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FRIDAY NIGHTS @ 9:30 EST / 10:30 CST ON WCUN!

As a young cinephile gleaning what secret thrills I could from the midnight airwaves, I came across Brian Trenchard-Smith's Dead End Drive-In and have been obsessed ever since. Not so much with the movie, though it has a special place in my heart, but the concept of the drive-in as a prison where movies played endlessly to a captive audience of punk miscreants. That little nugget of inspired lunacy stuck with me and all these years later I've created this digital shrine in its honor. Here, you'll find essays on genre and cult films, pretentious film theories, passionate defenses of otherwise unloved or critically crucified films, video essays and whatever else those punk miscreants still squatting in my soul feel like mainlining into your brains. If that doesn't sound like your cup then check out Night Visions on our affiliate station Cable 12.

IN DEFENSE OF: MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986) Dir. Stephen King. Written by Stephen King. Starring: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, Christopher Murney, Frankie Faison, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Declared a 'Moron Movie' by Stephen King himself, Maximum Overdrive stands as one of the least appreciated genre films of the 1980's. And it's really no wonder why - the movie starts at a sprint and delivers a solid forty-five minutes of batshit primo King before succumbing to an underwhelming 2nd Act and one of the most anti-climactic endings to grace silver screens in that year of our Lord, 1986. That said, the first forty-five-minutes is amazing and I would like to venture some of the finest characterization and rendering of King characters and scenarios ever put on celluloid. It's a fucking crime that King didn't direct more of his own work. Yeah, I said it. Can we imagine how he might have developed as a director under the guidance of a strong-minded producer and less of the Boliv…

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IN DEFENSE OF: COSMOPOLIS

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The Medusa Complex: Female Slashers in Genre Cinema

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The Horror genre has long been considered a ghetto by the average critic. It’s best films often retconned as Thrillers by the mainstream, it’s characters lamented as shallow archetypes and it’s violence as reprehensible and dangerous. Despite modern moviegoers cyclical embrace of the genre and the current horror vogue at the box office critical thought remains largely unchanged. The rise of gender politics to the world stage may very well change that as it seems to have produced a renewed interest in the critical analysis of Horror by theorists such as Clover, Creed, Wood, and Ettinger.

 

The Final Girl was the first to undergo this resurgence in interest and currently, we are experiencing a reinvigoration of the Witch archetype not only in critical thought but in cinema itself where the Witch has been freed from the patriarchal shackles of history and recast as a Feminist icon. While long overdue in my opinion and a change that will likely see many more essays, blog posts and master theses in the coming years, my interest still lies in that grimiest of ghettos, the Slasher film. It's the unsung Female Slasher, however, and not the Final Girl that interests me.  

 

Carol J. Clover's essay Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film seems to have cemented the idea of the Final Girl as a Feminist archetype in a subgenre traditionally considered by critics as teen fare at best and misogynistic pornography at worst. The problem with this is that…

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WCUN DEEP CUTS: IT'S THE BIG GOODBYE, DUDE

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I'm certainly not the first to recognize the connections between the work of Raymond Chandler, specifically The Long Goodbye, and the Coen Brother's The Big Lebowski. The Coen's themselves have mentioned Raymond Chandler as an influence on their film, noting his narrative style allowed for an episodic interaction with various characters across various locations and social strata. Beyond that, the Coen's have been mum about any other influences and like most Coen films, the internet has its theories and analyses, in abundance. The best of which is Christopher Shultz's article on LitReactor that posits that while many critics draw parallels from The Big Lebowski to Chandler's The Big Sleep with the title and labyrinthine plots of both as chief indicators, the real connection is to that …

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CLASSICAL & MODERN ART IN CINEMA

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I have wanted to put together a compendium of images demonstrating the influence of Classical and Modern Art on Cinema for a long time and while a quick search shows that I am a little late to the game, there appears to be a dearth of opinion on the matter. In most posts sharing many of the same images I will share below the comparisons that exist are rote, simple statements of artists and dates with nothing more than the images themselves to establish a corollary. In some instances, this is enough and in others it is not. My decision to go forward with this subject as an ongoing column is based on my desire to explore these connections a little more deeply, to argue for and against the comparisons and hopefully stumble across a little insight into the nature of homage, artistic influence and inspiration. In doing so I will also be broadening my scope to include not only the influence of Classical and Modern Artists but other forms of Modern Art including the influence of other fil…

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ANALYSIS: HE's GOT A REAL PRETTY MOUTH

FAILED MASCULINITY IN BOORMAN'S 'DELIVERANCE'

'Let's just wait and see what comes out of the river.'

Nearly fifty years after it's release, John Boorman's Deliverance still stands as one of the key works of art on the subject of masculinity. In those five decades, we have witnessed what came out of the river and we are still no better off than Ed in the film's final moments; haunted by what we've become and it seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. If there is anything to learn from Deliverance about the legacy of traditional masculinity, it is not to be found in the infamous rape scene— of which much has already been written, but in recognizing that what Ed represents, and not Lewis is the real problem facing masculinity in the 21st Century.

In 1970, James Dickey, 18th Poet Laureate of the United States pub…

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THEORY: THE DEATH GAZE

TOWARD A NEW SPLATTER AESTHETIC

In Laura Mulvey’s seminal essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, she posits that all film is subject to the Male Gaze, a psychoanalytical reading of film text that states the narrative of cinema is overwhelmingly presented from an empowered male perspective. A perspective that objectifies women and that breaks down into either a sadistic form of voyeurism that the audience participates in, a type of wish ful-fillment for our collective desire to watch others, especially women without fear of being discovered, or a fetishism that becomes about the reinforcement of narrative and archetypes in our daily lives. There have been several challenges to Mulvey’s essay over the years that claim the Male Gaze is too narrow in its definition not taking into account the sexuality, ethnicity or social status of the viewer. It also does not take into account the Gaze present in other styles of film-making beyond the American Hollywood narrative such as Experimental and LGBTQ Cinema

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ANALYSIS: DAMN YOUR EYES

FEAR & SELF-LOATHING IN PECKINPAH'S 'BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA'

Alfredo Garcia’s head may very well be the perfect example of the MacGuffin in cinema history, the ultimate hook for character and viewer alike. This is after all not a stolen necklace, the great whatsit, Rosebud or Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase but a man’s decapitated head. At the very least it serves as one of the goriest examples of the technique while at the same time functioning as a Rosetta Stone of sorts. Al’s head perfectly embodies the castration anxiety that permeates the film while also illuminating with one grisly image Peckinpah’s allegiance with traditional masculinities will to self-destruct in the face of emasculation.

 

Watching this death trip for the first time, it’s easy to take it as a crude meditation on revenge and leave it at that. Howe…

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THEORY: THE FAR VISION

THE CASE FOR NON-LINEAR PERCEPTIONS IN CINEMA

 

Wherever your opinion falls in regards to a technological singularity, it’s difficult to argue that at present our technology has not significantly altered our methods of communication, organization, and recall. These changes in our information processes are begetting changes in every industry and culture in the modernized world and yet the worlds of information technology and cinema seem to me to be the ones worth concentrating on here. This is because while the one is the source of these changes, the other is a mirror, capable of giving us perspective as well as commenting on that perspective. The fact that at present that perspective is seemingly hopelessly mired in the linear is the crux of the problem. Regardless, both are driving forces in our culture towards a hive mind i.e. a collective consciousness. Cinema has always been a vast edifice of memories, but our ever-growing immersion in a second life via technology is now if not challenging that edifice then working in tandem with it, creating the possibility of new, streamlined perceptions that are both exciting and dangerous.

 

I originally wrote this article a few years ago for a now defunct website…

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