How to play the game of life? By pretending that it’s no game. Man must numb himself with emotions while drowning in the quagmire of life. Survival requires illusion, and so, no TV documentary, no detergent comes without emotional baggage. Man thrives on hormonal humbug, both victim and perpetrator of the fraud “emotion” — the coin inserted into the machine to make it perform absurd contortions, the carrot and the stick of Mother Nature, the bitch. Cut to a crying mother, cradling her dead kid. Cut to kittens playing in ruins. Cut to more commercials.

“But we don’t like pain…


A fragment

“Look at me,” the whisper implored. “Behold me, for I am the gorgon.”
“If I look at you, I will turn to stone.”
“That is correct,” the gorgon asserted. “On the whole, petrifaction is a much more desirable state than putrefaction. A rotting corpse gives warmth, ’tis true, but it also stinks. Choose wisely: The ideal of decay, affirming the basic repulsiveness of organic matter, against the lure of the eternal stone. The revolting sight of an ancient, screaming face slowly melting into a landscape while those still living put crosses everywhere — or, on the other hand, the moment frozen…


Fragments of a Manual for Regression

It is clear that the world is purely parodic,
in other words, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in a deceptive form.

— Georges Battaile

The ultimate goal is the destruction of all, but you need to build up to it and, thus, to start small: With yourself.

As inside, so outside — the first law of magic: So go and rot away. Spread your stink, make the merry mice scurry into their corners: It’s merely the beginning. Personal hygiene, that perfumed pretension to immortality, will be easy to let go of…


Hey, it’s a pre-code comedy! With songs! And puns (“Why is he called Luke?” — “Because he’s not so hot!”)! Also, it all ends with a world war. What’s not to love?

The middle part of an unofficial trilogy of weirdo political comedies, together with Million-Dollar Legs (1932) and Duck Soup (1933). (Joseph L. Mankiewicz had his hands in the scripts of both Million-Dollar Legs and Diplomaniacs. Matthew Coniam, in The Annotated Marx Brothers, does a nice job of dressing down Duck Soup down to size.) This half-forgotten film may be the most vicious attack on, well, basically everything and…


Hanna Amon is a 1951 German color melodrama, directed and co-written by Veit Harlan. (Author Richard Billinger, in pre-war years somewhat infamous for writing over-heated books about pagan sexuality in Upper Austria, is credited with the “idea” of the film and later turned the plot into a play, “Ein Tag wie alle” (“A Day Like Any Other”).)

Hanna Amon starts out with the tragic heroine, played by popular star (and wife of the director) Kristina Söderbaum, being released from prison. Harlan wastes no time in making his stance clear: In an early close-up, Söderbaum is arranged with a golden picture…


“My uncle saw a coyote by that tree over there. It stood there for several seconds and then went away.”

Suspension of disbelief (in Coleridge’s words, “poetic faith”) is easier than it sounds, for we love narratives and will gladly, if smugly, accept all kind of glitches if only the basic story promises to hold our interest. Pointing out the goofs in a Spielberg movie may be good fun, but who cares for the laws of physics when it’s all so much fun?

And then there is After Last Season. A brave, but tragic little film, asking “Where am I?”…


Screenwriter and producer Philip Yordan, credited for When Strangers Mary (1944), Dillinger (1945), The Naked Jungle (1954), Johnny Guitar (1954), The Broken Lance (1954 — an Academy Award winning script), The Big Combo (1955), El Cid (1961), Day of the Triffids (1963), 55 Days in Peking (1963) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), spent his final years on obscure B-movies. …


Anders als du und ich (US titles: Bewildered Youth (dubbed), The Third Sex (subtitled)) is a 1957 German exploitation movie which purports to deal with the then-taboo subject of homosexuality.

Arca, a small Berlin production company specializing in lowbrow entertainment (like Liane (1956)), picked up a topical theme: In 1957, the German Federal Constitutional Court had re-inforced the § 175 (the paragraph declaring homosexual acts illegal, punishable by jail) in its Nazi version, thus denying gay victims of the Third Reich reparations. Arca assembled a quite above-average cast, including famed Austrian stage and film actress Paula Wessely (Frank Noack compares…


The second zombie movie ever, following White Zombie (1932), Ouanga is mostly known — if it is known at all — for the horrible real life-story of the filmmakers going to Haiti to observe actual voodoo ceremonies, but offending the natives. From that moment, the movie was plagued with bizarre production problems. Two men died. Eventually, the film was shot in Jamaica. This intriguing story may have had its origins in Turner/Price’s Forgotten Horrors (1979); Sheldon Leonard’s autobiography And the Show Goes On (1995) added more juicy details. …

Andre Solnikkar

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