Film Noir ♥ Transgression Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Sigmund Freud

“Ladies and gentlemen- welcome to violence; the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains sex.” — Narrator from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Faster Pussycat
Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
Cul-de-Sac
Françoise Dorléac and Donald Pleasence in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-sac 1966
the Naked kiss
Constance Towers kicks the crap out of her pimp for shaving off her hair in Sam Fuller’s provocative The Naked Kiss 1964
Shock Corridor
Peter Breck plays a journalist hungry for a story and gets more than a jolt of reality when he goes undercover in a Mental Institution in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor 1963
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Bobby Darin is a psychotic racist in Hubert Cornfield and Stanley Kramer’s explosive Pressure Point 1962 starring Sidney Poitier and Peter Falk.

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Constance Towers as Kelly from The Naked Kiss (1964): “I saw a broken down piece of machinery. Nothing but the buck, the bed and the bottle for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw.”

Griff (Anthony Eisley) The Naked Kiss (1964): “Your body is your only passport!”

Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux in Repulsion (1965): “I must get this crack mended.”

Monty Clift Dr. Cukrowicz Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) : “Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion.”

Patricia Morán as Rita Ugalde: The Exterminating Angel 1962:“I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”

Ann Baxter as Teresina Vidaverri Walk on the Wild Side 1962“When People are Kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it.”

The Naked Venus 1959“I repeat she is a gold digger! Europe’s full of them, they’re tramps… they’ll do anything to get a man. They even pose in the NUDE!!!!”

Darren McGavin as Louie–The Man With the Golden Arm (1955): “The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.”

Baby Boy Franky Buono-Blast of Silence (1961) “The targets names is Troiano, you know the type, second string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache to hide the facts he’s got lips like a woman… the kind of face you hate!”

Lorna (1964)- “Thy form is fair to look upon, but thy heart is filled with carcasses and dead man’s bones”

Peter Fonda as Stephen Evshevsky in Lilith (1964): “How wonderful I feel when I’m happy. Do you think that insanity could be so simple a thing as unhappiness?”

Glen or Glenda (1953)“Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even a lounging outfit and he’s the happiest individual in the world.”

Glen or Glenda
Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda 1953

Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live (1961):“I like a messy bed.”

Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) Island of Lost Souls: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969): “Sex dominates the world! And now, I dominate sex!”

The Snake Pit (1948): Jacqueline deWit as Celia Sommerville “And we’re so crowded already. I just don’t know where it’s all gonna end!” Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Stuart Cunningham “I’ll tell you where it’s gonna end, Miss Somerville… When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.”

Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)“Aren’t those crimes horrifying. And yet -so fascinating!”

Julien Gulomar as Bishop Daisy to the Barber (Michel Serrault) King of Hearts (1966)“I was so young. I already knew that to love the world you have to get away from it.”

The Killing of Sister George (1968) -Suzanna York as Alice ‘CHILDIE’: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know” Beryl Reid as George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”

The Killing of Sister George
Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George Susannah York and Beryl Reid in Robert Aldrich’s The Killing of Sister George 1960

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)“You can’t get blood out of an illusion.”

THE SWEET SOUND OF DEATH (1965)Dominique-“I’m attracted” Pablo-” To Bullfights?” Dominique-” No, I meant to death. I’ve always thought it… The state of perfection for all men.”

Peter O’Toole as Sir Charles Ferguson Brotherly Love (1970): “Remember the nice things. Reared in exile by a card-cheating, scandal ruined daddy. A mummy who gave us gin for milk. Ours was such a beautifully disgusting childhood.”

Maximillian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin in Return From The Ashes 1965: “If there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.”

Euripides 425 B.C.“Whom God wishes to destroy… he first makes mad.”

Davis & Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bring to life two of the most outrageously memorable characters in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

WHAT DOES PSYCHOTRONIC MEAN?

psychotronic |ˌsīkəˈtränik| adjective denoting or relating to a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics. [1980s: coined in this sense by Michael Weldon, who edited a weekly New York guide to the best and worst films on local television.] Source: Wikipedia

In the scope of these transitioning often radical films, where once, men and women aspired for the moon and the stars and the whole ball of wax. in the newer scheme of things they aspired for you know… “kicks” yes that word comes up in every film from the 50s and 60s… I’d like to have a buck for every time a character opines that collective craving… from juvenile delinquent to smarmy jet setter!

FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…

THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!

I just got myself this collection of goodies from Something Weird!

weird-noir
There’s even this dvd that points to the connection between the two genres – Here it’s labeled WEIRD. I like transgressive… They all sort of have a whiff of noir.
Grayson Hall Satan in High Heels
Grayson Hall -Satan in High Heels 1962
mimi3
Gerd Oswald adapts Fredrick Brown’s titillating novel — bringing to the screen the gorgeous Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee and Harry Townes in the sensational, obscure and psycho-sexual thriller Screaming Mimi 1958
The Strangler 1964 Victor Buono
Victor Buono is a deranged mama’s boy in Burt Topper’s fabulous The Strangler 1964
Repulsion
Catherine Deneuve is extraordinary as the unhinged nymph in Roman Polanski’s psycho-sexual tale of growing madness in Repulsion 1965

Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Noir took a journey through an even darker lens… Out of the shadows of 40s Noir cinema, European New Wave, fringe directors, and Hollywood auteurs, brought more violent, sexual, transgressive, and socially transformative narratives into the cold light of day with a creeping sense of verité. While Film Noir pushed the boundaries of taboo subject matter and familiar Hollywood archetypes it wasn’t until later that we are able to visualize the advancement of transgressive topics.

Continue reading “Film Noir ♥ Transgression Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”

Saturday Afternoon: Men Doing Science Again….!!!

Four Sided Triangle (1953)

Four Sided Triangle

Based on the novel by William Temple and adapted to the screen and directed by Terence Fisher, this intriguing, thought provoking British sci-fi melodrama invokes the question of creation, playing god, obsession and fate.

Barbara Payton  (Bad Blonde 1953) plays both Lena and Helen a beautiful women caught between two friends who have adored her since they were children. The brilliant Bill (Stephen Murray) invents a duplication machine, and has pined for Lena since he and Bill used to vie for her affections playing knights with wooden swords. But Lena has always been in love with Robin (John Van Eyssen) the other friend that make up the love triangle.

After succeeding in duplicating watches and rabbits Bill wants to try a human subject. One in particular! Tinges of Lang’s Metropolis...

When Lena and Robin get married, Bill asks Lena to allow him to reproduce her in his contraption so he can possess her too. And Lena agrees… the results are disastrous. Co-starring James Hayter as the sympathetic Dr. Harvey.

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Frankenstein 70 (1958)

Frankenstein1970

Karloff still possesses that lyrical majesty and does the best job he can with this slightly meandering 50’s schlocky script, directed by noir, cult, television drama and big box office–producer/director Howard W. Koch and written by Richard H Landau who scripted The Quartermass Experiment 1955, The Girl in the Black Stockings 1957

As always Karloff’s presence makes any film a joy to watch. He always took his acting seriously and it shows here, which makes this odd little modernity meets old mad science horror flick with some interesting set design and chilling moments worth watching.

Karloff plays the last of the line of Frankensteins who desperately needs money in order to continue his arcane experiments on the reanimation of the monster, he has hidden beneath the family crypt in the Castle. The monster is kept bandaged through out the film, (saves on make-up) and becomes a lumbering bandaged plaster of Paris block head with two hollow holes for eyes. Is it effective or defective… well, I focused on Boris Karloff most of the time.

Frankenstein is now using atomic energy to resurrect his ancestors creation (the lab is actually very groovy Strickfaden would approve), but needs a few more things, like an atomic reactor, brains, eyeballs etc.

Baron Von Frankenstein whose face is badly scarred from the Nazi’s who tortured when he refused to experiment on their victims, allows a film maker and his crew to shoot their low budget horror picture on the grounds, finds their presence an immortal intrusion but he is broke and must put up with the nuisance.

But– the aggressive and meddlesome bunch uncover Dr. Frankenstein’s secret laboratory and it just gets chaotic from there…

Rudolph Anders plays the Baron’s confidante Wilhelm Gottfried, and Norbert Schiller plays the very simple butler Shuter… poor poor Shuter…

800_frankenstein_70f72

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The Mask of Fu Manchu 1932

The.Mask.of.Fu.Manchu.1932

Directed by Charles Brabin and an uncredited Charles Vidor they offer this highly stylized horror/sci-fi-/fantasy hybrid from the 30s!

Boris Karloff is the diabolical genius Fu Manchu who only wishes to conquer the world with the help of his beautiful but equally nefarious daughter Fah Lo See played by the exquisite Myrna Loy.

Sir Nayland Smith of the British Secret Service played by Lewis Stone rushes to the Gobi Desert to find the mysterious mask and sword of Genghis Khan. He must get there before Fu Manchu possesses it’s power.

Fu Manchu kidnaps Sir Lionel Barton and tortures him in order to find out where the great treasures of Genghis Khan are buried in his lost tomb, but Barton refuses to tell…

Mean Sir Lionel’s daughter Sheila (Karen Morely) Sir Nayland Smith, Terrence Granville (Charles Starrett) and Von Berg (Jean Hersholt) set out to uncover the whereabouts of the relics before the evil menace can use them in his diabolical plan to conquer the world!

The Mask of Fu Manchu boasts the wonderful Kenneth Strickfaden designs!

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Your Ever Lovin’ MonsterGirl!