Monday, December 16, 2019

Disney Star Wars and the Kiss of Life Trope... (Spoilers!)

Here’s a first… a Star Wars post here. 

So, really should be doing something much more important, but whist watching my daily dose of the Fandom Menace roundup, this dawned upon me. 

If the spoilers are correct, and Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker rumors are true… and said, spoilers from here on out, so it’s your call… if the spoiler that Ray meeting her demise during a final battle, and Kylo Ren giving her his lifeforce through a kiss that resurrects her, well then what we end up with is just a age old Disney trope of man saving woman. If so then that totally collides with everything that Kathleen Kennedy has been claiming for the last years that “the force is female” because what is less female than a male savior? 

The Kylo/Ray kiss of life simmers down to Snow White being brought back to life by Prince Charming, it’s Sleeping Beauty being brought back to life by Prince Charming, it’s Rey being brought back to life by Kylo Ren.

It’s an appalling way to bring back Rey, and it’s a totally ass way to redeem Kylo by him offering up his life for Rey after the immensely abusive relationship they have been holding on to – fight-fight-chase-chase-fight-fight, spit and hate, spit and hate… ad verbatim. It all comes crashing down in a soggy mess as Disney falls into the oft debated “male savior” and “kiss of life” trope that in all honesty doesn’t make sense in a universe governed by “force is female” and a character (Rey) that without any training has been able to pull off fates of force in one moment that other force characters had to learn through three movie story arcs… 

Despite the story being set in a galaxy far far away, a long long time ago, gender issues that have been told to be force strong turned out to be… meh, the same old gender play that Disney has been pushing for all eternity.

Go figure.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Burning consciousness of awareness…

Sex is part of genre cinema. It’s part of the formula, life and death in that crazy mix. Tits’ and Ass and violent deaths sell tickets. As far as science and the neurological part goes, the nudity gets the young adolescent audiences aroused only to shake them to their core as the next emotion is the counter, death. With the arousal in the system, the fight of flight reaction hits harder and strikes better. I know this to be fact, as I’ve talked several neuroscientists about this specific detail of horror genre and how it affects the amygdala.  Yeah, nudity and death walk hand in hand in the horror genre.

As an almost fifty-year-old man still enjoying horror, still watching teenagers get snuffed after shagging, or scorned women avenging their sexual abuse, or phallic monster stalking the maiden, or vaginal orifice consuming male protagonists and on and on and on not forgetting the darker more psychologic horrors or arthouse horror or that don’t shy from explicitness either. Well, you get the picture, sex is still a huge part of genre, and for the most part we can watch it for what it is, part of the formula, I and you, we all go along for the ride because it’s formula and part of the way certain horror tales are told. 

But then something happens. And said thing taints the films that once where mere fun. The movie that comes under scrutiny today is Tony Maylam’s classic summer camp slaughter fest The Burning. The Burning plays by the book. An instigating set up complete with initial attack, although this initial attack – which is supposed to set the threat – is a genesis story of the antagonist, and how a prank goes terribly wrong leaving him horrifically burned. The piece is full of hormonal teenagers. Horny, but still not quite there as they lust for each other throughout the piece. Well, the men objectify the women, the women try to stay away from the creepiest of the men. and those who do have sex pay for it with their lives, by default the women first in a weird unconscious take on slut shaming. We get to know the male and female fractions, we take part of their antics, the hierarchy of the groups, we start to identify with characters and invest in them, intellectually foreseeing how the story is going to unfold. The protagonists do their thing, the antagonist does his thing, subjective camera angles and all that jazz and special effects maestro Tom Savini goes to work with some spectacular eighties shock and gore.

Classic. But then there’s the taint. The Harvey Weinstein sex abuse and violent attacks and rape of women in vulnerable situations in hotel rooms. As I watch The Burning tonight, I start to feel uneasy with the objectification of the young women of the piece. A woman is attacked and murdered in her home, behind the locked door where the looming antagonist blocks her only path of escape. The first fifteen minute set up of the summer camp and characters are all tits and ass of women. Objectifying studies of behinds, with comments of how much they “want that ass”, running in slow motion as breasts shake, a woman takes a shower and a young man spies on her naked body… later as the film gets into its “stalker phase” a male character verbally abuses his girlfriend when she refuses him sex, later a second character forcefully and sexually threatens his “girlfriend” into being intimacy with him. Sure it’s all part of placing the good protagonists and the camper antagonists (not the killer) on polarised ends of the scale, but hen it hits me, the fact that Harvey Weinstein created, wrote and produced this film, most likely shadow directing behind Mayhem, and the question arises, can I really watch this film in the same way that we watch genre considering the court case against Weinstein for being a sexual predator and abuser of women?

Are we actually watching Weinstein living out his dream of objectification, misogyny and hatred of women beyond being sexual entities there for his desire in this genre classic?

Do we need to reassess movies when we know facts of those who created/acted in them and what happened? Can we watch The Burning and not see the power games, sexual threat and predatory behaviour of Harvey Weinstein being put on screen? Is he acting them out because it’s a genre piece? 

Amongst the women accusing Weinstein there are women claiming incidents as far back as the 80’s, and according to an article on the AV Club, one incident of abuse is known during the production of The Burning.[1]So again, we have to question can we still watch The Burning without seeing the possible predatory traits of Harvey Weinstein tainting the sexual content on screen, which according to formula is part of the game, an intellectual and psychological stimulator and trigger, but here come off as the creepy voyeurism and power play of a sexual predator. Can we watch The Burning without that gnawing at our consciousness now that we’re aware of his deeds?


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Here we Roeg again... Who saw them try?

A few days back The Guardian's resident film-scribe Peter Bradshaw wrote a piece paying tribute to Nic Roeg's eerie masterpiece Don't Look Now from 1973, as it's been restored and re-released with a short theatrical run along side that.

Now off the bat, I have to point out that I agree with everything that Bradshaw points out in his text, of how the film is a psychological study of the human psyche processing loss, grief and quest for closure. How Venice is as much a part of the entity of the film as it location of the film, how the film holds its place as part of horror canon, and how it's spiralling roots lead right into fodder such as Trier's Antichrist, and Ari Aster's Midsommer. (Still on my watch list btw...)

Don't Look Now is the melancholic and uncomfortable tale of how the loss of a child drives a married protagonists John and Laura, (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) into a confusion of love / hate / psychosis. A film that uses it misty and eerie location as a metaphoric backdrop, where a ghostly apparition in a red rain coat haunts the narrow streets and foggy nooks of Venice killing people as it forcefully slashes at them with a razorblade. How Eros and Thanatos meet in bed for a cinematic moment. Because Bradshaw is correct to point out that the infamous sex scene, or rather sex-post coitus scene as it intercuts both the act and the slow decent back into sadness as they dress after their act, was an addition to DuMaurier's original story by Roeg. Something that showcases Roeg's male genius and benefitted the film immensely as its still one of those moments still discussed by cineastes and scholars with equal passion.


It's beyond me that there's not a single nod, comment or referent to Aldo Lado's giallo Who Saw Her Die? which was released in 1972, a year ahead of Don't Look Now. I've been down this road many times previously, but it's one that's of importance in my constant struggle with the high-brow/low-brow paradox.

Key connections between the two are too many to be coincidental. Lado's film, as Roeg’s films focuses on a married couple struggling to come to terms with the horror, shock, heartbreak and grief of losing a child. But they discover something darker, hidden behind the tragedy that shook their worlds.

Franco and Elizabeth (George Lazenby and Anita Strindberg), find their young daughter violently murdered and dumped in a Venetian canal. (The kid is played by Nicoletta Elmi for anyone with a weird love/hate thing for Italian child actors, as most of us who watch that fare do). John and Laura’s daughter is found immersed in water too, although in a pond after an accidental death. Where John and Laura lose themselves in work and socializing(-ish), Franco / Elizabeth also become obsessed elsewhere, as they learn of a similar murder in France leading them to start investigating the parallels between the two cases. Both films have a lot of action taking place in the foggy, dim lights of Venice canals and back alleys. A strange figure, almost ghostly, lurks the shadows, taunting us as an audience and the protagonist on screen. Slowly and deliberately confusingly, both films displace pieces of the narrative puzzle to lure us down wrong alleys to the surprise last act twist/reveal that comes with the genre. They do differ in their conclusion, but this is perhaps the widest distance between the two films, although they will both leave you with a what the fuck frown on your forehead.

The psychological turmoil of the protagonists is the same, the location and atmosphere is the same, the fluid cinematography of Franco Di Giacomo versus Anthony B Richmond, the way Graeme Clifford clings to his edits like Angela Curi previously did. Roeg's Pino Donnagio score to counter Ennio Morricone’s superior one of Lado's movie. The similarities are too many to ignore, it's almost a doppelgänger movie, but elevated out of the low-brow pinfold, hence never questioned, but accepted as original.

But it all culminates, or climaxes with pun intended, in the final proof of Sex and Death entwined. Lazenby and Strindberg fucking, intercut with post-coital crying over the death of their child, Eros and Thanatos unified in a spectacular way. Roeg lifted this right out of Who Saw Her Die? flipped it spatially timewise as the sex is intercut with flash forward to the apathy of post sex,and got the credit of genius when it's all Aldo Lado’s brilliance at work, because Lado’s collision of emotions is a immensly powerful one.

If nothing else, it's arguable that Lado's Who Saw Her Die? deserves more than to be a curiosity left for cinephiles and Giallo fans alone. It needs to be rediscovered and put in place within the canon of horror film history, something that very little outside American, British and/or the major studios actually seem to qualify as. My torch song is that the fibres of "canon" that stretched out into the nooks and crannies of the horror genre, as deep as they/we need to go, deserve to be lifted forth and acknowledged, as it's no rocket science behind the fact that without Who Saw Her Die?,there would have been no Don't Look Now as part of the "checklist of horror film canon". First then do we look into the possibility of DuMaurier's source material being an influence on Aldo Lado.

Bradshaws article here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Walkabout. Conflicts with the HighBrow/LowBrow Paradox

I find myself continually confronting and struggling with what I call the HighBrow/LowBrow Paradox. There’s really nothing much to question about it really. It’s an annoyance, and a constant conflicting area I’d attribute to amateurish journalism, pseudo-pretentiousness, intellectual wannabeism and academic bullying. Let’s not forget ignorance too.

If you caught an image on film are you not a filmmaker? And just explain to me why an American Pie film deserves a franchise whilst independent filmmakers throughout times have struggled to make a single follow up to minor successes? Why Cult filmmakers CONSTANTLY are revealed/discovered/known to have only been making “that kind of film”, so they could afford to make the films they wanted to? 

Highbrow is defined as highly cultural or educated, a person of intellectual or erudite tastes. Highbrow’s usually have money, snobbish. Lowbrow is unsophisticated, uncultivated, cheap. A dictionary definition of low-brow is partially “a person who is un-interested in intellectual pursuits”… I fucking challenge you to say that in the same sentence as Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, Lucio Fulci, Ed Wood Jr, Doris Wishman, Roberta Findlay and many, many others. They were filmmakers, ergo artists, and they were trapped in their economical circle of production hell, so why the need to deem films into two fields divided by an intellectual crevice that splits art and trash… a you and me, us and them, a rift to judge artistic value. Hence the HighBrow/LowBrow Paradox

The HighBrow/LowBrow Paradox is the space where the low-budget films I watch and love get mocked, guilt tripped, questioned and shamefully referred to as low-brow cinema clashes with the highbrow films I watch and love are credited for, even though they many cases lifted the conceived moment from low-brow cinema. 

Where high-brow cinema gets away with anything, and low-brow cinema is scolded/ridiculed for same narrative trait. 

When a “lowbrow” film zooms a lot to avoid the cost of breaks and resetting of camera and lights for close-up shots are called “lazy/sloppy camerawork” but when “highbrow” does same move it becomes an “innovation/a genius approach”. 

When a “lowbrow” film becomes exploitative/filth because it features nudity, whilst a “highbrow” film is artistic/celebratory. 

Where a corporeality of the flesh, of bodily fluids, of self-mutilation and suicide are mocked as childish tools in films deemed “lowbrow”, but when used by acknowledged filmmakers of the “highbrow” earns them the status of hailed auteurs. 

We could seriously simmer it down to the simple question if we should think of Bertolucci as a rapist, or Meir Zarchi as a rapist, and then question how said films where received, perceived and played a part in said field of cinema. What is highbrow, what is lowbrow and why does there need to be a border? 

Never forget, Nick Roeg’s Don’t Look Nowbasically ripped off Aldo Lado’s Who Saw Her Die, complete with alienated non-linear, ex-spatial sex scene and mystic Venice location. Period, full stop, end of discussion! Then let me ask which of the two films you are more famillar with… 

Then we come to the clash in focus this time, the case of Nick Roeg’s Walkabout. A highly rated, loved, critically appraised tale of two city originated children who end up walking the desert of the Australian outback and learn how to survive the ordeal with the help of an aboriginal boy (David Gulpilil) who they meet along the way. He’s on his Walkabout, a traditional ritual where young men are cast out of their tribe to live off the what the outback provides, hence the title Walkabout, which in a metaphoric way is what Girl (Jenny Agutter) and Boy (Luc Roeg) experience too. 

No question about it, it’s a beautiful, atmospheric and very much child of its time piece of cinema. It heled usher in the “new wave” of Australian cinema and uses an somewhat unconventional juxtapositioning of imagery to clash modern/indigenous similarities though out.


There is a total of (at least) twelve animals killed on screen for narrative purposes of depicting survival in the outback. Amongst that lot, three water buffalo, three decently sized lizards and two kangaroos and a bunny wabbit. I’m not bringing any question of morale to the fact of killing to eat or not, or even killing for film, this is just a fact of the images preserved on celluloid. The first time, it’s validated as a fact of survival, and in the narrative, it’s warranted. But it just keeps going on and on, more and more animals are killed, slaughtered and chucked on the fire for dinner ending up in the pretty large number of twelve dead animals.

I would though, like to question how many times Nick Roeg had to endure the same ordeal of questioning Ruggero Deodato gets after each in presence screening of Cannibal Holocaust“Why did you have to kill the animals?” Whereas I in Walkaboutcan appreciate the animal deaths as being an ethnographical study of the native Aboriginal saving the present, (even though the present kills him later, for lack of reflected love it may seem in the film, but in the novel the Aboriginal boy dies from influenza that he’s not immune against), which it does and it gets the metaphoric job done. Even the three water-buffalo that are killed adhere to a native vs modern as they kill for fun premise. But then again this is not what Walkaboutis famous for, as Cannibal Holocaustif famous for its animal deaths, despite them being half the number compared to WalkaboutCannibal Holocaustis only famous for its animal deaths and very rarely does the question of morale that fuelled the film get heard over the complaints of animal deaths.  (Long story told short; Deodato wanted to comment on his art being censored whilst capitalist TV stations made money showing death on the news etc. I feel he does an excellent job of that with Cannibal Holocuastwith its immense cynical tale)  Although the difference is that Deodato’s animal deaths (at least key deaths) all take place on the secondary format of the found footage, hence becoming a storytelling tool to sell the authenticity of the films violent and harrowing final act. Through the authentic animal deaths, the illusion of the staged human deaths is complete, as the trial for manslaughter would prove only days after the film premiered in Milan on 8thof Feb, 1980. I don’t see how the many deaths of Roeg’s film actually do anything but spin off a contextual concept that parallels the sensationalism of the mondo-genre using savagery images of native man in his setting, just like Deodato does with Cannibal Holocausta year later.  Are they really that different when it all comes around?

But perhaps more disturbing than the animal deaths, is the adolescent nudity. There are at least three times where Jenny Agutter is objectified and placed under Mulvay’s “male gaze”. This once again made me question the HighBrow/LowBrow Paradox. After a few days in the desert girl and boy stumble upon a small watering hole. Girl, obviously stuck in the role the patriarch has designated her with, sets about washing their clothes, whilst he plays action games with his toys. After their clothes have dried we see Girl putting on her underwear and this is shot in a close-up excluding anything by her underwear as they are pulled up her lower legs. I’d argue that this is purely eroticizing the underwear and her body, even though we don’t see more than her calves. In contemporary times, it echoes Japanese burunsera and school girl fetishist imagery. Of which there is much inWalkabout, and Agutter’s tiny school girl dress versus compositions of shots to be honest. Later, Girl goes swimming. She has no swimsuit so she obviously goes swimming naked, as the camera lingers gently observing her, as a romantic score by John Barry plays on the soundtrack. Naked as she twists, turns as the camera observes her every move. If not sexualising/objectifying her, why did it end up being the image on most of the posters? It seriously made me think of Kelly Brock and Riley Steel’s overtly drawn out underwater nude acrobatics in Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3Dbut the difference being that that moment is drawn out to make a point of the conventions of nudity in genre film that Aja’s taking the piss out of with the film. For fun go check that scene explained in the parent’s guide on IMDB, because the swimming scene in Walkaboutis naked in a way that should have earned it a “Severe” rating along the lines of the parent guide for Franco’s Female Vampirewhich has descriptions that read like fan fiction erotica. Seriously, someone took the time to write a parent’s guide for Jess Franco’s Female Vampire?

It’s possible that this was the weak-ass critique that Roeg was aiming for. A “Oh, look how you’ve exploited the aboriginal people and look, it’s all the same as how we’ve exploited women keeping her constrained to stereotypical roles in the patriarchal structure…” But I seriously think that would be pushing it, wouldn’t it? I think it’s a clear case of dirty auteurism.

What we have here is a classic highbrow/lowbrow paradox. Roeg’s objectification of a young 16 year old girl is accepted because of the intellectual makeshift excuse of being art, of being at one with nature, of finding her freedom in its submitting Agutter to the male gaze. And I’d argue it’s a perverted one too as that underwear fetish will support, the several scenes where she’s semi naked, which of a couple are kind of innocent, but there are moments where it’s very sexually loaded and Agutter’s acting is of as in panic as she knows she’s being stalked perhaps going to be assaulted… I will though argue that the final scene, which features nudity from all three of the main cast works as a metaphor for freedom and is narratively legitimized. The adult Girl still stuck in the hegemonic structure, did have that one moment of freedom where all were treated as equal, and that’s the closing shot. Unfortunately, it’s only a safe place she can resort to when her hubby comes home with more small talk of how he’s doing at work with his career whilst she’s chained to the stove.

So you have objectification, of underwear, nudity and then a threatening victimisation of nudity all in one film… although still art. So, I question once again, why do we need the polarizing fractions to define art vs trash, objectification is objectification in any way right? 
It’s almost like asking if a Serbian Filmwould have been considered highbrow if Michael Haneke directed it. Exactly as it is, no changes to anything, but pretend that Haneke had directed it… how would it have been received?

A great exploration into how HighBrow/LowBrow works is to spend some time reading Parents guides on IMDB for an instance. You will pretty soon find that “highbrow” films will waste characters explaining that nudity “is not in a sexual way”, “non-sexual” and so on, even scenes warning of violence too. Whilst “lowbrow” films will have “woman seen in underwear”, “it’s insinuated two people had sex” etc etc… anything to throw dirt down the ladder of intellectualism to taint the smut of lowbrow perverse deeds. Watch Walkabout, observe the mating ritual scene and then tell me that this is nudity in a “non-sexual way”.

Yeah Right.

Don’t judge. Enjoy and treat all film as equal is my recommendation. A story is a story no matter who tells it, the experience the same.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cries and Whispers

Viskningar och Rop
(Cries and Whispers)
Dir: Ingmar Bergman
1972, 91min

In just a few weeks it will be what would have been Ingmar Bergman’s one hundredth birthday, hence grand celebrations here in Sweden all this year, and for me a chance opportunity to rediscover a filmmaker I’ve not been too fond of until these past years. But growing into Bergmanmania, I found my own way of reading him, as I’ve been exploring the Bergman through the perspective of a horror fan and his film through horror/genre aesthetics. 

Three sisters, Maria (Liv Ullman), Agnes (Ingrid Thulin) and Karin (Harriet Andersson), and maid Anna (Kari Sylwan) are gathered together as Karin faces death. As Karin goes through the throws of her last day in life from an unmentioned painful slow death, the sisters reminisce of life and their relationships.

Cries and Whispers is a tour de force of Bergman filmmaking. It’s a no-holds barred, ruthless spiral of death and emotions with some of Bergman’s most haunting and disturbing images.

The silence. That’s what strikes me with this film. The silence. At times there’s almost no ambience at all, to such an extent that it’s nauseating. The silence lies like a wet blanket upon your senses only to be yanked off as screams are hurled at your eyes and ears. The titles Cries and Whispers is perhaps the most fitting title ever to describe a movie, because that’s EXACTLY what this movie is; Cries and Whispers. 

This is also the movie where genital mutilation is featured (Again a deliberate provocation by Bergman to shock and disgust his audiences). One of the sisters, Agnes (Thulin) so shut off from her emotions shoves a shard of glass up her vagina and then invites her husband into bed only to feel something and to provoke a reaction from her husband. In a way it’s a first resistance against the patriarchy that oppresses the women of this movie, because it’s only after she’s stripped of all the bondage of clothing that she’s free to rebell and break away form the “tangle of lies” that she repetitively speaks. The tangle of lies being confirming to the patriarchal structure, something that Agnes breaks out of along the way. As the film reaches its end, it’s still only Agnes who’s had a change in character. She’s gone from the passive cold stern older sister to the active one who wants to stay in a loving bond with Maria.

Bergman’s obsession with ghosts, a clear Strindbergian influence of his, the ghosts and otherworldly presence is present again. (He also points out in one of his notebooks that the character Agnes is a homage to Strindberg’s A Dream Play and it’s lead character Agnes), Even though Karin is dead, and this is no spoiler, it’s inevitable, she strangely gives an impression of being alive as she cries and asks to talk to each of her sisters, and if you want to take it even further, she actually tries to bite Maria, which we all know is the characteristics of a ghoul, to feed of human flesh after death. Which also leads me to point out that the fade to black between scenes, is fade to red, symbolic for both life and death.

Noteworthy, the sisters read to Karin from Dickens The Pickwick Papers. A chapter where Pickwick meets his companion Sam Weller. Now Sam and Pickwick have at times been compared to Sancho Panza and Don Quixote, which can be read as a metaphor for mental illness, and in an intertextual way, this links into Harriet Andersson’s character Karin in Såsom I en spegel (Through a Glass Darkly) 1961 both by name and by the symptom of suffering from persistent disillusions. 

I also think that there’s a vague hint of lesbianism in here. The way Anna tends to Karin and the imagery that it ends up in a stylistic image that leads the thoughts to17th-century Madonna imagery.

With all that said… try to comprehend that this movie was co-financed by Roger Corman and distributed at the drive in’s through his New World releasing… WHAT ON EARTH did those poor drive in patrons make of this piece of dark, depressing Scandinavian art cinema? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

. . . A N T I C H R I S T . . .

. . . C H A O S   R E I G N S . . .
. . . A L L   W O M E N   A R E   B A D . . .

Lars Von T said in interviews that with this horror film, just like his attempt at making a musical, Dancer in the Dark, he failed. And he couldn't be more right. He failed miserably. As far as horror films go this is simply a high-brow wank of genre conventions jumbled up in a vague juxtapositioning as Von T gives Tarkovsky his best hand job.
Bear with me this is most likely going to get rantat, but it will conclude with thoughts on Antichrist and the Gospel of Lars von T.
T R U E !
The reason it's a high-brow wank is because that's where it was pigeonholed when elitist critics “once again” decided what was horror and not. Honest to god true story, the largest public service TV channel in Sweden ordered an eight-part series that was to focus on horror ten years ago based SINGULARLY on the basis that St. Lars Von T was making a horror film. So scared shitless that they were gonna miss out the cultural elite of SVT commissioned this series and when they had no fucking clue where to start they lifted some rocks where they found someone that pointed down some deeper rabbit hole that led them further past the stink of fetid death right to me. From the first fucking meeting, I was treat as a piece of shit… but a piece of shit they needed to get the job done. Naturally all the sweet stuff I was catfished with like “yeah sure you can do the Japanese episode and sure you get to go to japan” was nothing but sales pitch and all I got was shafted, milked of my insights and then kicked to the curb as the trash I obviously was to them. (I wrote the best fucking script ever to the Japan show, containing interviews with Koji Suzuki, Hideshi Hino and Jan Fukuda, if you know your genre stuff you’ll be able to recon out the three segments that those interviews gave.
But horror was a losers game except for a few (the common big five according to film history canon) and now Meister Lars Von T was getting his depression series horror film out to the masses and they had to get onboard to show that they knew the genre. Enough to make an eight-episode exploration of horror.
But the people working with it didn’t’ really want too, seen as horror was a silly thing, and they were all form the intellectual department…
…an example, one “in charge person” skated into the office in his tight-tight bike shorts on rollerblades, swirled a couple of times around the office desks blurting out “I watched horror film last night and it was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I can’t understand why people watch garbage like that. You people are such immature nerds!” In most cases I’d take that as a compliment being called an immature nerd, but blurted out by a sweaty bloke in a bike helmet wearing spandex shorts on fucking rollerblades… that’s just pushing it.
Anyways as to not detour too far off course, I got intellectually milked, the show got the episodes done, they got the backslaps, I went back to selling my soul to mindless commercial tv and a smashing depression feeling mentally dehydrated, used and abused… waiting or the next punter to venture into my well of misery dangling a piece of lucrative “we need you” bait in front of me.
But they never got the Lars Von T interview that the whole fucking show was supposed to wrap around and lead up to! He declined and rose in my awe even more.

T H E   G O S P E L   O F   S A I N T   L A R S   V O N   T . . .
Where Antichrist may not be much of a horror film, it must be watched as a piece psychological drama, where I feel that one can place all of Von T’s films. Because as a psychological drama about two people falling deeper and deeper into the abyss of psychosis, Antichrist is fucking amazing, profoundly dark and absolutely relentless.
YES, it’s a nasty piece of film and it is so because this is his depression movie, the one that he wrote after learning that his father wasn’t his real father as the old man lay on his deathbed (I think it was, could have been his mother though) It threw him into a depression and he questioned his whole existence. And above all he questioned what his mother had told him was truth, and hence also her. Out of that depression and time spent in hospital due to same depression, he crafted what ended up being Antichrist.
Of course all women are bad. Nature is woman, and woman is bad, woman is selfish, and woman would sacrifice her own child for a perfect orgasm. That's Antichrist in a nutshell.
The Gospel of St Lars von Trier is that he can show you anything in the name of “art”, whilst I’m absolutely a hundred percent certain that he’s fully aware of the fact that everything he does the high-brow audiences will lap up and intellectualize upon whilst the sleaze-gore-pain-and-suffering horror genre fans can appreciate the story with it’s at times quite familiar themes, motifs and imagery. Like Bergman, Lars Von Trier is one of those few directors who can, and does, titillate high-brow and low-brow audiences at the same time. This skill is one that is tremendously advanced in filmmaking, you have to have the right amount of diamonds and shit, dirt and gold, art and trash. Bergman never really got out of the trash/exploitation groove. His first movies where marketed as part of the Swedish sin, and his final theatrical film StateSide was screened at the drive ins as part of Roger Cormans New Line Distribution. 
It's the same with Von T. although he's deliberately flirting with the "low-brow" crowd with is use of alternative actors like Michael Elphick and Me-Me Lai in serial killer drama The Element of Crime 1984, Udo Kier in plots for drama that balanced between surreal horror and psychological drama with Epidemic and the breakthrough Europa, that also starred Ernst Hugo Järegård and Max Von Sydow (as the narrator, but still Max), the provocation of the story in Breaking the Waves, the sexual content and authentic fucking in Idioterna. It keeps on like that film after film, bringing in elements of the fantastic film history with the traditional art cinema mixed through Von T's provocative auteurism, Diamonds and Shit, Art and Trash... as the high-brow lap it up because it's art and the low-brow seek it out because it's got all those alternative elements that we love in them. Deconstruction of the human psyche, deterioration of mental health, sex, death, torture, creepy shit in the woods, genital mutilation, fucking, panic, fear, chaos reigns.

Lars Von Trier might just be the last living cinematic genius alive today. 

Yes, Lars Von T is still fucking laughing about how everyone gobbled up Dogme as he made films that looked like shit on a micro budget. He’s just unleashed a serial killer movie upon us, and at the end of the day, I might have been treat like shit during that job, but I also got to spend three days with H R Giger and make friends with John Ajvide Lindqvist, so in the words of Lars von T, one has to take the bad with the good.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

It Stains the Sands Red

It Stains the Sands Red
Dir: Colin Minihan
USA, 92 min.

Just revisited this one again, and I feel that I need to post some thoughts that I initially posted on Letterboxd about this one.

Well, not really spoilers, but sort of if you have seen other films by the same director that I'm gonna talk about...

I thought I had an idea of what I might be getting myself into as I started to watch this one, but to tell you the truth I was surprised to find a really good piece of apocalyptic storytelling here. A shot of freshness that brings back hope for a genre that’s overstayed it’s welcome and sunk into repeat mode making it stand out amongst zombie films.
Although despite bringing a bunch of zombie flick tropes which kind of are required of the genre with it, It Stains the Sands Red also brings a bunch of interesting things to the zombie-apocalypse-table that I’m surprised nobody ever did previously. Big fucking kudos to the filmmakers for doing so, as some will be put completely off the movie when it get’s into menstrual bleeding and lack of tampon panic and that what follows. It’s a slice of life as a woman in the zombie apocalypse unlike anything that you've seen before.

Basically the premise goes something like this, Molly (Brittany Allen), a Vegas stripper with an appetite for cocaine, finds herself stranded in the middle of the desert on her way to an airstrip that could be a possible escape from the budding apocalypse. Left with no other choice to but walk, she sets off right through the desert in direction of the airstrip... But a lone zombie targets her, and shuffles along right after her, through the sands.

Don’t expect a gun-toting female lead in the vein of Resident Evil; this is the anti-thesis of Alice. Think of it as a The Battery meets Swiss Army Man meets The Road kind of thing.
It’s a much more down to earth approach to classic zombie apocalyptic horror, you won’t get the classic bullet to head and squirty-squirty action. It get’s there, but it takes it’s time and trust me there are moments that will make you cringe and it’s not the menstruation thing. I realized I had my fingers stuck in my ears during the build up to one specific moment and with PlotDigger (that’s Meg and Ryan Nicholson) providing special effects, you know the red stuff is going to flow (no pun intended). But perhaps above all this this is all about making amends, changing one’s persona, becoming a better person. That’s basically the story here, but set in the apocalypse, with zombies - and it works like a charm. It’s amazing what a chunk of flashbacky-backstory and a bit of character development can do to elevate a movie from ok to brilliant.
Background riff; I quite enjoyed Colin Minihan’s cheap but cheery, Grave Encounters flicks (written/directed with his brother Stuart Ortiz, who co-wrote this one too, as The Vucious Brothers), but I totally hated Extraterrestrial. If you’ve seen that one then lets just leave it at shit ending, waste of characters, totally wrong kind of way to deceive the audience. Not my cup of tea at all. I like investing my time in characters and getting to know them, getting into their head and finding what makes the tick. Well, I’d say that Minihan and Ortiz fucking nail it this time. There’s a splendid character arc, character development and I’m left with a big fucking grin on my face as I, despite the open-ish ending, know that things are all going to be alright because Molly has got her shit together and is up for anything. So take my money and sign me up for a sequel right now.
I think this one just made my top ten of the year selection. Something about it just hit the right spot. I love horror that can make me laugh at its absurdity (without being knowingly comedic), be creepy, gross and also emotional. That’s when you get the real magic. Molly has a fantastic story arc and at the end of the movie I think I’m kinda in love with Molly and this flick.

I have to admit it, this is a fine little indie gem that I'm sure I'm gonna revisit even more times along the way, because you can't ever beat solid storytelling, fun characters and zombie a go-go.

Disney Star Wars and the Kiss of Life Trope... (Spoilers!)

Here’s a first… a Star Wars post here.  So, really should be doing something much more important, but whist watching my daily dose of t...