I’m not really sure how Roger Braden first discovered our site. I’ll have to ask him about that sometime. I’m sure that I’ll forget.
However he found us, in the time since, Roger has become a pretty close buddy of mine, even if we’ve never actually met. We started chatting once about the classic Universal sci-fi films, such as “Tarantula” and “The Deadly Mantis”, and the rest is history. Now, we chat fairly regularly, even if a lot of those conversations revolve around us damning each other for sending each other links to shit that we want to buy. Realistically, we probably owe each other a lot of money.
So, I was thrilled when my good friend decided to throw his hat into the ring and join us for this year’s Halloween Horrors series. Roger, the stage is yours!
“I’ve never been on stage before, I hope I don’t fuck up.” – Tommy Chong
I love horror movies. All things horror, really. Have for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been drawn to the horror characters that make you think that they could really exist, the human monsters. And that’s why I love Otis B. Driftwood.
I first met Otis back in 2003 at a theater that is gone now, by myself for the first time in many years. I really dig Rob Zombie, so I was excited to see what he was going to put on the big screen. So, I’m loving how House Of 1000 Corpses is playing out in its sleazy, jump-cut, colorful way… and then 20 minutes in, there’s Otis. He’s delivering a rant to three bound and gagged cheerleaders that would make Charles Manson proud. I was hooked. I could hardly wait until this stringy haired, blood stained, albino maniac showed up again.
And show up he does. In his second scene, at the dinner table with four “guests” that have been lured into the Firefly family’s house of maniacs, watch how the family follows his lead. While the “Dinner Theater” show they present is far from normal, even for Halloween Eve, everything is low-key. That is, until the guests persist on asking too many questions. Otis calmly warns them to “…leave here with your head full of kitty cats and puppy dogs.” Of course, they don’t listen, which puts Otis back into full psycho mode, mocking them, as the family joins in. From this point forward, Otis is in charge. The “guests” have no idea what’s in store for them.
“It’s all true, the bogeyman is real and you found him.”
I always watch House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects back to back. I think that a big strength of these films is that they are family dramas at the core. Otis, as the long ago, adopted older brother, is fiercely loyal to his family. However, he has his own ideas on how the family should move forward while embracing the past. He sees the shift in power coming within the family, but, despite his better judgement and confrontations with “Dad”, he follows the family’s lead and will defend it to the end.
I love the confidence Otis has in himself. He knows he’s insane, and he embraces it. He loves adding showmanship in everything he does, and he does it all. Kidnapping, torture, rape, murder. Flays people while they’re still alive and wears their skin. Necrophiliac. And it’s all done with this perverted sense of humor that makes you laugh and horrifies you at the same time. He’ll warn you not to fight back, and what will happen if you do. He’s actually surprised when someone does fight back, but deep down loves it. He knows he has the advantage. While you’re just trying to escape and survive, he’s been a cold-blooded killing machine for years. He wants to terrify you and blow up your “normal” world. He hates Disney, God, Barbie and heroes. Especially heroes. Because in the end, you’re just going to be another piece of artwork that Otis can add to the Firefly family household. Or for someone to discover. And Otis is quite the “impressionist” artist. That’s what he was trying to explain to the cheerleaders in the beginning. His art. He needed fresh ideas, and they weren’t it. Luckily for him, and us, he does find his inspiration.
“I was going to take it easy on you and make it fast, but then you had to go and play the fucking hero.”
For me personally, the scary part about Otis is that he really could be out there. Hell, he probably is. He could be that weird-looking guy at the gas station or sitting in the parking lot of the ice cream shop. I might have been in an adult establishment or three over the years that Otis would be a regular in.
Otis is a mix-match of all our favorite human monsters. He’s Max Cady, Norman, Krug and Henry, but with more personality. There are real moments of caring and compassion in Otis, as well as resignation. After all, he is an “escapist from a conforming world”.
With all of the above being said, Rob Zombie has to be given credit for writing characters for these movies, and while totally over the top, they have real feeling, emotion and depth. However, Bill Moseley, as “Otis”, completely owns the character. He brings a realistic honesty to Otis and, for me, makes Otis the driving force in the Firefly Family saga.