Archive for Maciste in Hell

Cutthroat Highlands

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , on September 13, 2012 by dcairns

In this week’s edition of Forgotten Gialli, the genre heads north to the Scottish highlands (and what looks to be the same Italian castle location used to evoke Celtic mystery in MACISTE IN HELL. Jane Birkin, above, is tres chic, and Serge Gainsbourg is on hand to further confuse the Gaelic with the Gallic.

The film is giddy tosh SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT’S EYE, and you are invited.

Children of a Messier God

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by dcairns

It’s Prometheus! Hello, Prometheus! (From MACISTE IN HELL)

I’m going to avoid spoilers as much as possible while discussing PROMETHEUS, but if you want to see the film with totally fresh eyes, you’re better off not reading anything about it until afterwards, aren’t you?

Although, once you’ve seen it, you’ll be struck by how it’s largely a remake of the original ALIEN — the same story beats, but with interesting / horrific variations. The whole thing is put over with great style, and is very exciting and icky and everything you’d want it to be. Really, it not only acts as if the last two ALIENS films didn’t happen, it mainly ignores James Cameron’s highly-regarded sequel also, and certainly there’s no loose talk of the PREDATOR crossovers. This is, essentially, a prequel/replay of Scott’s original monster movie.

I like Marc Steitenfeld’s music, which continues the fine tradition of terror honking exemplified by SHUTTER ISLAND, but does so much more — including presenting a nice sombre religious grandeur theme, which plays in all sorts of unexpected scenarios.

The best way to talk about it, giving teasers rather than spoilers — might be in the form of a broken radio transmission —

KRRZZZT!

— Begins in Scotland! (where BATTLESHIP ends!) —

— very ALIENS-like spacecraft design —

— very 2001 interiors, continuing the ALIEN series’ odd conceit that as we get further into the future, everything gets danker and rattier —

— “Weyland” — mythic reference, but can’t work out signif —

— Skull Island sphinx statue —

— for once, Fassbender’s penis not largest serpentine organ on view —

— not only watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 3D, but dying his hair to look like O’Toole —

— in old age make-up FOR NO REASON —

— BRRZT! —

— guy getting all Crocodile Hunter with newly discovered alien species. Not smart —

— actors hitting their character’s single dimensions as HARD as they can: “Stupidity with confidence” —

–can’t believed they showed this IN THE TRAILER —

— kzzt!

One of the film’s strangest pleasures for me was the appearance of Kate Dickie, a Scots actress of some standing, who seems rather out of place — not because we can’t accept Scots on a spaceship — there’s Scottie, after all — but because I think she’s struggling with the American dialogue, which is very clipped and snappy, while her delivery is very emphatic and precise (while still in a very broad accent) — this might not be an issue for non-Scots, but I can assure you I’ve never heard anybody talk like this, ever. I suspect the idea was to keep the authentic accent but ensure clarity by stressing everything quite hard and leaving clear spaces between each word — whereas everybody knows that Scots communicate in a succession of continuous vowels. This is like a cross between Scots and morse code.

There’s also the fact that Noomi Rapace is delightfully Swedish, but in a dream-flashback she has an English accent as a child, which fits her character name, Elizabeth Shaw (deep space chocolatier!) but is a little puzzling. Couldn’t they have changed the character name and hired a Swedish child?

This is obviously Erich Von Daniken year — the comparative mythology Was God an Astronaut? stuff here (which serves the same role as the distress signal/warning in ALIEN) also turns up in JOHN CARTER — and would’ve been central to Del Toro’s AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS if that had happened.

What might frustrate some fans is the fact that the film doesn’t really set out to provide answers to the new questions it poses, though it does give information about the nature of the “Space Jockey” species found dead in ALIEN, and the origins of the titular creature itself. Those are questions that nobody really needed answers to, so the new mysteries we’re left with are much more intriguing. And I kind of hope they remain unanswered, but I guess there’s little chance of that — there’ll be a 2010-style sequel along sooner or later to explain everything to death.

We went with our friends Kim and Egg, and Egg was freaked to see that the geologist character looks exactly like the first geologist he ever met (and it’s quite a distinctive look: shaved ginger tattooed head and goatee). Do all geologists look like this?

King Lear in space” was how Fiona described one set of characters, who introduce a theme of age and succession. “Rupert Murdoch in space,” was how I described it. I can’t think why else they cast an Australian and then covered him in old age makeup. Given that this is a Fox film, it does suggest that old Rupert is losing touch with his empire…

I enjoyed this movie and may write more on it when there’s less fear of spoilers.

Hopefully that wasn’t too spoilery, but I make no promises about the comments section. Though it’d be nice if folks keep it misty re major plot points.

Manic Monday

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 28, 2011 by dcairns

Dwain Esper’s MANIAC is so inept on every conventional level that it actually achieves an intermittent kind of interest. When a filmmaker has no interest in achieving anything except conning the public out of their money, the results are certain to be poor, but when he’s not good enough to efficiently do even that, you start to get some entertainment oozing back into the thing through the gaping fissures. Add to this that Esper wants to keep more than one ball in the air at once, a wildly unrealistic ambition considering his total ineptitude.

Esper’s balls are ~

1) Straight carny exploitation of sex and violence

2) Mock-medical pseudo-authenticity to lend socially redeeming merits to his film (important for staving off censorship)

3) An atmosphere of the macabre

(3) is sought via story borrowings from Poe’s The Black Cat, and actual film borrowings, seen in these double exposures which mix Esper’s footage of bad actors grimacing, with Guido Brignone’s footage of better bad actors grimacing more effectively in MACISTE IN HELL (1925). I was very glad that I’d seen Brignone’s film first, because otherwise I’d have spent MANIAC wondering what the devil it was and how I could find a copy. The baroque proto-peplum imagery, fusing Dore’s Dante illustrations with the epic rhubarbing of CABIRIA and the shade of Steve Reeves to come, somehow found its way into Esper’s hairy palms and was interpolated willy-nilly into the trash auteur’s ongoing mastur-piece.