Tangmonkey Forum

Submit to pulp

May 2001

Download the word version, perfect for printing and handing out on street corners!
In this issue:    Suicide Sandler!     Coping With Satanism!     Doin' it Crankenstyle!     PLUS: Hippie Holocaust!, And a castration-free CULT PICK!.
Subconscious Cruelty **

Alright, a couple of issues ago I promised you guys that for once, the cult pick o' the month would not, I repeat not, feature a castration scene. So, as promised, for this month's film I chose Ottawa filmmaker Kareem Hussain's Subconscious Cruelty, in which the testicles and penis remain attached to the body during the genital mutilation segment, with the skin merely being flayed away with fish-hooks. Yes, that's right, I saw another art film. But this time, instead of a really pretentious art film, I saw a really pretentious art film. Subconscious Cruelty is a nightmarish series of vignettes designed to shock and stun the audience, leaving them beaten, broken, and questioning the respective meanings of repression and excess. Or at least that's what I assume it's supposed to be. What it actually is is a bunch of crazy crap going on a badly lit soundstage. The film opens with a whole mess of faux-poetic psychobabble about the left and right lobes of the brain, pleading with the audience to destroy the logical, practical, "rational" left lobe so that the emotional, impulsive "female" right lobe can take over. This is not a good idea, people. Not only would such action put an end to such traditionally male aspects of society as war and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, but it would completely paralyze the world economy between 8 and 9 PM on Friday nights when Gilmore Girls is on FOX. Anyway, while this right lobe/left lobe stuff is going on via a melodramatically intoned and needlessly wordy voice-over, we are treated to visuals of a naked woman being dissected. Normally, I wouldn't complain. In fact I'd probably cheer. But I'd just spent the vast majority of the day cooped up in a cheap strip club with the members of a rather degenerate rock band, so I was kind of sick of seeing women's insides, making what would normally be a pleasant introductory scene uninteresting and flat. After that opening, there's a charming vignette about a guy sexually attracted to his pregnant hick sister, with whom he lives in an abandoned, cheaply constructed model farmhouse. Because the film was apparently made by a lunatic, the natural extension of the guy's incestuous lust is that he wants to kill his sister's baby during childbirth. It's not the horribly graphic nature of the scene that upset me, although it is probably the worst thing I've seen since the Tonya Harding honeymoon tape, but rather the ridiculous leaps of logic the filmmaker requires us to take. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's supposed to be 'nightmarish' and 'fever-dreamed', but so was Charlie's Angels, and nobody liked that. There isn't really any cohesion to the film, no real link between the baby-killing and the genital flaying, aside from them both being fun things to do on a Saturday night when you've already seen both the movies on Space Bar. There is a narration that does make a point of sorts, clich├ęd and obvious though it may be, about letting go of taboos and repressions, but judging from the images we're presented with, which also include a guy performing an unspeakable act on an unspeakable object lodged inside a woman's unspeakable area, abandoning taboos and repressions doesn't seem to be a particularly pleasant thing to do. But, as the filmmaker himself has said, the real idea behind the project is that while you may completely adore the film or absolutely loathe it, you will certainly never forget it. And, for once, I completely agree. No matter how old I get and how desensitized I become, I'll never, ever forget Charlie's Angels.

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