Alien marked a definitive step in enshrining the idea of the parasite in science-fiction cinema and its subsequent evolution in monster movies. Although not always dealt with as figuratively as in Alien, parasites have been creeping masterfully into all corners of genre cinema for several decades.
A parasite is a dimension of otherness; it changes and transforms us into something other than human. The change is often imperceptible and inconspicuous but nonetheless radical. The body snatcher pointed to a societal problem in Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in Philip Kaufman’s film to political anxiety. In John Carpenter’s The Thing, the subject prophetically suggests contamination and contaminated blood.
The origin of the parasite, either extra-terrestrial or supernatural, is ultimately of little importance. Filmmakers exploit it to reveal an out of kilter reality and certainties that are beginning to falter. Proof that it has come full circle, this concept that has fascinated so many filmmakers can be found in the The Faculty, directed by our guest of honour, Robert Rodriguez.
Cinema as a mirror of the soul confronts it audiences with their inexpressible fears. Generation after generation, it never seems to tire of parasites.
The erotic thriller is a sub-genre that thrived from the 1980s up to the 2000s, when explicit sex no longer interested Hollywood. These neo-noir thrillers that began to develop after the porn cinemas closed were mainstream films for adults. Their plots were driven by crime, sex (often calculated) and duplicity, with a few transgressive cops and old-school femme fatales thrown in. The latter is a character type that in today’s cinema, under feminist scrutiny, would be treated very differently, if at all. So enjoy this nostalgic trip into the past: “Hollywood doesn’t do sex this way anymore.”
A brilliant technician and a multi-talented filmmaker who explored all genres of popular cinema, Mario Bava built up a unique and personal oeuvre. Through his use of light, colours and soundscapes that defied any notion of realism, he created a nightmarish phantasmagorical. By reaching beyond the film industry’s tools made available to him, he inspired many contemporary directors such as Dario Argento, Brian De Palma and Nicolas Winding Refn.
The three films in this retrospective represent three facets of his work, between criminal fascination, Gothic horror and taste for adventure. Mario Bava is a master whose work is of a rare consistency.
The Eccentric Night is back to quench your thirst for bad films shot on the cheap with actors barely in the know and incoherent scripts.
La Cinémathèque française, crammed full of rare cinematographic items, offers you three Z films interspersed with hilarious trailers, all in French and on 35mm. On this year’s programme are ninja thieves more acrobatic than ever, an excursion to a Bavarian youth hostel full of bare-bottomed waitresses and the adventures of He-Man from Cannon Films.
Cinema is like life – it’s the intention that counts.