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Horror Movie of the Day

Another week down.  I’m now 64 days straight of horror movies, and I have to say, I’m even more excited about it than I was even on day 1.  There are so many great films I haven’t seen, and it seems like I’m finding something that I get something really good out of ever two or three days tops.  Netflix is killing me though, I’ve had five particular movies for like a month just camping at the top of my queue under the “short/long” wait game.  Oh well.

The above is fan art I drew and colored for the movie Under the Skin, which I also wrote a great deal about this week.  You should definitely check that out even if you hated the movie.

Anyways, below is the list of films I saw this week, with the links going to writing I did on particular ones(or one in this case):

#59: Under the Skin (Dir. Jonathan Glazer)

#60: Left Bank (Dir. Peiter Van Hees)
#61: Simon King of the Witches (Dir. Bruce Kessler)

#62: Blood and Black Lace (Dir. Mario Bava)

#63: Nightmare City (Dir. Umberto Lenzi)

#64: Rogue (Dir. Greg McLean)

This is the updated masterlist, for those scoring at home:

#1: Humanoids from the Deep (Dir. Barbara Peeters)

#2: Shock (Dir. Mario Bava)

#3: Don’t Torture a Duckling (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

#4: Female Vampire (Dir. Jess Franco)

#5 The Iron Rose (Dir. Jean Rollin)

#6: Alucarda (Dir. Juan López Moctezuma)

#7: Wake In Fright (Dir. Tedd Kotcheff)

#8: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)

#9: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska) and Gore

#10: Lisa and the Devil (Dir. Mario Bava)

#11: Critters (Dir. Stephen Herek)

#12: Szamanka (Dir. Andrzej Zulawski)

#13: The Whip and the Body (Dir. Mario Bava)

#14: City of the Living Dead (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

#15: White Zombie (Dir. Victor Halperin)

#16: Hardware (Dir. Richard Stanley)

#17: The New York Ripper (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

# 18: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (Dir. Dario Argento)

#19: Black Christmas (Dir. Bob Clark)

#20: The Beyond (Lucio Fulci)

#21: Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma)

#22: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (Dir. Jack Sholder)

#23: Candyman (Dir. Bernard Rose)

#24: Rosemary’s Baby (Dir. Roman Polanski)

#25: The Innocents (Dir. Jack Clayton)

#26: Phantasm (Dir Don Coscarelli)

#27: Nadja (Dir. Michael Almereyda)

#28: Baby Blood (Dir. Alain Robak)

#29: Trouble Every Day (Dir. Claire Denis)

#30: Bay of Blood (Dir. Mario Bava)

#31: In My Skin (Dir Marina de Van)

#32: Halloween III (Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace)

#33: Halloween 2(Zombie) (Dir. Rob Zombie)

#34: Dark Touch (Dir. Marina De Van)

#35: Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

#36: The Vanishing (Dir. George Sluizer)
#37: Living Dead Girl (Dir. Jean Rollin)
#38: Zombie (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

#39: Maniac (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
#40: Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (Dir. Roy Ward Baker)
#41: Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (Dir. John D. Hancock)

#42: Kill List (Dir. Ben Wheatley)

#43: Don’t Look Back (Dir. Marina De Van)

#44: Alligator (Dir. Lewis Teague)

#45: Ganja and Hess (Dir. Bill Gunn)

#46: The Burning (Dir. Tony Maylam)

#47: The ABCs of Death (Dir. Various)

#48: Byzantium (Dir. Neil Jordan)

#49: Cat People (Dir. Jacques Tourneur)

#50: The Curse of the Cat People (Dir. Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise)

#51: Little Deaths (Dir. Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson, Simon Rumley)

#52: Marebito (Dir. Takashi Shimizu)

#53: A Horrible Way to Die (Dir. Adam Wingard)

#54: 5 Dolls for An August Moon (Dir. Mario Bava)

#55: I walked with a Zombie (Dir. Jacques Tourneur)

#56: The Legend of Hell House (Dir. John Hough)

#57: Psychomania (Dir. Don Sharp)
#58: Inside (Dir. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo)

#59: Under the Skin (Dir. Jonathan Glazer)

#60: Left Bank (Dir. Peiter Van Hees)
#61: Simon King of the Witches (Dir. Bruce Kessler)

#62: Blood and Black Lace (Dir. Mario Bava)

#63: Nightmare City (Dir. Umberto Lenzi)

#64: Rogue (Dir. Greg McLean)

 

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So I’m changing things up this week.  After a month of not only watching a horror movie every day, but also writing a 1000-2500 word article on each film each day, I realized that was crazy.  So what I’m doing now is keeping a running list, and each week I’ll update the list.  In addition, I’ll do a little bit of art based around my favorite film or films from that week.  Obviously this week was all about Marina De Van’s movies In My Skin and Dark Touch, both which pretty much floored me.  Oddly I stopped writing about these movies when I got to these films.  But I think at some point I might like to write a long piece on her films since there’s only one left for me to see, and so far I’ve found them all hugely inspiring and very useful with what I do with my art.

Anyways.

This week’s update(links go to the articles I wrote on each film):

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Nadja (Dir. Michael Almereyda)

Baby Blood (Dir. Alain Robak)
Trouble Every Day (Dir. Claire Denis)

Bay of Blood (Dir. Mario Bava)

In My Skin (Dir Marina de Van)
Halloween III (Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace)
Halloween 2(Zombie) (Dir. Rob Zombie)
Dark Touch (Dir. Marina De Van)
Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

The Vanishing (Dir. George Sluizer)

 

Master List:
#1: Humanoids from the Deep (Dir. Barbara Peeters)
#2: Shock (Dir. Mario Bava)
#3: Don’t Torture a Duckling (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
#4: Female Vampire (Dir. Jess Franco)

#5 The Iron Rose (Dir. Jean Rollin)
#6: Alucarda (Dir. Juan López Moctezuma)
#7: Wake In Fright (Dir. Tedd Kotcheff)
#8: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)
#9: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska) and Gore
#10: Lisa and the Devil (Dir. Mario Bava)
#11: Critters (Dir. Stephen Herek)
#12: Szamanka (Dir. Andrzej Zulawski)

#13: The Whip and the Body (Dir. Mario Bava)
#14: City of the Living Dead (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
#15: White Zombie (Dir. Victor Halperin)
#16: Hardware (Dir. Richard Stanley)
#17: The New York Ripper (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
# 18: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (Dir. Dario Argento)
#19: Black Christmas (Dir. Bob Clark)

#20: The Beyond (Lucio Fulci)
#21: Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma)
#22: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (Dir. Jack Sholder)
#23: Candyman (Dir. Bernard Rose)
#24: Rosemary’s Baby (Dir. Roman Polanski)
#25: The Innocents (Dir. Jack Clayton)
#26: Phantasm (Dir Don Coscarelli)
#27: Nadja (Dir. Michael Almereyda)

#28: Baby Blood (Dir. Alain Robak)
#29: Trouble Every Day (Dir. Claire Denis)

#30: Bay of Blood (Dir. Mario Bava)

#31: In My Skin (Dir Marina de Van)
#32: Halloween III (Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace)
#33: Halloween 2(Zombie) (Dir. Rob Zombie)
#34: Dark Touch (Dir. Marina De Van)
#35: Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Dir. Lucio Fulci)

#36: The Vanishing (Dir. George Sluizer)

 

This is an entry from my series of horror movie a day write-ups and viewings.  I excerpted it because, well just because.

This is kind of a new thing for my horror movie a day ritual I’ve been writing through(Day 29!), in that I’m actually re-watching something I’ve already seen.  But this week I watched the incredibly brilliant, and worth your 5 bucks, lecture on the New French Extremity by Alexandra West (of the also brilliant faculty of horror podcast).  I realized even more than ever how much affection I have for these films, particularly the horror off-shoots.  It was also really interesting to me because Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day was placed within this movement which for some reason I had never really thought about.

Trouble Every Day is a film directed by Claire Denis, starring Alex Descas, Beatrice Dalle, Vincent Gallo, and Tricia Vessey.  It is the story of two couples whose lives have are infected by this horrible virus which causes Gallo and Dalle to crave blood and human flesh.  It is a story about science, nature, men, women, disease, space, vampirism, hysteria—all of these things.

I saw Trouble Every Day before I was cognizant of the New French Extremity Horror films.  I remember when I first watched it, it was I think the spring of 2002, because it came out in May of 2001—and I remember watching it in my college dorm room, I guess this would have been my freshmen year, and I was such a baby then.  I hadn’t come out yet, and in terms of film, netflix and the internet had both gotten to the point to where I could really fall down through film history at that time.  My school was also right across the street from a blockbuster—and I remember I would get out of class on one end of campus, and then with my headphones on and hood up, walk the length of the campus to the Blockbuster to get a new movie—and I remember sometimes I would even be sick with fever, and still feel that walk was worth my while.

So what I’m saying is I saw this film long before I could ever sort of understand it in any context, but also during an extremely formative time personally.  My mom and step-dad had gotten divorced, 9/11 happened, my dad who had been against me going to college was terrorizing me via email such that I completely cut him out of my life.  I also had my first major suicide attempt that fall—where I completely mutilated my right arm—but in the end didn’t rupture anything enough that I got sent to the hospital, and in fact, it would be two more years before I would actually get committed after another botched attempt, this time involving sleeping pills.

When I think about Trouble Every Day, I think very much of this time.  And I remember too, that one of the reasons I was so rabid to see it is that I had an incredible crush on Vincent Gallo after Buffalo 66, and then getting into his music, and his art, and the things he would write or say—his perrrrfect body and eyes…maybe I do still have a huge crush on Gallo(maybe nothing!).  I actually watched that terrible movie he made with Courtney Cox—like I pretty much tried to watch whatever looked like a decently sized role for Gallo at the time.  Which led me to Trouble Every Day which also starred Beatrice Dalle who I knew from Betty Blue, and who I knew before I knew Charlotte Gainsbourg, or before I knew Isabelle Adjani—I find these women in their films express often things that I feel inside of myself, but feel too strangled by my own body and mind to be able to articulate.


I say these things intending to get the point where I talk about Trouble Every Day—but I think even though it is all unimportant in the end, I think that the way that art can form a life long symbiotic relationship with you is one of the more addictive properties which exceed art’s properties towards the sublime.  Maybe it is the relationship of the post-sublime—the shadow of the great experience, that you carry yourself under forever and ever until you go mad.

So it was really interesting to come back to this film.  I don’t know that I’ve even watched it in full since the early 2000s.  I used to have a bootleg copy of the film because for the longest time I don’t think it was really available.  I also had an imported copy of the Tindersticks soundtrack.

It’s interesting to come back around on Trouble Every Day post-Possession, and post the rest of the New French Extremity of Horror.  I remember at the time, I was somewhat ashamed by my inability to articulate why I loved this film, or maybe I was ashamed that I loved it.  Much of the critical writing I had access to at the time absolutely blasted the film, and it is not the kind of film you test on mixed company when you are young and uncertain.  Particularly if you are closeted and part of your analysis is just wanting to jump Vincent Gallo’s bones.

Watching it now as a slightly more developed human(or maybe less developed—who knows)—I’m struck by just how powerful the film is.  Even after all of these years.  In fact, my experience watching it today, may have even been more invigorating.  Agnes Godard absolutely paints this film.  Her color palette, composition—it has this restrained consideration—she just creates this coolness which is also sharp edged and violent—but it is not the sensation of violence as a staccato rhythmed punchline.  Godard shoots the body like a landscape, and violence like a slow-moving thunderstorm moving across the plains.

There is a scene in this where Dalle is having sex with this boy who has broken into her room and the way the camera moves languidly up and down the boy’s body—his flesh this dappled pink and red with oasis’s of hair pooled around his arms and chest—and the way that Dalle presses her flesh into his, is like watching a python constrict around a lamb.  And almost imperceptibly the scene shifts from something as beautiful as two people finding a peace between themselves—to apocalypse.  Dalle starts eating the boy’s flesh, eating him piece by piece, his screams mirroring orgasm at first, before turning into complete horror.  The way that she chews up his face, keeping him alive listening to the rattling of his breath, slapping his skin to keep the blood flowing—it is what I mean when I saw that true beauty is horrific.  If you can watch the scene without turning away, it is something you will never be able to see expressed this well.


Dalle is communicating this insatiable hunger, this pain that makes her want to die every second of her life with this disease—finding the release that her husband doctor denies her, and the boy who came up the tower to rescue the princess, who came up the tower to fuck the princess, who thought that he knew her pain—he enters this house, he breaks into it, thinking he understands what it is she wants.  He thinks that she wants what he can give her, which is true—but not in the totality of her terms.  The totality of her terms is not something he can bear or that his body can survive.

One of the great performances in this film, besides Dalle and Gallo is the doctor played by Alex Descas.  It is his creation which has infected both Dalle and Gallo—and he is so horrified by what he has done to his wife, what he has found in her, that he has to board her up in the attic.  Which is of course the archetype going back to at least Jane Eyre and then later the Yellow Wallpaper.

What’s interesting with Descas is that he absolutely has no control over Dalle.  He locks her behind boards, and metal bars every night—he gives her pills that she does not take.  Every night she escapes and kills.  Every night he goes out, and hides what she has done, and then locks her up again before leaving her alone in her prison that he has made for her.  But this prison is only the illusion of his control.  The idea that his science can control her nature.

The bars themselves are a defeat for Descas.  He is a man of science, and for all of his science he has to resort to bars and boarded up doors.  Dalle asks him to let her die, to let her end the agony she experiences, and the monster she has become.  But even that he cannot do.  His own hubris won’t allow him to admit defeat to her nature.  Beyond that, I think that his love for her is another cage he has built for her.  He loves her, but only on his terms.  On the safe grounds where he feels that he has control and can avoid contamination.  He won’t give himself over to her fully.  This is deep fucking tragedy.

Descas and Dalle are mirrored against another couple played by Vincent Gallo and Triccia Vessey whose situation is somewhat reversed, but a lot of the same issues come to the fore which I think illustrate that it isn’t merely Dalle’s illness that is the core of this horror, but rather man’s relationship to woman.

With Gallo and Vessey, it is Gallo who has the virus and the insatiable blood lust.  He has just married Vessey, and they have come to Paris for their honeymoon, though secretly it is also for Gallo to try and find Descas so he can hopefully find a cure for his disease.  Gallo is absolutely petrified of losing control and either infecting or killing his wife.  At one point he is locked in an airplane bathroom fantasizing about Vessey covered in blood.

As with Descas, Gallo’s issues are those of control.  Though he doesn’t lock Vessey up in an attic—he locks her away from himself in every way that matters—in fact over and over again when he is faced with the possibility of giving up his control over to Vessey he has to run and lock himself in a bathroom.  Gallo like Descas is a man of science, and as with Descas he seeks to deny his nature, to control it with locks and bars—and as with Descas both end up hurting the woman they are in love with.

There’s a great scene where Gallo and Vessey are about to consummate their marriage, and right before Gallo gives over—in a scene that we think mirrors Dalle’s earlier scene with the boy—he gets up and runs into the bathroom locks the door, and masturbates furiously to his own reflection until he empties himself into the mirror while his wife pleads with him from the other side of the door.

The mirroring between the two couples doesn’t end there.  Gallo still taken over by his bloodlust, and unwilling to trust himself in his wife’s control—disappears from her for a night and a day.  He roams the french subways creeping on women, before finally settling on one of the maids at the the hotel who he attacks, rapes and kills.


It’s interesting to contrast this with the boy who Dalle eats.  With Dalle it is the boy who has broken into her house, and come into her bedroom with the desire to fuck.  Prince Charming in some ways, simple house burglar in another.  But the contrast is quite striking.  Gallo when he goes after the maid invades HER space.  He attacks her.  Dalle manipulates this same kind of male invasion to bring men to their bloody end.  Even though Dalle and Gallo are both ostensibly murdering innocents—the nature of how their predatory instincts work is completely opposite and completely entwined.  In the end, these innocent people, male and female are all dying because of this cycle of male privilege of female space.  It infects us all.

Beyond all of this though is the pure aesthetic of a bloodied Dalle walking across a bloody mural down the bloody stairs—Dalle descending the stairs is one of the most brutal and harrowing things you’ll see.  And the way Denis frames it with Gallo watching broken in the shadows—seeing in her, his own sins and his own horrifying end.  But as with Descas he can’t accept it.  And after choking out Dalle and leaving her to the flames she has desired all film, he retreats back to his wife, and his own hellish future that he knows is coming, but refuses still to accept.  And we know that, as with Descas, there in the flames waiting for Dalle, Gallo will drag this woman he loves down with him as well.

Further reading: The Cages of Pretty Deadly

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I can’t believe I’m not crazy yet.  Or do you not know when you’re crazy, and that’s the deal.  I dunno.  But this has been a wonderful experiment in learning new ways to see and I’m only 26 days in.

I think either 50 or 100 days in though I may have to reconsider writing about every single thing I’m watching.  It’s a bit obssessive.  I could be getting better or worse at writing though.  Who really knows.  Anyways.  These are the horror films I watched and wrote about this past week:

WEEK 1
WEEK 2
WEEK 3

#20: The Beyond (Lucio Fulci)
#21: Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma)
#22: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (Dir. Jack Sholder)
#23: Candyman (Dir. Bernard Rose)
#24: Rosemary’s Baby (Dir. Roman Polanski)
#25: The Innocents (Dir. Jack Clayton)
#26: Phantasm (Dir Don Coscarelli)

 

I think from this week, the Candyman piece is the best.  Plus it has links to better writers than me, which is always a good thing I think.

Cool week of movies.  I promise that I will do some comics criticism soon, ha.  The comic I’m reading is just…really really long.  And I’m finishing up some of my own comics.  But yeah, my Fulci crush intensified this week.  I remembered how great Argento was.  And in general I feel like my language for seeing horror and breaking down how the parts that resonate with me work–is advancing.  It’s good because the comic I’m drawing after Bruise has some horror/thriller elements to it–so I’m learning a lot about the spaces I’m interested in creating and exploring.  It’s funny I was talking about this project with one of my friends the other day, and the notion of “why?” was sort of implied.  And I guess even though I’m writing these things, and people can read them, this is maybe more about the process of forcing analysis, and teaching my eyeballs and brain to see.  I think the pressure of putting something up for public consumption is a nice pressure for solidifying those ideas.  Which I think is all of my criticism.  I write so I can read better, see better.  This is how I get good at things.
Week 1, Week 2

#13: The Whip and the Body (Dir. Mario Bava)
#14: City of the Living Dead (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
#15: White Zombie (Dir. Victor Halperin)
#16: Hardware (Dir. Richard Stanley)
#17: The New York Ripper (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
# 18: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (Dir. Dario Argento)
#19: Black Christmas (Dir. Bob Clark)

Week 1

This was a pretty good week all told.  Iron Rose, Wake in Fright, and Szamanka were all kind of life changing films to have seen and I saw them all this week.  I also saw Critters which was whatever the polar opposite of that was.  But was at least funny.  I also saw American Mary which was so good I wrote two entries on it.

#5 The Iron Rose (Dir. Jean Rollin)
#6: Alucarda (Dir. Juan López Moctezuma)
#7: Wake In Fright (Dir. Tedd Kotcheff)
#8: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)
#9: American Mary (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska) and Gore
#10: Lisa and the Devil (Dir. Mario Bava)
#11: Critters (Dir. Stephen Herek)
#12: Szamanka (Dir. Andrzej Zulawski)

That’s an amazing week, looking back on it.  It’s most likely all down hill from here, I’d imagine.

So I’ve started up a thing where I’m watching a horror movie a day.  This sprang out of weirdly enough, me getting fed up with Game of Thrones just piling rape scene after rape scene onto a book I quite love, for IMO little to no reason.  This caused me to question how valuable the experience was each week spending that hour there.  And then that sort of spread out more broadly to this “golden age” of Television overall.  And so I decided rather than waste my time chasing shitty unsatisfying TV shows that if they ever got goodish, would just attract stupid fanbases right before they then started getting bad–basically I’m an idiot, with bizarre, intentionally hypocritical views–and so I decided I would instead spend the time that I otherwise would have spent on television, on film, and more specifically horror.

I perhaps, with only small justification, like to call my comics horror comics, but given that, I feel I’m so poorly read when it comes to horror, particularly given what I want to make–and I feel like it’s past time I put in the work to develop the visual and storytelling bank.  So I’m just going to watch horror movies every day until my brain splits.  My only rules about this were that none of the movies could be after 1992.  I’m not sure why I picked that year, but I did.  I will probably break it at some point(in fact, I know I will, because I am planning to watch Nadja and that’s 1996).  For the most part, my selections are kind of random right now while I kind of organize queues and things.  I’m obviously super drawn to any kind of horror that is going to represent a stylish extreme of one thing or another.  But there will be a lot of stupid that I watch too.

As part of all of this, I’m writing every day a little bit about the previous night’s film.  This isn’t like…good writing.  It’s just sort of my informal thoughts on these films.  Maybe some will be interesting to read, maybe others won’t.  It doesn’t really matter.  But I think how I’m going to archive these here is just each week put up the links for the previous week’s selections, and that should be a nice way to keep this from encroaching too much into my comic’s criticism writing, which I actually DO spend time on(and plan to keep doing–which if you’re keeping track, I am penciling and inking 16 comic pages a month, writing about 3 1500+ word essays on comics, watching and writing about a horror film a day, coloring pages, and working a 30-38 hour job each week–I have no idea how I’m doing any of this.  But a lot of it involves not having much of a social life.  Which I think if I were younger is something that would have bothered me.  But after being married, I think I have realized that I very much prefer a ratio overwhelmingly isolated–these are all of the things I care about, so it’s really nice to just be able to pursue things to their obsessive end without worrying about whether you are neglecting someone else’s company.  Maybe I am some kind of narcissist.  But I like my brain a lot.)

Anyways.  These are the films I wrote about this week:
#1: Humanoids from the Deep (Dir. Barbara Peeters)
#2: Shock (Dir. Mario Bava)
#3: Don’t Torture a Duckling (Dir. Lucio Fulci)
#4: Female Vampire (Dir. Jess Franco)

I think of these, Shock was definitely my favorite.  With Female Vampire a close second.  If you’re scoring at home.  I got a lot out of both of those films.