Oct 30, 2014


Probably no writer’s work has been more raped, defiled, bastardized, and stolen (indeed, who knows how many budding horror hacks have adapted his work without attribution) than that of Anglo-American master of horror H.P. Lovecraft, who would also be rolling in his grave if he knew that his work was so reluctantly liked by deep-voiced trannies, morbidly obese cosplay pansies, and pathologically pierced ethno-masochistic communist hipsters and also so thoroughly emulated, albeit very poorly, by emotionally crippled multiculturalist dork writers that have been ‘influenced’ by the monstrous literary universe know as the Cthulhu Mythos. Despite the fact that Lovecraft was a mostly humorless and seemingly sexless racialist that was heavily inspired by the writing of Teutonic prophet and philosopher of Occidental decline, Oswald Spengler, and was also inspired to write some of his greatest stories after temporarily living in the wretched multicultural east coast hellhole, Red Hook, New York City, wherein he was left totally disgusted by all the swarthy untermenschen and racially dubious mystery meat that inhabited the area, various horror hacks have decided to add goofy, irreverent humor, less than sexy gratuitous sex and nudity, curiously cliche anti-puritan messages, and cheap gore when cinematically adapting his stories while completely excising them of any seriousness and truly Lovecraftian themes like cultural pessimism and the complete collapse of civilizations as a direct result of multiculturalism and miscegenation. A perfect example of this pathetic phenomenon is Re-Animator (1985) directed and co-written by Stuart Gordon (The Pit and the Pendulum, King of the Ants) and produced by fellow horror hack/Lovecraft-defiler Brian Yuzna (Society, Return of the Living Dead III), which is loosely based on Lovecraft’s short Frankenstein parody Herbert West—Reanimator (1922), albeit with an updated setting, and which is (in)famous for a scene of the undead decapitated head of a puritanical WASP doctor briefly performing cunnilingus on a nubile young blonde while said nubile young blonde's zombie father watches on. Of course, as a zombie-comedy, horror homage, and extra loose Frankenstein reworking, Gordon’s film is quite fun and certainly one of the best films of its kind, but it has about as much to do with the spirit of Lovecraft as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1988), and Lincoln (2012) have to do with historical fact.

Gordon’s ultimately auspicious directorial debut, Re-Animator, was originally intended as a somewhat serious gritty 16mm semi-avant-garde work to be shot on stage at the director and his wife’s Organic Theater company (indeed, somewhat surprisingly, Gordon started out founding and managing a series of theaters, including the counter-culture-themed Screw Theater where he directed a degenerate hippie reworking of Peter Pan featuring nudity and acid trips that got him arrested, as well as a somewhat serious Chicago-based theater that was responsible for premiering David Mamet’s Off-Off-Broadway play Sexual Perversity in Chicago), but the serious theater actors there were having none of that, so the filmmaker had to rethink the project and after meeting budding producer Brian Yuzna, he was convinced to make the film in Hollywood. Using much of the crew of James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) and using no less than 25 gallons of fake blood, Gordon, much like a mad scientist, assembled an unhinged and out-of-control monsters of movie that attempted to outdo George A. Romero, Wes Craven, and Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer (1979), while also paying homage to Alfred Hitchcock (indeed, Full Moon Features Führer Charles Band’s brother Richard’s opening score ‘borrows’ heavily from Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score from Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho) and, to a lesser extent, Stanley Kubrick. Arguably the greatest slapstick splatter-fest since Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), Re-Animator is proof that you can take the Yid out of vaudeville but not the vaudeville out of the Yid.

At University of Zurich Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, a young medical student named Herbert West (played by Jeffrey Combs, who would go on to star in virtually all of Gordon’s other films)—an uptight and obnoxiously obsessive megalomaniac that might suffer from Asperger syndrome and seems to be a parody of H.P. Lovecraft (incidentally, Combs would later play the Weird Tales master in the 1993 horror omnibus film H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon, which was co-produced and co-directed by producer Brian Yuzna)—successfully reanimates his dead teacher, Dr. Gruber (Al Berry), with a neon green corpse-reanimating serum, but since the undead professor was given too large of a dose, his eyes start popping out and he dies a second horrible death only seconds later (or as one doctor states with a pseudo-Germanic accent, “er ist tot”). All of this is witnessed by the staff of the institute, with one doctor accusing West of murdering Gruber, to which the novice mad scientist definitely replies, “No, I did not. I gave him life.” Ironically, West got a lot of his ideas from Dr. Gruber, but he must leave the more sophisticated and experimental schools of the German-speaking world for backwards Miskatonic University in New England due to the whole disastrous botched corpse-reanimating incident in Zurich. Upon relocating to New England, West rents a room in the home of his virtual opposite, fellow medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott of Bad Dreams (1998) and Bride of Re-Animator (1990)), who is a kind and caring young man on a medical scholarship who plans to marry his beauteous blonde fiancee Meg Halsey (scream queen Barbara Crampton) once he gets his MD. Meg is the daughter of the dean of the medical school, Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson), who his daughter describes as “world’s last living Puritan” and who has a grudge against Dan since he is banging his daughter. Dean Halsey is a comrade of hack professor Dr. Carl Hill (British screen villain David Gale) and on the first day of class, Herbert West accuses his theories of being derivative of Dr. Gruber’s theories from the 1970s, adding, “in fact, it’s so derivative that it would be considered plagiarism in Europe.” Dr. Hill lets West know that it will be a pleasure failing him. Little do both men know that they will later be involved in a deadly zombified game involving corpse-based cunt-chomping, killer intestines, and headless servants.

A rather normal young lady who enjoys sneaking over to her boyfriend’s house to have passionate orgasms with a film poster for the experimental Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense (1984) directed by Jonathan Demme hanging over her beau’s bed and who dreams of living a simple life in suburbia with her boyfriend involving a white picket fence and 2.5 kids, Meg rightfully immediately becomes unnerved by Herbert West’s presence and when her cute little black kitty cat goes missing, she immediately suspects the glaringly strange medical student. Upon investigation, Meg finds Rufus’ corpse in a refrigerator in the basement of the house, which West has turned into a makeshift lab. Of course, West walks in on Meg’s discovery and threatens to tell Dean Halsey about Dan’s carnal excursions with his daughter. That night, Dan wakes from a nightmare and after hearing some noise in the basement, heads down there with a baseball to investigate, only to find West being attacked by a zombie cat in a superlatively schlocky slapstick scene. After they kill the killer kitty, West once again reanimates its completely crippled corpse to prove to Dan that his neon green serum has the power to reanimate the dead. Finally convinced of West’s seemingly unbelievable claims, Dan goes to Dean Halsey with the discovery, which is promptly rewarded with his scholarship being rescinded, potential criminal charges, and the demand that he write a formal letter of apology. As for West, he is expelled from the school. Of course, Dean Halsey’s actions are clouded by his anger regarding the fact that Dan is ostensibly defiling his daughter. Unable to continue school without his scholarship, Dan becomes determined to prove the soundness of his wackjob roommate's wild theories, so he sneaks West into the university morgue and they foolishly decide to reanimate the largest and most muscular corpse there. Of course, Halsey goes to stop them and is killed when the corpse, ‘Melvin the Re-Animated’ (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal stuntman, stand-in, and friend Peter Kent), goes berserk, knocks down a door, grabs the Dean, bites off some of his fingers, and slams him around until he is dead. Trapped in a precarious situation that can result in murder charges, West naturally comes up with the idea to reanimate Dean Halsey’s corpse, which immediately attacks him and Dan just as Meg walks in. West accuses Halsey, who is now in a terribly confused retarded zombie state, of going insane and attacking them, so the undead dickhead dean is put in a padded cell and observed by his ostensible friend Dr. Hill, who has him lobotomized and eventually comes to the conclusion that he is dead, thus causing him to come to the conclusion that his much hated ex-student has found a way to reanimate the dead.

When Dr. Hill, who is ultimately the real villain of Re-Animator (and not Herr West as the viewer suspects during the first half of the film), goes by Herbert West’s basement lab to blackmail him for his reanimating serum and research, stating, “I’ll have you locked up as a mad man…or a murderer,” things get a bit complicated between the old fraud and the young genius.  Needless to say, West would never allow for his extensive research on his favorite subject to be stolen by an arrogant old fart that does not have a single original idea of his own, so he hits Dr. Hill over the head with a shovel and subsequently decapitates him with it. Of course, West decides to reanimate Dr. Hill’s decapitated head, but also makes the mistake of reanimating the corpse, which the prick professor manages to be able to control when he is reanimated. Using his own body as his evil henchman, Dr. Hill has it sneak up behind West while he is taking notes and knock him unconscious. After stealing West’s serum and research, Dr. Hill has his body carry his head back to his office where he studies the groundbreaking theories of reanimation. Using mind control techniques, Dr. Hill also turns undead Dean Halsey into his own personal slave and has him kidnap his own daughter Meg and bring her back to the university morgue where he has created a heinous yet rather retarded lobotomized zombie army using an eclectic collection of morgue corpses, including an ashy negro and a grotesque obese bitch (who, unfortunately, is not the only unclad lard ass lady featured in the film). When zombie Halsey comes back with Meg, Dr. Hill has her stripped completely naked, put on an operating table, and, in the most infamous part of the movie, the “head giving head” scene (which Gordon has dubiously described as the “world’s first visual pun”), the debauched decapitated head performs cunnilingus on her for a split second while her undead daddy mindlessly watches on. While Dr. Hill is in the middle of giving head, West storms in and Dan soon frees his girlfriend while the animated head is distracted. From there, Dr. Hill reveals his brigade of brazen lobotomized corpses, who he uses mind control to attack his enemies. Luckily, lobotomized zombie Dean Halsey has enough human memory to hear his daughter Meg’s pleas and responds by fighting off the multicultural zombie gang and by crushing Dr. Hill’s head, which thwarts his mind control powers. West also gets the bright idea to inject Dr. Hill’s body with an overdose of the reanimating serum, though his plan backfires and the headless corpse’s intestines wrap around and begin to kill the young mad scientist, who pleads to Dan to save his research. Dan does what West tells him to do, which ultimately seems to be quite auspicious as Meg is soon strangled to death by a burnt zombie, so it gives the grieving boyfriend an opportunity to revive his girlfriend. When Dan and his fellow doctors fail to resuscitate Meg the normal way, the shattered beau uses West’s green juice, thus causing the undead dame to wake up screaming. Needless to say, Dan is not the sort of the guy to partake in necrophilia.

As you can expect from any success (and oftentimes less than successful) horror flick, Re-Animator was followed by two watchable yet innately inferior sequels, Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), both of which were directed by producer Brian Yuzna and once again starring Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. Director Stuart Gordon has also, not unlike Yuzna, practically created a career out of directing super schlocky and uniquely unfaithful adaptations, which include the films From Beyond (1986), Castle Freak (1995), and Dagon (2001), as well as the Masters of Horror episode Dreams in the Witch-House (2005) and a musical version of Re-Animator entitled Re-Animator: The Musical (2011) that he produced, co-wrote, and directed on Broadway. Unquestionably, I am somewhat of a reluctant fan of Re-Animator and, as a fan of punk/deathrock music and unclad punk-goth girls dancing on tombstones, I considered The Return of the Living Dead (1985) directed by Alien (1979) writer Dan O'Bannon (who, incidentally, also directed The Resurrected (1991) aka Scatterbrain, which is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the Lovecraft story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) infinitely superior and much more re-watchable. Personally, I can never forgive Gordon for sanitizing Lovecraft's work and making it absurdly silly and ridden with spastic scatological slapstick routines and incredibly unsexy gratuitous nudity and moronic gore. As a Hebraic ex-hippie, it should also be no surprise that when he directed Stuck (2007)—a film based on a repugnant real-life incident where a nasty meta-negligent negro named Chante Mallard hit a homeless white man, Greg Biggs, with her car while high on marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol, thus leaving his body lodged halfway through her windshield and parked inside her garage before the poor forsaken man bled to death and his corpse was disposed of in a park by the cunty culprit and her beau—Gordon opted for changing the race of the rather revolting villain from black to white, with a wiggerized and miscegenation-practicing Mena Suvari absurdly playing the role modeled after a butch overweight negress.

In Re-Animator, Gordon—a racially conscious man not unlike his Zionist comrade David Mamet (whose politically incorrect 1982 one-act play Edmond Gordon cinematically adapted in 2005) who proudly received a belated Bar Mitzvah in 1997 and who staged Howard Schwartz's Hebraic horro anthology Kabbalah: Scary Jewish Stories in 1999 in an attempt to get in touch with his Jewish roots—makes it blatantly clear what he thinks of WASPs (aka the American majority), as they are all almost unanimously depicted as outmoded puritans, scheming psychopaths, and crypto-perverts (notably, in the audio commentary for the Anchor Bay DVD release of the film, Gordon describes actor Robert Sampson as resembling a Republican spokesman for Ronald Reagan). After all, else can one explain why Jewess Pauline Kael—an intolerably pretentious film critic who was largely responsible for promoting anti-establishment films that undermined the mores of American's white Christian majority—would give the film puffery-plagued praise, even absurdly describing it as “pop Buñuel” in her review. Notably, Gordon also revealed that her originally intended to hire what he described a “blond Aryan type” to play the role of Herbert West but was so impressed with Jeffrey Combs' that he decided otherwise. Unquestionably, National Socialist era auteur Frank Wisbar (who directed the Nazi era classic expressionist horror flick Fährmann Maria (1936) starring tragic Teutonic diva Sybille Schmitz) would have made a more fitting adaptor of Lovecraft’s work. Like his kosher comrade Walter Kaufmann has done with Friedrich Nietzsche, Gordon devoted his career to warping and Judaizing the work of an Aryan master (or as the late great Jonathan Bowden described him, an “Aryan mystic”). Aside from Gordon, it seems that all so-called ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ writers (aka Lovecraft wannabes) and various other novelists and filmmakers inspired by Lovecraft spend most of their time complaining about how much of a racist he was as demonstrated by shitty documentaries like Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (2008) where a bunch of these slave-morality-ridden hacks complain about the perfectly logical, albeit now unfashionable and unpopular thoughts of the great Aryan master of horror and fantasy. What none of these hopeless morons seem to get is that racialism and anti-miscegenation sentiments are an innate and imperative attribute of Lovecraft's work that, as fellow anti-leftist Michel Houellebecq noticed in his excellent work H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (1991), was responsible for the “poetic trance” quality of the writer's work.

 More recently, a group of rather resentful and mostly nonwhite untermenschen commie fantasy and sci-fi novelists lead by people like Brooklyn-based mestizo would-be-writer Daniel José Older (who no one ever heard of until he started the pathetic petition), English neo-Trotskyite hipster dork China Miéville (who Modern Library Classics absurdly got to the write the introduction to for their 2005 edition of Lovecraft's Spenglerian novella At the Mountains of Madness: The Definitive Edition just so he could complain about how much of a big racist meanie the writer was) and Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor (who dubiously won the award in 2011 in what one might describe as a case of crypto-affirmative-action) have attempted to gain unwarranted attention for themselves to the point of actually somehow receiving support from the mainstream media by demanding that the World Fantasy Awards award for ‘Lifetime Achievement,’ a goofy caricature bust of H. P. Lovecraft, be replaced with the unsightly mug of no-talent Octavia E. Butler—an Afrocentric negress that is best known for her postmodern Afrofuturist racial polemics (which only have superficial sci-fi trapping and hardly feature a distinct and revolutionary literary universe like Lovecraft's work) who is not even worthy of smelling the Aryan alpha-horror writer’s postmortem farts and whose less than beauteous appearance would have certainly inspired one of the beasts from the Providence-based wordsmith's Cthulhu Mythos (not to mention the fact that most sci-fi and fantasy fans could care less about Butler's work and she would already be totally forgotten by now were it not for the fact that she was a race-hustling far-leftist who is adorned by establishment academic types). With that being said, it would certainly be poetic justice if someone reanimated Lovecraft Re-Animator-style so he can seek good old fashion Anglo-Saxon revenge against his hordes of thankless ex-colonial defilers. If anything is for sure, it is that, while Older, Miéville, Okorafor, and Butler will be forgotten in a couple decades (not that any of them is really that famous now), Lovecraft, whose writings has influenced everything from psychedelic rock bands to left-hand path based religions to some of the best horror films ever made, will still be looked at centuries from now as one of the greatest and most revolutionary writers that the horror genre has ever produced. 

Above: Stuart ‘The Poor Man’s John Landis’ Gordon curiously sporting an Adolf Hitler ‘European Tour’ t-shirt

As for Gordon's Re-Animator, while I think that is an abject disgrace to the Lovecraftian Weltanschauung and everything Lovecraft stood for during his all-too-brief and all-too-human life, it still makes for a great, if not majorly misleading, philistinc introduction to the Weird Tales maestro's singular oeuvre. Indeed, I, for one, owe credit to Gordon's film for introducing me to the wonderful of H.P. Lovecraft, so I will always have a slight soft-spot for it. When it comes down to it, Re-Animator is probably best described as a Lovecraftsploitation flick as directed by a man who probably has more of an interest in reading from the works of Norman Mailer and the Talmud then from Necronomicon. After all, Gordon has done a hell of a job getting blonde Shiksas to disrobe for him for his schlocky cinematic works, with Re-Animator probably being the most notable example of this. Certainly, one can never forget a uniquely unhinged zombie flick where an undead head gives head to a blonde Nordic beauty. 

-Ty E

Oct 29, 2014

Dust Devil

Long before there was HBO's True Detective and the viewer had the opportunity to go on a philosophical and metaphysical odyssey involving super sinister serial killers, disgruntled law men with nihilistic philosophies, deathly barren desert landscapes, and ritualistic sex murders as committed by less savory followers of the left-hand path merely by turning on their TV and tuning in, there existed the seemingly accursed artsy fartsy South African-UK horror flick Dust Devil (1992) directed by Richard Stanley (Hardware, The Theatre Bizarre). Part Southern African Gothic, part post-apartheid allegory, part decidedly dark continent acid (anti)western, part esoteric celluloid quest, part surrealist arthouse horror show, part existential study of the death drive, part transcendental serial killer flick, part avant-garde meta-cinema, and part shockingly cultivated metaphysical crime-thriller, Stanley’s film is a curious work with a production history that was just as much a journey of sorts for the auteur as it is for the protagonists of the film. Filmed in the intolerably arid and dusty deserts of Namibia (16 of the film crew’s motor vehicles were ground to a halt during the seven week shoot by the extreme dust) with a dedicated crew who were apparently almost driven to the verge of insanity, Dust Devil ultimately fell prey to the pernicious anti-artist kosher predatory capitalism of the Weinstein brothers of Miramax, who cut the film to a stereotypical horror movie running time of less than 90 minutes and excised the film of all its iconic dream-sequences, surrealism, and all the more potent elements that made it such a true idiosyncratic Tarkovskyian arthouse masterpiece. It was not until well over a decade later when Stanley’s cut of the film was released in the United States as a part of a now-out-of-print 5-disc DVD set put out by Subversive Cinema featuring the director’s ‘The Final Cut’ version, the original work print, three of the director’s excellent rare documentaries (The Secret Glory, Voice of the Moon, The White Darkness), and the original soundtrack by Simon Boswell (who composed the score for Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989) and Stanley’s debut feature Hardware (1990), among various other horror/cult classics) that the real Dust Devil was belatedly unleashed on the world. 

 The genesis of Dust Devil was an aborted 16mm film of the same name that Stanley attempted to direct in the 1984 (Stanley and the cinematographer's conscription in the South African Defense Force and the then current Angolan Bush War put a premature end to the production) that was inspired by a dream the director had, as well as a real-life serial killer Nhadiep from Namibia that had a fetish for killing white women and was purported to have magical powers. In that sense, the film was a literal and figurative dream-project for the auteur. Although the great-grandson of famous late-18th-century Welsh explorer of Africa, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who once wrote in his work Through the Dark Continent regarding sub-Saharan Africans that “the savage only respects force, power, boldness, and decision,” Stanley was unfortunately spawned from card-carrying commies with far-left ethno-masochistic tendencies. Luckily, the filmmaker’s feminist neo-bolsehevik Boasian anthropologist mother surrounded him with real-life magic, mystics, and witchdoctors as a young child, hence the highly spiritual nature of films. Like Giulio Questi’s bizarre Gothic spaghetti western Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! (1967) meets The Hitcher (1986) meets Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1997) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as directed by the South African bastard cinematic progeny of Andrei Tarkovsky, Donald Cammell, Mario Bava, and Ousmane Sembène, Dust Devil is the wayward horror-art result of a reluctant white man with an undeniable Faustian spirit (among other things, Stanley roamed around Afghanistan with Mujahideen rebels during the late-1980s, became initiated in voodoo rites in Haiti in 2000, and spent a good portion of his life traveling around Europa attempting to solve the mystery of tragic Jewish SS-Obersturmführer Otto Rahn and his search for the Holy Grail) who curiously sees the foremost murderous shape-shifting demon who haunts Southern Africa as a tall, dark, and handsome Nordic who is more stoic than John Wayne and Clint Eastwood but a more suave lady’s man than Marcello Mastroianni. 

 Dust Devil is narrated by desert negro sage Joe Niemand (John Matshikiza), who is a ‘Sangoma’ (traditional healer), mystic, and cinephile that lives near Spitzkoppe in Namibia where he used to work at a now defunct movie theater that he fondly remembers catching a double feature of Dario Argento’s Birds with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and the Hammer-Shaw Brothers coproduction Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974) starring Peter Cushing. Joe is blind in one eye, which has a creepy faded bluish pigment to it. Jigaboo Joe will help guide his black South African cop friend from Bethanie, Sgt. Ben Mukurob (Zakes Mokae), who he believes is an ‘Uncle Tom’ (as demonstrated by his remark to him, “you gotta stop thinking like a white man and think like a man instead”), in his journey to hunt down an entity known as the ‘Dust Devil’ (played by Irish-American actor Robert John Burke, who is probably best known for playing the eponymous role in RoboCop 3) who hitches rides from attractive yet troubled white chicks in their 30s, seduces and has sex with them, murders them, and ritualistically dismembers their bodies. Indeed, during the beginning of the film, the Dust Devil breaks a girl's neck named Saartjie Haarhoff (Terry Norton) just as she has an orgasm (what a way to die!), cuts up her body into dozens of pieces (keeping all her fingers except her thumb for himself), uses her vital floods to paint demonic Manson-esque blood murals on the walls of her home, and then burns the entire place down. Sergeant Ben first becomes aware that he is dealing with some dark entity when he investigates the Haarhoff murder and learns from a mortician at the local morgue, Dr. Leidzinger (obese German actress Marianne Sägebrecht of Percy Adlon’s 1987 kraut romantic comedy Bagdad Café), that the victim’s body was used in some black magic witchcraft ritual (the body sustained “evisceration, partial cremation, sexual mutilation and possibly even cannibalism” along with having a clock piece wedged in her naughty bits). Meanwhile, a young woman named Wendy Robinson (Chelsea Field) in Johannesburg, South Africa is slapped by her husband Mark (Rufus Swart) after he accuses her of having cheated on him, so she leaves her nice suburban neighborhood and heads to Namibia. Needless to say, Wendy will become the Dust Devil’s victim and Sgt. Ben and husband Mark will attempt to find her before it’s too late. 

 While driving on a highway in Namibia, Wendy sees the handsome Dust Devil, who just got done mutilating a young man in a trailer and is dressed in a sort of post-punk industrial cowboy outfit in the spirit of British Gothic group Fields of Nephilim (the singer of the group, Carl McCoy, who previously played a similar figure in Stanley’s Hardware, was originally supposed to play the Dust Devil but had to turn it down) and naturally picks him up as she clearly sees him as sexually appealing. After revealing that he is headed to “nowhere,” the Dust Devil describes himself as a perennial traveler who feels most comfortable on the open road. While talking to her, the Dust Devil learns that Wendy has a nihilistic philosophy as demonstrated by her hate-fueled comments, “fuck superior forces” and “when you’re dead, you’re dead.” Naturally, hardcore atheist Wendy becomes quite disturbed when she sees a doppelgänger of the Dust Devil hitchhiking on the road despite the fact he is sitting in her passenger seat. Ultimately, the Dust Devil disappears from the car and Wendy later considers committing suicide via slitting her wrist at a motel room, but she becomes happy again when the demonic cowboy appears again and they start a heated sexual romance. Meanwhile, husband Mark lands in Namibia and is soon beaten by a group of blacks at a bar after they learn he served in the South African army (interestingly but not surprisingly, Stanley revealed in the audio commentary track for the film that the black actors really did hate Rufus Swart in real-life and began to really beat him during the bar scene). Indeed, hatred for white South Africans is universal among blacks from Namibia and Mark acts as a symbol of white power and repression. Meanwhile, Sgt. Ben is told by his boss, Capt. Beyman (William Hootkins of Star Wars (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981))—a sort of white counterpart to the black cop who also grieves the loss of his wife (while Beyman’s wife is dead, Ben’s wife left him 15 years ago because their son was killed in the ‘white’ military)—tells him that he will soon have to take him off the case, but that he will give him all the documents on the Dust Devil and give him one more chance. More than solving a criminal case and saving a young white chick he couldn't care less about, Ben is seeking deliverance and redemption and he hopes to obtain it by catching the killer. A somewhat weird guy who listens to whale sounds instead of music and watches footage of whales being butchered evil white folks, Ben also suffers from disturbing nightmares, including a burnt skeleton ripping his heart out. Needless to say, Ben’s dreams will not prepare him for his showdown with the Dust Devil. 

 After being arrested by two stupid young white cops who get off to beating old negroes, playing with dismembered body parts, and looking at vintage homoerotic wrestling magazines, Mark is placed in a jail cell in a backward police station where he is found by Ben, who asks him if Wendy is his wife. While Mark and Ben team up to track down Wendy and the Dust Devil before it is too late, racial tensions make their collaboration impossible. After Wendy finds a fancy case owned by her new lover containing dismembered fingers, she finds herself on the brink of being ritualistically murdered by the Dust Devil, who walks in on her while she is fiddling with his things and tells her that his victims “wanted to die” and that he can “tell when someone’s time up.”  Indeed, the Dust Devil is a symbol of Wendy's 'Id' and desire, but she no longer longs for death and decides to fight back.  When Wendy asks the Dust Devil who he is, he states that he is, “from the other side of the mirror. I come from you.” While Wendy manages to escape from the Dust Devil just before he drives his ritualistic dagger into her after hitting him over the head, the demon uses his telekinetic powers to crash her Volkswagen into a big rig truck, so she flees into the abyss-like depths of the desert on foot without food and water. When the Dust Devil totals Ben’s truck as he and Mark are heading to find Wendy, the young white man and old black man decide to go their separate ways after the latter handcuffs the former to the wrecked automobile after he pulls a gun on him. Eventually, Wendy finds a super sandy ghost town where she eventually runs into Ben, but rejects his help. When Ben enters a ruined movie theater that is completely full of sand, the Dust Devil messes with the cop’s head by projecting a film featuring his wife and baby son, but luckily Joe somehow manages to get inside his head and tell him that it is merely an illusion like life itself, even comparing life to cinema. Unfortunately, Ben is soon killed in a rather anticlimactic fashion by the Dust Devil, who drives his dagger into his gut, but death was what he desired along as a broken and restless men who had nothing left to live for. Luckily, Wendy manages to get a hold of a shotgun and blows the Dust Devil’s entire head away right after he declares his love for her. In a twist ending, Wendy more or less inherits the Dust Devil’s demonic spirit and becomes a Dust Demoness of sorts who immediately begins hunting for male prey. As for husband Mark, he is left to die in the desert by Wendy, who contemplates killing him before going on her merry way, but he does not give up hope that he will one day return to suburbia with his beloved bitch wife. 

In the audio commentary for the Subversive Cinema DVD release of Dust Devil, director Richard Stanley proudly remarks that the film was, “intended as a love letter to post-apartheid South Africa” and a “message to the Rainbow Nation [...] I wanted to show the way they were going to work things out.” As a film where the villain is a white demonic cowboy who kills beautiful Aryan women for sport, the black cop who worked for the apartheid era police is senselessly sacrificed, a white South African ex-military man is brutally beaten by blacks merely for being white and is left to literally rot by his cheating wife, and the white female lead becomes a demon, I am not exactly sure how the film is suppose to show how South Africans how to “work things out,” but then again, with the increasing number of murders of white Afrikaner Boer farmers by blacks in what has been described as the early stages of white genocide by Genocide Watch and what has been intentionally ignored by the mainstream media (though, somewhat surprisingly, NBC once reported on the deplorable phenomenon, albeit in a typically biased manner that downplayed the racial aspect of it), one could argue that Stanley was certainly on to something. In its depiction of a pedophile-like white priest handing young white boys bullets and forcing them to engage in target practice, two young degenerate blond-haired cops brutally beating a kindly old negro for fun in an obscenely cartoonish fashion, and a black man telling his Uncle Tom friend to “stop thinking like a white man and think like a man instead,” Stanley certainly demonstrates what he thinks of white South Africa and the Occident in general.  Ironically, the filmmaker currently resides in Montségur in southern France with the spirits of the Cathars, which does not surprise me, as I doubt he wants to deal with the social and racial chaos of his seemingly forsaken homeland. Personally, I find it quite fitting that Dust Devil—an ostensible “love letter to post-apartheid South Africa”—failed to ever receive a proper release and almost instantaneously fell into obscurity upon its less than auspicious release, as it is somewhat symbolic of the failure of leftist utopian dreams regarding race relations and the all around abject failure of black-ruled South Africa as a whole. Unquestionably, one of the most potent scenes in the films is when the eponymous demon burns down his first victim's home, as it acts as a sort allegory for the death of white civilization on the dark continent as is underscored by shots of colonial era vintage images of white people burning up and being reduced to ash, as if they never even existed.

Quite arguably a masterpiece that is unfortunately glaringly tainted by its half-baked quasi-commie social commentary and exceedingly ethno-masochistic depictions of black-white race relations, Dust Devil is certainly a work that, had it been created a couple decades earlier, would have become a hit midnight movie like Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo (1970) and David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977), but as Stanley has stated in countless interviews, fate has not been too kind to him, with most of his films projects resulting in personal bankruptcy and the destruction of all his personal relationships. Of course, when one makes a film that makes liberal use of real black magic archetypes and themes, they probably should expect a little karmic blowback in their persona lives.  Somewhat notably, shortly after Dust Devil finished shooting, one of the girls that worked as part of the art department for the film, Ina Roux, died after falling asleep at the wheel of her automobile one night in a manner not all that dissimilar to how protagonist Wendy does in the movie (Ina's sister Amelia, who also worked on the film, was also in the crash but managed to survive).  In a kind tribute to her memory, Stanley concludes his ‘The Final Cut’ version of the film with a dedication to Ms. Roux, whose pointless death is surely symbolic of the negative spiritual energy that Dust Devil bleeds in a most profuse fashion.  Indeed, not unlike a Tarkovsky flick, the film is an intimidating and taxing metaphysical celluloid odyssey that certainly demands more than most filmgoers are willing to give, thus making it an especially disappointing work for the stereotypical slasher fan, as well as jaded gorehounds who are just looking for a quick masturbatory thrill.  If you're looking to see a truly transcendental horror film this Halloween with a decidedly dark vibe that totally lacks the ‘fun’ factor that people oftentimes associate with the genre, watch Dust Devil and bask in the deluge of daunting demonic energy, foreboding paranoia, racial and cultural schizophrenia, esoteric murder, spiritual nihilism, and post-colonial dread that the work wallows in. Indeed, more than anything, the film seems like Sir Henry Morton Stanley's worst nightmare come to life and then some.

-Ty E

Oct 28, 2014

Murder-Rock: Dancing Death

Scrawny negro breakdancers with butt tight jeans and gaily leaping multicultural dancers in unflattering black leotards and grey sweatpants are probably the last things you would associate with the gloriously grotesque giallos of Guido ‘Godfather of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (Don't Torture a Duckling, Zombi 2 aka Zombie), but near the mid 1980s the director made one of his most shameless attempts at commercial success by attempting to jump on the Flashdance (1983) bandwagon with his shockingly kitschy Americanized retrograde giallo-musical hybrid Murder-Rock: Dancing Death (1984) aka Murderock - Uccide a passo di danza aka Giallo a disco aka The Demon Is Loose, which was sometimes released under the alternate title ‘Slashdance’ for no reason. One of Fulci’s first films following his arguably career-crashing split with his longtime collaborator, screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (who was rather resentful that Fulci failed to let him on the would-be-lucrative deal of working on the failed 1983 ‘sword and sandal’ Conan the Barbarian rip-off Conquest), Murder Rock was apparently forced on the director by the monetary-motivated producer, hence its absolutely horrendous score by English keyboardist Keith Emerson of the dreaded pro-rock ‘supergroup’ Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP). Unquestionably, Fulci’s somewhat misanthropic musical (virtually all the characters are bitter scumbags, including the ostensible ‘good guys’) is, upon a superficial glance, the sort of the film that you would think would appeal to preteen girls with big dreams of becoming dancers, as well as the most uncultivated of proletarian cocksuckers who like silly sassy saying things like, “you go girl” and other forms of lisp-addled linguistic savagery but, ultimately, the film will only probably appeal to Fulci completists, nihilistic aesthetes, and decidedly demented dudes that have a special fetish for 1980s girls with big stupid poufy hair, leotards, and spandex.  Out of all of Fulci's films, Murder Rock is probably the only one that would be more appeal to fan of camp than Fulciphiles and gorehounds.  Indeed, the film has more dancing than death and less blood than an old school Universal Horror flick, but that does not mean it is not a stereotypical dirty 1980s dago affair that seems to slightly channel the seething hatred and moral retardation of gutter auteur Andy Milligan, albeit in a flashy and rampantly heterosexual Mediterranean sort of way (who knows, maybe being in NYC ‘touched’ Fulci the same way it did to mad sadomasochist Milligan).

 Penned by semi-distinguished goombah screenwriter Gianfranco Clerici (Cannibal Holocaust, Fulci’s The New York Ripper), Murder Rock is a glaringly uneven piece of deadly Dancesploitation that is easily one of the most visually pleasing films ever made as a work with ethereal dream-sequences and armies of scantily clad young blonde beauties, yet it is drastically despoiled by its audience-degrading score and lack of Fulci-esque gore. Indeed, to think that Fulci hailed from the land of Italo-disco and could have probably easily included tracks like “Faces” by Clio and countless Cyber People songs instead of Emerson’s enraging audio excrement makes the film all the more of a cinematic tragedy, as it could have just as easily been an idiosyncratic masterpiece of murderous Italo-excess. The would-be wild-and-whimsical ‘whodunit?’ tale of a mysterious mad man (or in this case, woman) who begins randomly killing off the best dancers of a prestigious dance school with the rather ironic name “Arts For Living Center,” Murder Rock is a inexplicable abortion of a movie that somehow manages to be reasonably entertaining due to its undying kitsch character, understated performance by Anglo-Guido leading man Ray Lovelock (Plagio, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) and marvelously misogynistic conclusion that puts the movie misogyny of Dario Argento to shame. Arguably Fulci's last ambitious film as a work created right after his relationship with screenwriter Sacchetti concluded somewhat bitterly and just before the director developed critical health issues (right after finishing the film, Fulci was hospitalized in NYC after become critically ill from hepatitis, only to become hospitalized again the same year for cirrhosis and spend most of 1985 recuperating a home, only to become plagued by diabetes-based illnesses in 1986), Murder Rock gives you a good idea where the goombah goremeister might have headed artistically had he not spent the rest of his career churning out pathetically directed low-budget celluloid bile like Il fantasma di Sodoma (1988) aka Sodoma's Ghost and Demonia (1990) aka Liza.

Opening with a flashy scene of little negroes breakdancing in a jubilant fashion juxtaposed with shots of NYC as if to absurdly insinuate that the rotten Big Apple is such a nice and happy place that people just dance around all the time due to a pleasant plague of perennial happiness that has engulfed the superlatively shitty city, Murder Rock then cuts to a show of a group of girl dancers entering a high-tech building called the “Arts For Living Center” where they soon dance their asses off for their bitchy buxom brunette overseer Candice Norman (Greek actress Olga Karlatos of Fulci’s Zombie, as well as more mainstream works like the 1984 Prince musical Purple Rain and Sergio Leone’s 1984 Jewish gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America) and their negress choreographer Margie (Geretta Marie Fields aka Geretta Geretta of Lamberto Bava’s 1985 hit Demons aka Dèmoni). When the dancers stop dancing cunt Candice bitches them out and tells them their routine “needs perfecting.” Indeed, unbeknownst to the dancers, the academy director Dick Gibson (Claudio Cassinelli of Massimo Dallamano’s highbrow giallo What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974) aka La polizia chiede aiuto), who is also banging Candice and probably some of the dancers, is in talks with two TV producers, some assumed Hebrew named Steiner and his shabbos goy bud, about hiring the three best dancers to be on an upcoming TV show. Of course, Candice is jealous of these dancers’ talents just as she is jealous that her sleazy bastard beau Dick might be putting his dick in one or two of them. The students also hate Candice, with one of the few male dancers, Willy Stark (Christian Borromeo of Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 classic House on the Edge of the Park), stating of her to his dancing comrades, “You think it would kill her to be happy just once.” Of course, little does Willy realize that Candice is a much bigger bitch than he ever could imagine.

One night, little Willy stays behind with his fuck buddy/fellow dancer, busty blonde Susan (A. Lemerman), after the dance academy closes so they can have some carnal fun together, but the fun ends before it even begins when someone violently attacks the little lady while she is in the shower, knocks her out with the old (and scientifically unsound) movie cliché of a rag covered with Chloroform, and drives a large needle into one of her tender wet tits, thus killing her. Needless to say, it seems that the high-tech security system at the dance academy is worthless, or it is someone with access to it that is the one responsible for the killing. A majorly misanthropic and callously cynical NYPD Lieutenant named Borges (Cosimo Cinieri of Fulci’s two 1982 NYC-based flicks The New York Ripper and Manhattan Baby), as well as a police profiler and psychotherapy professor named Dr. Davis (Giuseppe Mannajuolo of the 1988 pseudo-Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) sequel Vampire in Venice starring Klaus Kinski) are brought in to solve the murder and they soon conclude that the killer is someone at the dance academy. When a second dancer, Janice (played by Carla Buzzanca, whose sole other film credit was Michelangelo Antonioni’s obscure failed 1980 Cocteau adaptation The Mystery of Oberwald aka Il mistero di Oberwald), who moonlights as a degenerate dancer at an exotic erotic bar, is killed, Lt. Borges and Dr. Davis decide to interview some of the dancers and the former finds them so revolting in character that he states to the prissy little dancing prima donnas, “have you considered the possibility of some paranoid among you who hates dancers and has decided to do you all in? You know, I’ll tell you all something…. He’d have my heartfelt approval.” Dr. Davis is slightly more sympathetic to the degenerate dancing troupe and uses his cultivated background as a criminologist to label the dance academy a “viper’s nest” as opposed to boorish cynic Borges, who describes it in a more frank manner by calling it a “school full of sons of bitches.” When one of the male dancers, a blond bitch boy named Bert (Robert Gligorov of Michael Soavi’s devilishly delightfully debut feature StageFright: Aquarius (1987) aka Deliria), leaves an anonymous message for Dr. Davis calling him a “first class nerd” and threatening to kill again, Borges uses a voice analyst to identify him. When they bring in Bert for questioning, he acts like a sniveling little pompous shit and claims he killed Janice because, “She was a lousy Puerto Rican and I don’t like spicks.” Although Borges concludes that Bert is not the killer, he locks him up anyway so that he can be raped by swarthy untermenschen because the little shit pissed him off, stating, “You’re not going to like spicks for a long time…you shouldn’t have provoked me.”  What actually happens to Bert is anyone's guess, as he never reappears in the film.

Meanwhile, Candice has a nightmare about an unnaturally pretty blond beastess (Ray Lovelock) coming after her with the same needle that killed the girl dancers. Not long after the ominous nightmare, Candice spots the same man, who turns out to be an ex-actor turned model named George Webb, on a giant billboard. After doing some research, she tracks down George’s apartment and sneaks in after paying off a sleazy front desk attendant, but she is in for quite a surprise for the dipsomaniac model arrives and yells in a boorish manner, “Relax, lady…haven’t you ever seen a drunk before?,” so the startled dance teacher runs away and leaves her purse behind by accident. After meeting up with George to get her purse back, Candice confesses to him that she looked him up because she had a nightmare about him killing her. Needless to say, the two soon start a lurid love affair and jealous academy director Dick Gibson attempts to convince Borges and Dr. Davis that pretty boy George is the killer. As their love affair progresses, Candice reveals to George that her dancing career was ruined by a hit-n-run accident, explaining to him, “there I was ready to take on Broadway when some idiot on a motorcycle slams into me and ended my career before it even started.” Naturally, things get a bit complicated when an elderly Chinaman with traditional chink garb and large chopsticks does a fortuneteller reading of George at a Chinese restaurant at Candice’s insistence and accuses him of being a “muda-erer.” Of course, things only get worse when Candice gets a call from a talent agent named Phil (played by director Lucio Fulci in a cute cameo role) who she had do a background on her new boyfriend and he reveals that George was the suspect in the murder of an underage girl that he was defiling.

As the film progresses, more dancers are killed and George seems more and more like the culpable suspect. At one point, black choreographer Margie also goes to kill Candice and frame the mysterious killer, out of jealousy, but she does not have the gall to execute the execution and director Dick eventually walks in on her. Director Dick also becomes a suspect after they find him with the corpse of one of the dancers, Jill, that he was banging and deeply in love with. Of course, Candice is no victim. In the end, Candice confronts George in the manager’s room at the dance studio while he is watching footage of all the dead dancers and confesses that she is the killer and she has known all along that he is the motorcyclist that committed the hit-and-run that ruined her budding career. Jealous of all the young dancers and their very promising careers, Candice could not help killing the best of the best dancers and frame George for it.  Since she already blames him for her figurative death and wants him to suffer the lifelong guilt of being a murderer, Candice begs George to kill her because he “has to pay,” but he refuses to do it. Considering herself more or less ‘metaphysically dead’ ever since the hit-and-ruin accident ruined her career, Candice kills herself right in front of George with the needle hoping that he will be charged with the murder as she considers him a murderer. Luckily for George, Borges and Dr. Davis have already come to the conclusion that Candice is the killer. In the end, George is riddled with the guilt for ‘murdering’ Candice by destroying all her “hopes and ambitions.” In the end, the film closes with the following quote from the classic John Huston film noir flick Asphalt Jungle (1950): “Often crime is a distorted from of human endeavor.”

I might be the only one in the world that would have the balls to admit this, but I found Murder Rock to be one of Lucio Fulci’s most fun, unbelievable, and wildest films, even it is a piece of blatant cheesy celluloid crapola with one of the most patently preposterous premises in film history. An excellent example of Fulci’s undying dedication to whoring himself out to producers for financial gain, it is only fitting that the work features a scene where the cynical lieutenant Borges—an arguable stand-in for the director himself—states as to the reasoning why one of the dancers, Bert, would falsely take credit for the murder, “Because he’s an artist. He’d sit on his mother’s head for a laugh. It’s like a disease, he’s a born liar […] he’s an asshole […] the kid’s an idiot, just another punk.” Indeed, in Murder Rock, Fulci—a perennial artisan who seems to never have had an interest in being a real cinematic artist—declares his hatred for the ‘artiste.’  Of course, Fulci is not just critical of ‘serious’ artists, as the film also blatantly attacks Bernaysian advertising and the sinister power of the ads and commercials to manipulate the psyche and plant ideas in a person's subconscious (for example, the man of killer Candice's nightmares first appears in the physical world in the form of a billboard).  Ironically, unlike Dario Argento, who famously told the ballerinas starring in his masterpiece Suspiria (1977) that he couldn't care less about their ballet talents, Fulci made full use of the talents of the performers with the help of choreographer Nadia Chiatti. Indeed, Murder Rock is certainly the Flashdance of giallos and is completely deserving of its alternate title Slashdance, as a decadent and Dancesploitation flick of strangely erotic deaths that perfectly epitomizes the nihilistic excess of the Reaganite 1980s. If you’re looking to contaminate someone’s Halloween spirit this year, show them Fulci’s misbegotten filmic freakshow and have them bask in the unintentionally schlocky splendor of sweaty 1980s spandex and hairsprayed to hell hair, as well as some of the most sickeningly banal and malevolently (anti)melodic synth sounds imaginable. Pseudo-Borgesian in its depiction of dark coincidences spawned from chaos, chaotic labyrinthine visuals and plot structure, and rabid cynicism (after all, one of the characters is named ‘Borges’), Murder Rock is a work that, although clearly made to appeal to the lowest nominator (e.g. teenage breakdancers and braindead teenyboppers), will probably be more appreciated by misanthropic cinephiles, softcore cultural pessimists, and cultivated culture junkies. Murder Rock is also a great film to show to your lady friend because, aside from being rather misogynistic in its depiction of a crazed cunt who kills young blonde beauties out of jealously, it also features some of the most titillating yet tit-terrorizing scenes in cinema history. Indeed, I know because I showed my girlfriend, who is rather ample in the bosom department, and she was absolutely scared stiff and discernibly unnerved by the scenes of the needle entering the forlorn dancer’s big bare boobs.  As for me, I was more petrified by the busty bosomed victim's big goofy legwarmers.  As Murder Rock vulgarly demonstrates, if you want to take away attention from a voluptuous young blonde girl's dangerously curvy body, have her wear a pair of Flashdance-esque legwarmers.

-Ty E