Tag Archives: george sanders

A last-minute Halloween treat

Here’s a fun fact: I sometimes watch movies, but don’t write about them online. Right now, however, I’d like to correct that discrepancy. As October inches closer and closer to its official end (although really, October is just a state of mind), here are a few horror movies I saw during the past month that have yet to be discussed on Pussy Goes Grrr.

  • The Host (Bong Joon-ho, 2006): I’m a sucker for giant monster movies, having suckled at the teat of Godzilla, so I was naturally inclined to like this skewed take on the subgenre. It gets a little saccharine and manipulative every once in a while, but that’s more than made up for by the film’s warmth, humor, and political satire.
  • Psychomania (Don Sharp, 1971): I previously knew it only as George Sanders’ last movie. Turns out it’s also totally ridiculous, almost impossible to follow, and batshit insane. Sanders plays a butler; for convoluted reasons, his employer’s son commits suicide and comes back the same… only invulnerable. WTF! It’s amusing, but also really bad.
  • Red Eye (Wes Craven, 2005): This is less of a horror movie and more a standard psychological thriller. Assassin Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) plays mind games with a hotel manager (Rachel McAdams), his seatmate on a Dallas-Miami flight. Much of the screenplay is laughable – especially as the film approaches its finale – but Murphy and McAdams are professionals, and their back-and-forth achieves Hitchcockian levels of suspense.
  • Fright Night (Tom Holland, 1985): Chris Sarandon is a sleazy vampire who moves to the suburbs with his lover?/henchman; William Ragsdale is the teenage neighbor who pledges to defeat him; Roddy McDowall is the over-the-hill TV vampire hunter who helps him. It’s such a good-natured, fun-loving movie that I couldn’t help but love it. Kind of like John Hughes meets Goosebumps, but so much better than both.
  • Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009): Raimi finally returned to Evil Dead territory with fantastic results. Alison Lohman is a banker suffering from a gypsy curse who does a lot of bad, bad things in her effort to get rid of it. Unsurprisingly, it’s comically gory and self-consciously pokes fun at EC Comics-style morality tales; a very worthwhile return to form from an old master.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (Jack Sholder, 1985): Like entries 2 and 3 on this list, its storyline makes virtually no sense. Still, the underlying teen angst (and repressed but white-hot homoeroticism) make this sequel stand out, as does the Cronenbergian scenes of extreme body horror.
  • Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987): Holy shit, Clive Barker! What the fuck is your problem?! But seriously, this is a very different, very kinky kind of horror movie, maybe like a mix of Little Shop of Horrors, The Devil and Daniel Webster, and Salò. Yeah, let’s go with that. It has a slasher plot about an undead sociopath manipulating his brother’s wife, but it’s all wrapped up in a bizarre, ultra-violent mythology about a race of hellbound beings who clean the doors of perception for their human clients. The film also has Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), who’s a very convincing final girl.

So there’s a taste of the other stuff I watched this month. Exciting! And with that, I say happy October and happy Halloween.

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Link Dump: #8

[Via Nordenwald]

I’m not shy about my love of George Sanders. His worldly, acerbic presence was the cherry on top of many great movies. And hey, since it’s October, why not think about all the great scary movies that got the George Sanders treatment? Like Rebecca (1940), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Lured (1947), Village of the Damned (1960), and many more, especially toward the end of his career. Sanders was always witty, even with bad dialogue, and wit is one of my favorite traits in a horror movie. Plus, he voiced worldly, acerbic kitty in a Disney movie. What’s not to love? Now, for this week’s links…

  • Last week was Banned Books Week, but don’t forget that some library books are just awful. This hilarious website shows some of them. (Of course, even the most awful books shouldn’t be banned; that’s just silly.)
  • To follow up on our coverage of Satoshi Kon’s passing a few weeks ago, here’s a piece from Filmwell discussing his all-too-short career.
  • Look! Weird Danish comics!
  • This is truly incredible: the theme from Psycho played on a church organ.
  • In the last Link Dump, I mentioned Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project. Well, it’s inspired a flood of responses. Here’s an article on Jezebel defending the project against criticisms from within the LGBT community; a new project called Make It Better that takes Savage’s one step further; and two very powerful, touching pieces on the film blogs Billy Loves Stu and I’m Not Patty.
  • If there’s anything we love to hate, it’s wacky fundamentalist websites. Movieguide.org is like Jack Chick writing movie reviews; I can’t recommend it highly enough. It gave me hours of lolz. Princess Mononoke is “demonic”? Palindromes is “putrid”? Oh yes, and there’s more ahead! (Hint: If a movie has any queer content… outlook not so good.) Alas, their web design is not as immaculate as their souls, so the site’s pretty hard to navigate.
  • Speaking of fundamentalist wackos, here’s a satirical piece about the evils of Glee. Best line: “Sports are essential for keeping fit, strong and attractive!”
  • And still speaking of fundamentalist wackos, here’s a story about a teacher who was driven out of her job by censorship done, you know, in the best interest of the children.
  • Jezebel has the scoop on the smutty side of Edith Wharton.
  • Everybody loves gendered stereotypes, right? Here’s a Twitter feed full of them called GuysTruths! Sample tweet: the classic “Fellas, when you see a girl cry, just hug her.”
  • Super Punch had a Calvin and Hobbes art contest, which includes awesome Let the Right One In and The Sandman parodies; the last entry on here (reading “Playtime is over”) is by a friend and former classmate of mine.
  • Finally, do you like webcomics? Do you like them funky and sexy? Scott has what you need with Funky Sexy Jazzmen, updated weekly.

On the search terms front, the last couple weeks haven’t seen anything especially exciting. I think I’ve seen “nipple masturbation” and “pregnant gore” juxtaposed so often that I’m officially desensitized to all the words involved. However, one search did manage to weird even me out: “fire extinguisher pussy.” That phrase has unpleasant implications I don’t want to explore. Somebody searched for everyone’s least favorite kind of hipster, the “public masturbation hipster.” I hate those hipsters so much, always masturbating in public! Some cool news: Pussy Goes Grrr is officially the #1 hit on the search “emilie karsunke,” which is the real name of Mieze from Berlin Alexanderplatz. And lastly, someone posed the all-important question, “how big is a whales pussy”? I’m stumped on this one. But, for some fascinating whale pussy-related trivia, I turn to Spencer Tinker’s Whales of the World, page 96:

A very unusual structure called the vaginal “plug” is found in the vagina of some toothed whales (Odontoceti), but does not occur in any known species of whalebone whales (Mysticeti). This puzzling structure is formed by secretions from the wall of the vagina and is composed in part of hard, calcareous substances. The purpose of this “plug” is doubtless related to reproduction, possibly copulation.

Thank you for reading.

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And what would you do if you met a Jibboo?

Do you ever have the feeling nobody’s out there? Like that one episode of The Twilight Zone? That everybody’s gone, somewhere, somehow, into oblivion and there you are, left by yourself: no more broadcast media left because there’s no one there to broadcast it. Except reruns. Or infinite infomercials. But no original content, ever. This is a fear I have sometimes – not necessarily of really being alone, but of feeling alone. Of becoming an island unto myself, cut off from the rest of mankind. Of being unable to reach out and find somebody there, like Robert Neville in every film version of I Am Legend, endlessly calling out via shortwave radio into the darkness, wondering if there’s anyone else left. Isolation is a fear that preys on us. Being left behind or left by ourselves, to fend for ourselves against the dangers of the world without the assistance of our friends or family. We make various attempts to neutralize these fears through one defense mechanism or another, but ultimately it’s still there, and we have to keep crying out to reassure ourselves: “Is there anybody there? Anybody?”

That said, classes are over. I start my only final in an hour. I figured I’d blog to pass the time. Last night, watching The Ghost and Mrs. Muir reminded me of someone I should blog about – I want to start an ongoing series about Actors/Actresses Who Are Awesome. Having already touched on Charles Laughton and Edith Massey, I now turn my attentions toward the great George Sanders.

George Sanders

The consummate English gentleman of leisure, Sanders was frequently smarmy, cultured, and sybaritic. Sometimes he played an out-and-out villain, other times he was something of a hero, but more often he was a high-class lowlife who couldn’t be counted on to commit a murder or save a life. More likely, he’d be reclining on a divan, reading poetry and possibly making witty insults. With all these resemblances to Oscar Wilde, it’s no surprise he would play the dissipated Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), or that this Spanish-language website would describe him as bisexual. Regardless of whether this rather dubious source is at all accurate, sexual adventure and extravagance were a part of the Sanders persona. Frequently he’d play the secondary character who’s not quite evil enough to be a villain, but is still pretty amoral, as in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir or Jean Renoir’s This Land Is Mine. Other times he’d be a tainted, womanizing, but basically honorable protagonist or ally: Rage in Heaven, The Lodger, Lured.

His best roles came in Hitchcock’s Rebecca as the title character’s slimy former lover Jack, who happily adds on layers of confusion to the heroine’s situation (I won’t comment on his other Hitchcock collaboration, Foreign Correspondent, which I haven’t seen in forever), and in All About Eve, where he’s the ultimate Sanders character, venomous theater critic Addison DeWitt. DeWitt looks at others with constant derision, scheming when he can, frequently tearing down egos and careers. Sanders’ performance is a masterpiece of amorality, and he even gets a chance to introduce Marilyn Monroe to film history as “a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.” Early in Sanders’ career, he starred in 2 film series – The Falcon and The Saint – though he eventually gave up both, handing the role of the Falcon over to his brother, Tom Conway, in the fittingly-titled The Falcon’s Brother. Beautiful how things work out. By the ’60s, Sanders, like many great actors, was reduced to supporting parts in cheap, bad movies (although he did play the menacing tiger Shere Khan in The Jungle Book). He overdosed on sleeping pills in 1972, leaving a suicide note only George Sanders could write:

Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.

Regardless of what problems he had or what sadness his actions reveal, that note contains a surprising amount of audacity and wit. You can imagine George Sanders in the afterlife, above or below, raising an amused eyebrow as we toil from day to day and cutting down all our efforts with a single snide remark.

"The moon was out / and we saw some sheep."

Yertle the Turtle – possibly the best book ever written on the subject of turtle stacking.” – Lisa Simpson

Switching gears slightly, I’ve been thinking about the imagery in Dr. Seuss books. Earlier, I read a profile of lesbian comics genius Alison Bechdel, who listed Seuss (or Theodor Seuss Geisel [1904-1991]) as one of her creative/artistic influences. When you browse the Internet, Seuss generally comes up in a context of “My kids love this book” or “This book is great for kids.” So my question: Is there any reason for adults to look at Seuss’s work? I read some of his books many, many times at a young age, including One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, which was the source of the rather chilling image pictured above. Why are the sheep going for a walk in their sleep? Seuss himself never provides any answers, but you can just guess they’re up to no good.

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975)

Seuss’s books often teach a variety of fairly simple lessons, be they “Don’t let strangers ruin your house” (The Cat in the Hat), “Try new things” (Green Eggs and Ham), “Don’t fuck with the environment” (The Lorax), or “Don’t let the U.S. and the Soviet Union get into nuclear stalemate” (The Butter Battle Book); however, sometimes he just cuts loose and lets his imagination run with itself, as in One Fish, Two Fish or, as I recall, in Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, a book I was describing to Ashley recently as containing bizarre, unearthly architecture, with towers possibly modeled on the skeletons of dinosaurs and lands with multiple moons. I feel like, to some degree, Seuss must’ve been influenced by Escher – only he added a lysergic pastel rainbow, and creatures with wavy hair that were unrecognizable, but vaguely mammalian. He was decidedly multitalented, able to meld these visions from the boundary between dream and nightmare with bouncy, anaphoratic verse. Take for example this piece from One Fish, Two Fish; accompanied by a picture of two kids lugging what looks like a sinister walrus in a barely-large-enough tank, it’s haunted me for years.

Look what we found
in the park
in the dark.
We will take him home.
We will call him Clark.

He will live at our house.
He will grow and grow.
Will our mother like this?
We don’t know.

This is, mind you, all there is to that particular story – it’s a self-contained vignette, so we never get to see how large, exactly, Clark grows, or if their mother likes it. It reminds me of a similar incident in There’s a Wocket in My Pocket: the narrator mentions the vug under the rug, who is briefly shown as a formless lump; he then quickly moves on to the next creature. Here’s another picture from Wocket.

Beware the Jertain!

A pair of vaguely chicken-like legs with no real clues as to how the rest of the body looks. Seuss knew a thing or two about preserving ambiguity in the service of excitement and fear. So what’s my point here? For one thing: as Bechdel’s testimony shows, I think, Seuss can easily be an artistic influence, especially when his fantastic creations are some of the first books children are exposed to. Secondly, he seems to put forward an accepting worldview, observing in One Fish, Two Fish that “from there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere,” and priming children for their imminent bombardment with events both good and bad, ordinary and strange. Some of his bizarre imaginings are good, others are bad. “Why are they sad and glad and bad?” Seuss asks. “I do not know. Go ask your dad.” (Of course, no one’s dad could ever explain the reasons behind good and evil either, so he was just passing the buck.)

So ultimately, I recommend taking a critical glance at Seuss’s books. I think that beyond their simplistic language, they explore some pretty fertile territory of the mind. And after all, if children’s books aren’t good enough for adults, why should they ever be read to children? Why should we expose children to shit we can’t stand? Seuss is one of the many great 20th century multimedia artists. He deserves better.

Also, I suspect that if I met a Jibboo, especially in a stark and spectral landscape like that one, I’d run like hell away.

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