Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Through a Glass Darkly-Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf

An artist in crisis is haunted by nightmares from the past in Ingmar Bergman's only horror film, which takes place on a windy island. During "the hour of the wolf" - between midnight and dawn - he tells his wife about his most painful memories.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Art of Austin Osman Spare

Decadence 12

Come, lie upon my breast, cruel, insensitive soul, Adored tigress, monster with the indolent air; I want to plunge trembling fingers for a long time In the thickness of your heavy mane,
To bury my head, full of pain In your skirts redolent of your perfume, To inhale, as from a withered flower, The moldy sweetness of my defunct love.
I wish to sleep! to sleep rather than live! In a slumber doubtful as death, I shall remorselessly cover with my kisses Your lovely body polished like copper.
To bury my subdued sobbing Nothing equals the abyss of your bed, Potent oblivion dwells upon your lips And Lethe flows in your kisses.
My fate, hereafter my delight, I'll obey like one predestined; Docile martyr, innocent man condemned, Whose fervor aggravates the punishment.
I shall suck, to drown my rancor, Nepenthe and the good hemlock From the charming tips of those pointed breasts That have never guarded a heart.
— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954).

Dante's Inferno (1935)

Dante's Inferno is a 1935 motion picture loosely based on Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy. It is primarily remembered for a 10-minute depiction of hell realised by director Harry Lachman, himself an established post-impressionist painter. PLOT SUMMARY: Jim Carter (Spencer Tracy) takes over a fairground show illustrating scenes from Dante. An inspector declares the fair unsafe but is bribed by Carter. There is a fatal disaster at the fair during which we see the vision of the Inferno. Carter establishes a new venture with an unsafe floating casino. Music by Alexander Scriabin, 'Mysterium - Prefatory Act'.

Arcana 6 (The Art of H.R. Giger)

Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger (born February 5, 1940) is a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer. He won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for his design work on the film Alien. Giger was born in Chur, Graubünden Canton, Switzerland, the son of a chemist. He spoke of a father who viewed art as a 'breadless profession', and strongly encouraged his son to enter into pharmaceutics. Despite this, in 1962, he moved to Zurich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970.[2] Giger had a relationship with Swiss actress Li Tobler until she committed suicide in 1975. He married Mia Bonzanigo in 1979; they separated a year and a half later. Giger's style and thematic execution have been influential. His design for the Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger is also well known for artwork on several records. In 1998 Giger acquired the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work. Giger got his start with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. For most of his career, Giger has worked predominantly in airbrush, creating monochromatic canvasses depicting surreal, nightmarish dreamscapes. However, he has now largely abandoned large airbrush works in favor of works with pastels, markers or ink. His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, described as "biomechanical". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._Giger Music by Robert Rich & Lustmord, 'Hidden Refuge'.

In Ghostly Japan (David Hochbaum)

'Kaidan Shu - Tales of Mist and Wind' is a cycle of works realized by David Hochbaum in 2011, inspired by Japanese ghostly legends and folklore. http://www.davidhochbaum.com/ A short glossary of the main Japanese ghosts: OBAKE (00:10) and BAKEMONO are a class of yōkai, preternatural creatures in Japanese folklore. Literally, the terms mean a thing that changes, referring to a state of transformation or shapeshifting. These words are often translated as ghost, but primarily they refer to living things or supernatural beings who have taken on a temporary transformation, and these bakemono are distinct from the spirits of the dead. However, as a secondary usage, the term obake can be a synonym for yūrei, the ghost of a deceased human being. Obake derived from household objects are often called tsukumogami. A bakemono usually either disguises itself as a human or appears in a strange or terrifying form such as a hitotsume-kozō, an ōnyūdō, or a noppera-bō. In common usage, any bizarre apparition can be referred to as a bakemono or an obake whether or not it is believed to have some other form, making the terms roughly synonymous with yōkai. KUCHISAKE-ONNA (00:52, 04:42) ("Slit-Mouth Woman"), in Japanese mythology, is a woman who is mutilated by a jealous husband and returns as a malicious spirit. The Kuchisake-onna legend became popular enough to cause some panic in Japan during the 1980s, and there are even reports of schools asking children to go home in groups for safety. YUKI-ONNA (02:34) appears on snowy nights as a tall, beautiful woman with long black hair and blue lips. Her inhumanly pale or even transparent skin makes her blend into the snowy landscape. She sometimes wears a white kimono, but other legends describe her as nude, with only her face and hair standing out against the snow. Despite her inhuman beauty, her eyes can strike terror into mortals. She floats across the snow, leaving no footprints (in fact, some tales say she has no feet, a feature of many Japanese ghosts), and she can transform into a cloud of mist or snow if threatened. ROKUROKUBI (02:42) are yōkai found in Japanese folklore. They look like normal human beings by day, but at night they gain the ability to stretch their necks to great lengths. They can also change their faces to those of terrifying oni to better scare mortals. In their daytime human forms, rokurokubi often live undetected and may even take mortal spouses. Many rokurokubi become so accustomed to such a life that they take great pains to keep their demonic forms secret. They are tricksters by nature, however, and the urge to frighten and spy on human beings is hard to resist. Some rokurokubi thus resort to revealing themselves only to drunkards, fools, the sleeping, or the blind in order to satisfy these urges. Other rokurokubi have no such compunctions and go about frightening mortals with abandon. A few, it is said, are not even aware of their true nature and consider themselves normal humans. This last group stretch their necks out while asleep in an involuntary action; upon waking up in the morning, they find they have weird dreams regarding seeing their surroundings in unnatural angles. YOKAI (03:00) (ghost, phantom, strange apparition) are a class of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore. The word yōkai is made up of the kanji for "otherworldly" and "weird". Yōkai range eclectically from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them. Often they possess animal features (such as the Kappa, which is similar to a turtle, or the Tengu which has wings), other times they can appear mostly human, some look like inanimate objects and others have no discernible shape. Yōkai usually have a spiritual supernatural power, withshapeshifting being one of the most common. Yōkai that have the ability to shapeshift are called obake. Japanese folklorists and historians use yōkai as "supernatural or unaccountable phenomena to their informants". In the Edo period, many artists, such asToriyama Sekien, created yōkai inspired by folklore or their own ideas, and in the present, several yōkai created by them (e.g. Kameosa and Amikiri, see below) are wrongly considered as being of legendary origin. ZASHIKI-WARASHI (03:08). The name breaks down to zashiki, a tatami floored room, and warashi, an archaic regional term for a child. The appearance of this spirit is that of a 5 or 6 year child with bobbed hair and a red face. Zashiki-warashi can be found in well-maintained and preferably large old houses. It is said that once a zashiki-warashi inhabits a house, it brings the residence great fortune; on the other hand, should a zashiki-warashi depart, the domain soon falls into a steep decline. Music by Atrium Carceri, 'The Call'.

The Dark Visions of John Santerineross

A Short History of Decay (Emil Cioran)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Faust 1926

Faust (German title: Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage) is a silent film produced in 1926 by UFA, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother, Wilhelm Dieterle as her brother and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwerdtlein, her aunt. Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic version. UFA wanted Ludwig Berger to direct Faust, as Murnau was engaged with Variety; Murnau pressured the producer and, backed by Jannings, eventually persuaded Erich Pommer to let him direct the movie. Faust was Murnau's last German movie, and directly afterward he moved to the US under contract to William Fox to direct Sunrise (1927); when the film premiered in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo of Berlin, Murnau was already shooting in Hollywood. * Gösta Ekman - Faust * Emil Jannings - Mephisto * Camilla Horn - Gretchen * Frida Richard - Gretchen's mother * William Dieterle - Valentin * Yvette Guilbert - Marthe Schwerdtlein * Eric Barclay - Duke of Parma * Hanna Ralph - Duchess of Parma * Werner Fuetterer - Archangel * Anderhusan von Arteblach - Gretchen's aunt Murnau's Faust was the most complex and expensive production undertaken by UFA. Filming took six months and a cost of 2 million marks (only half was recovered at the box office), until it was surpassed by Metropolis the following year. According to film historians Faust seriously impacted studio shooting and special effects techniques. Murnau uses two cameras, both filming multiple shots; many scenes were filmed time and again. As an example, a short sequence of the contract being written on parchment in fire took an entire day to film.

Salem-King Night

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hands of Orlac (1924)

An Austrian silent film (Orlacs Hände) of 1924. This late expressionist work is directed by Robert Wiene.
A concert pianist, Paul Orlac (Conrad Veidt), loses his hands in a railway accident. Replacement hands are transplanted onto him in an experimental procedure, but the hands are those of a recently-executed murderer. From that point forward, the pianist is tortured by panic attacks and irrational fears.

Robert Wiene
Louis Nerz, Maurice Renard (novel)
Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina and Fritz Kortner

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Phantom Carriage (Swedish: Körkarlen) aka The Phantom Chariot, Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! and The Stroke of Midnight is a 1921 Swedish romantic horror film, generally considered to be one of the central works in the history of Swedish cinema. Released on New Year's Day, it was directed by and starred Victor Sjöström, alongside Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg and Astrid Holm. It is based on the novel Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! (Körkarlen; 1912), by Nobel-prize winning Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf.
The film is notable for its special effects, its advanced (for the time) narrative structure with flashbacks within flashbacks, and for having been a major influence on Ingmar Bergman.

It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom Chariot, the one that picks up the souls of the dead.

Victor Sjöström
Selma Lagerlöf (novel), Victor Sjöström
Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström and Tore Svennberg

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Hands Resist Him

The Hands Resist Him, also known as eBay Haunted Painting, is a painting created by Oakland, California artist Bill Stoneham in 1972. It depicts a young boy and female doll standing in front of a glass paneled door against which many hands are pressed. According to the artist, the boy is based on a photograph of himself aged 5, the doorway is a representation of the dividing line between the waking world and the world of dreams and possibilities, and the doll is a guide who will escort the boy through it. The hands themselves represent alternate lives or possibilities.[1][2] It became the subject of an urban legend and a viral internet meme in February 2000, when it was posted for sale on eBay along with an elaborate backstory implying that it was haunted


The painting was first displayed at the Feingarten Gallery in Los Angeles during the early 1970s. A one-man Stoneham show at the gallery, which included the piece, was reviewed by the art critic at the Los Angeles Times. During the show, the painting was purchased by actor John Marley,[1] notable for his role as Jack Woltz in The Godfather.[5]

At some point in time after Marley's death, the painting was said to have come into the possession of a California couple, after being found on the site of an old brewery.[3][4]The painting appeared on the auction website eBay in February 2000. According to the seller, the aforementioned couple, the painting carried some form of curse. Their eBay description claimed that the characters in the painting moved during the night, and that they would sometimes leave the painting and enter the room in which it was being displayed. Included with the listing were a series of photographs that were said to be evidence of an incident in which the female doll character threatened the male character with a gun that she was holding, causing him to attempt to leave the painting[2][3]. A disclaimer was included with the listing absolving the seller from all liability if the painting was purchased.[3][4]

News of the listing was quickly spread by internet users who forwarded the link to their friends or wrote their own pages about it.[3] Some people claimed that simply viewing the photos of the painting made them feel ill or have unpleasant experiences. Eventually, the auction page was viewed over 30,000 times.[3][4]

After an initial bid of $199, the painting eventually received 30 bids and sold for $1,025.00. The buyer, Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, eventually contacted Bill Stoneham and related the unusual story of its auction on eBay and their acquisition of it. He reported being quite surprised by all the stories and strange interpretations of the images in the painting.[2][3][4] According to the artist, the object presumed by the eBay sellers to be a gun is actually nothing more than a dry cell battery and a tangle of wires [2].

Stoneham recalls that both the owner of the gallery in which the painting was first displayed, and the art critic who reviewed it, died within one year of coming into contact with the painting.[1]

The Apotheosis of War, 1871, Vasily Vereshchagin

Brazilian Cannibals

The Field Of The Slain(1916) - Evelyn De Morgan

The Last Cavalier, c. 1926 Albert Birkle

The physician of the x-rays Ivo Saliger

Psyche in the Underworld, c.1840-1859 Paul Alfred de Curzon