OOM #15 – Neco z Alenky (1988)

Hello guys, due to an immediate surge of vomit and stomach cramps (Oh, the Horror), I’ve been somewhat upset and had to rest for the day and couldn’t post in time for today so, here I am trying to see as if nothing really happened, and trying to put this up in time before any of you notice, but now that I talked about it the illusion is done! No more! Agh! I’m the worst critic ever! I lost some time in schedule! Agh! The horror of shame put himself before me! This is really a horrific month! October Overlook  Madness indeed! Agh! Ahhh!

Anyway, today we have another film from 1988, and thus makes it three, but really there are four horror films that will be featured in some way, because due to some kind of coincidence, James Rolfe in his Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness talked today about the Tim Burton film ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988), how much of a coincidence we could have today? Obviously I’ve seen this movie before, it was one of those movies that scared yet they were funny and in some way aimed at kids, specially due to the TV animation show. I really like it, but I think there are some nonsensical stuff in it, like the sandworm or some other stuff, in the end the film is a visual treat, but not much else, and I quite like it even if because of that. I rate it 8 out of 10 at this moment in my life, maybe later or even before I could’ve rated it higher. You can watch James Rolfe’s video here.

So, that leaves us with the fact that I mentioned yesterday that there were two horror films from 1988 that I could see, this is the other one, the Jan Svankmajer version of Alice in Wonderland, named ‘Neco z Alenky’ (1988) and simply titled ‘Alice’ when it was released overseas. How much horror a version of that classic tale can have? Well, with Svankmajer one can never know, and specially with Lewis Carroll, he always seems to be on the edge of being downright creepy with every moment that happens in this classic tale. So, let’s see what horrors await in this well regarded version of this novel, come with me.

I recently saw in the Valdivia Film Festival two films that, when I saw them, I realized that maybe I had never seen something quite like it, they were unique in the way that the language they used, the images they created, how they conjured up their stories, how the movie was made and how it looked, it was unique and it was something that would never ever be repeated. Those films were ‘Jauja’ (2014), directed by Lisandro Alonso, and the masterful 3-D work of Jean-Luc Godard under the name ‘Adieu au langage’ (2014). They are both examples of how cinema is far from being a death art, how we should always look forward to what is coming out, and that if you go around saying that there aren’t enough good movies today, you’re just not seeing enough movies. ‘Jauja’ (2014) manages to become an historical film without leaving the author borders of Alonso, and at the same time becoming something beyond, with the elements of the image and the sound and how time and space seem to bend unto themselves, with the wait and the violence and the tiredness of the walk, it becomes a film of greater beauty. On the other side, the 3-D in Godard’s ‘Adieu au langage’ (2014) is maybe the most intellectually resonant film and at the same time the most surprising and challenging film that I’ve seen since ‘Film socialisme’ (2010), a constant barrage of references, text, and incredible visual effects, made even more impressive by the intellectual thought put behind them. I wonder if when people saw ‘Neco z Alenky’ (1988) they had the same reaction: that they’d never see something quite like it. And I don’t think there’s ever been something quite like this.

Because I don’t care about the disjointed narrative, the repetitions, or even the way in which the movie seems to just put forward an image that it doesn’t care about the destiny nor the safety of our little female protagonist, as at times it really felt like an 80’s horror movie, with the woman character being abused and hit upon by the many frightening enemies, I don’t even care about all that. At times seeing this movie felt like watching a magic trick, one where you can’t truly understand how that appeared or how that vanished, it must’ve been magic to be involved in the industry of animation of Jan Svankmajer, he is truly one of the most wonderful artists out there (whenever he doesn’t get involved in politics, I don’t agree with his point of view most of the time, and that makes it hard for me to like those movies), and he manages to portray that children’s horror that may have produced so many nightmares by the time of release, when people expected something normal, but they got something that no one would ever be able to repeat, not in a million years. This movie is a wonderful nightmare, the most crazed and fucked up amount of sequences that you can ever dream, and I understood that in the sequence with the socks, when they were perforating the floor and moving around like fish in the water, I was amazed at the fluidity of the movement, the way that the inanimate objects seemed alive and had a soul of their own, that’s when the movie managed to become something transcendent, something that must’ve come from someplace else other than the real of the human beings.

Now, as a horror film, while not being exactly that (and 1988 seems to be an expert year in horror that is not quite there), it does manage to have the most disturbing and strange imagery that I’ve ever seen in my life, not even David Lynch comes close to the stuff put together here, it’s just a crazy crazy world, and we’re never ever getting it back together.

9/10

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