Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Will Stab You In The Face With Antlers

By Chuck Wendig

I told this story a little while back on terribleminds, but it bears repeating here:

“It was winter time. Not far from the holidays, if I recall. We were coming back from K-Mart, and a car full of seriously pissed-off dudes were riding the bumper behind us. Flipping us off, revving the engine, all that. In the Dirty Harry or Death Wish movies, they would handily be referred to as ‘punks.’ They kept following us. Off the main roads and onto back roads. My father, cold as an icicle, started concocting The Plan. He had no weapons in the truck, as it was a new truck. What he did have was a series of antlers rescued from the whitetail deer we raised. The Plan was, he’d pull fast into the driveway. If these punks came in right behind us, wanting to start some shit, he’d hold them off with the antlers while I went to the front door — just inside the front door was a little .410 shotgun for popping squirrels and starlings. We turned onto our road, and the car did not follow. They were saved that day, I guess, from antler stabbings and a face full of squirrel shot.”

Let’s be clear. Violence is what we do.

Not literally, of course. We are not the violent ones, oh no. It’s our characters. Those mad bastards. It’s them! It’s always them. Stabbing each other. Shooting one another. All that jaw-shattering and knee-breaking and throat-collapsing. It’s not the author’s fault our characters are violent. If it was up to us, it’d be flowers and fluffy lambs. It’d be boxes of chocolate instead of boxes for corpses.


... ehh, okay, no.

Hot dang, I love me some creative violence! Woo! Gets the blood pumping. Ah, but what I really think is slicker than goose shit on a glass window is creative violence featuring improvised weapons.

Jason Bourne, for instance. In the films, he whups up on poor fools with books, magazines, pens, electrical cords. The world is his weapon. Or what about the nail gun in Lethal Weapon 2? What about when the Stath (oy, Jason Statham) kicks dudes asses with a fire hose in The Transporter? Or a knitting needle in Michael Myers’ eye (that would be slasher film Michael Myers, not Austin Powers). Or LPs winged at the heads of zombies in Shaun of the Dead.

In some of the game books I’ve developed (Armory, Hunter: The Vigil) we have rules for using improvised or found weapons: Board with a nail in it! Broken bottle! Chainsaw! Power augur!

The list goes on and on.

To quote Ani DiFranco, “Every tool is weapon if you hold it right.”

So, let’s talk about it.

What are some of your favorite “improvised weapon” scenes from books, film, video games, whatever? Hell, come up with some new ones. Dazzle us with your disturbed minds. You know you want to. It’ll make you feel good. All the cool kids are doing it.


Jay Stringer said...

My man John C with a pen in Grosse Pointe Blank. Also with a television.

Gremlin in a microwave.

Colin Farrell chocking an old lady with a paperclip was pretty funny.

Jokers pencil trick is the winner, surely?

I was sat in a pub with a friend midweek staring at the beermat and he said, "you're thinking of ways you can kill me with that, right?" Of course, i said no.

John McFetridge said...

Mike Knowles (who used to blog here) has a couple of books full of improvised weapons. My favourite is the dog toy he uses as a sap.

Chuck Wendig said...

@Jay: Hot dang, I totally missed a chance to refer to one of my favorite films, Grosse Pointe Blank. I'm punching myself over here.

@John: A dog toy? Like, a squeaky toy? Or something more robust? The squeaky toy has a certain comedy value, though unless it's filled with like, wingnuts and quarters I'm not certain how it gets heavy enough. Color me curious.

-- c.

Jay Stringer said...

Redeem yerself, Chuck, by finding innocent household objects to hit yourself with. Then report back.

sandra seamans said...

And we ladies just love using hair spray and lighters to make blow torches! Car keys between the fingers or a purse full of loose change. And of course, the pan of boiling water on the stove!

Chuck Wendig said...

I just smashed my external hard drive over my head. I will now go and pick the plasticky bits out of my facemeats with tweezers.

And since the hard drive contained backups of all my scripts and manuscripts, it's like I hit myself in the soul, to boot.

Can't pick plastic out of the soul, though. I've tried.

-- c.

Kyle Maxwell said...

I just finished reading The Finder by Colin Harrison. A golf club gets used to substantial effect in one scene, as do hedge clippers.

Do some damage, indeed.

John Hornor said...

My favorite is a young Sean Penn filling a pillow case with soda cans (the old tin kind) and flailing the bejesus out of the cell block bully in Bad Boys.

Bryon Quertermous said...

F Paul Wilson has a great Repairman Jack Story called Incident at Duane Reade in which a mercenary holds off terrorists with nothing but things found in a corner drug store. It's awesome.

Several of my own favorite improvised weapons in my fiction include: a wheelchair, a Chevette, a dildo, a vibrator, a donkey, and the Dagger of Elvin Power.

Chuck Wendig said...


I now want to read all your work. Like, in one sitting.

Man, I wish all those weapons were in ONE STORY, too. Woo.

-- c.

Daniel Bayn said...

My personal favorite is the claw hammer, not so much for its use in Old Dog, but just because it's a mean, mean weapon. Nobody wants to meet their maker with the prongs of a Home Depot $2 special stuck in their brain pan.

Joker's got my vote for best scene in film, though, followed very closely by the aforementioned fire hose fight.

Anonymous said...

I went to a military school in high school, and my sophomore military class was taught by a former special forces seargent who had done three tours in Nam. Rule was, bell rings, you are in your seat, ready for class. One day the bell rings, and this kid still had his Sports Illustrated out. Sarge walks in and says,

"Put that away before I kill you with it."

Kid says, "You can't kill somebody with a magazine."

Sarge snatches it away and proceeds to teach class, all the while holding the rolled-up mag, pointing with it, etc. Hours ends, bell rings, the kid is walking out the door when sarge drives the rolled up mag into the kid's solar plexus. Kid drops to the floor gasping, Sarge drops the mag on his face and says,

"Imagine if that had been your throat."

Made an impression.

Chuck Wendig said...

Explains a lot about you, Dan. You were that boy, weren't you?

(Dan also points out that India hopes to weaponize the Ghost Chili.)


-- c.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

I used to perform a monologue where a woman used a garbage disposal to kill a man. She figured it was perfect since it had disposal in the name.

Justin D. Jacobson said...

The "weapon of convenience" is virtually the ikigai of John Rain (of whom I am a big fan and currently developing a licensed rpg). My personal favorite of his is when he is being tailed through an open-air market by a couple of hit men. He pilfers a pair of tube socks and a pack of d-cell batteries, fashions himself a nasty mace, and makes quick work of the bad guys.

I'll also point to this earlier thread on the game's website: Assault with a Deadly Keyboard

Will Hindmarch said...

Remember that dude who gets skewered by a sharpened antler in Braveheart? Ew.

We did a whole book of improvised weapons for the Feng Shui action-movie RPG, back in the day. Staplers used like nunchakus, zombie arms wielded as raking, grasping clubs. It was a terrifically fun book to put together.

I wrote improvised weapons into my now-defunct Tomorrow War game, too, while chasing that Jason Bourne feel. Sure, futuristic lightning guns are cool, but bringing down your foe with a coat hanger is cool no matter what year it is.

Unknown said...

I agree with loving the way Jason Bourne and Jason Statham (in the Transporter movies) dispatch their enemies with anything and everything around them. Another great example would be Jackie Chan in any and every movie the guy's been in, but my favorites are all of the Rush Hours and Shanghai Noon. Creative uses of pool sticks, coffee tables, arm chairs, billowing flags, steering wheel, etc. The list is endless with that man.

One particular scene that really struck me with how simple it would be to actually kill another human was in Rock N Rolla where Johnny Quid takes a sharpened pencil from behind his ear and stabs a bouncer in the neck several times before the guy even hits the ground. Boom. Just like that. #2 meets throat. Ur dead.