'Nothing sacred' is the most sacred of philosophies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Come and get your yarbles!" ZARDOZ: British Acid Cinema v. 1

Once upon a distant English future, or stretch of its past long buried in the bog and/or under small beach pebbles of Stonehenge-y time, savages in maskies roamed the English countryside, raping and killing indiscriminately, all recruited into this action by a giant stone head that floated gamely o'er ye mossy banks and occasionally spat them out more guns and ammo and booming instruction that sounded a bit off, connecting 'penis' and 'gun' and shooting life and death and all that like something scrawled by a drunken 9th grade Columbiner after he's assigned Jung's "Man and his Symbols," dropped acid with his burnout brother, and watched Wizard of Oz while ruminating about how no girl liked him at school.

That must be it. John Boorman has taken acid with his mates and watched Wizard of Oz while listening to the soundtrack to Marat/Sade. And that is how the 'henge was stoned.

So one of the killers, Zed (Sean Connery), sneaks aboard the floating head, kills its man behind the curtain (with his painted twirly 'Painting for Surreal' Groucho mustache) and winds up in the presence of a group of intellectually advanced immortals, surrounded by an invisible force field and living off the land in a perfect encounter group breathing exercise group mind mime troupe sense of order. Darned only in taffeta robes so clearly demarked 'Eloi' as to affront any rambling Bevin Boys' morlock club cocktail coterie's cognizance of couth, these fey libertines don't quite know what to make of our young thug from the other side of the bubble. His own mind's been wiped in advance so they can't scan him and find out what happened to the Groucho behind the floating head. Some of the girls, especially in the scientist ladies, particularly lovely Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) react with hostility demanding him executed immediately; and May (Sara Kestleman), who's definitely turned on with much less resistance, and also wants to probe his mind and find out what happened to the man behind the curtain, who was out and about in the world beyond the wall, arranging the pop control and now is reborn as evinced by the new womb growing inside the wall. Which is weird, as there are no children around --thank 'Oz for small favors.

The 60s was all about psychedelic openings (to free love and eastern philosophy and renewed interest in the far-out writings of "Crazy-Cat" Carl Jung) but this opening became as a giant mouth of macho hungry ghost gimme gimme, one of hairy chested Burt Reynolds guffawing. Nonetheless, self-awareness led to a form of macho beyond Freud's "one direction" sense of phallic symbolism. Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces man, it led to Iron John by Robert Bly and the men's movement.

To Freud, a gun was a phallic symbol, i.e. for ze penis, but Jung's break with Freud was that the penis was also a gun, i.e. neither was the be-all, that the idea of "the phallus" wasn't necessarily tied to some infantile anxiety formed at the first sight of mom's "missing" genitals, but that the phallus itself was a pure signifier, en par with the circle or zero. He couldn't know then that this binary of 1 and O was the basis for all DNA coding, fractal-like but he dreamt it and knew the collective unconscious bore it out with Excalibur, with the spear that pierced Christ's side, etc. A new, less ashamed kind of self-aware sexist macho psychedelia was emerging, only this version was Sean Connery in an orange diaper leaping like a macho Athena from the stone head of mighty Zardoz. 

 From top: Zardoz, Monty Python, Wizard of Oz, Zardoz, Tron

As far as loopy but pungent satires on the vanity at the heart of masculine identity.  It's one fuck-all fractured crystal light show that--had anyone been listening to it at the time, instead snickering--may have woken us up to the value of death as the only key to life.

But at the time, which was 1974 to...  now (or later), we weren't necessarily ready to have our yarbles handed to us by the --we just saw Sean Connery with his black ponytail and traffic cone orange diaper riding a horse and a big stone head flying around and rolled our eyes in embarrassment. And then he's the only fertile still-erect male in an isolated society of enlightened immortals, his big red bulges gazed upon lustily by the gorgeous-eyes of Charlotte Rampling. Her and the others stand around in multi-colored robes in weird configurations that evoke one of those planets on Star Trek that's all Ancient Greece-y so old character actors can recite Aeschylus. Tacky, man. For some of us, the ponytail itself was enough to bid us exeunt.

But Boorman is the great chronicler of castration anxiety and it's perhaps that anxiety that kept us (okay, me) away so long. I only finished watching as it happened to be on TCM while I was in another room and half-listening, half writing something else, and gradually its savvy to the genetic con job called reproduction drew me in. Emasculated in jumpers, "them panties", or even (below) wedding dresses, Boorman's oeuvre never shies from (figurative) crotch shots (as in Walker's final punch to the gangster's crotch while that awesome crazy black singer with the light show rails on behind the curtain in Boorman's Point Blank [1967]). In facing the dread of castration anxiety so astutely, his films have Freudian breakthroughs right there on the screen. Burt gets a chance to shoot arrows at rednecks, and Richard Burton gets to throw Linda Blair against a wall and start to strangle her while half-molesting her at the same time. Running from the problem just gives it more juice--you got to clamp down hard and don't let go, like a pit bull.

Taken as an infantilizing hybrid of anal phase fixations, Connery's macho hairy chest and that orange outfit finally doesn't tap into the kind of revulsion most children feel for their own diapers by the age of three. Grown into middle-age, his infantile garb and attitude is as bemusing for us as it is for the immortals within the sanctuary. Personally, a vast regimen of SSRIs have removed 95% of my sex drive and I couldn't be happier about it. Maybe that's why now I understand how the UK's weird macho fey switcheroo makes boys into men by first making them women. Connery's Zed is somehow now all the more masculine for being so feminized, so objectified. Hustling the food in and out at the long banquet tables where the 'adults' discuss his fate (whether they should ice him or let him live), he's like puppy, his sexual heat is the equivalent of soft black velvet painting sad eyes.


As a side note, I used to love to watch nature documentaries as a kid. All the death was just fascinating, but now the endless stream of fear, hunger, death and birth that is the ecosystem of the ocean--my poor krill--now makes me feel like I am waking up to the fact Earth is a prison it takes thousands of lifetimes to escape--if ever. With ever gulp some whale is devouring enough little lives to populate a country. But it doesn't end, for gobs of krill come alive in little eggs again, just to be eaten by something that will itself be eaten. ZARDOZ makes me wonder: Has our slow poisoning of the seas been something the sea itself--the collective consciousness of all marine life along the food chain-- wished upon itself, the way the Immortals wish Sean Connery's big long gun upon them? We have to get past that tacky sci-fi cliche of the fertile man with hot space bitches standing in line for his seed, and then we get the true man-behind-the-curtain of that seed itself.  Man is here, screams this potty pisser lost in a eloi/morlock cocktail. Man is now! Guns are good. Guns bring death, and death is the liberator that will free the blighted earth from a doubling from its current 8 to 16 billion of our toxic viral footprint.

One of the chortle-inducing factors that throw people attempting to fathom ZARDOZ is its storyline, so straight up men's magazine fantasia as to imply instant camp. It's been used in everything from Ulmer's Beyond the Time Barrier, to Queen of Outer Space, Cat-Women of the Moon, Missile to the Moon, and of course Invasion of the Star Creatures. Here in this future the 'eternals' are all polymorphously perverse, way past such tired schticks as reproduction, death, or presumably genital-based ejaculatory orgasm. Never aging or reproducing. Perfect population control. The only drop is is when one disagrees with the many unified mind and then he is sent to some kind of eternal wedding/Princeton Reunion pavilion out by the stables, with other members of the clan, forced to endure old age (and the same old Caretaker-style records) for all eternity rather than reincarnate and halt their aging at the proper 'late 20s/early 30s' time like the rest. These rebellious immortals, labeled renegades, are sometimes guilty of nothing more than bad vibes (which unnerve their 'group mind), so their punishment is, in addition to not being able die or be young again, the relentless slow dancing.

To this pavilion comes Zed like an angel of deliverance with sweet death - which for those who've lived a century or more in this small 20 acre or so place, all around a lake - lovely land really, with an old castle commons that has what looks like bunch of inflated condoms (an effect I'm sure is intentional), it's time to go. In this way he's like the link between Conan the Barbaria (compare his sneaking onto the head and killing all aboard as if by habit to Conan and his friends' attacks on Seth's temple and orgy cave) and Alex in  Clockwork Orange, whose brute savagery is initially controlled by a brutalizing form of aversion therapy (which mirrors our revulsion/attraction towards the violence ourselves, our being 'unable to look away' as it were) and then by an undoing of that same therapy, to leave him better prepared to kill and ravage his way to a fruitful cure, a union with the Earth as it used to be, when savagery saved us all from tough decisions, morals, trash night, and guilty consciences.

It's a big Kubrick-satire bid, this Zardoz, fracturing itself along fault lines that bridge Clockwork Orange to Barbarella. It's an announcement to the world that he, Boorman, can be as much a macho priapic/cold misanthropic, less geometrically precise but still bonkers to the point of mind expansion and Dark Heart of Conradian consciousness as Kubrick. Can he? Maybe not, but you can tell he 'gets' it - he gets the deep shit Kubrick's digging up, and basically Boorman just acquires a similar shovel and starts looking on his own tract. He finds some shit all right. Deep, deep, deep shit. And he doesn't need a Terry Southern to apply black humor (ala Dr. Strangelove), he just gets it by taking acid while gazing at Men's Adventure magazine covers and laughing hysterically at all the phallic symbolism.

We're all hooligans in the nursery
Despite such savvy about the 'viral' nature of overpopulation and the paradoxical nature of symbolic castration, labeling ZARDOZ a masterpiece is bound to cause concern to those who trust your masterpiece-labeling. But this horse of a different colr can see to the giant chewing gum eye in the center of the overpopulation Tootsie Pop, and though '74 was a bit late to catch the acidheaded 'enhanced' midnight movie crowd, and though Boorman's pokey entry was yet too trippy/pretentious for the pop dystopia pre-Star Wars crowd (Logan's Run, Omega Man), hey, Zardoz endures, man. It's found a crowd with me, at last --it only took me ten tries, over the years. Waiting... for the key moment--I finally made it to the livin' end--not even noticing Sean's ill-advised dyed-black chest hairs and douche pony tail. I just had to be in the other room for the first half, listening. Absorbing my way inward, like a louche amoeba.

What I noticed most this time was the spirited fey death drive of John Alderton (future star of Wodehouse Playhouse) as Friend (who takes a shine to Zed and winds up ostracized to the Pavilion as a result of bad vibes) and the limpid mouth and layered freckles of the immortal's lead scientist May (Sara Kestleman - left), whose sexual interest in Zed is regarded with some suspicion (and veiled jealousy) by Charlotte Rampling's bitchy fellow scientist, Consuella, who promptly pronounces banishment to May and death to Zed when she catches them frolicking under May's magic sheet. I finally knew I loved Zardoz during this under-the-sheet seduction/analysis. Kestleman's freckles and big eyes and mouth alive with lysergic breath work under the colored sheet - using the confines of the sheet to subdue Zed - probing his mind for buried secrets imparted to him by the crystal, ahem, ball, to bring death like a savior. Just the way Boorman and Kestleman imbue a simple sheet with magical sci-fi energy, makes me swoon. Being immortal, we find out, is a drag. May's loyal ladies line up to get laid by old Sean, and in exchange give him via his (male) Alexa-type voiced crystal computer ring, all their combined knowledge so he'll know how to destroy the thing that binds them to their lives with no chance for true, real death.

And lo and behold, I really relate to a lot of the crazy split-subjectives and all the mass mind meditation and heavy breathing. I mean I really REALLY relate. (Imagine me saying that last part while rolling over you, pulling at your collar). The Immortals' whole vibe is one of those 70s theater encounter groups, or any tight-knit acting class or troupe that does little weird everyone vocalizing and waving their arms in unison outcasting or accepting one of their number into the group mind, the way EST paved the way for a billion offshoot 'encounter groups' for people afraid of being touched or opened up to get to their own heart of it all.

And for all its juvenile wish fulfillment, the one rooster in a big henhouse fantasy SHOULDN'T BE DERIDED as it stems from a very real archaic programming that nowadays is expressed only by Mormons, sheiks and walruses. To be the virile heterosexual male alpha specimen in some cool utopian colony - all the women young and nubile and easily put under the sway of your fresh pheromones-- all competition sidelined, no virile male for miles... ah, what a dream. For lonesome men on the prowl, hunting in pairs as young male lions often do in between the time the alpha male kicks them out of 'his' pride and the time they take over another's, this fantasy sustains them. We don't act on it - we know it's stupid to try and become a pimp or Mormon; it's a fantasy, a way to placate our archaic male drive. But we suppress it completely at our peril. Zardoz expresses it, while at the same time undoing it, and that's maybe the thing that keeps audiences away. Our secret memories of those old sci-fi tales and Heavy Metal comics mustn't be exposed to the air and sniffed over by super intelligent women who could kill us with a wink.

Dig this groovy statement by the iRing (their male version of Siri or Alexa) when discussing Zed's propensity for laying around in his cage, dreaming, a hobby which the Immortals find to be a huge waste of time: "Sleep was necessary for man when his waking and unconscious lives were separated," and that plus their longevity is a clear explanation for their enormous power, their mental faculty which gives them more or less the ability to age each other through group mind telepathy and live in a life of perfect order and balance.

This utopia is the dream of every loving group of 'awakened' individuals. If they have achieved 'total consciousness" meditation takes the place of sleep and almost every other need. "Second Level" as the Immortals call it seems to be a communal shared alpha state where bad vibes can lead to your arrest and aging of up to five years.

I've told you about those glorious stretches of time I've experienced when unconscious and conscious lined up perfectly, as if in sublime eclipse and I could see everything clearly with my eyes closed or open, all was illuminated and inseparable. Of course, too much of that leads straight to the psych-ward unless you're so charismatic you're covered head-to-toe in protective cult underlings who make sure your every step is strewn with roses... and if that happens just try and keep your ego from running amok and becoming 'that' type of cult leader, the male lion who boots the young men out of the tribe so he can marry all the young hotties. Boom, his clarity is gone. Either way, no eclipse lasts forever, not in these short life spans, surrounded on all sides by petty droogies and dimwit doctors. Such openness of mind relies on a complete suspension of all judgment, fear, and avoidance. This leaves you very vulnerable to oncoming traffic.

(Clockwork, Goldfinger: Paradoxically, these Brit cock-and-ball stories are way
more macho than Leo avenging (yet again) his murdered child and/or wife (below)
in The Revenant:

Let us return to the subject at hand, if you dare, castration - or fear thereof. Successfully completed reproduction, from the 'gleam' in your father's eye to your firs sharp inhale, spanked by a hand almost as big as you are, kick-started into the world like a wonky television-- it's one looong castration. The schlong goes in, bur it don't come out; if you have any yarbles they're long gone.

Emasculation and neutering affect our British macho man at every turn, from the lase
r coming right at Bond's crotch in 'ahem' Goldfinger to Clockwork's Aubrey Morris clasping hard down on Alex's niblik back at the house where he's spatchka-accruing to be right as dodgers for this after.

In America, home of the wee narcissist manchildren who need to stand on crates hidden under the frame and have ramps built for them to kiss their willowy ginger co-stars, our balls are so precious that we refuse to even mention castration, as if the words themselves are serrated-edged. Puer aeternus complexes rouse Maria von Franz from a stone sleep; rhe ginger beer equation, set up by half-dead spouses, advocates a tired guilt over rowdy strutting. Just making flirty eye contact dooms a girl either to smash cuts to joyless animalistic rutting (on HBO or AMC) or stalking (HAIR, FEAR and whatever's on Lifetime). The only guys badass enough to 'go there' as in castration are Tarantino and Rodriguez (as in RR's Planet Terror). (2) 

As Leland says Mesa of the Lost Women, this is my order: be nice unto all ages and sans sexual advances. The problem facing most guys is that when they're most desirable is when they're less likely to realize it, but also that--thanks to media--they confuse being attracted with being attractive, and the first problem invades the second, so that hearing a girl you like doesn't like you like that makes you think you're misreading signals. In other words, your ego is such a bitch it uses your own insecurity to turn you into a persistent douchebag.

There's the person who says no to his drive to go cavort with the younger girls, and the guy willing to ridiculous to his wife and every other girl his own age; he'll see them sulking on the sidelines, glaring from behind strollers, as he walks with a girl young enough to be his daughter if he'd had kids at 20. Who does that old dude want to be with, a sulky old cow berating and belittling his every word, or some starry-eyed waif who thinks he's charming and sexy, even if it's only because she has an unresolved Elektra complex? The Leighs and the Loaches trundle home, not forgetting to pick up bread and the Guardian--reading in bed to the knots that they keep in a jar by the door - whore is it foe, all while Kubrick and Boorman stay up 'til all hours dropping acid with these precocious hot geniuses and contemplating, not their aging selves in the ceiling mirror--not their crags and sags and graying hair,--but their eternal faces--neither old nor young, neither virile nor withered, neither growing nor shrinking, nor strutting nor cringing, but the eternal face, as frozen as the angry godhead in Zardoz as blank and meaningless as the Godhead in you know what (I shan't spoil it if you haven't seen it.) The house began to pitch and such was rich so bitchy he snitchy ding god godnd/fvstofrewu

When the going gets too weird, Zed eats a single leaf from Mama Mcree's psychedelic flower. And that one thing leads to another by a kind of parenthetical association that would be lost on American viewers the way it was me if I hadn't just seen High-Rise. But since I had, I felt awareness of some kind of weird British shared secret, the sort where psychedelic mind expansion, socialized education, and the BBC merge together to help the male psyche shatter, so that the phallus becomes the devouring vagina dentata instead of just being devoured by it, and this is truly the union. For your casual bullet had picked its immortal's brain pan destination before you were even born, my son.

A KNOT-TREWN NOT TRUE is still Naught-less

The first thing the old man realizes--the old codger played by Peter Ustinov in Logan's Run or the old Bowman looking at himself in the mirror in 2001 and seeing a young astronaut staring back--is that all the young kids are reflections of himself-- two segments of a long, single organism--the head and tail of an ouroboros serpent, closer to each other than they are the middle. There's no escape from the void of devouring, and no one shares that certainty more than the old man entering the maw of the unborn child who just left it. Once inside its scaly tunnels, the 'I AM' part of the surviving soul realizes that even death itself is just a chimera, a tunnel on the endless looping track. Familiarity with acid's perspective allows this 'we are one thing, split into infinity to get a better look at itself' as almost a side effect to the experience of 'frisson.' We get to see how different it would all go down were we unfastened from the signifier-signified chain of structural indemnity and allowed to float free and easy in the zero gravity of Mad Hatter tea party disruption, where word association no longer has any relevance as a game or trick or strategy. 

So in a game of word-association, the word 'chair' doesn't provoke "sit" but "aced" as in "I aced the lane through the chair" (or "I chased the plane through the air" in Imbecilic) / and 'milk' doesn't provoke "cow" but a terrified scream of "gloves!" (1)/ as in an archaic memory of touching the fleshy warm udder of a cow once with bare hands at the 4H Fair) and "sky" doesn't provoke "blue" but "Skirl" etc.

Half the time, they're not even real words, but two or three words Frankensteined together in a kind of accelerated overlapping wave collision between free association, bad pun, and scrabble befuddlement. When given full controls of the voice, the subconscious can be terribly glib and--to a sober man--incoherent. To an incoherent idiot, however, cogent as the Dane is wrong. 

If you can breech that structuralist surf, I'd say Zardoz is a film that's the story of a male psyche having a split dialogue with itself and its own adult sci-fi pulp roots--the kind of 'adult sci-fi' that's long gone but was all the 70s science fiction you could ever see, prior to Star Wars and Spielberg. Of course its a dialogue that has no ending. It goes on in the hearts of bull dykes struggling in the heavy mantle layers of some giddy fake-Earth ending to some mid-70s episode of Charlie's Angels (the girl football team episode). (3)

Why and why not are inevitably going to be so linked as to be indistinguishable. Are you going to buy the next world a cup of coffee, or are you going to act sulky, alone, like a little bitch, until you're so old that it's considered obscene just for you to even hit on people your own age? A 990 year old in a 20 year old body we call a vampire, but a hit from the side -- end of knee -- end of career. We call that the 80s. Are you 'winning' or are you awake? There can't be both. Humility or cock swagger are a fine duality, but -- humble cock swagger? Now you're 'unified' and don't it feel kinda strange?

1. Of course that's a reference to Crispin Glover in Wild at Heart!
2.We've already talked about this when I attacked the copout movies Hard Candy and Teeth. 
3. I apologize that this ramble ends with a discussion of dyke presence in a girl football team episode of Chalrie's Angels episode 41 (season 2), "Angels in the Backfield" but it seemed trenchant at the time, to merge a discussion of men evolving into a male/female whole soul into a female-starring detective series from the 70s chronicling the struggles of a female football team and one of those rare, rudimentary appearances of lesbians. I stilck by it, even now, out of the hospital, and presumably all better. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bell, Book, and Hallucinogenic Tampon: THE LOVE WITCH (2016)

"Men are very fragile. They get crushed down if you assert yourself in any way." notes our love-junky Wiccan Elaine (Samantha Robinson), voiceovering in her vintage convertible down Highway 101 from San Francisco, flanked by gorgeous redwoods and crashing surf. We see her stubbing out cigarettes in the car ashtray. God, it's been so long since I saw anyone do that. This girl, we realize, has it going on - but what is 'on' and 'it' that she has? Her new apartment is popping with magical candy color, and herb jars aplenty. Interior decorator Trish (Laura Waddell) was told to paint it with the "colors from the fourth Tarot deck." They go to the 'Victorian tea room' where men are not allowed, and a lady faire harpist plays. "Giving men sex is a way of unlocking their love potential," counsels Elaine, shortly before eyeballing Trish's husband, Richard (Robert Seeley) with her painted lid magic stare.

Then the Ennio Morricone stings come wandering in, slyly, shyly, and this Wicker Mannered Kenneth Anger x Anton La Vey x Pedro Almodovar with a lovingly stilted acting style perfectly suited to the sense of ancient ceremony, culled through a kind of high camp soapy-Sirkianism to make a distilled beverage of strange potency. In other words, like the mind of a person being forced to watch that Taylor-Burton-Milk Train stoppage terrible hat monstrosity BOOM! while being slowly encased in a psychotropic pancake syrup that hardens to frozen in-the-belly-of-the-dragon amber, you cannot help but succumb to the film's cohesive unified weirdness, its adept deconstruction and Pagan rearrangement of the kind of pre-Quixote romantic blueprint for mythologizing reality girls, smitten with Disney and afternoon soap operas, make in a Brechtian dissolution of cohesive, eerily familiar beauty. Is that even a sentence? As Jimmy Stewart says in BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, who's to say what magic is?

What LOVE WITCH is, certainly, us the announcement of a major female filmmaking talent, or at the very least the female Ed Wood we've all been sorely craving. A CalArts grad wunderkind named Anna Biller, like Ed she's a true sextuple threat (she wrote, produced, directed, did the art design and costumes and composed several of the renaissance songs). Thematically, a fond ode to the early-70s 'suburban housewife joins witch coven' micro-genre, WITCH captures just the right kind of highly-stylized qua-feminist fairy tale revision / Satan's School for Gifted Youngsters' annual solstice pageant primitivism to keep it from being either campy or realistic, magic is allowed to be--as in ROSEMARY'S BABY--comfortably ensconced in the middle ground of 'becoming' and 'will' rather than mystical spells and levitation. As Morricone slinks around the piano and patches her remaining disparate pastiche elements into a coherent whole. Biller ointments up and flies herself up as point guard to this whole new flock of filmmakers, I've written lovingly about most of them, who use the 60s-70s 'Euro-artsleaze' genre as a palette from which to paint uncanny vistas, and in some cases--such as hers--even doing some 8th-wave gender re-appropriation.

A definite feminist statement is the WITCH that I now defend. Yet I defy any male not to be turned on by segments of this film and then to realize moments later just how thoroughly they've been tricked, dragged kicking and screaming to an Ikea of fantasy land fairy princesses, unicorns, and tea parties. Brilliant, this fantasia of a small witch-infested Northern California town also includes a burlesque house (1) and of course the ever-popular female obsession: seducing guys who belong to other girls, then losing interest once they've had them under their spell and they start crying and obsessively screaming her name, driving them to suicide or heart failure. When grown-up girls still want to be Maleficent or need to use magic herbs (like the powerful psychoactive jimsonweed AKA Datura root - which makes a rare 'appearance') to seduce their men, then woe to those men, for this herb makes comprehensible the very speech of witches, which as Banquo speaks of in MACBETH, "the insane root that takes the reason prisoner." And indeed, the bail money to get reason back is death.

The story of three or so conquests in the disturbed life of a dangerously powerful and intoxicatingly sexy 'love witch' - Elaine lets us know in the opening that she's leaving Frisco "after a nervous breakdown" - which she discusses matter-of-factly in a highly mannered theatrical voiceover with conflicting flashbacks in a way that connects the events to a host of female-driven films from the late 60s-70s, from PLAY IT AS IT LAYS to CIAO! MANHATTAN (1972) and even LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. Echoes even of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (smoking calmly in the other room while her latest lover screams off camera), MESSIAH OF EVIL (especially when Robinson deepens and draws it her vocals on lines "The day Jerry left me is the day I died" she sounds eerily like Marianna Hill), and of course STEPFORD WIVES (in reverse). Rather than go down a Goodbar rabbit hole of sex and madness, as one might expect--especially if a man was directing-- there's sense of Elaine's almost supernatural ability to wreak pastorales and witchy fantasy from a simple colorful town.. Her ability to, in a sense, turn men into sobbing wretches "Just like a woman," Elaine notes. Then adds "I should have known; he's a Pisces."

As a Pisces I should resent that. But maybe she's right. After all, pre-existing hotness + love magic exerts a powerful toll on its target. If you've ever been seduced and abandoned yourself by a creature so lovely and damaged she hung around just long enough to wreck your home and work you over so well you're instantly addicted to her worse than any heroin and how easily death might result.

Biller's candy-colored solstice of love magick also explores and takes relatively seriously the world of the Wiccans (presumably) and probably explains the way young teens tend to get pretty warped when they happen to live in a town hosting the Renaissance Faire, and how Elaine's cracked determination to live life as a fairy tale seems to create first love so intense it blows men right out of their shoes, without consciously intending any malice. Magic, horses, princes, Tarot cards, strange sex rituals, it's all dangerous stuff, Elaine. It's not what little girls are made of! But hey, what's wrong with living mythically?

Is magic just the adult version of tea sets and stuffed animals and dogeared Disney disc?
or "moonbeams and fairy tales / are all she ever thinks about." - Hendrix
In pointed shoe fact, this is Disneyland run amok in a kind of clockwork counter to what the sweaty dying dad experiences during his princess tryst in ESCAPE FROM TOMORRROW. Elaine has chosen to live in a world of horseback riding, mock marriages held in full 'witchy / renaissance' acoutrements; quaint 'girls-only' tea houses replete with beautiful "Victoriana" trappings (ala other female artists who use Victorian fairy tale motifs to tell blood and thunder tales to make a Bronte shudder--like Rasputina, Josephie Foster, and Dame Darcy), a 'safe space' for women-only, with girls in long blonde hair playing the harp or--at the burlesque house--twins dancing in unison with feather fans--it all coheres into a narrative that takes seriously (relatively) Elaine's drive to live life as a fairy tale, and to use magic to snare her Prince Charming. The acting is deliberately stilted enough to make us every fully immerse in the narrative, which adds to the feeling of Tarot card predestination, as if this movie has been one long strange ceremony of feminine rebirth through the seduction and symbolic castration of various Saturnalia king sacrifices.

Despite the weird disjointedness, rarely has so cohesive a vision emerged seemingly full-grown from the head of Athena so to speak. that Biller seems to exert the same kind of creative alchemy that usually takes a couple, like Argento and wife Daria Nicolodi in SUSPIRIA and INFERNO, or Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani in AMER and STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS. In that sense its closest neighbor, as far as giving it a kind of priceless fairy tale moral apple corer, is Linda Hassani's DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT, with its Matthew Bright script. A film that begs rediscovery in the age of the kind of 'Sunday School Instructional Video from Hell' innocence that this new band of female auteurs is wreaking, DARK ANGEL has aged mighty well. Written and directed (and art directed) by a single female in a very visually precise Kenneth Anger-level mystic-meets-melodrama manner, clinging to it way past the point of Brechtian dysfunction, LOVE WITCH wallows in its own lopsided consciousness. There is a difference in male and female auteurship, and the difference should be celebrated, declares Biller, even unto cutting out your male lover's heart and eating it.

The main value here is that Biller can make a mark deep in the soft collective unconscious tissue that binds us along our collective Islets of Langerhans. Sofia Coppola came close a few times and might actually nail it at last with her upcoming remake of THE BEGUILED; Asia Argento was one of the first to try, with SCARLET DIVA in 2000, but you could tell it was a struggle, as if wading through the basement sludge of the male gaze like a harried plumber; Anna Lily Amirpour bit its finger off in the delightful A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHTHelene Cattet did the amazing AMER (2); Catherine Hardwicke did it in the first TWILIGHT, which was so good the terrified money men promptly turned the franchise over to male directors, none of whom matched the druggy electric drag of her original. Xan Cassavettes' ever-so-slinky KISS OF THE DAMNED is another where the men are arm candy Renfields in a matriarchal world held together by beauty, wealth, and discretion. They're all highly recommended as examples of women appropriating the genre in ways parallel to male-driven explorations of similar lines. Bitches may be strong in retro-analog films by Tarantino, Rodriguez; Russo and Ashby of DANGER 5, etc., but are all susceptible to the male drive to action and violence, the 'drive-in'. None would ever dare to, for example, show their starlet casually noticing a blood spot, inserting a tampon, and then later taking it out and adding it to a bottle of her own urine + a few wild grown herbs and placed on a man's grave, so a "part of her can stay with him forever." If they did, they'd underline it as if we should be grossed out, rather than merely add it to the flow, so to speak, like doesn't everyone?

By contrast and comparison. Let's examine the all-female lepidopterist un-fantasia of Peter Strickland's DUKE OF BURGUNDY, an example of 'faerie bower cinema,' wherein chthonic overgrowth ensnares all chances for narrative phallic linearity, leading to a kind of feminine revere/stasis, mirroring the way sexual desire can hold a person almost in a state of paralysis, tapping into the state of powerless awe we as tiny children felt towards mom and her visiting lady friends, when we had them all to ourselves--and compared to us they were as giants--lavishing us with attention and expecting no corresponding action (we don't need to do anything sitting there in the dark -- Garbo's giant face loves us no matter what). We get some of that at burlesque clubs (where the male acts are all symbolically neutered - baggy pants comics or androgynes like Joel Grey in CABARET - thus posing no threat to our seat of pre-Oedipal spectral omnipotence). While when brought into actual play, sadomasochism and/or stripping often becomes merely tawdry. 

Not tawdry
I only refer to all that to contrast Biller's style, which exits the bower (and does burlesque rather than stripping) to pursue a more the soapy backdoor histrionics of 'suburban swinger-turned-to-crime' films by mavericks like Russ Meyer, Radley Metzger, Arthur Marks, and Joe Sarno --male directors who love strong, proud empowered, sexually voracious females who can and do turn any suburban backyard barbecue into a wild orgy of close-ups: batted eyes, licked lips, hemlines and sizzling symbolism. It's to them she looks for a chalk mark arrow forward, then drags the bower behind her to wipe her tracks. Biller's dialogue demonstrates an approach to female romantic obsession seems at first like, as one shocked listener declares, "Stepford wifey," yet this approach--carried to its fullness--garners the participating female immense power over men, even to to the point where her absence can drive him to suicide or heart failure, They die without the love she used to open them up like a can of metaphysical sardines.

Considering the frequency of the reverse --the man as tomcat the woman--like Yvonne Furneaux in LA DOLCE VITA--tearing herself apart at home waiting for her errant lover's call, only to threaten suicide if he doesn't come right home, we shouldn't be quick to judge Elaine's strategy as vindictive or bitchy. Nor Marcello's either. Fellini's is a man's fantasy, the clinging woman issuing suicide threats through phone line apron string hydra tentacles, all the women in his life weaving a luxurious seaweed wrap of ardor about him. Biller's is a woman's fantasy, one where her past conquests succumb to acute melancholia -- her magic unlocks their "love potential" and the floodgates, once opened, cannot be closed til the whole lake's empty and his Piscean fishes flopping in tiny puddles of booze and old photos, and she not giving a shit.

Male or female, fans of revival DVD labels like Synapse, Mondo Macabro, and Blue Underground know well the genre Biller is exploring. In particular, the post-Ira Levin (STEPFORD WIVES, ROSEMARY'S BABY) female empowerment through cult ritual magic sub-genre of the late 60s-early 70s feminist horror boom (see Bad Acid's Greatest: 70s Paranoid Feminism Edition). A huge staple of the late 60s-early 70s, ranging from American 'woman's lib'-meets-cult magic tracts like Romero's 1972 SEASON OF THE WITCH, 1976's THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, and to French fairy bowers like DONT DELIVER US FROM EVIL and THE GIRL SLAVES OF MORGANA LE FAY (1971), LEMORA: A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL, and of course the works of Jess Franco and Jean Rollin. Biller evokes them all while never losing her own voice, one so strong I trusted it wasn't 'abdicating power' when the older coven male shows up like a leering dirty old Pan.

The best feature of the film may be Samantha Robinson as Elaine. Not a strong actress but a stunning creature whose slow measured speech patterns shows she has a grasp of how magic is really hypnotism through ritual and herbal supplementation. Her quest for love is like some dreamy but misguided fantasy yet it's way more appealing than similar attempts, many of which I covered in my recent piece 13 Best or Weirdest Occult/Witch movies on the Amazon Prime. Her imperious heightened theatricality erases the line between a kind of self-conscious performative camp and perhaps merely bad acting. Either way, the power of artifice in female seduction is performative and hypnotic.  One thinks of that preachy final monologue of Bill Holden's in NETWORK, that whole "this is real life, Diane, you can't change the channel." It's as if her magic works too well, the men aren't used to being so completely seduced and they fall to pieces when she loses interest. Sometimes they die from drinking her jimsonweed-spiked flask; or commit suicide or die of a broken heart when--she having satisfied all their deepest desires and literally blown their minds--loses interest as they get all possessive and clingy and needy and crying. "What a pussy! What a little baby!" goes her voiceover after her first conquest in her new town, a naturalist teacher named Wayne (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) at the local university, starts bawling and screaming needily for her.

His breakdown is a high point of the film, acting-wise, as he gives it his all, with this great kind of teary agonized flush "I have never felt real love like this before! Elaine, I'm scared!!" he shouts. The sheer magnitude of his lovelorn heartbreak threatens to disrupt Elaine's candy-colored sandman 'magical thinking.' So she has to go smoke in the other room.

Such complexity seems anathema to the film's sunny Tarot card artifice, but like Kubrick or prime-era Argento, offering a fully unified style that's never less than swoon-worthy. She doesn't star in it, but she's starred in other shorts of hers, and embodies a strong period persona. Just as Lana del Rey embodies a kind of early 60s David Lynch roadhouse hallucination, Biller embodies the female strength and cool of a composite of all three ladies in FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL with some aspects of Richard Kern-era Lydia Lunch, Edwige Fenech (ALL THE COLORS IN THE DARK) which and Argentine 'sinsation' Isabelle Sarli (FUEGO!) and a Civil War carving wife.

Anna Biller - thou art a badass
I was scoping photos of her for this post, and found an interesting response to a Coffee Coffee review of Biller's previous film, the lower budgeted scrappy VIVA.  Coffee's writer Peter suggested viewers be better served by BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS or Franco's VENUS IN FURS), presuming the intent on Biller's part was a kind of high comic camp, a satire of late 60s decadence:
Sexploitation films were based on real things, like sexuality between men and women. I would never be interested in critiquing them wholesale, because I don't find them stupid or inferior (you might). They are more for me like fascinating fragments of culture, all the more alluring because of their low status in today's culture. 
So again, you are making many assumptions. Those assumptions come from our need today to look back on history and laugh at it. They also come from a discomfort with the exploitation form because of guilt at male enjoyment of it. I am not critiquing those films, but I am critiquing cultural stereotypes. There is a big difference. 
The intention with VIVA was to make my own version of those films, to rewrite history as it were and place myself and my voice (as a female and an individual) within it. So in that sense it's pure fetishism, and comes much more from the place the original films came from (the desire to make a sexy film using fantasy and displacement). The confusion about my intentions may come from the fact that we have not seen many sexual fantasy films made by women, except by female directors who are working in entirely more "serious" forms.
Damn right, sister! Dig the way she defends her choices and calls Mr. Coffee semi-out on an ideological gender-based point, but does so sans knee-jerk third-wave malice? Her pride in wanting to make a "sexy film using fantasy and displacement" is a truly honorable ideal. Her response is free of browbeating. Such a combination is rare as buried treasure.

LOVE WITCH should satisfy VIVA critics as it's clearly a kind CITIZEN 9 FROM OUTER KANE breakthrough, its playful 'talent show from Summers' Isle' light/dark macabre counter-Christian pageantry mixes with genuinely erotic content in ways we don't really see in modern film; the closest we get is perhaps Shakespeare with his habit of fractal-dialing little bands of intentionally amateur-like players and diegetic songs deep within the main narrative. Shakespeare recognizes feminine erotic magic as a timeless (or lunar cycle-based) parallel to the 'normal world' of linearity and men. Biller enhances that, exploring the way becoming a man's every wish and surprising him with allure beyond what he can stand leaves him a sobbing wreck, and might leave her in the other room smoking a cigarette, listening to  his anguished infantile castrated bathtub sobs with the dispassion of Camille Keaton rocking in her chair downstairs (5).

The closest I can imagine to one of her amazing psychedelic seductions is the opening swath of DUNWICH HORROR with smoov Dean Stockwell using that weird Corman prop from THE TERROR and TOMB OF LIGEA to hypnotize Sandra Dee. Or even the way Mae West brings home "That Dallas Man" in I'M NO ANGEL (1933).

This kind of fairy bower end of the line "woman in her fancy hats broods and pontificates along the rocky coast" kind of jazz is harder to do right than it looks. For example, Angelina Jolie tried this same direction and wound up with last year's BY THE SEA, which some people (whose judgment I revere), love but I, and many others, felt suffocated by as if being dragged to some expensive boutique by a petit-bourgeois girlfriend and made to stand there for hours trying not to seem bored while she fussed over designer clothes and scowled at us for not somehow anticipating what she wanted us to want to ask her to do. Presumably we're copping decor ideas and make-up tips, studying how to sulk stylishly; meanwhile Brad makes friends with old locals and picturesquely has a beer while the old men tells a story and the vibe is like if an Eric Rohmer moral tale was bronzed, thrown in the sea, and told to swim.  It can't, Brad. Stop pretending to care. You're better than that. (3)

THE LOVE WITCH on the other hand, Brad, is the ocean itself, or at least its own lunar tidal pull. It might dilly-over the edge with little moments that evoke Ed Wood and/or Tommy Wiseau in their amateurish strangeness, but baby does it ever float. It floats a tossed bouquet--a floating iron glove cast in velvet--- to future female filmmakers. This film is the feminine mystique equivalent of finally blowing a hole through the concrete defensive ring around Normandy, to seize princess super power without necessarily being a bitch about it. To say 'this is what turns me on, and I don't care if it seems immature and I should have grown out of it by now--and I'm proud to share it" --rather than "here, I know this what turns you on, and you're disgusting. But I'll do it, so you know how disgusting you are." In disrupting her own weird mix of girly tea set and unicorn grade school fantasy and magic with the unquiet attic, the 'first Mrs. Rochester'-esque Wide Sargasso Sea madwoman who comes rolling down the stairs and under the locked door like little Rosita's blood in THE LEOPARD MAN (1943) at the most inopportune times. As she masturbates to memories of being shamed by her father or mounted by the hair coven leader we're forced--especially as male spectators--to contemplate just how thorny female sexuality really is.

Such a brave combination--the fantasy and the damage done--easily outmaneuvers both the high and low brow camps she slinks betwixt, leaving both sides with a new light to follow, an example of how to exploit not just the genre or sex or one's own unique erotic taste but one's own archetypal root cellar, but also how not to stay down there so long you get sick from breathing the mold. Finally, in all the best traditions of the period/genre she's exploring, we're unsure whether the 'magic' being performed is merely ceremonial posturing meant to focus the will or if it evokes genuine spirit power, and it never really even seems to come up as an issue.

We're also never sure just what we feel about these couple of disreputable hairy male characters who seem to have inserted themselves, but for once, a rarity, we trust Biller to know the answer and never falter. There's no way she's feeling the need to insert some kind of hairy warlock named Gahan (Jared Sanford) at the head of the coven out of some nod to some deep-seated animus patriarch sub-conditioning (6); naturally it's because he's a mentor/executive producer and thus it's a role that fits his role within the film (and her memories of being with him on the dais are folded into her thorny masturbation memory channel). That we can trust Anna Biller implicitly by then to not 'cop out' and turn the car over to him and/or some other man, or get all heavy-handed 'killing is wrong' blah blah I found a boyfriend who loves me for me, or something, is, so to speak, testament to her commitment to her high camp witchy style. That its full naive amateur candy-coated grace stays true to itself all the way through makes me want to dance around the summer solstice fire. Being able to trust a female auteur with the car keys --so to speak--is the psychotropoetic equivalent, to a guy like me, of being able to float on a giant amniotic breast cloud into the dissolving rays of of a birth-reversing sun. You don't have to wince when she pumps the brakes, and if she almost hits another car - well she meant to fucking hit it and just missed. Knowing this, the rest is rearview.
Speaking of which, maybe you saw on FB: I happen to have been in the hospital most of last weekend (my first case of the DTs! I remember my answers to their admittance form questions: When did you last have a drink? / Me: Purple.  / them: what did you drink? / Two. / Xo you know where you are right now? / Me: Exploding.) And had my fantasy girl come along when I was twitching in the ER over the weekend. I hadn't been to a hospital in over 16 years, so was amazed that this hot knowing sexy Asian-Jewish nurse in sexy blue scrubs (she looked more than a little like Robinson in this film actually) wheeling around a kind of podium pushcart with the glow of a computer screen hovering over it like a kind of floating alien saucer. With this device she floated amongst us agonized, zonked sinners like an absolving angel. In my case, shooting a dose of Ativan into my IV tube or passing out first three, then two, then one Librium. In each case what once was /screaming / now lies silent and / almost sleeping.

Eventually they had me in an upstairs bed a different beauty with her alien tray (a "hospital medication computer cart") came gliding along, its CRT a reassuring UFO nightlight in the darkness, part Valkyre descending down the Valhallaway; this upper floor girl looked more like one of the Haim sisters became my new feminine ideal. There were also three trainees, all very Haum-like but blonder--vaguely Nordic--traveling in a white lab coat gaggle down in the main refugee camp of an ER where I'd spent the night into morning.

I've always had a thing for nurses - not the sexy nurse look like on Halloween, but the modern pale blue or green scrubs version with the white lab coat hanging open, and maybe a stethoscope around their neck, way sexier than any lace choker. that look like doctors and maybe are - there's a fine array between nurse and doctor now - fairly groovy. I could never find the one or the other once they left my little  and I often looked to the quiet amazement and feigned disinterest of the zillions of other people floating around. All zonked and lost and powerless, forced to wait by the end I was as passive as a child, just venturing into the hall, holding onto my IV Drip pole like un upside down and squashed Poseidon's trident x a stand-up-crutch, I knew true surrender - beyond shame. Just getting out of bed was enough of a challenge, getting up to go to the bathroom right next door was as laborious and involved in my delirium as scaling Wudan mountain God I miss those lovely shimmering goddesses and their glowing late night floating UFO pill dispensary stations. Since I'm reasonably sure they'll never read this, collectively in my fever brain you have cohered, my Lady of the Lake. Hail and blessings be oh shimmering benzo-flection; when next will we three meet (thy cart and thee and my poor polluted streams? When the floor waxer hums anew shall Circe surely summon. (4)

1. Burlesque has become the go-to for female performance art and cultural/body/image reappropriation - in xase you didn't know - Most larger cities have at least one tucked-away venue, even if it just hosts a show once every week, like at some cabaret-style club.  
2. She did it with boyfriend Burno Forzani- but her presence is more keenly felt as its a woman story
3. I didn't actually get more than 1/4 the way into BY THE SEA, and felt the same way about LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD, a film I can only see in one 10 minute dose every three years. Maybe when it's all finally seen, I can forget.
4. My initial hour or whatever in the waiting area of ER was a century of Nell- watching the faces cohere in Pollock-level drop deep through the pattern left by the hot floor waxer that had just been by --leaving too much damp heat emanating upwards. And feeling the emanating waves of slow opiate (or crack) withdrawal emanating from this junkie chick and her sketchy arm support. Now I know what Hell smells like. Shipmates, the smell of floor wax has burned deep into the soft spots of my soul, leaving permanent stains that alternate between a ghostly image of Veronica Lake, and one of Fred Allen and Portland, talking to a ribbon of electric razors.
6. My seeing red over random insertions of some kind of overriding pimp to devouring females is well-documented, it was a huge turn-off in both VAMPIRE LOVERS and UNDER THE SKIN, among others. It seems to be this fear so deep-seated within the masculine psyche evokes a knee-jerk response for the intermediary (see my 2009 anti-salute to them: "Pimps: the Devil's Subjects")

Why don't we just Go Ask Alice? 
Alice 2.2 - The Looking Glass Dolls
The Ancient She-Shaman and her Shrooming Exhumer: SZAMANKA 
A Star-Spangled Salute to America's most Acidemic-Cinematic Women (7/4/10)
Desperation and Divinity (Help us, Mae!) BL 09

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Acidemic Table of Contents

The way things are going, man, who knows... so I wanted to present the entirety of links and posts thus far in a handy page rather than just the usual link sidebar (many of which disappeared in the great blogger.com code break of 2016). So Behold, a decade + plus of 'sporadically brilliant babble.' (Please Note - this is currently incomplete, workin' on it, as the sane goes. so check back!)
For the Horror and Sci-Fi Index, gehen sie hier.

BEST OF 2015
BEST OF 2014
BEST OF 2013
Best EK Writing of 2011
Best EK Writing of 2015

(as titles come in and go on these sites, I've included the dates these were compiled,
I'm sure you can still find most of them up, where I left them - some of them jump sites, like were only on Netflix now only on Prime, etc.


10/16: 13 Best or Weirdest Occult/Witch movies on the Amazon Prime
10/16: Taste the Blood of Dracula's Prime: 12 Psychotronic Vampire Films on Amazon Prime
12/16: I never said it wasn't terrible: 10 Sci-Fi Curious worth streaming on Amazon Prime


04/16: Prepare for the Coming of the Hillary Matriarchy with these 5 Films on Hulu Plus


8/15 Summer of My Netflix Streaming III: Deadpan Comic Horror International
8/14 Summer of Streaming II: Post-Giallo Nightmare Logic ala Netflix
6/15 Summer of My Netflix Streaming I: A Psychedelic Odyssey
10/14: 24 Hours of Curated Netflix Horror: 16 Weird and Spooky Numbers
5/16: 5 Psychotronic Gems on Netflix: Badass Babes for a Bernie Nation

Hearts of Darkness, Lights of Madness: HERZOG the Collection (Blu-ray set review - BL 11/14)
Notes from the Class and Alcoholic Struggle of a THIN MAN Marathon (1/1/16)
Blocked by the Belle: BELLE DU JOUR

Antonioni's LA NOTTE (1961) on Criterion Blu-ray (review), "scattered like coffin lid coasters on a golf course coffee table" (Bright Lights 111/13)

An Acidemic Godard Reader
Someone left a Maoist in the Rain: Godard's MADE IN USA
Enhancement of Anguish: Godard's VIVRE SA VIE (1963) on Blu-ray
OH WOE IS ME (1993) - BL 
le rayon bleu Deneuve REPULSION
GIRLS (1968), CHE (2008 and other Threats (BL 5/08)
Vandal in the Wind: OVER THE EDGE
Moments of eXtreme METHOD
The Art of the Snivel: On Richard Widmark in ROAD HOUSE
Hell's Angels vs. the Flower Child Dead: GIMME SHELTER
Wes Anderson vs. the Trust Fund Marxists + 10 Classic Film Recommendations for fans of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Blood, Sweat and Canvas: How BARTON FINK can set you Free

HOWARD HAWKS and his Fliers:

(as always bold signifies a current personal favorite)
Psychedelic Canon:
=========== = = = = ======
AMER (2009)
BIG CUBE, THE (1969)
BLOW-UP (1966)
CANDY (1968)
CUL-DE-SAC (1966)
GODFATHER 2 (1974)
HAMLET (1990)
HEAD (1968)
L'BRAQUE (1985)
MATANGO ("Attack of the Mushroom People"- 1963)
MOBY DICK (1956)
PSYCH-OUT (1968)
SATURN 3 (1980)
SCORE (1974)
SKIDOO (1968)

TRIP, THE (1967)

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
WALL, THE (1982)
ZARDOZ (coming soon!)

BLACK and TAN FANTASY (Duke Ellington - 1929)
SNOW WHITE (1933 - Betty Boop short)
WAIKIKI WABBIT (Bugs Bunny -1943)

LEGACY OF WOOD (The Accidental Brecht)
The Tao of Poverty Row
SPECIES (1997)
SUSANA (1951) (Bright Lights)
MOTHER OF TEARS (Bright Lights)

Horror-able Mentions
Leslie of the Heretics: DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1977)
Natasha Henstridge vs. the Coordinated Cockblock Quintet: SPECIES (1995)
An Argento Family Reunion: Crying over MOTHER OF TEARS (BL 08)


Bad Acid's Greatest: 70s Paranoid Feminism Edition
Acid and Giallo: Drive-In Dream Logic III, Italian-style
Acid Cinema Special Edition: The VIETNAM Experience
Laureate of the Laid: Terry Southern + CANDY (1968)
Why don't we just Go Ask Alice? 
Alice 2.2 - The Looking Glass Dolls
The Ancient She-Shaman and her Shrooming Exhumer: SZAMANKA 
A Star-Spangled Salute to America's most Acidemic-Cinematic Women (7/4/10)
Ich liebe dich so, Anita Pallenberg
Supporting Babes of Bond - part 1 - Ms. Taro
The Primal Sceneseters: TWIN PEAKS
Butterfly Moanin' (DUKE OF BURGUNDY and Faerie Bower Cinema)
Don't let a few bad apples stop you from accessing the ungodly power of trans-dimensional entities - THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970)
The Slashological Strata of Fate: HALLOWEEN to THE TERMINATOR (1978-1984)

Metatextual Exorcist's Assistance: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, MAPS TO THE STARS
Half Hour Honey (HONEY WEST) - BL 9/3/08
Blank like a Panther: CAT PEOPLE (1982) Blu-ray review (BL 1/27/14)
OBVIOUS CHILD, GINGER SNAPS and Your Reproductive Lunar Cycle
They Done Her Wrong: THE LADY IN RED (1979)
Goat of Menses and the Fox in the Atheist Hole: THE WITCH (2016)
Radium Girls Vs. the 1%: Eva Green in DARK SHADOWS, NOTHING SACRED
Antichrist in Translation: UNDER THE SKIN, HABIT
Lolita Nation: TEETH, HARD CANDY (9/06)
Lindsay Lohan will have her revenge on Seattle
Death Driving Ms. Henstridge
Acid’s Greatest Horror #1 – ANTICHRIST (2010)
Hail to California Mountain Snake!
An Unsawed Woman: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003 remake- BL)
Columbine Queen: PJ Soles in ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL
Let the Darioni Nuovo Entrain your Dissonance: AMER (2009)
A Jet-Lagged Hayride with Dracula: LOST IN TRANSLATION, THIS GUN FOR HIRE
Naomi Watts: Cinema’s Post-Modern Mother of Mirrors
ACIDEMIC Film Journal #1: Drunk Feminism Issue (1/03)

The Mothering Instinct: Frank Sinatra and his Matrons
Let the Darioni Nuovo Entrain your Dissonance: AMER (2009)
Jane Fonda does Tennessee Williams; PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962)
BLUE CRUSH is my Oyster Cult (BL 4/08)
Mother's Day Salute to Cinematic Blonde Moms of Death (5/08)
Sunday Spiritus Cinemacticus: Fessing up to THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS. STONETake out the Kids and Tuck in the Trash: #HORROR (2016)
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor and the Mermaid Muse: HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951)

(via Bright Lights)
Birthdays and Obits:
Celebrating 40 years of Anne Heche (5/09)
"I'm not afraid to die" - Tony Scott + Dangerous Women (8/12)
"This Sweet Cesspool" - PSYCHOMANIA and George Sanders' Suicide Note 
The Downey Spirals (12-30-09)
Happy Birthday Warren William! (12/2/09)
Happy Belated Birthday, Jessica Biel (3/4/09)
Remembering Lou Reed (10/27/13_: a Spotify Mix + GET CRAZY
Dino Di Laurentiis: Warrior, Poet, Profit (11/12/10)
Long Live Liz (3/23/11)
In Illuminated Memory of Richard Matheson (BL 7/13)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman b. 1967-d. Today (2/14)
A double dysfunctional Mickey (Rourke) Xmas (BL -12/08)
Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography (Slant -11/10/13)
Happiness is the Birthday of Dean Stockwell - 3/5/08
Happy Birthday, Naomi Watts, Cinema's Mother of Mirrors (BL 9/27/15)
A Gay Parade goes down Scarlet Street: Remembering Richard Valley 1949-2007
A Tale of Three Pauls: Coincidence, Confusion, and Sex (5/09 - BL)
Hail to Daryl Hannah, the California Mountain Snake!

Pauline Kael (Age of Movies Book Review)
Camille Paglia (Favortite Critic Series)
Kim Morgan (Favortite Critic Series)
Molly Haskell (Favortite Critic Series)

Happy Birthday to Sandahl Bergman! (11/14/08)
American Cinema Anniversary: PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON


What's your Edition Number? Replicanting Final Cuts of BLADE RUNNER (BL - 08)
Dec. 18th, 2014: The Jong who Stole X-mas: The RING around the ROSEWATER (or I'm dreaming in a BLACK MIRROR)
Mecha-Medusa and the Otherless Child: THE RING
Yea, I was walk through the Uncanny Valley (11/09)
How am I not Myself: INVASIONS OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956, 1978, 1993)
Just Whoa! Stories: Guy Maddin, Canadian Amnesiac: THE FORBIDDEN ROOM 
American Grievers Part 1: INCEPTION
Pictures taking Pictures: MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and the Misandric Hollywoodophile
Tales from the Benway Pharmacy: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, THE MACHINE
Taming the Tittering Tourists: 50 SHADES OF GREY, 9 1/2 WEEKS, SECRETARY, SHE-DEMONS, Bunuel, Robbe-Grillet et Von Sternberg
What is it about this sign that disturbs you, Marnie? (Red, Rosenbaum and Tarantno - BL 8/09)



The Di Blasio Grime Revival: MS. 45 (1981), LITTLE NICKY (2001) (BL 11/13)
Manhattan Sinking Like a Rock (6/11)

Best of the Beards: Kris Kristofferson
The Pantheon of Macho Fey
Chop Wood, Carry Sponsors - The MAD MEN - Finale
LAST TANGO IN PARIS: Brando, Butter, Stockholm Syndrome and the Hot Ass of Death (12/07)
Smoking in the rain outside the House of Demme: RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (BL11/08)
All Hail the New Flesh Keychain: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013)
Fantasy Phallus Fallacy: SATURN 3 (1980)
The Well-Tempered Poitier: Thanksgiving with AMERICAN GANGSTER (11/23/07)
Born to be Childless (WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?)
A Great Hook: ROLLING THUNDER (1977 - Blu-ray review - BL 7/7/13)
Out HUD (New Years 2008)
Great Old Drunk Writers and their Big Black Death (12/07)
Charge of the White Elephant: POLLOCK (2010)
Bride of Bogartstein: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
Sullivan's Jet Travels: Rich Kid Cinema
Hope vs. the Scandanivian Svengalis: THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE, I'LL TAKE SWEDEN
Forgotten Men with Steam
Now bleed for Me: THE WRESTLER (2008)
The Foxy, the Dead, and the Foxier: Revisiting DEATH-PROOF (Bright Lights 1/08)
The Narcissistic Male Gaze: It's not you it's Me because I am You
"You have my word as inveterate cheat" - WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?
The Sorrows of Softcore are the Joys of Art: L'IMPORTANTE C'EST D'AMIER
Mid-Life Crisis Superstar: Humbert, LOLITA and the Bait/Switch Cycle
Lyon in Winters: LOLITA
Mendacity A-Go-Go: Liz vs. the Little Monsters (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF)
From Russia with Hell (Bright Lights)
Reflections in a Golden Night; THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
The Return of the Emotional Terrorist: Monroe Owsley
I Aims to Scan your Big Bald Head: HITMAN and the New Male Chastity (07)

Beards of Bleak: THE ROAD, WINTER'S BONE
The Last American Ruffalo: Lisa Cholodenko’s Lesbian “Homespun” Family Values (BL 1/11)Hope vs. the Scandanivian Svengalis: THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE, I'LL TAKE SWEDEN
Mendacity A-Go-Go: Liz vs. the Little Monsters (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF)
Dads of Great Adventure: A Guide to Cinema's Post-Apocalyptic Hyper-Parent (BL - 1/31/11) 
Shyamalan’s a Ding-Dong: AFTER EARTH (Will Smith is a great dad, please) - BL 7/13
KNOWING: Who are Parents? Parents are the ones who are ALWAYS / There. (1/29/1)
"I WANT ANSWERS!!  From CLOSE ENCOUNTERS to WAR OF THE WORLDS, A Legacy of Child-like Wonderment... and Inherited Immaturity (05).
Service Equals Citzenship! (Kid Rock - American Warrior Army Recruitment Ad)


Bond rides the Strip 


Bellamy, the Deflowerer: THE WEDDING NIGHT (1935)
Troopers of the World, There is one bug you cannot beat...
Let England Take: Natalie Portman vs. the KING'S SPEECH (2/11)
Great Performances, Dubious Haircuts
God Bless the Orgiast / who's brought his Own: THE SIGN AND THE CROSS (1932)
William Powell's Retrograde Psychedelic Amnesia: I LOVE YOU AGAIN, CROSSROADS
Medusae of Asia vs. Old Testament Houston: SHANGHAI GESTURE (1941)
Unironic Ventriloquist Radio: YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1938)
“What It Takes to Make a Softie” – Breaking Noir Tradition in THE LEOPARD MAN (BL 05)
Thanks / for the Lucky Strikes (Big Broadcast of 1938)
13 WOMEN + Peg Entwistle, the Ghost under the Hollywood Sign
Dizzy from the Altitude, Happy to Plummet: Pre-Code Cinema and the Post-Code-Shock Syndrome

Episode Guide


FOG, THE (1980)
MOBY DICK (1956)
Choose Death: Revisiting TWILIGHT's Junky Delirium
THE THIN MAN (and sequels)

, THE (1935)
LURED (1947)


Now bleed for Me: THE WRESTLER (2008)
The Foxy, the Dead, and the Foxier: Revisiting DEATH-PROOF (Bright Lights 1/08)
Don't let a few bad apples stop you from accessing the ungodly power of trans-dimensional entities - THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970)
Rage of Huberty: CHRONICLE, CARRIE
The Di Blasio Grime Revival: MS. 45 (1981), LITTLE NICKY (2001) (BL 11/13)
Blades in the Apple: LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, The Village People, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER & WINDOWS (When the Rainbow is Enuff) - 6/10
Couple of Bagheads: THE STRANGERS, BAGHEAD (BL 7/09)
Your Clowns bid you Goodbye: THIS IS THE END, IT'S A DISASTER (2013)

Snap went the dragon! THE SANDPIPER (1965)
The Case of the Disappearing Accent: THE COMEDIANS (1967)
The Dirtbag Menace: AMY (2015)
The Bulls Fighter: BRONSON (2008)
Mad Mannish Boy: CARPETBAGGERS, THE (1964)
You can't be coughing on a moving Train: CONTAGION (2011)
Manson Poppins: DEATHMASTER (1971)
Guide to Cable TV Paranormal/Ghost Hunting Shows. GHOST ADVENTURES, etc.
She was some kind of a mushroom: GO ASK ALICE (1973)
Hope vs. the Scandanivian Svengalis: THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE, I'LL TAKE SWEDEN,
"This Sweet Cesspool" - PSYCHOMANIA and George Sanders' Suicide Note 
The Gummo Marx Way: INHERENT VICE (2015)
Bride of Bogartstein: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
She even Breaks: Edie Sedgwick in CIAO! MANHATTAN (1972)
Exit the Navel: DICE, MARON 
Butler of Orbs: THE MASTER, THE (2012)
A Travis for our Times; OBSERVE AND REPORT (2009)
One pill makes you Corporate: LIMITLESS (2011)
PAUL (2011)
My brain thinks bomb-like: TRANSPORTER 3 (review) - BL 4/09
RED LINE 7000 (1965) 
Towards a new cinema of castration: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS
Fantasy Phallus Fallacy: SATURN 3 (1980)
Medusae of Asia vs. Old Testament Houston: SHANGHAI GESTURE (1941)
Manhattan sinking like a Rock: THE WARRIORS, THE (1978)
Unironic Ventriloquist Radio: YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1938)
Speaking of Critic Soul Windows: Whither MANDINGO? (BL - 5/09)
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