Silence of the Golden Retrievers

On Saturday night, visitors to Roxaboxen were greeted by a small altar bearing animal bones and religious candles. The bones turned out to be a running motif throughout the apartment: by the end of the night, I had spotted two teeth, a skull, and a femur lying casually about. This was the first sign of something gone horribly awry. When Roxaboxen announced the fourth annual 24 Hour Horror Fest, I didn’t know what sort of terrors lay in wait at this art gallery turned little shop of horrors.

Aside from the animal bones, the space was poorly lit and sparsely decorated, leaving the peeling linoleum floors bare. On my way to the projection room, I passed a stairway that led to what one could fairly describe as Buffalo Bill’s basement–for those familiar with “Silence of the Lambs,” a horror no doubt. As I walked on, I half suspected I’d find him lurking behind a corner in his woman-skin suit and pillbox hat.  That said, I wasn’t truly shuddering until I stepped on a human tooth.

The main room where the projector and Macbook Pro were set up (the Chamber of Horrors) had three rows of folding chairs, three rows of mismatched sofas, and a sea of mattresses leading up to the screen to accommodate those lost souls who take “24 Hour Horror Fest” at its name. The diversity of sofas was matched by the assortment of attendees–some gentlemen dressed as zombies lounged alongside a group of three girls wearing pearls and fur coats and two golden retrievers. Was I in the company of werewolves?

Though they turned out to be mere mortals, the five artists who live in Roxaboxen still matched their bizarre home: a little scruffy but chill. They first conceived of the event four years ago, when they decided to provide the masses with as many blood curdling screams and buckets of red corn syrup as possible. As that first night wore on, one resident recounted, the smells started to accumulate–“pizza, tacos, beer, popcorn, sweat, vomit, more beer, and finally, bad breath.” The event is now in its fourth year, but as we gasped for air in between screams, we could still smell the traces of that original scent.

Nestled on the couch watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre and sipping Rosemary’s blood (a hot concoction of apple cider, cranberry juice, gin, cinnamon, and cloves), I shrieked with my companions as we watched the poor innocent souls get chopped to pieces.  At one point, I reached down to put a cup on the floor and felt something rather odd beside my foot. My hand emerged clutching a (fake?) human femur. I held it up for my neighbor, who shrugged and smiled before returning her attention to the film. This was the horror no director could capture, and yet I lived to tell the tale.