One of the topics of discussion during a critics panel with journalists from Tennessee and Asheville during the Asheville Film Festival (look for that entry soon) Nov. 8-11 was the dearth of smart, subversive horror. The 1950s and the â70s were boom years for works such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Invasion of the Body Snatchers â full of disturbing, engaged content centered on class and politics. Such films showed horror's potential to deal with deep-seated cultural fears. These days, it's all torture porn like Saw IV and Hostel: Part II, which seems quite divorced from reality; while we wage war abroad and our troops die, we watch torture and cruelty for entertainment.
Speaking of horror, the Plaza Theatre, Atlanta's own little art house gem, is offering a one-night-only, 9:30 p.m. screening of Italian kinkster and gorehound Dario Argento's 1977 classic, Suspiria, in glorious 35 mm. There are quite a few YouTube clips available, including the one below ...
A director so misguided he once featured his own daughter Asia in a horrific rape scene in The Stendhal Syndrome, Argento is to horror what Pedro AlmodÃ³var is to melodrama: over-the-top and out of control. Argento's visually astounding color palette and the big-eyed terror of Jessica Harper as a student in a German ballet academy-slash-hellhouse isn't exactly smart horror (though it does feature Euro-creep Udo Kier, and that in itself seems subversive), but its stylish excesses have earned it a perversely beloved place in the horror repertoire. Who would have guessed champion screecher Harper would go on to write lovely children's books like A Place Called Kindergarten and I Forgot My Shoes?
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