Sunday, August 23, 2015

Avenger of Whatever: KILL LIST, QUEEN KONG

I started to write about Ben Wheatley's disturbing KILL LIST (2011) and how British cinema is so edgy and America's genre equivalents so lamely safe- but- if I think about KILL LIST too deeply my paranoia leads me past its jolly surface, to the depths of its SRA Illuminati-CIA mind-control symbolism, ala EYES WIDE SHUT meets MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Then I got to write about the alleged 'entrance fee' into the inner circle (according to the paranoid fringe): child sacrifice or violation, which 'binds' one to the devil and subjects the victim to the dissociative traumas that necessitate split personality coping mechanisms. In other words, you join the 'elite' when you plant the seed of the Manchurian Candidacy in your own child through ritual Satanic abuse (SRA), which the kids--at least--forget... for awhile (until they read about it online or get hypnotized to help them overcome their bizarre nightmares and missing time). If you match the the outline of paranoid schizophrenic delusion to this tangent of conspiracy theory you get a perfect match, which isn't to say it's not true. If a shadowy sect really is out to control you via subconscious programming, what better place to hide their mechanizations from you from then within the fabric of your own certified paranoid psychosis?

The big question still nags (especially if you've encountered (alleged?) SRA survivors in real life. Are the 'buried' memories they uncovered in hypnotic regression merely glimpses into the collective subconscious, reaching up like Satan's hoof through the thin ice created by the removal of the conscious mind's rational obstruction, the way, say, it does via fever hallucinations, sleep paralysis, the afternoon nap, childhood nightmares, or actual dissociative cover memories induced by severe trauma? (That last one of course being the most devious double bind in the Satanic Ritual Abuse canon.) If anyone knows for sure which is which, it's probably not the victim.  If they do know, the programming clearly didn't work well.

The LIST gist: Wheatley and his longtime collaborator and co-writer Amy Jump start with a mood of cheery beer-and-chips kitchen sink naturalism re-the friendship between two working class hitmen. Neil Maskell stars as Jay, the laziest hitman in town. He prefers to loaf around with wife and son rather than kill people, to the point he even dodges a lucrative job coming his way via his partner Gal (Michael Smiley), but Nordic alien hybrid wife Myanna Buring (THE DESCENT) wants him out of the house and back in the saddle. Then Gal comes by for dinner and lots of drinks with a strange new bird, Fiona (Emma Fryer), who marks the back of Jay's bathroom mirror with an arcane symbol... That's all I can say, except the super eerie drone score by Jim Williams gives even a simple torture murder a nightmarish edge far ungodlier than just seeing brains bulge out of a cracked skull!

Meanwhile, I've been having a series of mild panic attacks watching ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Season 3. No one escapes the trauma of self-realization on that show, and it's too well-acted and written for my own good. If I watch too many episodes in a row it gets that I can't distinguish fantasy from reality anymore. I have to go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and make sure I'm not a woman in a woman's prison. And then I go to my Park Slope grocery store and see someone from the cast in there, shopping (they occasionally shoot in my neighborhood) or wait, do I? Am I being prejudiced or easily-influenced to think that? It's one thing to spot a celebrity at the coffee shop and another to think you recognize a minor bit player from a movie you just watched. And that brings me around to KILL LIST again, because that's what indoctrination is all about -- breaking down a person's mind and distancing them from the collective 'concrete' reality so they're receptive to programming in order to activate the inner automaton killer.

Not to jump tangents, but: Ever since being dragged to a dry frat rush as a freshman at SU I've harbored a streak of horror and hatred towards the baser elements of the masculine species. And when a man like me is all hopped up on depositions or depictions of rape and sexualized misogyny, I'm ready to go stomp anyone with Greek letters on his sweatshirt. Amp it up a little more, dissociate me so that I think I'm acting out th heroic role in a vigilante rape-revenge picture, and I'm ready to kill... ready and set and waiting for the starter pistol.

Where am I going with this? Movies, man, are dangerous mind control tools. Just look at the rash of Charlie Bronson Cannon movies in the 70s-80s. So much Bronson.

There's no word for this kind of ambient rage I feel thinking about those rapey frat guys. Its so intense it becomes a kind of TAKEN-esque homicidal fury that heightens the senses. It's instinct. A good male populace patrols itself, and if a pedophile or frat boy violates a woman or child it's the job of 'any man that's around' to destroy him, to make sure he burns, right there on the spot, rather than hope the law can successfully complete its myriad incarcerating hurtles before the victim is immolated on the pyre of humiliating defense lawyer cross-examination. 

This instinct to protect women and children is innate, I think, in all good men. Our blood boils and hands ball into fists at the thought of a child molester in our neighborhood. But then, only a few 'pushes' more and it approaches the same mindset as the lynching, the fascist rally, and the riot. The biological urge to protect women and children, and even animals,  taps or primordial homicidal well like a Plainview milkshake straw. 

How easily that straw can itself be tapped by sinister forces! 

Of course if it turns out the victim is lying, or the story is misreported for ratings, then we may have murdered an innocent man... Then it's no longer a drive-in trash spectacle but a self-important Stanley Kramer vehicle. We cut the rope, slink home, and wait for the inexorable hoot-hoot of Spencer Tracy's approaching train.

Bad Day at Black Rock 
I'm one of those guys who hate misogynists to the point of judicial blindness; I'd probably string up some of these rapists and molesters if I had the chance, and the safety of numbers, and was properly drunk. And so I need to recuse myself from writing about the Illuminati or Cosby, Polanski, and Allen. It gets me just too damn mad, for I have no target to vent this hostile rage upon, or the wherewithal. It just makes my blood pressure rise and my hands tremble with fury. 

Is that not the whole point, perhaps, of all this evil in the first place? To provoke a response that will enable us to kill people on command (via post-hypnotic trigger word activated false accusation)? In movies like TAKEN, the filmmakers tap that sac knowing we'll instantly be deeply focused on the narrative, that milkshake straw twisting like clockwork. Ideally there's some cathartic killing of bad guys onscreen, but it's never enough.

Only occasionally, as in MYSTIC RIVER or GONE BABY GONE, is the full futility of that fiery male vengeance truly exposed, the ease with which it can blind you to the truth of a given scene. The girl who casually admits she was lying after you've already done the retaliatory assault, the abduction that turns out to be a benevolent rescue from the real source of abuse --though surely rarer than the coked-up alternative, it all forces us to confront the ugly truth of that primal response.

In GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO on the other hand, we're so on the side of Lisbeth Salander that her liberal reporter friend's law-abiding humanistic hesitance at her full measure of retaliatory violence is seen by us with disgust, emblematic of how following society's rules is like being in a cult for some people, making them blind to their own self-preservation. And the result: we grow upset with mankind as a whole. Lisbeth is our redeemer, killing the men who need killing (usually) and then letting the anger go, teaching us what it is to be a man, the same way TOOTSIE did in reverse.

In 70s films on the other hand, this kind of shit happened to our wife and child and the vengeful vigilante as hero was born, guiltless and unbroken, while the liberal D.A. would rather harangue Dirty Harry for his off-book mauling rather than try to get the Zodiac off the streets. The biggest, meanest, most New York of all the 70s urban vigilante movies (for a few months anyway) DEATH WISH, a huge hit that led to a score of imitators, the best of which is Abel Ferrara's MS. 45. (above). On the other hand, that female avenger's sin is then 'absolved' and dissolved through her nun's habit into the raped nun in Ferara's BAD LIEUTENANT (below), where she forgives her two rapist attackers while everyone in the city fantasizes about catching them and beating them to death. Once again, brutalizing 'good' woman ensures you're not only forgiven and go unpunished, but that she'll consider herself a saint for not getting even (her other option is to go insane, and find God through Joan of Arc-style bloodshed).

In a way, the victim in these films is bound to get revenge on one group or another, either on the attacker/s through violence--direct and personal (since cops are useless due to liberal legal restraints)--or on all the men who hear her tale and go insane with unfocused rage, or all the other innocent girls that will also be destroyed by these creeps in nights to come as they pillage their way around the neighborhood, unchallenged.

Sorry to go off like that. This kind of shit really gets my goat. Besieged and eaten away by death, money, and employment, all elements ever-changing and shifting, riding the lifeboat of the televisual, these unresolved issues really stir my hackles with rage for reasons I have just now edited out of this post (there were about ten embittered paragraphs I just spared you- you're welcome) Today, aware of my raging sensitivity, I still have never seen LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, IRREVERSIBLE, FUNNY GAMES, TAKEN, any white slavery documentaries, THE HUNT WITH JOHN WALSH on CNN, etc. My girl and I watch a lot of DEADLY WOMEN, though. One thing I've noticed... these women con dumb bleeding hearts like me into killing husbands and fathers all the time, via, what else? Fabricated stories of systematic abuse. Man oh man...

Luckily I live in an age where it's easy to cocoon oneself in a unique televisual patchwork quilt of one's own curation. The result is, I watch a lot of El Rey channel and TCM, avoid all button-pushing true crime abuse-of-the-innocent sagas, and listen to mixes I create that never end and can't tell one ninety-pound chalk-white dude in suspenders and tiny fedora or Children of the Corn hat playing a standup bass or mandolin from the other.

A guy in my day would have been beaten soundly for being such a wuss as those guys, and as a result nerds like me became manly... because that's what men do--we patrol ourselves--stomping out the sign of weakness in our kind (and preying on women and children is the worst weakness of all). Now that it's such a serious crime to harass these dudes--and there's no cigarettes around to make them cool or deepen their voices--these high-voiced needle-legged hipsters are just long keystroke or guitar poke fingers, ears with little white 'ear buds' in them, and clunky glasses reflecting some glowing screen or other. Where is their goddamn crippling anxiety and self-loathing? Why did Courtney Love even bother getting sober?

Oh I must not judge. And so I run... I run so far away.... all the way to QUEEN KONG.

(1976) Dir. Frank Agrama 

God bless British women, British Actresses... for they are an inspiration to men across the USA that not all women are either passive-aggressive bores or dysfunctional harridans. There are very few shrill Annette Bening types in Britain (at least in films). American women (again, this is all in films, mind you) are mired in an either/or dichotomy. In England, with its rich history of sadomasochism, women are badass and still sexy -- they smoke and drink and don't sweat their carbs in shallow pools of gossip. While American woman is browbeating her husband for having a faint odor of cigarettes on his clothes, Brit women are saying ah fuck-off ya wanker and light me one before I break this bottle over your head.

Didn't we know all this as kids when we first beheld the toothsome Emma Peele in THE AVENGERS? And now, rather late in the game (De Laurentiis sued to hold it up), is QUEEN KONG. Let it happen. Judge not! 

Its young hot female cast is sublime -- barely a man in the whole thing - which is such a relief. BUT QK has two slight problems: 1) its bawdy brand of cheeky humor doesn't translate well upon leaping across pond and decades; 2) it may have the lamest ape suit in all movies --like it's just a bunch of fake fur throw rugs stapled together.

I don't care. Damn it, this movie is just what the world needs now.

Movies with reversed gender types were big for a few minutes in the mid-70s, but then got the kabosh and now those reverse gender fantasies are almost impossible to find anywhere, even on faded VHS dupes. We must cherish them no matter how bad they are.

The reverse gender fantasy I should point out is different than the whole men in drag thing, which gets old fast and seems more and more sexist as time goes on (with their idea that women need men disguised as women to teach them how to stand up for themselves). Movies and TV shows where sexy broads are the dominant strong class and men just objects of beauty to be protected and objectified are, on the other hand, rare and precious and need to be rediscovered. Chances are, you have never even seen one. There were only ever a few: ALL THAT GLITTERS (Norman Lear's ill-fated 1977 soap opera imagining this same women-in-charge world) and the British-West German co-production STAR MAIDENS (1976 - same year, tellingly, as the QUEEN). Clearly 1976-7 was a high watermark in the exploration of realities where women were the dominant gender. All three examples are either unavailable or despised. That's quite telling. Our sexist world is clearly slow to change its patriarchal mindset, scared to even imagine an alternative. None of the three are on DVD or even VHS. QUEEN is on Prime almost by accident, as if at any moment someone might notice it and take it down.


As far as imperious, but available: Valerie Leon--so imperious and sexy in BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB--appears in QUEEN as the leader of the Amazons! Hardly recognizable, she's lost some weight and is wearing disco-level make-up, spouting offensive ooga booga lingo, and the print on Amazon Prime is royally messed up.

But hey, better quality would probably make it worse. At least the plot allows for some nice views of the Portobello Street Fair and we have the cheeky Ray Fay ("eat your heart out, Elton John") as the love interest, and great snatches of diva dialogue between Ray and the local girls prepping him for sacrifice: "Why does she want me?" asks Ray.
"She wants you to because you look like Doris Day." 
"Who's he?"
The Carl Denham character is named Luce Habit ("the biggest producer.. of B-films.. with "love interest"... in the business") and played by Rula Lenska, Britain's answer to Zsa Zsa Gabor or Peggy Hopkins Joyce. At least that's what we figured back in the 70s when she got off a plane like we were supposed to know who she was in an Alberta V0-5 ad. Our not knowing set a chain reaction to the point she was canned by her agent or fired him first. Here we learn she's a grand comedian if nothing else,  drugging Ray after catching him stealing a KING KONG poster in the Fair, slinging him over her shoulder in a sack, and making for her tugboat party vessel like she just scored a bushel of temporary legal psilocybe mushrooms [10]). She even carries some joints for him, like Denham's Ketamine bombs.

In short, Lenska's Luce Habit--"-is a great camp diva delight. In fact, her wry delivery of intentionally terrible lines reminds me a little bit of my own! Shhhh.

Of course QUEEN eventually wears out even adoring viewers like me after awhile, thanks to its unrelenting cheekiness I liked the JAWS dance but when a lame shark shows up with lipstick and breasts it's a good sign this shitshow's going to collapse long before it's officially over. I confess that I stopped watching after two tiresome monster battles after Ray is abducted by the Queen and carried into the 'jungle (the scene with her wrestling a pterodactyl seems more like she's trying to open an overly taped-up Amazon package). And there was one too many leering Benny Hill ass shots and just too damn much of that damn moth-eaten 'lady' ape suit (the suit in KING KONG VS. GODZILLA is pure chinchilla by comparison).

and yet - how often do we get a movie that's nearly all female - just a few baggy pants weirdos aside in a cast that's all Luce's chorus of leggy bikini models or the all girl Nabonga tribe.... it might be gayer than John Waters and campier than 60s BATMAN but it's got strong British females up the gooma humma barooga.

Still, I just couldn't let it go on. I had to stop and take a nap. That's show biz.

But the point is, thanks to the QUEEN I was delivered from brooding about the diabolical paranoia-fueling brutality of KILL LIST and its all-knowing savvy about mind control, and how maybe that's what all this shit like A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, is for... MK-ULTRA programming of male assassins... to get us all riled up to go stomping whomever we're conditioned to think is raping and abusing our innocents. (And we all know who's next on the kill list... if you saw the Trump speech in Atlanta).

And hey, both QUEEN KONG and KILL LIST are British so it all ties together. I wouldn't go so far as to say its tied "wonderfully" but because my brain is always making connections to random unrelated events, and its susceptible as hell to the mad loop of conspiracy theory... but it's tied, of that I am certain, so let's just... relax. One salves the other, for unless I'm about to charge into battle I prefer the death where the dead person gets up a moment later and takes a bow.  It helps avoid trauma to see the fakery of death. And no monster needs more than a simple mask with some fangs to serve it's purpose. In keeping the film world looking our narrative immersion dissolves and we're symbolically freed from the drama of our lifetime movie.

When we decide our movie's a comedy, any grim circumstance is just the jet black ink on the page. Past Buñuel and Kubrick, the sans-eyes darkness devours all but your whistling, so make the tune brave, lads. Something from Joyce or Yeats, mayhap. Oh I was a day in Portlairge, there was wine and punch on the table. God hears our complaints and can only roll His one red eye and hope none of the other mothers at the supermarket judge Him for having such brats as we. Our complaints that it's not fair and we didn't ask to be born--and all the evil, suffering and destruction in the world--is all heard by Him as whining about an early bed time or booster shoot, or ye auld yucky Brussels sprout.

As far as God's concerned: the phrase 'no atheists in a foxhole' justifies war's entire existence.

And when we take off our straw demon masks at the end of our shitty elementary school play, we receive His indulgent applause. He plays the patient mother, with only the merest of notes. Godard would know how to save QUEEN KONG: Have Kong slap the pterodactyl's head off (above), or rather the headpiece, to show a saucy human girl inside (ala Ms. Dietrich in BLONDE VENUS) but THEN --have the fight still go on. The girl rampages through the jungle, as if still gigantic. She slings Ray over her shoulder and hauls him up into the sound stage catwalk. Queen Kong looks up as they disappear into the shadows, shrugs, sits down on a screaming native and starts smoking a cigarette, pausing to smash a miniature tank which explodes in a ball of fire. All meaning is meaningless once exposed to the meta. Through this alone, salvation. Don't believe the man behind the curtain is real or fake. It's in the ambiguity alone that we finally get to CUT!

1. Shrooms were briefly legal at the Street Fair due to loophole that was soon closed - I nearly fainted when I saw all these massive purple stems right out in the open at one of the booths, but I was only a few years sober and very AA (c. 2004) so I didn't get any; but that image, straight out of Cronenberg's NAKED LUNCH, of those fat purple stems on that black tablecloth right out in the street like that, still haunts me. 

1 comment:

  1. This was really hard to read while faded, but I think it will be really good if I'm ever not high because I love most of these titles mentioned.


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