4. The Bride (1985) – Franc Roddam
This is an example of father becoming the son and son becoming the father.
It always amuses me to see parents claiming to educate or discipline young ones so that they too can become adults. I think it’s the other way around. It is the child who helps you grow. When you realize what you have lost over the years just by looking at him/her, you also get a second chance to get back… to recover. Even if this is not the case, the child grows on his/her own. Parents usually love the idea of them being self-sufficient, in control and in possession of higher faculties.
Most of the time, it’s a lie they love to believe. A child immediately sees it through, though. At that age one always have the ability to see through lies. That’s how a child survives. He/she doesn’t have the knowledge we have and since he/she has an unobstructed view, he/she doesn’t have to. When you are deep in your own crap, knowledge is useless. You can only get out of it by being sincere and that’s one talent every child has.
In this movie Baron Charles Frankenstein tries to tame his creation. That’s all there is to it, really. He sees Eva as his creation like her having a lower rank. Therefore, he positions himself as the controller who determines what she can and cannot do. This inevitably, describes his own being as “having the power to efficiently interact with her” (Self Interest in the Tripartite Soul Argument in Plato’s Republic, John M. Berry, 1979). They don’t have a relationship, in other words.
We have two entities, one regarding itself as the Supreme Entity (Frankenstein) and the other (Eva) trying to figure out what the heck she is. The Supreme Entity is trying to mold her into “harmony with the eternal laws of symmetry and order” (No Name, Wilkie Collins, 1862). He wants to observe behavior patterns, thought processes and their expressions adhering to his standards.
Very much in tune with British culture, there is a saying in Turkey that goes like this: “When a young lady is not disciplined by reason, in other words, when she doesn’t believe in the marriage of reason, she would lose control over her life and destiny.” That, one must marry with rational criteria instead of out of emotional impulses.
We don’t have the limit this thought to marital affairs. It’s a way of life. While the Supreme Entity is observing what’s happening and taking notes, another lower ranked creature, Viktor (Frankenstein’s first creation) is forming a relationship with Eva who was created after him. Frankenstein also tries to form a relationship with Eva using the only way he knows, by acting on her.
So, entity-action formula is his only way of seeing. In his world the only possible relationship between people is to act on each other. Following this idea, when he tries to educate Eva, he continues to do the same thing: determine the appropriate actions and try to get rid of the undesired ones. When we look at human beings that way, a person is nothing but a set of actions that can be performed on him/her.
Try to imagine a doctor, a hooker and a congressman, you’ll get my meaning. What started as an innocent attempt to learn about the human condition, will inevitably reduce the seeker of knowledge and the subject into diminished human beings. While Frankenstein sees no problem with that, this is what Eva is trying to prevent.
Let’s have a look at Frankenstein’s first creation for a moment. Although Viktor is supposedly the monster, the villain of the story, he can form more humane relationships with other people. First he finds a friend (Rinaldo), and then, a companion, not a competitor or a colleague unlike Frankenstein’s friends. He achieves this by not acting on a person and therefore, reducing it to an entity, but by forming a relationship guided by care and concern for one another.
5. Phantasm II (1988) – Don Coscarelli
This is an example of unhappy endings and insane circumstances.
That’s when my 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda fetishism has started. That and the relief that comes with knowing everybody is going to Hell. This movie is a good example of dead ends. Because no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, the Tall Man and his minions from Hell keep coming back. They never stop. They never quit. They never forget. Our heroes try to live through this nightmare by living on a day-to-day basis. Funny, isn’t it?
Nowadays, we do not only live the same way, but also consider this way of living a liberation. A liberation from what? Nobody even knows the answer. In the case of our movie, knowing exactly what the outcome will be is not that bothersome, though. Instead, knowing that “you are fighting a battle you will inevitably lose” (Christopher Hitchens) helps you to put it all into perspective. If you are going to Hell no matter what, it kind of frees you from the trivialities of everyday life.
You are no longer bounded by time or place. People you meet are only transitionary. The only constant in your life is the never-ending battle between you and them. It doesn’t even matter whether one is good and the other is evil. Since it never ends, you come to appreciate the precision, patience and the ambition you see in the evil ones.
The Tall Man is always there, although he works in the background most of the time. He only pays a visit when something really important is taking place, unlike the horny entity we talked about previously. When we see him, he only speaks in so many words. He keeps saying: “Boy. Boooy!” And, that’s enough. He doesn’t have to recite poetry or indulge us in lengthy monologues. Enough said!
When he has spare time, he goes over the brains he has collected. He has them shrank to the size of a golf ball. He puts them into nasty little weapons as their central processing units. When you are a computer scientist like me, that adds another flavor to the already amusing adventure. Eat your heart out Intel!
6. Dracula’s Widow (1988) – Christopher Coppola
This is an example of severing all ties with your past and becoming a total stranger. Also, it shows us several ways to get in touch with who we really are when we are no longer lost in our past.
Put yourself in her shoes, will you? You open your eyes in a foreign land which you know nothing about. There is nobody like you and you have some strange needs you have to fulfill to carry on. A scary thought, isn’t it? Unless you are a born explorer, you wouldn’t appreciate something like that. People cannot even deal with much simpler situations. You have seen them too. Chinese tourists looking for a Chinese restaurant in Italy and Arabs crowding a McDonald’s in another Muslim country. I
f you aren’t looking for new experiences, why did you get out of your country in the first place? A simple answer may be our preference for illusions over what’s real. We are so much lost in our little worlds that we shield every possibility that may scratch their surfaces.
When we go to another place, our experiences in the end are exactly the same with the ones we would have if we didn’t go there. Forget about the dreams, our real lives are nothing but dreams, created by incompetent, fearful and sad people, namely us. It’s hopeless.
What can we do, then? If we are not equipped with the necessary tools, how can we get to see again? Well, as usual we should consult the masters. Think about Plato, Parmenides or even Heraclitus, for that matter.
They all consider the act of living as a way to access deeper, hidden meanings. And, what’s living, if not companionship, having concern for the rest of the world? In this way of looking at things, just being there or having relationships with someone is a way to learn.
Think about it. What kind of a movie would we direct to point out this phenomenon, if that was the case? If an insight can only be appreciated by close companionship, by experiencing it with great concern, we must design a mechanism where the ‘user’ can interact with its components, where its components can ‘move’ about each other and a considerable amount of time elapses in each ‘session’. You too see the similarities, don’t you? We can approach our movie as a computer game.
The user should be able to interact with the components of the ‘game’ so that he/she can develop particular associations and figure out how these individual components relate to each other. Also, he/she will be able to figure out the standing alone meanings of these components. These components should be able to ‘move’ about each other means that depending upon the current way the user interprets the ‘game’ he/she should be able to ‘receive’ differently arranged consequence-universes.
By experiencing absurdity he/she should be able to develop valuable insights that otherwise cannot be accessed by merely analyzing the ‘game’ universe as a scientist. A considerable amount of time must be available and also the ‘game’ should be arranged in a way that the user will pursue even an irrelevant goal so that ‘on the way home’ he/she sinks into the deeper levels of the game more and more.
As you see, this approach puts the viewer at the center and tries to benefit from him/her. It assumes that even if the viewer sees nothing and have no idea what’s going on, he/she alone has the gift. That’s the ultimate purpose of any movie, to remind the viewer that he/she already knows what it’s all about. And, the movie or the game or the book is nothing but a simple tool designed for that effect.
When I look at the dark I don’t see anything. Yet, still I can see in a sense that I am in touch with the basic state of my being. I might lack the slightest understanding of mathematics, physics, biology, etc., yet I can still understand myself. I can look at life and find her as well as my existence meaningful.
At the face of death, I might even laugh at the possibility of non-being. Oh, come on! How can one fight for survival all his/her life and then again, die in peace? A being who does not bother to disappear into the ‘pit of non-being’? But, we know that this is true. How can that be and what the heck do I know? The meaning of my existence. I don’t know it philosophically. I know it through my being and if and only if I am an open channel -that is to say I am what I am, a clear, unobstructed ‘channel’.
If that is not the case, I do not have the slightest understanding of the meaning of my existence; furthermore, I am not even ‘living.’ In his 7th letter (353 BC), Plato says: “Acquaintance with it must come from a close companionship, when, suddenly, like a blaze kindled by a leaping spark, it is generated in the soul and at once becomes self-sustaining.”
One may even go further and say that finding what you really are is only possible when you lose yourself completely. That the ‘open channel’ should forget that he/she is a channel. Since it doesn’t require you to have knowledge on a variety of topics to lead a meaningful life, I often think about the primitive people.
Perhaps, they were much closer to the truth. On the other hand, theirs was a life of misery. Think about the hunger, illnesses and the competition among tribes. And, add to that dangerous mix the trouble that comes with romantic affairs. Who would want to be there? Still, I find it more desirable when I take a look at the casualties modernity has caused.
I imagine, when they were through with the day’s work, when they sat in front of the fire and if a little child asked his mother where he came from, what did she say? Perhaps, she looked at the fire in front of her, smiling she pointed a man and a woman, then said: “When two sparks of fire come together until they get lost in each other just to find themselves again, a new spark is born.”
7. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) – Tony Randel
This is an example of how to be cool.
If you too are the musical kind, this one will satisfy even the pickiest. Composed when Christopher Young’s powers were at their peak, the soundtrack that accompanies the movie is a force of its own. Combine this with the most charismatic figure in horror movies, except the Count, of course, then, you can be sure that you will get a wild ride.
Perhaps, it occurred to Young that he will never get the opportunity again, so he hasn’t left a stone unturned in this one. Therefore, it is the most experimental film music you’ll ever find. It even has passages where singers scream several words backwards. If gives you the feeling of being seduced by the Devil and having quality time with him in his world. No wonder, it’s not as popular as his first one (Hellraiser I soundtrack) which is just a good tune. Perhaps, his second attempt was too authentic for some people.
Without this music, the film suffers tremendously. It loses the effect of most of its now outdated horror elements. However, the Pinhead never ceases to amaze. He is pretty much following Client Eastwood’s acting style in Westerns. He doesn’t speak much and he doesn’t have to. If he did, he would ruin the character. Also, we see glimpses of one of Ridley Scott’s techniques: Randel never reveals the threating figure too much. If he did, the story would lose its novelty.
When all these are put together in a climactic scene, we see a villain’s entrance into a room where a smart little girl provides the required invitation without knowing it. Just like the Count, Pinhead cannot enter a place unless he is invited. He is accompanied with Young’s beautiful music. In similar situations, terrified people beg him relentlessly with God on their lips.
To answer their prayers, Pinhead looks at them with disgust and says: “Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?” In the case of our little girl, however, she is saved because of her innocence. So, our villain is actually just. The way he talks is a crucial part of his being cool, which follows the directness of the Count when he says he never drinks wine. We see that being cool comes with doing very little, granted that you can choose wisely what to do and what not to do.