hours later even noted that it seemed odd he hadn't replied as he was usually quite quick to do so. I just figured he was at a movie or something. I cried a lot that day, but I suspect I'll cry even harder on Wednesday when 11 am rolls around and I have a giant hole in my schedule that can't ever be filled.

Scott's not the first friend to pass. Not even the first one in recent memory. But it's hit me so much harder than any have before, and there's a lot of reasons for that. One is that he was an incredibly loyal and supportive friend, a combination that is sadly difficult to come by, at least for me. As I noted, he asked me to be on his podcast, and if you've seen the announced guest list, you know he didn't need to grab random pals of his to get episodes in the can; the lineup included heavyweights like Mike Flanagan, Barbara Crampton, and Joe Lynch, not to mention actual Hellraiser series personnel like Scott Derrickson, Gary Tunnicliffe, and David Bruckner. Seeing my name on their guest list for social media alongside those others was somewhat surreal; my impostor syndrome kicked in high that day, I assure you.

And that's just one of many examples of him thinking of me when he didn't have to, and it certainly wasn't from being in the room when he needed to come up with guest ideas. With me in California and him in Texas, I've actually only spent time with him in person I think maybe four times over the past ten years. But as we were both on the staff for BirthMoviesDeath, there was a period of six years or whatever that we spoke just about every day, via the company Slack we were ostensibly supposed to use for work purposes but mostly treated as an AOL chatroom. Scott joined the site as an occasional writer when he was still working as a bartender at one of the Alamo Drafthouse locations, and over the next few years rose through the ranks to be one of its most prominent voices, to the extent that it's weird to think of a period of time when he *wasn't* there.

He became such a major fixture on the site that by the time Drafthouse laid us all off thanks to Covid, he and Evan Saathoff were basically running it. And when another company expressed interest in buying BMD to keep it going, Scott (and Evan) insisted that I be kept in the fold. That new company turned out to be really bad and we all walked away a month later (far as I know, no one ever offered to save it AGAIN), but it meant the world to me that of all the things they could have demanded, telling this guy "You have to keep paying Collins to write about whatever the hell horror movie he wants every week" was one of them. Again, the LOYALTY! For someone he spent maybe three actual hours with in person in his life! That whole "Out of sight, out of mind" thing can be a painfully real thing, especially here in LA, but it clearly wasn't the case for him, and I loved him all the more for it.

He was also a champion ballbuster, a quality I deeply admire in folks. Like a good roaster, he never took it too far or came off as a jerk, he always found the right balance of "I'm making this joke at your expense but in a way that shows I care enough about you and pay enough attention to know those things about you in the first place." It was an HONOR to get one of his trademark "DESTROYED IN SECONDS!" on Twitter, and if you never got one you have missed out on something special. He was, without doubt, one of the funniest people I've ever met, and our dark senses of humor often aligned. When I thought of a joke that was maybe a bit too mean or bleak for the masses, I would send it to him personally, and not only would he appreciate it he'd usually top it in response. I mean, the guy's handle was ScottWamplerRIP, so the sunofabitch even topped our comparatively meager attempts at gallows humor about the whole thing.

And while I don't want to make it about me, his death unfortunately comes at a time when I'm already in a deep funk about the loss of another friend. Not to death, thankfully, but instead a dumb argument that spiraled into a bigger one. Wasn't the first with this friend (who IS someone I see often/talk to every day, at least until the fight), but it seems it'll be the last, as they've cut all ties with me and responded to my last attempt at reconciliation with outright hostility on their social media. Scott's passing has generated any number of "Tell your friends you love them, you never know when they'll be gone forever" sentiments, but I am still iced out from this person (who also knew him, to be clear; in fact the last time I saw him in person they were there too). I was already pretty convinced that I'd never hear from them again (at this point it would be akin to beating a dead Horse), but this just kind of double bagged that belief. If a death of a mutual friend can't convince them that maybe it's not worth ending a nearly lifelong friendship over some hurt feelings and misunderstandings, I can't imagine anything else will.

So, yeah. I'm very sad about that on my day to day, and Scott was one of the people who could make anything more fun and help keep my mind off those kind of unpleasantries in life. I mean, the guy even had me excited to talk about Hellraiser III for Christ's sake! Seeing his tweets, or the way he could make even the least interesting news break into a must-read article, or just repeating one of our silly in-jokes out of the blue generated the sort of energy that could get me through any rough day, and now that energy source is gone, forever. I lucked out in a weird way from having taken a year or so off Twitter (I'm only really back on because of that other friend; I used to just talk to them all day but now I can't, so I talk to Twitter), because people have been sharing some of his classic bits and a lot of them I hadn't seen before because they fell during that period. I am crushed that some of his earlier "work" is gone due to a change in Twitter handles and his own deletion of older stuff (if you never heard the story of the Krippendorf's Tribe Fan Club, you truly missed out), but there is still a wealth of it on there for your perusal. The Vampire Lord saga alone is funnier than most comedies that millions of dollars were spent on to make, and he was just tossing it off on Twitter without a second thought.

And the writing is mostly all there, though you might need Wayback Machine to read it properly. The name of this post is in tribute to one of his all time best goofs: "This Post Is Not About Batman", and there are countless others. One of his last ever posts on, where he's been employed since the ending of BMD (his Kingcast podcast with Eric Vespe is part of the Fangoria network) began with "Here’s a news story that’s got the ring of a particularly wild Mad Libs," already making what was otherwise a pretty bland announcement into something worth reading. I was always envious of those who could write up all those daily news breaks that had to be written (for the clicks) and find a way to make them actually interesting to those who did indeed click, and he was second to none as far as I could tell.

I don't know if I'll ever get past this one. We had a running joke about the Ozzy Osbourne song "Perry Mason" that plays quite frequently on SiriusXM, and it's probably going to make me cry every time I see it and instinctively grab my phone to snap a pic for him. We bonded over our mutual love of Fletch, a movie he watched on his birthday every year and now I think I will instead (weirdly enough, he actually died on Fletch's "birthday", that is, the date it was released in 1985), and that'll probably make me tear up too. Despite our geographically mandated distance he left such a big impact on so many things I love; he's the one who convinced me to try "Soulsborne" games, a genre I practically play exclusively now. When Elden Ring came out he mocked me for being so slow with games and he was seemingly a bit stunned when I actually got further into it than he did; a rare thing I can say I bested him at, so it was a source of pride! Believe me, it wasn't easy to best him at anything. When he was asked to be on the Screen Drafts "Alien/Predator" ranking he brought me along because of all the time we spent on the BMD slack talking about the Alien movies - how the hell am I gonna be able to watch Romulus without talking to him after?

Scott also (like most friends; sorry pal, you weren't special on this one) liked to make fun of my taste in music, so I might as well dive into something on that. There's this nu-metal band called Three Days Grace whose most recent record has a song called "Lifetime", and for two years I thought it was a breakup song but, weirdly, I only learned a few days ago it's actually about a dead person. There's a line in there that's gutted me since I heard it: "Who do I talk to when I want to talk to *you*?" and I'm sure he's rolling his eyes and mocking me to the nearest person in the afterlife at me tearing up at it, but it hurts even more now. I want to talk to Scott again. I want to spend two hours day drinking and talking about the shitty Cenobites in Hellraiser III. I want to get another email from him someday that he wants me to come back on Kingcast to do trivia and make another enemy out of some famous person I admire (Kate Siegel apparently wanted to murder me for the questions I came up with when she was the guest). I want him to mock me for constantly talking about Halloween sequels again. I want to go on Twitter and see that Creature from the Black Lagoon icon next to another joke that makes me jealous I didn't think of it first. I want to get another drink with the guy who, when I met for the first time in person, was borderline mad that I had been in Austin for a day and hadn't drank with him yet.

You go through life wanting more friends like him and now he's gone. You go through life being thankful you have someone like him to make you laugh when other things are dire, but what do you do when he's the one who's gone? It's so unfair. I hate it.

That said, hopefully I'll let you know how Longlegs is next month.

What say you?


Post a Comment

Movie & TV Show Preview Widget