Tag Archives: horror film

RIP Sid Haig (1939 – 2019)

Sid Haig was an American actor known for his parts in Jack Hill’s exploitation fare (Spider Baby (1968), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974)). He also had a part in THX 1138 (1971), the science fiction film directed by George Lucas in which in a dystopian future the populace is controlled through mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotions.

Spider Baby (1968)

Cult Movie Stars (1991) describes Haig as:

“Ugly, ruddy faced, usually bald, and occasionally bearded — he looks like an original member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention — Haig has been a seedy presence in low-budget, sex- and action-packed drive-in movies since the mid-sixties.”

Above is Spider Baby (1968) in which Haig is Ralph, one of three inbred, demented, and dangerous siblings. Ralph is a sexually advanced, but mentally deficient simpleton who moves through the house via the dumb-waiter. Unable to speak, Ralph communicates with only grunts and leers.

The siblings are introduced by their guardian as:

“Well, no. It’s more than a retardation. It’s sort of a regression, a progressive deterioration of the mental faculties, a rotting of the brain, so to speak. It begins in late childhood and progresses rapidly, ultimately resulting in physical deformity, rather like the last stages of paresis […] The unfortunate result of … inbreeding.”

The full film is on YouTube.

RIP Bruno Ganz (1941 – 2019)

Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979

Bruno Ganz was was an internationally renowned Swiss actor.

He collaborated with filmmakers Werner Herzog (Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979), Éric Rohmer (The Marquise of O, 1976), Francis Ford Coppola (Youth Without Youth, 2007), Wim Wenders (The American Friend, 1977 and Wings of Desire, 1987) and Jonathan Demme (The Manchurian Candidate, 2004).

Ganz was internationally lauded for portraying Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall (2004).

For the occasion, I watched Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)of which the German version is online. Ganz plays Jonathan Harker, Count Dracula is played by a heavily breathing, almost panting Klaus Kinski.

Pay special attention to the beauty of Isabelle Adjani; the opening sequence of the Mummies of Guanajuato; the film score by Krautrock outfit Popol Vuh and Richard Wagner’s prelude to Das Rheingold, Charles Gounod’s “Sanctus” from Messe solennelle à Sainte Cécile and traditional Georgian folk song Tsintskaro; and the frantic mad scenes by Roland Topor.

The film is wonderful. It’s an hommage to the 1922 version by F. W. Murnau.

Here is the original film.

Nosferatu, 1922

I never knew ‘Black Swan’ was a ‘body horror’ film

Above: Natalie Portman (as Nina) pulls a feather out of her shoulder.

Black Swan (2010) is a psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky featuring body horror scenes (self-injury, Nina growing feathers) and an unreliable narrator.

It is World Cinema Classic #225.

P.S. The black swan is also a trope in philosophy.

No American movie has ever found it “necessary” to show a toilet, let alone to flush it

I viewed the film Hitchcock last night. It features Geoffrey Shurlock as the censor of the Motion Picture Production Code, who says with regards to the production of the film Psycho:

“no American movie has ever found it “necessary” to show a toilet, let alone to flush it.”

Some thoughts:

I never knew that the American censor was involved during pre-production, i.e. before the shooting of the film.

It appears that the introduction of sound film coincides with the drafting of the Production Code. Did sound pose a threat more than imagery? Or was it the combination of sound and image that finally saw film evolving from a mere sideshow attraction to a genuine and ‘real’ mode of fiction consumption?

I remember a scene in Duck Soup where the Marx Brothers poke fun at the Production Code by showing a woman’s bedroom and then showing a woman’s shoes on the floor, a man’s shoes and horseshoes. Harpo is sleeping in the bed with a horse; the woman is in the twin bed next to them.

I remember extensive coverage of PsychoHitchcockianness and toilets in Enjoy Your Symptom! and The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, both by Slavoj Žižek.

Above: “The Murder” by Bernard Herrmann used in the shower scene. “The Murder” is World Music Classic # 811.