Plan 9 from Outer Space

Not rated yet!
Director
Edward D. Wood Jr.
Runtime
1 h 19 min
Release Date
22 July 1959
Genres
Horror, Science Fiction
Overview
In California, an old man (Bela Lugosi) grieves the loss of his wife (Vampira) and on the next day he also dies. However, the space soldier Eros and her mate Tanna use an electric device to resurrect them both and the strong Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson) that was murdered by the couple. Their intention is not to conquest Earth but to stop mankind from developing the powerful bomb "Solobonite" that would threaten the universe. When the population of Hollywood and Washington DC sees flying saucers on the sky, a colonel, a police lieutenant, a commercial pilot, his wife and a policeman try to stop the aliens.
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  • 10 Tinseltown Turkeys That Make Real Men Choke
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'plan 9 from outer space (trailer)', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Sometimes Hollywood serves up some pretty indigestible fare. Some films, such as Howard the Duck (1986), are impossible to swallow—so terrible they become synonymous with “bad cinema.” (Who can forget Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon depicting "Hell's Video Store," its shelves stocked solely with copies of Ishtar (1987)?)But not every bomb reaches such heights of notoriety.  Here’s a list of movies that are every bit as bad—and leave “real men” with extra heartburn. They degrade the genres that “real men” love best.10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)All right, this utterly dreadful sci-fi schlock is, admittedly, no stranger to lists of worst movies ever. And justifiably so. Written, directed and produced by the world's least talented filmmaker, Edward D. Wood, it’s a bijou of awfulness. What twists the knife in this celluloid sacrilege is the sight of Bela Lugosi, one of Hollywood's greatest horror stars, shambling through what was to be his last appearance on the silver screen. Rather than try to sit through this sad excuse for a film, better to watch Tim Burton's engaging biopic Ed Wood (1994), which tells the story behind the movie. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/11/27/10-tinseltown-turkeys-that-make-real-men-choke/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
    ...
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  • Why Ed Wood is the Most Discouraging Movie Ever
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle While it's not as famous as Edward Scissorhands or The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood is an early film by Tim Burton beloved by many fans. Its quirks abound: it's shot in black and white, using camera angles and lighting techniques to tip the hat to classic movies; Johnny Depp appears in drag and talks about parachuting into Normandy wearing women's underclothes; and Bill Murray, Martin Landau, and Vincent D'Onofrio all give memorable performances as Hollywood legends Bunny Breckinridge, Bela Legosi, and Orson Welles.Ed Wood tells the true story of its eponymous hero, known as one of the worst filmmakers of Hollywood's golden age. Ed Wood's most famous creation was Plan 9 from Outer Space, which came back into the public consciousness when it was lambasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Burton crafts an entertaining and heartbreaking film in which you find yourself cheering for Ed despite his obvious incompetence and total lack of self-awareness. The final scenes depicting the making of Plan 9 play out triumphantly despite their absurdity -- you're only reminded that the rest of the world isn't on Ed's side when the cast and crew arrive at the premiere and get booed out of the theater. That's when the cold, heavy truth settles on you, as the end titles roll: Ed Wood was irreversibly, passionately devoted to his art, and he completely sucked at it.A friend and I watched Ed Wood together once when we were in college. Afterward, we laughed nervously and looked at each other and said, "I'm not Ed Wood, am I?"I was going into the arts; my friend was then a pre-med student, and this spring will graduate from medical school. But we were both haunted by the same fear, after that movie: am I absolutely terrible at the thing I love doing, and everyone around me is just too nice to say so? class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/2/28/why-ed-wood-is-the-most-discouraging-movie-ever/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
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  • The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall Again of Zombie Nation
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Trailer - White Zombie (1932)', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); There are times when we love to watch our former bowling buddies snack on small children-- or revel as our next door neighbor munches on the mailman.And, there are times when we would rather not.Our passion for living-dead cinema waxes and wanes. These modern monster movies tell us more about the state of American politics than just about any other facet of popular culture--the best barometer we have of when society is flashing red.Zombie movies have been a Hollywood staple for very long time. They were part of the horror movie craze in the 1930s and early 1940s, though back then the dead didn't eat the living or conform to any other of the rules for appropriate modern zombie-like behavior.During the depression years, horror films became a way for Americans to wring-out their anxieties over all their troubles, With Frankenstein, Dracula and later the Wolfman, Universal pictures established the monster movie as a theatrical cash cow. Americans wanted so spend their scarce entertainment dollars to be terrified. Looking for more box-office business, studios scrambled for scripts with anything evil. That's how zombies got enlisted in the campaign at saturday matinees to distract the dwellers in the dust bowl from the reality of soup kitchens and Hoovervilles.Mostly drawing on zombie-mythology from Caribbean voodoo practices, the original zombies were either living humans bewitched by evil forces or the dead brought back to life to serve their evil masters. They walked like arthritis victims and had no will of their own. Shuffling along in films like White Zombie (1932) or Revolt of the Zombies (1936) they too found their way to the silver screen.Zombies 1.0 continued to show-up in movies from through the 1960s, but they never really caught on as an established franchise. While Universal's Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman appeared in movies again and again, there were never zombie sequals.The living dead were simply second-tier horror.Zombie movies still appeared occasionally because they were cheap to make, like the other scary staple of the time, the guy in gorilla suit. Zombies were even less expensive than renting a ape suit. No make or special effects required, producers just had had to hire extras to amble around like they were walking. Even then, more often than not, the studio would spring for the gorilla costume, cranking our really bad films like the truly awful Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla (1952).Over time, monster movies in general became less of a box office draw. Americans had real horrors to worry about. With our troops fighting on every front from Germany to New Guinea, the war film became the place where we worked out our darkest fears. In movies like Guadalcanal Dairy (1943), the GI generation, during and after the war, watched the all-American squad with one kid from Jersey, one from New Mexico, and another from some farm in Iowa, topple real-life monsters. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/12/23/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-and-fall-again-of-zombie-nation/ previous Page 1 of 6 next   ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Counter Currents Staff5
Counter Currents Publishing



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

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  • Manos Redivivus: “The Master is Gone, But He is With Us Always”
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]6,627 words

    Manos: The Hands of Fate – Restored Edition [2]
    Written and Directed by Harold P. Warren
    Restoration Producer: Ben Solovey
    Synapse Studios, 2015

    “Why is he sleeping on a pile of dirt?”
    “This movie has deep philosophical significance.”
    “What about the beer bottles?”
    “Oh . . .”[1] 

    Well, here it is: the bottom of the bottomless barrel,[2] the worst of the worst — the loathed[3] and legendary Worst Movie of All Time: Manos, the Hands of Fate.[4] Comes now this two-disc version, on DVD and Blu-Ray, that surely must be considered definitive.[5] And there’s nothing in all this restoration and commentary that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation.[6]

    But why? Why this film of all films?[7] Other films certainly have their own urgent, unique claims.

    It’s not like there are no other candidates, even within the somewhat arbitrary universe of “movies I saw on Mystery Science Theater 3000.” For example,[8] The Crawling Terror shares Manos’ origins in a bet (that the director could make a scary movie just like those guys in Hollywood), casting of the director in a starring role (though under the pseudonym, “Vic Savage,”), entirely overdubbed soundtrack (the original having been lost, supposedly, in Lake Mead), and above all, arguably the worst cinematography in history — some shots are so over-exposed that the screen is almost entirely white, making Manos, even in its unrestored state, seem like a Technicolor blockbuster.

    Other films share the incompetent filmmaking but go one better in post-production. Monster A Go-Go and The Dead Talk Back also dispense, for whatever reason, with sound sync, in favor of narrators; but the first was never even finished (Bill Rebane sold the remains to schlockmeister Herschel Gordon Lewis, who patched in new scenes, using some but not all of the original actors[9]), while Dead, finished, sat on a film lab shelve from 1957 to 1997 when it was discovered and shipped directly to Mystery Science Theater. Both movies also share the supremely irritating trait of cheating the ending: “There was no monster,” the narrator sternly informs us, and, as Tom Servo exclaims, “Hey, the dead never talked back!”

    The attentive reader will have noted that so far all these movies (one hesitates to call them “films”) are of the sci-fi/horror genres. It’s true that these genres, much to the chagrin of their fans, do tend to produce a lot of junk.[10] Or it may be, that their fans are seriously devoted enough[11] to demand a high level of performance to match the seriousness of the theme, making the gap between aim and achievement more visible, and risible, than in, say, a failed Hollywood rom-com like Gigli.[12]

    But it can happen elsewhere: take The Wild World of Batwoman, where the sci-fi elements (a superheroine with no particular abilities or fashion sense, a mad scientist whose role is realized mainly through splicing in scenes form The Mole People and a Mexican wrestling movie) are combined with an apparently[13] deliberate attempt at “comedy” or satire of some kind; the gap here produces 80 minutes of continuous douche chills.[14]

    Douche chills, however, will keep you awake. Just as its craggy non-actors have “broken the face barrier,” The Starfighters is easily the most boring, sleep-inducing movie ever made.[15] Designed, apparently (more research is needed on this), to convince NATO that the F-104 Starfighter was worthy of purchase, despite a comically deadly accident record,[16] its combination of stock footage and non-actors [17] creates a cinematic black hole.

    “It’s like they forgot to have things happen.”

    “I really think there’s more nothing in this movie than any we’ve ever seen.”[18]

    “Nothing,” however, can only remind us of the final challenger to Manos, the first entry in the Coleman Francis Trilogy (the Godfather Saga of bad films), The Beast of Yucca Flats.

    “About the most nothing film I’ve seen . . . little more than a home movie someone might make.” (Bob Burns, “film historian and erstwhile movie gorilla”).

    “An incredibly deadening experience” (Larry Blamire, B-movie director)

    “Before this movie, there was no such thing as clinical depression.” (Tom Servo, robot)[19]

    And yet . . .

    Bad as it is, Beast does edge out Manos, if only on points.

    Beast’s narration has its own Dadaist charms.[20] The cinematography is really rather good; although this was cameraman Lee Strosnider’s first chance to film 16mm, he had just come form several years making industrial films, while Hal Warren came straight from industry — fertilizer, in fact — and was actually using little more than a home movie camera.[21] Larry Blamire comments on the “heartbreaking” quality of the shots of the Flannery O’Connor-esque mother wandering around looking for her lost boys, and Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”) refers to the “dark kind of lyricism” seen in the next film, The Skydivers (although, as he admits, no one else agrees).

    And that’s the main reason: Beast is part of a trilogy, and needs to be judged as such.[22] Above all, it’s only in the context of the three films together that the elements of repetition and futility emerge which make Francis’s work the mythological masterpiece that it is.[23]

    Repetition and masterpiece: that brings us to Manos. If you’ve read this far, you likely know the “plot,” which has been summarized as [3]:

    The peculiarly-paced story of a deeply uncharismatic man (director Warren) taking his wife Margaret (Diane Mahree) and daughter Debbie (Jackey Neyman) on a vacation that runs afoul of a cult led by the plurally-married Master (Tom Neyman) and his jittery, big-kneed manservant Torgo (John Reynolds).[24]

    So why does anyone care about this cinematic turd, and why care about polishing it? Why any “bad” movie? Consider this:

    In attempting to explain the film’s appeal, the Los Angeles Times hypothesized, “After screening Manos for probably the 10th time, I’ve concluded it has to do with intimacy. Because it is such a pure slice of Warren’s brain — he wrote, directed, produced and starred, and brooked no collaboration — Manos amounts to the man’s cinematically transfigured subconscious.”[25]

    But I, at least, am not interested in some Judaic pseudo-science like “psychoanalysis,” but rather in the super-science of Traditional metaphysics.[26] As Luis Varady has recently pointed out, the ancient wise men may have lack our physics and astronomy, but since they had the ancient teaching that “As above, so below,” the Microcosm is the Macrocosm . . .

    All things mirror all things and to fully understand even a small fragment of reality gives an insight into reality as a whole — this is a common teaching in the mystical traditions of the world.[27

    . . . they could learn the deeper truths about reality by studying their own consciousness, the results of which study they encoded in stories we call “myths.”

    Cosmological myths were used as a means to convey spiritual truths, and these spiritual truths pointed directly at the true nature of our psychology.

    And so:

    It is not the reasonableness or likelihood of a myth that attracts human beings to it. Rather, a myth’s attraction is its potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society, from the most intellectual to the illiterate.[28]

    In the same way, it is not the “reasonableness or likelihood” of a movie — the myths of the 20th century — that explains their appeal, but their “potential ability to convey spiritual or moral truths to every member of society.” Antd this potential is stronger in bad movies, which lack the pseudo-intellectual “sophistication” of the “quality production,” which is usually just a big budget rehash of Judaic PC-ideology, instead, most often accidentally, flying under the radar of both the director’s consciousness and industry censorship.[29]

    Furthermore, that “bad” movies should be the focus of attention makes sense, since humans have an odd relationship with truth, especially metaphysical truths about themselves and their situation: they crave it, yet fear and loathe it at the same time.

    And this, I think, is the key to the “bad film”: it sounds themes we suspect are true and important, but which we don’t want to admit; hence, we mock it, as the Roman soldiers and crucified thief mocked Christ. “It’s only a movie, and a bad one at that.”

    Writing about the Gnostics, and why they lost out to the “orthodox” Christians, Michael Hoffman writes:

    Why did people embrace childish lower-level Christianity (i.e., literal interpretation of the myths)?

    People were starting to shy away from some of the painful truths revealed in the mysteries. They had mixed feelings about being mere puppets of gods/fates.[30]

    The scriptures offered a choice between supernaturalist Literalism that takes pseudo-history as reality, and allegorical myth that reveals determinism — most people chose to stay in the supernaturalist reading.

    If some Michael,[31] Captain of the Deterministic Angels were to actually do as the New Testament prophecies and reveal the Christian mystery of God’s kingdom, and this kingdom turns out to be entheogenic Christ-myth determinism, and “eternal” life is experienced only during this life, most people would plug their ears.

    What use is a mere revelation of the metaphysical truth about moral agency, especially when such a revelation robs us of infinitely open possibilities and puts strict limitations on the types of freedom we can have? This is the already famous red pill versus blue pill choice from the movie The Matrix: would you rather slumber in often-comfortable fantasy or awaken to often-uncomfortable truth? Do you want the bliss of fantastic, uncritical, wishful thinking, or the sober intellectual satisfaction of high rational integrity?

    If you could resolve your metaphysical intellectual discomfort by waking up to deterministic consistency, would you want to?

    If God’s kingdom is deterministic, we don’t want it. It is no wonder the quantum physicists rejected (by fiat) finite, hidden-variables determinism and insisted on the endless magic of Copenhagenism instead. It is no wonder people chose the psychologically open-ended Literalist reading of Christianity rather than moving on to let the mystery of the deterministic kingdom of God be revealed.

    And, on a not-unimportant related point, boredom induction conduces to transmission of spiritual truth and ultimately to enlightenment, or at least, cultic membership.

    What is this mythological or metaphysical element that is feared by the masses? As already hinted, and as you might suspect from what you’ve heard about the movie, or seen yourself, it’s repetition. Obviously, the movie is about Fate, but specifically, in the words of the title of one of the soundtrack cues, “The Futility of Fate.”[32] Life here in the material world, on the samsaric plane, is an endless, horizontal round, a Circle, of the same, karma-induced events over and over; liberation/salvation/enlightenment is a matter of tossing aside karma (what I’ve called “passing the buck” and ascending vertically, via a Spiral (a Turn of the Screw), to a new level.[33]

    The cyclical nature of Manos’s plot is actually fairly common, even as a screenwriting technique. What raises Manos to its unique status are the ways in which Manos, deliberately or not, takes it up to eleven [4].

    The most notable, and perhaps the one “feature” that most everyone focuses on to explain the Manos Experience, is the extreme level of repetition in the dialogue, thus making it of a piece with the cyclical nature of the plot.

    Torgo: There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon. There is no way out of here.

    Torgo: He has left this world. But he is with us always. No matter where he goes, he is with us.

    Torgo: There is nothing to fear, Madam. The Master likes you. Nothing will happen to you. He likes you.

    Maggie: Likes me? I thought you said he was dead!

    Torgo: Dead? No, Madam, not dead the way you know it. He is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. He is with us always.

    And my personal favorite, Michael and Maggie’s rather philosophical — or fatalistic — duet in response to his daughter’s dog’s disappearance:

    Maggie: Pepe’s gone. I just hope Debbie will understand.

    Mike: She’ll understand. She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    Maggie: I hope so, darling. I sure hope so.

    Mike: She’s my baby, she’ll understand.

    It’s like listening to Charlie Parker jam with Lester Young!

    Further increasing the echo-effect is the soundtrack, which, as mentioned before, is entirely post-production. For various reasons, only two men and one woman were available, so the characters’ voices quickly become indistinguishable,[34] and the child’s voice, clearly a woman’s falsetto, achieves a Brechtian level of alienation.[35] This kind of “dubbing” leads to the “doubling” I’ve frequently pointed out in films with mythological subtexts.[36]

    Most of the repetitive dialogue belongs to audience favorite Torgo, who also acquires the equally beloved and repetitive Torgo’s theme [5], which sums up the movie rather like some big Hollywood themes like those of Gone with the Wind or A Summer Place.

    And mentioning Torgo leads us to the second theme: who passes the buck? Certainly not Michael, who we see at the very end, has replaced Torgo, even (of course) repeating his lines:

    Michael: “I am Michael. I take care[37] of the place[38] while the Master is away.”

    No, surprisingly enough, it is Torgo who passes the buck to Michael. Yet, how can this be?[39] Torgo, when last seen, was running away, his coat sleeve aflame, while The Master held his burning, amputated hand aloft, laughing like a Bond villain.

    But that’s just the point: Torgo gets away. The obvious fakery of the burning hand suggests that there has been some kind of magic trick, on one or both their parts.

    First Wife: You are losing your control. Even Torgo defies you.

    This also makes sense of the odd moment right before, where the Master commands his wives to kill Torgo (or rather, in the Manos idiom, “Kill! . . . Kill!) and they proceed to enact a kind of “liturgical dance” (MST3k) that culminates in what looks like an attempt to kill through . . . massage. It’s all fake, a set-up.

    And finally, one can see, as Torgo is rolfed to death, that his hat has a large hole in the crown, alluding to the Traditional symbol of the vertical path of escape, like smoke through a the top of a teepee.[40]

    Or perhaps the hand, the symbolism of which is surely a displacement for the phallus, is sacrificed to the god Manos? Or is it the equivalent of the eye, which Wotan sacrifices for wisdom?[41]

    No one knows, or more significantly, no one seems to be curious about, what seems to me to be the most curious aspect of the whole production, the bizarre and unique hand symbolism[42] that permeates the film, from the title onward.[43]

    Presumably, our Freudian friends will suggest this is a phallic symbol. Actually, the “hands” in question, starting with Torgo’s staff, are usually upright, at the ends of arm-like structures, suggesting not so much hands as fists.[44] In any event, the symbolism seems muddled here; the vertical staff should symbolize escape or “upright” in the sense of virile and “upstanding,” as Evola says in The Hermetic Tradition;[45] yet both Michael and the First Wife are tied to upright poles or trees, and subsequently are vanquished, while Torgo is forced to lie on a horizontal slab during his tickle-torture, and triumphs.

    The symbolism is much clearer with a related theme: As Jackey Neyman (“Debbie”) points out with remarkable insight, her character is always falling asleep on the couch, and the family members are always falling down — i.e., falling horizontally into samsara. But, she adds, Torgo never falls down, despite his unforgettable stumbling walk.[46]

    Even the MST3k crew intuits this, observing that “Torgo wobbles but he won’t fall down.” The wobble/hand symbolisms come together when the Master once more spreads his arms to disclose the giant hands embroidered on the inside of his robe,[47] and the crew suggests “Push him over!” Ultimately, this is what happens; the “Master” returns to his suspended, samsaric state, while Torgo makes a break for it. Michael and his family, attempting to escape, ultimately decide to return to the house (I guess on the principle of “they’d never think to look for us there!”), a horizontal trek that leads us back to the beginning, again.[48]

    The idea that Torgo is the hero, or at least the protagonist, is not that forced. The featurette notes that the original (and only) review of the film, in the El Paso Daily Post, already referred to Torgo as “the hero.” The character of Torgo, along with his “haunting theme music” immediately piqued the imagination of the MST3k crew, who incorporated Torgo into their cast of recurring characters (played by head writer Mike Nelson, who would eventually replace Joel Hodgson as the human host). The 2008 making-of documentary is entitled Hotel Torgo. And as recently as March of this year,

    The murderers on the Elementary [6] episode “T-Bone And The Iceman [7]” used the physical features of Torgo (portrayed by John Reynolds) to compose a fake facial composite to get the NYPD off their trail. It worked for a while before they were caught, due to the character of Dr. Joan Watson having recognized Torgo’s features from the film.[49]

    What, then, of this restored edition? What was the condition of the earliest cut of the film, the so-called “workprint”; was the film always this hard to watch? Apparently not.

    The trick about the cost-efficient on 16mm Ektachrome reversal film on which Manos was shot is that there was never a negative: when the film from the camera was developed, what resulted was the actual picture, not a negative thereof. That developed film was then duplicated for editing, eventually being assembled into the workprint that Solovey now possessed. It’s a minor miracle that the workprint survived not only standard disposal, but also the 1994 Northridge Earthquake which (according to Emersons) destroyed all the other extant Manos materials. And it’s pretty, too, thanks to the inherent hardiness of Ektachrome material.

    The few audiences that saw Manos at the time certainly didn’t get to see anything as spiffy as the workprint. Once editing was complete, a 35mm blowup was made — making the picture twice as grainy — and prints for theaters were copied from that blowup. Not a single fuck was given about framing or color by the people who made those prints, resulting in a badly cropped picture with much of the color drained out. When the film hit VHS decades later, it was based on the horrible theatrical prints, and of course VHS is not exactly an archival format, so it made the picture look that much worse.

    Although the result is better than anything seen by audiences in 1966, Solovey, in the restoration featurette, is adamant that the idea was not to “upgrade” the film into contemporary quality, in sound or vision, but to strip away accumulated dust, fingerprints, splices, etc., and return it to what was originally on the editing bench.

    What we have here, then, is rather like the “historically informed performance practice” movement (misleadingly mislabeled “authentic practice”) that aims not at a metaphysically impossible and aesthetically irrelevant attempt to “hear what the music sounded like back then” but rather to strip away centuries of acquired interpretations so that we can form our own interpretation of the work itself.[50]

    So, how does the “restored” version differ from the theatrical version (included, dubbed the “Grindhouse” cut, on the Blu-ray two-disc set only) which was used on MST3k, and is available on numerous cheap DVDs (it’s in the public domain[51]) other than in presentation?

    Most notably, the infamous opening, a long, infinitely boring sequence of the family just driving along the highway (“The slowest car chase ever”—MST3k). The story is that this was supposed to have the opening credits superimposed, but for whatever reason — money, competence, or patience — it was never done. The non-MST DVD’s I’ve seen just lop it off, and start with a simple title shot.[52] The restoration keeps all this footage, but starts with some establishing shots (including an appropriate “Waste” container) of the Mordor-like surroundings of the director’s native El Paso (“Welcome to lovely Ground Zero” Joel says of a later “scenic” background, eerily foreshadowing 9/11).[53]

    There’s also the aforementioned sequence in which the Master taunts, slaps, and smears blood on his tied-up first wife. Otherwise, individual shots seem to sometime be slightly longer. Some sequences, like the family’s escape attempt, have more shots included, the voices better synced; I suppose over time the theatrical release was subject innumerable cuts and splices, either to speed it up [!] for TV viewing or due to accidental damage.

    There’s nothing in all this that comes close to in any way challenging the film’s reputation, for good or bad.[54]

    In the featurette “Restoring the Hands of Fate,” although he likes to use the word “schmutz” a lot, restorationist Solovey presents as an almost aggressively Aryan type in appearance, modest and plain spoken. He is a very trustworthy and pleasant person to listen to, considering the types one runs across in the film world.[55] He takes obvious pride in in speaking of the fine German scanner he managed to obtain for the task, and the amateur viewer tends to believe what he says about the difficulties and decisions involved in the restoration process.

    Solovey ultimately makes a very important point: movies, a 20th-century invention, must be preserved, since so much of our history is now in them.[56]

    Speaking of history: one tends to think of productions like Manos as being in some sense auteur productions, for better or worse,[57] and so most attention has been focused on writer/producer/director/star Hal Warren. One thing that emerges from the “Hands: The Fate of Manos” featurette is that Tom Nyman, who played The Master, may have had far more influence on the film, providing, as he says with ironic modesty, “everything”: he contributed his own daughter as the daughter, his dog is the dog, his car as one of the two cars (he’s not sure which at this point), and as “production designer” he designed all the costumes (which were sewn by his wife, except for Torgo’s overalls, coat, and hat, which were Tom’s own) and above all, the set decorations: all those hands. Turns out, he had already sculpted dozens of such things (“His art was going through a period of fascination with hands” says Solovey, deadpan). Indeed, “One day I suggested we just call it Manos: The Hands of Fate.”

    Graciously, Tom adds that Warren “was involved in everything on the film,” And on that note, the featurette ends with Neyman, still photographer Anslem Spring (a German soldier who was hiding out — I mean, living in — El Paso), and Solovey paying homage to Warren as the kind of DIY culture-creator I’ve lauded before; Neyman emphasizes that Warren knew he was making a B-picture (if only!) with local community theater talent, but thought it would serve as “the start of something big.” Solovey even attributes to Warren the start of “the kind of independent, self-financed” filmmaking we’ve become familiar with since, say, Easy Rider (made around the time and place of Manos).

    Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the restoration process itself is an instance of the same kind of “hey, let’s make a movie” American can-do-ism as the movie itself — although, one must add immediately, on a far more successful level.

    Finally, the audio commentary track brings us the Neymans reminiscing about the production; rather than a couple of film nerds one-upping each other with trivia, it’s more like eavesdropping on a father and daughter still closely knit after all these years. Who knew Manos could be heartwarming?[58] [8]

    So, buy or not buy? Neophytes[59] should start with the MST3k’d version; it was available as a single disc from Rhino back in the day, now out of print, and currently Shout! Factory has a two-disc release, with the theatrical release and MST3k-centric special features.

    Once — if — you decide to experience it firsthand, this set is the way to go. It makes for a far more “pleasant” viewing experience, if that word can ever be used in the context of Manos, and, to paraphrase Tolkien, those who approve of courtesy (at least) to long dead Texas fertilizer salesman will purchase it, and no other.

    Notes

    [1] Jackey and Tom Neyman, commentary track.

    [2] “Coleman Francis is at the bottom of the barrel that’s beneath the one Ed Wood is in.” — Larry Blamire, interviewed in “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece,” a featurette on the DVD version of the MST3k episode Beast of Yucca Flats.

    [3] “Oh Joel, there’s a plethora of loathsomeness,” says Crow T. Robot as the end credits begin to roll.

    [4] According to Wikipedia: “Manos holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews. The book Hollywood’s Most Wanted lists Manos as the #2 in the list of “The Worst Movies Ever Made,” following Plan 9 from Outer Space [9]. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Manos “The Worst Movie Ever Made.” The scene in which the seven-year-old Debbie is dressed as one of the Master’s wives was included in a list of “The Most Disgusting Things We’ve Ever Seen” by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.”

    [5] New 2K restoration; audio commentary; Hands: The Fate of MANOS Featurette; Restoring the Hands of Fate Featurette; FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate Featurette; Manos: The Hands of Fate: Grindhouse Edition (Blu-ray only).

    [6] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl in Manos confronts the highway cops.

    [7] “But why? What’s the difference between 17 and 20?” demands the teenage boy in the educational short “Are You Ready for Marriage?”

    [8] I discuss these films, briefly, at the end of my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [10].

    [9] “This is like an entirely different movie” Joel says in stunned amazement during Episode 421; unfortunately, the new movie is just as bad.

    [10] Lovecraft, of course, was a frequent and rigorous critic of this fellow “authors,” while for sci-fi, the legendary Theodore Sturgeon defensively formulated his well-known Law, or Revelation [11], “90% of everything is crap.”

    [11] The stereotypical “nerd,” demanding to know why dome detail was changed, and proclaiming, like the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, “worst [blank] ever.”

    [12] Patton Oswald, apparently an MST3k fan (he moderates a couple of Comic Con MST3k panels that appear on the DVDs) has a bit where he fills in the blanks on the typical movie preview “From the director of BLANK and the star of BLANK, comes BLANK” with various flatulent noises. See Gregory Hood’s Counter-Currents review of Oswald’s implicitly White “black comedy” Big Fan here [12].

    [13] Directors frequently insist, like Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm [13] character, that of course, they were actually trying to be funny, why would you think otherwise? For example, Lewis insisted that whatever Rebane thought he was doing, he, Lewis, at least knew it was crap and tried to turn it into a Twilight Zone parody. As Mad magazine told us long ago (to the tune of “The Rain in Spain”), “An ad that’s bad will wind up spoofed in Mad.” As a further turn of the screw, directors began sending their own recent but unknown films to MST3k in hopes of generating enough “so bad it’s good” buzz to pump up home video sales or even, as with Hobgoblins, finance a sequel.

    [14] Angels’ Revenge, a Charlie’s Angels rip-off, has the same effect, not only humiliating TV sitcom legends like Alan Hale, Jr,. Jim Backus and Pat Buttram, but also dragging in the declining Peter Lawford and even Jack Palance, pre-Batman and pre-Oscar™ .

    [15] In color, at least. Radar Secret Service (1950), with its washed out, grey print, grey men and grey clothing and vehicles, takes the black and white title, employing what MST3k calls “sleep-induction through hypno-helio-static-stasis” (Episode 620).

    [16] The movie’s base commander proudly says “it’s even been called a rocket with a man in it,” but in the real world it was known as “The Brick with Wings” and “The Widowmaker.” Ten years later, Robert Calvert of Hawkwind would record a “satirical concept album” based on the Luftwaffe’s experience with the plane: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (UA, 1974) Musicians who appeared on the album include members of Hawkwind [14], The Pink Fairies [15], Brian Eno [16], Arthur Brown [17], Jim Capaldi [18], and Adrian Wagner. See the Wikipedia entry here. [19]

    [17] As the gang says about The Skydivers, Episode 609, rather than have the actors do their own flying, they had the flyers do their own acting.

    [18] MST3k, Episode 620.

    [19] All from the DVD extra “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece.”

    [20] “I thought I was listening to Spoon River Anthology performed by atomic mutants.” — Larry Blamire.

    [21] The MST DVD includes not only extensive contributions from Strosnider in the “making of” featurette — “No Dialogue Necessary: The Making of an Off-Camera Masterpiece” — he also gets his own interview segment, “Coleman Francis: The Cinematic Poet of Parking.”

    [ [20]22] Of a gunfight from ten feet away, after a careful, lovingly drawn out parking sequence, Crow remarks that “He’s trying things here he’ll perfect in Red Zone Cuba.”

    [23] As will be shown in my forthcoming essay, “Footprints on the Wasteland: The White Apocalypse of Coleman Francis.” Starfighters goes perhaps too far in the direction of entropy; the absence of “things happening” entails, of course, an inability to suggest the endless repetition of things. There is, however, the endless, repeated “refueling” stock footage, a lame practical joke that occurs twice (and actors so generic as to prompt the comment “Is that that one guy?”) as well stock footage of take-offs/landings; the latter perhaps suggest the puppet theme as well, although, since the emphasis is on how gosh darn safe the F-104 is, there’s only one bailout, and it’s off camera. Francis’s Skydivers (note the linguistic similarity) will by contrast be entire constructed of planes taking off and landing, and the eponymous skydivers diving, with the later a combination of stock footage and close-up shots of the actors hanging from harnesses in a warehouse.

    [24] “Manos: The Hands of Fate Restored — The So-Called “Worst Movie” Has Never Looked Better,” by Sherilyn Connelly on The Robot’s Voice, March 14, 2014, here [3].

    [25] Wikipedia, quoting Dan Neil, “Why We Love Bad Movies,” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2005.

    [26] Let’s get the “psychology” out of the way. Judging from the recollections of the actresses in the “making of” featurette, Hal Warren seems to have been the usual horndog/control freak typical of the males of the Mad Man era: suggesting an actress take off her blouse, then quickly retreating to “just joking” when she refuses; entering the same actress in the Miss Texas contest without her knowledge, a publicity stunt that backfires when tells the judges that she’s an atheist, etc. This is clearly manifested in the film in three sequences: the infamous nightgown wrestling of the Master’s wives (the MST crew suggest “this is why the film was made”); the scene where one of the wives sees the husband/director unconscious and tied to a tree, whereupon she begins to kiss him, lick his face, and then slap him (as Tom Neyman says on the commentary track, “Sure, it’s what every woman wants); and a scene cut from the MST version, in which the Master slaps his own tied up wife. Misogynistic, yes, but too amateurishly made to be either erotic or disturbing. Hal Warren though had nothing on the director of the above-mentioned The Creeping Terror, the Bob Crane-like Vic Savage, who “makes Ed Wood look like Ward Cleaver” according to the recent bioflick, The Creep Behind the Camera [21] (Peter Scheurman, 2014).

    [27] “To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.” — Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.

    [28] Luis Varady: The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Gnostic Trinity of the Peratae (Amazon Kindle, 2015). For more on Varady, see “Lords of the Visible World: A Modern Reconstruction of an Ancient Heresy,” my review of his earlier essay A Life Beyond Change: The Gnostic System of Carpocrates (Amazon Kindle, 2015).

    [29] See my discussion of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, whose PC-anti-anti-communism intentions were subverted precisely because the screenwriter “had contempt for the material” and “wrote it fast, on autopilot,” thus allowing Traditional themes to emerge. “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as a Lovecraftian Tale,” reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

    [30] How appropriate, then, that included with the Restored Edition as a special feature is FELT: The Puppet Hands of Fate, a retelling of the Manos story — one is tempted to say, the Manos myth — with puppets.

    [31] Michael, of course, is our “protagonist,” but apart from the aforementioned lack of charisma, I will soon suggest our “hero” is someone else.

    [32] Oh, and the soundtrack, the kind of laid-back jazz noodling that older guys like Warren still thought was “cool” back in the early sixties, and which I, growing increasingly fogey-ish, have lately grown fond of, calling to mind as it does long summer afternoons, light rain, and the soothing tones of Jessica Walter asking Clint Eastwood to play “Misty” for her. Although Coleman Francis mainly used free “library” music, The Skydivers has two interesting exceptions: a brief excerpt from Lionel Hampton’s “Going Home” (prompting Tom Servo to whine “Dad, change the station!”) and, by contrast, an appearance by then-famous surf guitarist Jimmy Bryant playing his then-hit, “Stratosphere Boogie.” “The jazz-centric score for Hal Warren’s horror “Master”-piece is forthcoming from Brooklyn’s own Ship to Shore Phono Co. The company sourced its audio from the 35mm soundtrack negative that was created for making theatrical release prints. The master tapes have never surfaced, thus leaving this 35mm neg as the closest one can get to the original recorded material. The company is offering three vinyl variants that will total a press run of 2000 LPs. Expected release date is the end of this month. More info about MANOS and how to buy the different vinyl color editions is here [22].” — Manos: The Hands of Fate screening & soundtrack premiere in Brooklyn on Oct. 7th!” here [23]. Check out the soundtrack LP here [24]: “Utilizing sparse, jazzy arrangements, Robert Smith, Jr. [25] and Russ Huddleston [26]’s score evokes the same bizarre, yet oddly compelling, feelings that fans of the film know and love.”

    [33] See the essays reprinted in The Eldritch Evola, as well as my forthcoming collection, Passing the Buck: a Traditionalist Goes to the Movies, which will include “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [27]“ and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [28].”

    [34] “Hey, that’s just one guy!” mutters Joel in muted wonder.

    [35] The poor child burst out in tears on hearing her “voice” during the premiere showing.

    [36] For example, in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables; see my review reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    [37] In the first act, Michael, typically, shouted “Where the hell is that caretaker?” This is the only time Torgo is referenced as “The Caretaker.” Michael’s transformation at the end recalls — or rather, predates — Jack Torrance’s in The Shining. “You have always been the caretaker.”

    [38] “In dwelling upon the nature of God and the universe, the mystics of the Talmudic period asserted, in contrast to the transcendentalism evident in some parts of the Bible, that “God is the dwelling-place of the universe; but the universe is not the dwelling-place of God”. Possibly the designation (“place”) for God, so frequently found in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, is due to this conception, just as Philo, in commenting on Genesis 28:11 says, “God is called ha makom (המקום “the place”) because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything” (De Somniis, i. 11).” — Wikipedia, here [29].

    [39] “How can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!” — Dune. If this were MST3k, I’d shout out here “Give a dog a bone!”

    [40] See the essays collected in The Door in the Sky: Coomaraswamy on Myth and Meaning by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, ed. by Rama P Coomaraswamy (Princeton, 1999).

    [41] See my comments on the Wotan theme embodied in the suicide of Lane Pryce in my latest collection, End of An Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents,2015).

    [42] “Manos” as the vibrant and diversity conscious modern viewer must know, is simply the Spanish word meaning “hands,” so the title is essentially Hands: The Hands of Fate, which already begins to enunciate the repetition theme we will begin exploring.

    [43] Apparently, quite arbitrarily. The “making of” featurette reveals that Tom Neyman (The Master) was also the production designer; he just happened to have a whole load of hand sculptures, since, as restorer Solovey says, dead pan, he had entered an artistic phase in which he was exploring the essence of hands. It was he (Neyman says) who suggested one day “Why don’t we just call this “Manos: The Hands of Fate.” But is not the theme of Manos that there are no “accidents”?

    [44] Did Warren anticipate the practice of “fisting,” which Edmund White called “the only new sexual act invented in recorded history”?

    [45] At least one hand is imbedded in a block of stone, thus literally “ithyphallic.”

    [46] “It’s like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop” (MST3k). Apart from being constantly high, John Reynolds was literally saddled with some kind of wire contraptions on his lower legs; people have speculated that he’s a satyr, or goat-man, but Tom Neyman, the production designer, again reveals that they, like the hands, were just some stuff he had lying around.

    [47] Neyman designed this himself, and his (real) wife sewed it, but he say that it was director Warren who insisted on his doing this over and over.

    [48] Torgo presumably heads for “the crossroads” where it was previously said the nearest phone is; this explains Michael’s curious initial idea of “hid[ing] out in the desert until someone comes to help.” The crossroad symbolism is obvious (the warp and woof of material elements) and it is from here that Torgo, like the initiate who has become the Realized Man, will ascend. See “The Corner at the Center of the World” in The Eldritch Evola, op. cit.

    [49] Wikipedia, here [30].

    [50] See Nicholas Harnoncourt’s remarks quoted in the liner notes to Telefunken’s Bach 2000 anniversary sampler disc (Teldec, 1999).

    [51] Or not: “Manos: The Hands of Fate is generally believed to be in the public domain because director Hal Warren failed to include a copyright symbol in the film (in the US in the 1960s this was enough to disqualify a film for copyright). When news broke of Solovey’s restoration, the son of Hal Warren, Joe Warren, started exploring the possibility that the film was in fact not in the public domain. Joe Warren discovered in 2013 that the script had been copyrighted, and he believes this means that the film is also copyrighted. However, no precedent exists for this case so the legal status of the film is uncertain. The release of the restored film is going ahead in spite of this.” — Wikipedia, here [31].

    [52] What with “manos” = hands, the title sequence subtly recalls the equally accidental doubling of the Larry Buchanan opus Attack of the Eye Creatures; as the MST crew says, “They just . . . didn’t . . . care.”

    [53] According to the commentary track, the road is, in fact, called Scenic Drive.

    [54] “Will I have a bad rep?” is a line suggested by Tom Servo as the teenage girl confronts the highway cops.

    [55] “Investigator Graham interests me. Very purposeful looking.” — Manhunter. “I like you, Tony, there is no lying in you.” — Scarface.

    [56] A sentiment echoed by Bob Burns in his Beast interview: “All films are interesting . . . It was a film, it did get made. . . . I think there’s a place for every movie that’s been made . . . It has a place. I’m not sure what that place is, but it has a place. I don’t think it should be forgotten.” And Larry Blamire concurs “Every movie is important to see, even the miserably bad ones.”

    [57] “Our auteur, ladies and gentlemen!” exclaims Crow as Coleman Francis sits down on the floor of a “Cuban”jail and spreads his legs wide in Red Zone Cuba (Episode 621).

    [58] “Say, I knew sex was corny, but who knew corn could be so sexy?” Another painful bit of “humor” from The Starfighters, delivered by the future Congressman Bob “B-1”Dornan.

    [59] “What’s a neophyte?” (MST3k, The Starfighters).

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Keep Watching the Screens! Bruce Rux’s Hollywood vs. the Aliens
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    2,944 words

    [1]Bruce Rux
    Hollywood vs. the Aliens: The Motion Picture Industry’s Participation in UFO Disinformation [2]
    Berkeley, Cal.: Frog Limited, 1997

    “Not only is there an amazing willingness in the human mind to invest credence and faith in unproven facts, but there is more evil, more readiness than ever on the part of various sophisticated groups, to use this human weakness as a tool in controlling others.” — Jacques Vallée, Revelations 

    A Constant Reader recently sent me a gift card with instructions to use it to buy this book. I guess he thought that as a fan of Z movies and insider conspiracies, it would be right up my alley. And, he was right — up to a point.

    For once, the cover blurb is accurate, and really says it all: “Rux posits that the film industry has long collaborated with a government disinformation campaign about UFOs.” At this point, you may very well stop reading, either the book cover or this review. But that would be a mistake — well, at least about the book.

    Rux starts things off with a 67-page “Introduction” that is really a mini-history of the modern “alien” mythos: flying saucers, abductions, hollow Earth, alien technology, ancient astronauts, faces on Mars, the whole shebang. The average reader, such as myself, will find this a great resource, adding many themes and details to what we’ve already heard about, and putting the whole thing into a chronological, inter-related whole. “Correlating our knowledge,” as it were.[1]

    He also brings in most of the political conspiratorial matters as well: MK-Ultra, lone gunmen, etc. The relevance of the later is soon revealed in his basic thesis: Hollywood’s science fiction output (movies and TV) has been covertly directed by the intelligence community as a massive disinformation campaign, intended to debunk UFOlogy by associating it with at best fantastical, at worst deliberately bad films.

    Of course, one might respond with a simpler theory: as noted sci/fi writer Theodore Sturgeon famously (or supposedly [3]) remarked, 90% of everything is crap.

    This is where the Introduction makes its most important contribution: Rux shows that Hollywood movies, from workman-like B programmers such as The Thing from Another World to prestige productions like The Day the Earth Stood Still, and even, or especially, bottom of the barrel, poverty-row efforts like Plan Nine from Outer Space, are informed by precise, detailed knowledge of UFO phenomena years and sometime decades before it became publicly available.

    Along the way, Rux makes one especially interesting correlation: under Republican administrations, aliens are portrayed as hostile; under Democrats, they are friendly. But under Clinton (the book came out in 1998), the correlation breaks down: the evil aliens of the Reagan and Bush admins continue, which (I would add) itself correlates with the overall “neo-liberal” policies shared by the Republicans and “Clinton Democrats,” the Bush and Clinton dynasties, leading to the mass dissatisfaction of the Sanders and Trump movements today.[2]

    Of course, there could be other factors; I recall several people suggesting that the alien disintegration of the White House and death of the First Lady in Independence Day was exactly what audiences wanted to happen to the Clintons.

    It sounds like it should be a great ride, but not so much.

    What really sinks the book, judged on its own merits, are a couple of rookie mistakes (if I may be pardoned for putting on my author hat and getting up on my high horse).

    First, with such a massive amount of material – 700 pages as it is! – Rux or his publishers decided to save trees from death and wrists from carpal tunnel syndrome by not including any more references than the bare legal requirements of attributing quotes to published sources. Otherwise, bupkis. The whole damn book is just Mr. Rux’s word, contra, if need be, mundum.

    This is especially true of his rather Kevin Bacony method of “proving” an intelligence connection by asserting some vague link, such as serving in the Army, or having a brother who did so. As critics have said about such reasoning in books about the ’60s: you know, there was a reason so many hippies, counterculture gurus and rockers had parents in the Army: World War II.[3] And once Rux makes such a connection, anything produced by that studio or helmed by that director is presumed to be all spooked up.

    Now, I think I can see their notion. In this modern world, what will Google and Netflix and YouTube, both the UFO encounter mythos and Hollywood films, from epic blockbusters to the most obscure Grade-Z efforts (Coleman Francis!), can be accessed on one’s laptop so as to check out Mr. Rux’s declarations.

    Well, not quite. Mr. Rux runs into another elementary problem, which a friend pointed out to me years ago: “Ever notice that when you read about something in the paper, which you were actually involved in, the details are all wrong? Imagine how inaccurate the stories are that you don’t have inside knowledge on.”

    Paradoxically, the very access to B-films provided by the modern world (which, come to think of it, given his hypothesis, is part of the plan), allows any reader to notice a flurry of errors in his capsule accounts. As a reviewer at Amazon recounts:

    I began to find factual errors in his film analyses. The number soon grew to well over 50 major errors in just his description of the films. This is unforgiveable in this age of VHS/DVD. All of the films he wrote about can be had in these formats to rent or purchase. A nagging question began to gnaw at me: “If he makes serious errors with films that are very easy to view/reference, how can I possibly trust his writing of something serious like UFOs?”

    I stopped counting them, so I can’t really corroborate that number, but there sure are a lot of mistakes. For example, it’s clear that his understanding of Ed Wood’s Plan Nine from Outer Space is based on the factual “inaccuracies” put out by the Medveds and perpetuated by their epigones and clones of the “Worst Movie of All Time” cult.[4]

    For example, Rux makes a lot about the incoherence of Wood’s exposition and dialogue, having especial fun with Criswell’s introduction, as contrasted with the letter-perfect speech Jeff (Gregory Walcott) later gives his wife; since the latter reproduces memes from actual pilot reports, before they became common knowledge, he adduces this as evidence of spook contributions.

    Jeff: It was shaped like a huge cigar. Dan saw it too. When it passed over, the whole compartment lighted up with a blinding glare. Then there was a tremendous wind that practically knocked us off our course.

    Paula: Well did you report it?

    Jeff: Yeah, radioed in immediately and they said well keep it quiet until you land. Then as soon as we landed, big army brass grabbed us and made us swear to secrecy about the whole thing. Oh, it burns me up. These things have been seen for years. They’re here, it’s a fact. And the public oughta know about it.

    Paula: There must be something more you can do about it.

    Jeff: Oh no there isn’t. Oh, but what’s the point of making a fuss. Last night I saw a flying object that couldn’t possibly have been from this planet. But I can’t say a word. I’m muzzled by army brass! I can’t even admit I saw the thing!

    Rux is on to something here, since, as he points out, Wood obviously knows the UFOs he painstakingly assembled from model kits are “flying saucers” not cigars. But Rux is also obviously working from transcripts or reviews; Walcott’s actual speech is mucked up by his rather thick Texas accent, and makes “They’re here” sound like “They HE-ah,” clear enough for the MST3k guys to repeat it for a few chuckles.[5]

    Actors blowing lines is common enough in Wood films, but if the speech was so all-fired important couldn’t Ed have abandoned his one-take policy just once, or maybe overdubbed it later? It’s not like Ed cared about continuity.

    Or did he? Ed’s peculiar take on human speech, as well as he famous “goofs” and “mistakes,” are less products of incompetence against which the merely competent parts stand out as evidence of a conspiracy,[6] than they are carefully chosen methods for realizing a unique cinematic vision.[7]

    It’s a shame Rux makes his treatment of Ed so unreliable, because Ed Wood, patriotic conservative, ex-Marine, enthusiastic but easily bamboozled small town naif and an alcoholic con-man all in one, is, as the author notes, exactly the sort of person the spooks would chose to work through.[8]

    Before getting back to Wood, and indeed getting into what redeems the book, I have one more bone to pick: the Index. In another rookie mistake, the writer or publisher has decided to make up for the lack of academic apparatus in the text by at least compiling an index — which all too many books today lack (though not Counter-Currents books!) — but then blotting their page by going too far.

    The Index is organized, if I can use that word, by various categories, which might have been presented separately (as in academic books with indices for names, subjects, Greek words, etc.) or at least given some distinctive typographical presentation. Here, not. I have never seen an index like this, and frankly, it’s impossible to find anything in it.

    One looks for Plan Nine, say, and one must first find the “Movies” section; or is it “Films” or “Cinema,” which would be dozens of pages in another direction, each page of which must be minutely examined to find the heading, since one can’t tell how many dozens of more or less arbitrary categories will crop up between M and F or C. Although one can scan it to find random people and things, using it in the normal fashion, to find a specific entry, is impossible.

    Having done a bit of indexing myself, I can assure you that at some point there was a simple alphabetical list of names, which the author or editors then went to town on, producing, God bless their little hearts, this over-organized to a fare-thee-well mess. Perhaps a flaw in the conspiratorial-minded brain?[9]

    Speaking of such Aspergy intensity recalls to my own mind that I was supposed to tell you what’s good about this book, where it’s all right.[10]

    The positive side is that this guy covers everything, and he brings the kind of obsessed fan attentiveness to it that allows him to come up with fascinating interpretations not unlike those produced by my own paranoiac-critical method.[11] Not always, but enough times to make you keep going. You might say that rather than devoting obsessive attention to repeated screenings of favored works,[12] he’s devoted the same intensity to simply viewing (or claiming to view) everything. Quantity, not quality, but at times it works.

    For example, what won me over was his treatment of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, really, that movie. It beautifully illustrates his thesis of the premature awareness of UFO facts, since, since when repeatedly viewed with Rux’s kind of obsessive attention to detail[13], it emerges as a more or less straightforward and complete alien abduction narrative, but filmed, written, even performed onstage two or three years before the classic abduction stories became known to the mainstream media.

    Frankly (ha!) I’d never really thought of it as a particularly “hard” sci/fi film, rather than a campy sendup of ’50s schlock, but as Rux piles up the details and correlates them to abduction accounts, the gestalt image shifts, the 3D image appears, and suddenly you realize that he’s all right![14]

    Eventually, Rux even ropes in the Biblical account of the Fall of the Watchers, a popular “ancient aliens” meme that, I would add, links Dr. Frank-n-furter to the race of Heroes discussed in Part One of Evola’s Hermetic Tradition.[15]

    Not everything rises to this level, but enough does (such as the analysis of Night of the Blood Beast by Roger Corman — another CIA spook, of course) to keep the reader paging through this almost endless survey of Hollywood schlock.

    As an added bonus Rux’s definition of “Hollywood” includes major foreign producers (such as UK’s Devil Girl from Mars, which is featured on the cover, and The Crawling Eye and the various Quatermasses) as well as TV productions; it’s great to see the same level of attention devoted to such relatively unsung material as The Outer Limits (almost every episode is discussed) and Space: 1999.[16]

    But as an example of his hit or miss approach, Rux calls The Prisoner “the ultimate abduction story” yet devotes only a paragraph of bare production facts, as if he were only writing an A-Z of TV shows.[17]

    And that then is really the main problem: does Mr. Rux know what he wants to do here, what he wants to give us? The poorly produced brick of a book is the wrong format. Now, almost twenty years later, one can see what would have been a better way, perhaps; Mr. Rux could have scaled back his ambitions a bit and simply given us a series of concise, accurately detailed online articles or blog posts, not unlike those of Miles Mathis or Vigilant Citizen, with appropriate media links.[18]

    As it is, it’s cheap enough on Amazon, and highly recommended for its history of the alien abduction mythos, and for its hugely browse-able history of Hollywood’s war with the Aliens.

    Notes

    1. “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” — H. P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926).

    2. Hillary herself, of course, thinks she should have been elected in 2008, continuing the bush/Clinton trend uninterrupted, with the Republican insiders initially backing, of course, Jeb Bush.

    3. For example, Dave McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream, which I reviewed in “Allen Dulles’ Lonely Hearts Club Band: The CIA & the Construction of the Sixties Counter-Culture,” here [4].

    4. For more on Wood and the Medved Cult, see my “From Bozo to Bertolucci: How Not to Watch the Films of Ed Wood, Jr.,” here [5]. Another Medved/neocon touch is an odd anti-anti-smoking stance, where opposition to smoking is seen as evidence of some kind of government mind-control program, in films and real life; strange to see in a book published by a New Age house.

    5. Crackedrearviewer adds [6] that “Something about the way Walcott says “big Army brass” causes me to go into fits of hysterical laughter every time!”

    6. One imagines Ed Wood taking counsel not from Orson Welles but from Cigarette-smoking Man, and then one realizes that the not-dissimilar looking Baptist backer of Plan Nine is played (in the Tim Burton film) by the guy who played the crooked Senator in Godfather II and the “Army brass” that gives Capt. Willard his assignment in Apocalypse Now; he also appeared in such TV series as Space and The Greatest American Hero, the later a subject of Rux’s analysis.

    7. See my “Getting Wood: Closely Watching the Cinematic Alchemy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.,” here [7]. On the other hand, an Amazon reviewer of Craig’s book retorts: “And I have a VERY hard time picturing Ed Wood saying to his crew “Now make this set really fake . . . I want to make a reference to Brechtean theatre!”

    8. For more on Wood as a conservative, indeed Traditionalist, filmmaker, see my “Getting Wood: Closely Watching the Cinematic Alchemy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.,” here [7].

    9. Eros: “You see!? You see!? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!” Plan Nine from Outer Space (Ed Wood, 1959).

    10. Dr. Vorloff: “I have proven that I am all right!” Bride of the Monster (Ed Wood, 1956).

    11. For more on the method, see the Introduction to Green Nazis in Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).

    12. For my own list, see “Essential Films … & Others,” here [8].

    13. For example, the opening song clearly promises that we’ll “see androids fighting/Brad and Janet,” but no such androids appear; until you realize that Riff Raff and Magenta, at the end of the film, are not just “space invaders” but, in fact, androids, or robots, as are (Rux emphasizes throughout) the Greys and other “aliens” reported by the visited and abducted.

    14. For the 3d picture metaphor, see Ann Sterzinger’s review of my latest collection, “Fashy Homos and Green Nazis in Space,” here [9]. Some have reported a similar shift from “This is absurd” to “Obviously!” on reading my correlation of Mr. Belvedere and Krishna in “The Babysitting Bachelor as Aryan Avatar: Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty, Part 2,” here [10].

    15. And thus also to the Green Lantern Corps, discussed in the title essay of my new collection, Green Nazis in Space! (ibid). The “sweet transvestite” is, of course, the Divine Androgyne which Evola discusses in The Hermetic Tradition as well as the “Serpentine Wisdom” article in his Introduction to Magic: “How disheartening to those who uphold the myth of manhood based on muscles and metallic strength: this alone is the true man, the absolute man! He absorbs within himself the ambiguous virtue of the female. Lao-tzu talks about the invisible magic of the feminine, which in a feline fashion attracts and absorbs in itself man’s action . . .” See my “Accommodate This! Bruce Jenner & the Hermetic Rebis,” here [11]. The RKO Radio icon is the Tower or Tree of Paradise, the swimming pool is the Lower Waters of phenomena existence as discussed by Evola in both works as well.

    16. Nicely complemented by the late Alisdair Clarke’s “The Play of Aryan Archetypes in Space: 1999,” here [12].

    17. Instead, you can read Collin Cleary’s essay here [13] and in his Summoning the Gods: Essays on Paganism in a God-Forsaken World [14], ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2011).

    18. Like this [15], perhaps.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Getting Wood:Closely Watching the Cinematic Alchemy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    8,382 words

    [1]Rob Craig
    Ed Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films [2]
    Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2009

    “One is always considered mad, when one discovers something that others cannot grasp!” — Dr. Vornoff (Bela Lugosi) in Bride of the Monster

    “He did a lot of hall and office work and was the fastest typist in the Marines.” — Kathy Wood, talking about her late husband, Ed (1992) 

    “A lot of people like to say [Ed Wood] wasn’t a good director. I don’t think it takes a bad director to make a movie in six days with $8,000. That takes a genius to do that. It’s more like alchemy.” — Cinema Insomnia host Mr. Lobo [3]

    Is there anything more irritating that the whole hipster “so bad it’s good” aesthetic?

    While Sontag may have appropriated the idea of “camp” to provide a justification of high-brow slumming,[1] the “so bad it’s good” mentality attempts to subvert critique altogether, “ironically” appreciating trash as trash while diverting energy and attention from the truly good.

    The entry point, for movies at least, seems to have been Harry Medved’s book, The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (Popular Press, 1978) and its sequel, The Golden Turkey Awards: The Worst Achievements in Hollywood History (Perigree Trade, 1980) by Harry and Michael Medved.

    The latter Medved, of course, eventually morphed into a Judeo-con commentator, with a special mission to the evangelicals, in which role he continues to infest the late-night Christian airwaves. How many hipsters realize that? If they do, they may ask, so what?

    I say “of course” since “so bad it’s good” is a typical example — a veritable paradigm case, in fact — of Judaic culture-distortion.[2]

    One consequence of such distortion is focusing our attention on trash; another is the search for more trash to “enjoy” leads, deliberately or not, to neglect or misunderstand work of genuine value.

    Indeed, some have begun to note that the films of Edward D. Wood, Jr., the patron saint of the “so bad it‘s good” cult, the so-called (by the Medveds) “worst director of all time”. . . aren’t that bad. Rather fun in fact.[3] And if the culture-distorters want you to mock something, maybe we should take a closer look.[4]

    As a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Medvedite, this book had me right at the start, with this dramatic mise-en-scène:

    I first encountered the films of Edward D. Wood, Jr., one sunny afternoon circa 1980, when a revival house screened Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space. Even with the fuzzy focus, tinny sound and catcalls of the inebriated audience,[5] the remarkable splendor of Wood’s vision came shining through, and by film’s end I was a bona fide Wood devotee. Afterwards, the Medved Brothers, authors of a book called The Golden Turkey Awards, the first to introduce Wood to a mainstream audience, held court in the theatre lobby, surrounded by doting fans, and pontificating on Plan 9 ’s lamentable ineptness, giving as evidence such anecdotal nonsense as hubcaps used as flying saucers, a claim which anyone paying attention could instantly deny. I spoke with a smaller group in the corner of the lobby. We breathlessly discussed what we knew to be true that Wood was a daring and utterly unique outsider film artist, a wildly creative producer of bizarre personal art, and a filmmaker of sublime stature.

    Unfortunately, the condescending view posited by the Medveds and others took hold, and Wood became legend not as a film artist of note, but as a freak of nature, a literary clown, an alcoholic buffoon of fringe Hollywood, a filmmaker so awkward and unfocused that he had inadvertently created, with Plan 9 from Outer Space, “the worst film of all time.” Discarding the patent absurdity of such a claim,[6] Wood’s films are in fact neither bad, nor good, they are art; astounding, bizarre film-poems with many, many flaws, and many more hypnotic charms.

    If not “so bad it’s good,” then what is the continuing allure of the Ed Wood oeuvre? The danger here is to fall into the opposite extreme, and try to find some hidden, highly abstract and academic motifs, with accompanying po-mo verbiage. Craig sometimes falls into such claptrap:

    Bride of the Monster . . . with its emphasis on subject and object connected via a corrupt and ill-fated “marriage” of sorts, signals a binary which will pan out in interesting ways throughout the film, a coupling of innocence and baseness, passivity and aggression (with a nod to the master/slave dialectic of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel [1770–1831], outlined in his seminal work, Phenomenology of Spirit), and as mentioned, creation and destruction as embodied in the symbols Eros and Thanatos.

    Or this example of trying to real too much into what is likely budget-imposed cheapness and alcohol-induced confusion and laziness:[7]

    The first thing one notices is the patently artificial walls of the lab, studio flats which are primitively painted to look like stonework, but are so literally illustrative they convey no realism at all, but make the entire set look not just fake, but deliberately and consciously fake, another nod by Wood to Brechtean theatre, in which audience engagement in the piece is largely predicated upon the notion that the scenario is theatre, and not a narrative analog to real life, or in other words, non-representational vs. representational theatre. (Italics original)

    In fact, the shot [of the actor vainly struggling with an inanimate octopus puppet] is so stunningly false that it conveys a creepy uber-realism of its own, and is one of Bride’s greatest illusions; in true Brechtean form, it completely undermines suspension of disbelief, and thrusts the audience into a much more confrontational world of fake melodrama and unbelievable theatrical illusion.

    In the immortal words of an audience member at lecture by J. L. Austin in New York, when Austin pontificated that a double negative often signifies a positive, while the inverse never occurs: “Yeah, yeah.”[8]

    At times, it’s hard to tell if the reader is being “punked” by some kind of academic satire, more Pooh Perplex [4] than Sokal Hoax [5].[9]

    Crossroads [an unfinished, 23 minute Western TV pilot] thus sketches in minimalist form the treacherous journey ahead for the postwar suburban couple, along with the addressed hope for an emergent heterosexual dyad of progressive, courageous and most importantly post-phallic and post-capitalist citizen, potential architects of an emancipatory post holocaust culture.

    Well, that’s gotta turn enough cranks to get an “A” anywhere in the Ivy League![10]

    But for the most part his method is quite sound (or, also Bride’s Dr. Vornoff would say, “all right!”):

    This book is not a biography of Wood the man, nor is it a history of his career as filmmaker, nor a chronicle of his prodigious literary output (volumes all waiting to be written, it would appear). It is simply a meditation on his films, along with some thoughts as to themes, motifs and passions which recur with notable regularity.[11]

    Craig seems to be referring to the same method which I have myself employed in reviewing films here on Counter-Currents — derived from the British poet Jeremy Reed’s observation that the poet’s relation to his subject is the same fanatical obsession as the pop fan devotes to his or her “idol” — in which one focuses ones attention on repetitive viewings until … things start to appear.[12]

    And it should be noted that this meets the strictures of what I’ve called the Amis-Larkin view, that while academic discussion and analysis is welcome and can be both interesting and helpful, it must only be applied to work that first has an immediate appeal to the viewer/listener. Thus, by all means write a musicological dissertation on Louis Armstrong, but don’t hand me any guff about Charlie Parker’s ugly squawking as “something you’d appreciate if you knew enough about the theory of jazz chord progressions.”[13]

    Indeed, these two points lead to a method that almost privileges popular, or genre, works. As Craig observes:

    Wood seemed to also intuit that the successful artist is one who is able to create new myths, to bypass business and history and enter the culture subconsciously, through primal collective fantasies which act as the official “stories” of the age. Popular Fiction, and Popular Cinema, the twin godheads of Popular Culture, have always been the main repository for these, and Wood . . . was able to extract and rework many cultural myths to his own design, as few others with his finite resources were able to do.[14]

    Seeing the films through Craig’s eyes, we come to realize that the famous “goofs” are not mistakes. They may be deliberate, or if truly accidental (such as the infamous wobbling cardboard “tombstone“) allowed to remain in place, carefully chosen moments of preserved serendipity, like the sudden appearance of the squawking, semi-transparent parrot in Citizen Kane, disorienting the viewer.

    Take, for instance, the frequently mocked alternating of night and day shots in scenes supposedly taking place at one time.

    In traditional Wood form, the scene alternates between exterior establishing shots at dusk, and studio-bound interiors shot against a pitch-black backdrop.

    For Craig, this is not “incompetence” but a significant theme: Wood’s “genius [vide the title] at altering cinematic time and space” so as to create voids, limbos, etc., in which his highly symbolic dramas take place.

    This assemblage of disparate characters, mulling about in a bleak, flavorless, generic setting (which Criswell has remained the viewer to consider archetypal and taking place in “your town”) is quickly becoming one of Woods’ trademark cosmic voids, a Skid Row purgatory where all of humanity must pass a various points of life, towards death.

    This pasteboard limbo . . .

    A coffin, which lies in one of Wood’s trademark cosmic voids, a “dead space” which illustrates Woods’ recurring purgatory.

    Another famous “goof” is the use of an obvious stand-in for the by-then dead Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 from Outer Space. There are, Craig notes, “several fascinating instances where Wood used two, and sometimes more, actors and/or props to play the same character, with Plan 9’s ‘Ghoul Man’ the preeminent example.” These “may be in fact the human equivalent of Wood’s ‘symbolic’ effects, where one or more cheap props [the cardboard tombstone] are offered to portray what was actually intended.”

    One such recurring character is/are the drunks that periodically drift in and out of the police stations (another motif), an obvious “cameo” for the director himself. Another recurring character is Kelton the Cop, who appears in all three films of Wood’s after-the-fact trilogy of Bride, Plan, and Night, played by the same actor (Paul Marco). Craig dubs him “the divine idiot,” the “Cosmic Fool,” “Wood’s miserable imp,” and the “clown-philosopher.”       Alternately abused and ignored by the rest of the cast (Craig calls him “a thoroughly feminized outsider to the patriarchy”; as one detective says, “Kelton! He’s the last man I‘d want!”), Kelton is Wood’s Everyman, facing the literal truths of life and death that are Wood‘s eternal theme.

    The cowardly cop’s constant terrified commentary on the proceedings succinctly the unexpressed sentiments of his community, especially regarding the ever-present fear of death.

    Wood manages to disarm [his audience] by pinning his most dismal revelations to his most absurd, clownish characters, Kelton the Cop: foremost, safely distancing his audience form these dark truths.

    Here we see Wood availing himself of a similar motif to the one explored by Trevor Lynch in the context of the Dark Knight films: the use of a crazy or evil character as spokesman for officially forbidden truths the audience dare not face.[15] He will receive Criswell’s ultimate accolade in the trilogy’s finale:

    “The police had only their opinion as to the true ending — it was only patrolman Kelton’s guess that could be considered the closest.”

    Craig at one point refers to the hapless Kelton as “this runt,” which connects him to Jack Donovan’s archetypal runt who, physically unprepossessing, nevertheless has some valuable knowledge or skill — rune-reading, mead-making, first aid, or, perhaps, some physical comfort in an all-male environment — that allows him to be a functioning, perhaps essential, element of the male band.[16]

    In the work of Ed Wood, “muddled artist,” these combine to create a cinema which is: Unflinchingly fixated, not merely on contemplation of life and death, as is much of narrative cinema, but of that cryptic correlation between life and death, portrayed in Wood’s films as a biblical-style purgatory given visual expression via one of his many cosmic voids.

    There are other motifs of interest, but for now let’s look at Craig’s method in action. Before all that guff about Brecht, Craig gives us a bravura example of this kind of close, intense reading with his account of Ed’s early film, Jailbait (1954), a delirious bit of sleazy exploitation trash that, judging from the film poster, played on the bottom of a double bill with Racket Girls, a lady wrestlers/organized crime drama that shares enough themes and actors with Wood’s other productions to lead many over the years to suspect Ed’s hand in the writing or directing.[17]

    We’ll certainly see most of Ed’s cosmic themes appear.

    Opinion differs on Jailbait; for some, it shows how Ed could have, barely, survived as a B-movie studio hack, while others ascribe it to the bottom of Ed’s barrel:

    Though Timothy Farrell . . . tries his best to impersonate a streetwise hoodlum, he comes across more like a pissed-off insurance adjuster. And the dreary Clancy Malone . . . Instead of unctuous, he comes off as unconscious. When dopey Dolores Fuller and the Confederate colonel-ness of silent star Herbert Rawlinson are the best things about your felony film cast, you know you’re in trouble. Jail Bait is definitely the worst movie in this set . . . [Night of the Ghouls is] all Orson Welles compared to Jail Bait‘s badness.[18]

    For Craig, things are a bit different:

    Wood’s uncanny ability to radically alter an ostensibly mundane mise-en-scène is well-illustrated in Jail Bait which, for all its superficial familiarity, appears to take place in some alien cosmic void, not the sunny Southern California milieu in which the story is set. This otherworldly quality greatly augments the overlay of religious symbology which haunts Jail Bait from the first to last frame.

    That “symbology” will prove to be a remarkable “overlay” of Judeo-Christian motifs on top of a re-enactment of the Egyptian myth of Osiris.

    Significantly, Jail Bait takes place over the course of several weeks, but always at night; the film’s characters seem to be constantly sleepwalking through a murky setting of eternal darkness. Given the overt religious nature of the scenario, one might call this setting a modern incarnation of the Biblical purgatory, a metaphor for the eternal prison of a sinful, fallen culture, most specifically suggesting the ancient Hebrew notion of Hell, known as Sheol, “a dim sort of pit where all the dead gathered and became sightless, soundless, and forgotten.” This striking narrative quirk also surely echoes the aforementioned “nocturnal illumination” of the ancient Osiris ritual, making the whole of Jail Bait a form of celluloid “Night of All Souls.”

    What about the “wildly inappropriate music score” that others lazily mock?

    This strange and beautiful music was composed by Hoyt Kurtain (aka Hoyt S. Curtin, soon to become the prolific composer for Hanna-Barbera animation studios) for an earlier film, Mesa of Lost Women (1953), for the same producers. The producers of Jail Bait merely lifted this earlier score and added it, rather haphazardly, to Wood’s gritty crime thriller.[19] The music consists of flamenco guitar and piano riffs, in vaguely free-form jazz cues which, although hauntingly beautiful, evoke no excitement or dramatic tension whatsoever. The mournful, almost avant-garde music emphasizes the alien texture of the film, and makes the most dramatic and tense scenes seem dreamy and unreal, in effect a modern incarnation of the “melancholy chants” used in the Osiris death ritual.

    Jail Bait’s opening titles roll as a Nash police cruiser prowls a busy Alhambra, California, street at night, while dreamy jazz music plays, setting the stage not for a gripping crime melodrama, but a weird spiritual tale in some modern purgatory.

    The characters, too, carry a heavy “symbological” import:

    Don’s sister is remarkably set up as his “Isis”; he tellingly refers to her as “Sis” (as in Isis), and never calls her by her actual name. Her existence in the scenario is novel, as any number of other B-level crime thrillers of the era would have, as the protagonist’s female counterpart, a lover or girlfriend or wife, some sort of romantic interest. As Don has only his sister to love and worry over him, there is no romantic tension whatsoever in the piece. In fact, Sis does act the role of Don’s “wife” in many ways, from fretting and cajoling and offering advice and solace, to harboring and hiding him during periods of extreme danger. She is, in effect, Isis to his Osiris, both sister and wife.

    Like an archeologist, Craig carefully dusts off each scene, and even each shot, until their symbolic significance is revealed. Here are some examples:

    This revelation of the elder Gregor’s occupation of surgeon, that is, one whose main instrument of healing is a knife, aligns him emphatically with his Old Testament counterpart, Abraham, whose sacrificial knife was the crucial element in the whole sordid tale.

    Don falls to the floor in front of the cross-bearing radio set, and this cruel death of a troubled but sympathetic protagonist marks Jail Bait indelibly as the cinema of Wood.

    Vic Brady really comes to life here as the incarnation of Set, Osiris’s evil brother. Not only has he been conspiring against the health and safety of Don, his “brother” and partner-in-crime, from the start of the film, but he has finally killed him, and moreover plans on dumping him in a river.

    Three days pass.

    In the next scene, Brady’s head is now covered in bandages, looking very much like a mummy, with clear allusions to the Osiris legend. Gregor and Marilyn are wearing white lab coats, making them look simultaneously sinister and angelic.

    As we approach the delirious conclusion (surgeon Gregor, forced perform plastic surgery on his son’s killer, surreptitiously transforms the latter’s face into his dead son’s):

    [6]Inexplicably, Brady’s head is now covered in what appears to be a plaster cast, not the loosely draped gauze wrappings seen in the previous scene. The head looks now like an ancient, mummified death-mask, in one of Wood’s highly symbolic “continuity errors,” which may not be error at all: As Isis rescued her brother Osiris from the river, and preserved him as mummy, so “Sis” and her father have “resurrected” their lost Osiris, even though this is a fact the audience is not yet aware of.

    Forcing a killer to wear the face of the very man he killed is poetic justice of a very rare kind, and with this act, Gregor has managed both to momentarily resurrect his son from an untimely death, and also sacrifice him, as the biblical Abraham was prepared to do with Isaac, to fulfill his loyalty to “the law.” As well, “Sis,” as Isis has, according to the legend and with the help of her father, retrieved her brother from death, and created a spiritual resting place for Don/Osiris’s reassembled material body, i.e., through his “mummification,” and the tragic death and miraculous resurrection of a sympathetic character takes center stage once again in the cinema of Wood, this time with the help of mythical Isis, the great mother of creation

    Johns runs outside and shoots the bullet which finally fells Brady/Don, who falls down, convulsing in his death throes, eventually toppling over into the cleansing water of the pool, finally receiving the purifying baptism he so sorely needs for a serene immortality in paradise. As Jail Bait ends, so does its celebration of fallen mortals and their subsequent resurrection and glorification — overall a memorable postwar “Night of All Souls.” Brady’s conspiracy against Don Gregor has failed, as did Set’s conspiracy against his brother Osiris, as do most evil conspiracies eventually, for although these plots may remove the physical targets from their mortal coils, the morally ignorant actions tend to elevate their targets’ greater legacy, assuring that they will become “larger than life,” in many instances iconic and mythological, with Osiris being a fine example.

    Not bad for a bottom of the bill “B” programmer, eh?

    Brady’s death, after being tricked into taking on the face of his last victim, Don, brings up another Wood motif that we’ve been at pains to find in our reviews of genre films: what we’ve called “passing the buck” — characters recur, over and over, helplessly performing the same actions over and over (“Pull the string!” as Lugosi’s Glen or Glenda character would say), until they can fob off their karma on another, more hapless character.[20] This is the “scapegoat” or sacrificial victim motif, which recurs in all of Wood’s films:

    He is assuredly a scapegoat of sorts. . . . Vic Brady’s shooting at the poolside, most significantly while in the mask of Don Gregor, who represents the repentant, grieving community, does qualify as a sacrificial killing. The “public” nature of the swimming pool, an emblematic societal gathering place, marks the killing not as a lone act of justice and revenge, but a community ritual with profound moral implications. In sum, Vic Brady in Jail Bait is a scapegoat for runaway capitalism and its obedient handmaidens, material accumulation and the worship of style over substance.

    In sum, Jail Bait is a superlative instance of a creative filmmaker elevating a pedestrian genre melodrama by imbuing it with allegorical substance and unique aesthetic peculiarities, creating an engaging work which stands both as part of the intended genre, yet a unique exception to that genre. . . . One can assume that Wood was proud of this rare creation, as the end title of Jail Bait proudly boasts, “Made in Hollywood, U.S.A,” in unabashed recognition of that apocryphal land of magic, myth and the mystery arts

    While not every chapter offers such an exhilaratingly revisionist reading of an Ed Wood film, each is at filled with fascinating insights and suggestions.

    Meditating on Lugosi’s puzzling role in Glen or Glenda, Craig suggests that Lugosi is actually prophetically enacting a role not yet in existence: the local TV “horror host,” a role soon to be created by his future Plan 9 co-star, Vampira.[21]

    These hosts, in addition to providing amusing entertainment for the audience with their wildly theatrical antics, most importantly served a critical function, in effect judging the films as did the audience, and connecting film and audience into one cultural dyad which before TV had been well-nigh impossible. In fact, the TV horror host’s coaxing of their audience to participate in lambasting the films suggests a most elemental use of Brechtian philosophy, in which the audience is either seduced or shamed into participating in the action occurring “onstage.”

    In another turn of the screw, not mentioned by Craig, Joel Hodgson, creator of MST3k, would cite local TV horror hosts as an inspiration, along the Medved’s books; and just as TV brought film and audience together, the adoption of the Internet did the same for MST’s initially tiny cable audience.[22] Hodgson would also cite their Bride of the Monster episode as the moment they brought everything together in a way that showed their bona fides as good-natured mockers.[23]

    Craig also suggests that Lugosi is portraying — or embodying — an alchemist, which he rather idiosyncratically glosses as “a virtually supranational being who had the power to transform beings into heroes or demons at will.” Pull the string! Of course, we can see the relevance of this to Glen or Glenda’s theme of sexual ambiguity and transformation.

    This leads us to the vexed and vexing question of Ed’s sexuality. Almost too much is known, through books and Tim Burton’s movie, about Ed’s transvestism and angora fetish; mostly ignored, in the same sources, is his final days as an alcoholic pornographer (too much of a downer for Perky Goth Burton). Craig, as we might expect by now, gives an exemplary account of the relevance of his kinky persona.

    [7]

    First, let’s back up a bit. As Craig correctly notes, Ed Wood transvestite is not Ed Wood homosexual; transvestites are overwhelmingly heterosexual,[24] and rather “conventional” and thus “reactionary” in the eyes of gender activists; not much point in cross-dressing if “we’re all the same” and “gender is a social construct.”[25]

    Ed, in fact, was something of a closet conservative; his attacks on dysfunctional “patriarchal families” being made, Craig suggests, in the name of a call to return to earlier functionality. As another critic writes:

    Ideologically, Ed Wood had a surprising amount in common with super-conservative Jack Webb [an inspiration for Ed’s numerous cop routines]. The policemen . . . are same dutiful, honest lawmen . . .[26] Ed’s utter contempt for the youth culture, whom he amusingly misidentifies as “beatniks,” a term roughly a decade past its expiration date, is plain.[27] Remember, this is a man who eagerly joined the Marines in WWII, so he would have had no sympathy whatsoever for the anti-Vietnam movement.[28] What seems hypocritical to me is his condemnation of the drug scene, specifically acid and marijuana. (There is one brief reference to “the white stuff,” by which he means heroin, not cocaine.) I say “hypocritical” because Ed was altering his own consciousness with alcohol whenever he could, and the characters in his [works] do likewise. Booze is nearly as central a motif in [his work] as angora.[29]

    In his books and scripts, Eddie demonstrated little to no affinity for the counterculture and likely longed to go back to the 1950s, the time when he was making the movies for which he is still best known.[30]

    As Craig succinctly puts it, Ed was a “unique cross between a libertine and a prude.”

    Thus, to flash forward now, when Ed found himself compelled to direct porn to pay the rent and buy booze, he crafted distinctly un- or anti-erotic works — some, like The Love Feast (1969) even starring his own unappetizing person, in another example of the sacrificial victim motif.[31]

    Placing Wood as the male lead in this sorry debacle removes all pretense at erotica, for he is depicted as a bloated old man, with slurred speech, greasy long hair, and a propensity to stumble around — in short, a drunken bum. The end result of tossing this flabby old stumblebum into a sea of taut young bodies is that The Love Feast comes across as a crude and cynical sex farce, a total mockery of its intended genre and a slap in the face to the then-ascendant Sexual Revolution.[32]

    What, then, did this “prudish libertine” want to accomplish with his sexually explicit work? Let’s go back again:

    Perhaps too much has been made about Wood’s childhood in Poughkeepsie, New York, and his mother’s habit of periodically draping him in little girl’s dresses. While several accounts verify that this occurred, the extent to which this ritual was performed is unknown. And while it most certainly had an impact on the young boy Wood, this practice was not all that uncommon.

    The reasons for parents performing this apparently eccentric act on their offspring are complex and obscure, and cannot be analyzed sufficiently here. At an unconscious level, it might appear that the parent was attempting, through this highly symbolic, virtually alchemical act, to integrate the child’s psyche by balancing both genders equally, and undertaking an experimental merging of Jungian anima and animus archetypes into one integral, potentially well-adjusted whole.

    At first blush it may appear that with this recurring theme, Wood is championing the ascendancy of the female, and thus the female principle, over the male principle, which has caused so much havoc in the modern world. Yet upon further inspection, Wood’s [cinema] seems to be hinting at an amicable synthesis of these apparently disparate elements, a conjoining of male and female, spirit and matter which might be coined a “mystical androgyny” or, as the mystics themselves labeled it, “the sacred marriage.”

    Although Wood may have primarily denigrated patriarchal institutions while elevating the female to virtual godhead, still he may have ultimately forgiven “the father” for his sins, finally realizing that his existence was after all due to the hardiness of the problematic yet enduring male-female binary, represented to every living being by its immutable archetype: parents. Wood’s “Mom and Dad,” although flawed, at times even despicable creatures, are each ultimately redeemable, and as every audience member shares this couple, Wood’s ambivalent ruminations may be edifying to all.

    “Upon further inspection” or, as I’ve said before,[33]

    A close reading of the passages in Evola’s Hermetic Tradition mentioning ‘androgyne’ would show that the process involves the male becoming and then dominating, becoming so as to dominate, the feminine energies, a process he gives the provocative name “philosophical incest.” The Initiate, by transcending duality and achieving Wholeness, partakes of the Androgyne and even can be said to practice what Evola daringly calls “Philosophical Incest.”[34]

    Also useful would be a reading of the essay from Evola’s journal UR, “Serpentine Wisdom” reprinted in his Introduction to Magic in which Evola, under a pseudonym, mocks those with a “muscle-bound” understanding of power, advising them to “take on the power of the feminine” (yes, Evola!) and “absorb within himself the ambiguous virtue of the female.”[35]

    The idea in alchemy, as in Wood, is not to replace a decaying patriarchy (rooted in the Bronze Age of thuggery) with a gynoecratic regime (a product of the Silver Age), but to “absorbs within himself the ambiguous virtue of the female” and return to the original, Golden Age.

    Which brings us back to Isis:

    To achieve perfection, the initiate must successfully understand and internalize the dual nature of the world (good and evil; masculine and feminine; black and white, etc.) through alchemical metamorphosis. This concept is symbolically represented by the union of Osiris and Isis (the male and female principles) to give birth to Horus, the star-child, the Christ-like figure, the perfected man of Freemasonry – who is equated with the Blazing Star.[36]

    Hence, the constant play among male/female, black(night)/white(daytime) in the “bad” cinema of Ed Wood.

    Wood’s ultimate message may be that humans are, at root, divine beings, and if they ever learned to equalize their out-of-balance male/female, spirit/matter aspects, they would be privy to the great secret that life, which is unceasing, is by definition eternal.

    All this talk of death, resurrection, alchemy, and transformation brings us to one final theme that sums them all up: what we, the alt-Right, call Archeofuturism.

    Yet Wood was channeling truths even more profound. As he suggested time and again in his highly ritualistic works, death is not the antithesis to life, merely its evolution, again a nod to the female principle of ancient matriarchal myth. Death, at root, is a celebration of life, for only through death is the “spirit” of being released into immortality. Wood may have intuited that a life’s work may only be catapulted into cultural history with the creator’s passing. Life only becomes history when punctuated by death, so death must be the essential partner to life. A person’s life, relived endlessly by his survivors through his creative works and living memory, thoroughly “resurrects” the person in spirit, and this “living death,” his resurrection, may last well into eternity, as so many myths in the world’s great religions suggest.

    What Wood knew then, in all its stark glory and terror, was that one must die before one can be resurrected,[37] and it is at that singular moment of death that a person is absolutely and utterly alone, with no one to save him, as he faces the bleak void of the eternal cosmos, exposed and afraid. At the bitter end, Wood had come face to face with his own cosmic void, a cruel if inevitable poetic justice

    Archeofuturism comes in two forms, what we might call backward looking and forward looking. First, the presence of the past in its future, our present

    Progressive sociological and psychological developments have precedent in recorded history.

    The more “sociological“moments of Ed’s films, such as Glen or Glenda, suggest this.[38] As Craig says of Ed’s childhood cross-dressing, “the practice was not uncommon” prior to the Second World War.[39]

    The second, perhaps more interesting to the artist, is the presence of the present in our future. Dr. Acula’s fake séances in Night of the Ghouls produce real effects: “any endeavor pursued with sufficient vigor will achieve results, those results potentially surpassing the endeavor’s original intentions.”

    “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” (Criswell)

    “Future events such as these will affect You in the future!” at first seems absurdly self-evident, but it signals one of Plan9 ’s most exciting conceits — that art in general, and especially avant-garde art which may only be appreciated outside of its own time, may blossom and flourish at some future point. The line thus underscores Wood’s faith that his art, and Plan 9 particularly, would find its grateful and abundant audience in that vast temporal mystery known as “the future,” where he and his audience (the aforementioned “you and I”) would share, in spirit, the bounty of this remarkable cinematic achievement. This faith in salvation for art via the passage of time is reinforced by the subsequent line, “Future events such as these will affect You in the future!” Long attributed to Wood, these introductory lines actually belong to Criswell, as they were part and parcel of his standard opening in both his television show and newspaper and magazine columns.

    This is the hopeful moral that Counter-Currents readers, and alt-Rightist in general, can take form Ed’s work: “any endeavor pursued with sufficient vigor will achieve results, those results potentially surpassing the endeavor’s original intentions.”

    Against all odds, several of Wood’s hopelessly fragile, literally “impossible” films were made, released, and eventually received by a large audience. Wood’s ability to create feature films out of literally “nothing,” to have them embraced by audiences well into the future, make him to many fans a hero of popular culture.[40]

    Of course, Ed may have had some help:

    Wood was, according to many sources, drunk during much of his creative activity in both writing and filmmaking. Could he have also been delusional, and actually thought he was something greater than he was? Did this, in fact, give him the courage to create his astounding personal art? Did Wood in fact create his body of unique work almost entirely in an alcoholic stupor? His peers were aware that Wood was a sad, unrepentant alcoholic, but it was much later when many realized that he might also be a bona fide Dharma Bum, an artistic savant of import, a spiritual teacher merely masquerading as a flop filmmaker. Some adherents have convincingly suggested that Wood hovers intriguingly above the mere mortal plane; Maila Nurmi, for one, did not hesitate in her assessment of his implausible infamy: “It was karma. He was a chosen one . . .”

    The almost “worshipful” behavior of his legion of followers also suggests something mystical about the man. A representative comment by outsider artist Kalynn Campbell shrewdly captures both the “everyman” and deity-like aspects of Wood: “Ed was a maverick, an outcast, a Saint. Ed is us.”

    This suggests the true peril of the imposition of sharia law on the culture of the West.

    On the other hand, how much more could we accomplish sober? What holds us back? Are we waiting for a job with the official culture machine? Alas, truly revolutionary work won’t appear on “major labels,”[41] nor be released by “major studio.” Ed Wood is us.

    The Ed Wood that emerges from Craig’s close viewing is neither the incompetent buffoon of the Medveds nor the sweetly eccentric “outside artist” of Tim Burton, but a socially conservative maker of profoundly symbolic films. Their popularity endures “in the future” not, because they’re “so bad they’re good,” but as carefully crafted amusements that, by leading us to view them over and over, pack an allegorical punch.

    The fact that a penniless alcoholic bum managed to commit to celluloid such an ominous, unparalleled meditation on human mortality is nothing short of miraculous.

    It will be easier for us; we won’t need miracles, because, as Collin Cleary has said, we will inevitably win, because our ideology is true. We will make our own culture, and announce it as “proudly” (as Craig says several times) as Ed did:

    Writer – Producer – Director
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.
    Hollywood, USA

    Notes

    1. Camp, originally, could be much more: in the hands of Noël Coward, it could be a powerful tool of social critique. As Guillaume Faye advises, “It is mocking and ‘eccentric’ brainwaves that should lay the foundations” for any critique, a principle also well known to the Surrealists (“Gravity lies in what does not appear serious”—Breton) and the Situationists (“subversive ideas can only come from the pleasure principle”—Vaneigem) (Quotes in Guillaume Faye, Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age [London: Arktos, 2010], p. 57.) See my “Sir Noël Coward, 1899–1973,” Part 1, here [8] and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    2. The typically Talmudic double-talk of impudently insulting us to our faces, presenting black as white, up as down, then using our bovine acquiescence (rather than slapping their impudent faces) against us. From Seinfeld’s “show about nothing” (featuring “Festivus”, the non-holiday the hipsters like to “ironically” celebrate in “real” life) to insult “comedy” and “roasts“ (“I kid because I love!”), from “the solution to government debt is more spending” to the “magic bullet” and the incredibly collapsing towers, the technique of the “Revelation of the Method” never changes: The goyim will buy anything!

    3. In the DVD special feature “Citizen Wood: Making the Bride, Unmaking the Legend,” ironic filmmaker Larry Blamire says he’s stopped calling Ed’s films “bad” because they are, after all, quite enjoyable: “If I had to choose watching Istar or Bride of the Monster again, I’d choose Bride.” See Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XIX.

    4. Perhaps, like Seinfeld, they will get their comeuppance: “They’re totally indifferent. All they do is mock me, just like they did the fat fellow. All the time. Mocking, mocking, mocking, mocking, mocking. All the time! Now it is Babu’s turn to mock. Finally I will have some justice. Send them away! Send them all away! Lock them up forever! They are not human. Very bad! Very, very, very bad!” — Babu Bhatt, “The Finale, Part One.”

    5. Craig notes elsewhere that “Wood was, according to many sources, drunk during much of his creative activity in both writing and filmmaking.”

    6. “Frankly, anyone who could declare Ed and his Plan 9 as the bottom of the barrel after witnessing something like Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Attack of the the Eye Creatures (yep, the second “the” is there on purpose), or The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman needs to have his or her cinematic credentials checked, pronto. “ — Judge Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict reviewing The Ed Wood Box set (Image Entertainment, 2005), here [9]; although his further qualification, “No one is claiming that Ed Wood is some manner of forgotten auteur who made a series of sensational movies that were incorrectly categorized as compost by a few closed-minded critics” will be decisively challenged by the book under review. “Ask any movie lover what they consider to be the worst movie they’ve ever seen. I’ll give you even odds that they say either Pod People or Manos: The Hands of Fate. These two films share an esteemed position far, far, far down on the ‘bad’ movie food chain. Never to be unseated, Pod People and Manos have secured an eternal niche in the bad movie pantheon. As of this writing, Pod People is number 17 on the IMDB Bottom 100 list. I find this pretty surprising actually that people consider 16 other films “worse” than this one. (Manos: The Hands of Fate rests safely at number 1, as usual.)” — Monster Shack [10]. “Coleman Francis is at the bottom of the barrel under the barrel Ed Wood is in.” — Larry Blamire, No Dialogue Necessary: Making an ‘Off-Camera Masterpiece,’ special feature on the MST3k release of Francis’ The Beast of Yucca Flats in the MST3K Vol. XVIII set.

    7. Well, maybe not so lazy: “Eddie Wood was many things, but lazy was not one of them. The man just never quit. When I think of Ed now, my image is not of a man standing behind a movie camera but rather a man hunched over an Underwood typewriter, churning out manuscripts and screenplays at a frenzied pace.” — Dead 2 Rights blog, loc. cit.

    8. The more usual take on these elements is something like this: “The film’s use of ‘stock footage’ creatures — not only the aforementioned octopus but also a snake and an alligator — is extremely unconvincing, as is Dr. Vornoff’s laboratory, which is constructed like the set of a high school play with its notorious two-dimensional ‘stone wall’ backdrop and kitchen appliances and photograph enlargers in place of actual science equipment.” Dead 2 Rights blog, “Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 3: “Bride of the Monster” (1955)/”The Violent Years” (1956),” here [11]. An Amazon reviewer of Craig’s book retorts: “And I have a VERY hard time picturing Ed Wood saying to his crew “Now make this set really fake . . . I want to make a reference to Brechtean theatre!””

    9. “The weaker part of Craig’s book is his attempt to find a feminist message in Wood’s films. To do this, he populates the pages with references to the late radical feminist Andrea Dworkin. On many pages she’s the only source for an argument by Craig. There’s a certain ridiculous irony in Craig using Dworkin to find feminism in the works of a film-maker who has pornography to his credits, but that’s a topic for another time.” — Amazon reviewer.

    10. To be fair, Craig goes on to make the excellent point that Wood’s 1948 amateur production, focused on the “bad guy” and his redemption, seems to prophesize the post-war obsession with the “anti-hero” as in such much later 50s films as The Wild One and Rebel Without A Cause.

    11. As we’ll see, the most recurrent theme is the theme of recurrence.

    12. I briefly discuss this in Greg Johnson’s “Interview with James J. O’Meara” here [12] and reprinted in The Homo & the Negro.

    13. The essential error of “Modernism,” which, as Robinson Jeffers suggested, was not the answer to the decline of Romanticism but Its continuation — producing works that only a handful of ivory tower mandarins could properly “appreciate.” See Albert Gelpi’s introduction to the Jeffers anthology The Wild God of this World (Stanford, 2003).

    14. “Aesthetically speaking, Nympho Cycler is club-footed and tin-eared. The production is haphazardly photographed, sloppily edited, and lurchingly paced. The dialogue, as is common to the movies of Ed Wood, strangely feels as though it has been translated inexpertly from another language. The plot may as well have been constructed through one of those party games in which someone starts a story and then hands it off to the next person to continue. Why else would there be such a tonally discordant third act which clashed so violently with the rest of the movie? This, though, is the soul of Ed Wood. I keep having to resort to terms like “dreamy” and “dream logic” to describe many of the films in this project, because that’s truly how Ed’s movies feel to me. Events flow into and out of one another but without the strict cause-and-effect relationship we expect from “normal” movies. — Dead 2 Rights blog, here [13].

    15. See his review of The Dark Knight here [14], and reprinted in Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2013).

    16. Kelton then, resembles Wallace in Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables, a “runt” who first proves himself physically (the border raid) then by rune-knowledge (deciphering Capone’s ledgers to convict him of tax evasion), finally winding up as a sacrificial victim — hung like Wotan — as so many of Wood’s characters are. See my discussion of both Donovan and de Palma in “‘God, I’m with a heathen.’ The Rebirth of the Männerbund in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables,” here [15] and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro. I discuss similar runts — Vice President Harley in Advise and Consent and Pryce in Mad Men — in “Mad Men Jumps the Gefilte Fish Part Two: The Country of the Blind,” here [16] and “Mad Men Jumps the Gefilte Fish Part Three: The Country of the Blind, Continued,” here [17].

    17. Thus truly, at the bottom of the barrel where Racket Girls is at the bottom. An MST3K version [18] of the latter is available.

    18. Judge Bill Gibron, loc. cit.

    19. Again, like Racket Girls, there are so many connections — music, producers, actors (including Wood’s wife, Dolores Fuller), overblown narration — that Wood is suspected of having a hand in Mesa as well. See the review of Mesa here [19], with a rather more negative view of the soundtrack.

    20. Craig locates the sacrificial victim motif right from the start, in Wood’s traumatic killing of a Japanese soldier in WWII; this, for Craig, was the start of Wood’s obsession with death, resurrection, and sacrificial victims (often himself), itself an example of helpless recurrence. Maila Nurmi (Vampira) says Wood’s posthumous fame “was karma. He was a chosen one.”

    21. Remember, future events such as these will affect your lives, in the future.

    22. As McLuhan said that the content of a new medium is an old medium; just as the content of movies was books, and the content of TV was films, so the content of the internet is TV.

    23. Hodgson remarks in “Citizen Wood: Making ‘The Bride,’ Unmasking the Legend,” a special feature on the MST3K Bride of the Monster disc, in Vol. XIX (Shout Factory, 2010). As for bona fides, “Sure, MST3K loves to skewer bad movies, but they do so in a fun, playful way, and the films they show have their entertainment value, such as watching Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson literally tear up the scenery in Bride.” — Review by Brad Cook, here [20].

    24. “Wood-as-performer immerses him-self headfirst into the female principle [in The Love Feast, to be discussed below], summoning it into his personal bed; at one point, he even chants, ‘Now I love girls! Girls! Girls! Girls!’”

    25. For a controversial, non-PC look, see J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism (Joseph Henry Press, 2003).

    26. Elsewhere, Craig notes the indistinguishability of the various dark-suited cops in Jail Bait, another instance of Ed’s cloning of characters.

    27. For a similar take on “beatniks” see The Beatniks, a painfully unhip movie that tries to cash in on the tail end of the Beatnik craze by mashing together recycled juvenile delinquent and teen idol plot elements, but no actual beatniks (“If these are beatniks, my mom is a beatnik, and she’s not” says Joel Robinson of MST3k).

    28. A trait he shared with ur-Beatnik Jack Kerouac.

    29. Dead 2 Rights Blog, “Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 6: ‘Death of a Transvestite’ (1967), here [21]. Craig notes the role of alcohol as a central motif or symbol used throughout Jail Bait. Alcohol, of course, is the “square” drink of the older Mad Men; Senior partner Roger Sterling explains why men drink — “it’s what men do” — and why his generation does it better here [22].

    30. Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 47: “Nympho Cycler”(1971), here [13].

    31. The title, of course, references the original Christian Eucharistic feasts, which, at least among the so-called Gnostics, were rumored top often evolve into orgies.

    32. “If you never thought you’d rather watch Criswell than a procession of titty dancers, Orgy [of the Dead] will change your mind.” — Ian Watson, Midnight Movie Madness, Amazon Kindle, 2013. Watson also notes that the titular Fugitive Girls are captured by “predatory hippies”; after escaping, they must throw away their lice-ridden clothes.

    33. “A Band Apart: Wulf Grimsson’s Loki’s Way,” here [23] and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro.

    34. See Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, Chapter 19.

    35. Camille Paglia has suggested that drag performances constituted propitiatory rites to the power of Nature and that when they became unfashionable during the promotion of a “out of the closet” hyper-masculinity (the “Chelsea clone”). Nature struck back in the form of AIDS.

    36. “The Mysterious Connection Between Sirius and Human History,” Vigilant Citizen, December 14, 2012, here [24].

    37. The alchemical motto, of course, is “die before you die.”

    38. As have I, in some of my most controversial essays, such as “Homosexuality, ‘Traditionalism,’ and Really Existing Tradition” (reprinted in The Homo and the Negro) and “Our Wagner, Only Better: Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music,” here [25] and in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014). Alt-Rightists love to talk about “tradition” and “archeofuturism” but just hate it when you point out aspects of the present that are more “traditional” than our 19th century inheritance. These themes are brought together in Night of the Ghouls, where the “ghost-finder” detective (ancestor of Fox Mulder?) is called in on a night he intended to visit the opera, in full white tie and tails, like a figure wandering in from the 19th century (an allusion to Inspector Lohmann’s interrupted taking in of Die Walküre in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse?); Kelton, when told to “accompany” him, assumes (being, as Craig says, “fully feminized”) that he is to take his wife’s place at the performance. Further, recall the “almost avant-garde music” in Jail Bait’s repurposed soundtrack.

    39. And the triumph of the Judaic mind, (now the post-war mind of the West, which infuriates Plan 9’s alien Eros: “Your stupid mind. Stupid, stupid mind!”) which anathemizes the alchemical synthesis and fetishizes dualism: kosher/traif, wool/silk, meat/dairy, etc.

    40. “Listening to a kooky psychic tell me that I will be spending the rest of my life in the future, as I watch a B&W film from 1958, is strangely amusing.” Badmovies.org [26].

    41. See “Allen Dulles’ Lonely Hearts Club Band: The CIA & the Construction of the Sixties Counter-Culture,” (my review of Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon), here [27].

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • From Bozo to Bertolucci: How Not to Watch the Films of Ed Wood, Jr.
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]4,128 words

    Andrew J. Rausch and Charles E. Pratt, Jr.
    The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood [2]
    Albany, Georgia: Bear Manor Media, 2015

    “Even a terrible piece of shit is somebody’s dream.” — Andre Perkowski

    “It turns out that making movies is really, really hard.” — Joel “MST3k” Hodgson

    “You’d screw a cockroach if it turned you on!” To this, Toni says she would not screw a cockroach because cockroaches are black, and she will not go black. — Fugitive Girls (Ed Wood, 1974)

    Constant Readers know that I loves me some bad film,[1] and especially — though not exclusively[2] — the work of Edward D. Wood, Jr.[3] So I immediately obtained this book when I first heard about it from the estimable Joe Blevins of the Dead2Rights blog. The blog features “Ed Wood Wednesday,” an attempt to exhaustively examine the complete films and fiction of Wood, Jr., week by week. I thought this would be more of the same, but it’s actually a rather confusing and disappointing book.

    It starts with the physical book (or Kindle) itself. We’ve got two authors, with two “Author’s Notes,” singular, but not attributed to either in particular. The subsequent text is mostly in the plural, although sometimes lapsing into the singular, so it’s hard to tell who’s saying what. This main text is surrounded by another two “Forewords” at the start and about ten interviews by one or the other or both authors at the back, followed by an “Afterword” by yet another author.

    But my real confusion — and subsequent disappointment — arise from the content. There are several “generations” of Wood criticism displayed here, and most are not to my liking. To explain this, I need to sketch in some background for the Wood layman, for which I will make use of a useful model suggested by Joe Blevins the Three Waves of Wood.

    For the last few decades, Ed’s name always meant something to people, but exactly what it meant depended on the tenor of the times. Wood’s first wave of after-death notoriety occurred in the early-to-mid-1980s and was spurred by the publication of Harry and Michael Medved’s The Golden Turkey Awards. Only the rudiments of Eddie’s life and work were widely known at the time, so the first wave was marked by mockery and derision. Wood was merely a cross-dressing clown who made cheap and incredibly amateurish flying saucer flicks. For many, this is still the predominant public image of Ed Wood, thirty-plus years later, so we can safely say that the first wave was the most influential and durable of the three. During this wave, Eddie’s most famous films from the 1950s (the “big three”: Glen or Glenda?, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Bride of the Monster) were staples at rep houses and campus theaters, where they were loudly and joyously jeered by hip audiences.

    The second wave happened in the early-to-mid-1990s and was centered around Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and its literary progenitor, Rudolph Grey’s Nightmare of Ecstasy. It was, in a way, a response to the first wave. Second wavers sought to rehabilitate Eddie’s image somewhat, while still snickering at his life’s work. Much more information about Ed Wood’s life was known by then, including his debilitating alcoholism, his war record,[4] his prolific career in pornography, and his tragic and poverty-stricken final years. Appropriately, Eddie was treated with more sympathy and understanding by second wavers, though he remained a figure of fun to them. Wood was still a clown, but now he was a tragic clown; he’d been upgraded from Bozo to Pagliacci, so to speak. Besides Burton’s film and Grey’s book, the second wave was notable for the appearance of several loving yet cheeky and irreverent documentaries (typified by Ted Newsom’s Look Back in Angora) which sought to put Wood’s cinematic lunacy into some kind of understandable context while still having some guffaws at his expense.

    Third-wave Woodology . . . has been made possible by advancements in technology, including search engines and social media. These online breakthroughs have made it much easier for writers and researchers to access and disseminate information as well as stay in contact with other like-minded fans. . . . [T]he Wood cult — which had been largely dormant since the Clinton years — began to rise from its slumbers in the 21st century with crucial new books (Ed Wood, Mad Genius; Blood Splatters Quickly), DVD reissues (Big Box of Wood; Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies), and special events (the gallery exhibition of his paperbacks;[5] a week-long New York film festival). Pvt. Wood has been officially called back into service. Hopefully, the third wave of Wood’s fame will be the one which finally “gets it right” by painting the most complete and honest portrait yet of this surprisingly-complex man. Learning from the first and second waves (without letting our thinking be dictated by them), we third wavers can now use all the information at hand to accurately and evenhandedly assess Eddie’s strengths and weaknesses, and we can identify what is still unique and fascinating about Ed’s work, while not losing sight of its shortcomings or spoiling all its fun. Perhaps in this sense, time has been a gift to us. As Ed recedes further and further into the past, he can now get the fair day in court he has been denied for decades.[6]

     

    Having just transitioned myself from second to third waver, courtesy of Rob Craig’s Ed Wood, Mad Genius, and seeing Craig’s name among those of the interviewees for this book, I naturally snapped it up as a further work of the Third Wave, extending both Craig’s analysis and its content (with the inclusion of the porn, “lost” films, etc.[7]),

    Alas, the authors prove to me very much of the Second Wave, still seeking, as Blevins says, to “put Wood’s cinematic lunacy into some kind of understandable context while still having some guffaws at his expense.”[8]

    Even the author(s) sense how odd this is, with these remarkable confessions in their “Authors Note (2)”:

    In the course of writing this book we discovered that some people revere Edward D. Wood, Jr.’s work in a different way than we do; they don’t revere it more, just differently.

    We are not in the camp who laughs at Wood and labels him a failure, nor are we a part of the camp who labels him a misunderstood genius and a genuine artist.

    We tend to fall somewhere in the middle on that scale; more than anything we admire Wood’s endless passion for creation, be it personal films, pornographic films, or lurid paperback novels.

    Our beliefs regarding Wood’s work tend to be somewhat different than the more academic writers like Rudolph Grey and Rob Craig, . . . Are [his films] really art? Or, even more to the point, are they really artless? We don’t really support either of these positions.

    Reading the actual movie capsules that follow, all this on the one hand / on the other hand business seems to boil down not to a happy medium but simply lands the authors in the Wave Two camp: Ed was au fond talentless chump, but you have to admire his grit, spunk, gumption, and all-American stick-to-it-ivness.

    What follows is more of a forced march though Wood’s work, each movie (of the one’s the authors deign to recognize as “a real Wood film”) receiving a more or less elaborate synopsis,[9] with the author(s) adding observations on Woods’ ineptitude — though seldom stooping to what one interviewee later calls “sneery Medvedian tropes”[10] — and usually — but not always, especially in the “porno” section — giving Ed a gold star for effort.

    Which is not to say that our authors — or at least one of them — don’t have the makings of a fine critic. They can get off a zinger or two; here, describing a film by a latter-day Wood Wannabe:

    In Wood’s films the performers at least looked like real actors, but in this film a fair number of the actors look like they were rounded up at the nearest Starbucks.

    Their strictures — unlike the urban legends of the First Wave critics[11] — are pretty much always accurate, at least; as my mentor, Dr. Deck, said of Walter Kaufmann’s commentary on Hegel, it’s usually accurate but never profound.[12] For example, occasional bits like this:

    This flashback-heavy film can be seen as Wood’s own perverted version of Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973).

    Now that’s a film I’d like to see! And that’s the sort of thing a critic like Rob Craig, as we’ll see, could really do something with, beyond being a one-liner. And I admit that this capsule summary of Ed’s porn flick The Class Reunion (1972) did have me laughing out loud:

    Imagine The Big Chill (1983) without the groovy soundtrack or the life-reaffirming conversation, and with everyone having lots and lots of sex, and you will have a pretty good idea of what this picture is.[13]

    Speaking of that hymn to the self-regard of ’60s Boomers, the authors are far too prone to substitute moral tut-tutting for cinematic criticism. For example, in The Violent Years (1956), the girl gang of teen delinquents meet their Waterloo after their fence hires them to smash up a classroom, à la Bart Simpson, to please some “foreign interests.” Our authors comment that

    This is, of course, ridiculous, and goes to show just how paranoid and uneducated Americans (and, in this case, Ed Wood) were at that time regarding Communism. Why would Communists care if a classroom is vandalized? Presumably to destroy the American way of life, which is silly to say the least.

    Well, “of course,” it is after all a film written, if not directed, by Ed Wood, Jr.[14] But the idea that fears of Communism, however exaggerated and melodramatic in presentation, are “paranoid and uneducated” is simply elitist goodthinking claptrap. Notice that the authors don’t just think that “Extra: Commies hire teen gang” is silly — it is — but rather the very idea, not just the bizarre treatment, of Communists wanting to sabotage American education. Ever hear of the Frankfurt School?

    Arguing the point would be to fall into the same trap, substituting politics for criticism. But it is symptomatic, I think, of the authors’ inability to do just that, to engage in serious cinematic criticism (rather than cataloging “cinematic misadventures”). They are quite unable to take a profoundly conservative man, like Ed Wood, Jr., seriously.[15]

    After decades of “commie-symp” education, people like our authors are unable to even understand how it was precisely the “educated,” such as Francis Parker Yockey or Lawrence Dennis, who would understand the threat of Communism. Educated on today’s simple Liberal shibboleths, our authors are unable to grasp the complexities of a man who cross-dressed but despised “fags” in his movies; who “who longed for the public to accept his own sexual condition as a transvestite” but loathed those he always called “beatniks.”[16]

    The authors are especially censorious about Wood’s “hypocrisy” in denouncing pornography in films like The Sinister Urge (1962) yet ultimately being forced to become a pornographer himself in the ’70s.[17]

    Of course, the whole point is that Wood was forced, by poverty and alcoholism, to such depths, and who among us can say what we would do in similar circumstances?[18] In Love Feast (1969) he himself appears, drunk and bloated, and the authors lay it on:

    Wood spends a great deal of this picture in baggy, ill fitting underwear, crawling around on all fours and acting silly. . . . Clearly his idol, Orson Welles, who sank as low as to do beer and wine commercials, would never have made a film in which he wore only underwear.

    Well, thank God for that, for both of us, but rather than attacking the authors’ lack of charity — and thus descending to their level — let me point out that this is an example of where a true critic, looking at the man and the work without malice, can provide us with some insight. Here’s Rob Craig’s take on the same film:

    Placing Wood as the male lead in this sorry debacle removes all pretense at erotica, for he is depicted as a bloated old man, with slurred speech, greasy long hair, and a propensity to stumble around — in short, a drunken bum. The end result of tossing this flabby old stumblebum into a sea of taut young bodies is that The Love Feast comes across as a crude and cynical sex farce, a total mockery of its intended genre and a slap in the face to the then-ascendant Sexual Revolution.[19]

    Arguable, perhaps, but at least he’s trying, rather than taking the easy way out as the paradoxical — or is it, hypocritical? — Liberal Scold.

    As a final example, consider this reflection on a key plot point in Jail Bait, Wood’s 1954 follow-up to Glen or Glenda? and arguably his magnum opus:

    This is where Wood’s usual illogical thinking once again comes into play; Don says he will give himself up to the police, but not for another three days. The father agrees. However, it is never said what exactly Don plans to do for those next three days. More than likely this is just an excuse to further the plot by having Vic capture Don, which he does immediately.

    By contrast, for Craig, the three day occultation of the body is not Wood’s “usual illogical thinking” but rather part of the evidence he adduces for discerning no less than the myth of Osiris as the deep structure of the film.[20]

    The authors do, I must admit, address this issue head on. Quoting Craig’s assessment of the aforementioned porn flick, The Class Reunion,

    Within all the deadening sex and pointless plot twists lies the true soul of the poet-philosopher, featuring contradictory yet fascinating observations on sexual mores, socio-political phenomena, and the deathless existential riddles shared by the human race.

    They add:

    With all due respect, we disagree with this assessment. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Fair enough; but as mentioned above, I actually like their Big Chill take the same film and wish they had been free-spirited enough to just go with it, and stop all the finger-pointing.

    Adding to the confusion — or perhaps clash — of viewpoints, but increasing the value of the contents significantly, are almost a hundred pages of interviews with Wood enthusiasts of various sorts, and the two Forewords, one by Ted Newson (author of Look Back in Angora) and an Afterword by David C. Hayes (editor of Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Edward D. Wood, Jr.)

    Among the interviewees, the standout, of course, is Rob Craig, whom I’m tempted to call the Camille Paglia of the Third Wood Wave, and here does much to redress the balance on Wood, and gives us some sense of his almost divine enthusiasm for cinema:

    The first viewing of a film is sacred thing — what I call the “virgin viewing” — preferably without any foreknowledge whatsoever about the film or its history. In this first viewing, if one pays attention, one can easily discern the spirit if you will, of its maker, and the effect is often electric.

    And he continues to promote the kind of “close watching” we’ve endorsed in our own film reviews:

    Any interesting artist, in any medium, may create works which contain within them certain recurring themes, plotlines, characters and concerns which are valid to see and valid to enjoy.

    Even a supposedly bad filmmaker like Wood has, if you care to look, a lot going on in the films.

    When I actually got down to a close reading of [Larry Buchanan’s films[21]], so many things started to pop out at me, like the constant presence of a heroic “super-couple” who saved the world, Homer-like, from all evil, within a grimly realistic, deeply depressed, suburban setting. I knew that the same would be true with Ed Wood, and it was.

    Most of the reviews of the Wood book accused me, rather predictably, of over-interpreting, hallucinating, or just plain making things up in the films in order to create a pseudo-academic critical analysis of a bunch of bad films which should by no means be looked at seriously.[22] (My favorite review was in Video Watchdog, which suggested I should “go outside and get some fresh air!”)

    Craig also reiterates themes in his reading of Wood that we’ve connected to the alt-Right’s notion of Archeofutursm or Palingenesis:

    Any cultural text which resonates and entertains (i.e. “holds up”) years after its manufacture has something going on which cannot be ignored.

    Wood was either ahead of (or outside) his time.[23]

    I was also excited to learn of another interviewee, New Jersey’s Andre Perkowski, who, although apparently making terrible Ed Wood homages — yet more confusion, why are these people letting themselves be interviewed by the writers who savaged them in the main text? — is also responsible for “a three hour adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ Nova Express” and a “Super-8 gutter kung fu epic” dubbed by no less than Phil Proctor (Firesign Theatre), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), and Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu (MST3k). Now that’s another film I want to see!

    In the end, I can’t really recommend this book to anyone but an Ed Wood completist, who may find enough of interest to balance the irritation with the authors’ tone and Second Wave attitudes, or just wants the exhaustive film production details. Anyone who really wants to know why Ed Wood matters should still make the effort to read Craig’s sometimes post-modernly portentous tome.

    Ed Wood had, and more importantly has, something to say to us, both in the archeofuturistic themes of his films, and in his example of how to work outside the official cultural system.

    “Look what Wood did with a couple hundred bucks, a few thousand bucks, and some close friends — he made films that almost everybody knows about, that have endured, that are still loved by many. I consider this a great feat, actually. [He] forged entirely unique — if rough — products using only his wits and immediate resources, and playing entirely by his own rules.” (Rob Craig)

    “Despite boldly proclaiming “MADE IN HOLLYWOOD, U.S.A.,” this was some other sort of Hollywood.” (Andre Perkowski)

    As David C. Hayes says in his Afterword:

    He wasn’t simply some Hollywood hack job, Ed Wood had a voice. His films had their own language and he was actually SAYING something. What that something was and how important it would be to humanity was up for debate but it was something.

    Notes

    1. See my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [3]

    2. I’m still in the early stages of an essay on the cinematic oeuvre of Coleman Francis which should establish him as the true Orson Welles of Grade Z move-making, as well as likely becoming my own opus maximus. Or kill me.

    3. Why? See my “Getting Wood: Closely Watching the Cinematic Alchemy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.,” a review of Rob Craig’s Ed Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2009), here [4].

    4. A Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart; killed many a Jap and was tortured in a POW camp. “Wood is said to have been a model soldier and a vicious fighter. . . . his teeth bashed out from being struck with the butt of an enemy rifle and having his leg disfigured by gunfire.” One wonders how many manly men of the man-o-sphere would fit that description?

    5. “Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks [5]” curated by Johan Kugelberg and Michael P. Daley; November 2–December 4, 2011, at Boo-Hooray in Soho. Also the site of a recent exhibit of Corvoiana — “The Death Centenary of Baron Corvo [6],”curated by Johan Kugelberg; All Saint’s Day, November 1st, 2013 — see my “e-Caviar for the Masses” here [7].

    6. Wednesday, April 15, 2015; “Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 59: ‘Cult Movies’ No. 11 (1994) [part 2 of 2],” here [8].

    7. Blevins is a bit skeptical: “The focus is on Ed’s canonical feature films as a director and writer. The book’s Amazon page states that the authors will be ‘providing in-depth looks at the 29 existing films written and/or directed by Wood.’ . . . I’d certainly be curious to learn which movies constitute ‘the 29 existing films’ in the eyes of Messrs. Rausch and Pratt, since I’d put the total at around 40.”

    8. Blevins is a bit charitable in his notice: “Tonally, this looks to be rather less formal and academic than Rob Craig’s Ed Wood, Mad Genius from 2009, but the general scope of the new book seems to be about the same as Craig’s. . . . While Craig’s book is largely quite serious, this one claims to be ‘hilarious and reverential.’” As Blevins says about the claim to cover “all” of Ed’s films, we’ll see about that.

    9. One Amazon reviewer complains about a lack of “spoiler alerts,” as if the pleasure of viewing a Wood film came from narrative surprises. On the one hand, as Rob Craig says here, “If you asked me what are the worst movies ever made, I would unhesitatingly start with Star Wars (1977), Ghostbusters (1984), and E.T. (1982). . . . They are utterly predictable. . . . The sheer awkwardness of Wood’s films makes them easy targets for perfection-oriented souls who don’t like to see any missteps or incongruities in their film narratives, preferring squeaky-clean, predictable corporate product.” On the other, as we’ll see Craig himself saying later, the genius of Wood’s films is that they, unlike other Z-grade product, richly repay repeat viewing, what I call “closely watching.”

    10. “Ridiculous” occurs at least eleven times, usually referring to dialogue. One sometimes feels the authors are straining at gnats: asking what could it could mean when a policeman has “a cold problem” (i.e., what we would call today “a cold case”).

    11. “The Wood revival [was] inspired by The Golden Turkey Awards, by the brothers Medved. [Michael Medved is] the Gene Shalit clone (or a well-dressed Ron Jeremy) who . . . actually interviewed a few drunks and liars to get background on Wood, hence worldwide mistaken impressions in general and specific (i.e. that Plan 9 from Outer Space is the worst movie ever made), including uncountable errors about the films and the man.” — From the “Foreword” by Ted Newsom. By the way, those readers who may think my own reviews are somewhat “unfair” might consider Newsom’s remark that the interviews making up Rudolph Gray’s Nightmare of Ecstasy were “rearranged by topic by editor Adam Parfrey of feral Press, but neither felt fact-checking was necessary.”

    12. Hegel: Texts and Commentary; Hegel’s Preface to his System in a new translation by Walter Kaufmann; (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1966).

    13. As to how “life affirming” the original is, see my essay “Of Costner, Corpses, and Conception: Mother’s Day Meditations on The Untouchables and The Big Chill,” here [9] and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    14. As the boys on the Satellite of Love would advise us, “Repeat to yourself ‘it’s just a show/ I should really just relax.’”

    15. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure author Rausch had no problem with reliably commie-symp (as Wood would say) Orson Welles in his 2008 Making Movies with Orson Welles: A Memoir (with Gary Graver). Welles himself, as I point out in my “Breaking Badge: Touch of Evil through the Lens of Breaking Bad” (here [10]), was a great enough artist to portray the evil Hank Quinlan so intimately that audiences took him to be the hero, not Charlton Heston’s boring Vargas.

    16. The authors suggest that Ed’s use of the term “beatnik” well into the ’70s shows he was “out of touch,” I would suggest it shows that, like Jack Kerouac, another deeply conservative artist, he had too much contempt for them to pay them any continuing attention. As they note, Ed was a lifelong fan of Jack Webb, and Dragnet’s “just the facts” approach profoundly influenced his tendency to use a police procedural framework in his films. Coleman Francis, by the way, was frequent bit player on Dragnet.

    17. Perhaps this Rausch, author of Dirty Talk: Conversations with Porn Stars (2015). “Many of the pornographers are depicted as swarthy, Armenian-looking fellows with ugly scars and brooding personae,” which seems like realism to me, and recalls the comparison above, of neocon Michael Medved to Ron Jeremy — isn’t that supposed to be a bad thing? Again, the authors are outraged when their porno pals are portrayed as a “band of low-life smut peddlers . . . connected to the American Mafia.”

    18. As William Burroughs would say, “Wouldn’t you?” Or as Mike Tyson says, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

    19. For more on this and Ed as a “unique cross between a libertine and a prude,” see my review of Craig, op. cit.

    20. See Craig, op. cit., and my review, op. cit.

    21. Such as Zontar: Thing from Venus or Attack of the The Eye Creatures [yes, sic.]

    22. I hear you, Rob!

    23. On the distinction of men against, with, and outside of Time, see Saviti Devi, The Lightning and the Sun, ed. R. G. Fowler (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015).

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Notes on The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]2,910 words

    The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft [2]
    Foreword and notes by Leslie S. Klinger
    Introduction by Alan Moore
    New York: Liveright, 2014

    The canonization of Lovecraft continues apace. After Joshi’s definitive texts, the Penguin Classics, the Library of America entombment, and Joshi’s upcoming “variorum” edition (presumably giving us every last textual variant for our academic or geeky pleasure), we now have a more popularly oriented annotated set of selected tales.

    An introduction by Alan Moore attributes to Lovecraft, “[A] posthumous trajectory from pulp to academia that is perhaps unique in modern letters.” Well, perhaps not so unique, as I’ve suggested on this site.[1]

    Moore then gives us a gently nuanced look at why reading the old bigot still seems necessary today, despite his “problematic stance on most contemporary issues,” defined as “racism, alleged misogyny, class prejudice, dislike of homosexuality, and anti-Semitism.”

    I’m not sure why Moore bothers to qualify the misogyny as “alleged,” the language of local TV news readers; I suppose he means to insinuate that the other categories of hate are confirmed. He later adds the sin of immigrant hating, noting that it is supposedly a response to, “The largest influx of migrants and refugees that the immigrant-founded nation had heretofore experienced.” It’s nice that Moore, quite accidentally (note the “immigrant-founded” elbow in the ribs, hypocrite lecteur!), lets slip that the influx was unusually large and “afflict[ed] an extremely broad swath of conventional American society”; therefore, quite possibly worth some well-founded anxiety over the possibilities and consequences of assimilation.

    That it may have been well-founded is a function of his virtues as a writer. As I have asserted here many times, the key to Lovecraft’s talents at writing intensely detailed, damnably believable weird fiction — as well as his ability to cock a snoot at our modern shibboleths — was his intense concentration on the real life before him.

    So, Moore finds Lovecraft to be “an almost unbearably sensitive barometer of American dread”; his “fears” were “precisely those of the white, middle-class, heterosexual, Protestant-descended males”[2]

    It’s remarkable how quickly Moore — who seems like a pleasant enough chap, at least compared to the PC goons that increasingly infest the “fantasy” world[3] — constructs his straw man. Why this unitary figure? Did not feminists like Margaret Sanger despise immigrants and Negroes, and promote birth control — and eugenics — to curb their oppressive numbers? Did not immigrant Catholics and native Negroes, then as now, despise homosexuals?[4]

    There may well be considerable numbers of people, then as well as now, to whom the litany of prejudices Moore assigns to Lovecraft are only partly objectionable, making him perhaps only half or two-thirds evil. Can we not pick and choose our own outrages?

    It seems as if, the PC worldview being a seamless garment, there must needs be a unitary bogey-man to oppose it. As we’ve speculated before, the problem the Lefty has with imagining his “fascist” opponent is that, between Leftist cultural dominance and self-selection, he doesn’t actually know of any; he must, therefore, fall back on his own resources, delivering an unconscious self-portrait of Liberal Tyranny.[5]

    Anyway, this entire hubbub is really beside the point. Consider an example from another part of the canon. David Constantine has commended Goethe for presenting only Werther’s side of his correspondence, subverting the dialogue into monologue and eschewing the supposed advantages of presenting the views and opinions of several participants, as in other epistolary novels such as Clarissa:

    We don’t go to novelists for a fair and balanced view of things [that’s for Fox News] but for the felt truth, however partial, of viewing human in particular circumstances.[6]

    Or, as Lovecraft himself put it, the imaginative writer

    Devotes himself to art in its most essential sense. It is not his business to . . . . point a useful moral, to concoct superficial “uplift” stuff . . . or to rehash insolvable human problems didactically. He is the painter of moods and mind-pictures — a capturer and amplifier of elusive dreams and fancies – a voyager into those unheard-of lands which are glimpsed through the veil of actuality but rarely, and only by the most sensitive. . . . Most persons do not understand what he says, and most of those who do understand object because his statements and pictures are not always pleasant and sometimes quite impossible. But he exists not for praise, nor thinks of his readers. His only [desire is] to paint the scenes that pass before his eyes.[7]

    In Lovecraft’s case, those “particular circumstances” are those of what Moore calls “the absolutely average man, an entrenched social insider unnerved by new and alien influences from within.” (Lovecraft an insider? I just that’s his “white privilege” showing up. We’ll see that “insider” come up again.)

    Turing now to editor Klinger (who has produced well-received annotated editions of Dracula and Sherlock Holmes), according to his Editor’s Note he has set himself a relatively modest task: first, to provide a glossary of Lovecraft’s obsolete and archaic words, some deliberately so, some simply unfamiliar to modern readers. Second, to provide “historical and cultural background.” And finally, given Lovecraft’s distinctive technique of building his horrors on a background mélange of facts both true and truthy (comparable, Klinger suggests, to Poe’s many hoaxes), he has “attempted to verify Lovecraft’s assertions of fact down to the smallest details and pointed out occasional errors.”

    As Klinger describes the results of his labors,

    There are over 900 notes and hundreds of photographs, drawings, maps, and illustrations. It’s still almost 380,000 words (that is, I’ve added about 90,000 words to the original text), but there’s so much to say!

    Before this Note, Klinger provides a substantial Introduction that gives a history of the weird genre, following much of Lovecraft’s own outline in his Supernatural Horror in Literature, the external events of Lovecraft’s life, the progress of his writing, his philosophy of “cosmicism” and the supposed “Cthulhu mythos,” his posthumous critical reception and his legacy. There’s nothing new here, but it’s a good, relatively brief summary for someone approaching Lovecraft for the first time.

    Klinger, of course, has to take his own swing at the racism spitball, saying that Lovecraft was just too stubborn to give it up, even though, “[T]he ‘scientific’ bases for racism and the eugenics that he embraced eroded over his lifetime.” Note, of course, the sneer conveyed by the scare quotes. This is not the language of scientific history but ideological policing; science advances, but no one refers to Newton’s “physics” or Ptolemy’s “astronomy.”

    But more interesting is the word “eroded.” It’s an odd word to use in this context. The more usual tone is rather more triumphalist; something like this:

    And so the neglected Jewish genius Einstein knocked aside the rotten sticks that propped up Newton’s cozy, capitalist ideology, freeing diversity to express itself in an ever-progressing relativistic universe and demonstrating for all time the stupidity of the “mind” of the goyim.[8]

    As usual, the function of the passive voice is to occlude the subject, leaving the insinuation that the process was entirely natural, like water eroding rock. As I’ve argued here before, Lovecraft was right to ignore the “eroding” of the scientific bases of eugenics and “racism” (i.e., racial realism) since the “eroding” was a deliberate conspiracy of Cthulian proportions.

    With this and the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, it became clear that White ethnocentrism and group cohesion was bolstered by hierarchic social-Darwinian race theory, and that this was antithetic to Jewish ethnic interests. The overthrow of this theory (and the resultant diminution of white ethnocentrism and group cohesion) was, as Kevin MacDonald points out, an ethno-political campaign that had nothing to do with real science. The “shift away from Darwinism as the fundamental paradigm of the social sciences” resulted from “an ideological shift rather than the emergence of any new empirical data” (CofC, p. 21).[9]

    Klinger does, after all, have an interesting idea: as I’ve argued, every intelligent person back then was “racist”; what was actually distinctive about Lovecraft’s racial consciousness (as opposed to being simply an average White American of the time) was that due to his diseased and psychologically fragile parentage and general downward mobility of the family as a whole, there was “grafted onto his consciousness a hostility to virtually all who were not white New Englanders.”[10] That kind of extreme regional prejudice — no Californians, to say nothing of Irish, need apply — does seem purely idiosyncratic, of entirely psychological origin and of no use to contemporary White Nationalists, who can cheerfully reject it.[11]

    Perhaps continuing the anti-outsider theme, the selection of 22 tales — supposedly focused on the “Arkham Cycle” — may not be to everyone’s taste.[12] Klinger rightly points out that Lovecraft never imagined any “Cthuhu Mythos” that would justify using that as a principle of selection, but did mention his “Arkham Cycle” based on what I would call “psycho-geography.”[13]

    However, that seems to me to be just as arbitrary a principle on which to base a selection of literary works; the results are a grab-bag of the great and the dire. For example, I don’t see any reason to include the whole of the long pulp potboiler “Herbert West, Reanimator” (which Lovecraft himself despised, but it does mention Arkham) other than to appeal to slacker movie fans.

    I find it especially odd that such an archetypal and well-studied Lovecraft tale as “The Outsider” is missing, especially since Klinger tells us in his peroration that, “[H]is work speaks to the outsider in many readers.”

    The annotations themselves seem good, though I can’t vouch for every note; not too many and not too detailed, but just what the reader needs to help him along from time to time, answering questions that come up and even suggesting ones the reader should consider. One plus is that Joshi’s work is taken as given, but other, more recent scholars are heard from, and sometime Klinger provides his own thoughts; all of which provides for some variety and fresh air in the world of Lovecraftiana.

    I’ve already found an excellent note that explains Candlemass Day and identifies it with the American pseudo-holiday Groundhog Day, adding some detail about the Harold Ramis’ film. I’m delighted to contemplate a link between “The Dunwich Horror” with Groundhog Day,[14] and imagine that Bill Murray would have been much better than Bradford Dillman in the movie; Klinger, by the way, provides an appendix charting Lovecraft adaptions to film, radio drama, and role-playing games.

    Illustrations are nicely chosen, many in color, from family photos (including Sonia Greene Lovecraft) to the usual public domain documentation, to recent photos of the exteriors of Lovecraft’s New York apartments (even Red Hook looks pretty good these days, and unlikely to inspire the sort of white-knuckled fear and loathing Lovecraft recalls), maps drawn by Lovecraft as well as his fans, covers and vignettes from Weird Tales, and, as a welcome bonus, the illustrations from the Visionary Press edition of “Shadow over Innsmouth,” Lovecraft’s only hardcover appearance in his lifetime.

    The Kindle is well-produced, seemingly free of typos, with a table of contents accessible from any page and hyperlinked endnotes (essential, one would think, for such a work). The hardcover is a splendid, large-format book: well-made, moderately priced given its size and quality, with a handsome jacket adorned with Traditional Cthulhu-esque tentacles.[15]

    “Additional Material” includes both standard items such as a bibliography and a chronology, along with tables showing Lovecraft’s fictions and revisions, as well as some delightfully loopy things, such as a roster of the “Faculty of Miskatonic University” and a “Genealogy of the Elder Races,” both based on Lovecraft’s own sketches.

    All told, this is a welcome addition to the Lovecraft library, suitable for someone wants more editorial help than Library of America provides (and at not much more cost) but less detail than Joshi’s definitive text volumes.

    Notes

    1. I compared the literary reception of Lovecraft to the earlier trials of Henry James, who was as forgotten and mocked after his death as Lovecraft ever was, in “The Princess and the Maggot,” here [3] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014). I cited Maxwell Geismar’s admittedly idiosyncratic Henry James and the Jacobites, which attempted to combat the “Jacobin” usurpers in the name of a “truly” American literature of left-wing and prole provenance. More recently, Michael Anesko’s Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012) has quite innocently documented the deliberately plotted resurrection of James’s reputation by post-war Jewish academics.

    2. Since, as Steve Sailer has noted, “racism” is essentially the crime of “noticing things,” writers are particularly at risk of, perhaps inadvertently, falling into crimethink. As the French novelist Richard Millet has said, “One novelist violently attacked me, saying ‘He looks at the color of people’s skin’. . . . I read the real, which hides behind all sorts of simulacra, as Baudrillard would say. And it’s this reading of the real that makes me say that non-European immigration is the most important problem for Europe, especially the Muslim element of immigration.” See his interview here [4].

    3. See my “The Horror! The Horror! Reflections on the H. P. Lovecraft Award” here [5].

    4. Moore lists homosexuals as targets of Lovecraft’s wrath. This may be a PC reflex, since I’m not aware of any disparagement of them in Lovecraft’s stories, although I admit I haven’t read every word of his quite fascinating, and voluminous, correspondence. The fin de siècle ghouls of “The Hound” seem pretty gay, but that’s a function of its parody of 1890s decadent tropes. David Haden’s Walking With Cthulhu: H. P. Lovecraft as Psychogeographer, New York City 1924-26 [6] does note that the Lovecraft Circle met at a coffee shop that was a notorious “pick-up spot” in Greenwich Village, lending new meaning to Lovecraft’s poem to the place:

    Here may free souls forget the grind
    Of busy hour and bustling crowd
    And sparkling brightly mind to mind
    Display their inmost dreams aloud
    —from “On the Double-R Coffee House” (1st February 1925)

    as well as these lines in the contemporaneous New York story “He”: “. . . uncommunicative artists whose practices do not invite publicity or the light of day.” (See my review here [7]).

    Neither of which seem more than playful. Lovecraft, of course, was rather odd about sex, even the lawfully married sort, so his views, like Evola’s, are hardly to be taken as serious social prescriptions. In line with the views I’ve been hammering home here and elsewhere, Lovecraft would likely view “assimilated” homosexuals (i.e., respectable Boston types like Ralph Adams Cram [see my “Ralph Adams Cram: Wild Boy of American Architecture” here [8] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola] rather than outrageous queens like Ronald Firbank) as benignly as he viewed assimilated Jews, like his wife, Sonia, and bosom pal Samuel Loveman.

    5. For example, Muriel Spark’s Miss Brody, intended to portray a “fascist,” actually reads like a modern, “progressive” educator. See my “The Fraud of Miss Brodie” here [9]. The idea of past American being consumed with “fear” and “anxiety” is partly explained by this as well; it’s really modern, “sophisticated,” Americans who are, as Charles Hugh-Smith describes them [10], “Jaded, unwilling to sacrifice comfort and convenience for long-term gain, incapable of honest debate, brimming with resentful excuses, insecure, anxious, fearful, depressed, distracted, self-absorbed. These last seven are of course the key traits of permanent adolescence, the state of arrested development encouraged by consumerism.” Note especially “incapable of honest debate;” PC-infected citizens neither want, nor are capable, of arguing for or against anything, and ironically settle for the lazy idea that “people were afraid of diversity, I guess.”

    6. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; translated by David Constantine (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2012).

    7. “The Defense Reopens!,” an article later collected in S. T. Joshi’s In Defense of Dagon.

    8. “Your stupid minds. Stupid, stupid minds!” — Plan 9 from Outer Space.

    9. See “Jews and Race: A Pre-Boasian Perspective, Part 1” by Brenton Sanderson, The Occidental Observer, February 1, 2012, here [11], and my review of David Haden’s Walking with Cthulhu: “Walk a Mile in Lovecraft’s Shoes” here [7], where I correlate this to Lovecraft’s persistent focus on facts, both scientific and literary.

    10. Well, not quite; there’s plenty of inbred “white New Englanders” at least in the earlier tales, to satisfy any Judaic producer looking for more “white trash” material to dramatize.

    11. Greg Johnson has suggested that “What is emerging is a generic white American, with a sense of his interests merely as a white. . . . America may be the place where we recreate the original unity of the white race before it was divided and pitted against itself.” Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2010), pp. 12–13. More recently, from the same author: “Europeans constitute a distinct race, the white race. Thus to be French or German or Swedish or Greek or Italian or Irish is also to be white.” — “Vanguardism, Vantardism, & Mainstreaming,” here [12].

    12. The tales are: Dagon, The Statement of Randolph Carter, Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Nyarlathotep, The Picture in the House, Herbert West: Reanimator, The Nameless City, The Hound, The Festival, The Unnamable, The Call of Cthulhu, The Silver Key, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, The Whisperer in Darkness, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Dreams in the Witch House, The Thing on the Doorstep, The Shadow out of Time, The Haunter of the Dark.

    13. See Haden’s book, and my review, cited in footnote 9 above.

    14. See my three-part discussion of the film here [13].

    15. Though not, of course, as nice as Kevin Slaughter’s tentacle and monocle pattern for The Eldritch Evola.

     

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Vox Day1
Castalia House



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  • Darkstream: Disney suicides Star Wars
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    From the transcript of the Darkstream:

    So there was very, very disappointing news for Star Wars fans today just a few hours ago. Variety and some other entertainment news sources reported that the woman who is primarily responsible for the destruction of the Star Wars franchise, the ongoing destruction of the Star Wars franchise, has actually been signed to a three-year contract with Disney and apparently is still going to be in charge of the Star Wars movies. Now, I personally think this is fantastic news, I think this is wonderful news, because it means that there is a tremendous opportunity out there for those of us who are creating alternatives. If you look at what has been done with Galaxy's Edge, if you look at what we are in the process of doing with Faraway Wars, if you look at a lot of the other stuff that people are doing in a similar vein, this is an excellent opportunity for the Star Wars fans to find better and more worthy alternatives because it is now very, very clear that Disney is not going to fix what George Lucas broke.

    In fact Disney is going to continue to make it worse. Disney is going to make Star Wars even more converged than it is. You might not think it's possible, but believe me it is. There's a good question, "Vox, why do they ruin everything?" They ruin everything because they don't understand anything. You have to understand that culture and technology and art, all of these things, are black boxes to SJWs. They do not understand what they are,  they don't understand how they work, they don't understand the nature of their appeal to other people. SJWs are essentially cargo cultists.

    On a related note, John C. Wright provides some characteristically insightful observations in his ongoing critique of the latest generation of Star Wars movies:
    The reason why I argue that this is objectively bad, mechanically bad, and not just a plot twist that happens not to please me is this:

    There are three components to any criticism of art. One is to look at the mechanics of the art form, regardless of content. That is an objective matter. The poem either has fourteen rhyming lines or does not; if it is a thirteen line poem, or blank verse, good bad or indifferent, it is not a sonnet. The next component is a judgement call: did the artist achieve the effect he was attempting? Was the audience moved as he was trying to move them? The final is subjective reaction: did I like it? And why did I?

    It is often said in the modern day that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which, in effect, says there is only one component to criticism: the subjective one. Nonsense. A fair-minded critic could, for example, be no fan of horror movies, or even dislike the whole genre, and still be able to tell John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is well-made horror movie and Ed Wood’s PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE is not. More to the point, he could tell that MY FAIR LADY is not a horror movie at all.

    In this case, in story telling of any kind, in film or print, any plot point needs set up and follow through if it is to be emotionally satisfying.

    Example: The set up for a character like Rick Blaine in CASABLANCA, or Han Solo in STAR WARS, who at first wants no part of the fight is to have him show his reluctance. Hence the scene in CASABLANCA where Rick looks on indifferently as Ugarte is arrested and executed; hence the line in STAR WARS where Han will not stir a foot to rescue the princess until he is reassured that she is rich. That is the set up. The follow through is the about-face: when Rick sends away the woman he loves, despite the personal cost to him, or when Han returns unexpectedly to swoop out of the sun and blast Vader’s pursuit-ship as it is closing in on Luke for the kill.

    In this case, we saw the set up for Finn’s reluctance in this last film and in this one. He attempts to steal an escape pod, and is zoinked by a zoink-dwarf with a zoink-wand. The follow-through was the about-face and the noble sacrifice to save his friends. Except that the suicide run is said over the radio to be in vain: a pointless gesture. Either Finn would have destroyed the gun by ramming it, or not. If not, it is not a real about-face. It is just a wasted character trying to waste himself to escape this wasteland of a film. But if it would have worked, preventing the sacrifice (at the sacrifice of everyone else) prevents any follow-through on the character arc: he is still, through no fault of his own, back where Rick and Han started out.

    Good, bad or indifferent is another matter. Whether you personally liked it or not is another matter. On an objective level, having an event that robs all the meaning out of the set up event, and then leads nowhere to nothing, is a mechanical error in story telling. Story telling consists of telling about meaningful events, not meaningless ones. Even if you want to tell a nihilistic story, whose point is that life is pointless, the story itself must be told in a pointed way, and the events in the story must be meaningful in order to carry the message to the audience, even if that message says that meaning is illusion.

    Basically, the story telling is objectively bad when the character in a drama loses all dramatic potential. There is no more story here. What is our Token Stormtrooper now? He is a hero who fails to be heroic. No chance to try again was given, not in this film. If the self-centered cynic, like Han Solo or Rick Blaine, has a certain romantic glamor to him, a cool self-possession. But a flunked suicide? What has he got? He is neither selfish nor selfless. He has no personality at all. The character becomes nothing.

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Soiled Sinema3
Soiled Reviews



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  • Frankenweenie
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Tim Burton made his cinematic debut (his first project was the 6 minute animation Vincent ) with the 30 minute short Frankenweenie . A film ...
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Night of the Creeps
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Night of the Creeps is a fan boy flick at the corniest of degrees. The film takes a postmodern approach to various cult films from a number...
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Dementia
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Somewhat embarrassingly, I never got around to seeing the phantasmagorical film noir (advertised as a ‘beat-noir’) flick Dementia (1...
    ...
    (Review Source)

Mark Steyn1
Fox News



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Keeping His Hand In
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Martin Landau died a week ago at the age of 89. He was a versatile actor who connected less often than he should have with the perfect part, but, when he did, there was none better. In the late Sixties, he was a TV fixture on "Mission: Impossible",
    ...
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Crosswalk1
Cross Walk



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  • Thumbs Up for Mindless Fare
    (”Plan 9 from Outer Space” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Movies Some time ago, we asked readers what they thought about watching "mindless entertainment," watching movies just for the sheer entertainment value.There were a few naysayers in response, but for the most part, readers saw nothing wrong with the idea. Here are some of their replies:Absolutely it's OK to go to the movies for mindless amusement! I'm all for a good movie with a message, but in this hectic life, sometimes you just need to laugh, laugh, laugh at stupid stuff and let your brain rest. I can't always take my "day of rest," but sometimes that 2 hours of turning my brain off is more refreshing!—Connie Novak Even the Bible says laughter is good medicine. Sometimes it is relaxing and good for the mind, body, and soul to watch a "mindless and funny" movie. The word I believe here is BALANCE.—Linda Phelps I've watched mindless popcorn movies. My son and I used to make it special treat to see fare such as Creature From the Black Lagoon, Eegah, and Plan Nine From Outer Space. It was one way that my son and I spent time together (before he grew up and moved away). We would sit there, MST 3K style, and rip these movies apart. It was much fun! I see nothing morally wrong with this style of entertainment, as long as there is nothing objectionable in the movie.—Jennifer Shell Naturally, I like seeing films with meaning to them, but sometimes, I just only want to laugh or be manipulated into caring for these cornball characters, like Indiana Jones or Iron Man.—Jim Badger Of course simple mindless entertainment is wrong. Anything fun is sinful and worldly. God doesn't want us to have fun. Entertainment is self focused—what makes me happy or what makes me feel good. That shouldn't be the focus. We should be about removing all fun from out lives and convincing others to join us in our funless Christian ways. :-(—The Jacksons googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); Is going to the movies a responsible use of time and money? I'm sure there are better ways I could spend my time and money, but there are also much worse ways. And, if this is a way I can overcome my social anxieties and socialize with my friends, then I don't think it is that bad; as long as we are wise in what or at least how we watch films.—Kristy Self Life is hard enough. I go to the movies for mindless escape most of the time as a break much as I would go on a fun amusement park ride. I get tired of critics dissing movies that were meant to be fun because there was "poor character development" and I get tired of seeing glowing reviews only to have a movie bejust asdepressingas the pains and difficultiesof real life that I see everyday.—Todd Saurman Well, I have sat through two hours of mindless sermons before, so at least a mindless movie can be entertaining!—Joseph Spicocori It seems on the surface that there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with "decompressing" from the stress of our lives by watching a movie that makes no more demand on us than that we simply sit and watch. The only thing that has ever worried me is something that an Oxford don said—something to the effect that what we think of as recreation is not really "re-creative." Is what I'm doing helping me to become more whole, or less?Am I more like Jesus, or less as a result?Is a hike through the San Gabriels with a Christian brother a better use of my time and still fun?If I allow "mindless" things into my life to a sufficient degree, will I become mindless myself? I'm still answering the questions, and often they lead to more questions than answers.At least I'm still thinking, so I haven't yet succumbed to mindlessness.—Al Negron I have five grandchildren and these "popcorn" movies are a real issue for me. Jesus reminds us to guard what goes into our minds. So, knowing that, I wonder how many "popcorn" deaths it takes to dehumanize a human being or trivialize anything that we need to guard within ourselves. As a young boy, I watched such movies as Godzilla, Sahara, Flying Tigers, Sherlock Holmes, and others that all seemed to sharetwo themes: Good vs. Bad, and the horrible loss of human life. I guess I'm answering my own question as I'm writing: If any movie or show begins to erase those boundaries that God created, that's not good and I must act decisively.—Kevin Duke If a Christian is going to criticize another for watching a "mindless" movie, then they better not get caught singing "mindlessly" to another Praise & Worship CD, or "mindlessly" supporting a Christian political candidate without fully acknowledging their inconsistencies and/or hypocrisies, or "mindlessly" spouting off another Bible verse to keep someone else in their place while actually serving their ego rather than their neighbor. Many people do mindless things to pass the time, escape from life's sufferings for a bit—or even lazily "do" things (i.e., act judgmentally) to give the appearance of being "responsible" and "loving."—Conrad Pinoni Mindless entertainment is needed! After a stressful week of intense study or work, who doesn't want to just relax?Most people who go to see the movies want escapism.We want to forget about the stress of the week, shut off the brain, and be entertained! I think that's a good thing.—Michelle Calder I think it's okay to watch popcorn movies whose only "redeeming" feature is that it's entertaining. As long as one doesn't go overboard in this kind of entertainment—everything in moderation, as the saying goes.—Christine Eustaquio I go to movies to be entertained.The world is enough realism for me.—Cathy Franklin God made us in his image, to be creative and enjoy the fruits of our Creation. I do not believe that our minds have to be "turned on" all the time. We certainly have to be discerning all the time, filtering everything through the Scriptures to be able to discern truth and falsehoods. We also need to be stewards of our time in all things we do, whether it is reading, adventuring, playing, studying, relaxing or working. As with all things, this is an individual choice and the answer must be sought by each individual seeking the guidance of the Spirit in prayer and study of God's Word.—Lee Swetnika I think that there are times that we need to mentally "check out" and enjoy something that doesn't require a heck of a lot of cerebral activity.Transformers was given a 1.5-star rating from CT Movies, and it was one of the funniest, most exciting films I saw last year. In fact, there aren't many movies that I would recommend to my 60-year old father, but I told him he needed to watch Transformers, and he really enjoyed it.—Zach W. Lorton Mindless popcorn movies? I think of it sort of like actual popcorn—lots of people enjoy it, and almost no one makes a steady diet of it.I suspect many reviewers feel the need to look down their noses at some movies because they cannot find a "critical" thing to praise about it; no potential Oscars, etc.I think such films meet a desire we have to just sit back and enjoy. Sometimes we grow tired of working for it; we just want someone to crank it up and make us something we enjoy, without having to wonder if we will be looked down upon because we did not choose the film with all (or some of) the critical elements needed to garner an Oscar nod.So, yes to mindless popcorn, in moderation.—Steve Orr With the amount of stupid television, going to Disney or other amusement parks, or just plain sitting around, harmless stupid movies are not worth getting upset over.Is fishing or watching a bad NFL game that much more edifying?—Jerry Koleski googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); These are face-paced and stressful times.Sometimes a mindless popcorn movie is just right for a bit of stress relief. If it makes us laugh, isn't too stupid, or filled with gratuitous filth, I think it can be a good thing.—Mary J Garrett © Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.]]>
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