On the prowl for some spooky/kooky records to soundtrack your All Hallow's Eve and Day of the Dead fetes? Then by all means creep up on these fresh-to-death platters of Horror-rific, fringe fantasy realness for your Halloween listening pleasure!
I recently wrote an essay taking a perverse perspective on this comic book called Fukitor. It mixes questionable views on sex and race in a comedic manner that, I believe, undermines any straightforward reading of the book as mere support for white male power (the straightforward approach caused a brief controversy here and here). But, because it clearly revels within genres that are exploitative, the comic could hardly be thought to be clearly promoting good progressive values, either. Without a doubt, the book contains images of bigotry, but it's no more a sympathetic portrayal of white male privilege than a film like Fight for Your Life. All the white men in the book are knuckledragging imbeciles, but the comic (like said film) uses the bigotry for comedy, which is just too much for some people.
Being a fan of exploitation and not a fan of bigotry, it seems to me that the disagreement over exploitative imagery has more to do with the political demands one places on art rather than any necessary disagreement over politics itself. I don’t need to agree with the ideology of the art (whether or not it’s actually the view of the artist) to find some enjoyment there. In fact, like Groucho Marx, I'm skeptical of anyone who pats me on the back. Karns’ critics, however, seem to oppose his comics based on the fact that they aren’t expressing a correct view. I’m not the least bit sympathetic, for example, to Martin Wisse’s view on transgression ('transgression' being the word for 'exploitation' that lends it intellectual respectability):
Not an Autumn goes by that I don't indulge in the ultimate cinematic sacrifice to the regenerative forces of Spring by viewing the most excellent British cult classic The Wicker Man (not to be confused with the poorly-honeyed and over-the-top misogynist romp of a remake starring Nicholas Cage). This year's viewing, however, will be an extra special treat in that the film is celebrating 40 years of horrific pagan pageantry with the theatrical release of The Wicker Man: The Final Cut wherein director Robin Hardy's original vision is finally restored.
For those who have never seen it, take warning. This film is unsettling in that it is a bit of a musical studded with weird sex scenes and even weirder segments debatably necessary nudity, often interrupted by non-violent horror elements and culturally-confused comedic spells all revolving around a central mystery thread: a child is reported missing from a remote Hebridean island and the stringent Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), come from the mainland, is determined to find out what happened. The result is a very revisitable cinematic delight, though it ultimately leaves disconcerting and, depending on your moral compass, a horrifically distressful aftertaste.
To me, about the only interesting aspect of the latest zombie film, World War Z, is how it dealt with a certain notion that it shares with all post-apocalyptic narratives, namely that the politics we (many liberals and leftists, at least) find iniquitous in the real world might find a moral purchase in the dystopian fantasy. (The film itself is arranged like a video game, where Brad Pitt goes from scenario to scenario, completing each mission, only to be told by the Side Character Who Knows that the possible solution lies at the end of another mission set in another context with its own set of possible actions.) That actions can produce different moral outcomes depending on context shouldn't be all that surprising, though, since most everyone is surely familiar with the adage about how even the most heinous of political systems might at least keep the trains running on time. That is, if you simplify the public good enough, like the purpose a junkie finds in addiction, one can find an advantage to any system. In the context of a zombie apocalypse, the desideratum is, of course, surviving one more day from the undead plague.
So, one thing a totalitarian regime like North Korea is ably suited for is to marshall all of its forces into closing off its borders and making sure none of its citizens is able to spread the disease should he or she become infected. Ideally, the advantage to martial law is to circumvent time-consuming debate during an emergency. This automatically gives an advantage to a totalitarian regime over a democracy, since only the latter has to bother calling for martial law, the former having already been operating under a military state preceding the emergency. Likewise, because North Korea recognizes no inalienable rights to selfhood, current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un can put his state apparatus to efficient use by removing all the teeth from his entire citizenry. Not that infection was all that probable, since the country was living in a bubble at the time of the outbreak.
Lets just say this film is NOT for the morally conscious.
The ABCs of Death is a collection of humorous horror shorts from around the world, each based on a letter of the alphabet -- so you know going in that, percentage-wise, some of it won't be very good. However, there are a truly inspired few that make enduring the whole worthwhile. What you'll learn, if you didn't already know, is that Americans aren't very good at making horror these days, Asians are the best, with the French and Mexicans falling somewhere in between.
The best of the bunch is undoubtedly from Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto's "L is for Libido." Two men are chained to chairs, forced to masturbate to whatever's put before them on a stage. The last one to ejaculate gets gruesomely eliminated, while the winner goes on to the next round, with something even more heinous being put before him and his new opponent. Without giving any of the shock value away, I'll just say that the forced fetish spectacle was sufficiently evil to get the asshole sitting next to me who couldn't stop playing with his cell phone (a video arcade was coming from his seat) to finally pay attention and leave in disgust. A good horror film can't be ignored. Despite Tjahjanto's claim of amorality, there's actually quite a bit going on here. I'm thinking about the assumption of passivity in gaze theory, both on the part of the spectacle and on the part of the spectator. What's being shown in front of the camera is under its controlling gaze (typically, this is thought to be women, objectified and fetishized), while giving the viewer the false impression of being in control of that gaze, when in fact the gaze has been ("always already") structured for him (men tend to be assumed to be in the role of the scopophiliac). The short manifests this theory as horror: the men are actually subjugated to a spectacle beyond their control. But it's unlikely to win many feminist converts, because it's played for laughs (of the gallows humor variety). The problem in gaze theory is that the spectator isn't passive, a mere product of interpellation, which is made comically apparent through sanguine literality. Intentional or not, Tjahjanto has created a perverse satire of Laura Mulvey's theory.