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My cousin and I had once stayed with our great aunt Judith in the tiny town of Linden. It was exactly one year after 9/11, because I remember how she dressed her front lawn in patriotic colors. During the day, we played in her back yard and pretended to be Spy Vs. Spy. Blair was the white one, and I was the black one. When twilight pulled across the horizon, Judith called for us to come inside.
Later that night at ten pm, Blair had fallen asleep in his bed and I asked my aunt, "Can I watch a movie?"
Judith had a huge collection of VHS movies she obtained from thrift stores. Half of these tapes she had never even watched. My aunt replied yes and let me select from a cardboard box for a movie to warch. This selection included: Rover Dangerfield, The Rescuers Down Under, The Land Before Time, and so forth.
It was then my eyes lit up like a pair of golden nebulae when I saw a copy of Cats Don't Dance. Immediately, I began to chant, "Danny the cat! Danny the cat! Danny the cat!" God, I had seen that movie at least a thousand times and knew just about every line. My aunt Judith smiled and said, "Okay, Jimmy, you can watch it. Just keep the volume low so you don't wake your cousin."
After feeding the tape into the mouth of the VHS player, she kissed me goodnight and turned out the light.
I was so excited to see how the orange, happy-go-lucky animated cat traveled to Hollywood and how he got out of sticky situations -- again, that is. However, the movie didn't start like normal. Instead of the big Warner Bros. logo and Bugs Bunny leaning against it while eating a carrot, there was five minutes of darkness. At any moment, I anticipated that the movie's narration would reveal Danny the cat riding a bus to Hollywood. But, to my disappointment, this didn't happen.
Instead the scene opened into a real-life film with poor camera quality, as if someone had used a cheap camcorder. The opening displayed a sign on a dirty wall that read: "HUMANs BEING." The capitalized lettered were written in what appeard to be black Sharpie. I recall that in the background was this weird, out-of-tune piano riff didn't flow very well. I thought to myself, what is this?
The scene cut harashly to a living room where three people sat on a large sofa. These people wore white, eerily happy Casper the Friendly Ghost masks. It seemed as though they were mimicking a family. One of them wore a yellow dress and a blonde wig, but one could clearly tell it was man. On the far right, on the otherside of the mother figure, sat a man wearing a business suit. And between them was what appeared to be a grown man dressed as a child.
For a good three minutes they were silent, until the mother turned her head to the father and, in a deep, male voice, asked, "Are you a Pisces? Did you check the mailbox?" The father answered, "No, no, the sky isn't blue, it's black."
The son titled his head to the side and said, "Happy, happy, puppets are happy. Did they come in the mail?" Followed by this was the sound of a poorly recorded audience laughing.
None of this made any sense whatsoever, and the tracking on the video seemed extremely horrible.
The father of the family stood up, walked over to the window and there was a flash lightning, but no thundering rumble followed. He then said, in very bored tone, "I don't think the puppets will be coming over tonight."
Before the scene cut to the next, the son began sobbing and his mother put her - or his - arm around them.
What came next was a little creepy, for it the recording depicted a woman, a real woman, sitting in a bathtub full of water. She was fully clothed, not naked, and wore that Casper mask that the others had on. She turned to the camera and asked, "Why is the water cold?" A voice off camera muttered something and she replied, "No, this isn't warm."
The bathtub the woman soaked in appeared to be very dirty, as if it hadn't been cleaned in years. The voice off camera clearly asked, "You're a dirty girl, aren't you?" She laughed and seductively replied, "Oh, yeah. You know it, baby."
A grave feeling of fear started to brew inside me; however, I couldn't turn away. Something about this film sparked curiosity inside me, and I wanted to know what happened next. Before the scene switched to another, the woman in the bathtub reached over and turned on a radio. No music came from its speakers, but instead a loud static could be heard.
When the scene switched, it revealed the man-lady from the living room cutting up raw meat on a kitchen counter. They gripped the knife in their and hand whacked the meat violently. Behind them was a doorway that lead to a dark room. Someone - or something - in the shadowed area moved around; however, it was hard to make out exactly what they were doing.
The recording switched abruptly to a dirty, styrofoam head whose expression had been colored in by red, blue and yellow pins stuck in it. The person holding the camera spoke to the head like it were a child, baby-talking sweet nothings as if the fake cranium was going to say something in response. This went on for six minutes until the scene cut to a bedroom.
In the room sat the father and son from the opening. At the foot of a large bed, they lifted their masks up just enough to where their identities remained unknown. The two men began to exchange saliva by making out. This bothered me, seeing as I had never witnessed two men kiss each other. Behind them on the far wall was the sign that read: HUMANs BEING.
Static Interrupted their lustful actions and in the next scene stood mother slapping the woman from the bathtub. The surrounding room was filthy and on the floor appeared what seemed as droppings of feces. The mother, in her deep, man voice, screamed, "Why haven't you checked the mail?" Contrary to the happy Casper mask she was wearing, rage and hostility tainted the atmosphere.
The woman cried behind her ghostly mask and replied, "I-I-I don't know."
The womanly man slapped her again, this time you could the force of impact, and exclaimed, "I am supposed to be getting a birthday card! How can I celebrate my birthday if I don't recieve the card?!"
The crying lady from the bathtub scene tried to crawl away, but was over-powered by mother who pinned her down to the shit-covered floor. "I don't want to do this anymore!" she screamed. "Please! Let me go!"
This is where I knew something was definitely wrong. My childish intuition told me to alert my aunt Judith at once. The mother figure in the recording pulled a knife, held it against her throat and screamed, "I will slice you open, cunt! Don't test me!"
There then came a brief cut of some long, dark hallway and the scene switched to the bathtub lady suspended upside-down from the ceiling of a grim room. She cried and cried, but expression on ghostly mask remained happy. A voice off-camera growled, "Do you know why humans are being?" The woman continued to sob and didn't answer the question. A naked man wearing a black hood over his head stepped into the recording with a machete and, before I could witness any dismemberment, I rushed over to the VHS player and ejected the tape.
I frantically turned around and noticed that baby cousin had been awake the whole time. At some point during the movie, he had woke up and there was no telling how much he had seen. A horrified look on his face stared at me and he asked, "W-What are you watching?"
I explained to him that it was suppose to be Cats Don't Dance and that I had no clue.
We ran to our aunt's bedroom and told her all about the ghost masks, the creepy people, and how scared we were. At first, Judith didn't believe us and told us that the movie was a Casper the Friendly ghost movie that had been put in the wrong package. However, she viewed the tape the next day and couldn't believe what she watched.
See, I never finished entire movie, but overhearing the conversation my aunt had with the thrift store where she purchased the tape included words such as, "Blood" and "Torture" and "Depraved Sex."
The police came to her house and confiscated the video. Since then, I never found out what the meaning behind Humans Being was, nor do I want to know. But what I do know is that somewhere out there,a psychopath is freaking out because they have a copy of Cats Don't Dance instead of their snuff film.