Tag Archives: museum

Armed and Dangerous

Let’s face it, the Russians love to have a good fight. Whether it’s a war against the Western world or a backyard scrap between two boozed-up homeless blokes, these proud Slavic people are always getting stuck into someone. Moscow’s Central Armed Forces Museum serves as a tribute to their history of hurting people, and has one of the world’s largest collections of wartime memorabilia, so I loaded up a hip flask with vodka and headed out into the snow to check it out.

The main halls of the museum hold more than 700,000 relics dating back to the start of the 20th century, with all the usual war-related stuff such as machine guns, blood-splattered uniforms and miniturised battle scenes. There are also some truly incredible artifacts such as bullet-riddled tanks, captured Nazi flags and medals, and the shattered remains of Yank pilot Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane. Of course, I only found out what everything was after I got home and jumped on Wkipedia, because none of the signs are in English. Unless you’re an expert on Soviet history or can read Pусский, you’ll struggle to work out what anything is. But, much like having sex with a woman, it’s a lot of fun even if you don’t know what’s going on.

Among the awesome things I missed due to not knowing the lingo were a strip of tattooed human skin from a prisoner of the Maidenjak Concentration Camp, the victory banner the Soviets flew over Berlin to signal the end of the Second World War in Europe, and a ping pong set once owned by Adolf Hitler. Alright, maybe that last one’s not right (Hitler strikes me as more of a shuttlecock player), but there are plenty of items once owned by the so-called ‘Naughtiest Boy in Nuremberg’.

Despite being unable to read any of the signs or work out what anything was, one thing was made perfectly clear; the Soviet/Russian Army are the biggest bunch of badarses ever, they’ve smashed every country they’ve fought,and everyone else is a bit shit in comparison. Yes, it’s all a bit biased and patriotic, which is no surprise seeing as the Russians love their propaganda. It’s a facinating collection of trinkets, but don’t expect to find a balanced assessment of Russia’s wartime efforts.

The real stars of the show can be found outside the building, because around the back are dozens of tanks, missiles, anti-aircraft guns, planes and trains. It’s an awesome display of Soviet power and pride, and most of the vehicles are very well preserved – in fact, I’d be worried about littering or jumping on the metro without a ticket in case they govenment send one of the big, scary tanks after me.

It was fucking freezing and I was getting covered in more white stuff than a Japanese porn star, so I started drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka I had stored in my jacket. It was doing the trick, too, because I started to regain feeling in my fingers and my cold, frozen heart slowly started to beat again. The world looked a little brighter, the birds songs sounded a little sweeter, and I skipped gayly throughout the exhibits, finding beauty in their ferocity. Needing to have a slash, I ducked behind one of the gigantic missiles, dropped my pants and let fly with a stream of bright orange piss that sizzled in the frigid conditions.

As I was shaking my willy, I slipped on a patch of ice and bumped into the missile, sending it rocking on its foundations in the gloomy afternoon. Scared that it would topple over, I raced around the other side and pushed it back, but that only caused the missile to swing the other way. I hightailed it back around to the other side, miraculously managing to avoid going arse over tit on a patch of black ice, and shouldered the missile back again. This went on for a minute or two, with the rocket weedling back and forth just a little bit further each time. Not even Jesse Jane has worked so hard to erect a massive missile.

The doors of the museum burst open and a group of heavily-armed security guards scrambled out into the ice and snow, making a beeline for me and the rogue missile. Shouting incomprehensibly and spinning their arms around like windmills, they managed to get the WMD under control, before turning their attention to me. The furious Slavs gripped their weapons and grit their teeth, ready to add one more name to the long list of Russian conquests. I just shrugged, tucked my doodle back into my pants, and raised my flask to them. “If Vlad cracks the shits about this, let him know I’m from New Zealand,” I chuckled, and then swaggered out into the night.

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Museum of the Macabre: My Descent into Hell

phenom

I grew up with a deep love of horror movies. Return of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Day of the Dead were always spinning around the family VCR, and I couldn’t get enough of anything involving zombies, ghosts, or demented serial killers.

But above them all, one movie stands out; Lamberto Bava’s 1985 fright classic Demoni. As well as being a true masterpiece of European cinema (horror or otherwise), I’ll always remember it because it was the first R-rated movie I ever watched. I like to tease my mum and say she let me watch it when I was five, but I was probably closer to 10, and I adored it. And what’s not to love? There are grotesque transformations, hookers getting eaten alive, drug abuse, nudity, a sass-mouthed black pimp, an awesome scene with a bloke riding around on a motorbike decapitating zombies with a sword, and a soundtrack featuring Mötley Crüe, Saxon, Rick Springfield and Billy fuckin’ Idol.

demoni
Stylin’ and profilin’

That film kicked off my love affair with the film’s producer and writer Dario Argento (I could’ve phrased that better so, just to be sure, I didn’t have sex with Dario when I was 10 – I just really liked his movies). A true auter, Dario has created some of the moodiest and most original horror flicks of all time, such as Deep Red, Tenebre and the legendary Suspiria.

When I found myself in Rome a year or so ago, there was one place that I really, really wanted to go to. It wasn’t the Coliseum (although it was brilliant) and it wasn’t the toilet after one too many Peronis (although that was brilliant, too). It was Profondo Rosso, the Dario Argento museum, and it turned out to be one of the best things I saw during my journey across Europe.

profondo
I rode in on that stupid motorbike thingy… I swear I did! Would I like to you?

Located in an unassuming building in a quiet street as short stroll north-east of the Vatican City, Profondo Rosso (named after Dario’s 1975 film) has two parts; as you walk in, there’s a shop full of monster costumes, books, action figures, magic tricks, gags, masks, old movies on both VHS and DVD, and all sorts of other bits and pieces of variable quality. It’s a fun place for horror fans to check out, but the true magic is in the basement.

profondo2
Sadly, the nerds aren’t for sale

After paying 5 Euros to a handsome bald man, I descended a tight staircase and made my way into what can only be called a series of ancient catacombs, which were probably built thousands of years ago for reasons I don’t understand. Not only was I stepping back in time, I was walking into a nightmarish world of deformed creatures and grueling terror. A visit the Dario Argento museum is truly to journey into the mind of a madman.

The museum feels more like a dungeon, with a lonely and strangely-lit corridor leading off into the darkness, with caged vaults looming from either side. As I stepped tentatively into this bizarre world, a creepy voice echoed throughout the chamber, providing details (in English!) about the atrocities that were to come.

myfriend
Which one would you rather go home with?

While the creepy, synth-heavy music of Goblin echoed through the claustrophobic tunnels, I came face-to-face with some of the gruesome critters from Dario’s movies. The deformed child from Phenomena, a sacrificed body from The Church, a disemboweled corpse from Two Evil Eyes. They weren’t moving, but the place was so eerie and they were so lifelike (well, if re-animated corpses can be lifelike) that I didn’t want to turn my back on them.

My paranoia was fueled further by the fact I was heavily hungover after a big night out. My mushy brain had me jumping at shadows, and I was fanging for a beer to settle my nerves.

ugly
“Honey, you got reeeaaal ugly!”

And then, in a dank corner, I saw it. One of the props from Demoni – a possessed woman with wild hair and razor-sharp teeth, reaching out to devour me (sounds like my ex-girlfriend). It had been 20 years since I’d first seen her, while sitting on a lounge 17,000km away, and it was strange to be looking straight into her unseeing eyes. After a while, time seemed meaningless and I truly felt that I was in another world – one where death lurks around every corner.

I must’ve been down there for a while, because the handsome man inched his way down the stairs and called out to me. Maybe he thought I was wanking down there… but maybe, just maybe, he thought something blank of eye and sharp of tooth had dragged me off to a sad corner.

upsetman
He looks like he really needs to do a poo

It finally came time for me to return to the real world, and as I climbed back up the twisted staircase, it was as if I was emerging from a dream. A terrifying dream, there’s no doubt about that, but one I’m glad I experienced. The Dario Argento museum is one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited. The memory of watching Demoni for the first time with stay with me forever, and so will my memories of this wicked museum.

And if you ever do go there, make sure you tell the handsome bloke behind the counter that I wasn’t wanking. I swear I wasn’t!