Nov 30, 2016

Wake in Fright

It has always been a dream scenario of mine to have some of the most effete, uptight, and culturally intolerant leftist pansies, social justice warrior dorks, and other mental cripples to be forced to spend a week or so in the company of highly hospitable hardworking and hard-drinking rednecks, as it would probably be very beneficial to their mental health and help to demystify their grand delusions in regard to their supposed enemies and how the world works as a whole. Thankfully, the classic Australian artsploitation drama-thriller Wake in Fright (1971) aka Outback directed by Bulgarian-Canadian filmmaker Ted Kotcheff (First Blood, Uncommon Valor) features a somewhat similar scenario in its delightfully daunting depiction of a pretentious, uptight, and exceedingly effete school teacher portrayed by real-life gay boy Gary Bond—an English actor of Welsh extraction that died of AIDS on 12 October 1995 at the age of 55, exactly one month after his boyfriend Jeremy Brett's death—that finds himself descending into complete and utter moral depravity and mental derangement after being stranded in a proudly blue collar mining town located in the hellishly hot and arid Australian Outback. A cinematic work that some native Australians somewhat rightly argued exploited their people and culture, Kotcheff’s fourth feature is a rare cinematic work that manages to be made of equal doses of both art and trash in the best sort of way imaginable. Despite its fairly distinct and organic regional setting, the film is also a rare film that features a rather realistic and uniquely unsentimental yet nonetheless empathetic depiction of the white working-class (as director Kotcheff has noted in various interviews, he and his crew more or less lived like the locals throughout the film's production). Indeed, while I have never been to Australia, the characters in the film were in many ways shockingly familiar to me in terms of their aggressive hospitality, exaggerated extroversion, hardcore dipsomania, playful fighting and wrestling, and strong zest for life despite living fairly meager existences due to my personal experiences with the working-class whites I grew up with. In fact, when I first saw the film, I was shocked by how much similar these characters were to some of my real-friends who degenerated into hardcore alcoholism after succumbing to a life of full-time lumpenproletariatism. Made at a time before wiggers, OxyContin, crystal meth, and tolerance towards miscegenation, Wake in Fright manages to portray the good, the bad, and the ugly of the white working-class in a manner that would actually appeal to said white working-class while, at the same time, exposing the hypocrisy, effeminacy, and overall soullessness of certain members of the sheltered bourgeois. 

 A classic cinematic work that is like the missing link between the Australian New Wave and Ozploitation (not unsurprisingly, the film has been somewhat rightly credited as belonging to both movements), Wake in Fright is like a uniquely unkosher Kafkaesque fever dream full of cheap beer and bloody kangaroos that reminds the viewer that man is an animal and being an animal is far more preferable to being a spiritually castrated cosmopolitan cocksucker that merely complains about life instead of actually living it. Arguably the greatest and most emotionally daunting ‘drinking film’ ever made aside from possibly John Huston’s underrated Malcolm Lowry adaptation Under the Volcano (1984), the film is like a coming-of-age piece depicting a 30-something-year-old wuss whose testicles never dropped and ultimately receives a most ruthless rite of passage into unadulterated manhood that includes kangaroo slaughtering and booze-fueled homo rape, among other less than polite things that do not typically involve a pansy school teacher. Adapted for the screen by Anglo-Jamaican screenwriter Evan Jones (Modesty Blaise, Funeral in Berlin) from the 1961 novel of the same name by Australian writer and documentarian Kenneth Cook, Wake in Fright hardly feels like a contrived and closely scripted work as it features many real-life Aussie Wildmen as extras and in unforgettable secondary roles that add to the film's distinct charm.  Additionally, the film features seemingly nil bogus film sets and was shot in buildings and homes that reek of postcolonial decay and cultural decrepitude. Of course, the film is also (in)famous for featuring real-life nocturnal kangaroo killings despite the director being a vegetarian, but one should not expect anything less in a cinematic work that attempts to feature an accurate portrayal of Aussie rednecks who, not unlike their American counterparts, are and will forever be the only true representatives of their nation as men whose blood built that countries they live in.  Needless to say, the film does not do anything to help Australia's reputation as being the land of the semi-feral white shackle draggers, but then again it is hard not to like many of these supposed dingo-fuckers once you have seen the film. While the film does not feature any characters that are as depraved as the eponymous antihero of Dutch-Australian auteur Rolf de Heer's classic cult item Bad Boy Bubby (1993), it does feature the sort of Aussie wild men that might make illegal immigrants think twice about flooding into Australia.

 Notably, in his rather prophetic work The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History (1916), American lawyer, eugenicist, and conservationist Madison Grant wrote a century ago, “Australia and New Zealand, where the natives have been virtually exterminated by the whites, are developing into communities of pure Nordic blood and will for that reason play a large part in the future history of the Pacific. The bitter opposition of the Australians and Californians to the admission of Chinese coolies and Japanese farmers is due primarily to a blind but absolutely justified determination to keep those lands as white man’s countries.” Judging simply by Wake in Fright, one would assume that Australia has more or less the same hearty no bullshit racial stock that Grant speaks of, but of course, like all of the West, the nation has since had a deluge of undesirables and untermenschen from various third world hellholes. In Kotcheff’s film, the viewer is exposed to a fairly primitive type of Nordic stock that seems to still carry the mirthfully barbaric spirit of its Viking ancestors. Indeed, forget the absurd Hollywood stereotype of the dark-haired hero, Wake in Fright features true blue blond beasts of prey that hunt, kill, and fuck just for the instinctive thrill of it all. Undoubtedly, Nietzsche certainly describes the kangaroo hunters of the film when he describes the ancient Nordics as follows, “at the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast, prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory; this hidden core needs to erupt from time to time, the animal has to get out again and go back to the wilderness.”  Not unlike various parts of rural America, New Zealand, and other ex-colonies, the Outback is place where archaic European instincts have the opportunity to be shamelessly exercised, or so one learns while watching Wake in Fright where a pansy ass prick is forced to come in touch with his more visceral and even murderous side after being egged on by proudly boorish men that seem to have been passed by a couple centuries worth of advancements in European civilization.

 While Wake in Fright is full of wild and reckless blond beasts, the deracinated blond Nordic protagonist John Grant (Gary Bond) is certainly no Übermensch as he is a smug yet impotent, intelligent yet weak, and cultivated yet cultureless cosmopolitan white man that is quite typical nowadays, especially in Europa. Naturally, it is only most fitting that Mr. Grant is portrayed by a cocksucking Brit as opposed to an Aussie as the character is symbolic of spiritually castrated, morally decrepit, and innately suicidal contemporary Europe, which has lost all touch with the sort of instincts that once made it great. Additionally, while John has blond hair and a typical tall Nordic physique, his eyes, which look more like they belong to a neurotic Mongolian little girl than a proud Europid man, are a clear window into his hopelessly effeminate and decadent soul. An anally retentive introvert that does everything by the book despite his disdain for authority who spends his free time drawing, reading about Plato, and hopelessly dreaming of going to the beach with his Sydney-based girlfriend, John is relatively impotent chap that gets the shock of the lifetime when he spends some quality time with a clan of working-class heroes with big balls and loudmouths. As a result of being a self-described “bonded slave of the Education Department,” John is forced against his will to teach at a tiny grade school in a small Outback hellhole named ‘Tiboonda.’ Luckily for him, John has six weeks off for Christmas break and plans to spend it with his girlfriend in Sydney. Rather unfortunately, before flying to Sydney, John makes the unwitting life-changing mistake of spending the night in a small isolated hick city named Bundanyabba (aka ‘the Yabba’) that ultimately swallows him up and violently vomits him out. 

 Not long after arriving in the Yabba, John meets a seemingly nice and gregarious local cop with a subtle sinister undercurrent named Jock Crawford (popular Aussie actor Chips Rafferty in his final acting role) at a local bar that uses his passive-aggressive charm to force the protagonist to get drunk with him to the point where he gets stupidly drunk.  While Jock is friendly with John, it is obvious that he thinks the protagonist is a pretentious and whiny little twat. Needless to say, John has a smug response when all of the patrons stop drinking and gambling at the bar to engage in a nightly “Lest We Forget” ritual in tribute to fallen Australian military men that are glorified with a fancy plague on the wall. Even in a thoroughly inebriated state, John cannot help be reveal his sense of superiority over Jock and the rest of the Yabba locals, but it is ultimately these working-class philistines that have the last laugh. Of course, little does John release that Jock is a sly fellow that, not unlike a degenerate dope dealer, is slowly but surely getting the protagonist immersed in a hermetic realm of nightmarish hick hedonism and self-destructive lowbrow decadence that eventually inspires both desperate murderous and suicidal impulses in the fairly fragile character. After begging Jock to take him to a place to eat where he buys a nice fat juicy steak, John meets a super degenerate hobo philosopher of sorts named Clarence ‘Doc’ Tydon (Donald Pleasence of Halloween (1978) fame), who passively states regarding the Yabba locals, “All the little devils are proud of hell.” When John asks Doc what he means, he reveals his strange empathy for the locals by replying, “Discontent is a luxury of the well-to-do. If you gotta live here, you might as well like it.” When John reveals his intolerance of the locals by stating, “I’m just bored with it. The aggressive hospitality, the arrogance of stupid people who insist you should be as stupid as they are,” Doc ridicules his pretenses by replying, “It’s death to farm out here. It’s worse than death in the mines. Do you want them to sing opera as well?” While John does not know it yet, he and Doc will soon become disturbingly close in a way that neither will ever forget. 

 When John foolishly loses all of his money in the “Biggest two-up game in Australia” in a desperate attempt to earn enough cash to pay off his bond as a teacher and leave the redneck Outback for good, he finds himself coming to the bitter realization that he is stranded in Yabba pandemonium indefinitely and naturally becomes a completely intolerable prick as a result. In fact, John acts like a complete dickhead to an old guy named Tim Hynes (Al Thomas) after he asks him to drink with him at a bar, but the insulted working-class hero lightens him up by buying him endless drinks, albeit not before screaming in his face that he will pay for his drinks. When Tim later takes him back to his house, John meets his lecherous debutante daughter Janette (Sylvia Kay), who carefully stares him down and eventually makes a botched attempt at fucking him only hours after first meeting him.  Unfortunately, John is incapable of even commencing coitus due to a rather embarrassing vomiting fit. At Tim’s house, John is also introduced to two handsome and muscular yet barbarically gregarious dudes named Dick (Jack Thompson) and Joe (Peter Whittle) who assume the protagonist is a poofter because he strangely prefers talking to Janette to drinking beer with the boys.

Despite his initial flaky behavior at Tim’s house, John eventually joins the party and ultimately gets so drunk that he is surprised to wake up the next day at 4pm in Doc’s dilapidated shack with a killer hangover that he reluctantly nurses with more booze and kangaroo meat. On top of revealing that he does not even actually own the shitty shack he lives in, Doc tells John his entire patently pathetic life-story, stating with a sort of subtly ironic pride, “Shall I satisfy your curiosity? I’m a doctor of medicine. And a tramp by temperament. I’m also an alcoholic. My disease prevented me from practicing in Sydney, but out here it’s scarcely noticeable. Certainly doesn’t stop people from coming to see me. I charge no fees because I’m not interested in money. Anyway, I’m unreliable. But I’m accepted socially because I’m an educated man . . . of character. I get me food from my friends. My requirements in beer. Which, with some measure of self-control, is the only alcohol I allow myself. It’s possible to live forever in the Yabba without money. As you probably noticed, some of the natives are very . . . hospitable.”  In short, Doc is a shameless social parasite of the highly educated sort that lives off of the generosity of proletarian drunks that take pride in buying another man a beer.  Naturally, Doc wants something from John, but it is something that is a bit more personal and intimate than cheap beer.

 As Doc makes quite clear, he loathes “little puritans” and states regarding Janette that she is “an interesting biological case” and that “If she were a man, she’d be in jail for rape” due to her rather sexually aggressive behavior. As a fellow outcast and virtual sexual outlaw, Doc sees Janette as a kindred spirit of sorts and is probably the only mensch in the Yabba that truly has respect for her. While he picks on him for his puritanical and anally-retentive behavior, Doc also seems to see a kindred spirit in John and he is bent on getting the protagonist to engage in increasingly degenerate and debasing activities so that he will be more like him. As a result of boasting while drunk the night before that he once “won a silver medal at school for target shooting,” John find himself going on an alcohol-fueled hunting expedition of sorts with Doc, Dick, and Joe that involves the extremely violent liquidation of half a dozen or so kangaroos. When Joe demonstrates he is a cool bad ass by ‘boxing’ and then personally slitting the throat of a large and quite pugnacious kangaroo, John feels obligated to demonstrate his seemingly nonexistent masculinity and takes on a poor animal that he himself describes as “badly wounded” and “just a baby.” Clearly uncomfortable with killing the virtually defenseless creature, John hysterically cries and punches the kangaroos while Doc and his friends laugh hysterically at his seemingly bizarre melodramatic behavior, though the protagonist eventually gets the gall to slit the poor animal’s throat. After John kills the kangaroo, Doc reveals his approval by stating to himself in an almost sinister fashion, “Well done” and then the entire group declares to the protagonist, “Now you’re one of us.”

 To celebrate their reasonably successful roo-slaughter campaign, the boys go to a local seedy bar where Dick and Joe engage in some fairly brutal play-fighting that involves blood while Doc philosophizes with a hammer and reveals he is a sort of Cioran of the Outback by aggressively proclaiming, “Progress? Vanity spawned of fear. A vanity spawned by fear. The aim of what you call civilization is a man in a smoking jacket, whisky and cider, pressing a bottom of . . . a button . . . to destroy a planet a billion miles away, kill a billion people he’s never seen.” After John passes out, Doc, Joe, and Dick get involved in a hilarious anarchic three-way brawl that more or less results in the destruction of the entire bar. Of course, Doc’s savagery does not end there, as he opts to sexually seduce John when they get back to the shack in what can probably be best described as gay redneck date rape. Needless to say, John is more than a little bit perturbed when he wakes up the next day lying next to a pantless Doc and realizes that he has just been involuntarily sodomized by a stinky old wino. 

 Naturally, John hightails it out of Doc’s shack when he realizes he is a victim of homo sodomy, but not before grabbing a rifle that was gifted to him by Dick and Joe for his senseless killing of the little kangaroo. Indeed, while roaming around downtown Yabba with the rifle in his arms and his body and clothes covered in dirt as perplexed onlookers stare at him in disbelief, John looks like a desperate derelict that has just been gang-banged by an entire motorcycle gang.  Of course, John is desperate to get out of the Yabba by any means possible, but before he does he bumps into his old cop pal Jock, who supplies him with some much needed nicotine and beer in between questioning about his dubious behavior and plans. While John manages to hitch a ride 50 miles out of town from a less than dapper toothless hick, he treats the poor guy like shit by refusing to have a drink with him and then complaining, “What’s the matter with you people, huh? You sponge on you . . . You burn your house down, murder your wife, rape your child, that’s all right. But don’t have a drink with you, don’t have a flaming, bloody drink with you, that’s a criminal offense, that’s the end of the bloody world.” Ultimately, John offers a trucker his new prized rifle for a ride to Sydney, but when he finally arrives at his ostensible desire location, he realizes he is in the Yabba again as a result of a miscommunication between him and the less than sophisticated driver. Luckily, the trucker lets John keep the rifle due to the miscommunication, so the protagonist irrationally decides to use the weapon to kill Doc, as if it will somehow redeem him of being rectally reamed. Unfortunately Doc is not at the shack when he gets there, so John changes his plans slightly and turns the gun on himself in what ultimately proves to be a badly botched attempt at improvisational DIY self-slaughter.

On top of surviving the suicide attempt despite having the barrel of the gun pointed directly at his head at ultra-close-range, Jock, who is not too fond of his hometown's high suicide rate (apparently, in real-life, the Yabba had a female suicide rate that was five times the national average during the 1970s), decides to coverup said suicide attempt by writing a phony police report that John signs that declares that he shot himself by accident. When John finally recovers from his injuries and gets out of the hospital, Doc greets him and declares, “You’d think a bloke who’d won a silver medal at target shooting could hit himself in the head at a range of three inches.” In the end, the film comes full circles, with going back to Tiboonda and drinking with a local bartender-cum-slumlord named Charlie.  As to what the future holds for John, I certainly would not surprised if he degenerated into a sort of more anally retentive version of Doc and became a perennially wandering lost soul that is fueled by cheap alcohol and plagued by regrettable sexual encounters.

 While Nicholas Roeg’s first solo feature Walkabout (1971) is indubitably a seemingly immaculate flick that is to the Outback what Arnold Fanck’s Der heilige Berg (1926) aka The Holy Mountain is to the Teutonic mountain film and what Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) is to the spaghetti western, Wake in Fright is arguably the single greatest and most enthralling Outback flick ever made, even if it was directed by a guy that would go on to direct such hokey Hollywood kitsch as Weekend at Bernie's (1989) and Borrowed Hearts: A Holiday Romance (1997), among other less than artistically significant cinematic works. Indeed, the film might be somewhat exploitative in its portrayal of the Outback and its seemingly forsaken inhabitants, but it certainly does not make a pathetic mockery of ‘Australian Aryan noble savage’ myth like a carelessly goofy Hollywood flick like Crocodile Dundee (1986), which incidentally seems like the sort of film Kotcheff might have directed later in his career. Despite not being nearly as big of a commercial success as his later films like Weekend at Bernie's, Kotcheff more or less confesses in the audio commentary for the Drafthouse Films DVD/Blu-ray release of the film that it is his greatest cinematic work, as well as the movie that he had the most fun working on. Kotcheff is also quite proud of the fact that Wake in Fright is one of only two films to have ever been screened twice in the entire history of the Cannes Film Festival (notably, Martin Scorsese, who originally saw the film when it had its world premiere at the festival in 1971, used his clout as the head of the Cannes Classic department to have the screened in 2009 after it underwent a much needed restoration).

Aside from being what is arguably the most endlessly entrancing, shocking, and unforgettable film about the Outback, Kotcheff’s cult classic is, aside from possibly Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), the most innately un-Christmas of Christmas films, even if it is a cinematic gift that keeps on giving in terms of sheer replay value. Somewhat surprisingly, Wake in Fright is not the only classic Australian cult flick directed by a Slavic outsider that features references to Christmas time, as Dusan Makavejev’s underrated absurdist comedy The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) features Italian-Australian actress Greta Scacchi stripping off a Santa Claus outfit so that she can fuck Eric Roberts.  While fairly different films in terms of message and emotional tone, Wake in Fright and The Coca-Cola Kid surely make for an immaculate double feature.

 In the audio commentary for Wake in Fright, auteur Kotcheff noted that the working-class Aussies that he interacted with on the film were no different than the lumpenproles he knew growing up in Ontario, Canada in terms of their proud patriarchal love of beer, fighting, fucking, and merry violence. As an American that grew up in a nice rural area just below the Mason–Dixon line yet was born a good number of decades after Kotcheff's Canadian prole buddies, I can still concur that the working-class whites that I sometimes hung out with during my early adult years are strikingly similar to the ones featured in the film, even in terms of bizarre quasi-homoerotic behavior. Indeed, aside from their tendency to fight and wrestle each while usually sweaty and shirtless, I once witnessed a fellow holding a friend’s penis while he was peeing because he was supposedly too drunk to hold it himself. Of course, Wake in Fright is in many ways a sort of degenerate modernist Männerbund movie that would highly appeal to born-again Androphiles and Jack Donovan fanboys, but arguably most importantly it demonstrates probably better than any other film why Australia is, in terms of the landscapes and eccentric people, one of the greatest places in the world to shoot movies. In fact, as mentioned in Mark Hartley’s mildly amusing doc Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008), Kotcheff’s film was probably more influential than any other cinematic work in terms of making Australians realizes that their country-cum-continent was the perfect place to create great movies. Surely, no other place could have produced such organically atmospheric cinematic works ranging from Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and The Last Wave (1977) to Colin Eggleston’s Long Weekend (1978) to George Miller’s Mad Max (1979) to Albie Thoms’ rarely-seen psychedelic avant-garde films like Rita and Dundi (1966) and Marinetti (1969), among seemingly countless other examples.

Thankfully, Kotcheff’s film also lacks of the sort of xenophiliac white guilt, misguided abo-philia, and anti-Anglo sentiment that is prominent in some of the films of Hebrew Philippe Mora (Swastika, Mad Dog Morgan) and Fred Schepisi (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith), among countless others.  Notably, the only part of Wake in Fright that features an Australian Aborigine person is an early scene where the protagonist is depicted sitting on a train by himself just like an abo man in a symbolic scenario scene that insinuates that both characters are outsiders in mainstream white society. In its depiction of an effeminate white educator being in the same figurative boat as an Aborigine man, the scene reminded me of a quote from Ted Kaczynski's classic anti-technology text The Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society and Its Future (1995) in regard to why white liberals, who typically come from privileged backgrounds, have a special affinity for racial minorities, “Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit it to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not suggest that women, Indians, etc., ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology).”  Likewise, people like the protagonist of Kotcheff’s film loathes rednecks due to feelings of inferiority in regard to strength and masculinity and not simply because they see working-class whites as insufferable philistines.  After all, protagonist John Grant developed a certain degree of much needed masculine confidence and self-esteem after hanging out with the Outback boys.

 A work that might be described as a sort of arthouse action-adventure-drama-thriller hybrid for Australian proles that has the capacity to entertain and provoke people of virtually every persuasion, Wake in Fright is certainly as timeless and endlessly enthralling as films come, especially when compared to many Australian films of the same era.  Notably, I first saw the film about four years ago when I was at an inordinately happy point of my life.  After recently rewatching the film in what is undoubtedly a low point in my life, I can say that it had an even bigger impact of me.  Indeed, suddenly I miss the redneck friends of my youth and getting drunk by a bonfire, even if I did not have much to talk about with them aside from the size of a girl's ass and the hilarity of racist jokes.  The fact that a tough, visceral, and uncompromising cinematic work like Wake in Fright was directed by a Bulgarian-Canadian filmmaker that is best known for Hollywood hack work and kosher comedies like his Mordecai Richler adaptations The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) and Joshua Then and Now (1985) certainly makes the film seem all the more magical and enigmatic, as if Ted Kotcheff, not unlike protagonist John Grant, was somehow consumed by the collective unconscious of the Yabba's inhabitants while directing the film.  After all, you know a filmmaker is indubitably doing something right when he manages to make a film featuring the unsimulated slaughter of cute kangaroos that does not feel tasteless or pointlessly exploitative.  Somehow, I also suspect that Wake in Fright is more accurate in its depiction of the sort of cowboy mentality that was responsible for conquering and taming the wild west than any Hollywood western ever could be.

-Ty E

Nov 19, 2016

The Sin of Jesus

After recently re-watching Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and reflecting on its smug anti-Christian hatred, I can only feel disgust when thinking about a Jewish writer and/or director attempting to utilize Christian themes, so the last thing that I would want to see is a modernist Jesus flick based on a story by a Christ-hating Judeo-bolshevik and directed by a Hebraic hipster that has a reputation for taking photos that mock white people and glorify negroes. Indeed, even the title of The Sin of Jesus (1961) directed by photographer and sometimes filmmaker Robert Frank (Pull My Daisy, Cocksucker Blues) reeks of a keenly kosher form of contempt for Christianity, yet I must admit that it is still nonetheless a strangely beauteous cinematic parable that seems like the sort of film Ingmar Bergman might have directed had he been temporarily possessed by the spirits of Werner Herzog and Tobe Hooper. Surely a sort of masterful warm-up for the eerily hypnotically haunting depiction of remote rural America as portrayed in singular cinematic works ranging from Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to Herzog’s Stroszek (1977), the 37-minute black-and-white feature is a stark yet oneiric piece of Gothic Americana where auteur Frank reveals a sort a visceral fear and dread for all-things-rural. Based on a short story by Soviet Jewish commie writer Isaac Babel—a notable victim of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge that was shot was shot dead on 27 January 1940 after confessing to being a Trotskyite spy—the film is like a Hebraic hinterland horror film as seen from the perspective of a cosmopolitan Jew with a decidedly disturbed and completely distorted view of white rural Christian America.

A film that practically bleeds misery and melancholy in every single frame, The Sin of Jesus is as innately and unkindly unchristian as films come that feature Jesus Christ in a central role. Featuring a weak and sullen yet arrogant and heretical Jesus that pimps out his angels and is so pathetically morbidly depressed that he finds it virtually impossible to look a beautiful big-eyed woman in the face who he eventually begs from forgiveness from, Frank’s arguable cinematic magnum opus also features what is probably the most stereotypically Jewish depiction of Jesus in cinema history. Hardly the blond, handsome, and heroic Aryan Christ of European history or a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic, the eponymous progeny of god in Frank’s film does not heal the blind but is himself blind to humanity and human suffering, hence his pathetic pleading for forgiveness to a uniquely unsophisticated woman that finds herself unwittingly killing an angel due to her desperate horniness. Of course, in its condemnation of a deity that causes human suffering, the film is almost cliché in its Jewishness to the point where it reveals that both auteur Frank and source writer Babel have no true understanding of Christianity or Jesus Christ, at least in the emotional sense. Indeed, even the goofy vampiric Christ portrayed by Teutonic queer avant-garde auteur Michael Brynntrup in his Super-8 epic Jesus - Der Film (1986) is holier than the emotionally comatose loser featured in Frank's film. 

 Strikingly ravishingly shot in terms of detail to the point where you clearly see a moth succumbing to death in a tattered spider web and mold growing on the walls of a dilapidated farmhouse, The Sin of Jesus is a poignantly pessimistic film where both physical and metaphysical decay ultimately make for a delightfully dejecting combo of the strangely transcendent sort in a film that seems like it was made in tribute to the apocalyptic philosophy of meta-nihilistic lapsed fascist Emil Cioran. Admittedly, I am not all too familiar with the writings of Judaic source writer Babel, but upon doing research on the author it became immediately apparent that he was an inordinately well educated man of many contradictions that, despite being from a wealthy family and receiving a thorough Jewish education that involved extensive study of the Talmud and Hebrew, would go on to support an atheistic communist regime that ultimately made him one of its many victims. When not dabbling in Zionist youth circles and French literary pretensions, Babel found time to befriend Russian peasants, whores, priests, and Cossack soldiers, among various other gentiles that were hardly fluent in Yiddish or Talmud studies. In fact, as his stories reveal, Babel developed a sort of Slavic-based ‘noble savage’ fetish, which is even apparent in Frank’s The Sin of Jesus adaptation, which depicts the horrifically hapless life of a dumb peasant broad that just cannot win in life, even with the help of the ostensibly holiest of interventions. As Maurice Friedberg at the Jewish Virtual Library noted regarding Babel’s bizarre gentile fetish, “It is this envy of what he saw as gentile physical strength and absence of moral restraints that caused Babel to create a gallery of Jewish protagonists who bore little resemblance to pathetic Jews described in certain Yiddish literature or to the Zionist dreamers and visionaries in certain modern Hebrew novels […] Babel's scenes of resplendent Jewish wedding feasts and magnificent funeral processions are reminiscent of the lush canvases of a Breughel.”  Of course, as his photographs, especially his most famous work The Americans (1958), reveal, Frank also shares this gentile fetish.

 Speaking of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Sin of Jesus is like the sort of film he might have directed had he been an underground Jewish beatnik filmmaker during the 1960s who was attempting to depict a post-apocalyptic farm were an impoverished philistine Jewess is forced to do manual labor as a result of NYC being wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. Indeed, while the film might feature Jesus and the actors portraying the leads are not all Jewish (Italian-American Julie Bovasso plays the female lead and Greek-American Telly Savalas plays her deadbeat beau), most of them certainly have would could be described as a stereotypical Hebraic appearance, including the angels. Needless to say, a film featuring Jesus, a farm, and hard manual labor could certainly be described as a dystopian scenario for a Jewish beatnik like Frank, so Jonas Mekas might have been right when he stated regarding the film in Movie Journal: The Rise of New American Cinema, 1959-1971, “No, I do not exaggerate much if I say, or rather repeat, that THE SIN OF JESUS will go into film history as one of the most pessimistic films ever made. Its pessimism is its main virtue. 'If your aim is high, it should be you that comes through the most,' says Robert Frank. The Pessimism of the film is his own: It is his own soul that he is revealing, his own unconscious. But we know that when it comes to true creation, it is the most personal art that is also the most universal. Self-expression of an artist is a universal act, it expresses a universal content. The lonely woman's (Julie Bovasso's) accusing and desperate cry in the dark, doomed New Jersey fields is an expression of the desperation of our own existence.” Notably, Mekas would pay tribute to The Sin of Jesus in his film diary Lost, Lost, Lost (1976), which features behind-the-scenes footage of Frank directing the film. While Frank's film is certainly a strikingly pessimistic piece of cinema that would probably be unbearable were it not for its consistently potent moments of rural gothic pulchritude and foreboding atmosphere, it is first and foremost an expression of grueling melancholia where the viewer is virtually submerged in the hapless heroine's metaphysical waterfall of tears. Arguably most surprisingly, The Sin of Jesus is a fairly tender cinematic work with a uniquely cold and impenetrable Jesus Christ that has never been seen before or since in cinema history. 

 As referenced in To Free the Cinema: Jonas Mekas & the New York Underground (1992) by David E. James, François Truffaut somewhat humorously stated in 1961 in regard to The Sin of Jesus after seeing it in a Paris movie theater, “That's the worst movie I've ever seen. I guess I'm just not an original sin boy.” Not to undermine the importance of the great half-heeb frog auteur's classic debut feature, but Frank’s film contains more visceral sorrow in a single shot than Truffaut’s sad autobiographical coming-of-age flick Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959) aka The 400 Blows does in its entirety. Of course, the difference between Truffaut and Frank is the former loved life and the latter seems to loathe it, or at least one would assume after watching his nightmarish pseudo-biblical pastoral parable, which not only condemns god but also could be interpreted as a sort of abstract suicide letter. Naturally, due to be being based on a story by Jew Babel, adapted for the screen by a Jew named Howard Shulman, and directed by Jew Frank, the somewhat arrogantly titled film also gives you a good idea as to why the average Jew could never accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. Undoubtedly, the Jesus of Frank’s film seems like a pathetic beatnik hobo compared to the Übermensch of suffering portrayed by Jim Caviezel in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004). In short, The Sin of Jesus is a devastating reminder as to why Jews will never forgive Jesus for the perennial curse of living with the unpardonable sin of deicide. 

 The Sin of Jesus begins depressingly enough with forlorn female protagonist Arina (Julie Bovasso in an uncredited lead role) grudgingly getting out of bed in the morning while her good-for-nothing fat bastard beau Felix (Telli Savales in what was supposedly his first film role) continues to sleep. While Arina spends all day working on the farm and counting eggs, Felix sleeps like a champ as if he would rather be dead than living. As Arina narrates in regard to her lonely and stagnant life, “Months roll by with baby inside. Well . . . Nobody minds. I’m the only woman here.” To convince herself that her pathetic life is somewhat tolerable, Arina thinks to herself, “Oh, it’s good. It’s good. Felix lives with me now . . . that’s good. In that barn. Oh, well. It’s my room.” Needless to say, when Felix’s friend (Philip Sterling)—a degenerate pervert that wastes no time in feeling up the female protagonist—comes by the farm and informs her regarding her bedridden boy toy, “He’s gonna be away for a longtime […] I’m here now. I’ll be back,” she takes it extremely poorly, as her sole joy in life is crushed. When Arina later attempts to coerce Felix into not leaving by pleading to him in pathetic desperation, he gets physically violent and says nasty things to her like, “I’m sick of you and I’m sick of this place.” Of course, considering the baby growing in Arina’s body is probably not his as indicated in a flashback rape scene involving his friend, it is no surprise that Felix wants nothing to do with her or her unborn babe. 

 After reaching an all-time low after being left all by her lonesome, Arina is somewhat startled one day when she walks into her dilapidated barn and feels a sort of spiritual presence, or as she states herself, “[It] looks like a church. It is so still. Not a sound. So still. I’m all alone. Alone.” Luckily, before Arina’s knows it, a rather sullen and gaunt Jesus Christ (Roberts Blossom) appears inside the barn, so she immediately complains to him, “Jesus? Lord Jesus? I’m the girl that works on the farm. He left me. Felix went away. I have his baby. I don’t know what to do. He went away. Felix left me. I’m troubled. Please. Please, can you help me? I’m in trouble. I don’t know what to do.” While Jesus cannot perform the miracle of bringing deadbeat buffoon Felix back, he can perform certain miracles and makes her a special offer, stating like a pawnshop dealer with an unnervingly flat affect, “In heaven, there is an angel named Alfred. He is very unhappy. He wants to return to earth. For four years, I will give him to you as a husband. There’s lots of fun in him, but no seriousness.” Indeed, as the viewer soon learns, Alfred (St. George Brian) is probably the most mirthfully autistic and mindlessly hedonistic angel of cinema history, yet he is ultimately no match for the desperate lechery of pathetically sexually repressed protagonist Arina, who does not consider the extreme sensitivity of the heavenly young man’s otherworldly body. Jesus also informs Arina that there is no chance that she will be able to have a baby with Alfred, but she does not care because she is so excited. 

 When Jesus comes back a second time, he brings with him a less than angelic collection of multicultural angels that include a couple depressed young Jewesses, a lone negro, a seemingly queer and depressed fire-crotched boy, and a goofy four-eyed Asian, among others.  Of course, Jesus also brings Alfred, who is a fairly gawky boy that looks like he would make for a better son than lover for Arina. When Jesus declares, “The Angels have come to be at your wedding,” Arina immediately attempts to leave with Alfred, as if she is so desperately horny that she cannot even bother to spare a couple minutes to celebrate her special day with an extremely special supernatural cast of characters. Jesus also makes sure to inform Arina in regard to Alfred’s wings that they are, “delicate as a baby’s bread. If you don’t take them off each night before he goes to bed, you will kill him.” Rather unfortunately but not all that surprisingly considering she is a fairly slow-witted woman, Arina seems to be too excited to pay attention when Jesus warns her of autistic angel Alfred’s fatally frail wings. After the somewhat kitschy yet nonetheless celestial wedding ceremony where the angels throw feathers and play brass instruments in tribute to the eccentric newlyweds, Arina brings Alfred inside her humble abode and celebrates with him in an otherworldly scene that seems like the female protagonist’s idea of heaven. Not surprisingly, Arina forgets to take off Alfred’s wings before mounting his otherworldly member, thus resulting in a tragic deadly honeymoon.  Undoubtedly, Arina was completely infatuated with her new husband and revealed a sort of radiating glow of seemingly immaculate happiness during their wedding night that was in stark contrast to her previous morbidly melancholy self, so naturally Arina takes Alfred's rather senseless premature death fairly badly.  Somewhat provocatively, Arina ultimately blames her own stupidity that lead to Alfred's death on Jesus, as if he did not warn her about making sure to take off the angel's wings before fucking him.

 The next day, Arina carries Alfred’s tattered wings outside to Jesus, who states to her in a benign authoritarian fashion, “As it is on earth, so shall it be with you for this day on” and then calmly berates her for “killing my angel.” At this point, Arina becomes irately hysterical and loudly cries out, “Who made me like this? Who made my body heavy like this? Who made my soul lonely and stupid? Tell me! Who made a woman like me?” but Jesus simply looks away and states without even the slightest hint of emotion, “Go back, Irena. There is nothing more to say.” When Arina finally goes inside, she holds her womb while recalling a tragic incident when Felix’s creepy friend raped her, hence her somewhat mysterious pregnancy and why her (ex)beau probably left her. When Arina goes outside the next day, she yells, “I don’t want to know. I don’t need any answers” while a rather dejected and guilt-ridden Jesus meekly lurks around the farm. No longer able to tolerate her insufferably lonely life of incessant misery and misfortune, Arina curses the world and especially its creator. In the end, Jesus succumbs to guilt and vulnerability, gets on his knees, and then reveals that he is hardly almighty by pathetically pleading to Arina, “Forgive me. Forgive your sinful god,” but she now lacks the capacity for forgiveness and coldly replies, “Me … forgive him? I can’t. I have no forgiveness.” Undoubtedly, in Arina’s heart, god is now dead. 

 Undoubtedly, the more I find out about director Robert Frank, the more loathsome he seems, so I think it is only fitting that he is no fan of The Sin of Jesus, which I regard as easily his greatest and most accomplished cinematic achievement. Indeed, in an interview with Jack Sargeant featured in the book Naked Lens: Beat Cinema (1995), Frank would state the film “was not very good” and explain, “Well, it was an Isaac Babel story and the mistake was to take a story and try and make a film of it, but I was learning, you know, because there was no film schools, you had to learn by making stuff.” Aside from his rarely-seen Rolling Stones doc Cocksucker Blues (1972), the rest of Frank’s cinematic oeuvre is either obscenely overrated (e.g. Pull My Daisy), aesthetically autistic (e.g. Me and My Brother), embarrassingly masturbatory (e.g. Conversations in Vermont, The Present), or just plain worthless (e.g. Energy and How to Get It). With his sole mainstream feature Candy Mountain (1987) co-directed by Rudy Wurlitzer, Frank would ultimately got over his obsession with hipster posturing, so naturally I never suspected that he would have directed something worthwhile in his early filmmaking. In fact, as a result of my disappointment with the director's other films, I was absolutely shocked by how much I appreciated The Sin of Jesus to the point where I am shocked that Frank even directed it.

Certainly, female lead Julie Bovasso and cinematographer German cinematographer Gert Berliner—a man best known for his photography—deserve a lot of credit for the film's aesthetic majesty, as the actress' performance and the cinematography are certainly the most memorable aspects of the film. Of course, unlike most of Frank’s films, the Jesus parable actually has an actual storyline and talented actors as opposed to posturing beatniks and schizophrenic Hebrews doing nothing. Although just an assumption, I am pretty sure that Frank’s post-holocaust hatred and pathos certainly inspired his uniquely unkindly depiction of Jesus. Naturally, I can see how the film might be embarrassing for the director on retrospect, as it reveals an outstanding arrogance and megalomania in its renouncing of god, but then again that is one of the things that makes it so powerful. Indeed, the film certainly features the sort of Christ-hating that inspired Jews like Babel to become Bolsheviks. 

 Despite my lack of religiousness and my general revulsion towards hypocritical Christ-bashing Jews that never seem to find the time to criticize the various glaringly barbaric aspects of Judaism and the tyrannical genocidal Jewish G-d, I think that it is a sad irony that, out of all of the many J.C. films that have been made, The Sin of Jesus is probably my favorite.  Of course, the film is less about Jesus than it is about a lefty Jew's contempt for the idea of Jesus and what he represents, but that is not why I appreciate it.  Indeed, to me, the film unequivocally proves that an artist's work can be appreciated in spite of its dubious political or even metaphysical message.  After all, I doubt most fans of Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising (1972) have ever read Moonchild (1923) or would describe themselves as Crowleyites.  As an urban Jewish bohemian that was born to a wealthy Judaic family in Switzerland during the Nazi era who once dubiously bitched regarding the supposed antisemitism of a cop in a small Arkansas town, “I remember the guy [policeman] took me into the police station, and he sat there and put his feet on the table. It came out that I was Jewish because I had a letter from the Guggenheim Foundation. They really were primitive,” Frank seems like the last person that could create a potent and lasting piece of rural cinematic Americana, yet The Sin of Jesus is simply unforgettable in terms of its sheer imagery, venomous cynicism, throbbing pathos and penetrating pangs of pessimism.

After watching Frank's film and noticing its seething rage directed towards god, I could not help but be reminded of Judaic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's wise and rather un-Jewish words, “It isn't sensible to be furious even at Hitler; how much less so at God.”  Of course, the somewhat bizarre thing about The Sin of Jesus is that Frank reveals rage towards a religious figure that he, as a proud atheistic Jew, does not even actually believe in, but then again one could argue that the film is actually an attempt to confront the seeming absurdity of poor, ignorant, and downtrodden peasants being the most likely to have faith in Jesus of Nazareth when they have such horrible, miserable, and accursed lives.  In that sense, the film proves to be provocative, if not misguided, but I suspect that it is just really one of the seemingly infinite examples of a Jew rejecting that Jesus was not the long awaited Messiah of the Messianic prophecies. As to how someone that is so poor and unlucky could be religious, Wittgenstein offered an insight when he wrote, “People are religious to the extent that they believe themselves to be not so much imperfect as ill. Any man who is half-way decent will think himself extremely imperfect, but a religious man thinks himself wretched.” After all, it takes a certain degree of profound arrogance to, not unlike Frank, condemn a religious figure, especially a creator god, even if you do not believe in said religious figure, but I guess it might be a little different with Jesus, who makes Jews feel culpable for deicide, hence the classic antisemitic slur ‘Christ-killer.’  Additionally, I would not be surprised if Jews like Frank blame Jesus for pogroms and even the holocaust, not to mention the stereotype of a Hebrew complaining “Where was God?” in relation to said holocaust (in that sense, one could argue that Frank's film is a sort of cryptic-holocaust flick where a Christian acts as a stand-in for a Jew in the denouncing of god).  While Hollywood movies and mainstream TV shows never miss an opportunity to mock Christ, The Sin of Jesus seems to be one of the few cinematic examples where a Jew ‘attempts’ to make some sense of the supposed ‘false messiah,’ so naturally it should be no surprise that the film wallows in misery, melancholy, and tragic misfortune, as if it is the expression of the Jewish collective unconscious.  Either way, Frank's film surely had the opposite result on me as the director intended, as it gave me the urge to learn more about the real Jesus Christ, who was surely not anything like the eponymous melancholy wimp of The Sin of Jesus.

-Ty E

Nov 6, 2016

Rosemary’s Baby

Since I have never been particularly superstitious, even as a young child, I am not too fond of supernatural horror films involving the devil, demons, demonic possession, and related ungodly ingredients that are oftentimes painfully cliche, generic, and just plain downright banal when depicted cinematically by the mostly atheistic and Zionistic unbelievers of unholywood. Indeed, I find nude scenes of bloated Jewess Lena Dunham to be infinitely more horrifying than a demonically possessed Linda Blair stabbing her jailbait snatch with a crucifix in William Friedkin’s classic William Peter Blatty adaptation The Exorcist (1973). Likewise, I find it simply impossible to find little dude Damien of The Omen (1976) to be even remotely ominous, but I would not be surprised if Judaic director Richard Donner has a certain unsettling feeling when he thinks of Anglo-Saxon children, as he certainly would not be the first or the last Hebraic filmmaker to direct a film where a cute Nordic kid is supposed to be the personification of absolute evil. Undoubtedly, the most blatant and famous example of a Jewish filmmaker mocking white Christians and their beliefs is indubitably Rosemary’s Baby (1968) directed by Roman Polanski and based on the best-selling horror novel of the same name by fellow chosenite Ira Levin. Produced by Hebraic carny-like schlockmeister filmmaker William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler) and made under the guidance of Judaic Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans (real name Robert J. Shapera), the classic horror film is as kosher as a Jewish wedding in terms of the most important people behind it, which makes perfect sense when one considers that it is about an overly sweet and sensitive yet oftentimes awfully annoying Catholic girl that literally gets fucked by the devil and inseminated with his sinister seed. Starring insufferable archetypical white liberal moron Mia Farrow—a woman that should probably go down in history as the originator of the grotesque virtue-signaling-based Hollywood trend of adopting child of different races from around the world as if they are accessories—with the sort of vomit-worthy hipster chic dyke haircut that is quite typical among bourgeois leftist feminist bitches nowadays, the film is almost like a parable about the nefarious (post)counterculture influence of Jews on the seemingly hopelessly naive and impressionable white middleclass, especially young and dumb WASP debutantes, but that does not mean it is not a virtually immaculate horror classic that it is probably the best that the (sub)genre has to offer. 

 Until yesterday, the last time I saw Rosemary's Baby was nearly a decade ago with an ex-girlfriend, who is incidentally currently pregnant (quite unlike Farrow’s character, there is no way she could give birth to anything resembling a demon child), so naturally my thoughts on and appreciation of the film has changed somewhat over the past ten years or so. Notable for being Polanski’s first adaptation of a novel and not an original story made in collaboration with his longtime co-writer Gérard Brach, the film might be looked at as the director’s first piece of for-hire hack work were it not so readily apparent that he put himself completely into the film’s screenplay and seemingly immaculate direction (notably, male lead John Cassavetes, who butted heads with Polanski throughout the production, would later state regarding the director, “You can't dispute the fact that he's an artist, but yet you have to say ROSEMARY'S BABY is not art.”). Although it might be fucked up to say on retrospect, the film feels so innately and even smugly ‘evil’ that it almost seems like an act of twisted fate that his wife Sharon Tate and unborn child were brutally murdered by members of the so-called Manson Family not long after its release (at the very least, this fact only adds to the film's potency).

While people have accused Polanski of being a crypto-Satanist of sorts despite his glaring nihilistic sympathies, Rosemary's Baby is certainly a rare film where the viewer finds it hard to root for the all-too-sweet Catholic girl protagonist when the Satanic antagonists are so much more charming, worldly, elegant, and mild-mannered. In fact, Ethan Mordden would go so far to argue in his classic text Medium Cool: The Movies of the 1960s (1990), “Even worse, because she is powerless, is the heroine of Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY (19680), who drives the public into crazes with her dithering and wondering. All praise to Mia Farrow for fulfilling the director's intentions—for he obviously does not want us to identify, even sympathize with, Rosemary, one of the film's very few characters who is not a full-fledged ghoul. Farrow winces, whines, and withers, but she can't stand up and say no [...] Polanski is rooting for the devil. A year before the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont and the climax of rock-as-demonism, the director says, this is what the times favor; this is where we have landed. We like the darkness. We sing the monster.

Not surprisingly, in 2003 Judaic source writer Ira Levin would complain in regard to his belief that the film and his source novel inspired religious fanaticism, “Lately, I’ve had a new worry. The success of ROSEMARY’S BABY inspired EXORCISTS and OMENS and lots of et ceteras. Two generations of youngsters have grown to adulthood watching depictions of Satan as a living reality. Here’s what I worry about now: if I hadn’t pursued an idea for a suspense novel almost forty years ago, would there be quite as many religious fundamentalists around today?”  Of course, Levin's remark reeks of the short of repugnantly smug Jewish leftist anti-Christian arrogance that has turned academia, various art movements, and ‘Western’ culture in general  into what might be best described as a putrid rotting dead horse that needs to be, at the very least, buried deep in mountains of manure.  While the film makes brief reference to Nietzsche in a scene where titular female protagonist looks at a magazine with a cover that reads, “Is God Dead?,” the German philosopher did not delight in the prospect as he was afraid that it would lead to collective nihilism and ultimately the death of the Occident.

 After recently re-watching the film, it was apparent to me that Rosemary’s Baby is almost a satire of irrational Christian fears as written and directed by someone that seems like they would smile at the prospect of a devil defiling a pedomorphic Catholic girl, but I guess one should not expect anything less from a filmmaker that has a self-confessed affection for much younger women and thus can personally relate to such displays of ungodly carnality. Indeed, ultimately in the end, the cutesy yet unintentionally kooky female protagonist learns to ‘love the devil’ (or at least his half-human bastard son) and the Satanists prevail and proudly declare, “God is dead! Satan lives!” in great megalomaniacal triumph. Of course, such a scenario is probably quite satisfying to Jews who believe that Christians think of them as ‘Christ-killers.’ In fact, the only thing that could make the film more immaculate in terms of its elegantly executed contempt for Christendom is if it was produced by a studio named the Synagogue of Satan. Whilst one could argue that the film is poking fun at old school ‘antisemitic’ tropes about Jews using Christian babies for satanic rituals, it is quite obvious that Polanski takes great glee in depicting these stylishly sinister scenarios. In that sense, Levin is not too far off when speculating that the film influenced Christians to get more militant, as Rosemary’s Baby is, in many ways, more incriminating regarding the sinister influence on Hebraic Hollywood than even the most sophisticated of white nationalist oriented propaganda pieces. Of course, the fact that Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey—a Jewish carny that plagiarized a good portion of his atheistic philosophy of self-worship from the writings of Russian Jewess Ayn Rand—made up an enduring myth that he worked as both a technical consultant for the satanic rituals and acted in an uncredited cameo role as Satan only adds to the film's satanic Jewish cred. 

 The virtual stereotype for the helpless white bourgeois princess, Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) made her first big mistake when she married a scheming swarthy hack actor named Guy (John Cassavetes) that absurdly believes that acting in television is where “the artistic thrill” is at, thus underscoring his insincerity and lack of values and moral principles.  Of course, Guy is more of a con-artist than an artist but his young wifey is too much of an airheaded sweetheart to realize that. Quite unbeknownst to the tragically naïve protagonist, her sleazy hubby is willing to play cuckold to the devil himself just so that he can get his acting career started. Notably, at the beginning of the film, Rosemary and Guy are depicted making love in the most soulless and mechanical fashion imaginable as if it were a chore in a scene that really highlights the sorry sham that is their marriage, but I guess one should not expect anything less in a glaringly mismatched relationship where the wife resembles a sort of androgynous Virgin Mary and the husband seems like a terribly desperate and morally bankrupt Jewish used car salesmen with a tendency towards banging intoxicated guidettes. Against the sound advice of her ambiguously gay ex-landlord Hutch (Maurice Evans)—a queen-ish fellow that curiously writes “stories for boys” yet seems to lack any interest in any traditionally masculine subjects—Rosemary and her husband move into an apartment complex with the unflattering nickname ‘Black Bramford’ with a dubious history that includes Victorian cannibal sisters, devil worshipers, and mysterious dead infants wrapped in newspapers, among other things that people do not typically associate with a perfect bourgeois apartment building.

 Not long after moving in, Rosemary is excited to befriend a gorgeous goombah babe named Terry Gionoffrio (Victoria Vetri under the pseudonym ‘Angela Dorian’ in a small role where she humorously complains that people think she looks like Victoria Vetri), only to find her new gal pal not long after with her blood and brains splattered across concrete as a result of a dubious suicide that involved her falling seven floors from a Bramford apartment window. Terry was an ex-junky that was taken in by Rosemary’s exceedingly eccentric elderly neighbors Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevets (Sidney Blackmer) who supposedly treated her as the “child they never had.” Of course, as the viewer eventually speculates, Terry was originally the Castevet’s choice for the carrier of Satan’s half-human spawn, but now that Rosemary has moved in they have a much better choice for Satan's female cattle. After all, Terry’s drug and STD ridden body was surely not fit to produce the ungodly spawn of the Prince of Darkness.  Somewhat strangely, Rosemary is not too disturbed when Minnie—a perniciously pushy little pipsqueak bitch that openly admits that she never takes no for an answer—gives her a supposed good luck charm containing a dubious herb named ‘tannis root’ that Terry was wearing when she died horrifically under questionable circumstances.  Despite being repulsed by the putrid smell of tannis root, Rosemary is a good little follower and agrees to wear the antique necklace, at least until she realizes that it is really a satanic good luck charm of sorts that really contains a evil fungus called ‘Devil's Pepper.’

 While his wife Minnie is the worst extreme of the nagging and perennially scheming Jewish mother (even though she is technically not a mother), Roman is an elegant quasi-Svengali-like old fart that knows how to play the game when it comes to manipulating people, especially to the benefit of his infernal god, though he is not afraid to express his anti-Christian sentiments.  Indeed, Roman somewhat disturbs Rosemary not long after they meet by stating things like, “No Pope ever visits a city where the newspaper are on strike” and “You don’t need to have respect for him [The Pope] because he pretends that he is holy.”  Still, as a confused lapsed Catholic that has bad memories regarding frigid old nuns, Rosemary seems like easy prey for Roman's heretical influence.  When Rosemary’s rather wise pal Hutch randomly meets Roman, he immediately becomes suspicious of him, especially due to his, “pierced ears and piercing eyes.” Rather sadly, Hutch is the only person that seems to truly have Rosemary’s best interests in mind, but he is no match for the manipulative majesty of Roman, aggressive scheming of Minnie, or overbearing bullshitting of Guy.

Like Rosemary, Guy wants to have children, albeit for the totally wrong reasons. Of course, as the film reveals, Rosemary could not have picked a worst time to have her first child.  While Rosemary believes that her first pregnancy has been planned by her and Guy, Roman and Minnie have already hatched a pernicious well thought out plan to have her procreate with Beelzebub.  When Guy lands a respectable acting role as a result of the original actor going blind under mysterious circumstances, he becomes inordinately overjoyed and absolutely delights Rosemary by telling her that he wants to have a baby. Unbeknownst to Rosemary, Guy has made a pact with Castevets to allow Satan to fuck and impregnate her in return for a successful acting career. Indeed, Guy is such a pathetic narcissist that he made a deal to become Satan’s cuckold in return for the shallowest of careers. There is no doubt that Guy does not truly love Rosemary, who seems to be completely blind to this lack of love, at least at first. As his tasteless choice of trade and phony charismatic personality hint, Guy loves himself and only himself and he certainly has no qualms about making a quasi-Faustian pact that involves sacrificing his wife's fresh womb to be a demonic baby incubator the Devil himself to advance his acting career. In fact, the morning after he has Rosemary drugged and raped by Satan, he lies to her and states that he fucked her in her sleep, even jokingly describing it as, “Kinda fun in a necrophile sort of way.”  

To make sure that Rosemary was properly knocked out so that Satan could penetrate her Catholic cunt without even the slightest bit of resistance, Guy forced her to eat chocolate mousse that was drugged by Minnie even though she complained it had a “chalky under taste.”  While Rosemary remembers being defiled by something inhuman, she ultimately rights off the satanic rape as merely a bad dream even though her body is covered in claw marks as if someone roughly violated her during sex.  Needless to say, Rosemary's incessant refusal to ever say “no” to the satanic conspirators becomes increasingly aggravating to the point where the viewer eventually finds it nearly impossible to sympathize with her plight.  Indeed, not unlike the stupid rich WASP college student that buys into all the propaganda of largely Jewish cultural Marxists, feminists, LGBT agitators, and other scum, Rosemary hardly deserves pity as she is a feeble-minded individual that is a mindless traitor to both herself and her ancestral faith.

 Undoubtedly, one of the most overtly Jewish aspects of the film is that Rosemary is coerced by the Castevets into going to see an arrogant satanic obstetrician named Dr. Abraham Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy) after she gets pregnant.  Aside from developing a compulsion to eat raw meat, Rosemary suffers great stomach pain after getting pregnant and suspects something is extremely wrong, but super smug semite Dr. Sapirstein arrogantly discounts her complaints and endorses her drinking a strange cocktail that is prepared by Minnie of all people instead of taking normal pregnancy vitamins. Like with virtually every evil character she encounters, Rosemary seems to have next to nil intuition into the true insidious nature of Dr. Sapirstein until it is much too late, which is rather depressing since she is a genuinely nice and trusting little lady that, to her ultimately rather tragic detriment, seems to be willing to give virtually anyone the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, Rosemary does not realizes that the Castevets are members of a witch coven until she has unwittingly caused her homey Hutch to fall into a coma and eventually croak as a result of having a spell put on him by the elderly Satanists.  Clearly realizing that he might be a threat to their satanic agenda, Roman put a spell on Hutch not long after first meeting him. Before croaking, Hutch managed to procure an antique book entitled All Of Them Witches that reveals that Roman is from a satanic family and that his name is really an anagram for his real Satanic name ‘Steven Marcato.’ To add insult to injury, Roman names Rosemary’s half-breed demonic child ‘Adrian’ in tribute to his infamous bigwig Satanist father Adrian Marcato, who has an entire chapter dedicated to him in All Of Them Witches.

While Rosemary makes a desperate attempt to convince another Jewish obstetrician named Dr. Hill (Charles Grodin) into helping her give birth lest her child be stolen by satanic conspirators, the good doctor naturally does not believe her rather wild and fantastic story and thus betrays her by informing Guy and Sapirstein about her whereabouts. Surely one of the most sinister Judaic characters in cinema history, Sapirstein even dares to blackmail Rosemary by threatening to have her committed to a mental institution if she continues to complain about a satanic conspiracy against her. In short, Rosemary—a genuinely sweet and sensitive girl that could make for a truly devout Christian were she not married to a scumbag and mixed up with such malevolent characters—is no match for any of the Satanists in terms of sheer will power, intellect, and moral bankruptcy. In the end, Rosemary is horrified to discover that her baby, which she was told was dead, has the eyes of Satan, yet Roman manages to coerce her into being the demonic being’s mother in what ultimately proves to be a wickedly warped twist ending where Satan is glorious and a sweet and sensitive young Catholic girl learns to love her satanic bastard progeny that was sired via ritualistic phantasmagoric rape. Of course, this scenario ultimately not much different from the one depicted in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up (2007) where singularly obnoxious Judaic lard ass Seth Rogen portrays a Hebraic slacker that proudly engages in Rassenschande with a blonde Shiksa portrayed by Katherine Heigl. 

 Not surprisingly, Rosemary’s Baby is a favorite film among many real-life ‘Satanists,’ including the Church of Satan, which officially endorses the film in the eponymous book The Church of Satan by Magistra Blanche Barton as approved by the pseudo-church's founder Magus Anton Szandor LaVey. Additionally, LaVey’s estranged son-in-law Nikolas Schreck—a one-eared Satanist turned Tantric Buddhist that is probably best known as the frontman of the goofy pseudo-deathrock group Radio Werewolf—highly praised the film in his book The Satanic Screen: An Illustrated Guide to the Devil in Cinema (2001) where rightly noted, “The film is remarkably free of the clichés that marred previous films of Satanism. To cite only one of the most obvious examples, Castavet’s coven are not bloodthirsty fiends slavering to commit blood sacrifices.” In his book, ex-Satanist Schreck also makes it quite clear that, despite the claims of both various Christian and Satanic groups to the contrary, the film was not the product of genuine devout Satanists, or as he states himself, “ROSEMARY’S BABY became a kind of blueprint for the occult renaissance of the late 1960s, quite unintentionally placing the Hollywood seal of approval on the Black Arts. Putting the cart before the horse, both occultists and Christians of different stripes have looked in the film for hidden magical messages and authentic Satanic lore. Rumors have spread that the film-makers must have sought technical advice for ‘real’ Satanists to imbue the film with such seeming authenticity.” While I have made fun of Schreck in the past, I certainly cannot deny that he probably said it best when he noted regarding the importance of the film in the context of satanic cinema a whole, “The impact of ROSEMARY’S BABY on the Satanic cinema can hardly be overestimated. Its popular success moved the Devil from the margins of the film world to the centre, directly inspiring a tidal wave of diabolical movies that surged around the world for a full decade after its release. One of those rare films that transcends it original beginnings as simple escapist entertainment, it was elevated by its mysterious inner force into its own dark myth. ROSEMARY’S BABY was fortuitously released at exactly the right time, capitalizing on and helping to create the sixties occult revival that it will always be associated with.”  While Kenneth Anger is the undoubtedly the greatest occult filmmaker to have ever lived, Polanski certainly deserves the credit for bringing overt left-hand path themes to the mainstream (though Val Lewton surely made a valiant attempt with The Seventh Victim (1943), which was clearly a major influence on Rosemary's Baby).

 Aside from being noted by some, including ex-Satanist Schreck, as a sort of allegory for the birth of the Age of Satan (or what Thelemites like Anger describe as the Aeon of Horus), Rosemary’s Baby is also (in)famous for supposedly being a cursed movie, namely due to the Manson Family brutally murdering auteur Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate and unborn child. Aside from that, the film’s Polish musical composer Krzysztof Komeda died in 1969 of more or less the same illness (haematoma of the brain) that the film's character Hutch died after having a spell put on him by the Satanists. Of course, Mia Farrow’s entire post-Rosemary’s Baby life seems to be at least somewhat cursed in various ways. Indeed, aside from the fact that she was married to a purported pedo and had a sick brother that was a convicted gay child molester, Farrow, whose then-hubby Frank Sinatra notably divorced her because she refused to quit Polanski’s film, would later star in a number of rip-off films ranging from Richard Loncraine’s virtually totally unknown UK-Canadian production The Haunting of Julia (1977) aka Full Circle to the dreadful The Omen (2006) remake where she demonstrates a nasty knack for unintentional self-parody. While in Rosemary’s Baby Farrow seems like a genuinely pure and virgin-like beauty that is no match for a coven of evil conniving witches, Farrow would go on to seem like the archetypical psychologically decrepitude white liberal pseudo-intellectual whack-job, hence her dubious marriage to a patently pathetic physical specimen like neurotic Hebraic dork Woody Allen. 

 Undoubtedly, if I were to pick a song that I believe best sums up the spirit of seemingly accursed auteur Roman Polanski and his films, especially Rosemary’s Baby, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), and The Ninth Gate (1999)—all cinematic works where evil prevails in the end—it would be “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones, even if it is not exactly the sort of song that he would use in one of his films. Indeed, while Polanski’s films reveal that he has extremely pessimistic existentialist tendencies, they also demonstrate that, at least allegorically speaking, he has no problem sympathizing with the plight of Satan, but I guess one would not expect anything less from a Polish Jew that personally witnessed the worst of the Kraków Ghetto as a child and whose mother died in Auschwitz concentration camp, not to mention the fact that he was forced against his will to pose as a Roman Catholic lest her be found out as a Jew and sent to a concentration camp like both  of his parents. Of course, not unlike Satan in Rosemary’s Baby, Jewish outsider Polanski impregnated a blonde Aryan beauty, thus making the murder of said blonde Aryan beauty and the dead half-Jewish fetus seem all the more bizarre on retrospect, as if the auteur had been punished by god for his bold cinematic sins. As someone that is not particularly religious, I somehow find the bizarre metaphysical implications of Rosemary’s Baby to be surprisingly intriguing, especially considering that even a carny huckster like William Castle—a man that thrived like no other in terms of being a shameless cinematic smut-peddler—felt severe guilt in regard to producing the film, even writing when his hit satanic flick was receiving Academy Awards, “All my life I had yearned for the applause, approval and recognition of my peers and when the awards were being passed out, I no longer cared. I was at home, very frightened of ROSEMARY’S BABY.”  On top of feeling guilty about the spiritual influence of the film, Castle also suffered kidney failure shortly after it was released.  To Castle's credit, the horror films that he personally directed like The Tingler (1959) and even his swansong Shanks (1974) are fun and hokey with cartoonish depicts of good and evil and surely not works that celebrate Satan, so it almost seems sickly absurd that he was involved with producing a film that is nothing short of Satanic cinema par excellence.

While there is ample evidence to argue that Rosemary's Baby is a sort of dark crypto-comedy at the expense of Christian true believers, there is denying that it has a singular dark and ominous essence that has yet to be rivaled by any other film.  Undoubtedly, it is one of those oh-so rare films that, although I come back to it every couple years, I cannot exactly say that I am a true fan even though I believe that is one of the most subversive, immaculate, and artistically merited that has ever come out of Hollywood. While Polanski once stated, “I no more believed in Satan as evil incarnate than I believed in a personal god; the whole idea conflicted with my rational view of the world,” his sins, life of artistic and monetary success yet strange misfortune, and films certainly seem to contradict this.  Indeed, one could also argue that working in Hollywood caused Polanski to lose his soul, or as David Thomson noted in his trusty film reference book The New Biographical Dictionary of Film regarding the auteur's inexplicable decline as a cinematic artist with an unmistakable style, “Once upon a time, it would have seemed impossible for Polanski to stagnate. Yet it has happened. DEATH AND THE MAIDEN and THE NINTH GATE did not seem to belong to him, whereas, once, he had put his stamp on anything and everything. This liberty has not enriched him. There has been no talk of a return to America; and no hint of that music not having to be faced. In Paris, Polanski seems disconsolate, a thumb-twiddler. And while time passes, the mood for his best films is nearly forgotten.”  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Macbeth (1971) and to even some extent The Pianist (2002), but the somewhat flawed The Tenant (1976) aka Le Locataire seems to be the director's last display of unadulterated artistic integrity.  As for Rosemary's Baby, it might be adapted from the novel of an obscenely overrated mainstream horror novelist, but it is pure Polanski in a darkly comedic misanthropic sort of fashion that, for better or worse, reminds viewers why people used to oftentimes oftentimes associated Jews and Judaism with Satanism.  In other words, I am not surprised that the film was directed by an inordinately artistically gift holocaust survivor.

-Ty E