As summer winds down and I get ready to kick this blog back into high-gear for autumn, here are some art/horror/curating links from the past couple of months:
James Morgart’s Hostile Rebirth of Horror: The Morality of Eli Roth’s Hostel 1 and 2 on Horror News.net
Many of us in the horror academia biz love to look at the classics (Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc.) and with good reason: these films changed the course of horror forever and are still relevant works. However, it’s important to realize that they were made over thirty years ago and the political/social/culture relevance we ascribe to them is in retrospect and not pointed to our moment of now. Some have argued that horror today (at least American horror) doesn’t cut the mustard and, hey, maybe they’re right. Still, it’s critically important that we (and by we I mean all of us fascinated with horror film) to put into context movies of the past decade. And Morgart did that with Roth’s Hostile films quite well. It’s a much needed and appreciated beginning.
Stephen Thrower’s From Goblin to Morricone: the art of horror movie music in the Guardian:
The usual suspects are at play again here but who doesn’t love to hear about Goblin one more time? This article also reminded me about this book in my Amazon queue (another exhibition idea down the line for sure).
Matt Zoller Seitz’s Cut-rate budget, first-rate frights (Slide Show: 10 low-cost horror flicks that deliver more than their share of cheap thrills) on Salon.com:
This should really read “10 low-cost NORTH AMERICAN horror flicks” because with the exception Repulsion, movies outside of the U.S./Canada weren’t included. My two most obvious: Italian master Mario Bava and America’s European/”king of the B’s” Edgar G. Ulmer. Still, it’s a damn film list and much kudos are deserved for including Carnival of Souls.
Mario Bava Week on Network Awesome:
Speaking of Mario Bava, Network Awesome did an, ahem, pretty damn awesome series on the influential director claiming it “Mario Bava Week”. I’m going to publicly declare that it should be a celebration of “Mario Bava 24/7/365” because where would horror be without him? There would be no American slashers or John Carpenter (wait, maybe that would be a good thing). Regardless, endless credit needs to be given to Bava in scholarly horror history and props to Network Awesome for stepping forward with insightful articles and free-style online screenings of his classics like Danger Diabolik and Rapid Dogs (his last film and a true gem).
Jason Zinoman’s book Shock Value:
You could hardly turn a street corner this summer without a mention of Jason Zinoman’s new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror. I still haven’t read it yet so reserving judgment but here’s a list of links you can scoop: The Critique of Pure Horror by Zinoman in the New York Times, Gore Galore: ‘Shock’ and the Birth of Fright Films on NPR, Son of Rosemary’s Baby – review on NYT, and inspired film series at BAM.
Kim Newman and Mark Kermode in Conversation at the British Film Institute:
I’ll be honest, one of the places that I miss most in London is the BFI. There’s no better place to go in the world on a dark and rainy afternoon to see The Picture of Dorian Gray, Repulsion, or Eyes without a Face. I’ve even seen bizarro wonders like Miss Leslie’s Dolls to much loving fan-fare on the big screen there. BFI definitely celebrates horror history in a respectful manner. That’s why I wish I could’ve seen this conversation in person, one celebrating the launch of Newman’s “essential horror tome” Nightmare Movies: forty years of fear. Both Newman and Kermode are such visible fans of the genre it becomes infectious.
Ian White’s Invisible Cinemas on LUX:
Ian White talks about the movement of film (artist film and video) from the context of the cinema into the museum saying, “In my experience as a writer – which I think is also shared by some of those in academia, probably to a greater profit – it’s not ‘cinema’ but the museum that is publishing monographs and catalogues that are invaluable resources for research, career enshrinements and a decent contributor’s fee.” For me, I am increasingly attracted to the idea of encountering a film or video as you would an artwork – sometimes half-way through the story but this fractured exposure can break itself open to new readings and increased interest.
Scala Forever film series:
Speaking of London love, how am-az-ing is this multi-month long homage to Scala Cinema? The fact that they use Big Black in the video promo is simply icing on the awesome cake. Sigh. Began 13 August and runs through 2 October.
Maureen Dowd’s Washington Chain Saw Massacre in the New York Times:
It’s interesting how horror is not just a political commentary in-and-of itself but also a comparative tool in which to talk about today’s politics. But as I mentioned above, I think it’s a little tricky to relate what’s happening in the present with films made 30/40/50 years ago. Those films still have resonance but relevance needs to be found with what’s being culturally produced today. It takes more work but it’s going to have more urgency in meaning. Still, Dowd referencing horror is a clear indication of horror’s relevance within popular culture.
Look and Learn in Frieze Magazine:
In celebration of its twenty year run, Frieze Magazine is talking about art world developments during this period. This conversation with Alex Farquharson, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Anthony Huberman, Christy Lange, Maria Lind, and Polly Staple on the proliferation of curatorial programmes addresses – but appropriately doesn’t solve – the emerging, evolving, contested, and diverse role of the curator since the 1990s. What stuck with me: How do you want to articulate what you stand for and how do you want to share that with the world? To me, that statements strikes on the core of what being a curator is.
On that note I will leave you with the funniest discovery of my summer: a horror/curator convergence featuring none other than Shaft…