The persistence of Apollo 11 hoax theory and intermedial failure: a short note.

Rev., Jul 15, 2019. Written to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, July 20, 1929-2019.

Having explored the symbolism of the Mall, in 50s sci fi, both in an essay on Bobby’s World in The day the Earth Stood Still, and in an essay on the depiction of the mall in The deadly Mantis (1957), I would like to suggest a simpler idea of why the Apollo 11 moon landing hoax conspiracy theory still persists after 50 years. And I think the answer is related to the fact that the original broadcast of the event was at odds with media conventions of the time, which cast a spell of artifice over it, for all time. Then, too, after the era of the landing, elements of the launch were displayed, as was other early spacecraft, in the Air and Space museum in Washington, on the Mall, and that setting had a strong influence on how things were imagined in retrospect. But, before we get to that, there were a number of intermedial issues that set up the potential of a fraud, acting as, as it were, alibi formations, to cover for the event’s oddness.

It is usually argued, rationally, that in the age of Watergate, in the aftermath of the era of the moon landing, trust in government faltered, so it was easy to think, if the president is a crook, so is NASA, it was all a fake. Then the argument links up with a scene of a fake landing on Mars in the movie Capricorn One (1976)

a a 1and then 007 played with it in diamonds are Forever (1971), in which at one point 007 escapes through a fake moon set in the desert

a a 2

at a place like Area 51,

a a 3and so that’s that, that was used, so it was thought, it was all shot on a film stage, and then who better than Kubrick to do it, since his moon shots and outer space sets in 2001 (1968) were so perfect.

a a 4then even Kubrick folded space travel back into an artificial environment, to, at the end, question the very reality of outer space that mankind, in fact, will never be able to bodily reach

a a 5It is a purely movie-based theory, and while degh, a folklorist, is right that by ostension stories can turn into realities, and vice versa, I do not think that in either case, both of them being parodies of a popular culture idea floating about, this sort of effect is created.

My idea is that, in fact, the moon landing got to be thought of as fake, because, just like a scare in a horror movie, the landing and its coverage spooked some people. It played, in fact, in reality, like a rare film-within-a-film shown in a horror movie. Here it is, on the screen at NASA (these shots from the mockumentary, darkside of the Moon (2002, France)

a a 6And, then, of course, the obscure picturing of the event, very much in the mode of a cheap, bad movie, which people reacted to, unconsciously, negatively to, to think it did not meet the standards of reality (though this can also reverse, so that, for example, found video looks “more real” in a movie shot on film)

a a 7But the role of these sequence in horror movies were to horrify the audience by seeing something of the potential of the monster than the normal rational mind could not. The greatest of these strange film-within-a-films came in Quatermass and the Pit (1967), which showed martian locusts invading earth five million years ago!

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But there was also a terrific one, which I analyzed in depth, in The Green Slime (1966, Japan).

a a 9

In the latter, in particular, all on board were already scared of this monster that they had picked up care of a meteor in outer space, which grew to that form out of some green slime. But, now, on the video camera, seeing into a space beyond where human beings could see things, they see not only that the slime has extraordinary powers of self-propulsion, a life of its own, which is terrifying

a a 10But that it is agile, this in reverse on the film

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Then too, most horrifically, it grows very fast

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As a result of this video, of seeing far into a space beyond their normal cognition, they are made four times more horrified than they were before, and this is the purpose of this sort of film.

As a result, then, whether they knew it or not, most Americans took in the footage of the landing and the work on the moon as a kind of horror movie, something about it scared them, mainly because it was so remote, and there was no ground upon which it could stand, vis a vis other scenes in media. Then, of course, since the human mind in its storying way hates a gap, it fills up that gap with comparable images, but all of them from fictional sci-fi sources, which in time overwhelms their sense that, amongst all of these, this one incident is real, and so by a sort of imagistic mobbing, the real thing becomes another fictional thing.

a a 14Adding to the problem of the broadcast of the landing and the work on the moon is the fact that the astronauts were not really that adventurous on the surface of the moon. Unlike explorers in any number of sci fi movies of landing on other plants (none of which I will explore here), only to discover beautiful women in skirts way shorter than women on earth would ever wear, so thumbs up for outer space, then too the bewegigungsapparat and alibi formations combined that allowed them to have sex with them because they were earth men seeding a new race for a dying people. But, spatially, the astronauts stayed quite close. They played in a limited field. Since the scenery was monochrome, and the movements unreal, because gravity free, a sense of unreality pervaded. It was like a dream, and the part of the dream it was like were the fields behind or outside the Village of dreams, where by an effect of entopty upon it, one does not know quite what one is seeing.

The Apollo 11 astronauts did very little wide ranging exploring of the surface of the moon. They stayed close to home, they puttered about the spacecraft, and never really ventured forth away from it. As a result, they created the illusion of a “playground moon,” not an explored other-planet moon, like you see in so many movies (the extent to which this ‘small planet’ vision recoiled back to earth to add to the development of a concept of “playground earth” for tourists, whose bigfootprint living contributes to global warming, I leave open for now).

a a 15This field is in the entoptic, but heaing out toward the ambient; and, in fact, seems to parallel in hypnagogic placement, de chirico’s Mysterious Fountains series.

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In any case, this is where the moonwalk, hypnagogically, happened, a light entoptic dream event, spreading out into the ambient

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this field, aka the wild space, is a well-known place in movies. In A Hard days Night (1964) it is the field where the boys, breaking out of rigors of rehearsal, let off some steam, as if on another planet

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In horror movies, it is an entoptic-symbolic visually compromised zone or array of objects where a gown prowl or search is undertaken and you do not know exactly what you are going to find. Thus in The Nun (2018), resurrecting the field of bedsheets drying on the line, she has to pass through it

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Just like in Halloween (1978), the best example of the trope, a few years later

a a 21And there are many other fields of this sort in the genre. What this does to the viewing of any scene played out in a field beyond is that you are jumpy, you don’t know what is coming, something might jump out at you from off frame, it is an entoptic-symbolic, uncertain zone, it makes one nervous. This parallel between the reality of the walk and the condition of hypnagogy as it then is worked out as a trope in horror movies, is yet another reason why the moon landing was “consumed’ by many viewers as unreal.

The failure of this event to fill itself out in a way that met the demands of the audience as a “real life” adventure, resulted in a lot of people thinking, this all looks like it is filmed in a studio, the same way one might say of a bit of old film where “this is in rear projection” or that is “stop motion technology” or that’s some “pretty good model building for Godzilla,” but, then, for that, all the opposites too, rear projection that looks really phoney, stop motion that struggles, model building that only stages what is obviously an actor running around in a rubber suit. By not leaving frame, as it were, by not doing on the moon what was expected of them, from the lore of movies, in space, the astronauts left behind a viewer frustration which recoiled into the idea, it’s a bad show, it’s a technically poor movie, it is a movie. Here a shot where a light is caught in shot, exposing it as a production (this still pervades rationalized consumption of movies, where one special class of easter eggs, for people to search for when they are not actually watching the movie, is mistakes made in revealing it is just a movie, this happened in the final season of Game of Thrones a few times, I suppose to comfort viewers at the ending of their fantasy world)

a a 22In conspiracy theory on this point, there are two points of view. One, the entire thing, beginning to end was a fraud, entirely a movie production, all of it. But that seems far fetched, so in Capricorn One (1976) they posited that yes, indeed, the rocket went up, there was a launch, but, then, from then on, the program failed to create safety, so they pretended it was still up there, or maybe were hoodwinked by intelligence to think it still up there, and the astronauts went through with their mission but as actors on earth and not astronauts on Mars or in the spacecraft. It is, of course, precisely, the disconnect between the filmed event, and any scenario in which it could be verified as real, that Capricorn One (1976) exploited. This would work because no one could check up on the reality of what was being filmed, it could well be fake, no one would know.

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And I will mention only in passing that as time moved on in popular culure, ten years later, the moonwalk also converted into an even more “unbelievable” thing, Michael Jackson’s moon walk dance step, which made things even more otherworldly, moving back on earth without gravity (and having about it an element of dreams of flying).

a a 26But in that regard, the earlier fact that it was a film-within-a-film in a horror movie, now translated out to the way in which so many people saw it, standing at a bank of tv sets in a store window, outside. A trope which signifies both the momentous, emergency nature of the occasion; its saturation of the moment with a sense of emergency, often fear; then a weird sort of disbanded campfire sense of random belonging to a populous that, in fact, one does not belong to.

As to a more purely haunted reading of the event, there are also elements of the Apollo 11 moonwalk that spooked because only relatable to horror movie tropes. One, one of the age old tropes of horror is that in order to find the root cause of the horror one can go back to the original place and there it will still rest. This has been true in the genre for a very long time. It entails an extreme degree of essentialism in so far as it insists that prototype space is cursed, and so everything in it is “just as it was when he left it,” and, lo and behold, a character goes looking for the original place, and he finds it, just as he hoped, entirely intact. So, in the Picture of dorian Gray (1945), the room at the top of the stairs is exactly as it was left, when he left it, his childhood nursery, years ago

a a 27This almost never happens in real life, but it happens a lot in horror movies. And the reason it happens a lot is that horror movies exist in cursed time, and always seek to go back to a source that predates the current haunting situation, to find the truth, and root it out. That is, everything retrenches to the prototype space, and, eventually, it is there, and perfect, and that’s that, It would appear that the moon is the same way, as it has been reported that these footprints are still on the moon, once made, always the same, it is an essentialist presence in a prototype space (thus, in the theory, this footprint’s depth is thought to belie the fact that if really on the moon the astronaut would weigh 30 pounds, unable to make this deep impression (see darkside of the Moon (2002)).

a a 28Finally, there is a truth shot photo, apparently, always a beloved trope in horror movies, In this shot, one can see Neil Armstrong in silhouette, holding a camera oddly (same source as above, my point being that this is evidence, a truth shot is available)

a a 30It is thought that Armstrong is not taking the picture, thus there was someone else, a film director, doing the filming. But it is explained by debunkers that Armstrong’s camera was attached to his suit, so that’s why it looks that way. But, of course, a photo which hides the ultimate truth, a smoking gun, a truth shot, at the bottom of a horror movie, it is a thing that must be there, and so it is by trope formation something that is very probably to form in the mind of someone considering the photographic evidence. This, to offer an example already covered in this blog, this is the truth shot of Hereditary (2018), which Collette only sees in passing as she is confusedly looking through an old notebook: this is a shot from a scene where she is showing the coven the family she is going to sacrifice to them, so that she can be boss witch, horrible, click, one shot, gone, but it is the truth, the smoking gun

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The final point, which is more museumological, has to do with the strange way in which the event was memorialized in museums. When at last space vehicles began to be displayed in public, in government run museums, they are always done so in a very personalizing way.

a a 32One is allowed to walk up to them, touch them, step up a step ladder to look in, identify with the mannikin inside, think to oneself, it all looks so small and helpless, as a result, one comes away from a museum display thinking, it doesn’t quite look real. That is, the technology was so primitive, it doesn’t FEEL like technology should, which is complex and overwhelming as such. Then, too, the Mall, if that is where it starts, has an imaginary white picket fence around it, it is a propaganda space for America the homespun, America the Main Street, America, land of the kindly doctor and friendly bureaucrat. The Mall puts an aegis of authority over things, especially for kids, and this results in anything they see there becoming safely in their minds ensconced behind mental white picket fences, then, given the authority of a great thing, an essential thing, if supported by the feds. Thus one comes to believe in the reality of the personal Apollo 11, but this gets in the way of the real one (is this, one might ask, the real one?).

a a 33The same thing happened with me and seeing Salvator dali’s Last Supper, a gift to the US in 1964, in 1965, at the National Gallery on the Mall, and it was both the spacey nature of the picture, and the aegis of federal support approving it, then, both, sutured together into a personalized at-home form inside the white picket fence of the Mall, that made me think it the most important work of art in the world, at the time.

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This argument then runs counter to the notion that Watergate caused people to lose faith in the government; in fact, presentation of space things on the Mall, with the support of the federal government, counteracts that; but nonetheless it backfired, by personalization, to make people think it more likely the landing happened in a movie studio than on the actual moon.

My basic thesis is that the hoax theory leaked out and lives on because of mismanagement of the intermedial relations as the truths about the program and the missions were developed for public consumption in the 70s. While trying to work out its reality, the effects of the coverage only recoiled to reinforce an idea that it was all just a movie of a haunting after all. Then, since the moon landing itself as filmed seemed to subscribe to certain tropes in horror movies, the limited reality of the event caused it to be folded into a fictional universe, to be taken as fake again. These complications have provided plenty of wiggle room for conspiracy theorists to hold onto their theories in the years since.

From science fiction to the specular imagination, the retraction of visuality on America’s Main Street in The Deadly Mantis (1957).

Rev., Apr 15, 2018; rewrite of lost essay of Summer, 2014-15; posted in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, July 20, 1969—2019 (in a sequel of which it could well be argued that “the Moon” that the US landed and cavorted upon in 1969 was but a displacement of the homey All-Americanism, 50s style, that is embodied by the Mall in Washington, d.C.)

A few years back, I wrote a signature essay on the movie, The Deadly Mantis (1957), which was important for several reasons, but, then, the essay has gone missing, and I cannot find it. Therefore, having a bit of free time, I am here going to rewrite the essay, to preserve its commentary, as it was crucial to several themes I was and am developing. The first theme is 1) the psychogeographic territory of the USA, and, because of the Cold War, in the 50s, the Arctic suddenly seemed like a hot spot for that, so the movie, like the Thing and another about a submarine under the pole, and others, is good for that; 2) the second theme, by contrast, is the recoil to the Mall in Washington DC as the place of safety, America’s Main Street, in the unquestioned confidence in the US government, with powers arranged in a somewhat conceited way, a theme which is relevant not only to my treatment of that in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951),

a 1but these themes also fed my first contact with this space in 1965 and likely underscores my belief at the time that Salvator Dali’s The Last Supper was a great work of art, because I had seen it at the mall

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and, then 3), in so far as the conceit that is played out most often in these movies of the time is that the scientists win out over the bureaucrats and even the generals, the Mall is also the site, I claim, where, by a certain sequence where the Mantis attacks the hero and heroine at the top of the Washington Monument, that moment in American horror when its “gaze” shifted from the upskirt universe (that is, the voyeur-scopophiliac), to the specular (that is, metaphors of intimate anatomy), that is, a more sci fi intestinal view of the body from the inside out (a trend that would continue on up to the year 2000).

To work this out then, the theme that comes first is the whole explication of why Canada and the arctic are the frontier of the Cold War. What is feared is a sneak attack by Russia over the Pole, a trend that I have joked about is coming back, in light of the unhinged nature of the Russian Collusion Conspiracy theorists. But the movie lays out very proudly an amazingly paranoid geography of fences placed up electronically between the US and Russia, the North Pole becomes the center of the action

a 3which is very odd, but also with a Frankenstein vibe

a 4then there is this radar fence

a 5and then another one

a 6and then we have to man all that, and assure the viewer that it is all being watched in some great national effort of defense

a 7and, for this world, the glass onion hypnagogic formation as it were of it all is, of course, the radar screen, with its abstraction forms, both of surveillance, the sweeping hand, and detection, dots or flashes

a 8all of this is posited as a complex, highly developed and discursive military infrastructure, all of it in its technology exuding the idea of the dangerous frontier, the world that the military will look after. It is very well done, and, of course, the problem in the movie is that some sort of blast test wakes up a giant Praying Mantis from under the ice, then that flies south, violating all the radar fences, and by making a direct attack on the east coast of the US and Washington, DC, and even the Mall itself, not unlike The Day The Earth Stood Still, the movie becomes a metaphor in science fiction of a Russian invasion of the USA in the Cold War. But, then, back at the Mall, everything is much less specialized and technologized. The hero works at the national museum, but it is a homely sort of place. He walks in off the lobby, which has art in it, right as if into and through his living room, except that it has display cases and strange women looking at what is in them, with a security guard too

a 9and then in the gallery, which seems mostly about his specialty, paleontology, or bones, there is also a portrait, like in a haunted house, a Mary Shelley picture, and, then, remarkably, with an economy of specialized space every bit as looney as in Quatermass and the Pit some years later, he steps right on into his office, which is right off the gallery

a 10the fact that it is so generalized, and not specialized (and the fun thing about this is that this week after months of everyone going crazy over the Berkshires Museum reaccessioning some art, one local wrote a piece explaining to the world that it really it a pre-museumological science museum of the modern day, but a curious hodgepodge of all this sort, and my view of this matter is the same as about visiting recently the Patee House Museum in St Jo, Missouri, I sure hope they do not restore the hell out of it, and museumological science ought to come in over the top of specialized curatorial science to demand that in the infrastructure of museums a history of the types of displays of museums of the past, like these museums, is preserved, before it is all reduced to the same thing) that a reporter can lurk right outside his office door, between a display case and him, and make of her a comment about a dog after a bone

a 12then we get the news that he has convened his staff because of an emergency due to some tragedy in the arctic

a 13the office (and it is difficult for me to write all this because it feels like I have done it all before, and I have), is like a living room or parlor in a large country house, only it has been repurposed as a scientist’s office in a museum, this results in the haunted portrait being replaced by a fossil, and the black panther or the like on the mantel, bespeaking a male domain, as in the Rennie version of Dr Jekyll, all just like a house, not an office, he also has a worktable in front of the mantel, and lots of books, it is weird.

a 14These multipurpose or repurposed rooms always give me the creeps, examples would be, as I have mentioned often, the doctor’s office in The Return of Doctor X, then there is a good example of a makeshift set up of a doctor’s office or even operating theatre in an inappropriate surrounding in the Living Jungle Girl (sic) of the 40s, and then too in real life when my doctor decamped from a group practice to return to being on his own it was to a strange little office in a brownstone that kind of creeped us out, and was weird. However, here, this “domestication” of the specialized is meant to be reassuring, giving the scientists a sense of power in the government that is greater than that they really have. Then, of course, this is also an amber trope movie, with some ancient mantis discovered in mantis, this “science” practiced on his desk

a 15Just like the amber ant shown on the science film in Them (1953)

a 16Then the thing over the mantel is referred to almost as if a teaching device, a blackboard entity, or a slide show, with more taxidermy and scientificness off to the side, it is bizarre

a 17all of this domesticates science, and minimizes the cold proceduralism of the specialized world, worlds reduced and contracted to fields, then, even more, to schema, where elements of fields are mushed together. The effect of this compression is to recreate a scientist on the Mall as if a country doctor in a small town, a reliable local figure and authority in a small town world, and the Mall is the Main Street of that national town and its buildings and institutions the white picket fence which is the fence that the other radar fences are protecting. This sort of reduction of the space between fields also allows for more serendipity and also romance as the reporter is like, I’ll go with it, he’s like, no problem, and off they go (and in this context the reduction to romance is the contraction still further to the motif level).

a 18anyways, now the Mantis attacks up in the Pole, and there is all that, and all the tropes which describe the attack of outside forces on that world, including the classic Universal trope of the monster at the window, but writ large, this exact same shot in Tarantula

a 19but at last the Mantis takes flight, and, sure enough, he invades the US, so this is a practice run, and, more pointedly, he attacks Washington, so we get some good shots of the Capitol

a 20the Capitol building itself, as it has become again, mainly since the beginning of the Trump presidency, and in my thinking too, was a kind of fetish symbol in 50s Sci fi which represented the power and goodness, the mammary bounty and protective power, of the federal government, I guess every one for a good long time after World War II had to simply concede, we wouldn’t be here if it were not for the federal government, therefore both parties more or less supported the federal government. But it is not quite the same federal government that exists in reality, in Them, for example, we get the obligatory Capitol shot

a 21But in later meetings while the Capitol is right outside the fricking window, acting, then, as an aegis to represent the power under which all this is happening, like a picture of the president, it is also true that the Capitol and its columnarity is deconstructed and blocked, as it were, cast in the shade, by the Venetian blind effect of the meeting, where something strange has happened, the generals and the feds are listening to the scientists, who now rule, this is then a scientocracy

a 22they live in the shade of the venetian blind, meaning it’s a shady business, things are in an emergency state, but the scientists are the only ones who can save them, even better if the scientist is woman, speaking to the mammary care of the Capitol as well, a mother figure

a 23the fun thing about these Washington sequences is that even James Whitmore is along for the ride, a local cop, the one who found the thing, is at the table, it is almost as if local power, embodied by him, has scaled the levels of power to sit at the table of those in control in Washington

a 24and, indeed, the movie is a series of climbing up from local to federal on a mountain of venetian blinds as the shadiness of it all gets clearer and clearer, so from this meeting we replay back to a centralized mission control police station, darker blinds

a 25to a hospital room where the little girl is, also strafed by venetian blinds

a 26to the initial local cop station, all venetian blinds

a 27and having come down from on high, from an unexpected department, the Department of Agriculture, the cops disgruntled, their scientific expertise takes them all the way back up to the top

a 28the Capitol, therefore, is the acme, the top of the mountain, but, in this version, it is almost as if a coup detat has been carried out, with the scientists taking over, casting the Capitol back into the shadows, they lacking the knowledge to know how to proceed

a 29so it is fun that the Mall and the Capitol is the target too, the symbol of centrality and power, in the Deadly Mantis too. But, then, it is also true it was in Washington, for the generals, and the bigwigs, that the professor created a little film for them, explaining the awful power of ants, and, in this, this movie recharges the device of the microscope terror trope, a science film to freak out the rationals and the macro minds, to force upon them a better scientific knowledge of the micro world, which is so menacing, especially if touched by nuclear power.

a 30but, now, the Deadly Mantis goes this one further by having the close-up spectacle of the insect in its enlarged form not require a movie but become real as it decides to attack the top of the Washington Monument, with the hero couple in it

a 31and it rather comically crawls up it

a 32and then latches on the top, hoping to feed on those inside

a 33and it is in this context, that in an externalized version of the science movie, we get a picture window shot of the approach of the thing, from the POV of the hero couple

a 34then it latches on, close-up

a 35and then super close-up

a 36and then the movie within the movie as it were, in a remote space, of a world that we normally never see, the underside of a mantis, runs, and we see the underbelly of it crawl up, and every detail

a 37and we have one of those daft super close-up sequences scanning over what appear to be models of parts of the underbelly of a mantis, but in a way that just looks like internal organs, that relate to us, not it

a 38and then another shot, another form, another strange protrusion

a 39and a cavity

a 40it keeps going, suffocating us

a 41and then on the basis of that we get more of this later in the tunnel under the Hudson river

a 42but, as a form of visuality, what this does is take a close-up microscopic scientific film vision of a subgenre of the genre, with many, many examples going back to Nosferatu, and which I have written about a great deal because I admire these films-within-films as gems unto themselves, and bring it out in to the world of the modeled monster, and the whole visuality of the genre itself. That is, a genre element by amplification has become the basis for a new type of visuality in horror movies, the specular. And, since all sci fi horror movies entail a compression and retraction back from the realities of the specialized world, to the fields, to the schema, even to the motif, and since I have worked out many times that thematically this retraction consists of a retraction back from bureaucracy to science, to then the romance of the scientists, and then to the body of the woman in the romance of the sciences

a 43

the woman’s body becomes the mythos ground of the genre, in the 50s, resulting in all the funny love story formulations that now seem so funny in them, and, for that, this retraction from the external gaze of the investigatory fields to the specular gaze of the scientist, this now bearing down on and applied to the romance and the body of the woman, means that the gaze breaks down into specularity by replacing the previous visual regime of looking at the female, the upskirt universe, to supplant it with another, focused on the scientific study of close-up human anatomy, and, if a woman, then intimate anatomy, and, for that, what is obvious, the underside of the mantis was made to look like that to suggest to boys the nature of the intimate anatomy of the romantic interest, a woman. Thus, my thesis is this sort of close up of insect anatomy

a 44is derived from, in terms of overall visual frame, a trope of depiction of female in the upskirt universe regime, involving the can can, such as in the Women of Jesse James (1954), same thing

a 45

and more

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and deeper and more intimate

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and while this business ends with a side profile here, in House of Wax (1953) it is, in 3D no less (and it may well be the sequence in Mantis was 3D effected) a full on crotch under underwear shot, and a backside moon shot

a 48

this sort of thing, then, collided, in the minds of sci fi movie makers, with the conventions of the subgenre of the science film

a 49by way of a desire to get further and see more in the upskirt, but in a way that would be legible and allowable on film, by displacement, and so actual intimate anatomy become part of it, generally, this involves a new magic return to reading entrails, guts, not too pretty

a 50And, of course, in so much of medicine today, as a recent EDG told me, but luckily I did not have to have a colonscopy, a lot of the work is scopy-ic, that is, internal investigation of the inside of organs, and it is none too pretty, indeed. But, surprisingly, this shift to this focus in terms of visualized body culture occurred, according to my thesis, even if displaced and deflected, in the emergence of the specular gaze in Mantis and other movies.

But, then, of course, the problem was, since the retraction of fields to schema and motif by way of science then romance involved eventually a stripping bare and focusing on the female body, the primary target of intimate anatomy that likely became the occult and secret model of specular visuality, only in the 70s ever to be shown on film, was the female vagina. And this too has continued, so, having started with the can can, then multiplied it through the science film trope, then brought it down through the endoscopic gaze, we now come back out by way of the can can to peel off those bloomers and get a look at, only indirectly, however, the female anatomy. And it is, of course, bizarre, that there is so often a direct visual parallel between it and things you see on films from 1955 on to the late 1990s, and never a mention is made of this fact. Thus, this sequence of the Mantis wriggling up the Washington Monument, a phallus, is sure a lot like a sequence of woman in a pornographic sequence performing masturbation on herself in close-up, the slit or cleft, the resting show of the labia, the finding of the clitoris, the little knob on the top of the red hood, the pull back or evisceration to show the inside shiny membrane of the interior labia, the opening up of the deeper vagina, showing I think the “little head” of the uretha, I don’t know, then a full on fuck it opening up, to let the man imagine entry

And then it goes on. In terms of the outer levels, there are also stages of masturbation, rubbing exterior I call stirring the silly putty, then a toying with the clitoris, oral sex often focused on this, and then full on penetration. All of this, all of this, in my view, underwrites in the subconscious, the basic mechanisms of the specular imagination, but displaced to monsters and insects and the like. And, then, of course, it is all “covered” by a displacement to views of monsters, but not in such a way as the special effects on set must’ve thought, hey, this looks like something you’d see on a vulva (sorta)

a 51And, my view is, this happened in this movie, in 1957. So, this sort of mythologization of USA safe space, centering it all on America’s Main Street, the Mall, the womb of safety, giving over to the scientists in the departments the role of the kindly local small town doctor, as authority in the town, now in the nation, then too the retraction of the science mission to also being a romance, for it to then have to focus on stripping bare the female interest, the strangely motherly love interests of 50s sci fi (see my post on the maternal fascism of The day the Earth Stood Still) , then for the science focus to strip back the exterior shot base notion of monsters to a more science film basis, a microscopic visuality leading us to the specular gaze, then that fed by another retraction back to sex and woman by way of the can can sequences in numerous modern movies to now imply, without showing, that specular exposition in superclose up on intimate and underside monster and insect anatomy with a goal of chewing on our entrails is displaced examination of the specular imagination on intimate female anatomy, all of this is in this movie, and, for that reason, I felt it necessary to rewrite this lost essay from I think 2014 in order to keep for the record this momentous threshold toward a world of newly permissive film, a period of time now seeming coming to an end, in 2018, embodied in the not bad movie, The Deadly Mantis.

Brook Hsu, Beth Collar, internal voids, figurative “potentials”, and the movie The Honor Farm (2018): parallels in depiction of internal states in some new art and cinema.

Rev., Apr 27, 2019.

So, another “rolling” catch up of the development of a discourse, which can be construed as partly related in some parallel universe way to my way of thinking about agency theory, and then also developing a light dream stage model to settle strategies in a descriptive universe. Again, for like the fourth time since my Aline Bouvy review (see post), I have found an artist who appears to use the same 1) evacuate-to-counteragency crawlspace, 2) reimagine,3) come back in by way of reverse agency to a white cube 4) it will not touch strategy, and here it is with this artist, Elizabeth Jaeger

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then also to mention that, once again, another artist under 40 is looking at magic uses of graecoroman art for inspiration, which has supported my model building for over three years now

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this, then, also plugs in to use of gallery space as if it is one of the spaces of the interiority of the dreamspace being explored. Fever dream a group show in Vienna, posits two or three of these spaces as possible explanations or rationales for why the show looks like it does and is spaced that way.

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first it describes a fever dream as an overheating of the head which results in an expanding and deepening of the REM place. Most of my system does not exist yet in the REM level, in fact, I have placed nightmare and its bounce spaces (as it amuses me in Blue My Mind (2018, Germany) that the new slang for having sex is bounce) out into dark black out or white out spaces, but this would act somewhat like the manner of my mapping out of the Night Mirror formation (see Suspiria post), or the emanating form of an entoptic spread

aa 6

as I will work it out, such a radiation would spread down in, somewhat parallel to the life force, but more ambiently, through the adjunct spaces too, to break through the REM barrier in an osmotic way, for the heightened temperature in REM to spread out the space of imagining to the ambient and sentient, combined with sharpening things up to then create a great a lucid dream. At present, then, this is where I see the lucid dream form, an intrusion of body heat into REM, which spreads and deepens it (it might even account for the mechanism by which the Romans felt that Morpheus visited you in your REM sleep, or the deepening might account for the belief in the passage to a real place, the Palace of death, beyond below)

aa 7

they then relate the show to two literary works, it refers to removal of author, and situating their imaginings in a neither-nor 1 ) not anchored in reality, because it is internal; 2) not completely a dreamscape because it is located within a larger brain-vigil-hypnagogic model with familiar modes of visuality somewhat shared by the waking visual world. Then, they are “narrated from an internal void,” I have several voids in my system, Chthon, Ophthon, Phthchth, ett etc, the bracketed chthonphthon spaces, etc. demon spaces, any part of it not controlled by you,

aa 6

spoken of with reference to the preceding, the internal voids being referred to are either the bounce to the right or left of REM, after a nightmare scares you out, thus, I have argued that one side of REM is Sequiturium, and the other is, at present, Simulitum, the place of illusion, fakery.

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He calls them “transcendental”, they are not, they are trans, but not above, they are below, and at the side, but, from there, it is true, they can still lucidly unpeel the layers of the world, eh voila,

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then he says this

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they follow a fissure that runs neither on an inside or an outside, as all this is, and an “almost disembodied space,” that is, any of my internal dream states or locales. And that is the intellectual underpinning of the exhibit. It sounds easily attachable to my system as it evolves, so I will let fever dream analysis work its way in.

Then, the artist which fit my system best, and maybe works in the Sequiturium or the other place, is Brook Hsu. Her figures are skeletons, in a green environment, there is a muddy pond they gather at, they seem to have horns so are evolving or not.

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fusing my more scenic thinking with the premise of the show this might be the Black Bog in the entoptic they are at, except in this case the vision of them has been pushed by the fever dream presence down into the REM state, to come out in a sub-chthonic state I call Sequiturium, where there is, as it were, a transference of the black bog to create an illusion in that overheated zone.

aa 15

Another possibility is that because they are skeletons, and seem to be abject, drinking the muddy pond water, and Hsu makes a point of it being muddy, the fever dream might be able to be conceptualized as an emission from the High Light in the vigilogogic, which, of course, acts like a death ray on dream, always making it aware of awake surroundings, meaning this is a fever dream version of a High Light devastation in Sequiturium.

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since the High Light is a vessel of insomnia, its presence might explain the fitful nature of fever dream as well as its heat. At present, then, I place Brook Hsu’s work in the Sequiturium, bounced out of REM, or as it says here expanded and deepened from REM, into a bounce space of darkness. Then, I look up more of her, she is in the zone now, a current show in San Francisco shows more struggling in this fever dream High Light devastated space, with signs of development, or it getting worse.

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because there is separation, to a lighter kind of water, and a drinking at a well, thus related to woman at the well pictures (see Stormswept post), with a cryptic division in the middle, as if to mount it as such

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back at the pond some are loitering, lolling,

aa 21while some are getting sick

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and though I have never nailed down where the green slime emits from in my system, she staged an emission of green slime, which is when the muddy pond water turns into intolerably confusing verbiage of no meaning, a bad dream, a false dream, a dream of ivory, and anything can be said about anything and it just does not matter. This would certainly be the discourse of the far sentient spaces, perhaps, we’ll see. But if her space is, and it is a big if, the Sequiturium, bounced to darkness left of REM dream, then it is a dreamscape that is brightening for some, getting worse for others, and some of it might be turning into quicksand, which is what the green slime is (I guess, then, it is an upswelling of sewage from Geithum, hell in my thinking, ).

aa 23and, really, once you have identified where your territory, or void is, and from whence you are communicating, just as in Neo Rauch, whose influence looms large behind all of this revival in picture play painting, all you have to do, for a time, is give a news or weather reports from the zone, to make art that speaks to how things are going in a larger world, by way of inferred allegory, and this is where all this hypnagogic, interiority painting is, when it works.

aa 24I also want to mention, before moving on, that Hsu also inhabits a plain in décor, the carpet, and seeing that as a carpet is classic invasive, laying down another lower level, a ground beneath, for art’ and it also by this shot of her vacuuming if compared to an earlier painting of an ear hearing a butterfly’s wings, that she might have pushed her version of the Sequiturium, the wasting suburbs of REM, further out to the Sentient, where impacts are from the invisible source of noise

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finally, the fact that her Bortolami show intrigued me for being grounded in Knutsen’s Pan, which I then read online, but simply that ONCE AGAIN an artist under thirty is delving into the magic depths of graceoroman art, and that I have been interested in Pan, and written about him in terms of the Eldritch formation, and Syrinx being made into reeds by his chase, etc., all relates, so it is generally fair to argue that if you are in your art exploring voids or spaces in the hypnagogic interior universe and then finding parallels between them and elements of Greek thought, then you are neopagan in a sense, and that is where she is.

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I have yet to write my survey of the levels of the breakdown of the human body that is going on in the discourse of the “potential,” though I will get to it soon’ it is also true that in one of her earlier press releases, also according to the convention of the new style of press release, she mentions a complicated greek word holometaboly,

aa 27as a starting point for her exploration of the potentials of body that predate the development of the binary. Thus, far, I have discovered “entomes”, “potentials”, “homunculi”, “limules”, a whole group of artists are striving for words to capture certain stages of evolution of a symbolic body as its evolution could serve as a symbolic thought system to preclude and erase the rational binary. Which brings me to Beth Collar.

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Collar was also in Fever dream, and I liked her janus skull for symbolic reasons.

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but, then, she also a one person show, in London, which I talked about today,

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the language of the press release is very much in the same discourse of “potentials” and it spells out how she got there. I will address this again, when I take it up.

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but it was the spatial and intellectual disposition she set up for herself in the gallery that most interested me. To get back to a place where this kind of work made sense, she created a prototype space in front of it, or backbuilt from it, as I like to say.

aa 31it is a zone of “imminence,” good word, but how she got there was, she set up visa vis the viewer as an artist relating to her art, it went figurative, then, she had to figure out the broader spatial-cultural issues that framed it, and what she wanted to say. What she wanted to say, a bit more stridently than others, is that the prototype space before the cult of art, back in the cult of life, was entirely the space of the daddy. For a woman, it was/is a waste land, that is, a desert, that is the nature of her prototype space (very similar then, if not perhaps in the exact same place, as the St Mary space of Rochelle Goldberg). To characterize this desert as one, as a void, her art of figuration drops down an evolutionary tree of physical forms until it gets to, in my view, the equivalent of “entomes” (Greek word for insects, literally means living on after cut to pieces), splatted into pieces by way of whooshing down into nightmare, then bouncing into the black out space beyond. And this blank space, this desert, in which she will reverse the charge and begin to piece things back to together into “potentials” of bodies preceding the binary (all this in the dream imagination) is wasted, in the manner of the wasting power of the High Light, by two male symbols, Prester John and the Antichrist, they are the ones who keep it blank, for her entomes develop on the floor as best they can, to strive, to seek, to find, and maybe to for a time yield. This too has parallels to my working out when a splat space expands into the ambient, or even the sentient, but, for the moment, Collar is staying in the ambient, it becomes a desert, because the spaces are so vast, the boundaries uncertain, for some time now I have called this desert, where the only fitting form of communication is ambient ramblings in an apophthegmata, the “phthchth” (pa-THA-ka-tha), since hers goes the other way, I guess I should flip it to the chthphth (c-tha-p-tha), she makes her work in that desert. This is, once again, as with Bouvy, as above with Jaegar, a va-cation of the gallery, then a reimagining it either as another kind of gallery or a hypnagogic zone, then from that, bringing something as a relic or finding back in, aloofly.

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and this is why her art looks so much like it really could’ve gone in the Kunstkammer in Suspiria (2018) or in an ambient zone storage facility of it, I mean, this is exactly what I am talking about

aa 33then others, this echoing on Marguerite Humeau, whose space is also of a phthchth sort

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even very basic first recombinations, hoping to become potentials, to by thinking from this ground up arrive at a sense of bodies today entirely divest of any sense of the binary in terms of anything, really.

aa 35finally, since the chthphth is such a desert any little thing of meaning, a jotting in an apophthegmata, is part of it, so this lets in the small-curio artists like Siggi Sekira too, also from Czech republic,

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then a few comments by which I believe I also claim that the space for Fever dream was laid out as an ambient extension of REM in the far zone deserts beyond, where things by chance are come upon, and some minimal meaning got.

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the press release was also helpful in placing the “eerie” or the “weird”, and so coming on a little object that is more absent than present, and that seems to emit from some outside-in force, coming in from the Phthchth, that is in my system a demonic force, this “insidious intrusion,” this is also part of it.

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Just as, things progress, I only look for parallels between what is happening out there, and what is going on in my system of thinking, and only seek some points of contact between the two to let me know that I am onto something, or that the art I am looking at is interesting for the reasons it is interesting, the same thing happens with movies, which, though I analyze them more often, also are not tied down by me to work themselves out hypnagogically in accord with my system. But, it remains, when they get dreamy, or trippy, or visionary, or any of the other silly words used by nonanalysts, they always overlap.

Consider The Honor Farm (2018), a not bad female-directed (Karen Kloss) movie of an arthouse sort about a prom night gone bad then gone good, hell, if the movie did not begin in the very entoptic water of the Black Bog

aa 41even though she makes it much more like the special pond in the woods (so possibly more like where Hsu has it, than I have it, but, for now, I place this straight up entoptic black bog)

aa 42then there is another dreamy shot of Lucy (Olivia Applegate) moving through a venetian blind like entoptic space, but blanking things out

aa 43she comes out of that

aa 44then abstractly, and not quite accurately, remembers, or foreshadows her dream of real life, of sleeping with the knight in white shining armor.

aa 45then we see the moon, full, filling the screen, which snaps her out of it, it’s the light at the dentists offices she was drifting off

aa 46the movie makes a great deal use of the super full moon. This can only be the High Light. What that means, in my thinking, in terms of visual tropes, is that this represents not so much an occult power that is going to turn you into a werewolf,

aa 47as a power in waking vigilogogy, the world beyond, which will still exert its influence on you as you dream, and might even cause the emptying out and desolation of things, so that actual happenings are abbreviated and abrupt, however they work out in the end.

aa 49a director can choose to inhabit this symbol however she wants, my guess here is that Kloss thought of it as a kind of guardian angel which was responsible for bringing to her odd real life things, all of which could’ve killed her, but she survives, and even has a good outcome from it. Then, early on, the prom itself turns bad, so they go off with the goth girls, to the honor farm, an old asylum outside of town, on a legend trip then, they then take shrooms, which enhances the entoptic perhaps for it to press down and pull up into it other levels below, to account for intensity in the manner of a fever dream, and the symbol of that would appear to be a witch tree or the tree on which the Hanged Woman is to be found, yet it is all festooned with toilet paper as if a relic of the event they have left.

aa 50at present I will just guess that the shrooms acted as an intensifier of the High Light, this intrusion into the hypnagogic then pushed an encounter with the Hanged Woman reagently overturning it into the Glass onion for it to then partake of a negative remembrance of where they came from, the TP, and so it is visionary, filled with both promise and regret, this is exciting but also with a thought of should we really have left there? etc. it is a reagent level push caused by the High Light,

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to this over the head the High Light is again shown, almost mapping out their removal of agency from the vigilogogic event of the night into a world of hypnagogy.

aa 46they then head into the asylum, always the scare place of this sort of thing, but, here too, perhaps because of the shrooms, it is somewhere else, instead of delighting in touring scenes of torture or whatever, one group breaks off to have a séance with strange satanic cards, under a very centralizing, classic Glass Onion locale, a witchy mural

aa 54while the other group spy on, through a grate, so in an adjunct space to the side of what they should be doing there, if this was a legend trip, black magic, with the dentist.

aa 55the black magic, as indicated in review, partakes of Neopaganism, calling out a pan type antlered horned god

aa 56then they escape, but then coming back in come across the black bog again, this time the magic pond in the middle of the forest

aa 57a scenario which very much reminded me of Rembrandt’s Diana and Actaeon

aa 59Actaeon then would be in this case a Pan figure attacking this pure idyll, and it does seem to be allied with the High Light

aa 60she is now shown from below, always the vulnerable shot for a woman swimming

aa 61then the demon of the High Light swoops in below here, surreally, in the water,

aa 62to pull her down

aa 63as she is pulled down, a thought that “I might not make it outta here alive” no doubt goes through her mind, and that involves visually an emission from the High Light transmitted through her brain, a visualization of the thought, “if only my prom had gone OK”, so an idealistic flash of vision of what precisely did not happen

aa 64but, now, she is headed for a nightmare splat, or death, and, then, suddenly, hello, she ends up in a different place. I have theorized, in my mapping out of the stages and places of hypnagogy, that if you fall down the whoosh into a nightmare, but then splat out, without falling into REM deep dream, you bounce out (lesser ephialtic leaps) and can end up either in the blackout space (Chthon), or in the white out space (Ophthon). Some might not want to believe me, maybe the Ophthon is not a “real” place in the brain, but what is certain is that many movie makers over the years have described characters who in some way seem to get stuck in an entirely white out zone, a void within, a desert space ambient of dream, where they must reckon with this or that, and here she is, in the White Out, dead, but not really, maybe having a moment of intuition of it

aa 65she lies there, as if a reverse of her fantasy earlier of the perfect lovemaking on silk in the woods

aa 66then, this is a space which the director clearly envisions as being controlled by the demon, that is, like the space of the Sandman (2006), in that movie, like other spaces of this sort, it is his domain, a void, but now this shot, the High Light refined but over water, reflecting, creates, as it were, but opposite of how it was worked in the Green Man (1991), a narrow path, the path of test, from the White Out, back into the hypnagogic zone of the Black Bog or enchanted wood,

aa 67and this is the path back,

aa 68and though she retraces her steps, in fact she previously only bounced over all that, from the pool drowning, dropping or bouncing into a white out void space; but now the High Life leads her back to a symbolic encounter with the Actaeon-Pan figure, the horned god, in this case the symbol of the creepy horny boy, and she is given a riddle, entirely of a philosophical sort, it is a donut, and by this pure symbolism she comes back in

aa 69then she has a nice experience in that place

aa 70then returns again to the White Out, sleeping

aa 71it’s a full on, no stops, White Out extraordinaire

aa 72then maybe Klosss overromanticizes it, or simply envisons this space in a much simpler way as just an ambient space outside simple entopty, because a Hand of god trope now applies, a hand reaches down into this zone, to take her up, it is the lovely young man she has met at the honor farm

aa 73so back in the woods they make love, no hesitation

aa 79this is also symbolized in a way too girlish for me, though it does again suggest this part of the movie as an inversion of the dian-Actaeon story, that is, her hate of boys embodied by Actaeon, the horned one, talked down by a real life experience which allowed her to tell the men from the boys, she is now returned to her pure nudity, which she gives now of her own free will, not by some peer pressure, to him,

aa 80she becomes herself again, she blocks the High Light, she is now the source of the moonlight on the water (this could also be working with the Munch idea of the “pillar of the moon” (see post), her body)

aa 81then they wake up out of their crazy night that could’ve been crazy bad but turned out crazy magic

aa 82to their surprise, their locus amoenus, their nymph place, where she discovered her inner nymph, clearing out from her experience any doubt and rationalization, to find civilization much closer than they thought, but they return somehow enlivened, informed, magic.

aa 84like I said, I don’t hold directors to play out the system as I have mapped it out, they will work with either a vague or precise idea of how all this works out on their own. This director chose to misdirect from straight horror to turn it half way through into something approaching a fairy tale, and, even, with its neopagan vibes, in its depiction of the horned god in the Texan woods, an inversion of the diana-actaeon story, for a story of a young woman finding love or at least faith again in humanity. However, that said, it startled me that in her particular playing with the weights of the system Kloss worked heavily the High Light trope, symbolizing to me the lingering insomniac powers, and then, to counter that, made much of the White Out, or Ophthon, a space I know well in my system, to make psychic sense of her descent into and ascent out of dream or nightmare to a new life. Thus, in this note, though it is always possible I am projecting, cases of three contemporary artists, Elizabeth Jaegar, Brook Hsu and Beth Collar, and one contemporary film-maker, Karen Kloss, who appear, in the exploration of interiority, to be making use of tropes and locales of representation in the mind with a long history in the visual arts, and which strongly parallels discoveries I have made in recent years.

Renoir’s Woman at the Fountain and an exploration of “Wynorski Space” in the erotic horror movie, Stormswept (1995).

Rev Sep 6, 2017.

Disclaimer: Cave Mammilae.

Delving again into the bowels of trope formation, and even the devolution of genre, to spin off subgenres below and outside the genre, I again found out a presence of a work of fine art, from art history, in horror movies, when in the movie, Witchcraft 5, one of the women on the phone, passes in front of a picture, and it seems to be a figure

f 1and then as she passes back and forth in front of it, it is also a nude, sitting by a fountain, with that figure in it

f 2and, then a second time, not soon after, I also see this same picture, in the hallway in the haunted mansion in Stormswept (1995), there it is

f 3the picture is Renoir’s Woman at a Fountain (1910)

f 4This shows that here again an identifiable art historical work of art somehow devolved by reproduction, but in painted redoings, to end up as a kind of thing people hung on their walls, in a penumbra of fine art culture in popular culture, to bespeak some tacit meaning of the dwelling or the mood of the house, in a tutelary way. Because of this too, as this is what I think this sort of intersectionality means, the appearance of this as a trope means that in addition to being a trope it is an intersectional figure, a traffic cop, if you will, at an intersection, leading the movie into some other zone of palliation far from rational life. But, the question is, where? And what is the zone? There is a hint, or, rather, way more than a hint, a dollop, of evidence helpful in answering this question in Stormswept, because not one second after the Fountain picture, there is, on the bottom newell post no less of the house, really signifying its plantational hauteur, a crouching venus

f 5I have previously worked out that the Crouching Venus developed as a trope in giallo, that is, it was a giallotrope, to signify something about the experience of women to come in the film, with particular warning that rape, perhaps, was coming (see that article). But here I will simply point out that the Crouching Venus figure exists on the boundary between mainstream horror and giallo, to signify entry into a subgenre space which is more dominated by eros than horror normally is, and therefore producing a different kind of movie. Interesting enough, this trope also developed in movies where there was something going on in the basement, in the manner of a brothel, that somehow made the whole house hot to trot, and focused the entire physical apparatus of the film on the coming of age sexually of a teenage girl, whom the whole world now wanted (this, mostly, in Hotel Fear). And I have related this to actual real-world archaeological claims that in the basement of the palace at Knossos, the world’s first bathtubs were, in lore, found, and that by conflating bathtubs and basements a new sort of in-between, or almost-below zone of the subgenre of “erotic horror thriller” was made a space for.

Now, the funny thing is, I have stumbled down into this subbasement before, by way of Wynorski’s Not of This Earth (1986), and his placement of guide figures apparently lifted from giallo movies to signify that, yes, this is horror, but in my movies, we are in a slightly different place, where eros is to be undone by horror, something that most horror movies most of the time steer clear of. This, then, meets up with that finding, and in my view establishes the Fountain Figure as the psychopomp posted at the edge of the last labyrinth of the lattice stage, but outside of the central core, to spin off an auxillary space, but by way of a loop of latticing in which the singular tropes of the preexisting lattice as subdivided into instrumentalizations of details therefore, making a for a more intricate, and more focused, and more exploitationable genre language.

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therefore, I believe that Woman at Fountain is another dream psychopomp figure, of distinctive nature, and she exists at the outer extension of the maze lateral to the lattice, concentrated on the female body, site of the body essay, and then subdivides off to spin off, by feedback loop, another floating lattice in the free space of the subgenre of the erotic horror thriller. And as such she exists lateral and external to the Crouching Venus, who is the figure of the lattice, but below it, in adjunct space, crouching, gazing past her body over the edge

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thus, by this typology, two more dream guides emerge in the labyrinth of imagery created by modern film to navigate its proliferation of genre crawlspaces and the like, all in the subarachnoid zones of the neurological interiority of hypnagogic movie space.

But, now, how to fill in this broader zone. And, by the way, since I previously visited this zone by way of Jim Wynorski, and since Wynorski also directed Witchcraft 5, I will call the spin off subgenre space below and outside the genre the Wynorski space, the space of the low-down erotic horror thriller, except that to parse it out from the above graph I need to add brackets to the Wynorski since there is little question that this is a place of exploitational cinema, and it is the female body, and in particularly the boobs on it, that is being exploited to entertain the interests of a focused audience

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now, let’s stay with Stormswept (1995), even though it is not a Wynorski movie, it sure does live in that same part of the universe. It feels like a kind of remake in the context of the Louisiana haunted plantation house trope of Hotel Fear, as there lurks in the basement a squatting artistic resident, whose role, I must admit, never becomes clear, who seems to have to stop making her candles and whatnot often to take care of her personal pleasures

f 9she then acts as the presiding underspirit, the erotic tutelary spirit, for a house that, though unarty uneducated people, usually mistaking old master and art history art as art of nudes, might mistake the art on the walls as the usual sort of haunted house fare, no, it is not, the art is decidedly erotic, with all of it nudes, and a lot of it read by the movie bypassing it all as erotic art, that is, somehow the trope of the art of erotic art in brothels has come up out of the basement to exist in full glory in the main house. When a real estate broker comes by, she walks by some erotic art

f 10this looks like an Alma Taddema (I will ID later), but it is also flanked by what appears to be, in the living room! a pinup, and then there is an object of a phallic sort on the table. Then, over the mantel, beautifully guarded with phallic fury by a whole phalanx of candles, more than an erotic painting, an erotic genre painting, it appears to be some sort of divine rape

f 11this picture triggers, in the setting, interior memories welling up, of sexual activity

f 12and even, in the basement, sexual torture, which is giallo fare

f 13and she goes into spin cycle

f 14she gets dizzy

f 15the picture closes up over her, overwhelming her

f 16this looks like, by the way, a concocted legend picture, it bespeaks, in the manner that genre paintings or what I also call action paintings, that bad things happened here, and will happen again, if you wake the place up. It seems to be some sort of abduction though I cannot make out the details, it is not a real art historical picture, but a studio production, maybe it represents something like Rhea being Raped By Mars, or the sea nymph abducting x from the shore, there is some sort of Scyllan business by the sides, and symbolist monstrosity too, I can’t quite make it out (very much, though, like recent Markus Lupertz paintings).

f 17and then she spins out, and leaves, but not before seeing that the phallic statue, provided by the lurking Phantom of the Opera woman below, is a death’s head, she runs. But, then, others show up at the house, to shoot a movie. There is more erotic art, tabletop or pedestaltop standards, such as Cupid and Psyche

f 18the aforementioned crouching venus, which I have documented in the Italian giallo movies Death on a Fourposter, and Hotel Fear, and the House with the Laughing Windows, now here, in Louisiana, the flowing place

f 19there are other crouching nudes, and nudes in embrace (I came to Stormswept by following an actress trail, on the tail of Kim Kopf, on the right, who was quite good in Witchcraft 8 (1996))

f 20then in the main room, red wallpapered, over the mantel of the parlor, for god’s sake, is, this is NOT normal, Ingres’ Odalesque, and then even an ersatz erotic nude placed phallically in front of it

f 21to give credit to the kids, one of them does remark that these are strange paintings to have in your average haunted house, strange paintings is what it says, as they gander at the reproduction of the Ingres

f 22And Ingres

f 23and another nude, airing out her armpits

f 24then another nude painting, at the shore, as the Brit bloke prowls among the available girls for sex, kind of turned on

f 25I think I will be able to identify this

f 26This is Paul Chabas’s Nude Woman at the Shore

f 27

and then upstairs in the bedroom, another well known Victorian nude

f 28This is also an Ingres, The Source, so the house was big on Ingres (I suppose an art director reference to the French origins of Louisiana),

f 29

(it is interesting, again, that as with Woman at a Fountain, this is a painting about a nymph at a spring by rocks, and at the source of a river. Again, in Greek lore, as noted in Pausanias, nymphs often guarded special springs the water of which if you drank cast you into a state of nympholepsy and let one speak prophecy. It is perhaps asking too much to think that the art directors who placed not one but two pictures of nymphs by springs, and not one but two Ingres, sought to tacitly whisper to the viewer that the sexual instances of the movie were not motivated by personal volition on the part of the women and men but that a sexual ghost had invaded and possessed them, so they lived that night, in the storm, in a state of nympholepsy (and it is strange a third time that I run into Stormswept in between Harvey hitting Houston and now Irma targeting Florida), but that, in fact is the scenario. And, then, no fooling, as she is interrupted by what she is doing, as we will see, there is on the far side of her mantel, headed to the door, a copy of Goya’s Maja, so joining this one up to Extrasensorial as well as House of the Dead, and then, even beyond that, going out the door, another odelesk reclining nude

f 30a picture BEHIND a door, at the door, bespeaking overrun or flooding of imagery

f 31and then in another bedroom, where the two girls slept, but, also, oops-slept together, a morning after same-sex picture to tell the sad one sitting on the bed being ignored by the girl whose pussy she licked last night, over and done with, no memory

f 34then more, in the library

f 35then more weird what look like actress shots, eight by tens

f 36and another in the hall, unidentifiable

f 37and a Hercules and the hydra

f 38and, then, at the end, maybe symbolizing coming OUT of the enchantment in which they have all been caught, the Woman at the Fountain

f 39This is one helluva assemblage of nude painting, throughout the entire house, to deal with, and it is by no means “normal” for the public rooms of the house and the code it communicates is either 1) the house used to be a brothel (so the trope of The Nesting) or 2) the house used to be the house of a devious torturing slave owning sex maniac who did terrible erotic things to girls in the dungeon, ah, bingo. And it is this spirit, I guess through the mediumship of the Phantom of the Opera sexy blonde living in the basement making all her candles to get them all in a mood to be hot to trot, that gets into them. Because in each case, each picture at some point profiles sexual activity. But, here is where the movie drops down into the zone of the erotic horror thriller, because, though motivated by the supernatural, and a haunting, and involving a possession—and this, after all, is an evergreen plot, it is what happened in Legend of Hell House, and there too the erotic nudes got a bit carried away—the movie really tilts over into the zone of eros by focusing way too much, too often, and too explicitly on the sex. And here is where the visual language of the movie loops by feedback from the central lattice image of the possessing monster as symbolized by the house, its staircase and the like, and, through images of sex, orchestrates the language of sex. At this level, is when a new more detailed-level language of sex imagery develops in the bowels of 80s horror movie culture which through this subgenre all but comes to speak as in a morse code of breasts, or, more properly identified as troped body parts, boobs. Having established early that the house is haunted by sexual crimes, the real estate agent ends up having to go back in to get some paperwork done, then is caught in a storm. She tries to get away, but only ends up having to return, against her will, to spend the night.

f 40and then when the same-sex lady who has been riling up the waters with her unsteady sexual horniness comes to see if she is alright it rather improbably happens that, and it is an odd scene because nothing is made of it, that as they are talking the towel just falls off the agent, to display herself entirely to the lesbian girl. This is, of course, a classic trope, used often in horror, and borrowed almost in its entirety from pornography as nothing is more pleasing to the imagination of man than the accidental I can’t help myself It’s not my fault sexual encounter resulting from being caught out in the rain, and “let me get you out of those wet things” which starts with lesbian girl early

f 41and ends, she’s feeling lucky, upstairs, with a full show, but the real estate agent does not respond, darn

f 42and this exposure is prompted as “normal” in the sexed up house by the alternating head shot which includes nude art

f 43still, perfect frigid girl, who will not let the house get to her, still, later, after listening to some unintentionally erotic language down with the gang, comes back up by chandelier and stairway to her room and again prompted by the now entirely read as erotic art, almost as if a makeshift sexual device to help her do it, she lapses into a need to masturbate

f 44and caresses herself

f 45and for some reason, at the window, maybe the rain helps (this too is a trope, but an odd one)

f 46but, then, she is interrupted. Next up, black haired girl now only lets her guard down but seems to have edged her top down a bit, to truly deepen the cleavage, as she details in a step by step by her fantasy of the ultimate seduction

f 47and this, of course, prompted by the house to be much more explicit than she would in real life, everyone gets turned on, Kopf and boyfriend rush off to fuck

f 48and then even she up in bed can’t get to sleep and is so turned on that even sharing the bed with the unknown lesbian beside her she cannot resist a bout of masturbation

f 49girl hears her, behind her back, and thinks, I can do better than that, hetero girl is like, ok, it’s a kind of masturbation, no problem, more 3D, so a seduction of a lesbian sort occurs, with one straight girl and one same-sex girl, this always begins with the mound of creation shot, the revelating wonder of the essential sexiness I wanted of a girl, but cannot have

f 50and then there is another micro language trope, the breast bump, or nipple touch, which bespeaks acquiescence and buying in of the seduction, so it’s a go

f 51but then THIS movie in THIS zone goes further than a horror movie would, really, by having the panties pulled down shot

f 52and then even on full on oral sex, full body view, from above, on the fourposter

f 53then later real estate lady again, again! gets it when everyone is turned on again, on the kitchen table, mound of creation shot

f 54then the reach for the sky shot, an indirect way of communicating the vulva shot that bespeaks for pornography the moment in the seduction when the woman opens up entirely to one and is entirely yours, evoked by the full open spread of her body out in front of you, this is a version of that, as it could only happen with a complete lifting of the bridge

f 55and then this one goes a bit further, by showing, indirectly, penetration below, the lifted leg being the sign of that

f 56then they are, another trope, cockblocked, but AFTER penetration, by the proverbial face at the window on a rainy night. Then the girl with the same-sex urge admits that she never has had an orgasm and all are upset on her behalf and as a result the Brit bloke puts her under and in hypnosis she not only gets out all the trauma of being abused as a child but they go right to the hynpnotized attempt to get her to masturbate herself to first orgasm, everyone watching at this particular campfire with rapt attention

f 59and then previously good guy Kim Kopf boyfriend is also possessed by this turn on and standing so close to the mantel and its erotic art that he goes out to the kitchen and fucks her for real to give her her first real awake orgasm, quite a red letter day for her!

f 60and then while he mopes in seeking forgiveness for getting a freebie as a result of blaming a haunting, next up is the black haired girl is back so she makes like the statues and the paintings all over the place and walks across the main parlor floor to the bloke sleeping under the mantel with its sexy art and fucks his brains out too

f 61so much eros, of course, by a theory I have long established, and believe, completely compromises the Thanatos that must rule, and rule roughly, the horror movie. It makes it too much ado about sex, and if the sex scenes are actually sexy, and not haunted sexy, then it offbalances the effort away from the genre into a subgenre cubbyhole which is the erotic horror thriller, the Wynorski zone, and this is where we are. As a result, though this sort of thing is fine, I liked a lot about the movie, it is not what you would call a good horror movie, it is an erotic horror movie.