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Trust us, you’ve never seen ANYTHING like ‘We Are The Flesh’
01.17.2017
10:42 am

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Art
Drugs
Movies
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We Are The Flesh


 
One of the outstanding films of Fantastic Fest 2016 was also one of the most divisive. While audiences cheered the pasteurized mainstream sci-fi film Arrival and the sumptuous beauty of Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter’s We Are The Flesh shocked audiences into stunned silence. Fest attendees inured to extreme gore and torture porn found something in We Are The Flesh that still retains the power to disturb and provoke: explicit sex. Like directors Gaspar Noé and Alejandro Jodorowsky and author George Bataille, 26-year-old Minter conjures images that take us deep into areas that were and are still taboo. He’s a pilgrim descending into darkness in search of light. If there is a God and God is everywhere then even in Hell there is rapture. And sometimes you gotta be the turd in the punchbowl to do Jesus right.

A film like We Are The Flesh uses cinema in the service of what movies do best: replicate dreams. In the hellish bardo that the movie plunges us into, plot and narrative take a backseat to a series of surreal images and a trance inducing soundtrack that insinuate and point to things beyond knowing. We see but we don’t completely understand what we’re seeing. Like ceremonial magic, film is a language that transcends symbol and gesture. We are often left at the celluloid door breaking holes in it with the fists of our eyes. In the case of We Are The Flesh, the plot, such as it is, is best described by the the press notes:

A young brother and sister, roaming an apocalyptic city, take refuge in the dilapidated lair of a strange hermit. He puts them to work building a bizarre cavernous structure, where he acts out his insane and depraved fantasies. Trapped in this maddening womb-like world under his malign influence, they find themselves sinking into the realms of dark and forbidden behaviour.


 

 
There was a great line in the ad campaign for George Romero’s masterpiece Dawn Of The Dead: “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.” Emiliano Rocha Minter was born in Mexico City, a city that until recent years had been spared the full brunt of Mexico’s drug wars. But drug-related atrocities have hit the streets of Mexico City and continue to grow rampant on the city’s outskirts. More than 100,000 Mexicans have died in the past decade in drug battles between warring gangs. How does a young artist channel what he is witnessing in his own home, when the serpentine line between waking and dreaming nightmare is constantly shifting? How does one maintain sanity in an insane world? You write. You sing. You make fucked up movies.
 

 
In the tradition of filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky, Fernando Arrabal and Juan López Moctezuma, Minter has attempted to discharge the alchemy of film to transform and inflame the dark stuff with something one might call art…or perhaps something cruder, like exorcism. We Are The Flesh rages against the complacency of the viewer. It demands you sit up and pay attention. It screams at you and seduces you. The imagery veers from blunt, violent, angry in-your-faceness to fluid, swirling, mind shattering psychedelia. Sex organs in extreme close-up pulse to the beat of the heart, labial gates form portals to the ultimate question mark in the sky. Flesh is torn, blood flows. This is the meat pit of absolute reality. Minter takes you places you’ve only dreamed of… if your dreams were that of a man in the throes of some mad fever—all of it stunningly realized by cinematographer Yollótl Alvarado. At times, I was reminded of Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes. Brakhage filmed autopsies so close-in that film rendered flesh into land and seascapes. Alvarado does something similar with genitals. A close-up of a penis lounging on testicles looks like a bullfrog with inflated vocal sacs. The objectified view of the camera takes the erotic right out of the picture. We Are The Flesh is ripe with sex but it’s not sexy, though it is filled with life force.

“Eroticism is assenting to life even in death”—George Bataille.

Minter has made something of a masterpiece in We Are The Flesh. It is a search for meaning in a world that has lost its center. In its thrashing chaos, there is an artist trying to work things out. Like the elaborate structure of wooden sticks and plastic tape that the characters are building within their underground world, Minter has built his own makeshift reality. But Minter’s has better bones.

The film glows with crepuscular light. There are cum shots and penetrations lit in the heightened pastels and posed comic book architecture of F.X. Pope’s porn mindbender Cafe Flesh. And Minter, whether he knows it or not, has ventured into Gerard Damiano’s “dark night of the hole” melancholy of The Devil And Miss Jones. When Catholics do this shit , they go all the way, propelled by centuries of sexual repression. Pasolini’s Salo took us there only to drop us into a pile of fascist-flavored shit.
 

 
We Are The Flesh features one of the truly great performances of the past few years. Noé Hernández plays the role of the Manson-like madman who abducts the brother and sister. It is one of the most committed, naked, raw feats of acting you’ll ever see. Imagine Frank Booth crossed with a troglodyte spewing wisdom like “the spirit does not reside within the flesh, the flesh is the spirit itself! So I kindly ask that all you lowlifes devour me until nothing is left. Eat every bit of my rotten flesh. Drink my blood.” Jesus the thug in a sacramental heat while dressed in Member’s Only disco attire. I do my best, but words fail me in the face of such lunacy. Just see it…  because you’ve never seen anything like it.

Video after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The soundtrack to cult comedy horror classic ‘Basket Case’ is finally being released—a DM premiere
01.17.2017
09:27 am

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Movies
Music

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Basket Case

Basket Case
“The sickest movie I’ve ever seen!”—Rex Reed

Basket Case is an ultra-gory low-budget horror comedy. Written and directed by indie filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, this 1982 motion picture concerns a young man, Duane, who’s seeking revenge for the forced surgery that separated him from his Siamese twin brother, Belial, who’s disfigured—so much so, that Duane carts Belial around in a basket. Effectively mixing humor and over-the-top gore on a minuscule budget, the film earned a cult following and spawned two sequels.
 
Basket Case poster
 
Gus Russo is responsible for the solid Basket Case score. Russo’s spooky (and often altogether hair-raising) synth work alternates with bossa nova tracks, and pieces driven by various instruments—usually sax or vibes. It’s quite an accomplishment, considering how little Russo had to work with AND that it was his first attempt at scoring a film (more on all of that in a moment).

On January 20th, the Terror Vision record and video label will put out the score for Basket Case, and we’ve got an exclusive audio preview. But first up is a Dangerous Minds interview with Gus Russo, who tells us how serendipity played a role in both the score coming together and its eventual, impending release.

Gus Russo
Gus Russo (on the left) in a scene cut from ‘Basket Case.’

How did you get the job scoring Basket Case?

Gus Russo: I was gigging in Upstate New York, and some of the regulars who used to come to this one club— they were just the rowdiest bunch of people, in a good way. One night, we—the band—introduced ourselves and said, “Who are you guys anyway?” And they said, “Well, we’re from the Glens Falls Hospital’s psychiatric unit.” So, we thought they were people on some sort of relief program—turns out they were the doctors and the technicians (laughs). They just really knew how to party. One of them was Edgar Ievins. He ended up being the producer of Basket Case.

Edgar and I became friends because he was a violinist, and he would sit in and play violin with us. Then Edgar disappeared from Upstate New York, and about a year or so later I heard from him, and he said, “I’m doing movies now in New York City, wanna write the score for the first one?” That’s how it got going.

But I met him at a gig. After work, he would come and sit-in on violin with my band. Then he moved and got involved somehow with Frank [Frank Henenlotter] in New York City.

What was your process like for scoring Basket Case?

Gus Russo: We had no money, even though Edgar went around and raised some money, it really all went to film stock. I had just a few dollars. Once I got the gig, I went down to New York City, from upstate, and met with Frank and watched some rushes of what he had filmed. He gave me the script, and then we talked about styles he wanted. He wanted a variety of music for different scenes.

I have an acoustic guitar back upstate, an electric Gibson, and a four-track tape deck. So, I go back up there and say to myself, ‘How can I create Bernard Herrmann music’—which is what Frank really likes—‘with no money.’ So, I just did the best I could. He wanted a theme that repeated throughout the movie in different styles, like Bernard Herrmann would do, so I came up with that theme. When he had the doctor’s office scene—we couldn’t even afford to buy generic bossa nova background music—so I had to write elevator music for the doctor scenes.

It was all done in my living room on a four-track tape deck. All live, no digital, no nothing.

Did you play all of the instruments?

Gus Russo: I didn’t play them all, but I had friends come by and play. I played a lot of synthesizer. I used the ARP String Ensemble to play fake violins. I went around to my friends and said, “What can I borrow from everybody, because we’ve got no money?” One guy said, “I have a timpani.” Another guy said, “I’ve got vibes.” I had an Echoplex tape machine, which is basically an analog tape loop that we used to use to make tape echo. That played a big part in it, because that was one of the main tools that we had. So, you had this bizarre menagerie of things in my living room—an upright piano that was out of tune, an Echoplex, a timpani drum, a set of vibes, and friends that would come by and play a part. So, it was really wild.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Don’t try to interpret Susan Sontag’s ‘Duet for Cannibals’
01.16.2017
05:43 pm

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Movies

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Susan Sontag


 
In 1969, the American writer and intellectual Susan Sontag (born on this day in 1933) made her first film Duet for Cannibals AKA Duett för kannibaler in Sweden. Like Godard and Truffaut before her, when Sontag moved from serious critique to the arthouse, she stayed quite true to her own ideas about cinema.

In her seminal 1966 essay, “Against Interpretation,” Sontag wrote:

The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

In her writing, Susan Sontag sought to liberate art from interpretation (which is a bit ironic, of course, from someone who was essentially an exalted critic). When it came to her own film, she made something that intended to deliberately confound the notion that there was any sort of underlying meaning beyond exactly what the audience was seeing on the screen directly in front of them.

More from “Against Interpretation”:

Again, Ingmar Bergman may have meant the tank rumbling down the empty night street in The Silence as a phallic symbol. But if he did, it was a foolish thought. (“Never trust the teller, trust the tale,” said Lawrence.) Taken as a brute object, as an immediate sensory equivalent for the mysterious abrupt armored happenings going on inside the hotel, that sequence with the tank is the most striking moment in the film. Those who reach for a Freudian interpretation of the tank are only expressing their lack of response to what is there on the screen.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, in other words.

Sontag’s definition of “interpretation,” then—what she’s agin’—is selectively taking only certain elements from a work of art and then using them for the purpose of “translating” the work in a particular context (Marxist, Freudian), as opposed to simply accepting it. What you see is what you get and stop looking for the subtext or allegory in everything. Art should be sensuous and just wash over you is how, I, er… guess I would interpret it.
 

 
Vincent Canby wrote something along these same lines in a 1969 New York Times article about the films on offer at The New York Film Festival that year:

“The key to the enjoyment of the film…can be found in Miss Sontag’s essays. It’s not because the film recalls either Godard or Bresson, about whom Miss Sontag has written with extraordinary insight. Rather it’s because the film adamantly refuses interpretation on any level but he surface one. It simply is what it is, a self-contained comedy of set pieces, some of which sort of remind you of events (political and psychological) outside the film without ever actually representing those events.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Redesigned posters for cinema classics & cult films: Hitchcock, ‘Re-Animator,’ ‘They Live!’ and more

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Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ by Jonathan Burton.
 
As regular readers will know we have a love of movie posters here at Dangerous Minds. A film poster encapsulates in one single bound a shared memory, a liminal experience, an emotion (and our response) and some abstract of knowledge. A well-crafted movie poster can hit all the bases while still being aesthetically pleasing.

Always on the look out for new movie artwork I was more than tickled to find this selection of innovative and original takes on old pics by a group of young artists from across the globe. Apart from producing work for books, magazines, comics and what have you, the collective at Mad Duck Posters produce officially licensed artwork for a variety of classic movies.

What I like best about these posters for films by Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon is how the artists have interpreted each film in a throughly imaginative and contemporary way while still remaining true to their source material.  Most of these posters are up for grabs—details here. Now I just have to find some more wall space…
 
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Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ by Jonathan Burton.
 
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‘Re-Animator’ by Stan & Vince.
 
More remixed movie magic, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Satan teens, blood, guts, LSD, murder and chaos: ‘Where Evil Dwells’ has it all but a plot

01whereevil.jpg
 

“Ricky was of the devil. When he was on acid, he’d go back into the dark woods, up in Aztakea, and he would talk to the devil. He said the devil came into the form of a tree, which sprouted out of the ground and glowed. I tried to question him about it, but he said, “I don’t like to talk about it. People think I’m nuts.”

Ricky would take ten hits of mesc in a night. He would take three; ten minutes later he’d take another three; and two hours later he’d take four more. He’d figured it out in his mind how to take the most without ODing Ricky is the acid king. “

—Mark Fischer, friend of “Acid King” Long Island teen murderer Ricky Kasso, in Rolling Stone magazine.

What the fuck did I just watch? is often the response to Tommy Turner and David Wojnarowicz‘s cult 1985 no wave/transgressive film Where Evil Dwells. Not because some viewers of this splatterfest are uncool dickheads but because there is no real cohesive story or structure to Turner and Wojnarowicz’s film—and people really do prefer things like structure and stories. Just ask James Patterson. Our savvy public are none too appreciative of being buttonholed by a would-be weirdo rambling incontinently about conspiracy theories, Satan, murder and devil dolls—people get enough of that shit on the evening news.

Moreover, to give 28 minutes over to watching this is a considerable investment of time for something that may not be that good after all—especially true in a world that’s marked out in 140 characters or less. But wait, let’s not be too hasty or too cynical, for there’s a reason there is no real story to Where Evil Dwells. It is (apparently) because this is all that remains of a much longer intended feature length project which was lost in a fire. The only footage that survived was put together for the Downtown New York Film Festival in 1985, which makes Where Evil Dwells interesting for what it could have been. And it certainly does contain some very interesting things.
 

 
Where Evil Dwells was loosely based on the PCP-fuelled murder of young Gary Lauwers in Northport, New York, on June 16, 1984. His killer, 17-year-old hesher Ricky Kasso was painted by the press as an occult dabbling, drug-addled Satan freak, and not without good cause. In an attack that went on for longer than an hour, Kasso burned Lauwers, gouged out his eyes and stabbed him somewhere between 17 and 36 times. At some point during the attack, Kasso is said to have commanded Lauwers to “Say you love Satan,” but Lauwers is said to have replied, “I love my mother.”

After Kasso bragged about Lauwers’ murder to several of his friends, claiming the killing was a “human sacrifice” that Satan (via a black raven) had commanded him to carry out, even taking some of them to see the decomposing body, an anonymous tip was made to police. On July 7, two days after his arrest, Ricky Kasso committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.

The Long Island Satan teen murder case was made famous nationally in a widely read 1984 Rolling Stone article (”Kids in the Dark” by David Breskin in the November 22 issue) and in the (nearly fictionalized) lurid “true” crime novel Say You Love Satan. Kasso—basically a troubled AC/DC loving idiot who became a very sucessful fuck-up—was almost made out to be the “new” Charles Manson by the likes of Sonic Youth, Big Audio Dynamite, the Electric Hellfire Club and the Dead Milkmen. Where Evil Dwells is not the only film or documentary to be made about Ricky Kasso, although it was the first.

More murder, LSD and Satan teens after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A totally sexist guide of ‘How to Succeed with Brunettes’ produced by the U.S. Navy in 1967


Marlene Dietrich, as ‘Bijou Blanche’ in a feminine version of a Navy officer’s uniform from the 1940 motion picture ‘Seven Sinners.’
 
Before you watch this sixteen-plus minute training video put out by the Navy in 1967, you’ll need a little background on this vintage piece of sexist “how to.”

How to Succeed with Brunettes’ is one of nearly 3000 training films produced by the U.S. Navy during the 1960s that range from topics such as “good hygiene” to how women enlisted in the military should “conduct” themselves around their male counterparts. It’s also said that the film was lampooned by the television news program 60 Minutes in its early days and that the show even presented the Navy with a “faux Oscar” for How to Succeed With Brunettes for being the most “unnecessary” and “fiscally wasteful” film on record for the time. For you see, back in 1966 it was tax dollars that covered the $64,000 tab for creating this cringe-worthy film.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma have a conversion about ‘The Conversation,’ 1974

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1966: Francis Ford Coppola was working as a scriptwriter when he had a conversation with director Irvin Kershner about spy movies. Espionage films were big bucks in the mid-sixties with the unequaled success of the James Bond franchise, the escalation of the so-called Cold War between the West and Soviet Russia, and the NY Times best-seller list filled with spy stories like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The IPCRESS File and A Dandy in Aspic.

Kershner was making A Fine Madness with Bond star Sean Connery. Coppola was learning his trade writing screenplays like This Property Is Condemned and Is Paris Burning?. As he later recounted in an interview with Brian De Palma for the magazine Filmmakers Newsletter in 1974, his chat with Kershner was the moment he first had the idea to write The Conversation:

We were talking about espionage, and he said that most people thought the safest way not to be bugged was to walk in a crowd. And I thought, Wow, that’s a great motif for a film—and it started there, around 1966. I actually started working on it around 1967, but it was an on-again, off-again project which I was just never able to beat until 1969 when I did the first draft.

The Conversation follows surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) who is hired to monitor a young couple. From his covert recordings Caul thinks he may have uncovered a possible murder as the couple’s recorded dialog includes the phrase “He’d kill us if he got the chance.” Caul plays and replays the tape in his obsessive and paranoid attempt to decipher the dialog’s real meaning.

Coppola was influenced by Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966) which used a similar plot device—in this case a young photographer (David Hemmings) thinks he may have captured evidence of a murder with his camera.

I got into THE CONVERSATION because I was reading [Hermann] Hesse and saw BLOW-UP at the same time. And I’m very open about its relevance to THE CONVERSATION because I think the two films are actually very different. What’s similar about them is obviously similar, and that’s where it ends. But it was my admiration for the moods and the way those things happened in that film which made me say, “I want to do something like that.”

Every young director goes through that.

 
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Coppola and Hackman on location during filming for ‘The Conversation’ in 1973.
 
Coppola didn’t want to make a rehash of Blow-Up or a token movie version of Hesse’s cult novel Steppenwolf—though he did take some inspiration from the book’s central character Harry Haller—“a middle European who lives alone in a rooming house”—and his delusional fantasies. (The book also contains a significant role played by a saxophonist.) Coppola was more interested in approaching his script as a puzzle:

I have to say [The Conversation] began differently form other things I’ve done, because instead of stating to write it out of an emotional thing—the emotional identity of the people I knew—I started it as sort of a puzzle, which I’ve never done before and which I don’t think I’ll ever do again.

In other words, it started as a premise. I said, “I think I want to do a film about eavesdropping and privacy, and I want to make it about the guy who does it rather than about the people it’s being done to.” Then somewhere along the line I got the idea of using repetition, of exposing new levels of information not through exposition but by repetition. And not like RASHOMON where you present it in different ways each time—let them be the exact lines but have new meanings in context.

In other words, as the film goes along, the audience goes with it because you are constantly giving them the same lines they’ve already heard, yet as they learn a little bit more about the situation they will interpret things differently. That was the original idea.

De Palma is a good interviewer. He gets Coppola to open up on his filmmaking technique where many other interviewers may have failed. The whole interview was published (including a few spelling mistakes) in the seminal magazine Filmmakers Newsletter in May 1974 and has been uploaded by Cinephilia and Beyond. Click on the images below to read the whole conversation between De Palma and Coppola.
 
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Read the whole interview between De Palma and Coppola, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Murder, death, KILL! Vintage horror pulp novels from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond


The cover of ‘Rock A Bye Baby.’ A horror novel from 1984 by prolific horror writer Stephen Gresham.
 
A huge tip of my hat goes out to the exhaustive blog Too Much Horror Fiction (is there such a thing? I think not) for inspiring this post. Curated by the self-described “neat, clean, shaved & sober” Will Errickson, the site has been cataloging and reviewing vintage horror novels since 2010. As a bonafide horror junkie, I’ll never understand how I didn’t know about this site until today. If you’re a horror nerd like I am and were perhaps not hip to Errickson’s dedication to the books that helped shape our youth, then welcome to your new Internet time-killer. Zing!

I’m sure a few of the books I’ve featured in this post will be familiar to you—such as the cover of the 1976 book The Fury which was the basis for Brian De Palma’s 1978 film of the same name starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes and Amy Irving. I’ve also included a few H.P. Lovecraft paperbacks featuring fantastic cover artwork that will bring you right back to those times you spent spinning those revolving metal book racks around hoping to find a cover repulsive enough to freak your parents out with. If this post gets you pining away for this kind of vintage goodness then you’re in luck as many of these books can still be found on auction sites such as eBay and Etsy. Some of the artwork that follows is slightly NSFW.
 

The 1976 cover of a reprint of the novel by Jack Finney ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ Finney original penned the book, which has been adapted into several notable films, in 1955.
 

‘Evil Way,’ 1990.
 
More macabre book covers after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
A life-size Xenomorph skull replica can be yours
01.09.2017
11:44 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Alien
Xenomorph


 
Ever wondered what the skull of the Xenomorph from Alien might look like? On top of that, have you ever wanted to own a Xenomorph skull? It’s your lucky day, bucko: Check out this detailed Xenomorph skull replica. I like it. It would definitely be a weird thing to own and would be a fun item to slip into a taxidermy collection to fool people with. “That one? The dealer didn’t know what that was a skull of. Sold it to me cheap, too. Do you know what kind of animal it’s from?”

The replica, designed by ToyWiz, is made of “durable foam rubber and latex that’s carefully hand-painted for extra eerie detail.”

Based on the deadly creatures from the classic Alien movie, this incredible piece measures 36” long and comes with a display stand for tabletop use or wall mounting.

It’s on pre-order now and selling for $229.99. According to the website, it’ll ship in March. 


 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Salomé: After you’ve watched all the Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger movies, what’s next?
01.06.2017
08:47 pm

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Art
Movies

Tags:
Carmelo Bene


 
Once you’ve seen every frame ever shot by Kenneth Anger or Alejandro Jodorowsky, where do you go for more of that same sort of thrillingly strange alchemical/occult ritual cinematic fix? If you’ve asked yourself that question—and who hasn’t—I’ve got a hot tip for you: Italian avant gardist Carmelo Bene’s utterly berserk 1972 “adaptation” (more like a detonation) of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 tragedy Salomé.

Bene, who died in 2002 at the age of 64, was a towering, if controversial figure of Italian intellectual life in the later half of the 20th century. He first gained notoriety as an actor in a 1959 staging of Albert Camus’ play Caligula in Rome, and as a hellraiser who spent over 300 nights in prison one year. He was mainly known for his work in live theatre and opera. His admirers included Gilles Deleuze, Salvador Dali, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Pierre Klossowski, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and others. Bene is perhaps best known to audiences outside of Italy for his role in Pasolini’s film Oedipus Rex. He only made movies for six years—from 1968 to 1973—and considered his Salomé to be his best. Certainly it’s one of the oddest films ever made…
 

 
When Bene’s movies were screened at the Harvard Film Society a few years back the program declared that “his films resist synopsis” and boy oh boy is that an understatement. It is difficult to describe in words just how truly batshit crazy Salomé really is, but here is how IMDB gamely tried:

A psychedelic re-telling of the biblical story. Salomé is the daughter of the second wife of King Herod. The King is infatuated with her and after she fails to seduce the prophet John (The Baptist) she dances for the King in order to ask for his execution. The story is told in a bizarre way of fast cuts, repetitive dialogue and extreme satire.

Although this is technically not at all inaccurate, it’s so dry as to be practically meaningless in telling you much of anything useful about Bene’s freakstorm of a film which features imagery like a berserk Christ with vampire fangs at the Last Supper, a naked, bald Verushka clad only in colorful jewels (a look pinched for a costume in Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls, believe it or not) and a man speaking as he lustily eats grapes from a woman’s ass (did I mention that Salomé is NOT safe for work? I probably should.) Salomé was played the gorgeous black American model Donyale Luna who had prior appeared in an Andy Warhol film, in William Klein’s fashion satire Who are you, Polly Maggoo?, as the girlfriend of God (played by Groucho Marx) in Otto Preminger’s Skidoo and as Oenothea in Fellini’s Satyricon. Talk about a resume!
 

A Christ-like figure gamely tries (and ultimately fails) to crucify himself.
 
Aside from the elaborate costumes, grotesque/gorgeous faces, and various and plentiful visual elements that would not in any way be out of place in an Anger or Jodorowsky opus, Bene’s Salomé also calls to mind the Living Theatre, which was clearly an influence here (Julian Beck acted along with Bene in Oedipus Rex in 1967), Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures and unavoidably Fellini’s Satyricon. Bene’s Salomé has the look and feel of a roughly hewn, bargain basement Fellini film costumed by Leigh Bowery, and his own performance in it is so weird that it appears that he’s out of his fucking mind the whole time, seemingly improvising his dialogue like a horny, drooling Klaus Kinski after he’d dropped some particularly bad acid and laughing all the while like a grimacing, lunatic Woody Woodpecker.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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