Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ten Films That Describe My Aesthetic

Terence from Chicks with Candles has tagged me to “list ten films that describe my aesthetic.” I believe this is a Tumblr game that has leaked into Blogger in my case. Before me, Terence was tagged by @alfredsnightmare. So what does it mean to say “my aesthetic”? With movies, I think of it as a familiar visual and emotional theme that still resonates with me irregardless of how many times I experience it. 

But perhaps the included images might speak a little more than words.

1) The Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion (1973): Colorful liquor bar carts, ‘70s giallo glamor, Euro-nightclubs, Technicolor, small cars, cigarettes, Edda Dell’Orso, Ennio Morricone – So these features could describe a lot of movies, but this one has one of my favorite titles and Nieves Navarro in a black high split open side dress. I thought that Navarro’s proud and confident sexually liberated character Dominique felt like a proto-Samantha from Sex and the City.

2) Succubus (1968): Provocative muses, looming castle destinations, mannequins, inner personality conflicts, nightclub faux torture scenes, dream sequences, trippy acid parties – The hazy soft-focused sequence when Janine Reynaud’s Lorna Green drifts out of bed and ventures to the limestone river castle in Lisbon and the questionable perspective of dream or reality remains a gold standard for surreal film experiences for me. Is she mad, or just not of this world?

3) The Reincarnation of Isabel (1973): Erotic madness, mountainous terrain, spaced out looking actors standing around the Castle Balsorano, Eastmancolor, expressive sadomasochism, comical sex scenes, day and night merging, excessive use of grandiose set pieces – This movie’s a chaotic mess, but it’s also an expressionistic masterpiece that thrives on account of its aesthetic and not its narrative.

4) The Blood Spattered Bride (1972): Ancestral mansions, sapphic vampires, Carmilla influenced, bloody daggers, blurred line between dream and reality, bloody mariticide, gothic candle lit dinner scenes, sylvan settings – Beautiful but disturbing with several uncomfortable parts, The Blood spattered Bride still works as a great Spanish horror film despite being pretty heavy with its tones of misogyny and misandry.

5) The Spider Labyrinth (1988): Conspiracy theory – How can conspiracy theory be an aesthetic? Well, have a look at the included screen grab below. That realization that you were in the lion’s den the entire time makes for a uneasy experience in denouements to films such as The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Short Night of Glass Dolls, and Rosemary’s Baby.

6) Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987): ‘80s Filmation nostalgia, inappropriately scary for intended kid audience, creepy carnivals – This unofficial sequel to Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio did give me nightmares, particularly on account of one scene with Pinocchio at The Neon Cabaret, some sort of kid disco (the Playland counterpart), where the kids' faces start to horrifically distort after he drinks the sparkly green liquid, which I like to think is carbonated Ecto Cooler spiked with absinthe.

7) All the Colors of the Dark (1972): Black Masses, Edwige fenech (yes, she counts as an aesthetic), looming mansion destinations, Bruno Nicolai, staying classy and fashionable (like something out of a JCPenny’s catalogue) while being stalked by your killer. I love black mass scenes and All the Colors of the Dark easily has my favorites.

8) The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman (1971): Vampires moving through space in slow motion, classic monster mashups, Paul Naschy, gothic ambiance – With the right amount of fog and dread, slow motion framing can make your monsters seem to exist outside of space and time, and the effect is quite startling, so much so that Amando di Ossorio would mimic it for his Blind Dead Templars.

9) Queens of Evil (1970): Horror movies with a fairytale exterior, provocative situations that aren’t what they seem, ancient witches in touch with modern ‘70s fashions, Snow White, free spirited hippies with a lot of crazy ideas about free loveQueens of Evil is a fantastic horror film with a biting social message.

10) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988): Classic cel animation juxtaposed with reality, nourish style set in 1940s LA, inappropriate for kids despite being one of my favorite movies as a kid – There couldn’t be anything more awesome than cartoons being real and the existence of a place like Toontown and not to mention a chance to meet Betty Boop.



  1. Fantastic list and absolutely on point! Edwige Fenech is definitely aesthetic material. I love the ominous chateau in All the Colors, its dark appearance almost makes me want to categorize the film as a Gothic giallo. Some of these I haven't seen in a while, particularly Spider Labyrinth (creepy!) and Forbidden Photos AKA the drunkest giallo in existence (though I still frequently hear the main theme in my head). I've never heard of the Pinocchio film but that Emperor of the Night looks badass! I blush to admit it but I've only seen brief snippets of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I really should watch the full thing because I'm extremely fond of Kathleen Turner and its use of 2D + live-action is very sophisticated (not to mention that it looks like great fun in general).
    Thanks for participating, it was a great read.

    1. And thank you for tagging me. It was a refreshing change of pace from my usual single film reviews, and it did surprisingly well on FB. It actually kind of saved me for content on the blog since I’ve been lagging on a review for Alberto Cavallone’s Blow Job – un soffio erotico. It gives me time to read Doors of Perception, and possibly understand the film better, since soffio erotico takes some inspiration from it.

      There were so many honorable mentions like Baba Yaga (if it were a movie the intro to Valentina TV series would be included), and I feel a little guilty not including a zombie film like Dawn of the Dead or something from the “strange people get together for a night in a mansion” like Spirits of Death or Maniac Mansion. I also came really close to including Messiah of Evil. The gothic horror / modern chic giallo hybrid like The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is another aesthetic I'm hooked on.

      I’ve come close to calling All the Colors a gothic giallo but usually catch myself. The Pinocchio movie definitely has my kind of aesthetic, but I also included it since I wanted something a little out of left field and perhaps not so typical to what I usually talk about. I watched it a lot more as a kid than Disney’s Pinocchio; apparently Disney sued Filmation in the ’80s for Emperor of the Night, as if Pinocchio only belonged to them.

  2. This is such a creative and interesting post. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Reading it really got me thinking about my own list. I even thought about doing one myself. But I didn't know how many times I could write "boobs" and "1970s" and keep it interesting.

    1. Thanks, Rob! I was worried that it may not have been diverse enough, as I do watch more recent stuff too, but, like you, I have an attachment to the '70s. I can't explain it though; it just hits the spot. It can't just be nostalgia, especially since I wasn't even born yet. It's just an aesthetic that makes me feel at home.

      You should make a list, Rob. In fact, you've just been tagged. ;)

    2. Here's a few off the top of my head.

      House of 1000 Corpses(cause I kind of dress like Otis)
      Haunted World of el Super Beasto
      Bikini Carwash Company
      Black Emanuelle

      You know, maybe I should just make this a post one of these days.