Tag Archives: american psycho

Horror Character Madness, Part 1

By Andreas

When Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl announced her SHOCKtober plans for this year, she stirred something deep inside Ashley and I. Specifically, she stirred the eternal desire to list off our favorite horror movie characters. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do! Throughout October, we’ll periodically be showcasing each of our top 25 horror characters. It starts now, with my 25-21; stay tuned for Ashley’s first five later this week!

25) The Nursery Owner (Frank Collison in The Happening [2008])

We’re packing hot dogs for the road. You know, hot dogs get a bad rap. They got a cool shape, they got protein… you like hot dogs, right?

For one sweet minute, The Happening changes from a godawful eco-horror movie into a hot dog awareness PSA, and it’s all thanks to “The Nursery Owner.” Played by character actor Frank Collison, he’s a rural Pennsylvanian who keeps calm in times of panic and knows what kind of processed meat to snack on in the midst of a disaster. He may die an ignoble off-screen death later in the movie, but he remains a hero to hot dog lovers everywhere. We salute you, hot dog guy.

24) The Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near in Eraserhead [1977])

Why is she there? What does she symbolize? Why is she so creepy? With her chipmunk cheeks, ugly wig, and bizarrely amateurish vaudeville routine, Eraserhead’s Lady in the Radiator has burnt herself into our corneas and eardrums. Maybe she’s an imagined source of Depression-era optimism in Henry Spencer’s dismal life. Maybe she’s an eerie audiovisual manifestation of his pent-up psychosexual anxieties. Maybe she’s just a tiny woman who lives and sings in his radiator. I don’t know and, to be frank, I don’t want to know.

23) The Living Torso (Prince Randian in Freaks [1932])

The Freaks ensemble is hard to discuss in “acting” or “character” terms: since it consists primarily of non-actors squeezed awkwardly into melodramatic roles, it’s tough to delineate the borders between performance, reality, and exploitation. This applies especially to the poker-faced Prince Randian (inexplicably credited as “Rardion”), who appears onscreen to do his trademark bit (rolling and lighting a cigarette with his mouth), call out a garbled line, and disappear until the climax, wherein he wriggles along with a knife in his mouth.

Despite (or because of?) the brevity of this role, Randian sticks like a thorn in my mind. A Guianan immigrant in his early sixties, he seems grizzled and professional as he performs for what would become his generation-spanning, worldwide cult audience. Furthermore, it’s especially impressive to see a person of color take center-stage in a Hollywood movie from the early ’30s, if only for a minute.

22) Jenny Hall (Una O’Connor, The Invisible Man [1933])

When I wrote about The Invisible Man last year, I had this to say about Jenny Hall, the innkeeper’s wife who comes face to no-face with mad Jack Griffin: “[S]he’s a hyperactive, thick-brogued scream queen… she’s bitchy, nosy, gossipy, inane, infuriating, and gives a great performance. You’d have to be a great actress to play such a deeply intolerable character.” I stand by it, too. She’s the definitive shrill, British matron, realized with all the brio and exaggeration of a Looney Tunes character.

21) Jean (Chloë Sevigny in American Psycho [2000])

Poor Jean is so cute and so unlucky. She’s working as a secretary at a big Wall Street firm, living the dream, climbing the ladder—but alas, her boss happens to be, at best, a self-absorbed psychopath and, at worst, a mass murderer. I adore how Sevigny plays her: fairly modest and quiet, thrilled just to be sitting in Mr. Bateman’s apartment, cluelessly asking her would-be date, “Patrick, have you ever wanted to make someone happy?” I think we can all sympathize with Jean; recognize that we would be in her position, too. As such, I’m really, really happy that she lives.

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American Narcississt

By Andreas

More than any of the countless grisly murders, this is the moment in American Psycho (2000) that really creeps me out. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is having wild sex with two prostitutes in assorted positions, all while a camera runs and Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” plays in the background. But the sex and the women aren’t the focal points of this scene: no, it’s the self-absorbed Patrick, who ogles himself over and over again in the mirror, flexing and pointing and winking.

Earlier in the film, Patrick details his morning routine, making it clear that’s obsessed with his physical appearance. He has no internal life, he has no meaningful relationships; all he has is his brutal, muscular, exactingly maintained body, which he uses to inspire terror (maybe?) in others. So it makes sense that during an expensive, long-lasting threesome, he doesn’t pay any attention to the women other than to order them around. The only part of sex that really pleasures him is admiring the attractive, powerful body that’s having the sex.

Here, Patrick’s “perfect” body isn’t an object to lust after, because the entire concept of sexual desire has been perverted and rendered wholly icky. It’s really not surprising that David Cronenberg initially had his eyes on adapting Ellis’s novel, because it’s prime body horror material. Bale is undoubtedly sexy, but he’s also physically freakish and monstrous. He’s like Charles Atlas by way of The Fly, gone down the path where self-improvement becomes self-obsession. The sterile white apartment around him just makes it worse: this is an orgy with all the sensuality sucked out of it. Only Patrick’s pathological narcissism is left.

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Link Dump: #12

As you may have noticed, Pussy Goes Grrr has been lying dormant for the past full week. A lot of complicated factors led to this, but they can all be boiled down to one word: academics. Both Ashley and I are full-time college students, which means (as you can imagine) that we’re both busy as hell. Right now is especially bad, as I’m cruising through finals week and struggling to help publish a collaborative graphic novella. That said, we should be back to full speed ahead as early as next Tuesday. In the meantime, feel free to browse our back catalog for old, fun posts, and wish me luck on this 12-page paper about Divine in Pink Flamingos. [Special fun fact: we currently have 666 comments! Spooky!]

  • Watch/hear A.O. Scott talk about American Psycho, a movie that just keeps getting better and better. [Also, I share Scott’s initials. I doubt, however, whether this will help me get employment at the NYT.]
  • From the “Spelling the Downfall of Humanity” file: some models choose to not shave their legs. GASP!
  • Here’s a long, detailed piece on Joseph Cornell’s classic avant-garde short film Rose Cornell.
  • David Thomson has a movie quiz for you – and it’s not an easy one. However, you could win a copy of his Biographical Dictionary of Film. I got 20 of them off the top of my head; can you beat that?
  • Via Jezebel, I saw this video from the NOH8 campaign. It’s powerful and speaks truth to power. Go them!
  • Paul Brunick of Slant writes about Todd Haynes’ Poison in the context of the AIDS crisis. (This is a seriously good essay.)
  • Courtesy of The Huffington Post, here’s a video called “10 centuries in 5 minutes” that shows Europe’s fluctuating borders over the past 1,000 years.
  • And here, from Gawker, is “60 Years of Television’s Most Memorable Catch Phrases in 146 Seconds“!
  • Criterion’s releasing a high-quality DVD of The Night of the Hunter, and the LA Times helps us celebrate with this second look at the movie! (Here’s hoping we get tons of extra featurettes with Charles Laughton interviews.)
  • Film blogger extraordinaire David Cairns of Shadowplay is inaugurating a “Late Show” blogathon devoted to directors’ late or last films, set for this December 14-20! Everybody should participate; I know I will, since the options are endless!
  • True Classics has a neat essay on one of my perennial favorites, Mildred Pierce. It’s always worth reading about Joan Crawford.

For search terms, we haven’t had a whole lot in the way of weird-as-fuck outliers lately, but here’s a sampling: one person looked for the ultra-superlative phrase “extremingly fucking.” You hear that? EXTREMINGLY. Someone else searched for the ever-popular “mother sucks cocks” – presumably in relation to the Exorcist quote “Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Karras…”, but possibly in relation to some incest fantasies. Finally, another intrepid searcher offers up this solid advice: “dont shave your daughters pussy.” Well-put.

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Filed under Body, Cinema, Sexuality