She had big hair, big makeup, and read Goodnight Moon like a pro. I sat back and watched Miss Sweet Tater enthrall two dozen kids for an hour while a bunch of idiots outside yelled about Jesus. As if Jesus didn't wear a robe.
All month we pushed the Drag Queen Story Time. We got a thousand or so calls from the public. The split between patrons wishing us good luck and those calling for our eternal damnation cut right down the middle. It's best not to speculate on such things, but let's just say the retirement home flashed up on the caller ID more than once.
The day of the event, William Ratcliff came into the library's back door. He looked like a plumber because he was a plumber. Still had on his overalls and carried a big heavy bag. Rather than carry around pipes and toilet rings, that big heavy bag contained Miss Sweet Tater.
Miss Sweet Tater came from Ratcliff's aunt, a woman with an appetite for life and pecan pie. Little Billy would sit in his Aunt Bea's kitchen and eat that pie and listen while she told him stories of her dancing in New Orleans. A dozen years later, Ratcliff created Miss Sweet Tater and danced on those same New Orleans stages and floats, one time going up on the main stage at the Saenger with the Dixie Chicks to sing God Bless America. Aunt Bea had passed, but Miss Sweet Tater said she had been with him nonetheless.
After that long afternoon worrying about a violent response to a man wearing a dress, Miss Sweet Tater and I decided to take in a movie. We had time to kill while the crowd dispersed. I pulled up the Shudder app and scrolled through. We chose Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.
Humor and horror are linked by the visceral reactions they produce. Humor creates a laugh, horror a cringe. Shifting from a laugh to a cringe takes a deft hand that few have. Behind the Mask rides the line pretty close and succeeds way more than it fails.
In the spirit of the Blair Witch, three grad students get in over their handheld heads. They have been contacted by Leslie Vernon, a spree killer, who wants to document his first assault on a group of horny and drunken teens. The majority of the flick follows Leslie as he lays out how he's setting up his Final Girl, how he's picked the legend to fuel his mythology, and how he's gonna hack and slash when the time comes.
For the most part, the movie is a funny deconstruction of slasher movies, almost in the spirit of Scream. Other movie franchises get called out and named. At times it plods along, fueled by the likeable Leslie Vernon and the gullible grad students. When the time comes, however, Leslie puts his scythe where his mouth is and delivers.
More fun than fright, Behind the Mask is clever and deserves to be checked out.