Friday, April 23, 2010

Cat in the Brain-It's Gonna Eat you Alive!

Orgasm, death, dissolution!
Know you now why her eyes
so fearfully glaze, beholding
Terrors and infamies
Like Filthy flowers unfolding?
Laughter widowed of ease,
Agony barred from sadness,
Death defeated of peace,
Is she not madness?

-Aleister Crowley. Diary of a Drug Fiend

In this fragment, Crowley speaks of the horror and deadly hunger that plagues the heroin addict. Cat in the Brain is Lucio Fulci's tongue in cheek cry of tortured agony.
It is a film within a film and it is his nightmare come true. It's the moment Dr. Frankenstein realizes he's really fucked. It is Alice, trapped in Wonderland because she can't wake up from something she's no longer sure is just a dream of even her own dream anymore. It's the moment when you realize that the dead end job you are still at is your fucking life and you walk over to the open window, gaze down to the street, and wonder if you are high enough up to actually kill yourself and not just end up with broken limbs.
For any creator of horror art, it is a daily realization; these are not brain farts, meaningless dreams, paranoid absurdities, this is your brain and you are stuck with it for better or worse.
This film is about a man who is a director. The man and the filmmaker are enmeshed, but they are not one and the same by any means. This is about a man who likes his job, sure, but he wants to be able to leave it on the set, like any normal human being. He wants to be able to go and eat a nice juicy rare steak on his lunch break,without seeing human flesh being ground up and chopped when he looks at it!
This film poses an interesting problem for the audience to grapple with as best they can, as they endure a visual onslaught of sex, violence, gore and derangement, with little breathing room between chopped limbs, women being slapped and violated, eyes being gouged, and so on.
Are you sick for liking this?
The character, Fulci, is asking himself if his fevered imaginings are driving him mad and could he really be capable of murder and rape?
The horror here is the very need for horror. As a viewer and a director, the eye likes what it sees, the libido is aroused, the senses all stimulated at once. At the end of a good horror movie you feel satisfied. You have been filled, sated, for now... The Id hungers for more and it must be fed. But what if, like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, will simply not be sated, what if it eats everything you love and destroys your life? Where do you draw the line?
Is this why girls always fall for assholes who hit them, cheat on them, or just plain ignore them, and why so many alcoholics and drug addicts just can't stop no matter how badly they want to, as they watch their life fall apart and everything and everyone they love being destroyed along with themselves? What's a little pain, a lifelong hangover, a broken home, for a pulse quickening experience that reminds you you are still alive.
The horror director is constantly interacting with these forces that pull us down that spinning vortex of exess, madness and monstrous hungers. Call it what you like; the Id, the Shadow, The Unconsciouss, the beast within, it is alive and well always. It can be fed or starved, coddled or disciplined, repressed or let loose, but it is here to stay.
I don't know every person's individual reason for enjoying horror films, I'm sure there are many and variant, but I know mine. I am convinced that if we ignore our inner beast, darkness, whatever, it is bound to come out and bite us in the ass sooner or later. It's just a matter of time, but you can't hide, because its inside you, it may seem alien, but don't be fooled. It is always watching, and when the moment is right, it will jump out and tear right through your brain. It is a scavanger as well as a hunter and it will find its nourishment where it can find it.
I love the horror medium for its courage to harness demons, to accept into its heart the chilling horror and raging savage beauty of existence, understanding they are not mutualy exclusive. There is a reason sex and violence go so great together. A cynic might say, well, it gets asses in the seats. There's no arguing that. Fulci tells his therapist, sure, he could make romances, but he wants to sell tickets! There's no denying it, and there's no point, really.
Horror can be therapeutic, cathartic, inspiring, even healing. If you sit through this movie till the end, you'll know what I mean.
The nightmares need a place to live, I'd rather it be the movie screen anyday.

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