Saturday, May 31, 2008

Altered States starts out as a poor man's El Topo, then becomes a poor man's An American Werewolf In Paris for a while. What's interesting is how it works like an eighties version of a seventies movie, in a way I, of course, can't really articulate. Something about the way the narrative is actually focused, and doesn't seem all that perfunctory, but the characters are basically cliches. Also: I really like how most of the special effects are video effects.

I also would like some kind of reason for why there's movies like An American Werewolf In London, The Thing, and Altered States- all those body-transformation/deformation themes all arriving at pretty much the same time. The David Cronenberg films of this time also kind of keep with these themes.

Oh man: In this Sound Of Young America interview with Jack Handey, I learn that guy wrote the Toonces The Cat and Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketches! And was friends with Steve Martin in the late seventies! CLICK ON THE LINKS!

In the world of sidebar blogs: Ben Parrish sends old Batman covers to Joel Brazzell, and through this I discover this really amazing stretch of covers in the early post-200s issues of Batman. Batman with a tiger head, or being led to the electric chair. Weird threats of death, and also: sexism. (One cover has Catwoman yelling "you just lost the battle of the sexes!" and another has women holding up signs protesting an unmarried Batman.) Where is this imagery coming from? Eventually there's a cover where Batman and Robin are trying to work out which one of the Beatles is dead, using album cover clues. Frank Robbins, Irv Novick, and the 1960s. The Batman TV show had been canceled, and the character was just invested with all this iconic imagery, but was just existing to be distorted. The Gardner Fox/Sheldon Moldoff era covers from just before that time are pretty good too. Heavy weirdness in the air, that doesn't seem far from early sixties wackiness at first glance, but... man, holy shit. Some dude, probably in his early thirties, hacking it out, psychological anxiety seeping through. (Batman, being pushed out of the door of a plane, the white house in the background, with the caption "Death casts the deciding vote!" Is this a response to the RFK assassination?)

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