Skeetin

I’m a little under the weather so I’m just gonna phone this one in.

But I was doing my annual Paul Schrader marathon when I got to Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. A few thoughts: 1.) it’s a shitty movie but 2.) Vittorio Stararo was the DP?!!! How did that get past me?

And it’s such a shame that this film didn’t work because it is very much in line with the themes that occur throughout Schrader’s work. I haven’t bothered with the retooled Exorcist: The Beginning, but I’m glad Schrader stuck to his guns and at least attempted to make a cerebral film rather than make a run-of-the-mill horror. That’s what made the original Exorcist so interesting: director William Friedkin stated that it never occurred to him that he was making a “horror film” (he could be bullshitting though).

Schrader probably should have had a bigger say in the screenplay. Much of the introspective philosophical back-and-forth that, in my opinion, slightly bogged down The Last Temptation of Christ (which clashed with Martin Scorsese’s rather “extroverted” direction) would have been quite effective for Dominion. Additionally, the event that caused Father Merrin’s lack of faith should have been revealed later in the movie. And while there was some good stuff with the British colonial troops, I felt that there was no payoff for any of it.

(Plus the special effects REALLY sucked ass)

I also saw Touch for the first time. I don’t remember a damn thing about it other than Skeet Ulrich was in it.

Whatever happened to that guy? That dude was like, super fucking hot. Shouldn’t he have had a bigger career?

Were people disappointed to find out that he wasn’t Danish?

skinned alive & the reflecting skin

I’m a completionist. I hate to give up on a film because it’s so shitty but that’s what happened while watching Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer. So take it from me, that film is only good for two things: reminding you 1.) that it must’ve sucked to have lived in NYC during the late 70s and 2.) first wave punk was GODAWFUL.

Thankfully, Tubi saved the day with two BANGERS, both with ‘skin’ in the title and both released in 1990.

Skinned Alive (1990)

I low-key loved this movie. So much so that I might add it to my Tubi Hall of Fame. It possesses many of the qualities I look for in a film, chiefly having a short runtime.

I almost certainly wasn’t the only one taken with the film. One of the many grotesque deaths bears a strong resemblance to Hitler’s death in Inglourious Basterds because Quentin Tarantino is a senseless hack (so am I, btw).

There’s also a striptease scene that made me absolutely sick to my stomach 👍

But what I find most charming about this movie is how it absolutely shits on the state of Ohio. Now I might’ve spent a grand total of 20 minutes in that state, but goddamnit, there’s something funny about that place.

What’s Skinned Alive about? Some insane family stops in a small town and raises hell. In case you couldn’t guess, this family skins people alive. Only a drunken, pathetic, ex-cop stands in their way.

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

I’m not sure that I would call this a ‘horror’ film, but I can see why many do. If you take the time to think about it, the story is absolutely terrifying and depressing.

An 8-year-old boy growing up somewhere in the midwest post-WWII gets verbally, emotionally, and physically abused while the bigoted police department investigate the deaths of local children. Meanwhile, the boy’s older brother, who’s probably dying from radiation poisoning, (and played by Viggo Mortensen), engages in a relationship with a woman that the boy believes to be a witch.

There’s no gore, few frightening images (worst of which is Viggo Mortensen’s ass cheeks), and no supernatural elements to speak of. So this might not satisfy all tastes. But it does have one thing going for it: NOTHING gets resolved and the movie ends with the boy screaming into the sunset.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of The Reflecting Skin. I had to turn to IMDB to find answers, and that’s when I found this review, written by an abuse psychologist who found this to be the “most accurate depiction of abuse” he/she/them has ever seen:

I’ve always wondered how well horror and drama would mix. The only well-known example of this would be The Exorcist. But much like We Are The Flesh, answers don’t come easy and what you find might be depressing AF.

*****

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the problem of good

Part of the reason why William Peter Blatty considered The Ninth Configuration as a true sequel to The Exorcist is because they both attempt to address the “mystery of the good.”

Blatty, from my understanding of course, was a devout Catholic so he understood these terms from a very spiritual perspective. While I find the phenomenon of religion fascinating, I don’t view the universe in that particular way. Nevertheless, I think Blatty was attempting to address a very interesting question, particularly with The Ninth Configuration (the film. I haven’t read the novel)

Much ado is made about “the problem of evil”, but that’s only a problem from a religious perspective. If the the universe is indifferent to our plight, and life is inherently selfish, then there is no mystery. Furthermore, there is no good OR evil…it’s merely a projection of human perception.

Many philosophers have attempted to formulate a model for morality, notably Kant’s Categorical Imperative and utilitarianism, with varying degrees of success. I personally tend to favor something that I heard Bart Ehrman say: I just know it when I see it. However I do find it interesting that nearly every religion has some variant of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

I don’t think that I have many philosophical convictions, but one thing I am certain of is that I am not a “blank slatist”. If we were born as blank slates, then nothing we do would be possible. Language acquisition itself provides some insight into the a priori nature of our being. What language can tell us precisely about our morality is unknown to me, but I think it warrants further investigation as evidenced by the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule may not be a “philosophically consistent” principle, but I think it’s intuitive enough that there could possibly be something revealing about it. Empathy might be an example. To my understanding, empathy is a phenomenon that’s scientifically falsifiable, but I’m just spitballing here. Maybe “good” and “evil” are a priori categories of human reasoning, I dunno.

Either way, from both a religious and secular perspective, “the problem of good” needs answering.