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The Curator of Schlock #232 by Jeff Shuster

As Above So Below

Your Curator of Schlock got dragged to see Solo.

If I’ve learned anything from horror maestro, Lucio Fulci, it’s that are seven cursed gateways in seven cursed places. Where do these seven gateways lead? Straight to hell of course. And don’t expect a return trip. If urban legends are any indication of the truth, one of these gateways lies deep within the catacombs in Paris, France. Tonight’s feature sends us on a journey to hell in the form of yet another found footage horror movie, 2014’s As Above So Below from director John Erik Dowdle.

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The focus of this fake documentary is Scarlett Marlowe (Perdita Weeks), a beautiful, young English archaeologist with two masters and a PhD. She’s also fluent in six langauges and has a black belt in Krav Maga. In other words, she’s Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider. . They decided to put Lara Croft in a horror movie…unofficially and it’s kind of neat. Let’s follow a Renaissance woman as she uncovers the horrors that lie beneath the catacombs in Paris. It gives the movie a pulp feel that I wholeheartedly approve of.

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Scarlett wishes to learn about alchemy by finding the legendary philosopher’s stone, renowned for its ability to turn lead into gold in addition to granting immortality to those who can uncover its secrets. She discovers the Rose key, a kind of Rosetta stone, in a collapsing cave in Iran. Arriving in Paris, she learns of the location of the philosopher’s stone. It’s buried deep within the catacombs of Paris. Enlisting the aid of her cameraman, Benji (Edwin Hodge), her ex-boyfriend, George (Ben Feldman of Mad Men fame), and a trio of Parisian catacomb explorers, they enter the catacombs after evading the local police who don’t want people going down there.

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We kind of have that in this country with the whole urban exploration movement. Heck, there are people who make sport of exploring abandoned shopping malls. But do you know what those places don’t have that the catacombs do have? Satanic cults with the mad chanting, hungry rats, and piles and piles of bones that scrape into you as you squeeze through narrow tunnels while trying to get past the ceiling that’s coming down on your head. And if you make it through all that, there’s still the whole gateway to hell thing that you might want to be concerned with.

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Here’s a thought: if you run into a long thought dead friend that disappeared in the catacombs months ago, maybe you shouldn’t ignore how strange he’s acting or follow his lead on where to go. Maybe you shouldn’t follow your tenacious ex-girlfriend into the dark pits of the unknown no matter how pretty she is. I don’t care if she’s promising you honor and glory and more wealth than you can imagine. It’s not worth going through an entrance above which an inscription reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

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I know. I know. It’s all just mumbo jumbo voodoo horseshit. Just keep an eye out for those hooded monks with deformed faces because they’re not monks.

They’re demons.

And they’re gonna bite your ass!


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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