Monday, January 30, 2017


Images Directed By Robert Altman, Starring Susannah York (1972).

Here at the TOG coven we like to branch out arthouse independent style and get snobby, I mean as I've mentioned before in the realm of Deep Red, Herzog and Deodato are connected, that's just how it goes-- accept it. I mean yeah, one auteur has mellowed out considerably and just made one of the soft-balliest documentaries about the Internet that I've ever seen in my life and the Italian grampa is doing his version of Wal-Mart greeter, but whattya want anyhow? People get old and their brain deteriorates, it's even happening to me and I'm only 40.

This film has been on my radar ever since I saw 3 Women, loved it and wondered if Altman was capable of pulling off a decent horror film. I got what I wanted out of this one and more, it’s a thoroughly fascinating psychological horror drama that scared this shit outta me at 2 in the am! I suggest you watch it during the day or don’t hang with The Rutles at one of those fancy tea parties while it's on.

it's all there in black & white clear as crystal, legalize fizzy lifting drinks!

Almost everything about it shouldn’t be frightening at all, like the fictional realm of unicorns, seeing yourself naked holding a cute dog, Rene Auberjonois, the guy from Benson/ Deep Space Nine and most effective of all John Williams and Stomu Yamashta's music. When has E.T. or Yoda’s main fanciful music dealer ever accomplished the fear and dread that permeates this tale of a woman’s rapidly dissipating sanity. Sometimes the score gets frenetic and reminds me of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre one, with the terrifying clanging and banging.

It begins with Susannah York’s character babbling about unicorns and bullshit and she’s abruptly interrupted by what sounds like her own voice on the phone. York played Superman's mother in the first two films and won an academy award for They Shoot Horses Don't They and even best actress for this film, tragically she died of bone marrow cancer at 72. 

There’s an undercurrent of Lynchian mindfuckery that just made my skin crawl and it seems to have slightly influenced Lost Highway, years later when Robert Blake’s ghostly figure tells Bill Pullman's character to call his house to see if he's on the phone.

call 555 SLUT, I hear she puts out

The whole film is really unsettling and makes you anxious (and I’m on all kinds of meds so this film isn’t good for me)! This film was never in Deep Red Magazine, but just like The Beguiled, it has a heavy amount of eeriness hidden in an unassuming way and that film was covered before in a chapter by Steve Bissette. It has this foreboding dread like Don't Look Now, which I think would make a snazzy double feature.

thanks Bravo's 100 scariest moments for ruining this ending and fuck you Andy Cohen.

Cathryn rolls down a beautifully lush hill, the location is a majestic and yet dreary Ireland, as the camera focuses in on a dangling ornament on the rearview mirror, she drives forward completely asleep at the wheel. That image seems to deliberately nail it—right? I mean the car is driving but no one is behind the wheel, it's like a beautifully shot pun.

I hate when my Uber driver nods off

The spooky French man played by French Connection actor Marcel Bozzuffi who haunts her, often transforms out of her husband mid conversation or once while they’re kissing. Is he real, a former boyfriend or a figment of her eroding sanity, this figure does mention that he’s a ghost and she attempts to kill him a few times. I love when she hits him in the forehead with a rock (it looked uncomfortably real to me) and he bleeds all over the kitchen.

The last film that creeped me out this way was The Entity, which always makes me uneasy and weirded out. The moments when Hershey’s character resigns to the fact that this paranormal force will never leave her side and can’t be stopped or trapped left me with a cold unnerving feeling. Another level of madness that's very subtle is that the actors and characters names are switched around, for instance Cathryn is the real name of the little girl who plays Susanna (and Susannah is called Cathryn in the film). Altman seems to wanna drive me crazy with that sentence!

you think that's distressing, here Dr. Phil is wearing an Altman mask!

One character, named Marcel who’s a supposed friend of her husband is a lecherous rapist and constantly paws at Catherine. Often you can tell when her hallucinogenic madness gets to more of a boiling point because the music gets scarier and the mysterious French man leers behind the people that are physically there. At certain moments it’s hard to tell which one is really there or if it's an image from her mind. It's never revealed until the end but your brain starts to connect the dots. You can never really trust what’s happening and it makes you suspicious of everything--it made me incredibly anxious. The book "In Search of Unicorns" was published on its own, wouldn’t that be great if some kid at a thrift store got a hold of it and wanted to see if there was a movie and involuntarily delved into the world of arthouse Criterion snobby shit via Altman? Let's hope that actually happens. There are many theories as to what occurs and which metaphors are present or invented but those are usually a drag to read. I suggest you don’t listen to what the critics have to say before hand and go in with zero expectations. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


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