Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Author: jdp (Page 13 of 57)

31 Days of Horror: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Bird with the Crystal Plumage Shame:
Unseen (and two-years borrowed) Blu-ray

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1970’s
Master Classers – Argento



 

#29. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

 

bird with the crystal plumage Italian poster

 

Guess what? YUP. This is still going on. My steadfast pursuit of an end goal that nobody even cares about impresses you, doesn’t it? No? Screw off, man. I’m working for the common good. Here I am, mid-late November still plugging words into bl-g posts about horror movies. Once the election happened, this all slipped into the background when I fell into a 24/7 news cycle of disbelief, conspiracy theories and #facepalm. Movies remain a sanctuary. Things make sense again. I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree in film theory for n0thing. NO COMMENTS FROM YOU, READER. Reader, dear reader. I’m sorry. Continue reading, maybe?

I believe in the powers of proximate viewing, especially when it comes to viewing multiple entries from the same director. Having viewed Deep Red (for the first time!) and Tenebrae (for the first time in ages!), my reading of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage shifted drastically. Elements from Bird reappear in both Deep Red and Tenebrae. And I’m not just talking about the giallo genre tropes either. Let’s focus on one element from each and contemplate how Argento evolves from Bird to the latter film in his filmography.

 

thebirdwiththecrystalplumage-3

 

 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red & Perception

Bird opens with a man (Tony Musante) witnessing the murder of a woman inside a glass-walled art gallery. Right from the get, Argento foregrounds one of his favorite broad themes — perception vs. reality. But not only that. As we’ve seen in Deep Red, Argento also loves to explore art and interpretation. Art is at once a basic reality and the myth that you, the viewer, interpret based on your individual frame of reference. By setting the catalytic murder sequence within a modern art gallery, Argento is again directing your interpretation from the outset of the film.

Deep Red devoted lengthy bits of dialogue to the nature of perception vs. reality. There is not one reality; but rather millions of realities based on individual perception. What is real? Argento turns Deep Red into a meditation on art. He evokes Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks with a nifty bit of set design and lingers on classical architecture and sculpture. Impressionist paintings play a major role in the narrative.

In his earlier film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Argento cares less about “Art” as a recurring motif and more about interpretation. Like Deep Red, his protagonist in Bird makes assumptions that direct his investigation of the witnessed murder. What has he seen? What does it mean? But Musante’s Sam doesn’t meditate on this interpretation; instead, Argento uses Sam’s perspective (and consequently our perspective) as a red herring. We, like Sam, witness the murder while trapped between two panes of glass at the art gallery. Face value vs. reality. Art vs. interpretation.

It’s not until Sam recognizes that he’s misled himself through his own assumptions that we, too, understand that our reading of the film has been improperly directed by cinematic tropes and expectations. Argento’s dastardly twist relies on the fact that we, the audience, understand the predictable language of the horror film. That we will also fall back on easy expectation and interpretation.

 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Tenebrae & the ‘Misogyny’ Argument

I regret that I’m reducing term papers into paragraphs, but thinking’s good for you and maybe if I don’t pummel you with thousands of words, you’ll revisit these films and form your own deep thoughts.

I glossed over some stuff at the tail end of the prior paragraph because spoiler reasons. The part I yada yada‘d concerns how we see horror films and specifically the giallo genre. Black gloved murderer kills beautiful young women. We try to figure how which woman-hating male has perpetrated the crimes.

Tenebrae acts as Argento’s response to the argument that giallo films hate women. He opens the discussion with a writer being interviewed by a particularly aggressive female journalist. She questions author Peter Neal about how his novels hate women since they’re regular victims, prey, chattel. Neal responds with an incredulous laugh. “You know me,” he says, suggesting of course that it’s absurd to consider him a misogynist. The reporter responds, more aggressively this time. But your books are — explain yourself.

Films in the giallo genre succeed when they undermine viewer expectation. What separates giallo from your average slasher is that the giallo is equally concerned with discovering the identity of the murderer as the murders themselves. The giallo is part procedural investigation and part slasher. Argento’s finest gialli follow the boilerplate but innovate and usurp expectations. One of his favorite ways to undermine expectations is to invert the sex of the murderer. In Tenebrae, Argento not only inverts the sex of the murderer, but he also examines misogyny from multiple angles.

Again I’ll stop short of fully explaining Tenebrae‘s ending, but the multiple twists force the audience to similarly examine these questions of misogyny from multiple angles. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (and to a lesser extend Deep Red) use our expectations as misdirection. Tenebrae, of course, also cares about misdirection, but the questions left when the credits roll intentionally inspire further reflection rather than gee whiz admiration for a keen narrative twist.

 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

 

Final Thoughts:

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a terrific example of an early giallo that shaped the giallo genre. Like Bava with Bay of Blood, Argento’s first film has confidently elevated the form with a stylish and clever slice of intelligent exploitation. As a direct precursor to both Deep Red and Tenebrae, Argento provides much fodder for analysis and direct comparison. Together the three films provide a generous give and take of interpretation and narrative understanding. View them in close proximity and in order of release and prepare to have your giallo-loving mind expanded.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

30hzrating4

 


The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Blu-ray

 

Availability:  

amazon-buy-button

 

Save


Earlier 2016 31 Days of Horror entries:

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot / #27. Veerana / #28. House of Wax

Star Wars Stuff – The Mixtape Battle

Star Wars Stuff - the mixtape

 

 

30Hz Mixtape Battle Prelude – Crawl from #Bond_age_ on Vimeo.

 

Mixtape Battle Episode I

THE STAR WARS MIXTAPE BATTLE

It is a period of Mixtape ambivalence. 30Hz, striking from 12-track playlists on 8Tracks and Spotify, has won minor victories against the evil galactic iTunes empire of mindless streams of music. During the one-sided battle (that iTunes never even noticed), 30Hz managed to steal the attention of ConstruXNunchuX blogger, Paul Clemente, who challenged 30Hz to a mixtape battle that could bring balance to the universe… or at least Pittsburgh… but probably nothing will happen.

Pursued by the “evil” agents from iTunes and probably Pandora, ConstruX and 30Hz comb through every Star Wars-related song they can think of to save the Mixtape and restore musical awareness to the Galaxy.

The following tracks cover or sample Star Wars music and/or contain goddamn catchy lyrical references to the Star Wars galaxy. May the force be with 30Hz and ConstruX NunchuX.

Star Wars Stuff Mixtape Battle INSTRUCTIONS!

Once you listen to both playlists (limited by 12-tracks or 45 minutes), vote below for which collection of jams you enjoyed better. The winner this week gets the puppy they’ve always wanted for Xmas so please vote with your heart and vote with your head, but please, sirs and madams, just vote.


Star Wars Stuff: The Mixtape Battle

 

30Hz 8TRACKS.COM:

30Hz SPOTIFY:

 

VS.

 

ConstruXNunchuX SPOTIFY:

 

LISTEN. ABSORB. VOTE.

Who has the better Star Wars mixtape?

30 HZ Rumble
Construxnunchux

SurveyMaker

 

PREVIOUS MIXTAPES:

Halloween Stuff Vol. 1 & 2 / Soulful Stuff to End Power Yoga

31 Days of Horror: House of Wax (1953)

House of Wax - 31 Days of Horror

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of House of Wax Shame:
Unseen Blu-ray

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1950’s
Pre-1970’s



 

#28. House of Wax (1953)

 

House of Wax (1953) 3-D poster

 

I felt wholly confident that I’d seen House of Wax. This is, until I watched House of Wax. Parts seemed quite familiar. But then again… maybe just because I’d seen the original Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) more recently. But Vincent Price knocking off those that had done him wrong in a creepy mask! Or was that just misappropriated images from The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It wasn’t until I saw one certain face that I knew with 100% certainty that I’d seen House of Wax (1953) long, long ago. As a wee lad, no more than 10 or so, the paddleball fellow left an indelible impression:

 

House of Wax (1953) 31 Days of Horror

 

I didn’t know at the time, however, that I was missing the 3D effect. He was just a guy slapping his paddle ball at me for some reason. Non-sequitur much? The movie takes a detour to watch this guy. How bizarre! How absurd! I was minding my own business watching a Vincent Price horror movie and BLAM! suddenly this guy appears. I remembered nothing about House of Wax… except for the film’s intermission… but I knew I really enjoyed it. The movie, not necessarily the intermission.

That’s as bizarre as saying Ben-Hur‘s great! But I only remember the fanfare. (It is a lovely fanfare.)

Today I’d like to flip this conversation. House of Wax is a fine film. Now, let’s talk about the guy in the intermission and how or why this scene doesn’t feel like other cloying scenes of 3D-sploitation. The most basic motive remains exploiting the 3D technology. A paddle ball springing into the audience. It does so without furthering the narrative, but the scene boasts more complexity than mere visual showmanship or gimmickry.

As the entertainer wanders and torments/titillates with his miraculous rubber paddle ball, the gathered crowd of course oohs and awwws about this skill, but also about the mysterious wax museum. Time has passed in the film since we cut to the intermission. The crowd and the entertainer serves up a bundle of backgrounded exposition, catching us up with the publicly-known details about the emergence and prowess of this wax museum.

I’m pretty sure that scenes devoted to conversational exposition were outlawed by the Geneva Convention… but they never said we couldn’t have a paddle ball sideshow.

One final point about the brilliant eccentricity of this particular scene. House of Wax doesn’t merely present this as a brief gag, a one-off dalliance. Instead, serving as an ersatz intermission, the showman proceeds for nearly two minutes, slapping his paddle balls at onlookers (and the viewing audience, of course) and catching us all up on the events we missed when House of Wax cut to black and went yadda yadda yadda.

For those curious about the inclusion of an intermission in a film that clocks in at just under 90 minutes, the projectionist had to change both reels at the same time due to the nature of the projected 3D image. Each projector was dedicated to one of the stereoscopic images — whereas a normal 2D film would just jump from one projector to the other during a reel change with no gap between reels.

house-of-wax-image-3

.

 

Final Thoughts:

House of Wax (1953) entertained just as I remembered. Vincent Price presents a vengeful maniac that acts as a precursor to his more flambuoyant and showstopping villain in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Creepy and atmospheric with a touch of devilish black humor.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

30hzrating31-2

 


House of Wax (1953) Blu-ray

 

Availability:  

amazon-buy-button

 

Save


Earlier 2016 31 Days of Horror entries:

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot / #27. Veerana

31 Days of Horror: Veerana

31 Days of Horror - Veerana

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Veerana Shame:
Unseen Mondo Macabro DVD

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1980’s
Country of origin – India



 

#27. Veerana

 

veerana poster

 

I can barely put thoughts down about horror movies at this point. The anxiety I’m feeling about the realtime horrors of electing He-Who-Shalt-Not-Be-Named has crippled my ability to function as even a remedial bl-gger. I hoped getting back up on the 31 Days of Horror horse (6 more to go!) would place some psychological distance between me and this horrific political cycle. Yet here I am… and a sexytime Bollywood vampire movie can’t even get me in the mood.

And if a Bollywood vampire/musical/sex kitten/mystical warlock movie can’t get you in the mood, what will? WHAT WILL?? Full blown, 31 Days of Horror impotence.

Still, let’s give it a shot.

 

Veerana (1988)

 

Okay… so a witch cult hangs out in the forest worshipping some horned deity thing. There’s also a lusty man-sucking vampire temptress. And then a local mayor sends an agent of change to take care of said man-sucking vampire temptress. Well, when that works, the witch cult leader gets bent out of shape and vows revenge. Which seems pretty okay until some dude drives the mayor’s daughter right through the same woods where the witch cult hangs out. Surprise! The witch cult guy snags the daughter and transfers the soul of the old man-sucking vampire temptress into the daughter’s body because he’s clearly seen The Exorcist. And that’s roughly the first 30 minutes of a 150-minute movie.

Your ability to comprehend Veerana relies on your familiarity with Bollywood movies overall. I could tell you that Veerana is a movie about a sex-kitten vampire with intermittent musical numbers, but would you fully understand the consequences?

I’ve taken the following quote from a New York Times article called “On Kissing, Bollywood and Rebellion” by Arnab Ray:

It is true, of course, that Indian movies have had far more people chasing each other around the trees than kissing, and that is primarily because of the dictates of the dreaded censor board, the cheerless cinematic embodiment of the Nehruvian ideal of big government intruding into every aspect of national life, which made directors move the camera away at strategic moments to two flowers touching each other.

 

The Times ran this article in 2013. Veerana opened in 1988. Keep this in mind when merging the above information with the narrative synopsis for Veerana on IMDB: “A beautiful young girl, unfortunately possessed from her childhood by a vengeful spirit, wanders around lonely places to seduce and kill people and thus, gradually becoming lost into a dark world of revenge and lust.”

 

Veerana (1988) - 31 Days of Horror

 

Yet, all that said, Veerana is all about sex. Coy flirting; questionable notions of male machismo; fawning, fainting females; and the far more overt vampirism (which is itself an inherently sexualized activity). Censorship in 1988 manifests in juvenile courting sequences with choreographed song and dance featuring (the abovementioned “strategic” camera movement) before contact… and meticulously placed sideboob and come-hither eyes.

Jarring cuts, off-screen sexual contact and teenage handholding populate Veerana, but the film’s horror never really feels suppressed. Jasmine, the predatory vampire, preys on the weaknesses of horny men. No punches pulled. Actions are clear, kills are unquestionable.

 

The witchcraft and black magic elements lifted from Indian mythology offer plenty of opportunity for horrific latex masks and practical effects. Looming idols and ghastly temples. The low-budget nature of the film adds rather than detracts from our enjoyment. The remedial camerawork offers plenty of opportunity for a giggle. Within the opening minutes you’ll note awkward tracking shots and inept framing. If you can abide the ways inept filmmaking creeps into Veerana, you’ll likely take immense pleasure in this oddity — an oddity at least to our Western concepts of horror cinema.

 

Veerana - 31 Days of Horror

Most jarring is the waffling between sunshiney happy time Bollywood song and dance and the more horrific elements. Two films have been mashed together to satisfy our need for all varieties of entertainment. Veerana is an automat filled with simple cinematic pleasures. Slapstick. Foppery. Sexy times. Minimally gory bits. Incompetent storytelling. Writhing, barely-clad sex-kitten vampirism. Meta-movie within a movie commentary.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

Surprings amounts of skin and overt innuendo populate Veerana despite the obvious censor demands. Though, in my Bollywood experience, innuendo has never been a problem. Playful physical contact, however, becomes more problematic when your movie requires vampirism. Have a strong cocktail and enjoy this ridiculous vaudevillian trip to the sub-continent.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

30hzrating31-2
Veerana Mondo Macabro DVD

 

Availability:  OOP and pricey.

 

Save


Earlier 2016 31 Days of Horror entries:

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot

31 Days of Horror: Salem’s Lot

31 Days of Horror - Salem's Lot

31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews. Hooptober Challenges and Bonus Tasks.
View my 2016 Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-thon Statement here.

Nature of Shame:
Unseen Tobe Hooper/Stephen King Horror Movie Mini-Series!

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade – 1970’s
Tobe Hooper
Stephen King Adaptation



 

#26. Salem’s Lot

 

Salem's Lot artwork

 

Fun fact: I didn’t know Salem’s Lot was a mini-series when I purchased it. I didn’t know it when I popped it into the Blu-ray player. I didn’t recognize it was a mini-series when I eclipsed the 60-minute mark and not much had happened. At around 80 minutes, I grabbed the Blu-ray case and stared into its plastic soul.

ME: WHAT THE $%#$ ARE YOU?

SALEM’S LOT: I’m Salem’s Lot.

ME: THANKS. WHEN DOES SOMETHING, YOU KNOW, HORRIFIC HAPPEN?

SALEM’S LOT: When do you want something horrific to happen?

ME: NOW.

SALEM’S LOT: Patience.

ME: Okay.

WAIT. HOW MUCH LONGER CAN I POSSIBLY REQUIRE PATIENCE?!? IS THIS THE HORROR EQUIVALENT OF ‘ANDY WARHOL’S EMPIRE’??? I HAVE SOMEWHERE TO BE IN TWENTY MINUTES.

SALEM’S LOT: You’ll have to cancel your plans.

ME: I CAN’T CANCEL PICKING UP MY DAUGHTER FROM PRE-SCHOOL.

SALEM’S LOT: Have you checked your priorities lately?

ME: HOW LONG ARE YOU ANYWAY?

SALEM’S LOT: I’m exactly 184 minutes.

ME: THE HELL YOU ARE!

[checks back of case]

The hell you are.

SALEM’S LOT: Have I ever done you wrong?

ME: You told me to leave my 4yo daughter at pre-school.

SALEM’S LOT: True. I did do that. My bad.

ME: [mashes stop button] I’LL SEE YOU LATER.

SALEM’S LOT: I know you will.

31 Days of Horror - Salem's Lot

 

Final Thought:

Once I finally came around to the mini-series pace, Salem’s Lot revealed the simple pleasures of a slow-burn horror story and rewarded with a truly memorable vampirian villain. I couldn’t help but compare Salem’s Lot to my recent experience with Stranger Things. Beyond the superficial connection of being a mini-series, I found myself researching contemporary 1979 response, seeking an idea about how the film was accepted upon release, how it was consumed. I found little first-hand information. If you were old enough to have watched Salem’s Lot firsthand, comment about your experience. Was this a must-see event? Was there hype and expectation? I was only 2 at the time, so I don’t have anything to add to the conversation.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

30hzrating3
31 Days of Horror - Salem's Lot

 

Availability:  
amazon-buy-button

 

Save


Earlier 2016 31 Days of Horror entries:

#1. Vampyros Lesbos / #2. A Chinese Ghost Story / #3. The Haunting of Morella / #4. Delirium (1972) / #5. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin / #6. She-Wolf of London / #7. Son of Frankenstein / #8. Killerfish / #9. The Bride of Re-Animator / #10. A Bay of Blood / #11. The Seventh Victim / #12. The Fly (1958) / #13. The Fly (1986) / #14. Deep Red / #15. Dracula’s Daughter / #16. Day of the Animals / #17. The Unknown / #18. Kuroneko / #19. Komodo / #20. Tremors / #21. Tremors 2 / #22. A Nightmare on Elm Street / #23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge / #24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / #25. Tenebrae / #26. Salem’s Lot

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