Deathwatch

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I contributed a little bit to a new article at The Chiseler, masterminded by Daniel Riccuito and also starring Jennifer Matsui. It deals with such movies as SECONDS and CARNIVAL OF SOULS and Epstein’s THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, from which I have selected a festive image (above).

The article.

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4 Responses to “Deathwatch”

  1. Supersaturation freezes the crystal in an instant. So it is with the drama, like the egg at the fingertips of the naked magician, come out of nothing, of everywhere. All around, characters and actions submissively fall into order. Toward the future lies a false track which in its turn will undergo the surprising intersection with the absolute. Toward the past, the idyll, read backwards, is tragedy. The episodes each find their place, in order, deduced, bound together, comprehensible, understood. Exactly – the actors intimate – that’s why we were there. As in the beautiful suntax of a latin sentence, from the final verb, you come back to the subject.

    –Jean Epstein, 1927

  2. All three films are brilliant, beautiful and genuinely haunting in their own way. Reza Badyi was a.d. on Carnival of Souls. It was the first job he got on emigrating to the U.S. from Iran and he had a lot more to do with the film than he’s been given credit for. There’s a reason why it’s Herk Harvey’s only fictional film credit. His métier was instructional shorts.

    Badyi later became Jennifer Jason Leigh’s stepfather. According to Todd Haynes he was a lot closer to her than her birth father Vic Morrow.

    Badyi chiefly made his name as a TV director .

  3. Fascinating!

    Nothing can really explain how Carnival of Souls got to be so haunting. The story has a lot to do with it, and that IS credited to two industrial films makers. And sometimes the lack of expressiveness in the filmmaking works in the movie’s favour. It’s one of those happy accidents, a combination of talent and naivety and luck.

  4. With your permission Davids E & C, I’d like to fold your comments into the longer version, which I’m busily working on now. It’s a full-throated theory-fest at about 6,000 words. More measured in spots, including the opening. But since I open with Epstein theory, it’s also incredibly wooly. Reads like incantation.

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