by Mark Steiner
In honor of Scarecrow’s “Conspiracy Noir” section, we present this essay about one of the most famous conspiracy films of all time, much of which just so happens to have been shot in this very state!
The opening shot of Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 thriller The Parallax View is a ground-level view looking up at a totem pole. On the pole, a myriad of faces and eyes stare down at us, watching, observing. It’s immediately unsettling, and disorienting as well, once the camera swings left to reveal another large structure that was previously hiding behind the pole: the Space Needle. The camera stops, taking in both structures, and for a moment the eyes are no longer staring at us. Instead, they’re looking over at the Space Needle, cueing us that we should be much more interested in what’s going down at that weird, artificial, inversely-shaped structure in the sky. At the same time, we hear the tom-tom of drums, ominous perhaps, until we hear cheering as well.
by Greg Carlson
There I was, in the back room of a movie-themed bookstore during its final weeks of existence, going through several stacks of press kits, lobby cards, back issues of Premiere magazine, and photographic stills in the hopes of finding a diamond in the rough, something different from the reprinted poster art or plastic-encased glossies that you can get at any collectibles shop. After going through what felt like the tenth crate, I came across some copies of hand-drawn illustrations of several Golden Age movie stars, the kind that the classy Hollywood or New York City restaurants would hang in their lobby or cocktail lounge back in the day. After narrowing my selection down to three drawings, I passed over Jimmy Stewart and Spencer Tracy for an illustration of a young and relatively handsome Ernest Borgnine.
by Travis Vogt
True story: I once worked at a stock brokerage in Los Angeles for a year. This was about three centuries ago. It was an online day-trading operation—big tech meets big finance. Traders drove corvettes, did coke, talked openly about employing hookers; all of the stereotypes from movies were true, except I really like most of my co-workers. They were extreme, but friendly. Except for my boss, Ross. He made his first million while still in college and was the alpha-est of the alphas. When I started working there, the only way I ever knew he existed was during internet outages, when he’d bellow “ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONES!” in the deepest, most imposing voice imaginable. He was capable of unbelievable cruelty, like nothing I’d ever seen, particularly towards an upper-management toady named Keith, who was nature’s perfect abuse absorber. I once observed Ross throwing a stapler at Keith, narrowly missing his head, and then shouting “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SIGHT BEFORE I LITERALLY MURDER YOU!”
by Evan J Peterson
On Tuesday, February 2nd, join us for the next installment of our SHRIEK: Women of Horror Film class. This time, we’ll focus on The Countess, written and directed by Julie Delpy and starring Delpy as the titular protagonist (and killer). This is the first film I’ve selected that isn’t well known, and I’ve selected it intentionally in order to focus on more horror films created by women.
Sweet Trash /The Hang Up (1970, John Hayes)
Probably my greatest cinematic pleasure of 2015 was finding out about the films of John Hayes, a totally unheralded trash auteur. This double feature disc features Sweet Trash, a fragrant little gem that plays like Al Adamson directed an Arthur Miller adaptation of Alphaville, and The Hang Up, about a vicious, racist, homophobic cop who tries (unsuccessfully of course) to turn over a new leaf when he meets an underage prostitute. Hayes’ best films share a focus on men being incrementally poisoned by their own thwarted, meager desires, and an almost quotidian bleakness created by his accidental combination of cheap ineptitude, stilted earnestness, and generally unvarnished inhumanity.