142. Vengeance

Tapehead no 142 

This week’s Inside Story is about vengeance, one of Tapehead’s favourite things. 

Vengeance is not only beautiful but booming with the outbreak of a number of ‘revenge agencies’ – most of them run by people who are so twisted, they seem to be fuelling their own bitterness by proxy.

One couple, who lost £30, 000 life savings and have had all requests for Lottery grants to run their animal sanctuary refused, are so vengeful that their custom-made “crap-o-gram” boxes probably cost more than the fee they charge.

New Yorkers who sign up for a class on ‘How To Get Even Without Breaking The Law’ include a sweet-looking social worker whose description of herself as “a certified social worker” should probably say “certifiable.”

Far better to do it yourself.

A woman who felt misused by her lover (a local JP) plastered his antics all over the village, complaining: “he manipulated me in such a way that I didn’t realise I was being manipulated.” (Well he was hardly going to tell her !)

Tapehead’s point of view is that hiring other people to reap the vengeance you seek is half-hearted.

Real revenge involves torching motor cars, hurling bricks through windows, and supergluing people’s eyelids together.

Why mess around with agencies when there are people down Tapehead’s local who will let loose with baseball bats for a couple of crates of lager ?

People like Kenny.

A Bobby Grant lookalike with a scary Scottish accent, Kenny usually costs a few grand but he points out reasonably: “if it’s funny, I’ll do it for 50 quid.”

The grisly murders of the Clutter family – dazzlingly documented in Truman Capote’s masterpiece In Cold Blood – were at first presumed to have been committed out of vengeance.

In fact, as modern America shortly discovered, the killers’ rationale – straightforward psychosis, the thirst of violence – was simply the shape of things to come.

This two-part adaptation, directed by The Accused’s Jonathan Kaplan, stars ER’s Anthony Edwards and Star 80’s Eric Roberts acting their little socks of against type as Kansas killers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.

While Roberts limps along on one gammy leg (a la The Usual Suspects), Edwards keeps one eye closed in a Luke-Perry-trying-to-make-it-in-movies kind of way.

Roberts is so youthful and sweet-looking it’s scary. (Mind you, Eric is always scary). He’s unrecognisable from Heaven’s Prisoners, Final Analysis, or those typecast parts where he looks like the bastard offspring of Iggy Pop and his sweet sister Julia.

“They’re a bad-luck bunch, nuns,” he mutters. “Like snakes in a dream. Black spiders, only worse.”

The build-up in Part One is so painstakingly restrained that if you didn’t know what was coming you’d nod off hours before Perry and Dick even get to the farmhouse. Any slower and it would be a freeze-frame.

The Clutter family is so perfect and all-American – teaching local kids how to make cherry pie and bringing apples to their po’ workers after church – they make The Little House On The Prairie lot look like the Moors Murderers.

After 20 minutes of watching Dick and Perry dawdling across Kansas, Tapehead was screaming at the screen for them to put their foot down. The denouement (just about) makes it worth sticking with.

In Wildlife On One, David Attenborough sets out to rehabilitate the reputation of the humble piranha.

It turns out most of the little bleeders are vegetarians (like Hitler.)

Others only eat fish and chicken, although I’m pretty sure some will admit they occasionally succumb to the standard vegetarians’ temptation: a bacon sandwich.

We learn that most piranhas are not actually that dangerous and are even quite romantic. (But who wants to know that?) They mostly fall victim to crocodiles who find them the sort of tasty-if-rather-crunchy snack you can eat between meals.

The Piranhas’ Union will probably complain about Part Two of the programme though, which shows them viciously nibbling chunks out of the tails of other fish.

Older piranha “disappear in cloud of frenzied cannibalism.” “Boisterous” baby eagles don’t remain boisterous for very long…

“One slip,” whispers Attenborough, “could be disastrous.” 

At which point, you suspect, a cameraman lobs one into the water where it meets a predictably, fantastically, violent demise. All in all, more than enough to stop you from paddling with piranhas.

In Brookside, vengeance should be sweet as albino boy Danny adds Eleanor and his dad to his hit list (after Mike Dixon and his mum).

Elsewhere “tension is increasing at home for Rachel and Christian.”



Inside Story: Weds, 10pm, BBC1

In Cold Blood: Tues, 9pm, BBC2

Wildlife On One One: Tues, 8pm, BBC1

Brookside: Fri, 8.30pm, C4