Cinematically Kubular

Ramblings about cinema – probably focusing on Argento and gender.

Tag: women

Last House on the Left of the Bay of Blood

Growing up I was never a great fan of Horror cinema. With the exception of Scream (Wes Craven, 1996, US) and Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987, US) the Horror films I’d seen had come across as cheap and childish – even those that weren’t really that cheap. Even then, Scream is not a film I’ve ever really felt comfortable with categorising in my idea of the Horror genre and Evil Dead II, while conforming to my preconceptions of Horror, is a comedy.

On attending University all of this changed – I discovered the early Hammer films and Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978, US). However, even with the beginnings of an interest in horror beginning to stir, I still wasn’t getting overly excited about the genre. I was much more interested in the melodramas of John Woo (to the extent I focused my dissertation upon them). If there is one thing I can thank Northumbria University for it was a course on the European Thriller during which Peter Hutchings screened Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975, Italy) and gave a seminar giving a brief introduction to Argento’s other films. Roll on a few years and the imagery and curiosity about those films had stuck with me.

2012 arrived and I found myself a fan of the ‘Italian Hitchock’ Dario Argento and delving deeper into the genre that I’d mostly ignored for the longest time. This lead me, naturally, to Bay of Blood (Mario Bava, 1971, Italy) which both shocked and bored me. It revived those early attitudes to Horror – it seemed to focus on the exploitation of violence and sex yet was nihilistic enough in it’s attitude (and particularly it’s conclusion) that I couldn’t bring myself to feel it had been a waste of time. There were aspects of Bay of Blood that clearly signalled a departure from the giallo films I’d fallen in love with but also a connection with the disappointing Halloween. Bay of Blood confused and excited me – confused because I wasn’t sure how to feel or what to think about it, excited me because I felt I’d found something new.

Today I reaffirmed that sensation and realised that there’s a whole side to Horror that I’m yet to explore and a psychology to it I may have to reassess. Today I watched The Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, 1972, US). For those readers that may not already know The Last House on the Left is about a teenager called Mari and her friend who are abducted and subsequently raped, leading to the murder of the rapists by Mari’s parents. The story outline, more or less, says it all; it is not only one of the grimmest and most troubling films I’ve seen but it’s also one of the most inspired.

The Last House on the Left and Bay of Blood share some common themes – there’s no clear sense of heroism or good and evil here. Only innocence and it’s corruption. It’s this corruption of innocence that sits at the heart of both films. In Bay of Blood it’s represented by a close-knit community which is threatened, along with nature, by a large commercial development. This commercial development sows the seed of corruption amongst the community and eventually leads to a series of gruesome murders. Innocence is then corrupted succinctly in its closing, and perhaps most disturbing, scene. The Last House on the Left corrupts the almost sickly innocence of Mari and the idyllic setting of Mari’s home through the acts of a group of criminals. Again, it’s the final scene of The Last House on the Left that questions the nature of these ‘idyllic’ characters. Here, the blood spattered parents of Mari are subjected to the shocked and accusatory gaze of the police.

Perhaps, the most troubling statement made by both films is that no one is perfect and even the most idyllic of paradises can be torn apart by the darker, more corrupt side of our own humanity.
There’s darkness in everyone.

The Beautification of Women

This isn’t about cinema, so I probably shouldn’t be posting it here. However, it is something I care about and informs well regarding my perspective on cinema and why I mentioned gender in writing my ‘About’.

I recently read a post from my friend Becca’s blog which really got me thinking again about the expectations our culture has from girls and the pressures put on them when they hit adolescence (and before). I’ve always found it somewhat disturbing that quite a number of girls feel they have to wear makeup… it’s just something I don’t understand – skin is far more attractive than powder (and imperfections are generally what makes things interesting).

To a certain degree, this is something I know I don’t really have to write about, after all, the press is already well aware of the hypersexualisation of women in music videos (I’ve heard people rant about frequently on Radio 4). I also understand (to a degree) the usefulness of certain gender ‘constructs’ and why girls may have a natural leaning towards beautifying themselves (to attract a mate) and how toys such as Barbie and Cindy (remember her?) engage and potentially educate from a young age.

Reading Becca’s post however, reminded me of all those occasions where i’d heard other people (pimarily women) put girls/women down because they don’t ‘put in the effort’ to glam themselves up. Or watching a girl apply makeup because if she doesn’t the people she works with will think there’s something wrong with her.

Yet, as a man, I’m not expected (nor would I know how to) apply eye shadow or liner, nor do I really care about foundation, blusher, or any other coloured dust someone might want to apply to their face. Also, for the record, skin tastes better. There’s nothing worse than getting a little carried away and being assaulted by the bitter flavour of face-chemicals to ruin the mood. 😉

Most of the girls I know (if not all of them) look far better without the damn stuff. Aside from which, plugging your pores with dust can hardly be good for your skin!

I’m reminded of my time at uni and the semester I spent studying fashion. Most of my focus was spent on the development of punk – which was a rejection (more or less) such ideas and Madonna as a ‘feminist’ icon (and her eventual fall from grace). I only hope that people such as Lady GaGa can avoid the same pitfalls as Madonna, and avoid taking the power through sex/glamour route and bring the next generation of girls back down to earth.

Perhaps once the aforementioned girls have made it back down here, they can come to terms with being naturally beautiful and that they really were born that way.

PS
Would rally appreciate any comments/anecdotes that people may feel they’d like to share. It’s a topic of worthy discussion!