Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wake, Sleeper, from the Dream of Reason: THE BEYOND (Final Girl Film Club)

"And you will face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored"
OOOOooozing holes in
the warlock's chain-whipped latex face
melting like running water through a white house paintbrush.
LOUD Italian pop balladry out of context
adds no irony- like Hercules hurling
the inappropriate discus

to the unclean
popcorn-and-sticky coke film phlegm floors;
the sweet century-old whores rouge wet funk
of the Roxy, The Lyic, or some PA
drive-in, its weed cracked concrete grasping crooked poles
to hold crackling low speakerboxes, hissing screams and pleas;
Or - indoors with dust mite velvet curtain air thick, and onscreen
pink foam blood bubbling, with no congealment,
splats all that may be explored in gore, or
eternity, or broken backed city seats --their springs coiled pointy from below
through rent cushion foam, like knives in undead hands from back seats carving out
your back pocket like a surgeon as you, so shrunken into yourself, sit, squirming.

Traces of cemetery loam and browned oregano
sprayed with formaldehyde, rolled long ago, dropped in the Men's,
dried, then smoked in the front row. No usher there to say no you can't,
nor would they dare - these men breathe with razor blades. In the back,
two derelict junkies snoring, another one muttering, too stoned not to snicker and moan.

The white-eyed girl stands on the one and only bridge to Hell;
the spiders pull pink strands of latex from the lips
of fallen felons and fusty librarians;
all these things commingle and conjoin in acrid haze,
as eyes by rusty towel hook deface,
leaving one undead and shambling pointlessly through space.
Vroom Vroom!

German signs taped to New Orleans doors by Italian craftsmen.
Fabio Frizzi's unclean synth score like sloshing backseat soup.
Shepherds bite the throats of maids, one per screening, always the same
stolen-from-SUSPIRIA slyness, in the fronds of that Louisiana parlor.
And out upon the dock, no matter what o'clock or time of day,
to windward --back through decades all -- unerring in trajectory,
I spit seawards towards Italy,
at Fulci!

Without the drive-in box, the Roxy or the Avalon
what survives to make Beyond worth a DVD?
Seek you what dark sea pleasures you may find there
as the disc spins under the laser's reddened eye,
like whales swim across each endless sea,
like flying spittle aimed with zombie shark fight accuracy,
and all therein that may be explored
flies my fake-ass pink foam spit
back into my warlock face.

Fuck you, Fulci!

(for Final Girl's Film Club): focus on Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND).

Many people complain about this film that there is no story, that it's just a series of gross out scenes, etc. What this poem intends to do is place the "Fulci Experience" in the proper grindhouse/drive-in context. The Beyond was never meant, perhaps, to be watched with a focused eye, sober, at home, by yourself, taking notes. It was meant to be seen somewhere in a late night triple bill. Maybe you were supposed to be making out or shooting up, pausing only to occasionally look up at the carnage. Like Argento's SUSPIRIA-period films, it's more like an amusement park spook show than a movie, per se, and it's no doubt meant to be. Spookery is an international language, while plot and dialogue are easily lost in the international swinger audience shuffle.

The weird mix of English dub and German signs over American hospitals adds to the uncanny affect: the visceral cinematic language of Fulci is above all anti-structuralist. Words are meaningless, either lies or esoteric curses, and once the border between life and death is crossed, all the world's a graveyard of the real and so language dissolves along with most of the frontal lobes. This is the inheritance of all great Italian horror--Fulci and Argento, Soavi, Petri, sometimes Lenzi--the post-structuralist ambiguity of errant symbols ushered into being by Antonioni's Blow-Up and concretized by Europe's post-war socialist education system, and the unmooring of the symbolic from the real thanks to the popularity of LSD. This new awareness of language and iconography's destructive limitations goes up against the bloody centuries of Catholic dogma, the identity crisis brought on by Mussolini and the rich tradition of opera and the lurid 'stations of the cross' branded in every child's mind.

In this poem I wanted to create that feeling of being immersed in the unpleasant but fascinating world of "ugly" cinema, at a very ugly place--a ground zero of sleaze where making or passing out, getting high, or robbed in the dark, accompanies onscreen imagery of decapitation and gore --creating a sludgy feel of anger and rage, exaltation and despair. This is then vented by the narratoreat Fulci "across the sea" in much the same way the lynch mob travels across the river to burn and torture the warlock in the pre-credit sequence of the film. Once we step across the far shore from normal tedium of parentally sanctioned reality, the movie warns us, there is no going back to the delusions of "reason." The boat sinks as soon as we cross, its bubbling sound as it disappears a mocking laugh.

POST SCRIPT - 11/3/17
Recently re-watched this film on the new Arrow HD Blu-ray cleaned-up version and am now a fan, I take back my spit! How could I and my squeamish lunch room feminism be sooo wrong? 

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