Posts Tagged ‘psycological’

Grave gunMeir Zarchi was not trying to make a fun, friendly, family movie when he wrote, directed, and produced the 1978 graphic depiction of rape and comeuppance that is  I Spit on Your Grave.  The film is disturbing on several levels, but as one critic says, it’s supposed to be. Clover points out that the gritty realistic extreme approach that Zarchi takes, “reduces the genre to its essence” (115). Grave leaderZarchi does not glorify rape, but instead by dragging out the scene, keeping Camille Keaton naked throughout, and increasing the violence with each successive encounter, he creates extreme unease in those watching.

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Grave dressBeyond the content though, Zarchi used some techniques to play around with the psychological comfort of his audience. Like Roman Polanski in Rosemary’s Baby, Zarchi uses color to subconsciously affect the emotions of the audience. When we (and the men at the gas station) first meet  Jennifer she is wearing a red dress, emphasizing the impurity of the “big city woman” as well as signaling danger. Later after she heals from her attack and before she begins her revenge she is dresses in black, a representation of mourning; mourning her own lost innocence, and since she asks forgiveness for the murders that she is about to commit, mourning the men’s’ deaths as well. Grave blackHer outfit is not only black, but unlike every other outfit she wears, it covers her from head to foot, long sleeves, long pants, and even a scarf to cover her head. This covering of the body can also represents mourning, but since she wears the same outfit as she begins stalking her victims it gives her a kind of sneaky ninja feel as well. Grave whiteFinally, when she begins her murderous run on her attackers, she is wearing white, long, flowing, billowing white as if she is a ghost or a dream. After castrating the leader of the pack, she again dons the same white flowing gown as she listens to opera in order to drown out the screams of a man bleeding to death in her upstairs bathroom, and as she cleans up the blood mess left behind. This scene plays up the dramatic contrast between the red blood and the white tub, tile, and gown, representing, perhaps, the fact that these events have forever stained her life.

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Ex 2       In Men, Women, and Chain Saws Carol Clover says that “the occult film is the most ‘female’ of horror genres.” She continues by saying that the story of the female overtaken by the supernatural is a cover for the real story, that of “a man in crisis” (65). In William Friedkin‘s 1973 classic  The Exorcist, the underlying story seems to be about two different men in crisis. Ex 4The beginning of the film spends a considerable amount of time following Father Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, around an archeological site in Iraq, where he has some sort of experience with a statue that comes back to him during the exorcism. The film then switches to the crisis of faith experienced by Father Karras, played by Jason Miller, and his dealings with his aging mother and her eventual death. Neither of theses crises is really settled or even well defined, so I’m not sure what the “real” story of the movie is supposed to be according to Clover’s definition especially since neither of these men qualify as men according to clover (74).

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Ex 5Clover also talks about the split between “White Science and Black Magic” competing in movies about the occult (66). Since “Black Magic” by Clover’s definition includes rites of the Roman Catholic Church this movie is centered around this conflict with science eventually giving in to and suggesting the use of “magic” though only for it’s psychological effect in creating the power of suggestion. However, Clover points out that this same conflict is what causes Father Karras’ crisis of faith in the first place (87). (Mind you she uses the novel, not the film, to glean most of her understanding.) So, poor Regan and her mother are just collateral damage used to prove the existence of the supernatural to a doubting priest.Ex 7

Halloween III: Season of the Witch was Tommy Lee Wallace‘s directing debut. I saw it for the first time not long after it left the theaters, and like many other fans I was thoroughly disappointed. When I discovered that John Carpenter’s real plan was an anthology with each years release being a different movie by a different director, I thought “they should have used a different name.” I quickly learned that Martin Harris agreed with me (100). Apparently the name, as well as the deceptive marketing campaign were all the studio’s idea (101-102). I am glad that I got a chance to revisit the movie from a unbiased perspective.

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H3 shapeOne thing I noticed this time was the amount of homage that was paid to other movies. Of course, there are the many references to the original two Halloween movies; H3 masksthe quiet mannerisms of the automatons, the dark looming “shapes” watching, the predominance of masks, the original film playing on televisions, Dr. Daniel Challis‘s ex-wife is played by Nancy Kyes (the same actress who played Annie Brackett in the first Halloween), and as Harris points out Cochran represents the “embodiment of evil” (104) just as Michael Myers did.

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H3 under MikeThere is also the great connection of Dick Warlock. He played Myers in Halloween II and plays one of the killer robots in Halloween III. I found this great image that shows an amalgamation of both rolls.H3 duel image

H3 girl robotThe attacking disembodied arm from the Ellie robot plays tribute to Oliver Stone‘s The Hand (1981), Freddie Francis‘s Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), or perhaps Herbert L. Strock‘s  The Crawling Hand (1963). The name of the town and the Ellie robot were both references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (101).

The deserted motel in Santa Mira, the black lingerie and the old lady in the rocking chair who turns out not to be real all bring to mind Alfred Hitchcock‘s PsychoH3 lingereH3 hotelH3 knitting robot

The twirling circle of light reminded me of Steven Spielberg‘s  Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

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I love Wallace’s use of various shades of orange and black (the universal colors of Halloween) throughout the movie; the sun setting behind the trick-or-treaters, the glowing flames behind the factory, and even the pumpkin colored goo that emerged from the dead robots. A subtle but beautiful tribute to the holiday that created the franchise.H3 factory burns

H3 silloette      H3 goo Bravo! Wallace. Bravo!

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It is the ghost story, that moves Diabolique into the realm of horror movie. What starts out as a drama about two women planning the murder of their common abuser turns to a psychological thriller when the dead man’s body disappears. Brigid Cherry in Horror says that in psychological films “modes of effect can be created through suggestion, the use of lighting, sound effects and music” (80). In Diabolique,  Henri-Georges Clouzot  uses these techniques to create uncertainty and uneasiness in his audience. LesDiaboliquesImage

Is Michel really dead? He sure looked dead, but then what happened to the body? Is someone setting the girls up for blackmail? Is someone just messing with them? About the time when the girls union falls apart and Nicole leaves the school, I had figured it out. I know I have seen a similar movie, but can’t remember now what it was.  It is something worthy of Hitchcock. If I had not caught on to the betrayal diaboliqueI would have felt more of the emotions that Clouzot was trying to evoke from his audience. I understand why he added the warning not to give away the secret to others who had not seen the movie and so for the sake of anyone reading this that has not seen it, I will not give it away here. The ghostly twist at the end I did not see coming.