Mystery Blather

I’ve been thinking of Cluedo a lot, probably from my recent use of them as fill-in characters for examples. (Does anyone else take the Cluedo game pieces and hold them next to each other and make up dialogues between them? Anyone? Just me?)

It makes it easier that they are, themselves, Edwardian stereotypes. It’s easy to infer, for instance, that Colonel Mustard is a hard drinker, and prefers to indulge himself into a nightly stupor, or that Mrs. Peacock, getting a bit on in years is insecure about her attractiveness, especially with these young upstart tarts like Miss Scarlett flouncing about.

(If you can’t tell, I’m rambling about today for the need to say something. I didn’t sleep well last night and that runs a bit hard on the creativity.)

I was pondering if one could make an Indian Island variant on the rules of Cluedo, in which the suspects are knocked off one by one as they get too close to the murderer. It’s easier when you have a referee, such as a computer, to make sure that the players are not the villain but are instead the final girl. More specifically, they’re within the closed circle of suspects (they didn’t do it, but are still in the anyone here could have done it circle until ruled out for certain). And the murderer decides to murder them last, for reasons beyond understanding to the sane mind.

To me it is amusing yet disconcerting that the slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s are all really just Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, just more slashy and less deducey and occasionally with a bit of the supernatural.* Occasionally, even, the monster is capable of disguising himself as one of the suspects.

To be fair, I could also argue that all the 70s and 80s slasher flicks are really just Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. (penned as Don A. Stuart in Astounding Science-Fiction) known most readily as John Carpenter’s 1982 thriller The Thing. But we could technically apply the same to most whodunnits ever written, and with the invocation of an unreliable narrator interpret them as Thing stories.

That still wouldn’t explain Jessica Fletcher’s long distinguished career.

* Friday the Thirteenth invoked a ghost, but that turned out to be a red herring. Nightmare on Elm Street, the 1984 Wes Craven film was inspired by Asian Death Syndrome in which Khmer refugees from Cambodia were suffering from nightmares severe enough to avoid sleep, and some of whom died in their sleep soon after. So it’s something of a supernatural monster loosely based on a true story.

Image is of Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple in A Caribbean Mystery (2013) Contemporary monsters like Jason or Freddy would not only underestimate her until she had well discerned the situation, but even in a direct confrontation would even find themselves instead facing the local constabulary, the home guard, anti-terror divisions and even the Royal Air Force as necessary as she had already notified them well in advance. The story just ends better that way.

Postscript: I’ve yet to play Kill Dr. Lucky a Cheapass game which is a variant of the Cluedo thing, where Dr. Black (in this case Dr. Lucky) hasn’t been killed yet, and man does everyone want him dead.


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