Tag Archives: Film

Goblins: An Essay on Troll 2

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I am in the middle of a lyric essay project abusing various “B” and exploitation films, horror and science-fiction gems under lyric essay umbrellas to make new meaning, to make more enormous the possibility of what these films could mean, of what they do mean to me.

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A film that stuck with me for years and years since seeing it for the first time on Cinemax as a young boy is the Claudio Fragasso (and Joe D’Amato) masterpiece, Troll 2. I even bought a copy of the script from one of the actors. I have it here now, don’t even want to read it for fear of being swallowed by its mysteries.

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Today, I revised a flash lyric essay on Troll 2 (to potentially be included in this horror lyric essay project), posted it to Shredded Maps. If you are a fan of the film or someone interested in the possibilities of synopsis-design, creative (re)/(mis)interpretation of film, how film blends with/influences memory, then please enjoy my lyric essay, GOBLINS:

I am at the house—again—to ignore a bag of bread, shell casings; guests stare, gnaw the perimeter like trees that get tangled in your hair when I bring you cake. You are hungry, tossing potato sacks down stairs. Let us sit at the table and wonder, we can conjure how to stop time. Rum raisin is not my prayer. You would know this if you didn’t fall asleep on street corners or use your belt and stave hunger, stay the father. I once saw my grandfather come out of the mirror. We built molotov cocktails in the bedroom and set priests on fire—the driveway is where goblins burn. Humans burn. Priests burn. We know how young men run through forests and drink milk, become branches or paste for maidens to eat. We hobble around the camper. I’ve brought popcorn and corn cobs for us to suck until we explode in gorilla suits with pink star-trails and organ flare. It’s not enough—melt. It’s not enough—save my mother from eating an apple. I’ve taken showers in green, hid under covers and shoo away teen boys who feign love for girls who take trips in vans to Nilbog. My grandfather is an angel. Goblins don’t exist. Repeat. This is not your kingdom of shadows. This is Provost in hell. We are a modern family: the van, sunlight, clover leaves and pianos lure mouths open—this is about not eating food. And if we speak, we shut our eyes to hear. And if we scream hard enough, our family just might sprout magic windows and stones of love. Press your hand against the stone. Press your hand against my heart of ham. Feel blood run. I’m made of sap, leaking son. 

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Other works in this series:

Things

The Maze

The Cabin of Your Lace Slasher

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A List of Ten: On Cinema at the Cinema

1. For Tim Heidecker: cinephile supreme, Gregg Turkington: perpetual guest/loyal #movie friend. Connoisseurs of not only fine cinema, but all cinema. Two who honor film with bags of popcorn, sodas, or champagne at the Oscars.

2. Because the seas of knowledge have twisted into an edited helix, a tangled reel of pure film-joy (ThingX). The empty theater where friendship creates impressions. The unending trail of film–upset words.

3. Turkington: To be possessed by The Hobbit, to fall in love with a classic.

4. Because forgetting titles, lines, botching names, arguments over Star Trek, disagreeing and then bumbling the rating systems are all more human, more beautiful than any polished review in this, the age of the raw.

5. Cinema for life. Cinema is life.

6. We inhale Hollywood on cinema at the cinema: you will find us seated. You will find us spooling ourselves in film until the dim comes.

7. Heidecker: the world is watching at the cinema.

8. Because bubbling up from beneath, spreading laughter from unpredictable angles, from how social media infiltrates the media landscape: podcast, video, Twitter and beyond. These are the reasons we watch.

9. Turkington: “Film Buff”

10. The sheer immensity of output, audio file, web clip, a mashing of movie-landscapes to leaves us confused, giggling silly and full of wonder. Yes, this is cinema.

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The On Cinema Podcast

On Cinema at the Cinema

Tim Heidecker

Gregg Turkington

On-Cinema

Meat Screams: An Attempt at Johannes Gorannson’s Haute Surveillance

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prettypuke.com

“The sound the body makes is akin to the sound toys make when they burn.” I sent a letter to Rudolf Eb.er, infested as I was by his Hate Operation and cut-up, assemblage, shrieks, psycho-acoustic shamanism. He wore meat on his face, a white shirt and black necktie: screaming meat. There were sealed vomit tubs in the closet, an unfinished painting by the bedroom. We listened to a live recording from Taipei, smoked Japanese to death. Pictures of unknown bodies. Pictures of the insides of bodies. My autopsies went unanswered–that defenestration from Austria, somewhere in Osaka (not the Overlook or the Shining Mansion on the Hill).

“This novel is written like a fashion show dedicated to the rioted body.” For a noise act in Tokyo, I took a cheap white shirt, a shirt and smeared it–dirtied it red, made it better. The photographs that were taken on the were tinted in the screams and shrieks, moans and anti-language of the foreigner. It yellowed and hardened until it turned fashion. Lesson: sometimes the body can be tearing apart a fish with contact mics, a folk loop.  

“The erotics of writing reminds me of the needle on a record player.” A needle scrapes vinyl, a radio broadcast in a foreign language. There are blurred faces, the way a woman undresses in a hotel room, you are always woman. David Lynch practices Transcendental Meditation. I have heard that in Iowa or Indiana there are people who float, people who meditate until they float as if the body, numbed by transcendence, becomes lighter, becomes Nothing. The final scene of Takashi Miike’s Audition is the slow torture of a producer who is needled numb and sawed to a state of anti-levitation. I remember being fascinated by this scene. Years later I would buy Inland Empire at Walmart.

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“Language is like candy. It rots my teeth. It makes me spazzy.” E.M. Cioran quipped something like: “Writing in a foreign language is like writing a love letter with a dictionary.” I was a mute foreigner, unpredictable as outsider. One who knows how to screw a fork. There are areas in Tokyo, in Seoul, in Beijing where foreigners are allowed to be foreign, allowed to tongue foreign, act foreign: needles, erotics, vomit. These are the areas where we grind chains in underground cabarets, McDonalds drunk with military officers, a man who said, “as an American, it is my duty to protect you.”

“I want us all to wear kimonos. And sharp words.” The kimono as corset, how it flattened the breasts, restricted the gait in a way that made women walk slow, walk in hare-steps, small steps like floating worlds. This was a point of sexual interest for men. I received the male version of a kimono, the yukata, from a friend in Kyoto whose Japanese was too much the birth of who I would become.

“In B-movies the human body becomes more beautiful and less a subject.” Even a gaze, a transformation. Sherilyn Fenn losing her limbs in front of the Warlock’s mansion. I will keep you here to look how things look from where I see them. You can see them, too.

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“You were in the house, on your knees, in a state of wild terror.” It is a rocking chair and the way the face comes stubbled. Maybe it’s Isabella, my meat grinder, white stripped to the neck, covering neck, but this is not Japan–it’s Berlin. She shrieks in a tunnel, murders detectives in the apartment and all for the monster, all for the lack of her being able to feel.

“Go to Los Angeles, go to Los Angeles.” A friend of mine speaks of the feeling of Los Angeles as everything. I watched Mulholland Drive in Kichijoji. They brought concert-sized speakers to the theater. As the sedan crashed over a Los Angeles skyline, I heard American noise. I caught a slice as if I were other and America from where I was sitting was a fiery wreck of charred bodies, sexual blood, and a beautiful starlet wandering dazed down the hill back into the filthy light.

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The Thing

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The dog, because of what grows on the inside. The radio, because to be broadcast from here is an admittance of our failure to heal. Friend one, because we don’t know what’s under the skin. Friend two, because helicopters from strange places are unwanted on the ice in front of the complex. Friend three, because mind-sinews lack visual proof, lack trust. There are more–we will be safe if we kill those we don’t want to kill. Here we are surrounded by mountains, domed sky, cold spaces to curl up in and forget that this friend is not who he says he is. The more rooms there are, the more we load ourselves to the hilt, pull stacks of guns from cupboards, use scalpels to discuss the foreign, panic, because we know we are alone without love. but we are not alone and that is the problem. The obelisk is a mutant. It is repulsive like the word, “mutant,” when we say it out loud as if Friend four is not Friend four, but a host devouring men. The mutation occurs on the inside. I’ve felt a stir, how it shrinks one to another like the dog or the foreigner. We are alone. I do not want to become a foreigner. It would take too long to convince you of who I am, you who I write this to, you who I used to pull close when the snow-wind fell horizontal like knife to chin. I have a knife in my coat held close to my heart and I will keep it for Friend five, because Friend five is not you. You are not now in the corner clawing the wall to shred my skin from my face. This cannot be you. I’m sorry. I can no longer wait for a reply.

On Dan Magers and Jim Wynorski

Dan Magers is a poet whose work I hope to read more of soon. He co-founded and edits Sink Review. His collection, “Party Knife” is on my spring reading list and I’m itching to savor it, to use that knife as gift, as inspiration. This evening I read his poem, “Frat House Massacre,” published in Spooky Boyfriend #4. Since the poem is relatively short and the link has been provided, I will present the poem to you here as it appears in Spooky Boyfriend:

FRAT HOUSE MASSACRE

The abandoned house they pack their buddies in
is perfect, being miles away from cops.
Outside, nothing moves that isn’t blown
by wind. The skinny blondes are represented.
Psychology class created cat fight goes:
“I ain’t talking to a professional,
I’m talking to a slut!” So speaketh Jean.
Inside nothing moves that isn’t blown….

Whoever’s left is in the woods, pursued
while Joey’s drowsy on the floor, last thoughts
about the wonderful times with Conor, Phil,
Ron Forty, Jeff Dog, on the balcony,
where we watched that idiot with the hair,
and kitschy, kitschy Kathy—make us laugh!

Having not read much of his other work, I cannot comment on this piece in the context of what he has already written, so with that in mind, I would like to open up the poem in a way that speaks only to my reading of this single poem.

By the title (the “hook” that drew me in) I conjure images or horror, B-movies, and exploitation films, the most famous being The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, yet Magers does not speak of this “massacre” in gory detail or of any kind of traumatic event as it might be presented were this piece focused on a horror-event or meant to shock or frighten. I do not think this piece is meant to frighten. An event: Something does occur in the piece, some gathering or happening, which I can only speculate is the “massacre,” but our gaze as reader is not there–not slaughtered on the floor at the house in the woods. Our gaze moves inside to the aftermath of something (a party?), to how friendship bubbles slits of memories. Names of friends are listed, spoken by Joey who is currently relishing his “last thoughts,” the thoughts of others, perhaps others from the frat house, and laughter. Yes, this house in the woods is most likely the frat house as per the title.

A fragment of Jean’s speech is spoken, presented formally–antiquated: “So speaketh Jean.” And the others? Have they died? Were they massacred? Forgotten? Were this a traditional slasher, we would be given the details of the killer, but we are not. Not tonight. Not at this party.

The words, “nothing moves that isn’t blown” is repeated twice in the piece. Is Magers speaking of the wind in the second passage, too? Is he speaking of a sexual act of some sort? Is this some kind of drug reference that I don’t understand? Coupled with the “frat house” title and the exploitation genre (if this, indeed, does pay some homage to the genre in some way), I want to read this second line in multiple ways, but I want to feel the wind, be chopped by this wind. I want this all to be metaphor.

The voice shifts at the end of the poem from a third-person POV to a first-person memory as if to conjure the way friendships blur–this move into the interior gives strength to how this poem resonates within me. I feel a quick snapshot quality to the ending (but it is the most potent for me, too), a whimsical detachment, perhaps even in the face of death or, again, how friends change. Simultaneously, I feel something has vanished and it is this vanishing that is lingering within me after reading the poem and writing this piece. That, and the kitsch. That word, “kitsch,” reminds me of a film that also places friends in a house far away from police–Cheerleader Massacre directed by the great Jim Wynorski.

This last winter, steeped in research for an unfinished novella, I partook in a feast of B-movies by Wynorski. The Cheerleader Massacre–much different from Magers’s Frat House Massacre–is a fine piece of Wynorskian exploitation rife with debauchery, a broken down vehicle, a maniacal prowler on the loose, and, of course, cheerleaders. Now, in reflection, I can’t help but think of this poem by Magers up against that cheerleader gorefest, especially in the line, “The skinny blondes are represented.” Yes, they most certainly are. I realize these two pieces of art are worlds apart, but in bridging that gap between poetry and sleaze, I wonder what forms would emerge? I’m sure there are poems out there bridging this gap in more intricate ways than I am able.

Magers’s poem, in my opinion, is the kind of poem that calls for careful reflection, calls for questions. Of course, we can enjoy it quickly, perhaps, if we are competent enough, catch a glimmer of where he is pointing us (as demonstrated by my thought-trail here tonight), but I think this poem is one that could be thought in different ways and my interpretation is not the end all of how this poem is meaningful. I’m quite sure I’m missing something vital, something that would tie the piece together. Or, maybe he doesn’t want it to be tied. There is a beauty in that, too.

Mute Presence: A look at an aphorism by E.M. Cioran

Here is a fifteen minute video that I shot on Vimeo. Recently, I have been using Vimeo as an educational platform and a way to share my thoughts. This video opens up an aphorism by E.M. Cioran and brings in some other thinkers, as well. Is it perfect? No, but it was the best I could do at the time. I hope you can pull something useful out of it. Please ask questions.

Bakuon Film Festival 2009: Kichijoji, Tokyo, Japan

The Bakuon Film Festival began over the weekend. The premise of this festival is simple and evident from the 12-foot high speakers stacked on both sides of the screen: Maximum Audio Blast! I had the good fortune of seeing David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” last night and was not disappointed. I had never thought of Lynch as a musician, but after last night’s showing, it was his role as “sound designer” that really took precedence over the visuals of the film. He has stated before that his films are meant to be seen on a big screen and I would add, with a crisp and able sound system. The sub-atomic bass that he mixes into so many scenes was really brought out last night’s screening and was equal to any “noise” show that I have attended.

On the other hand, Tarantino’s soundtrack selection, as is often praised (even by himself when he said, “I have one of the best soundtrack collections in America.”), was warm beyond belief. The lapdance scene’s version of The Coaster’s “Down in Mexico” was a vinyl version of the song, as opposed to the CD version (an updated version), which is included on the DVD and the soundtrack. We all know vinyl sounds good, but coupled with Tarantino’s sharp cinematography (credited as writer/director and Director of Photography), this movie, too, took on a new life. Oh, yes, the cars were damn loud.

I couldn’t stay for Dario Argento’s cut of “Zombi,” but hopefully can catch it this week. If you are in or near Kichijoji, make your way to the Baus Theater and check out the Bakuon Film Festival. No previews. Huge audio. The 2am presentation of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” definitely seems worth checking out.

The official website: Bakuon Film Festival

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