Clockwise from above: Dracula, Frankenstein, Angel Of The Night, Haxan, Witchcraft Through The Ages, Return Of The Living Dead, An American Werewolf In London, The Wicker Man and La Fiancee de Dracula
Sex of the more heterosexual variety is the province of Dracula. the ultimate male wish-fulfilment. the penetrator ofgirls (albeit with fangs). who leaves them gagging for his next visit. In order to be really sexy to women, he also has to be otherly or foreign and, of course. he always is. The only notable exception is Jack Palance’s 70s version, a paradoxically anaemic performance by its star. perhaps because he knew that as domestic product, he could never be as sexy as a foreigner; Brad The lmpalerjust doesn’t sound right.
In the 60s and 70s, politics came to the fore. As the young rebelled over Vietnam, the metaphor of devilish youth turning against its elders became fashionable. The
Exorcist, The ()men and a vast array of
imitators were characterised by the kids turning against an uncomprehending older generation.
By the 80s. liberal tolerance of the young had given way to the vengefulness of the new right. Stalk-and-slash films featured masked maniacs engaging in the laudable ambition of slaughtering as many annoying American adolescents as was possible in 90 minutes. The genre rules of these films, where every vice from promiscuity to simple facetiousness is punished by dismemberment, have been well laid down and to good comic effect in the Scream ﬁlms, the third of which will be premiering in Dead By Dawn.
There‘s liable to be plenty of laughs in
this movie. even if the law of diminishing returns dictates less originality than is displayed in parts one and two. Horror ﬁlms are often funny, because we make taboos out of the things we repress and taboos. when revealed. are hilarious. The Return Of The Living Dead. in which the demised 0f the title will not rest in peace (or even in pieces)
Five Great Horror Films About Politics
1. THEY LIVE: John Carpenter’s cartoonish satire is that rarest of things, a radical horror film. Here, the monsters are not the underclass or underachievers, but yuppies who control the world through the media and advertising.
2. THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES: Early 605 right- wing take on emigration, as a lot of Afro- Caribbean zombies are brought to a Cornish tin mine as cheap labour and then create havoc. This film wears its Powellite metaphor
on its sleeve. _ 3. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS:
19505 anti-communist paranoia or subtle satire? You can't tell the dull, conformist space aliens from the dull, conformist smalltown Americans they replace. Go figure. 4. DAWN OF THE DEAD: Survivors hole up in a shopping mall as zombies run wild. Adroit satire of American consumerism.
5. VIDEODROME: David Cronenberg's disturbing Marshall McLuhan fantasy about the power of the media.
is irresistible in this respect. It acknowledges us not as minds but as bodies. bits of flesh and matter that display pure appetite. Then there’s gay comedy in An American Werewolf In London, where a dog‘s best friend is his man. Here, it’s the male protagonist‘s ‘pal’ who returns from the dead to give him the best advice and most attentive care and not the sexy Jenny Agutter, with whom he has a dysfunctional relationship.
In the festival’s Italian films. we find heterosexual repression, still a relevant topic in Catholic countries. In Blood And Black Lace and The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, two 60s classics. the marrying of desire and violence is very much in evidence. A much more recent example. The Chureh, sees the very gates of hell open under the holy place with a past. After reading a fictional contemporary philosopher. Fucinelli, on history and desire, a female historian ﬁnds the church. Fucinelli‘s a good writer. since his predictions about evil and liberated desire come true for her, with all others being trapped within the building at the demonic locking of its gates.
Now, be careful if you go along to Dead By Dawn, you might liberate your repressions, and who knows what‘ll happen then? It could be just as creepy as a date with Robin Cook. and twice as enjoyable.
Dead By Dawn, Edinburgh: Filmhouse, Lumiere, Fri 31 Mar-Sun 2 Apr.
30 Mat—13Apr 2000 THE llST21