Suspiria & Others
I recently watched Dario Argento’s Suspiria for the first time (right before it got pulled from Netflix’s Watch Instantly) and I’ve been a little obsessed with it ever since. I’m somewhat (rightly) famous for my hyperbole and my enthusiasm for the things I like, but it’s been awhile since I saw anything that galvanized me in quite the way that Suspiria did. Anytime I watch something I usually want to talk about it afterward, but with Suspiria, I still want to talk about it, even though it’s been something like a week. (Does anyone reading this actually need me to tell them about Suspiria, though? If you haven’t seen it, by some chance, consider this my recommendation.)
Moreover, only after watching it I realized the connection between it and Fritz Leiber’s Our Lady of Darkness, which prompted me to go back and re-read the latter, and has also prompted me to track down the thing that inspired them both, Thomas de Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis, which has dutifully taken its place in my reading queue. I’ve been thinking a lot about the connections between these things (and their connections to some other works). I don’t know yet if anything’ll come of it, but it’s been fun to muse about, anyway.
I’ve actually watched quite a bit of new (or, new to me, anyway) stuff lately, some of which is worth mentioning. Black Death is another surprisingly good one (though it shouldn’t be too surprising, as several people had recommended it to me). And I caught the Anthony Hopkins exorcism flick The Rite, which was mostly just OK, but it had at least one scene of great atmospheric creepiness. Also, Rutger Hauer in a surprisingly restrained role as the protagonist’s undertaker father which, my unhealthy love for Rutger Hauer notwithstanding, was still pretty great.
My wife and I also caught The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was really good, but very intense. Parts of it definitely reminded me of Zodiac, mostly in the “making sorting through papers and looking at old photographs exciting somehow” department, so I’m still eager to see David Fincher tackle the remake. I’ll be curious to see if they action-movie up Daniel Craig’s Blomkvist, though.
And I re-watched Mimic for something like the third or fourth time. Sadly, it’s still a bit of a disappointment in del Toro’s canon, but it’s got some interesting moments, and looking at it from this point in his career you can definitely see the building blocks of several things he’d do later (there are especially a lot of echoes of it in The Strain). The big surprise this time, I think, was that Josh Brolin had a supporting role. I guess I probably didn’t know who he was the last time I saw the movie.
I’ve also been reading a fair bit of good stuff of late. Besides the aforementioned Our Lady of Darkness, I picked up Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, an artist I’ve liked for awhile. I also checked out some stuff by Junji Ito, finally, which someone (I think Jesse Bullington) had suggested I do long ago. Both were really great, though also kind of as different as two comics about supernatural stuff could possibly be, with the Brosgol angling toward the charming and the Ito keeping to the creepy and disturbing as shit.
And last but not least I finally got around to reading Laird Barron‘s newest collection, Occultation, which delivered on all the promise of his first collection, and then some. Laird’s been one of the top practitioners of the weird horror story from the word go, but this collection is a massive jump up in awesomeness from the first one, and that’s from someone who thought the first one was pretty great. My favorite stories in it often deal with some kind of fringe occult activities in a way that feels totally real and new and ominous and creepy. I’d already read “Catch Hell,” but “Mysterium Tremendum,” “Six Six Six,” and the title story are all original to the collection, I believe, and are all major favorites of mine. I think “Six Six Six” is probably my favorite Laird Barron story to date. Good stuff.