Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 25: A Cinematic Autobiography: Intro

I turn twenty five today. I can’t lie, its been a hard year. A year where things didn’t quite go my way. Not to get all quarter life crisisey here, but I can’t say I’m wear I thought I’d be five, or even two years ago. But twenty five is a good year to do some evaluating. I’m certainly not where I thought I might be at twenty five, I still can’t say I’m dissatisfied with the path my life has taken. I can’t claiming its an easy one to follow, and the temptations to throw up my hands and yell “Fuck it” isn’t an ever present one would be a lie. And a great deal of that life has been the cinema. So I’m launching a column that should take up most of the space here at this blog for the next month or two.

I’m calling it The 25. It’s the twenty five films that turned me into the movie mad writer who see before you. For Better or for worse.

There’s only two complications, by all rights Gangs Of New York should be included on this list, but lord knows you don’t need to read another couple thousand words about me geeking out over Gangs Of New York. The other is The Bride Of Frankenstein, which is as the first movie I’ve had seared into my brain pan, was influential to say the least. So I’ve decided to give Gangs Of New York a kind of special jury prize, you all know I love it, no need to harp on it again. As for Bride Of Frankenstein I’m reprinting the piece here as a kind of prolouge. Those two and the upcoming twenty five are the movies that hit with that rarified narcotic bliss, that simply put, made me a junkie for life. Here we go:

The Bride Of Frankenstein is the first film that I can remember seeing. True I have a jumbled infants memory of the forest fire from Bambi on the big screen. But that's just a flash. My memory of watching Bride is so much more real and complete. I couldn't have been more then three or four, and for some damn reason I'd gotten a hold of the film from the public library (same one with The Wolfman). I popped it in, and made it all of about two minutes before I literally ran sceaming from the room, ran down the hall to my bedroom and hid under my bed.

It was the hand that did it. For those unfamiliar with the movie, the film opens with the villagers standing around the burnt windmill that serves as the location for the first films climax. There's alot of exposition being thrown around, but it all basically amounts to the monster's dead and they're glad of it. The teeming villagers head back to the burg for a pint, leaving only the grieving father of the girl murderered in the first film behind. He's not happy with the outcome, a burned building isn't enough. Until he sees the fucking things smoldering corpse he won't be happy.

He ends up falling through the wood into the cave below the windmill and as he splashes helplessly in the water, a hand comes out from behind a blind wall. A decayed, stitched up dead thing, dragging behind it Boris Karloff lumbering body and lifeless eyes.

At which point I promptly lost my four year old shit.

It's probably just as well, I most likely wouldn't have known what to make of Bride. By far the most sophisticated of Universal pictures. While the others Universal films work by jumping feet first into the myth pool, Bride is an incredibly knowing film. What my four year old self would make of it's camp, religious satire, and gay subtext I know not. Probably not very much.

But I sure appriciate it now. The Bride Of Frankenstein is simply put one of my favorite films. A grand tragedy with a wicked sense of humor. A film that hurts, Karloff's doomed monster, and his dead unrequetted queen, the fey Dr. Pretorious, James Whale's moody style. So many things to recommend it.

But really what it comes down to the hand. The one that sent me screaming from the room. Seeing it now still makes me shudder in some primal place that I like to pretend I don't have. It made me an instant horror junkie of course, but in alot of ways I learned on that day, not just what I want from Horror movies, but from movies. I got an object lesson that Film is the most visceral of the arts. The ability it has to brand itself the brain with nothing more then a plaster wall and a slightly made up hand. I like cinema that scars.

And while it took ten years and another horror sequel (Evil Dead II) for me to realize that I wanted Film to become my profession and life. I like to think that my fate was set, as surely as Karloff's poor monster's was from the moment I laid my eyes on it.


The Film Connoisseur said...

Great idea for a post! I will be reading as it unfolds! And Im sorry, but I will probably be doing something similar since I liked the idea so much, but dont worry, it will be a couple of weeks or months down the line.

Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

I'm with him, great idea! Things can only get better. Make this the year for changes, getting things done.

Marcus said...

Great idea! Happy birthday Bryce!

J.D. said...

I would like to echo the other comments in digging this idea as well! Very cool. I really enjoy reading your blog and always look forward to your posts.

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments.

@FC feel free to "borrow" the concept. lol. I am a firm believer in Creative Commons.

@Sarah I'll do my best to take your advice.

@Marcus: Thank you sir,

@JD Thanks for the encouragement. I should have the first up later today.