“In this eerie surrealist painting, a murderer nonchalantly haunts the scene of his crime, unaware that it is surrounded by detectives who wait to pounce on the perpetrator. How long have they been watching? It seems that the voyeurs at the window and the bowler-hatted men, one armed with a club and another with a net, who stand concealed in the room must have been there when the woman was killed. They are complicit. Magritte’s deadpan art unsettles by melting boundaries between reality and fantasy. Here he reveals that crime and punishment are mirrors of each other, that detectives and police officers are mysteriously dependent on the existence of crime.”
Month: March 2023
Horror Cinema: Jigoku (1960)
Jigoku is a truly unique movie. The narrative loosely follows a series of deaths and murders that all happen in the protagonist’s life as if he is cursed, and the final scenes of the movie follow the dead characters and the protagonist in hell. The addition of the afterlife journey gives more depth to the characters.
My favorite part of the movie was the brutal death scenes. They were bold, like bodies falling off a rope bridge, and gruesome. As a bonus, the final hell scenes went full throttle on the gore, and it was great!
Nakagawa, Nobuo. Jigoku, Shintoho, 1960.
Horror Cinema: Onibaba (1964)
The 1964 Japanese horror movie Onibaba is a slow burn. Much of its horror centers around the crimes and abuses caused by a war, particularly against women. Set in the past in a rural area, it evokes the discomfort of a very difficult era in history. From the start of the movie, death is ever present, and you know you are watching a horror movie.
The slow burn was worth it, for me. The struggles of the relationships between a small group of people transformed throughout the narrative, ending with a final paranormal twist that was believably built into the story.
Shindo, Kaneto. Onibaba, Toho, 1964.
Horror Cinema: A Page of Madness (1926)
I discovered A Page of Madness from a curated list of Japanese horror films on an Instagram account (@cathodecinema). I start with this note because the movie was not a typical horror movie. It was a fascinating piece of surreal art and storytelling that did culminate around what seemed to be a murder, but it was not the paranormal creepiness or crime I was expecting from a horror movie.
The movie was easy to find online, and I would recommend it. A silent film, the narrative is told through vivid imagery. The story is woven through scenes of patients of an insane asylum who are shown living their fantasy while living their suffering in an asylum cell. Madness abounds throughout the movie, but it is balanced by scenes of a dancer and her escapism fantasy.
I can’t say I have seen anything like it, and I marvel at the fact it was made in the 1920s.
Kinugasa, Teinosuke. A Page of Madness, Kinugasa Productions, 1926 (US: New Line Cinema, 1975).