Professor Of Continental Philosophy, Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge
|Il MOSTRO È IN TAVOLA, BARONE... FRANKENSTEIN CARNE PER FRANKENSTEIN
|DRACULA CERCA SANGUE DI VERGINE E... MORÌ DI SETE!!!
|The Wicker Man
|Le Vergine di Norimberga
|Anthony M. Dawson
|...E TU VIVRAI NEL TERRORE! L'ALDILA
|La Maschera del Demonio
|Hellbound Hellraiser II
Il MOSTRO È IN TAVOLA, BARONE... FRANKENSTEIN CARNE PER FRANKENSTEIN
The most baroque and liberating film poem to necrophilia. The beauty of the cast is in their strangeness and the redistribution of the body as a disorganised Body without Organs makes this film deeply erotic. Queer, feminist, strange and utterly compelling, it has remained my favourite film for 35 years.
DRACULA CERCA SANGUE DI VERGINE E... MORÌ DI SETE!!!
Morrissey and Margheriti's companion piece to Flesh for Frankenstein. A vivid Marxist reimagining of a weimar decadent Dracula that shows hypocrisy in all politics when it comes to the commodification of women. Nontheless beautiful, with an enchanting Udo Kier, a stunning score by Claudio Gizzi. Delirious and delicious.
One of the most critically important films ever made and should be compulsory viewing for all humans sharing this Earth. A film I teach each year and a film that heralds the urgent need to re-evaluate human exceptionalism and the effects of the Anthropocene.
The Wicker Man
A film that defies genre, that defies expectation and that is infinitely rewatchable. Each viewing affects with a sense of horror, or triumph, or of musical delight, never the same. The strangeness of this film is in its beautiful ordinariness. As confounding to describe in its wonder as it is defiant of cinematic tropes.
A film that defines affective cinema. The main characters are colour and sound, saturation and timbre, rhythm and resonance with the interiors of the flesh. High praise to the true creator of the film Daria Nicolodi. Argento's best and most immersive, pure cinema experience. Also really terrrifying.
Le Vergine di Norimberga
Margheriti traverses all styles of horror and is a rare example of shifting from neo-gothic to gore to splatter over the decades. This is something special. Italian neo gothic in lurid colour set in contemporary times, with a medieval torture chamber, a skull faced Mirko Valentin in a homo-erotic ex-nazi relationship with a surgical fetishistic Christopher Lee, jazzy Riz Ortolani score and Rossana Podesta as the first final girl whose curiosity offers a female gaze without shame or punishment. This film is a joy of terror throughout.
A film that should be terrible but accidentally becomes a hypnotically beautiful love sonnet to necrophilia. A sort of remake of Mino Guerrina's Third Eye (1966) with less sexist cruelty in spite of the high gore and violence. Kieran Canter, Franca Stoppi and Cinzia Monreale are spellbinding in their bizarre machinations and cinesexual faces. Poignant, visceral and sensual, and a score by Goblin.
...E TU VIVRAI NEL TERRORE! L'ALDILA
Artaud inspired and Lovecraftian miasma soaked, Fulci's greatest film is a textured opening of the maw of hell, albeit a humid, fetid hell which suffocated with iconic imagery, including a crucified alchemist and Cinzia Monreale's genre-defining white eyed Emily. Narrative defying, affect-image saturated. Choral score by Fabio Frizzi makes watching this film a religious experience, a different kind of mass for cinephiles.
La Maschera del Demonio
The very definition of chiaroscuro, this film pulsates from the screen with the curves and depths of Italian neo-gothic image-made-flesh. Each frame alone could be frozen to insinuate alternate trajectories of lucid gothic dreamings of other films and other times, With a premise of revenge for misogynistic religious hypocrisy, the film already reorients the role of women in horror. Barbara Steele is compelling in all her Italian horror films, with special mention to Margheriti's The Long Hair of Death. Bava's film coalesces baroque painting, spiralling reorientations of the cinematic dialectic, it steals the breath from one's lungs with the unbearable beauty of the camera as painter's brush.
Hellbound Hellraiser II
One year after Hellraiser a semi-rare example of a sequel triumphing over the original (and then going to absolute worse-than-effluvia with the rest of the Hellraiser films). In addition to the monastic cenobites, improved with increased dialogue especially from the female cenobite played by Barbie Wilde (but before Doug Bradley's Pinhead turned into some pastiche chatty ham in the following films), we are introduced to Kenneth Cranham's torn and tortured Dr Channard, beginning as Crowley-esque and becoming a queer icon with his head attached to a giant penis and his hands stigmata-tised by tentacled reticulations offering an array of pleasure and pain. All the acting is exceptional, the gore is stylish and luridly beautiful, and the coalescence of occultism, asylums and brain surgery matches the ecclesiastic heterotopia of hell.
If I could put groups of films in, this would have been easier. Hammer belongs in any top 10, but which if Hammer is best? (For me it is Taste the Blood of Dracula). Similarly German Expressionism belongs, but again, which? (Anything with Conrad Veidt probably). I am sorry there are no women directors in my top 10 so special mention to Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a film I am delighted my students have embraced at UGrad and PGrad level as finally clarifying years of feminist film theory in action. We have had to choose which are our greatest, but even if I argued for the greatest, they would be horror films (The Exorcist, Nosferatu, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Female Trouble, Evil Dead) so it seemed more important to be true to what I could defend as the best. For me these films have remained the best for decades, in spite of my evolving taste, theoretical knowledge and film theory expertise, so that suggests something more deeply visceral, in defiance of signifying regimes, that has remained within my cinesexuality. And why I have never liked the 'greats' saturated with machismo and vying for sentimentality over toxic masculinity. I love pure cinema, the films I love are affect-images bombarding me in excess of the syntax available. Not body horror even, because there is a fierce intelligence in these films, that only belongs to the screen and is not translatable to logic or a vocabulary of the body alone. Great cinema unifies flesh and brain, and repudiates Cartesian dualism, seen also in my lack of demarcating low from high cinema. The space between the screen and spectator creates the event of cinema, it is where both image and self supplicate to each other. Like desire, taste in cinema is found here.