THE PERFECT CRIME: A DOGGY WHODUNNIT (2021) (runtime: 9mins 52 secs)
* See below for transcript of the poem*
RECENT AUDIENCE COMMENTS
‘I love how this builds and surprises you. I think the rhyming works really well in this way, part of the game. I like imagining Rufus with a gun, wearing a balaclava, parking, etc. And the mixture of humour, darkness, and tension’
‘This is brilliant to listen to, I chuckled my way through it and really related to the tension in the 3-way marriage’
‘Darkness and comic light touch – that space in between the light and the shade in the piece was wonderful’
‘Well and truly horrific!
‘Glad my dog isn’t in the room to overhear any ideas!
‘So sickly nice but really horrible!!’
‘This has everything written into it; A dog, a bit of Hitchcock's Psycho, a lot of blood, some witnesses, traces of hair and the print of a paw.
‘Obsessive, funny, and wacky’
‘That was just magical. Dark, and magical’
‘Spoken word nightmare fuel!’
‘Hilarious! My dog loved it. He had his notebook out.’
This poetry film is about me, my partner Alex and Rufus, the dog that we often dog-sit . In previous work about me, my partner Alex and Rufus, the dog we dog-sit, Rufus intrudes somehow in our relationship but was light-hearted, whereas this is much more sinister! Through its playfulness and dark humour, the film provokes the audience to ask: Who controls who and who is the killer? Rufus the dog? And if so, is it Rufus the animal, or someone (presumably Lee) dressed up in a dog-suit?
Imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho meets Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes... The Perfect Crime: A Doggy Whodunnit relays my experience of me almost sharing Alex with Rufus whenever he is around with Rufus dominating and me battling this creature by me becoming him by me dressing up in a dog costume, ultimately leading to a crescendo that is totally captivating. The poem starts with me and Alex and Rufus on a day out (I’m a bit jealous of the dog because Alex loves him) and then I morph, I become Rufus, I become my enemy!
The poem is humorous in tone and uses end of sentence rhyming couplets for poise and wit and dramatic effect when performed are their sugariness becomes increasingly demonic… the idea of being strangled with a dog lead. The poem is indeed written for performance; the listeners gets a whole extra dimension hearing me read it, somehow both more soothing and more unsettling as the story veers bit by bit into more ominous and surreal territory as an examination of the uptightness of suburbia and the dark underbelly of suburban life. On the one hand the story feels inspired by BDSM puppy play with the leather fetish kink scene then on the other has the feel of a childhood story book.
It includes me writing in the first person where its listener gets a sense of my emotions and personal feelings around a particular situation that I have with Alex and Rufus interlaced with references in TV soaps, TV murder mysteries and old well-known films; nothing too highbrow but the listener gets an insight into the psychological aspect of a murderer. From the playful to the sinister; for example, whilst reminiscent of by Grayson Perry’s Measles teddy bear, the teddy bear conference drives the sinister and makes the listener question whether this is funny and what is actually going on here in terms of obedient companion animals turning on their human masters and the companion teddy bears turning on these animals. Stuffing your bears in drawers becomes more than a little bit psychotic. Part fiction – part rooted in fact with various characters that are all voiced by me. Either way Rufus is clearly trouble so tread carefully. The reference to David Lynch is a reminder of fantastic film series Rabbits from 2002 with characters dressed as rabbits on a stage appearing in what can only be a nightmare.
At times, the poem adopts a style of writing akin to a factual police report written in the past tense to provide narration to a series of events where the listener is unsure who is the criminal protagonist. Me being influenced by how artist Chris Burden often recalled his very dangerous live performances using a police report style of writing. Parts of the poem are based on actual happenings. It is the audience’s job to untangle fiction from fact. Could it really be possible that, quoting a section of my poem-in-progress, ‘11:02PM On CCTV, a car was caught speeding down the A23. A witness told police, although seen from afar, they spotted a dog at the wheel of the car’?
THE PERFECT CRIME: A DOGGY WHODUNNIT by Lee Campbell 2021
Alex loves Rufus, a Welsh springer spaniel
I’m frightened of things that don’t come with a manual
I’ve often drawn Rufus to understand better
But I don’t share the bond that those two have together
You might think I’m silly and I’m being pedantic
But sharing bed sheets with Rufus is far from romantic
I speak doggy voice, almost wear a dog collar
Should I dress up as Rufus and star in a horror?
Everyone to the slaughter, beware of his paws
Deep in the water, Rufus is Jaws
In me and Alex’s bedroom, an emergency summit
For a group of bears to discuss an eventual whodunnit
In attendance are teddies, the soft-type cuddly toy
Many of them I’ve had since I was a boy
Chief Bear Ted begins, ‘We are here to discuss today
what must be done to keep Rufus, to keep Rufus away
Every time he comes to visit, we are shoved in a drawer
To keep us out of his sight and out of his jaw
Just remember comrades what happened to poor brother Ed
Rufus that scoundrel left him for dead
To everyone’s horror, to our disbelief
Rufus jumped on the bed and grabbed Ed by his teeth
It took more than one cycle in the washing machine
To get Ed back normal all cuddly and clean
But the poor little bear, he’s not himself former
His eyes can’t disguise the extent of his trauma
Give Rufus some cardboard, he’ll tear it to shreds
One day mark my words that will be one of us teds
Give Rufus some paper, he’ll rip it to pieces
That will be you next and your nephews and nieces
He’s coming to get you! We must act and act fast
He’s got to be stopped and stopped at long last
We can’t have a repeat of that Goldilocks story
She stole all of our porridge and claimed all the glory’
Less Midsomer Murder, more Hitchcock thriller
Who controls who and who is the killer?
Is it all fiction this whodunnit of mine?
Or is there some truth in who does the crime?
He’s got murder in mind – just look at those eyes
They might be all sweetness but they’re sugar and lies
Delicious, delicious doggy delicious
Sweet baby Rufus can sometimes be vicious
Be jealousy free, come out of the fog
Don’t play second fiddle when it comes to a dog
You can joke with your partner, ‘It’s the doggy or me!’
But when they stumble to answer, it’s a marriage of three
From what was the greatest romance that’s been told
A love story turned gory, and revenge served cold
Not death by the ways you’ve read in crime fiction
But the kind the most gruesome, by doggy infliction
He’s one of the family, he’s man’s best friend
But in the dark of his kennel, he’s plotting your end
This might sound dramatic. Can this get any absurder?
But that bone that you give him is a weapon of murder
The public are advised to stay well clear
of a dog wanted in connection with a murder last year
He goes by the name ‘RUFUS’ and has gone on the run
He’s aged seven in dog years and height 2 ft. 1
He wears a brown coat with patches of grey
Have you seen Rufus? Call 999 right away
Two weeks prior in a fancy-dress store
A shop owner was surprised by all that she saw
Phoning the old bill to share what she’d seen, middle-aged Cath from Camberwell Green
‘Hello yes, Constable, how do you do? I have some vital information of much interest to you
A man in his forties entered my shop wearing black Adidas trainers and green hoodie top
I remember his beard, white on one side
I was dying to ask him if it was natural or dyed?
Thinking back, it was strange now how in the shop with toy bone
He began pointing and shooting like Sylvester Stallone
He said ‘I’m looking for a dog-suit that will fully camouflage me’
‘Why certainly sir, what size?’ I replied. He answered ‘Oh size extra-large me’
I showed him the full range of our man size dog-suit selection
‘Only Welsh springer spaniel’ he said in his quest for perfection
‘Here is a photo. I need an exact copy
Big brown puppy dog eyes please and ears furry and floppy’
I told him for what he was asking it will be tailor made
He didn’t care what the price was on his credit card paid
When I jokingly said that we’ll throw in that toy bone
His response both alarmed me in content and tone
‘A lead would be better’ he said ‘perfect to strangle a man
Made of razor-sharp leather, do you think you can?’
11:01 On CCTV, a car was caught speeding down the A23
A witness told police, although seen from afar,
they spotted a dog at the wheel of the car
11:56 PM. In our sleepy cul-de-sac
He parks outside 16 and sneaks round the back
12:04 AM. Barking and screaming
‘That’s Rufus with a gun!’ claims a neighbour
‘But I could’ve been dreaming
All of a sudden, in the dead of night
Screams of ‘RUFUS HAVE MERCY!’ gave me one hell of a fright
With my torch and my golf-club, I entered next door
Shivering with terror from the full horror in store
Overcome by the sting of that sinking feeling
When you see someone's blood dripping down from the up above ceiling
Upstairs, in the bathroom, stone cold in the shower
Lay my dear sweet neighbour in his final hour
Drowning in blood, in his own red liquor
Who could do such a thing, who could get any sicker?
It’s clear who’s the killer just look on the floor
Trace of brown dog hair and the print of a paw
A dog is not just for Christmas but for life is the measure
He’s getting life for sure, behind bars - at Her Majesty’s Pleasure’
R for revenge
U for unkind
F for fanatic
S is the sentence Rufus has started
serving for murdering the dearly departed
Those capital letters together, what do you get?
R .U. F. U. S spells RUFUS. Are your palms starting to sweat?
Completion Date:April 28, 2021
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Dr Lee Campbell trained in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2005 and received his doctorate in 2016. His recent experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international queer film festivals including Queerbee LGBT Film Festival, The Gilbert Baker Film Festival, Kansas 2020, HOMOGRAPHY, Brussels and STATES OF DESIRE: Tom of Finland in the Queer Imagination, Casa de Duende, Philadelphia, USA, WICKED QUEER 202,Boston, USA, 2021 Film Vault Presents, Manchester, UK, 2021 FilmPride Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, UK,Splice Film Festival 2021, Brooklyn, USA Festival ECRÃ Edition 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, SPHERE Festival, and Queer Life, EdgeZones, Miami, USA 2021.
He has a solo exhibition of his film work at The Sidewalk Video Gallery, Fountain Street, Boston USA in late 2021. His films have been selected for prestigious awards/nominations including:
2021 Nominee for Best Original Concept and Best Atmosphere Independent Horror Movie Awards
2021 Honorable Mention Award for 'See Me' (2020), Screener Short Films
2021 Best Kent Film nominee for ‘Peer’ (2020), Margate Bookie Film Festival
2021 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2020 Semi-Finalist (3rd place winner), Splice Film Festival, New York
2019 Special Mention Award, London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival
Dr Lee Campbell describes himself as 'a Londoner who makes experimental films and performance poetry about being gay and working class using barbaric wit and humour’. He uses poetry and experimental film as a form of autoethnographic storytelling/sharing of personal narratives often raw, often painful but always generous and authentic.