Zulawski’s Possession: Most Insane Lovecraft Movie. Ever.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like for a woman miscarrying a tentacle monster fetus in a subway station?

Well, wonder no more.

This moment of learning comes to you courtesy of Polish director Andrzej Żuławski and his 1981 unrelenting anxiety-fest Possession. It’s a Lovecraft movie in all the important respects, except that A) Lovecraft didn’t write it and B) Lovecraft could never quite have written it, because he kept his fear of intimacy and sex fiercely repressed throughout his entire life.

There are no children and no women in Lovecraft’s work – but Zulawski made a film that found in relationships exactly the same sort of bottomless horror that Lovecraft found in evolution, time, and space. The psychology of the film is profound, at least for anyone who’s ever been cheated on or just plain manipulated by someone they’ve made the mistake of loving. And the monster at the center of it all is perfect, crafted by Carlo Rambaldi, also responsible for the creature effects in Alien.

But the real power of the film isn’t in its plot or its monster, but in the way the disjointed, surreal script makes the viewer constantly question and dissect everything they’re seeing. There seems to be some vague, suggestive resolution at the end, but the whole thing remains decidedly up for debate. I love this sort of film (or book), disjointed in such a clearly careful way, suggestive rather than explicit, evocative and mythic rather than beat-driven.

It’s a goal I’m a long way from in my own creative writing, where my journalistic and academic background push me constantly towards precision. But I’m sure I’ll be revisiting Possession for pointers.

Show review: Merchandise at the Hub, 8/29 (OR: “Merchandise Fell Down a Well 24 Hour News Watch, Day 8.”)

“It’s bleeding on the inside, and on the outside. It definitely might be broken. But it’s all good, man.”

The bearded redhead had a paper towel shoved up one nostril, and a raw, red wetness across the opposite side of his schnoz. But he was cheerful, almost giddy, giving the lead singer of Bloodwave a good slap on the shoulder.

The singer laughed nervously. He was very, very drunk, shirtless and sweaty. He’d done the maybe-nose-breaking halfway through his band’s miserably sloppy second-slot opening set for Merchandise’s hometown tour kickoff show. He’d also thrown a friend of mine halfway across the room into a bar table, spent a good chunk of the set swinging his mic stand recklessly around the room at eye/concussion level, and continuously hurled epithets at the audience.

Which is one way to make your set entertaining when you’re a singer who can’t sing, fronting a band that can’t play.
Continue Reading…

Nifft the Lean – Like Jack Vance meets Michael Cisco

Thanks to a pick on Goodreads, I picked up this out-of-print gem for about $4 with shipping. It’s pretty mind-boggling, a slice of sword and sorcery adventure, but full of tight plotting, bits of sardonic social commentary, and intensely imaginative, deeply unnerving settings and creatures. The gates of hell are guarded by a doting pair of undead giants and their baby made ENTIRELY OF BEETLES, etc. etc.

It’s a worthy counterpart to both Jack Vance and M. John Harrison – sword and sorcery with something both very smart and very dark about it. This is one that should still be in print, so much so that it puts me in mind of crazy fantasies like starting my own publishing house to resurrect it, and others like it.

Any other picks for out of print or little known material that dances on the line between fantasy and balls-out weirdness? Let me know in the comments.

Short Start – Unbowed before the Serpent Throne

I’m in the midst of a lengthy exploration as I work towards finding my voice as a writer of absurd, surrealist fantasy. Here’s a little intentionally stupid/cool nugget that I popped out a few weeks ago and may yet develop further. You can also read and share it at Wattpad.

Slizbotron sat on the edge of the limitless veldt, his lizardine head sunk into his serpent hands. He knew that he would never be king. All of his bold questing and slick dealing had come to nothing, and his brother had finally cast him out as if he were some rebellious pauper with non-robotic legs.

But his legs were definitely robotic. The powerful, articulate, shining legs that marked the truest nobles, the legs that of all his brood of dozens only Slizbotron had been gifted with. The Plasticmen had chosen him, and him alone, as destined to lead his people to a new age of glory.

But now nothing could stand in the way of the rotten Zasbent, who sat the honeyed throne of Gorm in all his misshapen horror, terrorizing the people, taxing the eggs to the point of ruin, taking as fast as he could in what he could in what he must have known would be a very short reign.

Certainy, even if Slizbotron would never mount the Mammal Stairs to give to the people benevolently of the gifts so rightly spotted in the cresch, neither would the proud Narezeen suffer a wet monster like Zasbent to long exploit them. Not even if he had, in the depths of their broodfather’s weakened sickness, connived to change his destiny.

For Slizbotron alone knew that Zasbent had taken the skin of Panther Sequoia, and now, on nights when it pleased him, descended the Mammal Stairs and donned the skin. Then, in the darkness, he operated in the guise of the kingdom’s official punishment rapist, the most vile, hated, and feared creature in the land.

But even when the cloud-breathers did descend to rescue their children from themselves, it would not be for them to restore Slizbotron to his place. He was, he knew, truly lost. But still, he would fight.