OOM #29 – Seconds (1966)

Hello everyone, this is the first of the last three days of the horror of Halloween! October comes to an end and I’m contemplating something quite different. Maybe, and only if I have the energy to do it, maybe this experience will extend through the weekend into the Saturday and Sunday, if the films featured in the next two days are exciting enough for me to go out and see them. If it’s not, well, we finish just like any other year, with our yearly round-up and 31 great (or not so great at times) films in the Horror Genre. Quite a task I tell you! Let’s continue with today’s film.

Today James Rolfe, as it has happened three times already this month, has featured a TV series in his daily horror reviews. While we didn’t manage to watch the entire run of the series, so it counts as a review, of ‘Hilarious House of Frightenstein’ (1971-3) nor ‘Night Gallery’ (1969-73), we did manage to watch the entire miniseries that comprised the Stephen King adaptation ‘It’ (1990). Today, we, sadly, won’t manage to watch the entirety of the long-winded ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ (1990-2000). Over seven seasons of this classic series that was running since I was born and until I was 10 years old. I did manage to watch some episodes when I was a kid, it was one of the most scary moments of my life alongside the series ‘Goosebumps’ (1995-8).

I didn’t have the chance to watch many of the episodes of a series that is now a cult classic for some, as I didn’t have cable TV, and thus not a full access to the Nickelodeon show, and when it aired in public TV they usually showed the same batch of episodes. I guess it was pretty scary for kids at the time in my country, so they could only choose from a very tight group of scares and monsters. A shame, I loved ‘Goosebumps’ (1995-8) and I’m sure I would’ve loved ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ (1990-2000), and now I have a reason to see it! In the future that is. But if you want someone’s experience right now, you can watch James Rolfe’s video here. Anyway, since I can watch all the episodes in one day (but I calculated that if I did have 24 hours available in my day, it would’ve taken me 21 to see the entire thing without pauses to breathe, live or eat), I have to choose something from my world famous list (I lied, sorry, my list is not world famous).

So, since the movies yesterday was released in 1965, and there were no other recommended horror movies from that same year, we have to jump to 1966 and find ourselves again with only one movie unseen from inside the genre, the highly recommended and well regarded ‘Seconds’ (1966). So, shall we do this, ladies and gentlemen? Let’s go!

Well, it seems that whenever I have the chance to go to my list I end up watching a film that I entirely love! Or at least find decent. That’s the thing with lists that have been curated and looked on for years and it’s just the purpose of that, to watch the best of the best, and filter out the crap or those film that I don’t really need to see just now. Here is a movie that I’ve been wanting to see for a while this year, specially since I watched ‘The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology’ (2012) where Slajov Zizek talks about the movie in terms of its relation to ideology, how our own thoughts must be guided by a superior consciousness that tells us what dreams are really ‘right’ and what’s wrong with the things that we truly desire. There is, obviously, a message of conformity that Zizek has found in this movie, that it is a movie about how people are guided through their lives, how they really don’t have the liberty to choose what they do with their lives, but I think that while that may be one of the most striking comments that the film has to make, it has so much more to chew on.

For example, and without going into the plot because I don’t want to, the film could as well be a movie about how we hide our identities to others, how we hide something in the closet so that it doesn’t bother us, and it’s specially telling when you see the main character (after 40 minutes into the film) played by Rock Hudson, how the film could work about someone’s homosexuality and how they want to change the fact about themselves, and they try to hide it, but they just can’t help to come back. The relation between males, specially between our protagonist and his friend who tries to call him back to a new sort of world, a new kind of reality, like luring him to a ‘dark’ side that could end up having more liberties. I mean, it could go either way, it could work as the fable or as the tragedy, and we can see both sides playing well because the movie is well made and it works in an allegorical sense, with realities and personalities, dualities and all. It is also curious to see that one of the most impressive lines of the film is when the girl that he meets in the beach says: ‘everything comes in threes’, or something along these lines. It works, it manages to create a sense of how the movie could end up, and even if the reality of itself becomes apparent quite easily, it is that futility that makes the movie work.

The movie is also a visual treat, that works with the ideas of the visual consciousness, some of the shots have the sense that we are inside a bubble, or immediately fixed to someone’s head, as if that forced perspective wasn’t something natural for us to see, and it looks weird for a movie of the 1960’s to see these kind of shots. In a way it’s highly innovative and I can’t even hear how it was possible that this one got any kind of backlash, except for those that are content by the way that society works nowadays. Well, maybe the wine orgy was a bit overlong, but apart from that? What can you say?



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