Tag Archives: Arthur Machen

A Last Wave Unleashed

Movie night!

I like Peter Weir movies and tonight I’m watching THE LAST WAVE.

This flick gets ripped for being obscure and for not solving the mystery.

I will grant the latter. I think one of the responsibilities of artists who trade in mysteries in movies and books is they must, at some point, solve the mystery. Is that too much to ask? In both THE LAST WAVE and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK. Mr. Weir chooses not to do so. I still like both films.

I will however, take issue with the accusation of obscurity.

Since my teens, I’ve had a literary addiction to novels and stories of the supernatural. One of my favorite British authors is from the early 20th century; Arthur Machen. Machen writes often of nature in revolt – of nature, thought to be tamed, but perpetually about to bust out and re-exert dominance over man in disorienting and disturbing ways. In this light, THE LAST WAVE makes amazing sense.

Nature hovers. Disturbing and disorienting intrusions occur.

  • Baseball-sized hail falls from a cloudless sky.
  • From his protective bubble of a car in a torrential downpour, Richard Chamberlain sees;
    • A man with an extreme umbrella drinking from a water fountain. Why doesn’t just open his mouth? No, he chooses the “tame” water over nature’s wild water.
    • A poster for the local zoo featuring apes gazing back at Chamberlain in his car. Who’s really caged and on display?
    • Vehicles crawling through snarled traffic with icons on them featuring the image of a jungle cat; jaguars in the streets.
  • At Chamberlain’s home, with the maelstrom outside continuing to rage, turning the windows of the home into images like of the inside of a dishwasher, water appears inside the house flowing down the stairs. We immediately assume there’s been a leak from the outside, but it turns out to be a bathtub overflowing. Water thought to be tamed…
  • Chamberlain’s wife admits that she’s a fourth-generation Australian, but she’s never met an aboriginal. She’s lived distanced from nature, behind societal barriers that now appear to be quite fragile.

This is not obscure. It’s mysterious and ominous, but not obscure. We think we’ve tamed and sealed out nature from our lives. (Climate change? Pshaw!)

But nature will persist. It will find a way past our barriers. It will win. How scary is that? Nothing obscure at all.

It’s a fine and effective film.

Cold-Weather Corman

Movie night!

If you are a devotee of cheesy horror, Edgar Allen Poe movies, women-in-cages flicks, and films about vegetables that aren’t vegetarians, Roger Corman is your guy.

Where would you like to begin?

There’s his contemplative “beast” series (THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES, THE BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE, and THE BEAST OF YELLOW MOUNTAIN)?

Then there’s his Machen-like exploration of nature run amok (ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (featuring Yvette Vickers in her best slutty Daisy Mae rendition), IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, and THE CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA).

Or his taboo-shattering exposures of the sexual politics of beings that don’t even exist (SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER, THE WASP WOMAN, THE VELVET VAMPIRE, and NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN).

Corman’s canon is a treasure trove of cultural delights; comfort food for the easily entertained. I shop there willingly and often.

Tonight’s film fare however, is a bit off the beaten Corman trail. It’s his 1960 WWII epic; SKI TROOP ATTACK. Imagine THE LONGEST DAY. Now, imagine everything as much the opposite of THE LONGEST DAY as possible.

Cast of thousands? Try six – not six thousand – six.

English Channel? German mountains.

Thousands of ships? Skis.

Years in the making? Two weeks.

You get the idea.

I will give the nod for acting to SKI TROOP ATTACK but that’s by default as any discernible acting that happens in THE LONGEST DAY is accidental and laughable. Who can ever un-watch Richard Burton’s interpretation of the deathless line; “Ack-Ack.” Or Roddy McDowall crooning the word; “June”. Heady stuff.

Given all that, SKI TROOP is OK in my book. It tells a straight-forward, stripped-down GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE DIRTY DOZEN, etc. war adventure story pretty well. However, I didn’t care for all the snow. Frankly, I got cold. I think I would have preferred SURF TROOP ATTACK with Lieutenant Moondoggy leading the squad. Ah well, I just put on a jacket and finished watching the film.

A Great Scrubbing of the World?

Movie night!

I like Peter Weir movies and tonight I’m watching THE LAST WAVE.

This flick gets ripped for being obscure and for not solving the mystery.

I will grant the latter. I think one of the responsibilities of artists who trade in mysteries in movies and books is they must, at some point, solve the mystery. Is that too much to ask? In both THE LAST WAVE and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK. Mr. Weir chooses not to do so. I still like both films.

I will however, take issue with the accusation of obscurity.

Since my teens, I’ve had a literary addiction to novels and stories of the supernatural. One of my favorite British authors is from the early 20th century; Arthur Machen. Machen writes often of nature in revolt – of nature, thought to be tamed, but perpetually about to bust out and re-exert dominance over man in disorienting and disturbing ways. In this light, THE LAST WAVE makes amazing sense.

Nature hovers. Disturbing and disorienting intrusions occur.

  • Baseball-sized hail falls from a cloudless sky.
  • From his protective bubble of a car in a torrential downpour, Richard Chamberlain sees;
    • A man with an extreme umbrella drinking from a water fountain. Why doesn’t just open his mouth? No, he chooses the “tame” water over nature’s wild water.
    • A poster for the local zoo featuring apes gazing back at Chamberlain in his car. Who’s really caged and on display?
    • Vehicles crawling through snarled traffic with icons on them featuring the image of a jungle cat; jaguars in the streets.
  • At Chamberlain’s home, with the maelstrom outside continuing to rage, turning the windows of the home into images like of the inside of a dishwasher, water appears inside the house flowing down the stairs. We immediately assume there’s been a leak from the outside, but it turns out to be a bathtub overflowing. Water thought to be tamed…
  • Chamberlain’s wife admits that she’s a fourth-generation Australian, but she’s never met an aboriginal. She’s lived distanced from nature, behind societal barriers that now appear to be quite fragile.

This is not obscure. It’s mysterious and ominous, but not obscure. We think we’ve tamed and sealed out nature from our lives. (Climate change? Pshaw!)

But nature will persist. It will find a way past our barriers. It will win. How scary is that? Nothing obscure at all.

It’s a fine and effective film.