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Crossing Over: “SPOILSBURY TOAST BOY”

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Welcome, FANGORIA Readers, to CROSSING OVER, our newest column that highlights the films, series and content out there outside of horror that is fashioned towards or pays tribute to our beloved genre. By shining a light onto these projects, FANGORIA hopes to open a world of entertainment perfect for fright fans that lies just beyond the borders of the horror community. So without further ado…

Readers, have you ever come across a piece of art that disturbs you in such a way that it makes you question if life is worth living? If your answer is “no,” then please allow me to direct your attention to a little three-part short story from SALAD FINGERS’ David Firth himself, SPOILSBURY TOAST BOY.

The miniseries was created over the course of 2004 and 2005, a fact that potential viewers can probably surmise from the crude flash animation that Firth employs. A straight plot summary is hard to provide here, due to the story’s heavily surreal nature.

The tale is told backwards and revolves around the titular Toast Boy, who lives in a bleak, empty-looking world that is largely populated by anthropomorphic beetles both big and small (all of which sport sinister-sounding British accents). He apparently only exists to produce stacks of toast in an assembly line, and the only other humans we see him interact with his disgusting, rattling grandmother and a little sister who suspects that something is off about granny.

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Toast Boy, with his misshapen eyes and stubby arms and legs, just kind of listlessly mopes about in this world, with the beetles popping up everywhere to spit out demented platitudes and observations (“I’ve been watching you little toast slave. In the shower. Becoming quite the little gentleman, aren’t we?”) in what can only be explained as a deliberate attempt to warp the young lad’s psyche. They also make a point of asserting their dominance over the nameless little girl, whose mild sniffles are interpreted as some kind of prejudice against mucus, who possess a certain degree of intelligence if the good beetle doctors are to be believed.

The terrifying ‘toon is filled with nightmarish imagery, from repeated close ups of bugs crawling into ears, to extended dream sequences centered around insect coitis. And with editing that shifts randomly between slow fades to black and frantic jump cuts to unintelligible text, you never get a strong sense of pacing, a tactic deliberately done to ensure that viewers never achieve any sense of stability, and have no choice but to fall further and further into this world ruled by the will of the beetles. Hopelessness and fatalism are the names of the game here.

If after watching SPOILSBURY TOAST BOY you still feel like indulging your inner masochist, Firth has a wealth of material that can be found on Youtube, from all ten episodes of his infamous web series SALAD FINGERS, to numerous one-off shorts such as CROOKED ROT, a creepy stop motion short that was prominently featured in the NIGHTMARES episode of Adult Swim’s OFF THE AIR. It’s dark, brutal stuff, but as a wise Beetle once said “pleasant thoughts are unhealthy. They distract the mind,” and beetles are in the know about these things…

SPOILSBURY TOASTER BOY can be viewed in its entirety on Youtube.

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About the author
Christopher La Vigna
Christopher La Vigna is a writer, filmmaker, and the newest batch of blood to be welcomed into the haunted halls of FANGORIA. He’s a graduate of Hunter College*, and can be found lurking around any movie theater or comic shop near his person. You can argue about movies with him on Twitter: @Chris_LaVigna
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