Because the screen is the only well-lit mirror in town

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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

Once upon a distant UK 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 and rode, shooting and raping all they may survey, and worshipping a giant stone head that floated gamely o'er the rolling green Irish hills and occasionally spat them new guns and ammo. And when it could get no weirder, the head would sprachen in a booming manly voice a kind of population control mantra, about how shooting semen from your gunny cock is bad and shooting death from a cocked gun is good, or raping must come with killing, lest more bullets in the future wasted be. The booming voice at odds with what sounds like something passionately scrawled on the bathroom wall by a sophomore who'd just read Jung's "Man and his Symbols" while watching Wizard of Oz on acid, not an injudicious idea in itself, but not with a mind polluted by DSB (a dorm is a terrible place for, ahem, privacy).

Ever the marauders, of these masked savages Zed (Sean Connery) did gamely sneak aboard the floating head and kill its man behind the curtain (with his painted twirly 'Painting for Surreal' Groucho mustache), thus having the whole head to his own, only to have it touch down behind a force field and land him in the presence of a group of intellectually advanced immortals living off the land in a perfect encounter group breathing exercise one-mind mime troupe sense of order.

Adorned only in taffeta robes so clearly demarked 'Eloi' as to affront any rambling Bevin Boys' morlock 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. Zed's mind's been wiped in advance so they can't scan him (they play his memories on the projector) and find out what happened to the guy in the painted mustache, whom they know. Some of the girls, especially in the scientist ladies, particularly lovely Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) react with hostility to Zed's sexy shirtlessness. His pheromone-and-hair dye musky musk has upset the zero point population growth balance (no children for thousands of years --sounds like heaven). Conseulla demands his immediate destruction, but other head scientist, May (Sara Kestleman) wants to probe his, ahem, "mind" first in case some part of the mystery is buried in the firewall, so to speak. To access this information, May may need to take Zed literally under the sheets.

If, on paper, all this sounds randy and oh so 60s-early 70s, what's wrong with that? Unlike the smirky post-Porky's 80s and the inevitable feel-bad-about-smirking 90s, ZARDOZ is from an era all about psychedelic openings (to free love and eastern philosophy and renewed interest in the far-out writings of Castaneda, Jung, and Burroughs) but after awhile these openings became as a giant universal mouth of macho hungry ghost gimme gimme. In other words, only when sex was plentiful could man move beyond sex. But before then, for a glistening period of around fifteen or so years, 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 led to Iron John and the men's movement. Yeah, the real men's movement, not dopey Alt-right trolls gone pale and blind and hunched over from too much time clicking in mom's basement but hairy dudes banging drums in the woods. Come then and scroll through my Jungian memory banks:

To Freud, a gun was a phallic symbol, i.e. ze penis, but Jung's break with Freud went the opposite way too, stating that the penis was also a gun, i.e. neither was the be-all-end all anymore than a Tarot card is only a paper and ink; this more enlightened less sex-obsessed frame of thinking, for Jung the idea of "the phallus" wasn't necessarily tied to some infantile anxiety formed at the first sight of mom's "missing" genitals, but something truly mythic down to the DNA of life itself. This is the phallus as pure signifier, en par with the yoni / circle / zero, i.e the phallus was the '1' and the yoni the '0' of a binary symbolic code.

You can tell John Boorman knew and was heavy into all that stuff, as more than any other Arthurian filmmaker, he felt the connection; he was spearheading a new self-aware sexist macho psychedelia, one beyond the duality of shame/pride; lust/disgust, and even death/life. In fact, Boorman was so badass about it he'd even adorn Sean Connery in an orange diaper!

ZARDOZ, Zardoz, King of the emasculated Brittons!

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

Clearly, Boorman understood, deep down, some of this shit was plain crazy, but as far as loopy but pungent satires on the vanity at the heart of masculine identity, this fuck-all fractured crystal light show is most prescient today. Had anyone been listening to it at the time, instead snickering, it may have woken us up to the value of death as the only key to life.

But at the time, which was 1974, we weren't necessarily ready to have our yarbles handed to us with a stern warning and an extra magazine cartridge. 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. Of course, he would be the only fertile still-erect male in an isolated society of enlightened hot chick immortals, his big red bulges gazed upon lustily, flanked by a sparse sprinkling of symbolically neutered male elders and Bellamy-ish escorts. Of course the immortals stand around in multi-colored robes that evoke one of those planets on Star Trek where alien Aeschylus reads poetry aloud and the wardrobe person can air out the togas still in mothballs since the 50s biblical epic heyday. Add to that the kind of randy tosser pulp premise used already in everything from Ulmer's Beyond the Time Barrier, to Queen of Outer Space, Cat-Women of the Moon, Missile to the Moon, Invasion of the Star Creatures, and so forth.

But time has shown us that what really spooks us (in the US especially) about ZARDOZ is that it delves deep into zones that castration anxiety has deemed verboten --and it's perhaps that anxiety that kept us (okay, me) away from the film so long in the first place. Emasculated in jumpers, "them panties", or even (below) wedding dresses, the Boorman male protagonist never shies from (figurative) crotch shots (as in Walker's final punch to the gangster's crotch in Point Blank [1967]) or squealing like a pig. In facing the dread of castration anxiety so astutely, Boorman's films have Freudian breakthroughs right there on the screen, but first one must endure the squirming: before Burt gets a chance to shoot arrows at rednecks--or Richard Burton gets to throw Linda Blair against a wall and start to strangle her while half-molesting her at the same time-- there must be all sorts of humiliation and threats, from demons, rapists, and immortal hotties with brain freezing crystal rings. Running from the problem just gives it more juice--you got to clamp down hard and don't let go, like a pit bull on the schvonce.

Taken as an infantilizing hybrid of anal phase fixations then, Zed's macho hairy chest and that orange outfit might somehow tap into into the kind of revulsion most children feel for their own diapers by the age of three -- I know it turned me off at the time (I was seven in 1974). But now, grown into middle-age, Zed's infantile garb is as bemusing and unthreatening as it is for the immortals within the sanctuary. 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. Cleaning up the table and setting out dishes as the 'adults' discuss his fate at lunch (whether they should ice him or let him live), he's like disaffected puppy, his sexual heat is the equivalent of soft black velvet painting sad eyes. He doesn't have to do anything--he's like a woman on a pirate ship where only half the crew are 'gentlemen.'


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--makes Earth seem a brutal prison, one it takes thousands of lifetimes to escape--if ever. With every 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. How many times have we all died as tiny little krill or shrimp or plesiosaurs? How billions of deaths have we experienced, how many traumatic rebirths, all within that same salty gross ocean? ZARDOZ helps us indirectly wonder whether our slow poisoning of the seas has been something the sea (as in the collective consciousness continuum of all marine life along the vast, endless food chain) wished upon itself, programmed into us back in our squid years and which has remained dormant in our DNA, moving us unconsciously towards our rabid pollution and destruciton of our accursed, death-ridden ecosystem. Is man's pollution is the sea's reverse-Zed deliverer from endless centuries of fear, pain, heartbreak and hunger? Zed is named thus for a reason. Man is here, screams the ocean, there shall be no more arrivals! Our pollution is a liberator that will free the blighted hungry, scared, and dying from any more than another century of endlessly reincarnating woe.


If the male fantasy (BARBARELLA-ish) pulp aspect makes ZARDOZ too camp for the Kubrick set, what keeps it too Kubrick for the camp set? It's the lack of genital supremacy, of sex drive overall, the very things that hamstring Britain's past attempts to mine the same male fantasy vein (DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS and FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE). Here in Boorman's future, the 'eternals' are way past such tired schticks as reproduction, death, or presumably genital-based ejaculatory orgasm. Neither aging or reproducing, the only wrinkle is when one of them disagrees with their unified mind's opinion and refuses to acquiesce. He or she cast out, sent to some kind of eternal wedding/Princeton Reunion pavilion out by the stables, forced to endure old age (and the same records they'd play in the Overlook's Gold Room) for all eternity rather than die peaceably. These rebellious immortals, labeled renegades, are sometimes guilty of nothing more than bad vibes (which unnerve their 'group mind) and who could avoid them? No matter how lovely it is in this small 20 acre or so place--all around a lake with an old castle commons, inflated dry-cleaning bags around various bushes to denote a kind of oblique The Prisoner vibe--staying longer than a few years must be Hell.

Luckily, the hour of their deliverance is at hand. The specter in Masque of the Red Death  fused with Conan the Barbarian (compare his sneaking onto the head and killing all aboard to Conan and his friends' raids on Set's temples) and Alex in Clockwork Orange (whose brute savagery is initially controlled by a brutalizing form of aversion therapy), Zed is a tool that frees liberals from their own peace, returning them to a time when hedonistic amphetamine-amped savagery simplified all our decisions. Fracturing itself along fault lines that bridge Dr. Strangelove to Barbarella, Zardoz has endured as a continually renewing 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/Dark Heart of Conradian consciousness--as Kubrick.

Can't he?

Maybe not, but you can tell he 'gets' it, gets down into the same deep well of repressed shit Kubrick's digging up, and he doesn't steal, just acquires a similar shovel and starts excavating in his own backyard. He doesn't need to peek at his neighbor's work, the vein is deep and wide and connects all men. He doesn't even need a Terry Southern to apply black humor (ala Dr. Strangelove), Boorman's the sole writer of Zardoz.  Boorman follows his own drummer and if that drummer should veer of a cliff, Boorman's macho enough to beat him all the way down

We're all hooligans in the nursery
But, despite Boorman's 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 skills. It's themes and social concerns are largely forgotten, ignored, maligned. To me that's weird as the population of our planet has doubled from when I was a kid in 70s elementary school warned about ecology and the dangers of overpopulation from the get-go, concepts few dare bring up these days. Soylent Green had come out the year before Zardoz and fared better, made a lasting impression et al, but that was American, with Chuck 'Moses' NRA Heston, so even your bible-thumping aunt couldn't argue it - and it had a 'gotcha' ending as potent as the Statue of Liberty in Heston's big Apes.  Only a year later, '74 was too late to catch the acidheaded 'enhanced' midnight movie crowd (PS - for the most part, see comment at end of this post!) but too trippy/pretentious for the pop dystopia pre-Star Wars crowd (Logan's Run, Omega Man).

Whatever, 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 while writing and folding laundry. Not fully paying attention, not seeing the diaper. Just 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) and the limpid mouth and layered freckles of Sara Kestleman  as May (left). The chakral intensity of her lysergic inhalations of Zed's pheromones creates a forbidden lust, regarded with some suspicion (and veiled jealousy) by Consuella, who pronounces banishment to May and death to Zed when she catches them in the act. 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 generating cozy-sexy womb-ish magical sci-fi energy from little more than what looks like a faded tie-dye. Kestelman made me swoon! Taking her cue, 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. At last.

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 via encounter group touching exercises.


And for all its juvenile wish fulfillment, the one rooster in a big henhouse fantasy ultimately SHOULDN'T BE DERIDED as it stems from a very real archaic programming that nowadays is expressed only by splinter group 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 too much work just dating one girl; two or more always find out about each other sooner or later and get pissed and you lose them all, and they and their friends and future friends spread shit about you forever more --you become untouchable. Hardly worth it. So in the end, the smart fella knows that if you're a straight male in a 'normal' community, it can only ever be a fantasy, a way to placate the archaic male drive without doing any real damage.

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.

On the other hand, if we don't flinch from their stinging gaze, we just might get lucky. Biology is a peculiar thing.

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." Any artist or writer or filmmaker longs to be free of sleep --inspiration always comes at bedtime, and in the morning it's gone. For the Immortals, their longevity is a clear explanation for their enormous power, their group mind telepathy enables them live in a life of perfect order and balance.

This utopia is the dream of every loving group of 'awakened' individuals who've ever collectively fallen in love over a psychedelic outdoor weekend together (set and setting being so crucial). If they have achieved 'total consciousness," then 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 of bliss. Upsetting this bliss through bad vibes can lead to your arrest and aging of up to five years. Ah laddie, there's always one wally or murph trying to drag the zeppelin down. If only my tribe back in the 80s could have spooked them off with collective humming, I might be immortal to this day. Unless of course, my own bad vibes leaked out. They often did... sigh.

I've told you about those glorious stretches of time I've experienced (this much later in my fisher king solitude) when unconscious and conscious lined up perfectly, as if in sublime eclipse, and I could see with my eyes closed or open, all was illuminated and inseparable. It's clearly what Boorman was going for that total consciousness of dreaming third eye / consciousness two eyes - all open at the same time. 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 in a smoke cloud of self-adoration.

Either way, no eclipse lasts forever, not in our 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's return to the subject at hand, 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. Welcome to the rat race, sonny.

Emasculation and neutering affect our British macho man at every turn, from the laser 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 word is serrated-edged. Puer aeternus complexes rouse Maria von Franz from a stone sleep; the 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 cut to foreplay-less 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: The good I will protect. Be nice unto all ages, and sans sexual advances. Believe me man, if the girl likes you that way, she'll let you know. If not - presume she doesn't. 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 the same way makes you furious, for it forces you to be aware 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. It makes it harder for every other guy and girl to get together when genuine attraction is constantly misconstrued and confused with random 'hitting on' girls by guys who just figure they'll play the numbers.

That this extends to middle age is what's most perverse, for filmmaker and artist males often have younger women mentees/assistants/lovers. My theory is that there's the person who says no to his drive to go cavort with the younger generation, and the guy who trusts the inherent goodness within himself and is willing to ridiculous to his wife and every other girl his own age in pursuit of artistic and aesthetic realness. He'll see the sour bitches his own age 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 harridan berating and belittling his every word and missed dish dirt spot, 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 kitchen sink 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, pursuing the 'reality' of the situation like good little aging males, while Kubricks and Boormans stay up 'til all hours dropping acid with these precocious hot geniuses and contemplating 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.)

We in America don't have it, but we need it - DR. WHO and his companions --all much younger and cute but he's got no interest in sex. He's too old. But older women are a drag - their bones can't handle time travel. Is he a snake because of this? Or just free?

And when the going gets too weird and all the older women get out their claws, Zed eats a single leaf from Mama Mcree's psychedelic flower. 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.


The first thing the old man looking at his ageless self in the young reflection (and vice versa) realizes--be he 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 of his ages are segments of a long, single organism--the head and tail of an ouroboros serpent; the young and very old are closer to each other than they are to the middle (which is why grandparents and grandchildren have more in common than the parents). There's no escape from the void of devouring, and no one shares that certainty more than the old man's soul energy entering the maw of the unborn child. No escape, for nothing to escape to, and nothing to escape in/with... no body, no memory, no persona, just I AM.

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. 

For example, in a game of word-association, the word 'chair' might provoke a 'sit' response, but the insane/hatter response would be "melon") / and 'milk' doesn't provoke "cow" but a terrified scream of "gloves!" (1) resulting from an archaic memory of touching Bessie's fleshy warm udder once with bare hands at the 4H Fair and how you cried and cried.

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 puns wrapped into themselves like Russian dolls, 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 indeed, for the first time - he can understand. 

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. Of course its a dialogue that has no ending. It goes on in the hearts of coded 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 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 at the counter 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? You can't be both.

Humility or cock swagger? That's a fine duality. But humble cock swagger? Now I know you're British.

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 copouts in Hard Candy and Teeth. 
3. I apologize that this ramble ends with a discussion of the dyke presence in a girl football team episode of Chaelie'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 (entering a predominately masculine arena) and one of those rare, rudimentary appearances of lesbians on prime time TV. Alas, while liberated in some areas, it was still very much in to consider gays and lesbians as freaks, deviants, easy targets for stereotyping. It was only the mixture of Anita Bryant's hateful rhetoric (which so turned most of us off we became sympathetic to the gay cause) and AIDs / Rock Hudson, that turned us around more or less for (hopefully) keeps.
4.  I love for example the party scene in Arthur Marks' The RoomMates, where the faculty and co-eds at a groovy college mix together, drinking and flirting but with no harm done, even when it gets down to the underwear. That scene would never play today - there'd have to be a sexual harassment or drug/date rape or some other sordid thing. But here in the 70s (and some of the 80s) sex wasn't so bi-polar, where it's either saintliness or demeaning rutting. Flirting and highbrow theoretics could mix over cocktails as everyone was adults, nothing had to lead anywhere. It was gorgeous. 

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, whatever that is. Her new apartment is popping with magical candy color, and herb jars; the somewhat more flowery and genteel interior decorator Trish (Laura Waddell) was told to paint it with the "colors from the Thoth Tarot deck," by the owner, a girl from Elaine's coven. Trish takes Elaine to the 'Victorian tea room,' where men are not allowed, and a lady harpist plays. We're clearly in some wild alternate reality, or are we just seeing the world through someone's eyes who has broken off with it? It's a matter of perspective. Elaine seems not only from a 60s-70s time capsule but a timeless fairy bower. Her gaze alone--we learn--can knock men clear out of their own era.

Trish only has 'reality' on her side, and who gives a shit about that in the movies? Trish's handsome (Robert Seely) is bound to be stolen by Elaine the moment he inadvisedly crashes the Victorian Tea Room to say hi and his eyes meet those of this otherworldly new visitor.

Elaine, you see, is a Love Witch: "Giving men sex," she counsels Trish, "is a way of unlocking their love potential." Trish is shocked; she can't even tell if Elaine's serious with such "Stepford Wife" nonsense, but what is Trish offering in sex's stead? A kind of frowny sense of third-wave entitlement? The expectation of blind dotage? Elaine can fuck that shit up with nothing more than a heavy lidded sex magick hypnotic stare.

Back at the Thoth Tarot-colored apartment, Ennio Morricone stings come slinking in, slyly, shyly, and this Wicker-Mannered Kenneth Anger x Anton La Vey x Pedro Almodovar magickal tale takes slinky wing, held aloft by a lovingly stilted acting style that approaches (no doubt intentionally) ceremonial ritualistic embodiment of astral bodies (solstice, etc.). A beverage of hitherto uncharted potency, The Love Witch has been mulled through a kind of high camp soapy-Sirkianism until it becomes like the mind of a person being forced to watch that Taylor-Burton movie BOOM! while being slowly encased in a psychotropic pancake syrup that hardens to frozen-in-the-belly-of-the-dragon amber; Merlin watches helpless behind colored glass as Morgana le Fey begins her long-belated incestuous revenge against Camelot). And this time, we're on her side all the way.

Written, produced, and directed by CalArts wunderkind Anna Biller, LOVE WITCH luxuriates graciously in its own lopsided consciousness. There is a difference in male and female auteurship and the difference should be celebrated, declares Biller, not ignored or dismissed. She's clearly right as no maenad madness like this could ever flow from a man's hands without lapsing into trite kink or preachy posturing. Rarely has so cohesive a vision emerged seemingly full-grown from the head of a first time Athena. This true septuple threat (Biller also did the art design, costumes, and composed several of a the renaissance faire songs) has no qualms about using deliberate artifice towards a ritualistic, almost fetishistic end. It's a perfect fit, then, to visit the early-70s 'suburban housewife joins witch coven' subgenre, and the Eurosleaze erotic black widow variation, diligently spinnereted to Jacques Demy fairy tale romance with a Satan's School for Gifted Youngsters' annual solstice pageant primitivism that keeps it from being either too campy or realistic. Comfortably ensconced in the middle ground between power of suggestion (as in Polanski, Lewton) and fantasy, we can't really tell for sure where real magic, power of suggestion, and delusional madness divide within the diegetic reality of the film, which is how it should be if you want to resonate with uncanny 70s cracker factory frisson, as this does. While the vintage Morricone patches the disparate pastiche elements into a coherent whole, Biller ointments up her broomstick and flies herself up ahead to act as point guard for this whole new flock of filmmakers, I've written lovingly about, who use the 60s-70s 'Euro-artsleaze' genre as a palette from which to paint uncanny new vistas, and in some cases--such as Billers'--bring in a whole other level of filmmaking cohesion -- deliberate artifice, ala Shakespeare's plays within plays. Any separation between art /experimental, film, narrative, genre, retro-pastiche, present and past --are all gone.

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 San Francisco "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 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 in that film), and of course STEPFORD WIVES (name-checked). In vision and scope of satisfying both genders' eye-requirements, Biller seems to exert the same kind of creative alchemy that usually takes a couple to bring off successfully: Argento and wife Daria Nicolodi in SUSPIRIA; Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani in AMER, Alma Reville and Hitchcock. Linda Hassani's DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT, with its Matthew Bright (FREEWAY) script, probably comes closest and I heartily recommend it, too.

One reasom the LOVE works so well, is Biller knows it takes lack of moral judgment to get this deep into the mystic. Rather than go down a Goodbar rabbit hole of sex and madness, as one might expect--especially if a man was directing--there's a vivid sense of Elaine's almost supernatural ability to wreak pastorale renaissance tarot imagery and witchy ritual from nearly every scene she sashays through. Her ability to, in a sense, turn men into sobbing wretches ("Just like a woman," Elaine notes of one in her ongoing voiceover narration. "What a pussy.") could be overkill if any magic is added - as she's way too hot to need it.  If you've ever been seduced and abandoned by a creature so lovely and damaged that you're instantly addicted to her worse than any heroin, then you know how easily death might result from that level of sudden wish fulfillment followed immediately by its total absence. Especially if you mix in too many toxic herbal psychedelics, like jimson weed, aka datura root, the effect--as we learn--can be lethal, and maybe it should be.

Biller's film 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 near a Renaissance Faire and visit every weekend for a whole summer, and how Elaine's cracked determination to live life as a fairy tale fuels an ambition to seduce 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, as any Jack Chick pamphlet. Never underestimate the power of ritualized intent. And Elaine isn't in the habit of casting lightly, despite the flowers and candy colors.

Are covens just the adult version of a young girls' tea sets and stuffed unicorns?
In pointed shoe fact, this is Disneyland ritualism run amok in a kind of clockwork movement counter to what the sweaty dying dad experiences during his tryst with the aging princess in ESCAPE FROM TOMORRROW. Elaine has chosen to live in a world of horses, mock marriages, 'girls-only' tea houses replete with beautiful "Victoriana" trappings (and using Victorian fairy tale motifs grisly enough to make a Jane Eyre shudder in shock, but not shying away from the grisley sacrificial maenad / murder ballad element - putting her into the same world as musicians like Rasputina, Josephie Foster, and Dame Darcy). This world, the girly tea set / stuffed rabbit / Wonderland brought to adulthood --is a 'safe space' for women-only (men beware), with girls in long blonde hair playing the harp or--at the burlesque house--twins dancing in unison with feather fans (the reclaiming of burlesque by feminist performance artists ensures this isn't unduly jarring). The performance-within-performed  artificiality adds to the feeling of ritualistic predestination, as if this movie is only following a linear narrative (cop investigating and falling for prey - ala Basic Instinct) to lure the eye into a sticky trap ceremony of feminine rebirth through seduction and symbolic castration. Our male gaze checks in, but it don't check out.

With THE LOVE WITCH, Biller zaps her mark deep in the soft collective unconscious tissue that binds us along our collective Islets of Langerhans (right/left; male/female). She goes so deep we're compelled to realize just how short of breadth and depth other female directors fall in the same goal (an operational mythopoetic feminine--but commercial--film language) by contrast. Sofia Coppola came close a few times to Biller's natural magic and might actually nail it at last with her upcoming remake of THE BEGUILED (I ain't seen it yet) but so far has only done it in the Trip Fonatine-prom segment of VIRGIN SUICIDES; Asia Argento was one of the first to go all the way down into the chthonic basement with SCARLET DIVA in 2000, wading through the septic sludge of the male gaze like a harried plumber; Anna Lily Amirpour approached it in half of A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT but it was a love story, with a real live boy, which threw the language off; Helene Cattet did the amazing AMER (2) with her boyfriend, and together they turned experimental abstraction and the giallo on their respective heads; 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 in a matriarchal jet set held together by beauty, wealth, and discretion. Along with the aforementioned DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT, they're highly recommended as examples of women directors appropriating the genre in ways parallel to--but unique from-- 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' adrenalin rush. 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, then placing it 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, the way Biller does here. Biller slides it right past us. We wouldn't dare flinch.

JW Waterhouse - "Circe" detail
The Rose Bower - Burne-Jones

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 reverie/stasis, mirroring the way 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 (over for tea), when we had them all to ourselves and, compared to us, they were as giants--lavishing attention on us  expecting no corresponding action (finding its correlation later at the movies--we don't need to do anything sitting there in the dark, just beam up at Garbo's giant face; she loves us no matter what). The consolation prize from the non du pere (Lacan's construct of the forbidding father who welcomes us to the social order on condition of symbolic castration) is twenty bucks to go to the movies. 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). When brought into actualized kinky tableaux, ala Jess Franco, however, sadomasochism and/or stripping often becomes merely tawdry.  This is the fundamental proof, perhaps, that Laura Mulvey is not a man. For she'd recognize the complete lack of proprietary control that comes as the fine print on every male gaze. The fantasy of harem-construction / female dominance through looking is little more than the first grader's subjugation fantasies, brought on by the utter powerlessness of being either small, pre-adolescent or a disembodied spectral ghost/viewer. We're far too powerless to stop any adult from doing anything; as viewers we're like the huntsman, unable to ride through the one-way mirror screen (or out of the baby chair safety straps) to rescue Red Riding Hood from the primal scene awaiting her at grandma's house.

I only refer to Lacan and sadomasochism (Mulvey vs. Studlar) to contrast Biller's style, which exits the bower (and does burlesque rather than stripping - and knows keenly the difference) to pursue the backdoor histrionics of 'suburban swinger-turned-to-crime' films by mavericks like Russ Meyer, Radley Metzger, Arthur Marks, and Joe Sarno, instead. These may be male directors but they 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, adjusting hemlines and sizzling symbolism. These trash auteurs don't judge their heroines, they celebrate their power and recognize their immunity to the petty rules of 'decency.' It's to them Biller looks for a chalk mark arrow forward, then drags the bower behind her to wipe her tracks.
Not tawdry
After Anna's 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 the morning after, the format is set. Parise is a real find --his breakdown is a high point of the film, acting-wise, as he gives it his all while staying on message. "I have never felt real love like this before! Elaine," he shouts, "I'm scared!!" 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, suddenly it's morning and she's been sleeping on the couch. Wayne is a ruined man.

Considering the frequency of the reverse --the man as tomcat, the woman--like Yvonne Furneaux in LA DOLCE VITA--tearing herself apart 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 callous man-eating as vindictive or bitchy. Fellini's film is a man's fantasy of a salt-battered surfer ever in the process of being swallowed up by the maternal sea, the clinging woman issuing suicide threats through phone line apron string kraken tentacles; all the women in his life weaving a luxurious seaweed wrap of ardor about him while he chases the next flutter of blonde feathers around the tower stair curve. Aware of the petty shallow glamor of his life, Marcelo's still powerless to change. By contrast, Biller's film is a woman's fantasy, one where her past conquests succumb to acute melancholia, but she feels only contempt for them the crazier they crave her -- rather than a surfer, Elaine is the ceaseless surf... and any man desired by another woman is her fair target.

Fans of 60s-80s Eurocult specialty 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 (see Bad Acid's Greatest: 70s Paranoid Feminism Edition), the 'modern girl falls under ancient black magic sway and/or has really flipped or passed through the erotic looking glass' in films like Romero's 1972 SEASON OF THE WITCH, 1976's THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, DONT DELIVER US FROM EVIL, THE GIRL SLAVES OF MORGANA LE FAY (1971), and basement-budget fairy tales like 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 subgenre has a dark timeless complexity that might seem anathema to LOVE WITCH's sunny Tarot card artifice, but like Kubrick or prime-era Argento, Biller offers a fully unified style that's never less than swoon-worthy. She doesn't star in it, but Biller has starred in other works 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 Lydia Lunch, Edwige Fenech (ALL THE COLORS IN THE DARK) and Argentine 'sinsation' Isabelle Sarli (FUEGO!).

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. Her response is galvanizing:
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, especially as she reaches for a new kind of subgenre, a truly female fantasy.

More than most of the aforementioned female-directed retro-genre films, LOVE WITCH succeeds at this ideal, mixing intentional story book artifice--lots of 'talent show from Summerisle' light/dark macabre counter-Christian pageantry--with genuinely erotic content in ways we don't really see in modern film (here she cites Demy's DONKEY SKIN as a huge influence); the closest we get is perhaps Bergman's MAGIC FLUTE or Godard's PASSION or CODE NAME: CARMEN, wherein the double negative, if you will, of a play-within-a-play, seems to help induce a mimetic erotic magic that's distinctly feminine (Mother Night) in its timeless (or lunar cycle-based) parallel to the 'normal world' of linearity and men (Sarastro). Biller grasps the deep magic at work in narrative immersion and in the way mythologizing through performance helps uncork one's inner power.

That power, of course, is too much for a shaky patriarchy to handle. Becoming a man's every wish and surprising him with allure beyond what he can stand leaves him a sobbing wreck, and leaves the love witch alone 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).

Thinking it over, actually, the closest I can imagine to the first of Elaine's amazing psychedelic seductions is the opening swath of DUNWICH HORROR with smoov Dean Stockwell using that weird crystal to hypnotize Sandra Dee. Or even the way Mae West brings home "That Dallas Man" in I'M NO ANGEL (1933). The other extreme, of course, is more prevalent, especially in the US under the lash of books like The Rules and the ridiculous perfect man-replaces-slovenly selfish prick dichotomy rom-coms, that is: the disappointed woman of high expectations, stranded in her narcissistic cocoon, unwilling to admit it's stifling her. For just as man is empty thunder and plaintive howls without a woman, so woman is the fairy bower, the sticky web, the windless rain without a man (Jungianly speaking).

The 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 took it for a spin in BY THE SEA, which some people (whose judgment I revere), love but which I 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 me for not somehow not volunteering to pay for everything or wearing a Rolex. The story of a couple dissolving and clearly trying to save their relationship by renting out apparently an entire corner of the Riviera, it's the film that helps us realize Brad and Angelina are not doing well as a couple - it's the movie version of them sitting us down on the couch for a special family meeting to let us know dad's moving out for an indefinite period while mom and he work out some issues. Outside in the open air bar, 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. Fight Club, Brad! Fight Cluuubbb (Imagine me saying this as i sink below the amber waves). (3)

THE LOVE WITCH on the other hand at least has its own lunar tidal pull. It's alive and snaking ever-forward; 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 like a tossed bouquet--a floating iron glove cast in velvet--- to future female filmmakers. Biller's film is the feminine mystical equivalent of finally blowing a hole through the concrete defensive ring around male cult film Normandy, to seize princess super power without necessarily being a bitch about it. 'This is what turns me on," Biller announces, "and I don't care if it seems immature and I should have grown out of it by now--ponies, princesses, and love-love-love," whatever, I'm proud to share it." Of course it would still be the empty fantasy, if Biller wasn't wise to herself, and to the limits of the bower's protection. LOVE WITCH is like a young girl's tea party crashed by a Jayne Eyre-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). As Elaine masturbates to memories (?) of being shamed by her father as a child or mounted by the hairy coven leader during her coven initiation, we're forced--especially as male spectators--to contemplate just how thorny female sexuality really is. We're put into a position we're totally not comfortable with, and it's about time we were. Biller presents us with the idea that a woman might masturbate thinking about her father, and/or hairy and hobgoblin-esque characters like the men in her cult. As men we're taught to recoil from our own toad-ish aspects, the bloated troll underbelly of our princely visage, but for Elaine (and, by extension, Biller), the repellant frog kiss that prefigures the marriage to the handsome prince is swirled into the erotic potion that gets her off, in a sense, to a far greater proportion than the prince is still toad himself. This aspect of female sexuality has been explored only by wild-eyed surrealists like Bunuel. Most men dare not go near it and so often it tumbles off the path and into the thorny issues that bog down so many films (and even some of my other posts).

Jacques Demy's Donkey Skin
But Biller's every gilded splinter-step is sure. She never falls too far down the whimsical fantasy rabbit hole or up the "psychotic break" vortex of subjectivity. Instead, snaking like a footpad between the high and lowbrow camps, Biller proves an adept guide to the feminine's archetypal root cellar, one who knows how to not get snagged. She excavates the tarot as a bridge between fantasy and the reality of the moment, and the result-- as in all the best examples of the period/genre--leaves us unsure whether the 'magic' being performed is merely ceremonial posturing (meant to focus the will with drugs as a kind of perception enhancing tool), or if it evokes genuine spirit power. It's not even important. That's how you know myth is working - you no longer perceive the illusion of a separation between the real and the vividly imagined. After Trish smacks her around and storms out, if it was a Hammer movie, we'd cut from Elaine repeating "crash" over and over to Trish's windshield cracking and hitting a tree or going off a cliff. Instead, she's just gone - as if in leaving the film and Elaine's life she is for all intents and purposes, as good as dead.

We're also never sure just what we feel about these couple of disreputable hairy male characters who seem to have inserted themselves into the otherwise hip coven, but for once, a rarity, we trust Biller to know the answer and never falter, to not let patriarchal conditioning kick in and warp her thrust. The fey, hairy warlock named Gahan (Jared Sanford) is at the head of the coven not out of some nod to some deep-seated animus patriarch sub-conditioning (6) but 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 memories -- it's clear she's disgusted by him but not enough to leave - he's endured). 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 testament to her strength, her ability to use what we tend to pigeonhole as camp as the palette for a deeply subversive neo-feminist spin on a unique genre from a unique time and place. We can rest easy in her hands. Being able to trust a female auteur with the car keys --so to speak--is the psychotro-poetic equivalent, to a guy like me, of being able to float on a giant amniotic breast cloud into the dissolving rays of a birth-reversing sun. When you trust the girl driving you don't automatically wince when she pumps the brakes, and if she almost hits another car - well she meant to fucking hit it -- the other driver was just too fast or slow, or a man.

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 with my first case of the DTs! Shhhh. I'll tell you, and bury it safely on the bottom of a non-related post. Actually, it's related as I had my own anima-projection/ fantasy girl come along when I was twitching in the ER. 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 wheeling around a kind of podium pushcart with the glow of a computer screen hovering over it in the dark of the early AM (not that there were windows - but they turn out a lot of lights after 10 or so, and it all becomes like a big slumber party) 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 Librium in a tiny paper cup.

Eventually they had me in an upstairs bed a different beauty with her alien tray came gliding along (a "hospital medication computer cart" - I looked up its name), its CRT a reassuring UFO nightlight in the darkness, part Valkyre descending down the Valhalla-way with her benzos and opiates, this upper floor girl looked like the eldest Haim sister and became my new feminine ideal. There were also three trainees, all very Haim-like but blonder--vaguely Nordic--traveling in a white lab coat gaggle, led by an old, important looking doctor, down the rows of sick and suffering. I was amazed. Why, I wondered, am I always presented, one way or the other, with these shimming visions of three during my darkest hours? Angels exist, man, and they have long Haim hair that shimmers in the light from the blue screen monitors of their floating drug trays during the wee wee hours, and when they pass they leave the souls screaming in forlorn pain suddenly sighing and silent... and snoring.

I could never find the one or the other once they left my little screened off bed, and I often grabbed a hold of my wheeled IV drip (they make great combo canes/walkers, like Merlin's staff) and went strolling down the hall, to the quiet amazement and feigned disinterest of the zillions of other people floating around. All zonked and lost and powerless, forced to wait for every visit, screams and moans of the damned meant little to the super busy staff. I knew I was amongst experts, and would not hasten the next Libirum one iota. But, at last, 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.

Now I'm back home but 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, or remember me, let me just say in case they do: ladies, collectively in my fever brain you have cohered into my Lady of the Lake. Hail and blessings be, oh shimmering Benzo-flection, my Lost Lenore, reflection of the kind nepenthe I know I can never drink again. When next will we three meet --thy cart and thee and my poor polluted streams?  (4)

(my previous sobriety date - 11/17/98; my current 02/15/17)

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 Hell- 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 hot floor wax has burned deep into the soft spots of my soul, leaving permanent stains that alternate between a ghostly image of Veronica Lake beckoning to me from the deep, as if the floor wax pattern on the tile was the shimmer on the surface of the ocean; my carry-on bag had my Kindle Fire with the voices of Fred Allen and Portland, talking to a ribbon of electric razors, emanating from it --the laughter of their audience activating the paranoia of my fellow ER-mates. The main thing from my alcohol withdrawal, which is why I had to go to the ER, I was too fucked up to get more alcohol to stop my horrible withdrawal / DTs. Most of the last few days I was lying in bed in delusional misery remembering lines from HIGH SOCIETY, which I'd been watching over and over in my drunken excess-tasy - Sinatra blurring "she got pinched in the ASS--ter Bar" (From his duet with Bing, "Yes Indeedy") over and over like a broken record, for hour after hour) after hour) She was Stoned - Frank says, of the girl pinched in the ass / ter bar. Ass-Ter BAR. So now I know - when your hangover gets worse and worse the longer you go without a drink (rather than say clearing up by the evening), that's alcoholism! 
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 (VAMPYRES to its immense credit lacks one, as does--sort of--DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS). 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)
13 Best or Weirdest Occult/Witch movies on the Amazon Prime.
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 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 contributors to the Acidemic site, go to, and/or check a future, separate index, as otherwise it's all too much. It's all too much anyway.

Note: This is all my own work; I'm also assembling a separate contents for the site, which publishes work from curated array of other authors, though a new issue hasn't come out in awhile, it's still ahead of its time. Or behind, and what's the difference? Gehst du here. 

Und fur die Horror and Sci-Fi Indexe, gehen sie hier.


(as titles come in and go, I've included the dates these were compiled)

10/17 - Spooky Behaviors - 15 Cool/Weird Horror/Sci-fi Films running/streaming wild/free on Prime
3/17: International Hallucinosis Pt. 1 - 12 Weird/Cool Italian Films streaming free on Prime
12/16: I never said it wasn't terrible: 10 Sci-Fi Curiosities on Amazon Prime
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

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

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

Gravitational Distortion in 70mm: Hitchcock and Kubrick on Blu-ray
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
The Balloon that is Welles: MR. ARKADIN and his Versions.
Darker than Blood: GANJA AND HESS (1973)
LSD GODFATHER 2: Don Fanucci in the Vestibule
From Russia with Hell: COME AND SEE (Bright Lights)
Waiting for Ketelbach with Dorloeac- CUL-DE-SAC (1968)
EYES WIDE SHUT: The Blind Leading the Sighted (11/12/07)
Shrooms for Remembrance: Mel Gibson's HAMLET in a Psychedelic Context
Iguanas and Mustangs: THE MISFITS
Excuse me Miss, Haven't we Died Somewhere Before? VERTIGO
Plunge! MABUSE, DER SPIELER vs. Ameritrade
Sex is a Decapitated Hen: BLUEBEARD and the Eroticism of Catherine Breillat


My Long Day's Journey in NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964)

'n Friends
I Unravel and Explain the Entire Twisted Solution to Both BIG SLEEPs
Repetition Convulsions (w/ TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT)
Momentum Mori: TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934)
Erich's All-Time Favorite 25 Films (half are Hawks)
John Monk Saunders' Flying Death Drive: DAWN PATROL (1931), LAST FLIGHT, ACE OF ACES, EAGLE AND THE HAWK
International Hawksblocker: RED LINE 7000, HATARI! (1962)
Monsters Crash the Pajama Party: DARK KNIGHT RISES, TARGETSHIS GIRL FRIDAY,  (8/6/12)
The Cold Blue Lysergic Evening: THE DAWN PATROL (1938)
Death Driving Ms. Henstridge:  GHOSTS OF MARS, SPECIES and RIO BRAVO (c. 03)
Plissken on Parade: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) comes to Blu-ray (BL, 4/15)
A Clockwork Darkness: Hawks, Subjectivity, HALLOWEEN (1978)
I got a home in that 'Raq (3/7/10)

le rayon bleu Deneuve REPULSION
Gimme Cockaine: MELANCHOLIA (2011)
Easter Acid Cinema Special: MOTHER! (2017)
GIRLS (1968), CHE (2008 and other Threats (BL 5/08)
Moments of eXtreme METHOD
Odin's Last Stand: Nicholas Ray's WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN 
The War Against Normal: A STRAW DOGS remake and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN
The Art of the Snivel: On Richard Widmark in ROAD HOUSE (1948)
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
A Tale of Three Anti-Capitalist Musicals: HALLELUJAH, I'M A BUM, MARAT/SADE, BRIGADOON
Ms. Icarus Risen: THE BLACK SWAN (2010)

(as always bold signifies a current personal favorite)
Psychedelic Canon:
=========== = = = = ======
AMER (2009)
BIG CUBE, THE (1969)
BLOW-UP (1966)
BLUEBERRY (see: Renegade)
CANDY (1968)
CUL-DE-SAC (1966)
GODFATHER 2 (1974)
GOOD TIME (2017)
HAMLET (1990)
HEAD (1968)
MATANGO ("Attack of the Mushroom People"- 1963)
MOBY DICK (1956)
MOTHER! (2017)
PSYCH-OUT (1968)
RENEGADE (See: Blueberry)
SATURN 3 (1980)
SCORE (1974)
SKIDOO (1968)
TRACK 29 (1988)
TRIP, THE (1967)

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
WALL, THE (1982)
ZARDOZ (1973)

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


Idiot wind of the locusts: SOYLENT GREEN (1973)
Acid and Giallo: Drive-In Dream Logic III, Italian-style
Acid Cinema Special Edition: The VIETNAM Experience
Bad Acid's Greatest vol. 2: The Savagery Switchpoint
Laureate of the Laid: Terry Southern + CANDY (1968)
Easter Acid Cinema Special: MOTHER! (2017)
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
The Primal Sceneseters: TWIN PEAKS
She was some kind of a mushroom: GO ASK ALICE (1973)
Language! Drinks! Cakes! Oppression! INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
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)
Are you Lonesome, Automaton?
The Tick Tock Initiation: PHANTASM
Condoms are for Quitters: XANADU (1980) and the Death of the Naked Rock Musical
It is the Waving of her Heavenly Hair! Britt Marling's ANOTHER EARTH

Bad Acid's Greatest: 70s Paranoid Feminism Edition
Age of Asherah: ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)
Make up your mind control: 33.3 Ways of Reading EYES WIDE SHUT
Daze of our Lies (Or "As the Reichstag Burns") SECRET HONOR, HITLER (1962), UFO HUNTERS, Lord Lhus
Burnt Persona Jessica: SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL (2017)
Amnesiac Cinema: HEADLESS WOMAN (2008), SUCCUBUS (1968)
Are you Serious? The Terror of Ambiguity
Make up your mind control: 33.3 Ways of Reading EYES WIDE SHUT
Hallowed be thy Shakes: The DTs, and Paranoia in 3 Film MACBETHS


What's your Edition Number? Replicanting Final Cuts of BLADE RUNNER (BL - 08)
Not with a Wimp but a Banger: KICK-ASS 2, HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING 
The Slashological Strata of Fate: HALLOWEEN to THE TERMINATOR (1978-1984)
They Shoot Horsemen: THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
Monsters Crash the Pajama Party: DARK KNIGHT RISES, TARGETS (8/6/12)
Mecha-Medusa and the Otherless Child: THE RING
Apocalypse-Dependent: SOUTHLAND TALES (2009)
SOUTH PARK, Terrorism and the Nicole Kidman Experience
Sexy Terrorists are Go! CARLOS (2010) and Post-Cinematic Airline After-Affect
Yea, I was walk through the Uncanny Valley (11/09)
Death to Realism! EXISTENZ = Oculus Rift vs. Marcel Duchamp 
+ The Al Texas Jazeera Chainsaw Massacre 
Just Whoa! Stories: Guy Maddin, Canadian Amnesiac: THE FORBIDDEN ROOM 
Silence of the Uploaded Monekey: TRANSCENDENCE, AVENGERS: AGE OF 
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
Tales from the Retro-Futurist Pharmacy: SPACE STATION 76, PHASE IV, Boards of Canada
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)
Drug of Choice: 4:44 - LAST DAY ON EARTH (2012- Abel Ferrara)

Best of the Beards: Kris Kristofferson
Now bleed for Me: THE WRESTLER (2008)
An American Rohmer: Clint Eastwood's BREEZY (1973)
Beards of Bleak: THE ROAD, WINTER'S BONE
The Foxy, the Dead, and the Foxier: DEATH-PROOF (BL 1/08)
Fantasy Phallus Fallacy: SATURN 3 (1980)
Quixote Ugly: THE SWIMMER (1968)
The Pantheon of Macho Fey
The Flower People Screaming: DOCTOR FAUSTUS (1967)
You rolled, you really rolled: ROLLERBALL and a 70s Bloodsport Overview
Where's the Love, Man? THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980)
Paters Horribilis: Hookers, Harvey, and a Man called Pollack: EYES WIDE SHUT
The Narcissistic Male Gaze: It's not you it's Me because I am You
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)
LAST TANGO IN PARIS: Brando, Butter, Stockholm Syndrome and the Hot Ass of Death (12/07)
Mendacity A-Go-Go: Liz vs. the Little Monsters (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF)
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?)
"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
Butler of Orbs: THE MASTER, THE (2012)
The Well-Tempered Poitier: Thanksgiving with AMERICAN GANGSTER (11/23/07)
Born to be Childless (WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?)
Chop Wood, Carry Sponsors - The MAD MEN - Finale
A Great Hook: ROLLING THUNDER (1977 - Blu-ray review - BL 7/7/13)
Out HUD (New Years 2008)
Sullivan's Jet Travels: Rich Kid Cinema
Forgotten Men with Steam
All Tomorrow's Playground Narratives: Kubrick's LOLITA (BL)
Procedurama!: PUBLIC ENEMIES (BL)
I Aims to Scan your Big Bald Head: HITMAN and the New Male Chastity (07)
CinemArchetype 25: The Fisher King

All Hail the New Flesh Keychain: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013)
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)
Lolita Nation: TEETH, HARD CANDY (9/06)
Leo, oh, Leo (11/08)
Coal und der Switches Symplex: JINGLE ALL THE WAY
Secrets of 2012: The Day of a Million Relapses
LSD GODFATHER 2: Don Fanucci in the Vestibule
Smoking in the rain outside the House of Demme: RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (BL11/08)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, Summer's Isle THE WICKER MAN (2006)



Dangerous Women of the New Depression (12/15)
Happy 100 Years of Frances Farmer (9/19/13)
So Red the Wranklers: ZERO DARK THIRTY, HOMELAND, 
A pretty girl is like a what? HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, SUCKER-PUNCH


A Lindsay Lohan Reader: EK Collected Writings on Bad Behavior
Strictly USA (7/6/07)
Lindsay Lohan: The Rev. Lawrence T. Shannon of our Age (7/26/07)
 Lindsay Lohan will have her Revenge on Seattle (5/20/10)
4. Revenge of the Lohan (8/2/10)
5. LL: Through the Peeping Glass (8/10/10)
TWILIGHTs Cinematic Ancestors
The Fireworks and the Crummily Cautious (thoughts on Angelina Jolie)
Lashes by Cover Girl... and Centurions: THE TOURIST, MASQUERADE, 7TH SIGN 
She even Breaks: Edie Sedgwick in CIAO! MANHATTAN (1972)
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)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, Summer's Isle: THE WICKER MAN (2006)
Radium Girls Vs. the 1%: Eva Green in DARK SHADOWS, NOTHING SACRED
Antichrist in Translation: UNDER THE SKIN, HABIT
Vampire Lesbians of 76-67
Sprays of Heaven: IN THE DUST OF THE STARS
Inescapably Her Iron Age Druid Bog Mummy Alcoholic Self: THE ETERNAL (1998)
BabaDOOK: Jennifer Kent's Psychotropic Fairy Tale
Claire Forlani Drinks Dewars; Carrie Matheson, SZAMANKA and Angela Chase (11/04/12)
Jessica Chastain, Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia (1/3/17)
Desperation and Divinity: Help us, Mae (a plea to the Ghost of Mae West)
Half-Hour Honey (HONEY WEST) - BL 9/3/08
From Russia with Adamantium Cheekbones: SALT 
Hail to thee, California Mountain Snake!
Virgin Queens and Smart Blondes: Shoshana Dreyfus, Torchy Blaine, Elizabeth I
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)

ANGELS OF DEATH - II: Great Women of Horror
ANGELD OF DEATH III: Badass Brunette Edition
ANGELS OF DEATH IV: Lynn Lowry Special Edition 
ANGELS OF DEATH V: Magic Slut Split/Subject Maenad Edition

Cinema's Naughtiest Germans
"A thousand dollar bill I was supposed to be bribed with" (or 'only real behind curtains') - John Huston and Bree Daniels, Gamblers: KLUTE, THE MALTESE FALCON.
Jane Fonda does Tennessee Williams; PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962)
Post-Sexual Jane: THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? (1968)
Cooler Sister Effect: GIANT (1956)
Great Acid Cinema #14: SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1958)
Mendacity A-Go-Go: Liz vs. The Little Monsters: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
America of Ghosts: Why Lana del Rey is the New Val Lewton
"Venus in Furs" by the Velvet Underground (McSweeny's 10/6/05)
Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography (Slant -11/10/13)
Pigpen, Brian Jones, Syd Barrett: Ode to 3 Fallen Space Cowboys
Chrissie Hynde vs. Dracula (12/31/07)
Open letter to the Piano Man (3/13)
The best jazz trio you'll never see: Gene Evans, Scott LeFaro, Paul Motian
Cocorosie: Uncaged Tigresses (2007)
Bardo Pond: Synaptical Misfires at Louise Point
Great Rock Moments #1: Joe Cocker at Woodstock
Lost Art of Japanese Loungecore: Harumi Hosano
Pinned at the Party Pit: Praise for the Hold Steady
Return of X: KMD
New Age Music Round-up 2012
(orig. published in Amp Camp, c. 2000)
X: See how the War
Oh those drunken Replacements
Fiona Apple: Legacy of Hot Messiness
Liz Phair: Sinner, Siren, Sell-out
Lou Reed (see first three issues of Art Decades)

(via Bright Lights)
Over the Earbuds and Under the Wire: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (BL -7/13)
Chop Wood, Carry Sponsors - The MAD MEN - Finale
XENA Season 3 (Popmatters 3/04)
Guide to Cable TV Paranormal/Ghost Hunting Shows. 

LEGACY OF WOOD (The Accidental Brecht)
SUSANA (1951) (Bright Lights)
MOTHER OF TEARS (Bright Lights)

Don't let a few bad apples stop you from accessing the ungodly power of trans-dimensional entities - THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970)
Tony Curtis makes the Manitou; Shire a Prophecy


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, California Mountain Snake!
Happy birthday, Cheryl Ladd! (7/12/12)
Happy Birthday to Sandahl Bergman! (11/14/08)
Happy Birthday, Linda Fiorentino (3/9/09)
American Cinema Anniversary: PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON





Bellamy, the Deflowerer: THE WEDDING NIGHT (1935)
Troopers of the World, There is one bug you cannot beat...
Leporello sells Spotto (or "the Sailor's Farewell"): ROAD TO SINGAPORE 
Great Performances, Dubious Haircuts
God Bless the Orgiast / who's brought his Own: THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932)
A Val Lewton-style Nancy David Regan, MD: SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950)
CABIN IN THE SKY: Ethel Waters, Co-Dependency, and the Lord
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)
Cuspidor of Greatness: DIPLOMANIACS (1933)
The Blackened Face of the Glory-bound Golem: WONDER BAR (1934)
Flo - The Great and Powerful, and the Ludovico Flu: THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936)
13 WOMEN + Peg Entwistle, the Ghost under the Hollywood Sign
The Return of the Emotional Terrorist: Monroe Owsley
Dizzy from the Altitude, Happy to Plummet: Pre-Code Cinema and the Post-Code-Shock Syndrome
If I were a TCM Guest Programmer (Long Unseen Gems not on DVD): FREUD COBRA WOMAN, DISHONORED, CEILING ZERO (1/3/12)


had been doing deep meditation after work every day with a light-sound machine triggered to an Amazon shaman chant, which concurrent with my meds, seemed to electrify my kundalini starting in early November (around the elections), when a voice told me that if I was ready to let go of all judgment, to 'recuse myself from the bench,' all would be revealed, my sins would be lifted, and I could sneak into paradise offered by the galactic alignment of 2012. I went for it, and for around the next 6-7 weeks lived a sainted life. I present my film-based writing from this period in chronological order, for what its worth. I had a freelance gig writing 3-5 New Age music reviews a week for The Daily OM, which kept me in practice (no by-line)

Through a Dark Symbol (11/03/12 - DP)
Claire Forlani Drinks Dewars; Carrie Matheson, Andrzej Zulawski's SZAMANKA (1996) and Angela Chase (11/04/12)
A TREE FALLS IN BROOKLYN + Bright Lights + Swar of the Saints 
CinemArchetype 19: The Holy Madman (11/10/2012)
A Hole in Me Pocket: Beatles, EST, YELLOW SUBMARINE (11/13/2012)
The I Ching answers questions about THE MASTER (11/27/2012)
Don't Eat my Pineal Gland! (Divinorum Psychonauticus 11/30/12)
The Psychedelic Scrooge Satori (Dec. 12, 2012)
Drug of Choice: 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH (12/17/12)
Yes, Virginia, the World DID End Yesterday (Dec. 22, 2012)
Jessica Chastain, Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia (1/3/17)
Flo - The Great and Powerful, and the Ludovico Flu: THE GREAT ZIEGFELD -2/16/13
Beginning around mid-November this whole elaborate fusion of (semi-fake) cult and guerilla theater sprang fully formed to my brain, beamed down if you will, replete with elaborate costumes and staging all of which I had access to via working at Pratt Institute. However, plans were scrapped when, beginning around mid-Feb 2013, I had a massive fever - which kept me crazy and bedridden for over a week. When my fever finally broke, the whole plan, the impetus, the will, the drive, to continue with this project was gone, along with my illumination and everything else. Was it celestial Archons 'harvesting' the energy garnered by my cosmic aligned awakening or just a case of weakened immune system due to trying to live totally vegan after a lifetime of meat eating here in a giant Nordic Viking body? Why can't it be both, and more? Either way, I give you the complete rise and fall of this illuminated state, from the first breakthroughs to the first few posts after my massive fever, to a final essay for the Weeklings. I'll be honest, some of it I can't even bring myself to read or see (such as the videos - which I've never watched since the day I made them). I do like the Quetzlcoatl Sutra, though.

Guidebook: Stage of Envelopment (11/28/12)
This means SWAR: Preliminary Guideline and Council to the Elderless (11/21/12)
Tarot of Swar of the Saints (11/13/12)
Welcome to the First Best-Dressed Feeling of Your Life (11/13/12)

Official Cult Literature (poetry and psalms)
Secrets of Quantum Immortality (12/2/12)
The Tao of Tailbiting (11/27/12)
The Long Dark Knight of the Soul (11/18/12)
The Quetzcoatl Sutra (11/14/12)

Video: (11/25/12)
Shortcuts to Enlightenment - Ep. 2 "Vacuum"
Shortcuts to Enlightenment - Ep. 1 "Aumm"

2012 is a Memory: No Apocalypse, No Aloha (1/4/12)
Bust through your Program! Archons, Laura Eisenhower and the Blood Fountain Antennae (2/8/12)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...