SEAT AT THE BACK

SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ It's that time of year again: THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL in London! On now.. See you there!

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

"DOOMED FLAVOURS" // THE CINEMA OF ANXIETY OF NICOLAS ROEG (1928–2018)




 I was a teenage film geek . .   stuck in the heart of countryside Kent (a folk horror landscape of corn fields and dark woods; shooting spores of solitude at me — like a Nic Roeg-filmed puffball, fully enraged).

I would stare out of a cobwebby bedroom window: at dust raising, crop worshipping, young weary farmers, passing me by on their monstrous old tractors (before nights in the pub around a crackling log fire); at scheming, slender, prying local girls on nasally-challenged horses, training for dressage, doodling in the air with their all-surveying eyes; at lonely, wandering, water diviners, promising secret underground streams to find below ground, or offering snatches of healing wild heather to glue up broken hearts, or ease the troubled mind (but mainly just to ward off some witches).

To get through long nights of insomnia and stones being thrown at my bedroom window at great force by angry tree-dwelling goblin folk (also known as The Great Storm of '87) I would sneak upstairs to a darkened living room late at night, to watch films by such provocatory British directors as Ken Russell, Michael Winner, Derek Jarman (or Brian De Palma — not so British!) and Nicolas Roeg, as they were my favourites (and all came a little bit forbidden — and risky).




Somewhere, back home, I still have a fat bulging midriff of a cardboard box full of VHS tapes with the most kick-head bits on from these late night movies, including Roeg's — recorded in a clip-like frenzy for posterity (and in case something like DVD didn't get invented a few years later).

I still do. Follow the same directors. And they still are  risky, forbidden . . Except now  I don't sneak (as much). I prefer to stream the best bits together, rather than try and press the chunky red record button down smoothly enough not to suffer a 5 second delay in my teenage montage of cinematic intoxication (although Jagger's bathtime mixed with Bowie's big alien reveal and Agutter's Outback dehydration on whirry old tape reel: what a rush to the brain cells that was).




WALKABOUT, screened at the BFI in 2011, was a sweltering March night of big screen survival. Jenny Agutter and Roeg were both on stage for a Q&A after, Agutter remembering rushing along to her audition for the film straight after school had finished. A film that was, totally, and fortuitously, all about a practical, and sensible schoolgirl (well — mostly sensible, at least 'BMB': 'Before Meeting Boy') and her little annoying brother — alone and lost in the Australian Outback.





Agutter turned up to her audition still wearing her school uniform as there was no time to change (it ended up being her dress code for the movie). She knew, by the way that Roeg looked up at her as she walked in, that everything had just clicked into place — here was Roeg's forever unnamed protagonist, standing right in front of him — and that she'd definitely got the part.


ROGUE WORK



Roeg, on stage, remained politely passive at this reminisce from Agutter: not a flicker of a smile as the audience chuckled, or even a slight nod of the head. Like so many of his films, the man himself appeared (to me, always) mysterious and just a little bit dangerous to know; passive but fully loaded and ready to explode; brooding with a bright, inner light, often hidden, and the master of the sexually charged slow burn — and of the forbidden (and the sexuality in some of his films, such as PUFFBALL or DON'T LOOK NOW and the depraved, disjointed and wonderfully disturbing TRACK 29, is like a virus, or an intoxication — of the forbidden). This is a director wild, unpredictable, wired and enigmatic — just like all his films. He seems, at times, strangely resigned. And he also had the coolest name of all too. He was his name. He is, still — ROEG!




From the wild countryside and ear-battering drench of rumbling farm equipment, endlessly ploughed or sprayed fields and deafening bird scarers to the frantic, creative, loud urban sprawl of the streets: Roeg's films gleefully often combine both sides of the lucky/ unlucky spin of the coin. Beauty is always in everything: in concrete, countryside, chaos, sex — and death (the almost balletic death of the girl's father in WALKABOUT an unforgettable image). In PUFFBALL, if you want that critic-loving description of folk horror in great big clouds of pollen, wicker and sperm: you got it. 





Sounds of nature (also especially in WALKABOUT, where nature is always noisy) are as invasive and exhilarating as they are in the cab culture of BAD TIMING  outside the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Juxtaposition of city life in WALKABOUT between Sydney and the Australian outback is cemented by death by a bullet. The alien's abandonment of crumbling familiarity and family back home and absorption into corruption (liberation?) here on Earth provides a heady balance of arid endless landscapes and urban claustrophobia, of adventures in wide open spaces and lives as rats in a cage (in the case of Eureka: one rat in one cage, awaiting the bringer of death . . ).




My favourites of Roeg's films: PUFFBALL (rural magick and insemination of the body — a jaw-dropping tease to the senses), EUREKA (dark, violent, oversexed, tragic); BAD TIMING (unexpected everyday lust, laced with stuffy cobwebs of the soul and unseen, unfathomable threat, and foe); WALKABOUT (hot, sweaty, open pore panic and survival of the youngest and a meditation on the power of siblings and the outbreak of adolescent lust) and PERFORMANCE (his first  co-directed with Donald Cammell) where you get to feel what it's like to be a groupie and play sex games with Jagger and friends in a bohemian mansion, taking wild, lazy and everlasting baths with Michèle Breton (impossible to ever forget . . ) and Anita Pallenberg (oh, and Jagger) and filming it all on an 8mm camera (looking into the lens of which mirrors the same gaze into the barrel of a gun — the mise en shot) and simultaneously forgetting that you're also in a thriller, of sorts, with an ending. PERFORMANCE is weird. But good weird.




Other favourites: CASTAWAY (the magnificent Oliver Reed spends a year on a deserted island with volunteer companion Amanda Donohoe that ends up being authentically disturbing both on screen and off — everything goes tummy up and both actors look increasingly close to actual death, but especially Reed, who was probably the closest: a delirious and worrying movie); THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (Bowie plays a Bowie that's just landed on Earth: I can never forget the scene where the alien terrifies an earthling so much that she urinates in front of him — this is a film, like WALKABOUT and PERFORMANCE, that literally gazes into the alternative universe of a mirror image, but in this case, adds otherworldly interpretation) and DON'T LOOK NOW that started the 'did they or didn't they' obsession in erotic cinema after Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie get it on at the expense of their daughter — also done some 36 years later by Lars von Trier in ANTICHRIST (and possibly, even, AMITYVILLE 3D).






Also coming fully lubed with hot towels and a happy ending (no spoilers!) is FULL BODY MASSAGE — a heavy breathing TV movie starring Mimi Rogers that's developed something of a cult following over the years and comes chock full of (hey: surprise!) slippery massages and (hey: more of a surprise!) spiritual meditations on the mysteries of life. Basically pretty much all Roeg's films remain golden nuggets of cinematic flair and authentically original vision that stick to the brain and stay there. You can pick and choose your own favourites — or just nab all of them!






Actually, PUFFBALL, BAD TIMING, and WALKABOUT are the Roeg films I probably do feel the most obsessional about right now (yeah — it changes). EUREKA too, but maybe I'm biased as that was a first time see on the big screen and 'the one that I had somehow missed'. It became a sudden favourite — you can't help but identify with the desperation and loneliness of Hackman's initially unsympathetic Jack McCann as his world collapses around him. Those wide, wild eyes of sadness just melt the heart. The violence is hard to watch here. And the sex, all surreal and as glittery as gold, seethes with approaching tragedy as the dark side of the heart beats quicker with a crackling, swelling rage - as possibly mismatched, sudden and probably stupid, but as equally, undeniably sizzling as it is in BAD TIMING and DON'T LOOK NOW. Welcome to Roeg's unique and quietly deafening, cinema of anxiety. Don't ever try to leave. You won't get far . .




Especially intoxicating is EUREKA's slow meditation on the nature (the shittiness) of fate (where everyone stabs everyone else in the back all the time: or where dog eats dog every day) and effortlessly rides with the melancholic, unstoppable nature (the 'doomed flavours') of friendship, love and 'bloody' family gone bad.




The screening of EUREKA at the BFI was introduced by the man himself. Roeg didn't say much. He looked surprised we'd even turned up! But also seemed pleased that we had. Think: lesser known Roeg then, but still scaldingly stylish, often dirty as a recently dug up chunk of fool's gold (Rutger Hauer and Theresa Russell smoulder and crackle) and pockmark rough (it's based on a true story). Gene Hackman could well have you in tears by the end. And I've never forgotten some of the imagery: that hole in the ice, and the snow globe. I'm sure the BBC's LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN borrowed that same snow globe as seen on screen here and took it back to Royston Vasey with them.






Here's a flashback link to our review of EUREKA as it first appeared at SEAT AT THE BACK, as a tribute to such a much-loved director and cinematographer who dared to be different and show tainted life in gorgeous, breathing in of colours. Who explored the darkness within us all with such a rush to the head of light. One of the great provokers of British cinema. 


Always . . 

Always: looking into the mirror, backwards.     




















"DOOMED FLAVOURS"   
NICOLAS ROEG (1928–2018) 

BY: MARK GORDON PALMER 

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

FRIGHTFEST - 2018: 'CTRL' // "Malware mayhem that's totally wired . . "


 

CTRL

// Contains *SPOILERS* in the machine . . 

Watch before reading!! //

I stood in the FRIGHTFEST queue for the premiere of British tech-horror CTRL just behind the film's director - 
Harry Lindley. He waited patiently to be let through. Someone asked him why he was queuing up to see his own movie and Lindley replied: "Because I bought a ticket . ." - respect!


CTRL is a youthful, smart, well-plotted techno horror. It's also pretty sassy, sinister - and decidedly sexy. A love triangle between brother, sister and sister's boyfriend (and a computer virus called Daisy with dreams of new world corruption to make that triangle a chain) is queasy and kinky in equal measure. Nah, who am I kidding? Its 1000 zettabytes of pure kink!

Trapped in a creepy apartment by the virus mutating monstrosity, the three humans fight to stay alive. Special effects and make-up are outstanding: decaying bodies, and flesh-eating moths rising out of black/ 
blue bath gloop are a triumph (the intricate veined detail on the moth wings is impressive - you have to pause this sequence on the trailer to see it though (which, for some above and beyond the call reasoning, prior to seeing this movie, I did!).

Scalextric shots of miniature car stunts never seemed so James Bond a thing than it does, in slo-mo close up, on screen here. Recurring future-predicting mirror imagery that taunts the beleaguered boyfriend betters a duller sequence seen in the most recent Star Wars. A computer human hybrid zombie called Tinkerbell (Mia Foo) appears briefly, but steals the show - give this girl her own movie!



Of the ace small central cast of just 3 (or 4, if you include ol' Tink) 
Saabeah Theos as Lex is especially terrific as a power firebrand of repressed desires, panic and snippets of peace and love: mostly just pretty tough cookie - a definite new face to watch. Hainsley Lloyd Bennett as boyfriend Dru up against brotherly competition in deranged Leo is suitably angry, accepting and bloody confused: I liked Leo a lot. I think he'd also make a brilliant Doctor Who companion one day! Julian Mack as Leo is also brilliantly unhinged yet also has an air of always being in control, even when clearly he isn't and has completely lost the plot, let alone his flesh (to malware moth munchers).

The director - Harry Lindley - adds lots of fun fast flair and urgency to claustrophobic and potentially (but nicely calmed) histrionic scenarios. This is a director who knows when to chill and when to really let loose - a swirling sequence careering to a dead stop as one character gets attacked by the black moths is just plain c/ol as f/ck!

Crowdfunded (many of those involved are here on the night) and shot on a shoestring budget, CTRL is a fast, quick-clipped, browser gone crazy nightmare scenario of a movie with a smart and convincing script and brilliant final payoff that puts films with bigger profiles and budgets to shame.

Lindley (best known for the breathless short: ODE TO A FUCKBOI) tells us in an intro that his next movie will be a futuristic version of Romeo and Juliet set in South London - bring, that, on!

Definitely not for the set-in-their-ways brigade, CTRL is fresh, vibrant, modern youthful horror cinema all grown up and a sign of things - both in plot and execution - to come.


It's a film that can be enjoyed as a modern housebound zombie horror - how Demon Seed came of age - or you can choose to go beyond the monitor and muse to your heart's content on some of the geek-techie ideas being explored.

WARNING: TECHNOBABBLE ALERT AHEAD!

And it's not all that easy to even review in words, let alone understand in your head, some of the plot elements and theories being explored. But essentially the film is based upon writer Kevin Kelly's book "Out Of Control" that looks into human/ machine hybrid births and self-determining technology with its own levels of control - the author gave his blessing for the film when approached. One chapter in the book outlines specifically "The Nine Laws Of God" that includes such rules as to: "Honor Your Errors" and "Control From The Bottom Up" (not just a Ron Jeremy rule of law then, as previously thought!).

These nine ideas were reduced by the filmmakers (Harry Lindley - director, story and screenplay / Julian Mack - story, producer and actor /  Harriet Wade - producer) to five rules to "create something from nothing" - you can hear all five of these detailed in the film's trailer if you're looking for completion.

The birth of the machine gives rose in the film to malware monster Daisy (and friends - such as Tinkerbell) and cyberterrorism takes on human form: is this the future of human conflict? This is the Creeper's Worm (famous 1971 virus) turned into woman - a Frankenstein created virus; a being able to consciously think subjectively and experience for herself (also known as 'qualia'). Can Daisy feel and experience or is she just a new being separate from a human but similar in shape and form: going through the process of living and acting human without actually 'feeling' - a 'p-zombie' never more appropriate a term. Daisy, our 'something from nothing' does seem to have sensations of jealousy and even 'love' towards her creator Leo.

But the character of Daisy isn't explored to any great detail, instead we focus on the three members of the cast that are definitely all human: Dru, Leo and Lex. And it's probably a good thing as this central love and distrust triangle amid the rising of machine adds an identifying trick up the sleeve and a gritty, youthful, human zest that a computer/ human hybrid will always lack - personality replication (of the likes of Daisy) not all that advanced just yet.

The almost hysterical prolonged applause at the end of this screening pretty much tells you all you need to know: I'll be following this man's future movies with interest but for now: bring back Tinkerbell - right Harry?



BONUS THOUGHTS ON: "TECHNOLOGY - IN CTRL"

"TECHNOLOGY" in CTRL came with a really angry byte of forewarning about how corruption of deliberately bred malware attacks used as modern day combat (so often in the news now) or as a force of terror, or even for peaceful protest, could eventually breed an unstoppable monster in the machine.

It's a low budget production but with excellent special effects (black moth creatures from the gloop, skin-eating virus - yay!) and a brilliantly kinky 'love' triangle at its heart. This also comes with not just one, but two great human/ technology hybrids: a gadgetpunk zombie called Tinkerbell and a terminally corrupted computer stack called Daisy (with a god complex, possibly on the edge of a global viral fever rage-up).

Buzzing with a fresh and original purpose of intent and refusing to calm a modern, refreshing and edgy film-making style (scenes get clipped without lingering to create pace and vision) CTRL bins unnecessary exposition and conventional styling, and has a more naturalistic realisation of its characters to form a clip-like browse through a nightmarish, but also worryingly familiar, high tech suburban landscape.


STUFF WE'D PUT ON THE POSTER: 


Frankenstein Created Malware! 

High Tech Horror That's Totally Wired  

A Monster In The Machine Mash-Up For Gadgetpunk Fans 


Cold War Hacktivism Is Nothing Compared To "Daisy"  



CTRL // @ ARROW FRIGHTFEST 2018 - LONDON

REVIEWED BY MARK GORDON PALMER


Seat@TheBack

______

FRIGHTFEST - 2018: 'SEEDS' // "How Uncle Marcus' Garden Grows: Pretty girls, sea shells, and monsters all in a row . ."


 SEEDS

// Contains *SPOILERS* in the hide and seek cupboard . . 
Watch before reading!! //

SEEDS (the film's director - Owen Long - tells us in his FRIGHTFEST intro) was a family affair. Produced by his wife and starring his brother and featuring his son, it was also a work of love - over many years. Having his wife on board was - he says - a way to make the often near the knuckle themes on screen more palatable, in that the scenario is not seen solely through a male gaze. (We are also assured that female journalists have been especially praising the movie out loud - so don't panic!) This politically correctionalising build up clearly something of a forewarning - to those of delicate sensibilities (like a hardened horror crowd!) that things aren't going to get pretty.

To be honest, it wasn't that shocking what followed in terms of on-screen deed (bad enough in thought more). But it was still pretty authentically weird and unsettling stuff. And nowhere close to mainstream. Nuh-huh.

A teenage girl (Lily, played by Andrea Chen - not teenage) and her brother (Garr Long as Spencer) have to stay with their creepy Uncle Marcus (Trevor Long) for a few weeks after their mother flees the family nest and Daddy needs to sort stuff out. Enter a whole new kind of family nest: there's something nasty in the house (yeah - and in the cellar) and it has a whole lot of tentacles going on . . And up . . And down . . And stick-legs that click around naked flesh as you sleep at night.

So keep your PJs on. 


And a bottle of Cthulhu repellent by your side . .

You never really know, or find out, whether the creature really exists or represents the uncle's descent into shame, regret and worsening psychosis at what he may have once done. A weird friend or acquaintance of his lingers around the house - supplying drugs. Possibly controlling the whole situation. Or is he just a shrink coming round, being kind? A dealer in illegal uppers? You decide!

A coda to the movie sees a young boy swimming with his mother in a sun-glittering sea - he picks up the shell with a creepy crawly thing inside it, from the bottom of the sea bed. Just like Lily had done at the start of the movie, back when she had visited her uncle at - it seems - an earlier place and time. But possibly the same place. Err - and time (if I had been watching this on disc I'd have checked the rewind). That initial point in time though, could have been when the horrific abuse - if that is what happened - took place. The thing in the shell her weapon. Grown up. Protecting . .

Now the little girl is older. In her late teens. And she tempts and teases her uncle almost like a cruel joke. He refuses to act on his clear desires and you start to wonder if he ever even did. Is he just being possessed and seduced by a creature from the deep? He certainly doesn't act on the girl's obsessive teasing - not even when trapped up close in a cupboard with her, when playing sardines - her little brother out of the way. Or when she wriggles around on the sofa in next to nothing beside him.

A flashback features a nude girl on a bed cavorting with a man, but she wears an animal mask and we are unsure who she is with - but it's probably Marcus. And Lily. That creepy unknown stranger with the handful of pills then appears to Marcus in another room, straight after the sex - a hush hush deal. Is money changing hands/ is this man some kind of pimp/ a trader in young girls - or a keeper of monsters come to collect?



Garr Long, as the mysterious girl's younger brother also staying at the house of horror, is wary-eyed and quietly detached. It's a nicely understated turn from this young actor. He also gets - and gives - the best line/ moment in the movie when (entirely unexpectedly, as you previously think only his sister is aware of the dangers that lurk down the corridors) the boy calmly tells Marcus, as he's saying goodnight, that he's: "A monster . .".

Andrea Chen as Lily is fabulous: part knowing tease, part terrifying creature haunting the house - or traumatised victim of cruel obsession. She effortlessly flits between all of the above in a bewildering, beguiling, rotation.

But the acting honours must go to Trevor (Ozark) Long as Uncle Marcus with a demeanour that reminded of Harry Dean Stanton in WILD AT HEART: entirely aware of the unnatural horrors he finds himself surrounded by (whether through his own fault or not) but also entirely resigned to the things that go slither in the dark. His already nearly complete decay, captured up close on grainy, dirty film - as gritty as the hollowed-out look in his eyes - is a stark contrast to the ocean setting and brightness outside that starts and ends the movie.

Uncle Marcus is the coolest of cats - if only he wasn't so tainted and corrupt. I kind of hoped that by the end of the movie he'd be cleared of all those things we suspect he may have done and be fighting the monster out back. That really didn't happen.

Director Owen Long handles the horror well: a tentacled beast in the cellar could just as equally be a faulty set of wiring on the wall, and the thing glimpsed up a tree could equally be gnarled stumps or phallic monstrosity. Maybe it's all of the above - a place become living evil 'thing'; a place seething with old haunted house gloom and clouds of dusty depravity.



Much like the girl on the bed in a mask, the disguises in this movie remain on, and there is no easy final reveal. We are always left wondering whose gaze to believe.

Rings of truth appear towards the end of the movie and the death count stacks up: One incident involving a wired-up front door and a young boy’s demise in front of his parents is extremely depressing to witness. Another shock electrocution claims another good guy - an old man - just visiting (for good). Or was he taken by something more visceral than a bunch of faulty wiring? Certainly here in this house be monsters of some kind, even if the true nature of that horror is kept from clear sight - like a sea creature withdrawing into a shell.


SEEDS is a stylishly directed, slithery-footed, thinking fan's monster movie full of gloomy gothic style and modern edge. It's fairly cautious in overindulging in exploitation (probably best with such a sensitive theme at its heart) but isn't shy in pushing the ickiness right up to the surface. Although my first thoughts upon leaving the FRIGHTFEST screening were of describing the movie as Lyne's LOLITA meets Zulawski's POSSESSION, I think it's more subtle than that. I think it has its own identity that I can't really pigeonhole.

This has been a FRIGHTFEST full of unexpected subtlety in the choice of films on offer, from the teen angst of the dead hush of THE DARK to the pulsing rise and fall of CLIMAX (that triggered all those demanding more blood and body fluid in a Gaspar Noé movie being hilariously, cruelly, denied).

I can't get those films, or this one - SEEDS - out of my head. And I can't get the wide tortured eyes of Uncle Marcus out of my head. I can't let go. The horror has been passed on now - to us. Will always be inside us. Wherever we go.

All slippery and wet.



STUFF WE'D PUT ON THE POSTER: 




If LOLITA Vs CTHULHU By Way Of The Seedier Side Of TWIN PEAKS Is Your Thing - THIS WILL BE YOUR THING!  


A Creepy Crawly Monster Movie - About A Creepy Crawly Man  

The Thinking Fan's Creature Feature!  

A Housebound Horror Fable That Aims To tease  

How Uncle Marcus' Garden Grows: Pretty Girls, Sea Shells - And Monsters, All In A Row 


SEEDS // @ ARROW FRIGHTFEST 2018 - LONDON

REVIEWED BY MARK GORDON PALMER


Seat@TheBack

FRIGHTFEST - 2018: 'CLIMAX' // "This is not cinema. This is a weapon."




CLIMAX

// Contains *SPOILERS* in the spiked punch . .

WATCH BEFORE READING!! //

A wild delirious ride through a throbbing, locked in, landscape

A dance studio more like an abattoir's decor for an audition

Isolation and claustrophobia in a room too ready for sacrifice

Contorted shapes and silhouettes of dancers deranged

Spiked cocktails take the young crowd into violent disorder

Lycra clad bodies twist and weave beautifully into tainted hate

Illicit sex, pack violence, self-harm on the dance floor

(You better not lose control - DJ)



CLIMAX @ FRIGHTFEST opened with dancer's auditions being watched by Noé


In his room a VHS tape pile includes SUSPIRIA and POSSESSION

One of the dancers has a grudge and is about to create chaos

End credits appear at the start and opened up in the middle

It's more like being in a club or a gig than sitting in a cinema


Soundtrack Includes:
Aphex Twin: "Windolicker" 
Soft Cell: "Tainted Love/ Where Did Our Love Go" (Extended)
Gary Numan: "Trois Gymnopedies (First Movement)" 
Dopplereffekt: "Superior Race & Technic 1200" 
Giorgio Moroder: "Utopia - Me Giorgio" 
The Rolling Stones: "Angie" - to come down slowly & horribly! 

Dialogue is mainly improvised and violence is extreme

Actions are captured on a camcorder that spins and upends

And stays upside down

Disorientation is absolute

Some walkouts ensue

One watcher next to me covers their face with a coat when the little boy trapped in a room on a really bad trip starts to scream and beat at the door

Authentically upsetting and horrifying



Sofia Boutella as Selva was captivating, endearing, tough, but Noé's camera switches loyalty along the way - always focusing on those most at risk

The dancers were lithe with effortless eroticism and oozing kink - never to be forgotten

You wonder whether - had full sex ensued, or actual harm begun - Noé's camera would have stopped running

You wonder - whether actual harm or sex had begun

You think - was Noé disappointed that some of the dancers DIDN'T go far enough?

The soundtrack took the place of plot and progression

Noé didn't want a film that went through the traditional movie making process - with difficult contracts to be signed and the same old auditions to be held

Most of those auditioning were dancers, not actors

The auditions became the film

The bloody crawl through snow at the start of the film wasn't planned

The sudden fall of snow looked so good that Noé asked a dancer to go outside and start crawling

The primary colour-lit corridors - were like the witch's warrens in Argento's SUSPIRIA on a really bad trip: the dance of chaos turned up too loud

(One of the VHS tapes being shown that Noé still owns . .)

The SUSPIRIA remake could be more like this

But the wicked witch spiked the punch

Gore effects limited, but a slow bleeding cut arm and face stunned - how did Noé do that?

Sex unexpectedly restrained but sexuality still oozed in pores

(She should have used the bathroom!)

First half, as panic sets in, more terrifying than the comedown

This is how it ought to feel and as the room slips towards sleep

This is not a fault

Waking up feels almost guilty: "we didn't do anything" - did we

Did - we?



This is a cinematic masterpiece in identification with terror and chaos

An antidote to LOVE

This is not cinema - this is a weapon.

Welcome to the room GASPAR

And come back to us soon

Credit to the FRIGHTFEST team for getting you here

The BFI "preview" this film in two weeks time

GASPAR chose HORROR to take the trip first

I couldn't stop grinning when I left the screening - spiked out by cinema

I was grinning so much when I walked past Noé that he did a double take - and smiled back

Satisfied customer

Sometimes there are no words needed

Just the pulse and thud of the baseness within us all

Exposed by this man

As we sit strapped to our seats

Beneath a cinema screen

One last thing

But in the middle section I swear I spotted a forbidden image and maybe a clue to the identity of who spiked the drink

Spoiler free moment

I won't say who did it

And if you saw it too - don't you dare!

This is not cinema.

This is a weapon.

XAMILC .

XAMILC . . 

XAMILC . . .

C  L  I  M  X  



BONUS THOUGHTS ON: "SEX - IN CLIMAX"

"SEX" in CLIMAX was more of an audience threat for the director and enfant terrible to do the expected thing. Rather like Argento himself of late, Noé smashes expectations in the face and did what I kind of hoped he would do: take us up way too high. And then - what I didn't expect - he dragged us right back down, before things went too far. Or any further. Than they already had - which was very far. The comedown wasn't pleasant - a terrifying vortex of sound and piss and puke and blood and perversion (and a little boy screaming for his mother - oh . . my . . god!). 

By the end - I think we all needed a group hug. I was thrillingly disorientated throughout and weaving fingers around other fingers (hopefully my own "other fingers") and quite worried for my sanity as I stepped outside into the nightmare night tripping of Leicester Square.

Expectation was intense but the film had less actual sex in it than maybe (from the director of LOVE - a cinematic cumshot) it was expected to have, but this was still a viewing experience more extreme in idea and threat than anything more explicitly shown at this year's FRIGHTFEST. The fact it didn't kick off into that expected Orgy From Hell was kind of a masterstroke from Noé I thought, and a proper kick to convention . . Almost a coming down from deviant anticipation - like the aftersting from a slapping hand that exposes the watcher as much as it does the participant. We really had partaken of Noé's spiked punch!


STUFF WE'D PUT ON THE POSTER: 

Stuck in a car crash of a place with people you would rather avoid but are forced into watching disintegrate quickly and violently in front of you as the music gets turned up too loud - THIS IS CINEMA YOU CAN'T GET OUT OF!

You don't 'watch' CLIMAX - YOU'RE IN IT!  

Getting off your head in CLIMAX is the easy bit. Wait until you see what happens on the way back down. 

This is not cinema. This is a weapon.



CLIMAX // ARROW FRIGHTFEST 2018 - LONDON

REVIEWED BY MARK GORDON PALMER


Seat@TheBack