Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

About a week before Halloween, I couldn’t help but feel delighted reading all those wonderful blogs that embark on a now traditional October Halloween countdown. I must confess that I particularly appreciate this special festivity where demons threat to tear through the flimsy walls of our imagination and run amok among us. Hailing from a country with no such tradition, in a way I feel that I enjoy Halloween even more, although in a mediated fashion through movies, novels and comic books. Safe from the inevitable perks of the real experience, I can live Halloween as a constant joy ride of dark frisson.

As I grew up without such an holyday, I tend to have a loose memory of this time of the year, associating it with the plethora of national holydays clustered around the months of October-December that I did enjoy while living in Portugal: October the 5th, November the 1st and December the 1st and the 8th were all national festivities. Cold and rainy days that I spent at home watching the GROOVIE GHOULIES and SCOOBY-DO on television, or reading SWAMP THING comic books by Bernie Wrihtson and Len Wein.

For me this time of year will forever be associated with 70s horror icons, with go-go boots, mini-skirts, wide belts, gothic castles, muddy and winding roads and lost young tourists seeking shelter in cob-webbed sinister abodes.

And so, each year, I spend Halloween watching groovy movies: BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1968), TERROR AT ORGY CASTLE (1971), LA LLAMADA DEL VAMPIRO (1971), LA ORGIA NOCTURNA DE LOS VAMPIROS (1972) or EL JOVENCITO DRACULA (1977) all get a spin from my DVD player, alongside Hammer classics and old forties spokies. On recent years I’ve found a strange and eerie fascination with ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1987) as a symbol of Halloween, a strange mix of October thrills and late summer nights, dry leaves and polyester cobwebs, a promise of sexy frills and wonderful horrific FUN.

So, have fun all you partiers. Happy Halloween!

Body Language: The Practical Aspects

Just forget about context. Pretend you don’t know these two… pretend they don’t know each other. Discard the fact it may be a cheesy horror movie and that the spray pistol may be charged with a potentially lethal fluid. Just read the situation. Read their bodies. Did you ever tried to hold someone like that? Do you really think it is easy? Watch the fingers of his left hand. He’s not a lefty. He’s holding the gun in his right hand so he can’t be a lefty. Observe how he compensates the imbalance, leaning onto his left – not ambidextrous either. So, the way he is holding her… it’s just not practical.

Now, consider the girl. She clearly has beautiful, firm, round breasts. If you want to immobilize a girl of such a build it would be natural to grab one of her tits. It would give you purchase, it would hurt if she ever tried to pull away from you.

And suddenly, she seems to sense all this. She looks down. She sees the flaccid muscles on his arm. She knows – she feels it, she sees it – that he’s well aware of the swell of her left breast under is forearm. And yet, his left hand has climbed up her arm onto her shoulder, not down towards her bosom. She must now be thinking, is this guy a faggot?

Or, she asks herself, maybe he really doesn’t mean me any harm.

And that’s when she realizes, to her own surprise, that she could have escaped at any time. And the question is, why? Why didn’t she escape? Why didn’t she break that sissy grip? Am I a natural victim?, she seems to ask the heavens. Should I have watched more horror movies?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Run Swinger Run! (Barry Mahon, 1967)

Why should I think of you as a damsel in distress, Laura? You surely don’t have that old-fashioned doe-eyed innocence that we’ve grown accustomed to. When we see you for the first time you’re a girl on the run, with vicious killers on your tail. But you’ re not hiding, cowering for your life. No. You’re just sunbathing, topless, idly browsing an inconsequential magazine.

It’s only when Schneider comes out of his expensive European Mercedes and comes shooting at you that you think of running. But you’ve been running for a long time, haven’t you, Laura? That’s the story you tell to that bloke whose car you’ve jumped into. That’s the way you deal with problems, Laura, you just drag anyone into them?

Well, you know he can’t resist helping you. Even if he doesn’t seem at first to believe your crazy story. But you see the way he keeps throwing glances at your slender naked thighs, and you know he’s as good as yours to command. You sure know that your body is a powerful weapon, a precious instrument of survival on a world of vicious men that believe themselves masters of the game although they’re just children playing at grown-ups.

And you know how to deal with them. When you went to your auntie Mary in L.A. begging for help she wanted to send you to sell dope to school kids. She knew your young body and your beautiful face could sell anything. You look harmless. That’s what that guy thought, your auntie’s henchman, when he came onto you after your shower. But you sure taught him how to behave. Pretending to be seduced, kneeing him where it hurts the most. And there you go again, running, escaping yourself. At that time you still haven’t met Schneider. That came later.

He saw you alone and haunted and beautiful and offered you easy money just to escort some important business men. At least, that’s what he said. And you accepted. You appreciated the money. And I’m sure you enjoyed the dare, the risk. And yes, I’m sure you’d have enjoyed the sex. That is, if you didn’t find out the scheme Schneider was keeping with some Chinese general, selling American guns to kill American soldiers in some war in far-off jungles. That did it. You fucked their scheme. And they want you dead.

So why should I think of you as a damsel in distress, Laura? Well, it’s the look you get sometimes, the air of a lost child in a cold indifferent world. You may be almost bare-naked, and still, in those fleeting moments, you really do seem innocent.

And I know the thoughts that surround you in those brief instants. You’re thinking of when you stopped being innocent. Of that morning on your mother’s boarding house when one of the gests, taking advantage of your mother’s absence, abused you… made you a woman, as he surely would refer to it. You think of the shame you felt. The humiliation. The shame of the rape, and worst of all, the shame of having enjoyed it. Not the rape. The sex. And thinking of that fateful morning that forced you to flee from home, you ask yourself if you became really lost… or just found yourself at last.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Women in Chains

Here she must stand alone. With wrists bound by rope or chains, she knows she’s subjected to the dreadful male gaze. She can almost feel its touch upon her skin. The hands on her body will come later, if they come at all. But now… Now she feels it. The menace. The desire. The overwhelming eagerness of the beholder. It’s something primitive, primeval. With arms held high, there’s nothing she can do to prevent the lustful gaze from wandering over her breasts, down her body, consuming her entire being in a furnace of objectification. Her body will become the ashes of who she is.

She tries to get free. It’s useless. She knew that even before making the effort. That’s how the story goes. A story that extends far into the reaches of time. Bound damsels in distress cannot get free from that all-consuming gaze. The gaze is the gazer is the attacker. A unity of menace. To imagine is to do. That’s the equation. Bound, at the mercy of her captors, she is already suffering everything they’re imagining they’ll do to her.

She knows it. She feels them surrounding her with anticipation. They come from the limits of her vision, creeping in from the shadows. She can sense their thoughts. The patterns of perversion that dictate what surely must follow. The rape, the humiliation. Why does it ever have to be like that? Her destiny is as tied up as herself. Tied by the ropes of her female role.

In despair, she may cry, she may plead. But that will only arouse them further. That’s how the deep machinery of depravation works. Her fear will be their pleasure. Her tears their aphrodisiac. Her sweat the fuel of their actions. The furnaces of hell burn on the flesh of its victims.

And hell never fails. It’s as old as god and as sure as death. And just as the first tendrils of hell jump out of the crazy angles of existence, clawing at her clothes, pawing at her skin, striping her, caressing her body, probing where no one should be aloud to probe, she screams. She can hold it no more. She must scream and scream again. And screaming the realizes that in the beginning it was not the Verb. It wasn’t even the Scream. In the beginning that was the GAZE.

God’s male gaze, peeping at Eve’s glorious nakedness and innocence. And God saw it was good. And so he unleashed his snake, his own treacherous phallus, and he shattered Eden in order to preserve that sweet innocence. For God understood that no woman could be innocent until subjected to the gaze of male desire. And so he demanded sacrifices. Sacrifice of beauty and innocence. And so, she now realizes, that’s why women are bound and roped and tied. To open their bodies to the male gaze. Yes, she thinks. Maybe if close my eyes, I won’t see that abject gaze. Maybe if I don’t see I can’t be seen. Maybe it is a two-way process. Maybe…

But I’d bet its better to stare back. To face it unafraid. Defiant. Sublime. Who’s afraid of a peeping old goat of a god? When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back at you, Nietsche said. Well, let me be that abyss that engulfs your pitiful male gaze. Come and do your best. Come and do your worst. I’ll survive. Because it’s me you came to see. It’s me you desire. It’s me you want and cannot have. Bound as I am, I am freer than you.

With my sincere apologies for having left you, dears readers, hanging up while I was tied up with other things. And a big thank you to those who started following this blog while it was inactive. Cheers!