Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Experiments in Terror (2003)

Over dinner, my brother and Husband were trying to tell me this movie was a 1962 black and white film about an asthmatic crazy man.

I was like, "...no, I don't think so. A photo on the back of the DVD case has a picture of a bloody faced man with fangs..."

Husband, "No, I'm pretty sure we looked this up already. It's a film directed by the same guy who directed the Pink Panther movies."

I was like, "If I remember correctly this is just a collection of horror shorts...some of them are in black and white?"

Money was bet. Imaginary money. but it was still bet. And I Won! This is not the Blake Edward's Thriller classic Experiment in Terror, no. This is Experiments In Terror. As IMDB calls it "A collection of short experimental horror films, some well known, some not." Thanks, IMDB, very helpful.

The back of the DVD case uses such descriptions as:
  • "...perversely unearths a celluloid sarcophagus of horrible..."
  • "...a pathological delirium of witchcraft..."
  • "...a phantasmagoria of the uncanny..."
  • "...a masterful montage of rare film artifacts..."
  • "...profoundly expanding the cinematic language of fear..."

Folks, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what I'm getting into tonight. Pretty sure the Pink Panther is not in anyone of this shorts...


WHAT?! You can't be serious.

Okay, first and foremost, this is a collection of obscure, avant-garde films. This is very important to know before pushing play on that remote. 

This is the first horror film I've watched nearly entirely in fast-forward. It wasn't fast enough at some points.

Many of these films were created in the '60s. Apparently one of them, The Virgin Sacrifice, experienced several drug overdoses on set. Just. Going. To. Place. That. Right. There.

The rest of the films were not experiments in terror, they were experiments in lighting and sound. I had a headache afterwards. Even in fast-forward mode. At many points I had to look away. MY EYES WERE HURTING SO BAD.

See also: many of these films were created in the '60. Drug overdoses on set. 

My Husband, who has more of an experimental past than I ever ventured in, informed me that these films were created to tap right into an acid trip. He said he knows exactly what these films were intending, and they were absolutely not intended for a couch bound, pajama-clad, 30-something nerd, up past her bedtime. 

The only film I enjoyed was "Ursula". This little mix of Alice In Wonderland Meets Norman Bates's mother was well done.

The rest of these shorts, "Outer Space", "Tuning The Sleeping Machine", "Dawn of an Evil Millennium", "Journey Into the Unknown", and "Virgin Sacrifice" - well, I am glad these records were retained. I really am. The archivist in me will always be glad for that.

But why these films are called "...a phantasmagoria of the uncanny, the dreadful, and the macabre..." I will never understand. I found the most horrifying element of these films to be the history behind them (see also: created in the '60s. Drug overdoses on set.). Which is also why these records must be retained, even if they are not for horror movie viewing pleasure.

No, no, no. I do not understand what makes these films so horrifically special. Unless, of course, you are in the midst of an acid trip or suffering from a deadly fever. Then they might just blow your mind!

I appreciate films that push limits - even if I don't like where those limits go. But I have a particularly low tolerance for films that push limits at the expense of spiritual creativity. By spiritual creativity I'm referring to the inner most part of you that is not hindered or beholden to anything (fear, others, money, drugs).

Horror films in particular, since they tap into some of our darkest places, should not come from a synthetic source. The core of a really good horror movie, in my opinion, should come from something far more organic, ancient, and birthed through a sober eye.

I did not like these films. I'm glad they are available to view, however. I will call them many things but I would not call them Treasures.

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