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Old 10-21-2017, 03:01 AM
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I Horror Surrealism?

(the title should be IS horror surrealism)

Surrealism deals with dreams. Horror films are often described as nightmares.

I think horror is when surrealism turns nasty.

Things happen in a horror film that just don't happen in reality. I would say horror is surrealism with a backstory. An explanation. But they are basically the same.

Consider the end of HALLOWEEN. When Myers disappears. Carpenter intended that he simply ceased to exist physically. He only changed it for the sequel to make sense.

A killer simply vanishing into thin air? Surreal.

Then we have ELM ST. This deals directly with dreams and therefore surrealism. Stretchy arms anyone?

All horror has elements of weirdness. Even if it just the killer wearing a mask.
The weirder the better for me!

What say you?

Last edited by fudgetusk; 10-21-2017 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:48 AM
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The genre and surrealism don't always go hand in hand, but in most cases, even in some without the benefit of the supernatural... surrealism is a diligent caretaker.
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:56 AM
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"I Horror Surrealism?" is a pretty surreal thread title.

Funny about the Boogeyman not being there on the ground (after he was shot and fell out the window). I never got that he "disappeared", I just assumed he got up and moved, maybe going back to the front door of the house. That would have been following the trend of events up to that point.

If Carpenter really wanted to make him disappear, he should have either shown him visually fade out, or leave the clothes empty, or the best solution would be have the Dr go to the window and see him laying there on the ground, then turn to Laurie for just a slip second and then look back at Micheal, and he'd be gone.

Personally, I think there's a place for surreal horror films, Nightmare on Elm is a classic case. In general, I prefer horror films be very sparing in total surreal. Films like The Beyond aren't my cup of tea. I think a film has to establish the real for people to grab a hold of, especially in horror, where sometimes it's real harm that we fear, but if it's all a dream, there's nothing to fear. Plus, a strong reality will then give the surreal some real contrast.
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sculpt View Post
"I Horror Surrealism?" is a pretty surreal thread title.

Funny about the Boogeyman not being there on the ground (after he was shot and fell out the window). I never got that he "disappeared", I just assumed he got up and moved, maybe going back to the front door of the house. That would have been following the trend of events up to that point.

If Carpenter really wanted to make him disappear, he should have either shown him visually fade out, or leave the clothes empty, or the best solution would be have the Dr go to the window and see him laying there on the ground, then turn to Laurie for just a slip second and then look back at Micheal, and he'd be gone.

Personally, I think there's a place for surreal horror films, Nightmare on Elm is a classic case. In general, I prefer horror films be very sparing in total surreal. Films like The Beyond aren't my cup of tea. I think a film has to establish the real for people to grab a hold of, especially in horror, where sometimes it's real harm that we fear, but if it's all a dream, there's nothing to fear. Plus, a strong reality will then give the surreal some real contrast.
Not a David Lynch fan? He's pushed horror so far towards the surreal that it fell out the window.

Weirder the better for me. Not just in the story but in the look of it. evil dead is surreal gore.
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
Not a David Lynch fan? He's pushed horror so far towards the surreal that it fell out the window.

Weirder the better for me. Not just in the story but in the look of it. evil dead is surreal gore.
I liked the original Twin Peaks, especially the ones Lynch and Foster wrote and Lynch directed (which is actually only a few of the episodes). I liked Eraserhead, cool and original, but I wouldn't say I loved it. Actually, the first 3/4ths of Dune is my favorite Lynch material.

It's a mixed bag, each film stands on its own feet... it's not a thumbs up or thumbs down on surrealism in Horror film... it's done well and poorly.

I'm just saying you have to know what horror you're doing -- it may require some sturdy structure before you surreal it. You know what I mean? It depends. Reality itself is a contrast to a surreal film... Yellow Submarine is one of my favorite films... but "entirely nightmare" The Beyond 1981 just kind of pissed me off. Roger Ebert gave it 0.5 out of 4 stars, which I throw out there to say, the guy knew surrealism in film, it wasn't 'the more surreal the better' to him.
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Old 10-24-2017, 07:50 AM
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Yeah The Beyond was confusing. Liked the very end scene of hell. Very suffocating.

How about The Thing? That's pretty darn crazy. Horror is controlled surrealism for me.
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Old 10-24-2017, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
Yeah The Beyond was confusing. Liked the very end scene of hell. Very suffocating.

How about The Thing? That's pretty darn crazy. Horror is controlled surrealism for me.
I see what you mean. With The Thing, it's an ultra realistic film, but the creatures surprise as surreal, like legs sprouting from a head. Controlled surrealism. Even though I think the creatures follow real physics and genetics, the imagery strikes as surreal. As the film is so logical (to me it is), I wouldn't call it a surreal film, but I'd agree it's horror is controlled surrealism.
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:51 AM
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Regarding Fulci, I think The Beyond is more of an exercise in the abstract as opposed to surrealism. It is convoluted, and certainly offers nightmarish imagery, but is still rather straight forward in terms of being able to follow the film’s plot and sequence of events if you pay attention. It was also further grounded in reality by German distributors that demanded he put zombies in the film to capitalize on his previous success , it was originally supposed to be more of a metaphysical ghost story, which probably would have made it far more surreal lol. The Gates of Hell ( City of the Living Dead ) is a much more gratuitous example of Fulci doing surrealism. The film is completely unpredictable. Maggot storms indoors, walls splitting open and bleeding, people bleeding from their eyes and literally vomiting their guts out, a town being poisoned by a curse of the undead that seemingly has no limits or rules, and an ending that makes no sense whatsoever. That flick is a trip.

As for The Thing, I agree that it certainly has surreal qualities, but I have different ideas as to where they lie. Part of what I think is so amazing about the film, is that the creature is rooted heavily in science and biology, and it resonates on a primal level. To me, what makes the thing itself so horrifying, is that it makes sense. Take the dog scene for instance. When it starts to transform to assimilate the other dogs, it exposes itself while taking on the qualities of other creatures it had absorbed before, hence it looking so alien, but it’s still essentially “ made out of dog “. When one dog is trying to escape, it sprays it in an attempt to stop it, similar to a squid or spitting cobra. When attacked by Mac and the rest, it grows long appendages that are actually deformed “ paws “ to pull away from danger and into the corner while it continues to change. Lastly, before Child’s burns it, we see it, a mass of quivering flesh and eyes, split open, and what looks like some sort of worm-like “ flower “ come out towards the men which, upon close inspection, is made up of dog tongues and teeth. All of these things make sense. When cornered or hurt, it tries to retreat, make itself more intimidating ( i.e. increasing it’s size/mass, sprouting spines, disorienting shrieks , etc ), before finally attacking. I think these are instinct that we all recognize, either consciously or unconsciously, and that’s what makes them so effective. Even the scene where Norris’s head tears itself off to escape the burning body is reminiscent of a lizard getting its tail caught and ripping it off to escape, only later to regrow it. Whether this is all my own made up and over thought out interpretations, or things intentionally done by Carpenter and Bottin, it’s genius imo.

The parts that I do find surreal about The Thing, are more intangible. The questions the movie makes you ask yourself ( I always found ) far more disturbing than the visuals. The implications of being assimilated, absorbed and imitated perfectly. Are they dead? The copies of Norris and Palmer blend so perfectly, it has to be assumed that the creature absorbs their memories, because they still act like themselves far to convincingly. Otherwise, it would be noticed right away when they didn’t remember names, mannerisms, etc. When Norris has the heart attack, was that look on his face one of a human in pain, or a creature surprised by it’s new body’s defective anatomy? Why didn’t Palmer change when his blood was taken? We know the creature transforms when it’s attacked or exposed so, when his skin was pieces by the needle, wouldn’t it feel like an attack, or is this and example of the creature learning how to control itself and blend more effectively every time? Note the look of blank resignation on his face just before the wire goes into his blood and he’s exposed. Do they know? Are they still human until cormered and forced to change? Is the creature a conscious being? A hive mind? Or is it just a virus that operates on pure instinct? Are they in there somewhere? Where does the human end and the creature begin? Perhaps I’m talking more about existentialism lol.

Last edited by Oro13; 10-25-2017 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Oro13 View Post
Regarding Fulci, I think The Beyond is more of an exercise in the abstract as opposed to surrealism. It is convoluted, and certainly offers nightmarish imagery, but is still rather straight forward in terms of being able to follow the filmís plot and sequence of events if you pay attention. It was also further grounded in reality by German distributors that demanded he put zombies in the film to capitalize on his previous success , it was originally supposed to be more of a metaphysical ghost story, which probably would have made it far more surreal lol. The Gates of Hell ( City of the Living Dead ) is a much more gratuitous example of Fulci doing surrealism. The film is completely unpredictable. Maggot storms indoors, walls splitting open and bleeding, people bleeding from their eyes and literally vomiting their guts out, a town being poisoned by a curse of the undead that seemingly has no limits or rules, and an ending that makes no sense whatsoever. That flick is a trip.

As for The Thing, I agree that it certainly has surreal qualities, but I have different ideas as to where they lie. Part of what I think is so amazing about the film, is that the creature is rooted heavily in science and biology, and it resonates on a primal level. To me, what makes the thing itself so horrifying, is that it makes sense. Take the dog scene for instance. When it starts to transform to assimilate the other dogs, it exposes itself while taking on the qualities of other creatures it had absorbed before, hence it looking so alien, but itís still essentially ď made out of dog ď. When one dog is trying to escape, it sprays it in an attempt to stop it, similar to a squid or spitting cobra. When attacked by Mac and the rest, it grows long appendages that are actually deformed ď paws ď to pull away from danger and into the corner while it continues to change. Lastly, before Childís burns it, we see it, a mass of quivering flesh and eyes, split open, and what looks like some sort of worm-like ď flower ď come out towards the men which, upon close inspection, is made up of dog tongues and teeth. All of these things make sense. When cornered or hurt, it tries to retreat, make itself more intimidating ( i.e. increasing itís size/mass, sprouting spines, disorienting shrieks , etc ), before finally attacking. I think these are instinct that we all recognize, either consciously or unconsciously, and thatís what makes them so effective. Even the scene where Norrisís head tears itself off to escape the burning body is reminiscent of a lizard getting its tail caught and ripping it off to escape, only later to regrow it. Whether this is all my own made up and over thought out interpretations, or things intentionally done by Carpenter and Bottin, itís genius imo.

The parts that I do find surreal about The Thing, are more intangible. The questions the movie makes you ask yourself ( I always found ) far more disturbing than the visuals. The implications of being assimilated, absorbed and imitated perfectly. Are they dead? The copies of Norris and Palmer blend so perfectly, it has to be assumed that the creature absorbs their memories, because they still act like themselves far to convincingly. Otherwise, it would be noticed right away when they didnít remember names, mannerisms, etc. When Norris has the heart attack, was that look on his face one of a human in pain, or a creature surprised by itís new bodyís defective anatomy? Why didnít Palmer change when his blood was taken? We know the creature transforms when itís attacked or exposed so, when his skin was pieces by the needle, wouldnít it feel like an attack, or is this and example of the creature learning how to control itself and blend more effectively every time? Note the look of blank resignation on his face just before the wire goes into his blood and heís exposed. Do they know? Are they still human until cormered and forced to change? Is the creature a conscious being? A hive mind? Or is it just a virus that operates on pure instinct? Are they in there somewhere? Where does the human end and the creature begin? Perhaps Iím talking more about existentialism lol.
Ya, fun stuff about what the Thing is.

Spider or crab legs sprouting from a human head is just classic surreal visual art -- two things that don't go together, a visual non sequitur. The other stuff sounds like applied existentialism if not applied Behaviorism.
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Old 10-25-2017, 08:15 PM
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I digress
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