Cleansing the lens of cinematic perception... until the screen is a white glaring rectangle

Thursday, March 28, 2019

10 Surreal Cult Gems of the 80s: A Prime-Stream Special


What was the 80s and why was it such a golden age for weird sci-fi and head trips? Was it thanks to the dawn of MTV and Night Flight to amuse stoned kids back from the punk shows on weekends? Repo Man, Return of the Living Dead, and Night of the Creeps in theaters; Liquid Sky and Street Trash were at (shhh) inner-city theaters; and the time wherein the drive-in and the video rental place co-existed comfortably? It was films like Conan, the Terminator, and Robocop making big money. Art house wonders like Brazil and Blue Velvet occupying hallowed places in the press. It was a time of great anti-drug hysteria, and so--just as imbibing booze had become a symbol of American freedom and defiance against  knee-jerk oppression in the 20s, so now that same patriotism was to be found in getting high in the 80s. Today weed is mostly legal and so innocuous - in the words of WC Fields, it's so common it's unnoticed. But back then, getting high and going to the midnight movie or going to a punk show and/or driving around 'til the parents fell asleep then sneaking in to watch Night Flight and old movies was simply what we did. And as a result, thrive-nation of the strange. We're a decade away from the grunge 90s ecstasy-and-blue recovery roller coaster of the Prozac 90s. Let us have our dollar of fame, Hollywood - it shan't come again.

1. SOCIETY
(1989) Briam Yuzna
***1/2 / Amazon Image - A

For sheer over-the-top surreal weirdness, nothing really beats Brian Yuzna's SOCIETY which has one of the best WTF denouements in cinema history. I'm going through great pains to not spoil any of it, let's just say that in best surrealist form it taps into the Freudian Id impulse and the anxiety that one is shut out of a massive 80s upper crust orgy, that even your family are in on some licentious surreal secret. It's this very real feeling that underwrote the Satanic panic of the 80s (and continues today in things like Pizza-gate, and the conspiracies of David Icke -[here]), so it makes sense this came out in the same decade, a time when Reagan was in office and 'yuppies' were gobbling up everything, their little IZOD collars turned up and Ray-bans on in slavish imitation of their god, Tom Cruise. Not for nothing, then, does Society star the euphonious Cruise-clone Billy Warlock as a privileged lad who enjoys the finer things yet is ever reminded of just how much better a slightly upper cut of the pie has it.  He begins to realize something is going on when his sister's paranoid ex-boyfriend-cum-stalker plays him tapes he made of her private conversations with their father re: her debutante 'coming out' party. It sounds like she's going be offered up to some evil reptilian throng as a sexual offering, making her way through parents and local officials in a group orgy, and that she's looking forward to it. But that can't be--can it? To amp the paranoia we're never quite sure, til it's too late, if we're just reading into it. That's the nature of paranoia in the end. Billy is paranoid, but the truth is far crazier. Along his journey to the horrifying truth, he picks up a hot mess girlfriend (Devin DeVasquez) and--in the weirdest element--her "mother" (Pamela Matheson), a bizarre hair-eating nutcase that seems to have wandered in from a John Waters casting lagoon.

 Yuzna produced those early Stuart Gordon gems From Beyond and Re-Animator so clearly knew how to hire and use the best, and that means great effects teams. The gooey weirdness needed here would of course be CGI today but not here, it's the weirdest coolest mess since Carpenter's The Thing. Too bad so few people saw it --did it even get a release? Either way, what a blast. Goes everywhere Eyes Wide Shut does in about 1/3 of the time, and then more besides, and it's hilarious and has a genuinely interesting bushel of things to say about the nature of desire, social-climbing, consumer culture, the parasitical nature of the rich, and what's known today as FOMO - or the feeling a massive beautiful people orgy is going on whenever you're not around. Kurbick really should have gone out more, or at least watched some horror movies --Society would have maybe saved his life.

And the subtext of this hilarious exhilarating WTF-athon is a truth about privileged rich kid LA that has led to real trouble, the idea (now called FOMO) that you're missing the orgy. That once you make enough money or become famous, the orgy ticket will arrive. Some sleazy mongers still believe there's such a place, where gorgeous women abandon themselves to hairy ugly men in licentious abandon at the clang of Get Out teacup rattle or an Eyes Wide Shut Rammstein-style synth/chant dirge. How that 'missing the orgy' feeling ties in with priapism and paranoia could be a full semester course (see here for full syllabus), but Society says it all in 99 minutes and without bitter aftertaste. 

3. LIQUID SKY
(1982) Dir. Slava Sukerman
***1/2 / Amazon Image - A+

Seeing this look so good it's like a revelation (it used to be avail. only on raggedy DVRs), so if you saw it once in any other form, see it again on Prime (or the new Blu-ray). It's the prime of the artsy early-80s downtown NYC New-Wave scene; a small alien saucer lands on the roof above the balcony apartment of trendy new wave icons Margaret (Anne Carlisle) and her drug-dealing lesbian roommate Adrian, played by Paula E. (Alice in Alice Sweet Alice) Shepherd. They're both letter perfect, as is Susan Doukas as Sylvia, mother of Jimmy (also Carlisle) a strung-out sneering male model struggling to pay for a high-end cocaine addiction.

There's oodles of great stuff but the ultimate in 'scenes' has got to be Anna Carlisle going down on the male version of herself while a bunch of fashionistas hanging out (while using her gorgeous roof balcony apartment for a photo shoot) start a kind of rapey group mockery thing jeering in a very punk aggro manner that would be scary if it were straight people. Luckily, as Walter Sobchak might put it, there's nothing to worry about --they're nihilists. What makes it work, ultimately, is Margaret's zonked renouncement of sex in favor of drugs and mind expansion. She doesn't say no to sex though, even with her old teacher/mentor who drops up (a different time, oh my brothers). Then the aliens zap the life essence out of these lovers in the moment of orgasm and--until Anna complains--leaves their corpses piling up in the apartment (The scene where Adrian starts an impromptu smack-shivery poetry slam while  playing one of the corpses's bald head like a conga--is a peak moment). Meanwhile Jimmy's mom, who lives across the street from Anna, has a hilarious lunch with sneezy, withdrawing son (now that the image is so lustrous, the sun streaming down makes the lighting so beautiful and uniquely NYC I got a 90s strung-out chill just watching him/her).

Clearly, this is the female east coast parallel to REPO MAN. Was it an influence on Alex Cox? And like that one-off masterpiece, is a film to be revisited, again and again - especially now - it probably never looked this good even in its initial NYC run. (see full review)


7. BRAZIL
(1985) Dir. Terry Gilliam
**** / Amazon Image - A-

Time was this was the bee's-knees and it's still a riot with a cold sucker punch chaser - it's one of the most gamely dark and savage satires of modern bureaucracy in the history of cinema, but now it's big social messages can seem rather labored, the whole bureaucratic hodge podge and endless ducts and malfunctions feel so yesterday since we've gone--thankfully--paperless. It's as if the entirety of the Dept. of Information Retrieval has been reduced to a roomful of geeks on laptops. Still, as the missing link between Kafka (a rather heavy debt is owed) and--alas--one of those whimsical too-obvious Danny Kaye 'daydreaming office drone thinks he's a swashbuckler' odysseys, the level of detail and imagination is stunning. Since it's all before CGI we can really savor the level of obsessive termite craftsmanship (the clouds in the fantasy flying sequences alone are worth the price of admission). Terry Gilliam's trouble as a director has always been that--like Ridley Scott--he can never trust the story to work on its own so his films gush over with detail and interesting things while the mythic root is lost like a child in a Black Friday opening door crush. Here, since that crush is what it's all about, the density works perfectly, to turn it all into a ballet of post-futuristic 30s decor crumbling under the weight of add-on tech (temporary things installed to fix problems with the fixes to other problems, etc).  If Jonathan Pryce's flustered Walter Mitty-everyman schtick starts to get wearisome during his prolonged panicky run-for-it with the girl of his dreams, who--with her short hair and trucker's job would be instantly pegged as a lesbian today, making her initial resistance all the more glaring. It never even occurs to Pryce to ask - this is his universe.

That's the cool thing about Gilliam's vision - though a knee-jerk leftist reading is that Pryce is a hapless hero in a coiled universe strangled by evil bureaucrats; a close reading shows that the dystopia is the fantasy as much as the clouds. Reality chokes itself on its own exhaust so millions can relax in air conditioned privacy and dream of angels, or watch The Cocoanuts in their own bathtub while smoking a joint. Hey, I relate. Maybe a little too well, realizing the extent to which my first world consumption habits butterfly tsunamis out to mass poverty in the third world, and yet being unwilling to trudge back upstairs to get the shopping bag rather than just getting plastic one more time.

Regardless  -it's all gorgeously done, with an extended wordless chase set piece finale that finally fishtails into pure fantasy with knowing nods to everything from American in Paris to The Red Shoes and (of course) Potemkin under a dazzlingly expansive Michael Kamen score. And the cast is top notch: Ian Holm has never been funnier as Pryce's nervous wreck boss; Michael Palin is a chilling blast as Pryce's nonchalant torturer college friend and--marvelous as ever--Bob Hoskins as a sinister duct worker. Cuz ya gotta have an American, there's Robert De Niro as a combination Groucho Marx and Che Guevara, zip-lining in and out of windows and balconies along the tall apartment complexes to make bootleg duct repairs. If Gilliam never made another movie after this, he'd be remembered as one of the masters of surrealism and dark comedy. But dystopia has a habit of dragging on... 

6. THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI
(1984) Dir. W.D. Richter 
*** / Amazon Image - A+

The problem with this film was that it kind of expected itself a shoe-in for cult status, and that's not how cults are made. Cult films are born of legitimately weird outsider types trying to make a Citizen Kane, not Kane trying trying to deliberately make a weird outsider film. BUT just because the motives are baffling and the weird hybrid Captain Midnight-brain surgeon-mad scientist-Formula 5 racer-rock band frontman thing is just a little Too Much Johnson to doesn't mean the cast, effects crew, and moments in the script, aren't worthy of Sub-Genius-style lionization. Let the lamp affix its beam, even if one can't simply whip up a franchise out of thin air (Lucas, never forget, used carefully imported mythic ingredients, plumbing Joseph Campbell as well as Alex Raymond); the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream ("No matter where you go / there you are" became an instant.... whatever you'd call it, debatable point?)

And there's the cast: Peter Weller and Ellen Barkin have never been more beautiful (the way Ellen Barkin opens her mouth for a kiss is so carnal and raw it collapses time and space as we know it), and it's clear they vibe on each other real well. Jeff Goldblum is saddled with a ridiculous cowboy get-up that almost tanks the film right there - too quirky for quirky's sake, but he's great and so is John Lithgow as Big Booty or Dr. Lizardo (top), and on and on it goes with way too much fan club stuff ("I'm Buckaroo club Genus chapter!" like anyone watching was old enough to remember Captain Midnight decoder rings)- did they really expect such fan clubs would start? One thing too - this is one dense film - packed with mythos and character running which way and that. You can see it over and over agin and are still noticing little details. Around the tenth viewing, it starts to really work except for, it never quite does. Great end theme though. Too bad there wasn't ten sequels! Weller - you are or were a gawd!

7. MEET THE HOLLOWHEADS
(1988) Dir. Thomas R. Burdman
*** / Amazon Image - D+

A chamber piece that plays like some off-off family sitcom from an alternate reality (we never see a window or an outside - are they all in some gigantic multi-generational cross-galaxy spaceship? Did I miss that part?), no moment of the typical domestic bliss-ticked early-60s-late-80s sitcom is missed in director Thomas Burdman's (and co-writer Lia Morton)'s keen eye for absurdist surreal digression, from the doofus grandpa (here he needs force feeding with a giant syringe) to the daily delousing a half-dog half-human 'pet' to the boss (Richard Portnow) who comes over for dinner while dad (John Glover) angles for an overdue promotion and wife (Nancy Mette) hopes everything goes just right, to the cute daughter (Juliette Lewis!) getting ready to go out on a date with some new wave glorkenspruling doofus, to the tentacled one-eyed watcher in the foyer (security system?) It's all played letter straight, such as it is, and the weirdness never stops. It's very tube-oriented, this weird world that all seems subterranean (we never see an outdoors), everything is round and comes out of tubes that connects to a vast system, cleaned out chimney sweep style by men covered in pipe cleaner tubules who speak so abstractly they need subtitles (the same font Spheeris uses in The Decline of Western Civilization!). Lewis does her Lolita-fetching thing in due earnest here, clearing the way for her iconic stretch of films from the early 90s. Just look at her in the top center picture! Almost a different girl and who's that on her left? It's Bobcat Goldthwait --pre-screechy voice --almost different boy as one of the weird cops who carry her home. Funny how that works, but work it does. So Come over for an evening with the Hollowheads, and stare agog at a universe that might have been. If the 80s was really that kind to weirdness, this would be on muhfuggin' Criterion!


I confess, I was only able to finish Meet the Hollowheads over several 20 minute viewings, as I found it too weird to endure for longer, especially in such bad quality (it's about akin to what you'd find on youtube, duped from some old first run VHS scored at a close-out) though as soon as I finished it, I started it right up again, so what's that tell you? And it's no dis - I watch Godard movies the same way and I love him. If you love crazy Godard too (for the comedy) and if you like the friendly day-glo genuine insanity of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, the industrial Kafka savagery of Brazil, and post-industrial ennui and alienation of Eraserhead, then this is your film. Just watch it from far enough away you don't get any on you. And though the image is bad it's all worth it for the wacky climax which finds the lecherous Portnow running amok, killed more times than Rasputin, the kids coming home wasted after hacking into a forbidden drug tube (the title I'd give it were I in charge: Forbidden Drug Tube-Tap) and the wasted son almost giving the whole show away by thinking the bruised near-dead boss is a monster. What a family. What a film! What set decoration. Would it was clearer, image-wise as that deep red in the round living room alone is to dye for. Stick with it and it you may never get it off. But maybe by then you won't even want to. Personally, I'll never trust soap and water again.

8. NIGHT OF THE COMET
(1984) Writer/dir. Thom Eberhardt
*** / Amazon Image - A

With a weird cult-ready veneer that's quintessential 80s, this sci-fi/cult/horror/comedy checks a lot of bases, but does 'em all right (the heroine survives the comet night apocalypse because she was shacked up in the El Rey theater's projection room in a sleeping bag with cult douche Michael Bowen, for god's sake - and rather than work her usher job she eats Twizzlers and rules the Galaga high score in the lobby). Writer/director Robert Thom was one of those almost-iconic auteurs who made too few films to have a following, aside from weirdos like me who love both this and his Sole Survivor (also 1984, though much less widely known and now, alas OOP) - I saw Night on the big screen in the suburbs during its initial release--by myself, while skipping a high school--so you you know I'm the right guy for it. If you love Mary Woronov and any movie where the teenage heroine warns a guy trying to kill her that she's "been trained" and doesn't want to hurt him (and means it, and does) then you'll love this film which now looks better than ever thanks to a great Shout Factory dusting and color-depth-asizing). The dazzlingly-haired Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney) star as the cool sisters--capably rescuing children and mowing down punk mall cops thanks to their CIA op father teaching them home defense before departing for Nicaragua. Woronov's fellow Eating Raoul star, Robert Beltran is a truck driver who answers the girls' survivor call (they set up base at the local LA radio station). Woronov heads an underground lab looking for a cure to the slow decay that hits those who survived the initial mystery dusting of the comet. God, zombies were so much cooler back then. What happened?


One thing may turn some folks off if they watch in the wrong context: this is the film with the quintessential first Cyndi Lauper "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"-set post-world shopping montage (echoing Dawn of the Dead as much as foreshadowing Day with its underground scientist think tank bunker) but not the film's fault that trying-on-clothes montage set to that song have become inescapably and inseparably cliche. We might wish for a world in which it was cliche instead to have super cool, capable girls like Regina and Samantha as our stars of horror and science fiction films, but they're still rare in any genre. (see also Anita Skinner in Thom's Sole Survivor for another cool Hawksian, this one even quoting To Have and Have Not -here)

9. PHENOMENA
(1985) Dir. Dario Argento
*** 1/2/ Amazon Image - B

When the plot of this was first described to my roommate and I by his girlfriend back around 1994 as the movie we needed to see after a drug-addled weekend, I thought she must be mistaken. This being long before the advent if Wiki and imdb, we could only trudge video store-ward and scope out the Argento titles, and nothing even remotely insect-concerned appeared. Whnen I finally did get to see Phenomena it was the uncut version presented by Anchor Bay (as opposed to the American butcher job, Creepers) and in widescreen on DVD (as opposed to murky VHS) so it was even better than she made out. Why am I telling you this? Because to relay the actual plot of it is like giving away the trick ending of Psycho if it was all trick endings. While Argento certainly references everything from (the previous year's) Firestarter as well as Carrie, in the construct of events etc. it also goes in all sorts of zig-zaggy directions. I'm not a big fan of Argento's insistence (continued in Opera and other late 80s films) of using heavy metal to underscore the murders. Time has been as kind of Morricone and Goblin as it's been unkind to Iron Maiden, in my opinion, especially concerning this decision (hence I deducted 1/2 a star in my rating).

What I most love about it though is the weird midnight bond that forms between young bug-attuned Jennifer Connelly (she can communicate with insects, and call swarms of them to her aid when needed), and a wheelchair-bound entymologist played by Donald Pleasance, and his helper chimp, Inga. The dubbing is excellent and a real weird unique mood holds between them, as the ever present chilling wind keeps rolling down and up the Alps creating a totally unique mood in the Argento canon, perfectly accentuated by the flanger-drenched guitar music of Claudio Simonetti (or someone else who worked on the score?). With Daria Nicolodi as a nerdy teacher and Daria Di Lazzaro as the sexy-bitchy headmistress. The last 1/3 is a never-ending cascade of shocks and twists guaranteed to keep any jaw glued to the floor, and in the midst of it all, sweet innocent Jennifer Connelly - swimming in lakes covered by burning fuel and calling insects and drowning in pits of maggot-filled decomposing bodies, all in great style. You may be warned, but there's no way you can be prepared...


1. BLUE VELVET
(1986) Dir. David Lynch 
**** / Amazon Image - A

I'll confess it took me a long way to come around to this movie: I found the violent thuggery disturbing and without a cathartic resolution (seeing it at a college screening). After a few decades of  repeat viewings, and  deep analyses by Todd McGowan and Zizek I was able to unravel my private relationship to its Freudian subconscious Oedipal separation trauma, so I could let go of my ambivalence. Turns out the purple and blue velvet apartment where Kyle McLachlan spies through the closet blinds isn't merely his anger/anxiety over a woman being hurt, but a primal scene as understood through the mind of a child who mistrusts the animal grunts of sex and seethes with resentment over the dad's power to shut him out of the bedroom at a whim. The problem was mine, not Lynch's! I myself was Frank as much as Kyle - and I didn't want to be. I had to make peace with my inner monster. I tried, and am trying, and sometimes I love this film and sometimes not. I prefer actually Lost Highway, perhaps because it isn't as good. I'm not really connected to it, and that's just fine.

But that's not on Prime. What we have here, in 1986 pre-Twin Peaks--redeeming himself after Dune--Lynch includes Laura Dern at her dreamy-but-chipper best; the beautiful Dean Stockwell as Frank's crime buddy (a kind of dream world pimp?), lip syncing Roy Orbison (see CinemArchetype 18: The Aesthete) while Kyle tries not come off like a frightened kid hanging out with his drug dealer on the wrong night (the night his dealer shows up, yikes). An initiation into a darker realm of life beneath the grassline of sunny Lumberton, these scary people eventually guide him into becoming a mature man through their loving abuse (like Sonny Boy!).



Lynch's subsequent works would all point back to this key moment, some improving on it (Mulholland Dr.) some not so much (Wild at Heart - though that too is open to debate and changes as a viewer's psyche). But Blue Velvet is Lynch's first great 'cracking it wide open.' It's his "Demoiselles d'avignon," his Pollock's 1947 drip stick moment. No matter how many times you see it, it's never the same movie, but always, always disturbing -- the dark nightmare of childhood brought into the light like a screaming tar pit vagrant.

TOO WEIRD EVEN FOR ERICH: 
These are definitely cult/surreal and look great on Prime but --me--personally - I couldn't stand them. And I'll give you my reasons why, in case your mileage varies. One critic's bias should never lose a film's chance at the right viewer.


SPIRITS OF THE AIR, GREMLINS OF THE CLOUDS
(1989) Dir. Alex Proyas
*1/2 / Amazon Image - A

In and around a cloistered shack in the middle of a nowhere post-apocalyptic outback, two wildly overacting eccentrics--one a wheelchair-bound aviation enthusiast--help a monosyllabic punk rocker type escape into the air. Though the scenery is lovely, the actors are grotesque and do little to allay the monotony. The film seems to last forever as nothing happens, but not in an effortless cool Jarmusch way but in an overwrought hammy Aussie way - the worst of both worlds. It needs either a genuinely macabre element (ala Burton's Beetlejuice), savage gallows satire (ala Gilliam's Tideland) or deadpan zest for living (ala Kusturica's Arizona Dream). This has none of the three! NONE! I hate it the way I hate those stale nightmares I used to have when suffering from a bad flu. The deep aqua-blue tint of the wide open sky and the burnished gold sand indicate gorgeous cinematography and color-grading; the Tangerine Dream soundscapes keep it all at a dreamy windswept beguilement; Melissa Davis hams it up like a kind of Helena Bonham Carter gone butoh missionary, but it's not enough to make it worth enduring the spittle-flecked hamming of Michael Lake, usually filmed for maximum grotesque close-ups.  Director Proyas went on to make The Crow and Dark City, so he has his fans. The rest of us might survive if we view it as a prequel origin story for Bruce Spence's pilot character in The Road Warrior. Nonetheless it's too much like that feeling of being trapped in the middle of nowhere I used to have as a child in the suburbs. God, being forced to hang out with these three people the rest of my life is far worse than any death by dehydration. 

THE FORBIDDEN ZONE
(1980) Dir. Richard Elfman
* / Amazon Image - B

Though zany and strangely familiar to any one who's watched old Betty Boop cartoons while macro-tripping, the ceaseless toilet humor gets very old fast, in fact before it starts. There's so much shit imagery and septic tanks I wonder how mired in chakra #1 can any alleged adult be? Oingo Boingo is one irritatingly uncool band. Clearly a lot of effort went into this film and Herve is amazing (those dewey eyes....sigh), but everyone else -- good lord. I felt sick to my sacrum for weeks after only ten minutes.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Argh, Matey! THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (1976)


Hey sweetie, let a man 'splain it for you: the 70s were a great time for feminist horror, though the word back then was "women's lib." It was all about being liberated --via sex, pills, books, grass, the sea, castration, and the occult were paths out one's domestic bliss trap. Horror movies latched on for the ride, but gave even money the trip would make the girl go Ophelia-mad before it turned out the whole world was a massive patriarchal cult determined to keep her 'down'.  In films like Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971), The Sentinel (1977) and Stepford Wives (1975) she's actually sane and everyone else is nuts (as in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby). In 1975's Symptoms, for example, it was the other way around (ala Polanski's Repulsion). But it turns out there's a third way (beyond Polanski's ken), where the woman is crazy and 'liberated.'  Truly a product of her moment, far outside the reaches of conventional nuclear family values, she's a heroine for her times-- sweet as applejack with a kick that could geld a stallion at thirty paces. It's not traumatic though because the people around this crazy lady genuinely love her and are, more or less, normal, or at any rate, pleasantly debauched (you know, not a bunch of drags). There's only one film like that in all of western civilizations: Matt Climber's 1976 near-cult semi-classic, The Witch who Came from the Sea. It's not hard to guess why this film has never become a big cult classic it deserves to be (or why there's no Polanski template). But now, on Prime in HD and looking good, albeit slightly faded, there's no reason not to batten down the hatches, zip up to and delve into primal Freudian/Jungian chthonic murk so thick and rich it must be good for you to get this squeamish. If you're an ally, plunge in!


I'll confess: my squeamishness when it comes to seeing females abused in movies--even if the abused, or Liam Neeson, wreaks suitable cathartic vengeance--will make me avoid a movie altogether no matter how ubiquitous it is in 'the conversation' (I still ain't seen Last House on the Left or Irreversible). My Ludovico-induced feminist liberal arts programming is too strong for such imagery not to linger in my brain, tainting all subsequent media consumed by association; I have to write vast screeds on Bright Lights to vent about it just to breathe. So I staved off seeing Witch even though it's right up my alley (if you'll forgive the expression) as far as being pro-castration (I'm no militant, but I consider Teeth too sensitive and Hard Candy too soft). Imagining a depressing 16mm treatise on child abuse and dirty wallpaper (looking dour and grungy like Romero's Season of the Witch), I avoided Witch who Came From the Sea even though I've been long drawn to Witch's poster of a defenestrating Kali Venus, rising on the foam of the castrated lovers. So I was glad it showed up on Prime looking all engorged and gorgeous.  I finally had the nerve to see it last weekend after coming home from Gaspar Noe's Climax at the Alamo, since I was already in shock (so knew I'd be, temporarily, invulnerable to further trauma).

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. It rules!

It 'gets' it - the brutalizing way so much abuse is depicted on film clashes with the mind's ability to cover up unendurable experience in the shroud of dream and abstract memory. Thus the childhood trauma flashbacks are warped by cartoon and ocean sound effects and bizarre incongruous details that make it all too strange to feel brutalized by, instead the feeling is like remembering strange nightmares from childhood, too bizarre to be terrifying- the brain abstracting trauma until its palatable (and then splitting off a separate persona as a side effect).

Millie Perkins stars as Molly "The Mermaid," a single barmaid at a seaside dive on the beach of Santa Monica, "The Boathouse," owned and operated by the pleasantly grizzled Long John (Lonny Chapman). She's not just great babysitter to her two adoring nephews, beloved of clientele and employees, but she has the ability to 'get' good-looking men as if fishing them out of the television. Aside from headaches as her brain struggles to keep the lid on her buried incest childhood by cloaking it in all sorts of nautical imagery and oceanic sound effects, she's perfect. Maybe she's mad as a hatter, and has a weird thing for good-looking men on TV, as if they can see her from the screen, and are propositioning her. Maybe she keeps talking about her lost-at-sea captain father as some kind of omnipotent hero despite her more grounded sister who assures her kids he was a monster. But she's not 'victim' crazy, not a cringing trauma victim or a twitchy mess. She's crazy in a way that encompass sanity within itself. When a bubbly blonde actress (Roberta Collins) at the bar bemoans not being liberated, which is now a requirement for TV she glances over at Molly in her patchwork denim and declares she could be in commercials: "You look liberated." The older barmaid Doris (Peggy Furey) adds that "Molly is a saint, a goddamned American saint." Later when her nervous welfare-collecting sister Cathy (Vanessa Brown) shows up to try and convince them of the truth, "you think she's just about perfect," she says to Long John. "Yeah," he snaps back, "why not?"

We agree, thanks to Millie Perkins' dynamic, confident, warm portrayal we love her as much as the staff and her nephews do. Anything she does is all right with us. She's a goddamned American saint.


That's what makes it so tragic. Molly is a liberated saint, yes, but she has no grasp on reality, and it's not the social world's fault, it's the fault of the family dynamic that would let her vile father rule the roost in such a horrifying way (we never see if she has a mother). It's a mix of latent, incest trauma-induced schizophrenia, wherein she sees people on TV talking to her, and her childhood is--understandably--warped and blurred in a salty sea spray of nautical mythology, punctuated by deeply unsettling visions. She has a habit of being drawn to people on it or connected with television, only to then kill them or is she merely fantasizing. She presumes the latter but lately, who knows. If she hears someone is dead she announces she won't believe "if it's true or not until it's on television." As if TV isn't lying to her constantly, the men on it leering out at her, calling her forward. Her dichotomy seems to be a relaxed ease in the anonymous oceanic of the bar, and the bed of salty pirate Long John, a grizzled old reprobate who accepts Molly as she is, no strings. ("Molly is the captain of her own ship.") The bed seems to be in the bar itself, and as such it becomes a very weird uniquely 70s cool spot, with panelling and aquariums and mermaid and nautical bric-a-brac, including those painted mirrored wall tiles that are often associated with orange shag and faux rock walls.

"Her father was a god; they cut off his balls and threw them into the sea."

The ocean plays a huge part, though the film never gets out on a boat, we see the ocean outside the window, and hear it deep in the sound mix, the town where they live seems largely deserted, so shops like Jack Dracula's tattoo parlor loom with an almost Lemora-style surrealism. The flashbacks are all given a surreal, sometimes darkly comic, patina, with comically distorted or ocean sound effects as if her brain is working overtime to contextualize the most primal and odious of endured horrors in terms of oceanic myth. The sea itself becomes her father, a timeless chthonic wellspring, an ultimate signifier connecting this film to everything from Treasure Island (hence the name Long John) to Moby Dick (the local tattoo artist's long tattooed face evokes Queequeg). The soundtrack is a brilliant melange of background sound (the ocean's waves are never out of earshot) and ironic electronic counterpoint: when the melody of a sea shanty she's half-singing while going in the bathroom, the two football players tied up, is suddenly picked up and finished by the ominous soundtrack as she comes back with a razor, its the kind of darkly comic interjection that would make John Williams probably shit himself with fear ("do you shave with straight razors, or is this all going to be agonizingly slow?"). When Molly learns of Venus, born in the sea, according to one of her pursuing men, ex-movie star Billy Batt (Rick Jason - above) she says, with child-like sincerity, "You're lying to me." It's a brilliant line, she could be kidding in a cocktail party way, or it could be an indication her concepts of reality, myth and TV are hopelessly blurred together. And in fact, it's both and why not? This is the age of liberation and free-thinking - where the structure of reality is far looser than it used to be. A latent schizophrenic barmaid isn't even judged for her violent bedroom actions, but loved and accepted by those around her, neither in spite of or because of her castrative tendencies.


And as in any ocean, there are storms: when all other boundaries fail her, her oceanic visions become terrifying pictures of being tied to the mast of a free-floating raft, surrounded by dismembered male bodies, as if remembering some primal prehistoric siren past (only without a hypnotist Chester Morris pulling the strings). The split between her castrating angel of death, turned on by sadism and dismemberment, both as projection revenge against her father and tricks maybe taught by him (we never really know - or hear his voice), and her sweet aunt / fun carefree cool barmaid type is as vivid as the difference between TV and reality. "Let's get lost at sea, Molly m'lass" is what we learn her father used to say, "and we got lost at sea so many... many times." The ocean surge mirroring the rise and fall of the bedsprings - its base horror itself part Greek myth (Elektra) and part Sumerian or druid sacrificial cult, the young boy castrated and his loins thrown into the sea to ensure a good harvest of fish (or wheat if on the fields).

Long John seems somehow to be spared, to share a bed. Maybe due to his easygoing attitude, age, that he's not on TV, and his ability to be contextualized into her nautical miasma (he's a "pirate"). He certainly never reigns in her sexual adventurousness or belittles or infantilizes her. He says he's too old and experienced to get jealous, he says, and we believe him. But you know he loves her, and is willing to take her at face value, as much as he can. He's no fool though, and when he asks her when she lost her virginity and she can't remember that far back, starts stalling and getting a headache he realizes immediately and to some horror the truth; the script and film don't need to underline the moment. He gets it, and his whole demeanor changes, and so we get it too, without ever needing it heard aloud. It's a brilliantly modulated bit of acting by them both. These are smart, interesting people, with unique bonds.



THE MYSTIC ORACLE:

One thing that most horror movies, or any movies, lack is the presence of TVs. They're hard to film due to streaking, so often they're just left off, but it really spells the difference between a believable reality and this kind of utopia where people just sit around in empty kitchens waiting for their cue. Here, though we can clearly see the TV image is superimposed to avoid telltale streaking, that actually works to give the images an extra eerie frisson.  TV is a constant extrasensory, imposed presence: in her childhood memories a very creepy black-and-white clown makes all sorts of weird swimming gestures towards her, beckoning to her/us in a way that's genuinely unsettling. Watching, I had the distinct feeling some terrifying being from my own childhood dreams had found me and was beckoning me from across time and media. Other genius moments tap into LSD experiences (every hippy's schizophrenic sampler), as figures talking to the camera on TV seem to be addressing us/Molly directly. No sooner has she seduced Alexander McPeak (Stafford Morgan) after seeing him in a shaving commercial ("Don't bruise the lady,") she's receiving bizarre directives directly from his TV commercials, telling her where and how to take that razor across his jugular vein.
"He's stark naked! Everywhere... looking at me!"
It's a weird trick to pull off - Molly is a tragic figure who we don't have to 'protect' or 'fix'.  There's no evil or malice in anything she does. ("Does it help that I didn't hate any of them?" she eventually says, "except that first little bastard," she notes. "His mother sang on television," thus spelling out why perhaps he was doomed, "and he sang with her!") And that's why for me, the film really takes off, with a script that looks at the whole mythopoetic televisual-schizophrenic pie, from the raw ingredients to the final delicious slice, ocean-to-table, as it were. Rising from ocean depths to behold the facile screen and its leering Apollonian males, and find those titans in need of gelding by a dark agent of the chthonic. It's a perfect role for the right actress, and Millie Perkins is just that actress. Maybe she had a hand in creating it (she was married to screenwriter Thom, and played the senator's daughter in his AIP hit Wild in the Streets). Between her turn as Anne Frank (in 1959's Diary of Ann Frank) and as the 'woman' in Monte Hellman's The Shooting (1966), we know she's very comfortable playing strong women who are quite comfortable in situations that might make ordinary female characters cringe like crushed flowers. Molly the Mermaid is not a wuss, or one of those rote timid types that become punching bags for every bully and sadist in a 20 mile radius before finally getting down to revenging. She behaves in a way that is indicative of the kind of liberated female vibe of the decade the film is from. Though she's clearly "a mess," she's falling apart from a place of strength so beyond most modern female characters that even a mess she's more together than they are. With her voice given a druggy surreal echo or pitch-shifted to a just slightly low-enough to be eerie (not enough to be goofy or obvious), she becomes the deranged siren, as if stirred from the primordial past).

Trying to find out how this amazing film could be made, could emerge so fully formed from the frothy foam of independent horror cinema, we need to look at the credits, for both Thom and director Climber have unique outlooks on feminine strength indicated by their other films. Thom's body of work shows a latent queer eye for strong young beautiful men, fully-formed (non-objectified) females, and his films often feature a strong, domineering mother figure (as in his scripts for New World: Bloody Mama and Wild in the StreetsAngel Angel Down We Go) He's the exploitation market's Tennessee Williams, tapping into the same vein of Apollonian beauty reaching like Icarus, for the sun, swallowed up by the maternal chthonic of the devouring mother. In fact, Witch's conspicuous absence of a human mother figure allows for the sea itself (ever-present, either in the sound mix or the frame) to step into the role (and nobody does it better), its warm, forgiving maternal tide like a ceaseless flow of half-dissolved titan testes, and scuttling crustacean claws (by Gillette). Keenly aware of its archetypal resonance (yet avoiding literality), The Witch who Came from the Sea would make a great mythopoetic subtextual gender/death-swapped  double bill with Suddenly Last Summer, with Molly's sister as the Mercedes McCambridge (there's even a bit of the same speaking pattern), Long John the equivalent to Liz Taylor, and Molly herself as the dead Sebastian and hid cannibal bird beach boys, soft-swirled into one many-armed/headed deity. 

Promise me you'll think about it? Constantly?



Director Matt Climber is the other major "ally" that helps make Witch so redolent, as his love of strong female characters very much in evidence. Basically the real-life inspiration for Marc Maron's character in GLOW (there's even a passing resemblance between GLOW star Alison Brie and Perkins), between that and his 1983 Conan-ish film Hundra, about a wandering blonde Amazon warrior who teaches an oppressed group of women how to rise up and smite their bullying men, it's clear Climber's got a unique appreciation for very strong, assertive, capable women. He also loves Molly as much as Thom, Perkins, and the actors and their characters in the film do.  I love her too. I love this film.

I love the weird, uncommented on details I haven't even mentioned: the way Molly and Long John sleep downstairs in the bar, that it converts to a bedroom, one with a cigarette machine by the stairs (who doesn't want a cigarette machine in their bedroom?). We never quite figure out how that works, if the bed pulls down or something, but it doesn't matter. I love the way all the scenes have that strange 70s mirror tiling and gorgeous deep wood decor, as if they're all the same place. Things that bear examination aren't addressed, but that's to its credit. Not since Antonioni's Red Desert (1964) have commercial and private space been so subtly blurred. I love the way Climber uses the cinematic time image as a reflection of Molly's dysfunction (just a single cut could bridge years, hours or seconds, how she can seemingly commit murders in the space between taking a drink and putting the glass down). I love the seamless way she goes from being playfully sexual to totally deranged, and the subtle pitch-shifts in her voice as her inner siren emerges, voice getting low and draggy like a riptide. It's all so very fierce. I've already visited its shores three times since that fateful post-Climax night! Won't you sail away on it too? It's on Prime so there's no excuse to shun it. Not anymore. It may not put you in that tropical island mood but it will give you that old-time religion.... older than Aphrodite, older than Innana, Ishtar, Asherah and Astarte! Old enough to sail the sea without a rudder, knowing your raft is safe--at last-- in your mother's foamy talons... Adieu, Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks. Good night. At the count of three... a wake.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The Broken Mirror Dagger in the High of The Beholder: CLIMAX


Numerous and horrific, indeed, are the woes that can result when one is dosed with way too much LSD without knowing it, in the wrong company, at the wrong time, and to the wrong music. This is the takeaway moral of Gaspar Noé's latest masterpiece, CLIMAX (2019), the story of a dance troupe undone by an unknown dissident's spiking their post-rehearsal sangria with a massive amount of liquid acid. And what a rehearsal it is! Noé' shows he knows how to film dance properly (as opposed to the hyper-cutting of Guadagino's Suspiria [1]) and it's a great start. This mix of French and English-speaking dancers are staggeringly talented, and hot. And hey, by the time the shit kicks in they're already on their third or so glass, their laughter and conversations getting progressively more deranged until it's far too late to even stop drinking. The best they can do is try and hide the choreographer's young kid, locking him in storage so no one can accidentally rip him apart or put him in the oven thinking he's a turkey (his screams to be let out joining the general cacophony underneath the endless propulsive beat). There's not even time to hide the sharp objects! And then, as the misery grows, a kind of lynch mob mass hysteria takes over. Those who haven't drunk anything are suspect and persecuted, sometimes horrifically. Old grievances flare up, and forbidden taboos--incest, etc.--are no longer able to stay submerged. This is the nightmare of anyone who's ever done way too much acid and tried to find their coat and their friends at a crowded party, forced to listen to Dave Matthews and Jamiroquai while you try to find your coat, shoes, friends, drink, a space to stand and get your head together, and been unable to so much as dispel a single invisible cop or paisley air-pattern. Or worse, the party is at your house; your own room is overrun with strangers, stepping all over your shit and rummaging through your stuff like it's a yard sale. You try to order them to leave but all that comes out of your mouth is gobbledigook. They laugh, then ask you where's the drugs, Erich! They want some, but you're like no way man, you're not ready. Your widening pupils should be enough to send them running. But they just get creepier, pleading, needier... their skin like the thinnest of bags holding gallons of racing red blood.

Sound terrifying? Don't worry, you've got me as your guide this time. And I'm better than Bruce Dern ever was in Roger Corman's 1967 opus, The Trip. Hell, this whole blog is designed as a kind of guide, waiting for just this moment!  Play the mix below and never hear surf music again (-Jimi Hendrix). When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro (- Hunter S. Thompson). So get yourself 'experienced' and follow me... follow me down (- Jim Morrison).


Sofia Boutella (center above), the lush sinuous Algerian dancer/actress (she was the latest incarnation of The Mummy and a cute alien in Star Trek: Beyond, etc.) stars, or is the most recognizable and sympathetic of the gathered dancers, though we only follow her about 1/3 or so of the time as we regularly check in on the various fates of various poor damned souls. I'm not even sure what happens to her character, Selva, by the end, but she is certainly lovely and can certainly dance. She's the coolest, along with some willowy brunette I swooned for (top, middle) and when they dance together we're pretty into it. So is this horny, pawing sexually ravenous bisexual white guy David (Romain Guillermic), who winds up badly beaten up by the brother of a girl he likes, etc. Other noticeable memorable characters include 'Daddy' (Kiddy Smile), the DJ responsible for keeping the beat so relentless and propulsive, driving these characters ever onward like he's a reincarnation of the evil shoemaker played by Robert Helpmann in The Red Shoes except he's the one totally sweet character in the film, and he never loses his giddy glow. I wanted to list some of the atrocities that result, but one is better off not knowing beforehand, nor the actor's amount of neurochemical 'preparation' for their roles. Their ferocity is so convincing and the flow from organized normalcy to insane madness so organic that--being dancers all--even in their wracked state their bodies never cease moving and twisting to the throbbing incessant music, blurring the lines between this as an 'acid test' tragedy horror film and a kind of extended 90 minute dance performance. Even so, with  those lines so blurred it seems impossible this isn't cinema verité from some weird circle of Hell, capturing a very real experience with some magic invisible camera, the floating soul eye from Noé's 2009 masterpiece, Enter the Void meets an impromptu Panic Theater happening down at Aronofsky's Chilean basement, or something. Since we barely see anything of the outdoors, or any 'sane' perspective after a certain period in the film, we lose contact with the real world as much as the actors, leaving us lost in the same weird cabin fever collective break.

As for hallucinations, we don't see trails or distorted imagery but the sound mixing takes us there. When I saw it at the Alamo, I could feel the drugs kicking in just through the way the sound subtly changed from the usual mix to a kind of woozy 4-dimensional binaural sound sphere, voices seeming to slowly flow from the front of the room to the back, to deepen and widen. As the screams and madness increase the incessant throbbing beat seems to incorporate them and in the sound mix you can hear every detail, all growing louder and quieter as the camera follows Boutella or some other dilated-eyed peace-seeker to the next room, or down the hall, looking for some kind of oasis from the needy gathering, the music and screaming fading or building according to proximity, but also whooshing in the mix as if our inner ASMR headspace is constantly readjusting itself as blood flows through the inner ear. When the music shorts out the effect is like being suddenly thrown out of bed onto a busy winter street, a feeling of sudden nakedness and vulnerability that has them scrambling for a battery operated boombox, to keep the beat alive --at the very least, it structures, and leavens out, their never-ceasing flow of unbearable existential nowness.

With LSD's appearance in recent festival favorites like Mandy, Good Time(subtextually at least) Mother- and Rick and Morty,-, our current 'cool' media landscape is connecting to older LSD-era films like 1969's The Big CubeThe Trip, and other films reviewed on this site in the "Great Acid Cinema" series (see the Lysergic Canon collection in the sidebar to the right, bro). In other words, what I was hoping for when I started this site back in 2003, out in the desert like Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West, has come to pass. So this site is finally au currant, but be careful what you wish for with such a dangerous substance. The overall mission of this blog has always been to help situate these experiences, however surreal and nightmarish, in a less-demonized or ridiculed context, academically, to incorporate the expanded consciousness of the psychedelic experience into mainstream academic parlance. Too often these experiences have been depicted in fashions either condemning and prudish (Go Ask Alice), too literal (the transformation into an actual ape in Altered States), self-important (Fear and Loathing..) or naive (Revolution). Trying to chronicle the psychedelic experience, filmmakers have the knee-jerk habit of running back from the lip of the void like nervous seagulls in the surf. Few filmmakers outside Europe are able to include a validation of the genuine mystical experience offered by the psychedelic solution, and to do so without getting naive and Aquarian, self-important. overly academic, or any other easy way out. These filmmakers choose the right exit, to claw through their fleshy disguises and emerge as glistening butterflies from out their ravaged pupae! There's no guide to stand in for reality (ala Charles Haid in Altered States, or Willem Dafoe in Antichrist) But in film, dude, not in the real. Thinking about it is doing it is enough; only a fool has to follow the voice over the edge. The rest of us can feel the splat of the concrete without ever even opening the window.


Gaspar Noé's film is, however, is a movie, so people can follow that voice over the edge all they want. That's what movies are for, to go the deep and genuinely disturbing places (4) on our behalf. Picking up where Aronofsky's Mother! left off,  bringing it all back home to Zulawski, Von Trier, and Bunuel,  capture, in a vivid gut-punch sense, the quickness with which sanity can be shed like a loose garment. That thousands of years of socialization can be stripped away with a few eyedropper-loads slipped into a punch bowl hints that the natural state of man may well be a kind of group madness, a collective insanity, where uninhibited carnality and sudden, brutal violence, incest, auto-abortive violence and self-immolation all occur naturally in a desperate bid to escape the terrifying totality of the unpartitioned self. As in very few films made outside France (naturalmente), we're exploring a very hard to find area of the psychedelic experience, the second and third stages of Stanislav Grof's Prenatal Birth Model, the feeling being trapped in the canal, the sadomasochistic horror of raw experience. The falling from blissful amniotic union with the mother to the trauma, kicking and screaming, of raw unencumbered consciousness, where pain and pleasure are intertwined in the yawning chasm of unfiltered, unpartitioned 'experience' of pre-egoic consciousness.

Why only in France? Directors like American Abel Ferrara, the Polish Zulawski, Spanish Bunuel, and the Argentine Noé often wind up there, maybe because that's where they're 'understood'? As one of the dancers says before the shit goes down, (I paraphrase) only in Paris (and maybe Belgium) do they respect the true artist. And baby, the only one able to accurately hurl a mirrored dagger into the illusion-loving eye of today's world is the artist so batshit crazy they're all but booted out of their native lands, spiritually-speaking. America, simply, has no thousands of years of socialization to shed, so when we strip off our socialized paradigm, all that remains is a frozen-stiff Nicholson.


I can't spoil the coherent acoustic mood of Climax, the organic flow from dance to total madness, the sudden eruption of "is he for serious" intertitles, but I can try to tell you about the feeling of tripping harder than you could have prepared for, totally not being in the right mindset, having it done without your knowledge, and being totally unable to react, to tell how much is what and how, and how you'll ever come down, so that--when you're that fucked up--even getting a coat to get outside into the snowy evening seems all but impossible. (5)  When you're that far out, there's suddenly no frame of reference to the past: all links between signifiers and direct experience are removed. Everything is so strange that cutting your own arm or stabbing yourself is no more difficult than putting on your shoes. Indeed, it seems perhaps the only way out. At least if you lose enough blood maybe you can just go to sleep and escape the overbearing 'nowness.' For most of us, we only think that - only become aware for example (this was my thing when having a bad trip) that there was so much blood all around me inside human bodies, separated from the air by only a flimsy human skin. I could see it rushing behind the epidermises of my friends, myself, the whole world a sea of endlessly pulsing blood. How could hearts and lungs keep beating and breathing so relentlessly, year after year?

CLIMAX has been called part of the noveau-giallo, post-giallo or what I called darionioni nouveau only it wouldn't quite fit that as it lacks the Antonioni component, there's no metatextual collapse of signifier aspect to the film itself and its signifier chains (as there is in Berberian Sound StudioAmer or Magic Magic, it just duplicates the gut punch sensation of when those signifier chains collapse; in that sense it relies more on gut punch extremism, a kind of intensity as its own reward aspect. There's people who don't like this movie, but I'd say the are either scared, "inexperienced," or seeing it in the wrong situation, on the wrong drugs, at the wrong time of day or not on on the big screen with a big intoxicating surround sound and thudding bass. Noé's detractors will accuse him of being shocking just for press, but really -when hasn't this been true of any artist? Yet there are those who are merely shocking for shock's sake but not actually transgressive at all (I'm looking at you, Eli Roth) and there are those who can be transgressive without resorting to shocks (Antonioni, Godard), but meanwhile, anyone with any sense recognizes the value of capturing this kind of insanity, that it can be a tool for breaking the conventional imaginary/symbolic signifier boundary and approaching the unendurable real. This is what the shocks should deliver! One can't feel without nerve! Sensation to most people reaches its zenith with the orgasm, or the roller coaster, but that kind of 'thrill' is just a glimpse, the difference between the way the ladies ride and the cowboys ride in that old bouncy knee thing. It's so transgressive a lot of people can't handle it.

If you're reading this, though, I bet you can. So get thee to the theater, get thee unto the druggist, get thee to the church, and exult in the arrival of pure madness onto the screen. There may never be a better time than right now to see the fate awaiting us all if we don't get right with God. I'm not saying guzzling half a bottle of tasty DXM-rich Robotussin DM beforehand to cure a bad sniffle won't give the whole film, enjoyed best on a big loud screen like my birthday viewing at Alamo this past Saturday, a certain extra energetic unctuousness. I'm just saying get thee to the theater, and unto the druggist, and exult in the arrival of pure madness onto the screen that is CLIMAX. The chance to experience it with a kicking surround sound system and a screen big enough to create the feeling the dance space is literally right in front of you, the actors your same size, that you could crawl into its red and blue light-tinged darkness, is a chance to experience full on madness, the full totality of the yawning I AM, and then walk away without even needing a sleeping pill to come down.

THE DEVIL IN THE DROPPER

As tests in the day proved, the difference between Jesus, a tripper and a schizophrenic is that, usually, the tripper is in that state intentionally, to seek wisdom, and they know, eventually, even if time has ceased to function, they will be 'down' hopefully none the worse for wear. Jesus need not come down for the burden of the ego, the need for the split of the great I AM into duality and judgmental divisions, space, time, etc. has been sacrificed, along with all possessions, attachments, concerns. The schizophrenic must rely on drugs not to be in this state. For the schizophrenic, the ride never ends, there is only the salve of temporary deliverance.  ("The mystic swims where the schizophrenic drowns").

PS - In case madness or a Climax situation happens with you, play the Spotify list below. The JC intro stuff may be skipped if it's too late to understand English. The rest will lift, the rest will anchor. Play it in order, for analog flow like an old school Erich mix. Don't worry. Salvation shall lift thee when thou art lost, God as the current construct of you understands God shall find thee when thou art low. The bottom is the only place to 'touch off' from. What did God make Hell for in the first place? It is the heat that lets you rise like heavenly smoke. So switch up!







For Further Reading (relevelalant)


NOTES:
1. By which I mean, as in the terrible CHICAGO, SUSPIRIA succumbs to the irresistible urge to constantly crosscut to parallel actions, viewers, close-ups, varying angles, etc. so that it's impossible to enjoy dance in its ideal form, the type for example Gene Kelly, Stanley Donnen, Berkely, Powell, Fosse and Vincent Minnelli. In other words, for dance you hang back and let the dancers do the work in a medium shot, so the whole body, head to toe, is visible in extended single takes. You don't constantly crosscut to parallel actions, the eyes of those watching, close-ups, dutch angles, different camera placements, etc. That smacks of covering up due to either filmmaker flop sweat or lackluster choreography.
4. As opposed to faux-disturbing, i.e. Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Michael Hanecke, where the urge to shock comes with no genuine soul or originality, any true crazy behind it. There's no love, no genuine vision, that the shocks serve. It's all just to provoke a feeling of shock, to take us back to the first time we saw R-rated movies as a kid, before we were insufferably jaded. 
5. It's happened to me, a few times, mainly via some joints going around in a circle via some dirtbag who then when it's finished, announces it was laced with PCP. Burn! Now just try to drive home in time for dinner with the folks!
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