Film is a Weapon.

My good friend Brendan Olphert, author of the Cola Wars Blog and longtime John Carpenter afficianado directed me to two masterpieces made by the grey haired prince of darkness. Carpenter (like Sidney Lumet) is a director who has been wildly prolific despite a popularity which runs hot and cold at times. Many of his great films (I’m thinking The Thing) were overlooked and only achieved masterpiece status with the passing of many years.

The first film, In the Mouth of Madness, is as good a psychological horror as you’ll ever see. Featuring New Zealand’s very own Sam Neill as well as a frightening turn by David Lynch regular Jurgen Prochnow as the enigmatic writer Sutter Kane, In the Mouth of Madness manages to continue a genuinely terrifying plot with some superb sequences that scared the heck out of me. The scenes of Neill and Linda Carmen driving to the town of Hobbs End are particularly stirring as they play on the simple fear of witnessing the impossible.

The one that really got me however is Carpenter’s Masters of Horror episode Cigarette Burns. The story of cinema manager Kirby Sweetman and his obsessive pursuit of a print of La Fin Absolue du Monde (The Absolute end of the World) a lost film which reduces audiences to murderous rage and supposedly depicts the real mutilation of an angel. It’s a brilliant hook, especially for cinephiles. As Sweetman tracks down people who know about the film he encounters a critic who has spent his entire career attempting to write a review which can describe the film adequately. He also discovers those aquatinted with the director Hans Bakovic, a filmmaker who believed film could be used as a weapon. Cigarette Burns is a clever story and an easy one to watch, especially due to it’s short running time. The more Carpenter I see the more his excellence appears to me. If you can find Cigarette Burns or In the Mouth of Madness check them out, I’d reccommend watching them as a double feature as it’s quite clear that they contain similar ideas and can even be considered as companion pieces.

If you want to know more about Carpenter I suggest asking the expert Brendan Olphert, he’s pointed me to some stunning pictures and I’m sure he’s more than happy to do the same for you.

In the Mouth of Madness

Cigarette Burns

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One thought on “Film is a Weapon.”

  1. So this is me taking your John Carpenter debate into left field.

    Last night I started watching Escape from LA (I must admit I only got 20minutes in before tiredness took over and I had to postpone my screening). Being a massive fan of Escape from New York I am much looking forward to seeing the second installment.

    Anyway, it’s obvious that our protagonist, Snake Plissken, is a classic case of the anti hero. But what a hero he is, he’s tough, cold, dark and an expert in the filed of violence and handling himself in a tricky situation.

    It’s his unofficial tag line that I want to bring to attention- “Call me Snake”, he utters when people want to know his name or say it wrong.

    Whether it’s just me being a freak or not, this piece of dialogue, for mine, reminds me of a guy named “Bond, James Bond”

    So I start thinking, who do I prefer, Bond or Plissken?

    The smooth talking, well groomed, smartly dressed, always good with the ladies Bond?
    Or the snake skin pants, long haired, cold as fuck Plissken?

    Can they even be compared? Who would win in a fight? Who would you trust your life with? Would Quantum of Solace been better with Plissken at the helm?

    All I know is if I was going to a dress up party and had a choice between Snake and James, I would have the eye patch out in a split second.

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