The Menaced Assassin

René Magritte, The Menaced Assassin (1927)

“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.”

From The Guardian: The top 10 crime scenes in art

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).

Pennywise (2017)

Bill Skarsgård wanted to make sure that his performance as Pennywise was convincing for audiences. He states, “In order for this movie to be as effective as the book and the series, I have to scare a whole generation. My take was that Pennywise functions very simply. Nothing much is going on in terms of what he’s thinking – he’s animalistic and instinctive.”

From IMDb Trivia: It (2017)

Horror Cinema: Pearl

As a prequel to X, Ti West’s Pearl is an excellent companion piece. What I liked most about it was that it was not an overly complicated story written only to justify or launch the drama in X. Instead, it was a character study of X‘s villain. I also liked how Pearl was told in a very different way than X, more like a drama than a gore flick.

Pearl had a slower pace, which reminded me of the pacing in West’s The Roost. A slow build. The movie was held together by Mia Goth’s outstanding performance that delivered a mix of desperation, naivety and vengeance that was disturbingly relatable and sincere.

I can’t say that Pearl went onto my list of favorite West movies like X did, but it did not let me down, and I would consider it an achievement that West can be proud of.

West, Ti. Pearl, A24, 2022.

Horror Cinema Trivia: Annabelle

I never made the connection between Annabelle and Rosemary’s Baby, but, once it was laid out before me, I cannot believe I missed it. Might explain why I enjoyed Annabelle so much.

ScreenRant explains Annabelle‘s homage to Rosemary’s Baby:

“Several references to the classic horror film Rosemary’s Baby are alluded to in Annabelle. For instance, the protagonists are named John and Mia after John Cassavettes and Mia Farrow, the stars of the horror classic. John and Mia also name their daughter Leah, the same name as one of the neighbors in the 1968 film.

“In addition, the plot closely resembles Rosemary’s Baby. Both films center on a couple living in an upscale apartment while expecting a baby, as a host of satanic neighbors plotting to overtake the mother and her child. Moreover, the sound cues of the neighboring apartment are directly taken from Rosemary’s Baby.”

Find more facts about the Annabelle series at The Annabelle Series: 10 Creepy Facts About The Conjuring Spin-Off.

Turn Your Horror T-shirts Into Wall Art

Do you have a favorite horror t-shirt that is nearing to be too worn-out to wear, or too many cool ones that you barely see them cycle through your wardrobe? How about making them into artwork you can hang on your wall? You should be able to get the supplies at a dollar store (wood-frame canvas[ses], scissors and a stapler, try the hardware section first to see if they have a heavy-duty version).

Full instructions at Instructables: T-shirt Wall Art.