In Frieze’s October 2006 Life in Film London-based artist David Noonan discusses, amongst others, two influential horror films: Susperia and Toby Dammit (which is certainly one of the most surreal and insane Poe adaptations in cinema). Noonan’s screenprints are filmic in themselves. A collage of images from movies, books, and magazines, they are haunting impressions of a scene that vibrate with a sense of performative movement. See his most recent exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles.
In Suspiria (1977), directed by Dario Argento, an American ballerina enrols in an exclusive ballet school in Germany and becomes embroiled in a witches’ coven bent on chaos and destruction. The art direction is astonishing and overshadows the acting; the film is saturated in a very unnatural palette, which heightens its sense of unreality, right down to the wallpaper designs by Escher. The baroque, flamboyant soundtrack is by the Italian Prog Rock band Goblin and is a masterpiece in itself. The murders are theatrical and balletic; the film is like a violent opera.
Federico Fellinis’ short film Toby Dammit (1968) is part of the trilogy, ‘Histoires Extraordinaire’, also known as ‘Spirits of the Dead’ after a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. The film is complete with Fellini’s trademark references, from circuses to paparazzi, stardom, kitsch and glamour. The film stars Terrence Stamp at his finest: an alcoholic, self destructive thespian lured to Rome to appear in a television show by the promise of a Ferrari – in other words a Faustian pact. Fellini conjures an extraordinary, creepy atmosphere, and Stamp’s crazed, decadent performance makes it all the more powerful.
Image: Leicester Square, 2005, Archival inkjet on paper from paper collage (not one of the more filmic works but one of my favorites)