Hot on the heels of his searing exposé Moonfellows, Danger Slater’s latest is a cautionary tale for those who don’t believe girls need access to comprehensive sex ed.
Elizabeth is a high school senior who believes life should be just like the movies (John Hughes, specifically) and that she, as the main character of hers, is destined to go to prom with the cutest boy in school, the rich and athletic Trevor Sandstone.
Suspicious of her sex ed teacher (who she figures must be some sort of pervert), with her mother hesitant to tell her the facts of life, Elizabeth is woefully unprepared for the risks that come with young love: in her case, the nuclear missile hidden within her reproductive system.
That’s not a metaphor. Elizabeth is quite literally a weapon left over from the Cold War, complete with a miniature launch crew who rush to action whenever she thinks lovingly of her crush.
Other than that, the plot hews pretty close to the template of a traditional teen movie. A blissfully ignorant ticking time bomb, Elizabeth sets out to win Trevor’s love with a series of wacky schemes that include sexting, blackmail, occult rituals, and attempted vehicular homicide. We see failure followed by unexpected victory, a makeover montage, a setback that threatens to keep the lovers apart, another montage, a rebellious gesture, and finally, a rite of passage party where all loose ends are tied up.
Like other Danger Slater works, Little Miss Apocalypse is riddled with cartoony characters, amusing turns of phrase, and hilarious imagery (a personal favourite occurs when Elizabeth gets hit by her prom date’s car). In its absurd pop-art depiction of inept goths and narcissistic geek girls, it reminded me quite a bit of Ira Rat’s Participation Trophy. (Stevius, Elizabeth’s Baby Bat bestie, has joined the ranks of my favourite fictional goths).
Another thing to know is that Slater doesn’t waste words. He’ll occasionally to devote a few lines to atmosphere – we get a nice, “the soil split open and a huge pillar of volcanic hellfire blasted upward,” as a character tries to curse his crush with the voodoo incantation from the Chucky movies. But most of the time, Slater trusts the reader to understand what he’s describing. Take the school gym, “decorated with some balloons and streamers and a bunch of shiny bullshit” prior to the climatic prom sequence. “It looked prom-y as fuck,” we’re assured. And that’s all we need to know.
Slater’s prom scene does Carrie better than King and De Palma (don’t write me nasty letters – Little Miss Apocalypse’s Carrie moment is objectively better than its source material, drenching our misunderstood queen not with mere pig blood but entrails from a menagerie of exotic animals). And its aftermath is equal parts romantic and empowering (and something else, but you’ll see that for yourself).
Little Miss Apocalypse is Pretty in Pink meets Dr. Strangelove, an impassioned polemic for bodily autonomy and a condemnation of the eighties movie industrial complex. It’s also, for lack of a better word, a total blast.
Author: Danger Slater
Publisher: Eraserhead Press