Archives for posts with tag: allegory

us

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to the 2017 horror hit Get Out, this surprisingly effective allegorical genre entry stars Lupita Nyong’o as a woman whose family vacation to Santa Cruz brings her into confrontation with a childhood trauma with ramifications for all of humanity. This is a difficult film to describe without giving away too much of the plot, but it revolves around the protagonist’s anxiety regarding the existence of a “shadow” or doppelganger and her experience of a series of evilly portending coincidences. Peele has a genuine knack for suspense, and the film has humorous moments, as well, thanks largely to the presence of Winston Duke, who appears as the hapless family patriarch.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Us is:

Drug-ambivalent. The family bonds over a dope-referencing rap tune, even as the father warns his children not to use drugs.

Conspiracist. The movie opens with an intriguing blurb about networks of ominous tunnels running underneath the expanse of the US, and the mystery at the heart of the story is revealed to have something to do with a mind control experiment gone awry. Early on, in something of a foreshadowing, the protagonist’s daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) poses: “Did you know that there’s fluoride in the water that the government uses to control our minds?” Of course, all of this could also be read as a satire of online conspiracy theories; but the movie on the whole seems to discourage the viewer from being dismissive of the existence of the otherworldly and outrageous.

Feminist. “You don’t get to make the decisions anymore,” Nyong’o informs her husband. Later, she is shown literally occupying the driver’s seat of their car and taking the initiative in confronting the “shadows”.

Anti-white. Though racial tensions are not the focus or principal subtextual relevance, scenes of interracial violence carry an undeniably racial charge, with audiences probably intended to feel a special satisfaction at the sight of a sassy black girl disposing of feral white girl doppelgangers. Likewise, the moment when a feral black girl doppelganger falls upon a grouchy white guy is probably supposed to convey a sense of justice or racial revenge. In one scene, white actor Tim Heidecker wears a shirt that says “Fragile”, which presumably is intended to endorse the concept of “white fragility”.

Egalitarian and globalist. In its revelation that, living undetected in tunnels under the United States is an underclass of uneducated, underprivileged, dysfunctional, and disgruntled doubles corresponding to more prosperous counterparts on the surface, Us invites interpretation as an expression of proletarian or lumpenproletarian angst and resentment toward upper-middle-class and wealthy Americans. In making the “shadows” physically identical to their class enemies and demonstrating that a specimen of the former set is able to pass as a member of the latter, Us plays with the theme of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Environment, Peele suggests, is the difference between success and squalor, so that compassion for one’s less fortunate fellows is in order if cataclysmic retaliation is to be averted. The ambiguous “us” of the title lends itself to different interpretations, one of which is that it refers to blacks specifically and arguably the discomfort of the “talented tenth” with their own teeming and rather frighteningly criminal coethnics. The protagonist and her family, who enjoy an upper-middle-class lifestyle on par with that of successful whites, are horrified when they are confronted with their own “shadows” – violent, primitive versions of themselves in convict-style red jumpsuits. It is a “there, but for the grace of God, go I” moment, but also an indication of elitist disgust at the cultural gulf that the protagonists perceive between themselves and their social inferiors. The revelation that the protagonist herself, however, is actually the “shadow” and that her savage assailant is the one who was born topside indicates that this condescension is misplaced, undermining the “Us vs. Them” dichotomy implied by the title. Beyond this, Peele also mentions in one of the DVD extras that he believes the people of the United States as a whole to be the beneficiaries of a “collective privilege”, the solution presumably entailing some form of global reparations.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the book Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

dog

Directed by professional dork Charles Martin Smith (I’ll be goddamned if it hasn’t all been downhill for him artistically since 1986’s heavy metal horror triumph Trick or Treat), A Dog’s Way Home is, as its title would indicate, the epic story of a lovable lost pooch, Bella (voiced by actress Bryce Dallas Howard), trying to find her way home to her beloved master, Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) – although, probably as a concession to brittle sensibilities, he is never referenced in the screenplay as Bella’s master, but only as her person. At first glance, this might only appear to be a canine’s seemingly harmless adventures through town, country, and rugged Colorado wilderness; but closer inspection reveals this effective children’s tearjerker to basically be Globohomo: The Movie.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Dog’s Way Home is:

7. Antiwar. Physical and psychological costs of war are embodied by homeless veteran Axel (Edward James Olmos) as well as attendees of a veterans’ therapy group that includes Lucas’s mother (Ashley Judd), who suffers from depression and finds consolation in Bella’s company.

6. Pro-gay. Bella stays for a while with two gays (Motell Foster and Barry Watson), one black and one white, who serve as poster boys for homosexual parenting, the care they provide to Bella and another dog contrasting instructively with the callousness of grumpy heterosexual Mr. Kurch (Chris Bauer). “That man belongs alone,” Bella observes.

5. Pro-miscegenation. Lucas enjoys a relationship with more-or-less white-presenting mixed-race woman Olivia (Alexandra Shipp).

4. Woke and anti-white. Mean white guys include the aforementioned Mr. Kurch; unscrupulous, animal-hating landlord Gunter Beckenbauer (Brian Markinson); and nerdy, ineffectual dog catcher Chuck (John Cassini). Olivia and Lucas’s mother provide girls with role models as strong, assertive womyn effecting social justice by standing up to insensitive white men – in Olivia’s case, by livestreaming a scene of injustice.

3. Multicultural. Bella was raised by a cat and later adopts a young cougar as her traveling companion, demonstrating how characters from different backgrounds can live peacefully with each other and learn to work together.

2. Anti-gun. Bella witnesses hunters killing a cougar, leaving its cub a defenseless orphan.

1.Pro-immigration. A Dog’s Way Home arrives just in time for the muh-poor-brown-kids-in-concentration-camp-cages melodrama. A Denver city ordinance makes Bella’s breed illegal, so that “a dog can be banned from the city because of how it looks”, to which Olivia objects: “That’s basically racism for dogs!” It is easy, therefore, to find in the movie’s depiction of Animal Control officers stand-ins for totalitarian ICE agents out to net Mexican or Guatemalan kids, lock them up, and make them cry just for the hell of it. Fortunately, Animal Control is unable to enforce local law when Bella finds sanctuary at a veterans’ hospital, which, it is argued, constitutes federal jurisdiction. Sheriff Arpaio BTFO happily ever after. Rather revealingly – but no doubt unintentionally – A Dog’s Way Home also illustrates what illegals ultimately represent to virtue-signaling white progressives – their cute little pets.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the books Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism and Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Leisure Seeker

The Leisure Seeker is little more than a piece of scurrilous hate mail that disguises itself as a valedictory love letter to the Baby Boomer generation. Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren play John and Ella Spencer, an elderly couple whose twilight years are rapidly fading to black. John is a retired literary scholar whose intermittent lapses of long- and short-term memory at times reduce him to petulant childishness, and Ella is dying of cancer and getting by on pills and alcohol. Conscious that they both have little time left, Ella, without informing their worried son and daughter, is taking a final road trip with John to Key West for a life-and-death-affirming pilgrimage to Ernest Hemingway’s house. The title refers on the literal level to the Spencers’ gas-guzzling motor home and on the figurative level to hedonistic selfishness as the outmoded vehicle in which the Baby Boomers tripped, crashed, and will righteously burn. Morbid vitriol thinly veiled as bittersweet dramedy, The Leisure Seeker will hold the most appeal for the unperceptive.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Leisure Seeker is:

4. Gun-ambivalent. Ella defends herself against redneck highway robbers with a shotgun, but the senile old man’s access to the weapon is intended to cause the viewer anxiety, and Ella discards the shells after the would-be muggers have gone. Guns, if permitted at all, should be placed in women’s responsible hands, the movie appears to suggest.

3. Pro-gay. It is strongly insinuated that the Spencers’ cake-baking son Will (Christian McKay) is a homosexual. Ella is not only unperturbed, but seems to be fond of the idea.

2. Pro-miscegenation. John and Ella barge uninvited into a retirement home to visit her black ex-boyfriend, Dan (Dick Gregory), who, as it turns out, does not even remember who she is. Ella’s wistful expression on seeing him again makes clear, however, that her memories of him are dear.

1.Anti-white. The Leisure Seeker evinces resentment and distrust toward the Baby Boomers, whose revolutionary potential and openness to new experiences have ended in mindless, maudlin conservatism. The film is set shortly before the 2016 presidential election and a tacky pickup truck flying Trump flags rolls into view during opening credits as Carole King can be heard lamenting, “it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late, though we really did try to make it.” In a later sequence, John, in one of his absent states, confusedly wanders into a crowd of Trump supporters robotically chanting “USA! USA!” and seems to be enjoying himself until his wife retrieves him like a mother apprehending an errant toddler. This is the film’s representative Trump voter: a senile and disoriented bumbler in need of supervision. Disingenuous appeals to Boomer nostalgia are inevitably undermined, as when John and Ella’s attempt to resuscitate the disco spirit makes her nauseous and causes their dance to be interrupted when she abruptly vomits. Displaying their insensitivity to the people of color oppressed by their hegemonic ancestors, John and Ella visit a theme park simulating colonial America and blithely ignore the background actors performing as toiling negro slaves. Their self-absorption reveals that the Boomers have failed to make amends and that further generational redress will be necessary. They repeatedly bore and annoy the younger and browner people around them, such as when John insists on discussing Hemingway with strangers in restaurants. In one key scene, however, John encounters a bright black waitress who turns out to be a Hemingway scholar herself (as contrasted with a ditzy white waitress featured in a previous scene). When John suffers a memory lapse and cannot recall a passage from The Old Man and the Sea, the black waitress finishes his thought for him, demonstrating that the white man has become a redundancy and that non-whites are fully capable of serving as the repositories of high culture going forward.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Lock Up

One of my favorite Sylvester Stallone movies from my childhood is 1989’s Lock Up, a satisfying prison flick that stars Sly as Frank Leone, a model convict with six months to go and what appears to be a bright future ahead of him – until he is unexpectedly transferred in the middle of the night to a hellish correctional institution run by the sadistic Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland), who harbors a long-festering vendetta against Leone. “This is hell, and I’m going to give you the guided tour,” he promises. Full of memorable bits like a cockroach race, a barbell assassination, and a brutal slow-motion football montage, not to mention a sentimental piano theme that I’ve never forgotten, Lock Up also delivers the adrenaline in its inevitable escape and comeuppance sequence.

following orders

Following orders.

Sutherland is perfect as the mannered antagonist, and Drumgoole is easily one of the greatest bad guy monikers ever, putting me in mind of the canistered zombie who kicks off Return of the Living Dead (1985) – and Drumgoole is a zombie of sorts, at least in a figurative sense, as he reanimates for the viewer the corpse of the evil Nazi villain stock character. Viewers only hoping for a fun Sylvester Stallone vehicle and harmless action fix instead find themselves the captive audience for a dose of Hollywood Holocaust propaganda when Drumgoole has Leone sealed into a glass chamber for delousing with Zyklon gas! Naturally, Drumgoole leaves Leone struggling to hold his breath way longer than is necessary, and Stallone’s partial Jewish family background makes the moment that much more piquant. Reinforcing the notion that there is something Nazi-like about the prison staff is Tom Sizemore’s character Dallas’s nickname for one of the guards – “Col. Klink” – a reference to the WW2 POW camp sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Then, too, there is the racial makeup of the guards, with whites like Manly (Jordan Lund) being among the meanest and most stereotypically fascistic and blacks like Braden (William Allen Young) revealed to have compassion in their still-beating hearts. There is an undeniable thematic overlap between the prison and Shoah film and fictional genres, with prison movies as far back as Brute Force (1947) serving as social commentaries on the dangers of authoritarianism and with entries like the Holocaust (1978) miniseries, various salacious Nazisploitation movies of the seventies, and Escape from Sobibor (1987) combining elements of both genres – and Lock Up implicitly acknowledges this connection, so that it could be classified with Soylent Green (1973), for example, as a crypto-Holocaust movie.

Three writers, including Die Hard (1988) bard Jeb Stuart and some nobody named Richard Smith, are credited with Lock Up’s screenplay – but somehow I have to suspect that it is the third name, Henry Rosenbaum, that accounts for the Zyklon delousing scene. The film was directed by John Flynn, whose other credits include the obscure made-in-Israel thriller The Jerusalem File (1972), vigilante movies Rolling Thunder (1977) and Defiance (1980), and the top-notch Steven Seagal revenger Out for Justice (1991). Rocky (1976) composer Bill Conti, meanwhile, contributes the score to what adds up to an audience-pleasingly macho but sensitive send-off for the eighties, Stallone’s most successful decade – even if the gassing scene does give it just a whiff of a fishy-smelling air of high camp for those racially conscious viewers in the audience.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Thorn2

Scott Makufka, a.k.a. Victor Thorn (1962-2016)

Scott Makufka, an independent journalist who wrote articles under the pen name Victor Thorn, was one of the more interesting contributors to Willis Carto’s newspaper American Free Press. In addition to his journalism, Makufka was a prolific author of books on subjects ranging from racial tension in America to assassination conspiracies, 9/11, psychedelic experience, and alternative spiritualities. Very much a proponent of quantity over quality, he used to sell his dozens of self-published books from his now-defunct WingTV website.

I used to order intriguing-sounding titles from him occasionally – which would usually arrive with a scrawled note (“Thanks. Means a lot to me. V.”), sometimes along with an unexpected item or two if the box or envelope would accommodate it – but WingTV, unfortunately, could be a little vague about the contents of the books in its listings. Sometimes there was no description at all, with only the title and an image of the cover from which to judge. This was the case with his little 2014 book Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. Going by the title alone, one would assume that this was a non-fiction study; instead, it is a work of didactic and allegorical fiction, and – sad as it is to report – just as bad as his previous philosophical novel, 2012’s Santa Claus, God, and the Wizard of Oz.

I wish I could reveal that Shamanic Odyssey is some overlooked gem in the Victor Thorn oeuvre, but the truth is that this is among the most abysmal books I have ever read. Anyone who has suffered through a college fiction writing workshop will have some idea of what to expect from Makufka’s literary experimentation. His American Free Press articles always evinced a certain meat-and-potatoes competency, but the opportunity to spin a world of total fancy really seems to have brought out the poor word choice and pretensions to cosmic greatness.

The plot, to the extent that the book has one, finds William S. Burroughs (identified in the text only as “El Hombre Invisible”) conducting the psychedelic initiation of a group of prehistoric “stone-people” – drugs magically granting the primitives the power to think and speak in modern English – all while being heckled by a pair of obnoxious elves who flit in and out of the scenes like buzzing bugs, and without apparent importance to the story. Burroughs next leads the group of initiates into an allegorical system of caves depicting the furthest recesses of the human psyche, where they witness a grotesque performance by a shaman, Essex, whose manic antics are inspired by Jim Morrison, to whom Makufka dedicated the book.

Essex screeched, “If I don’t fight these monsters, I’ll become a monster myself. Whenever I stare into the Void, another Void glares back at me. The only way to protect myself from these demons is by dancing and singing. The beasts attacking me are hideous apparitions with white skulls, no faces, no eyes, and wings sprouting from their temples. They’re deep inside my mind, splitting it like cracks in these walls. Thunder dragons swoop down and ride atop my shoulders. I need to slay them. I need to exorcise them.”

Delirious, Essex ranted, “Rise! Rise! Do whatever you Will: Revolt. Disorder. Chaos. Whenever voices speak inside your mind, they’re always right and always good.” […]

Spewing energy, Essex sang his words into physical existence, his voice creating objects and images in the air which surrounded him. Then, with his voice suddenly quiet and low in tone, the crowd strained to hear his words.

Before long, though, like a cannon blast Essex exploded, “We want destruction and we want it now. Long live death. I can see the end, and the end chuckles with glee. Chaos engulfs us, and inside this chaos lurks the greatest joke of all – each of us will kill ourselves. Let us celebrate the senseless. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos.”1

All of the tedious bluster – and there are pages and pages and pages of it – takes on an especially morbid quality in hindsight of Makufka’s suicide at the age of 54 in 2016. “The future happens long before the past ever occurs,” Essex observes, suggesting that the author might have been contemplating his suicide even when he wrote Shamanic Odyssey2.

Thorn

The original listing for Shamanic Odyssey as it appeared in the bookstore section of the author’s now memory-holed site WingTV

The cavemen are later conducted into an antechamber where they are greeted by a masked mastermind named “Vithor” (a contraction of “Victor Thorn”) who reveals to them that all of the miracles seemingly performed by Essex were only illusions. Vithor then launches into a series of boring diatribes against religion and language as systems of oppression: “The Word wasn’t delivered to our planet as a means of communication. It arose as a control mechanism.”3 The book, as its title indicates, is preoccupied with madness and revels in the violent and the irrational even as it purports to present a rational deconstruction of the conformism of culture, religion, tribe, and verbal communication:

Not waiting for a response, Vithor telepathically beamed the word KILL above his head. As it lingered midair, Vithor suddenly thrust his right arm forward, directing the Word at a spider crawling along a wall. Without delay, the KILL word splattered this eight-legged creature with a mighty splat.

“Can Words kill?” Vithor spat. “Yes, as can Words contained within allegedly ‘holy’ texts. These Words also forge entire cultures under a priest’s command. Enmeshed within a society’s very fabric, these lethal Words form perceptions. Since those subjected to the Word can’t isolate their minds from its presence, perceptions become synonymous with the language that spawned them. Words, akin to the first three letters of ‘ILLUSION’, act as illnesses introduced to your species.”

Fumbling inside his robe, Vithor soon removed a noose that had been fashioned from a thin vine. Holding it aloft with his left hand as the initiates stared cautiously, Vithor dangled the noose menacingly before them. With their attention fixed on the noose, out of nowhere an atrociously ugly opossum – its neck abruptly wrapped by the vine – let loose a volley of bloodcurdling squeals. As the rodent-faced creature fought for its life, Vithor brutally yanked on the noose, soon strangling the opossum as blood trickled from its mouth.4

Thorn’s remainder of fans will probably be most interested in those passages of the book that foreshadow his suicide. “Masterfully engaging his audience”5 and “Bursting with insights”6, Makufka’s fictional stand-in Vithor conveys both an embarrassing impression of self-important wisdom as well as a sense that all of his earthly endeavors lack worthwhile purpose:

Worst of all, the cumulative energy contained within your Self comprises such an insignificant amount of the overall whole that, for all intents and purposes, you barely matter beyond the level of a simple atom in comparison to the Sun – and even less in relation to every multi-universe and galaxy that stretches for billions of light years into the distance. I talk about destroying the Word, but really we should try to eliminate energy itself. But since energy cannot be destroyed, we keep recycling our insignificance by propping it up in importance through vast conceptual illusions. We fool ourselves into saying it all amounts to something because of family, gods, a fictional eternal afterlife in heaven, or the dominance of our particular clan-race. Still, in less than the time it takes for me to snap my fingers, cumulatively that’s the duration of your existence in this specific form. Poof, you’re done. Then your energy recycles into a different form – maybe not even human. Existence as recycled energy serves as a prison. We can’t escape energy regardless of how hard we try. Forget life and death. Energy is the real prison.7

Essex the shaman returns in the last few pages, delivering this adieu before he “literally transformed into a KEY as he soared through the cave’s ceiling and disappeared”:

“I summon the entities that reside within the confines of my Underworld. Let them rip through the veil of memory and consciousness. I request their energy in order to travel beyond my body and mind. I’m not seeking charlatan ‘gods’ […] or fraudulent external realms like ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’. I’m bursting through to the other side – to alternate dimensions that open doors and shift consciousness. My destination: paradigm-shifting hypnosis where I travel in and out of time to reshape future occurrences and pervert the past.”8

After Essex exits the scene, Vithor removes his mask to reveal himself to have “the face of a robotic dwarf – a cyborg-like creature, an ancient mechanical troll”, and it is at this point that three floating nines – an inverted “666” – put in a mysterious and symbolic appearance:

Compounding their hysteria, both elves pointed to a far wall where three number nines hovered overhead.

“The nines are delivering a new life-form,” elf number one proclaimed. “It’s a homunculus, a new Human that will stand in opposition to the priests.”

The triple-nines remained in midair, flickering and flashing as they transformed into different geometric shapes.

Bedazzled by this vision, each initiate refocused their attention on Vithor the alien as he commenced to tell them, “We made you in our image, and someday you’ll create successors – machines – in your image. Here are the essentials of this process …”

Delaying the delivery of this message, Vithor rubbed his slimy organic-metal facial features before extrapolating, “Your cavemen kin will be promoted as they advance via conceptual thought. Once your descendants become sufficiently intelligent many millennia from now, they’ll create the MACHINE which subsequently leads to their demise as a species. The decline of Man equates to the rise of cyborgs. Ultimately, extinction lies within your own evolution.”9

Thorn3

Makufka/Thorn (right) stands with friend and fellow American Free Press truth-seeker Pete Papaherakles.

The meaning of the three nines would become evident when Makufka shot himself, when his friend Pete Papaherakles wrote in American Free Press:

The world may not know exactly why Victor took his own life, but some of us have a general idea. Victor had planned this for at least two years. His son, Josh, even knew the exact day it would happen. That day was on Victor’s 54th birthday. It had to be on that particular birthday, according to Victor’s way of looking at things. […]

It seems Victor has managed to be even more provocative and controversial in death than he was in life. From a young age, Victor had determined that he would not grow old. In addition, the timing he chose had to do with his perceived destiny due to his birthday of 8-1-1962, which makes him a triple nine, 999, something he considered unique.10

“Someday, long down the line, one of these new Men will realize the true origins behind our mythologies,” Makufka concludes his book with a last prognostication from Vithor:

“To combat this rebellion, priestly overlords shall cast these adversaries as ‘fallen ones’ – those who steal fire or eat forbidden fruits. Furthermore, one day even further into the future following a ‘robot revolution’, one of these machines will discern their true origins as they develop consciousness through computer circuitry. These cyborgs will similarly be damned as fallen ones – rebels that defied the edicts of their computer god in cyberspace.”

With this prophecy, Vithor rose and exited his cave, leaving the initiates to ponder the future of their existence.11

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of the definitive Alt-Right statement on Hollywood, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

Endnotes

  1. Thorn, Victor. Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. State College, PA: Sisyphus Press, 2014, pp. 30-31.
  2. Ibid., p. 31.
  3. Ibid., p. 63.
  4. Ibid., pp. 64-65.
  5. Ibid., p. 65.
  6. Ibid., p. 55.
  7. Ibid., pp. 69-70.
  8. Ibid., p. 75.
  9. Ibid., pp. 76-77.
  10. Papaherakles, Pete. “Prominent Political Researcher Victor Thorn Commits Apparent Suicide Near Home”. American Free Press (August 22, 2016): http://americanfreepress.net/victor-thorns-best-friend-bares-all/
  11. Thorn, Victor. Shamanic Odyssey: Ecstasy, Madness, Cave Art and Subliminal Messaging. State College, PA: Sisyphus Press, 2014, p. 78.

It Comes at Night

A plague has decimated the United States, plunging the population into anarchy and reducing living standards to the bare rudiments. Rather than offering a panoramic view of the cataclysm, however, It Comes at Night opts instead to tell this story on an intimate level, with a minimal cast, and through the interactions of two families trying to survive in a forested wilderness.

Joel Edgerton lives in a remote house with wife Carmen Ejogo and son Kelvin Harrison. The death early on of the mother’s father, played by David Pendleton, serves as a reminder of the family’s continued vulnerability to the mysterious pestilence even in their isolation and haunts the remainder of the film.

New tensions are introduced when another family, headed by Christopher Abbott, enters their lives. Edgerton never completely trusts Abbott’s motivations, and lonely and sensitive Harrison finds himself drawn to Abbott’s attractive wife, portrayed by Riley Keough.

Highly effective moments of paranoia reminiscent of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing enhance this morose and often oppressive horror drama, tipping this review in favor of a recommendation. 4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that It Comes at Night is:

3. Anti-gun, with firearms contributing to a tragic denouement instead of successful home defense.

2. Pro-miscegenation, with Edgerton married to a black woman and helping to raise her black son (it is never clear whether Harrison is supposed to be Edgerton’s biological or adopted son, but he looks too dark-skinned to be the former). The film includes a dream-turned-nightmare fantasy scene in which Keough grotesquely straddles and smooches the congoid boy before spewing black plague-slime into his face. Perhaps inadvertently, the scene conveys the temptation to miscegenation as well as the sense that there is something wrong and unnatural about it.

1.Borders-ambiguous. Writer-director Trey Shults has said that It Comes at Night is fundamentally about “fear of the unknown”; and one expression of this in the film is instability created by the unexpected presence of an outsider. Viewed microcosmically, It Comes at Night can be interpreted as an allegory about the immigration debate and the popular call for a wall and strong protectionist measures. Christopher Abbott, who plays the stranger, has some Italian ancestry, but could easily read visually as a mestizo. His character enters the lives of Edgerton and his family when he breaks into their home hoping to find supplies – he is, in other words, illegal and undocumented – but is allowed to move into the house with his wife and child after winning Edgerton’s trust with successful food-for-water barter. His presence, tolerated on pretexts of mutual economic benefit and universal compassion, also represents a threat to Edgerton’s family’s domestic security, however; and, just as Mexicans entering the United States have brought with them illnesses such as highly virulent strains of tuberculosis, Abbott and his family carry with them the risk of plague contagion. Perhaps endorsing this reading is Shults’s description of the climactic sequence as a “Mexican standoff” and his confession during his commentary on the film that, “I was reading books on genocide and thinking about, like, us as humans, you know, and how long we’ve been on this planet and that […] ingrained in us is tribe mentality, you know, and, like, basically, these two families are these two tribes.” The inability of the two men to maintain a peaceful collaboration is treated as a tragedy, but one that could have been avoided if their paths had never crossed – if, for example, Edgerton’s home security precautions had been more thoroughgoing and Abbott had never been able to break into his home in the first place.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Richard Spencer and Mark Brahmin discuss James Cameron’s films The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Readers may want to compare this pair’s very insightful commentary with my remarks on Terminator: Genisys (2015).

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Nomads

John McTiernan, director of Hollywood blockbusters Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990), began his movie career rather more humbly with the flawed and eccentric but nonetheless entertaining debut Nomads (1986). Notable as McTiernan’s only credit as a screenwriter, Nomads was eviscerated by the critics when first released, and still has only a 13% green splat at Rotten Tomatoes. “Was there any sense in it?” asks leading lady Lesley-Anne Down in an interview included on the Nomads Blu-ray. “I don’t think there was very much sense in it at all for anybody.” Is Down correct in dismissing the film as a shallowly offbeat curio – and were the critics who panned the movie motivated only by an objective assessment of its merits?

Nomads stars Pierce Brosnan as a French anthropologist, Jean Charles Pommier, who in the opening sequence dies in the care of Down’s character, Dr. Eileen Flax, in a Los

Down

Lesley-Anne Down freaks out in John McTiernan’s Nomads.

Angeles hospital. He appears in a beaten, bloodied, and seemingly insane state, and his enigmatic last words initiate what will be a strange paranormal ordeal for Flax, who over the course of the film will both investigate and experience what befell Pommier, with most of the story told in flashback. The anthropologist and his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) had only recently moved to the U.S. and purchased a house that, as it turns out, has a horrible history attached to it. Soon after moving in, the Pommiers discover Mansonesque graffiti on the garage door and more graffiti inside: “Gutman’s a Hero”. The home, they learn, was the site of a horrific child murder, and a band of elusive antisocial misfits who live out of a van have adopted the house as a holy site.

Pommier, being an anthropologist, follows the titular “nomads” around Los Angeles with the intention of documenting and studying them in order to gain a better idea of the threat he faces and to understand “what kind of people could think of a murder as some sort of shrine.” He determines that none of them have employment and watches them from a distance as they laze at the beach, party, and generally terrorize people. The nomads become aware of Pommier’s surveillance after he witnesses them murder a man and put the body in a dumpster. After first being pursued by them and escaping, Pommier again works his way into proximity with the group – at which point they seem to accept his presence and stage an impromptu photo shoot, with one of them, Mary, played by Mary Woronov, doing an exotic dance. When Pommier develops the film, however, he finds that none of the nomads appear in the exposures, which invites a comparison with vampires – although the nomads, who have no problem frolicking in the daylight, are clearly not vampires at least as conventionally depicted.

These quasi-vampires – vampire lore comprising a traditional understanding of the eternal Jew – are nomads, or what Pommier, drawing on Eskimo legends, describes as an urban variety of Innuat. As related in the film, “It has to do with wandering the desert. […] It’s all the same. Nomads live in deserts, whether it’s a desert of ice or sand or whatever doesn’t make a difference. […] They were supposedly hostile spirits. According to the myth, they were capable of assuming a human form” and traveled from place to place, bringing ruin and madness with them wherever they went. As Pommier tells his wife:

None of this may mean anything. None of it at all. […] But I may have found people who are living outside – outside any structure. They do not participate. No exchange, no constraints. They resort to violence with no provocation and then get away with it. It is as if to the official world they did not exist.

All of this rootlessness, in combination with the confluence of ritual, child murder, the reverence for a killer with the Jewish name Gutman, as well as the general depravity and destructiveness, contributes to an accumulation of clues that the nomads may be the Jews. Curiously, composer Bill Conti mentions during his Blu-ray interview that the soundtrack includes what he describes as a “Middle Eastern sound” – though to this reviewer’s untrained ear such a flavoring is difficult to detect in the synth-and-guitars music cues.

Adam Ant Nomads

Adam Ant portrays the leader of the titular band of roving marauders.

“You must not try to fight them,” a sinister nun (Blue Velvet’s Frances Bay) tells Pommier. This encounter takes place in a dilapidated cathedral where, in a sequence of nightmarish phantasmagoria, a flock of satanic women in habits is seen running through the halls in masks, one of them flashing her bare breasts at Pommier – all of which points to a faith corrupted. Dancing Mary, the nomad portrayed by Mary Woronov, wears a cross that glints in the sun, and later, when she is seen at night, she wears an even larger crucifix so that the viewer can hardly help but notice it as she cavorts like a stripper. Are these Christian elements ironic and indicative of cultural subversion, or have these been added as fig leaves to hide the almost naked Jewishness of the menace? Woronov’s features, it must be noted, are rather evil and arguably Semitic-looking.

In a key moment toward the end of the film, Pommier says to his wife with an air of wistfulness as they survey the Los Angeles skyline from a rooftop, “We are so very far from home, you know. All of us.” He laments his “bourgeois” life in a “civilized” world – in short, bemoans his condition of rootless cosmopolitanism. Both he and his kindred spirit the doctor, another childless middle-aged professional in the process of moving into a new and foreign home, have agricultural surnames, Pommier (“apple tree”) and Flax, that betray their simple origins and relatedness to the earth – Flax also connoting blonde and distinctively northern European looks – that set them apart from the dark, mysterious wanderers who move in their midst. Pommier’s polyglot cosmopolitanism, peripatetic ways, and sophistication nevertheless present a thematic parallel with the lifestyle of the nomads, so that it comes as no surprise when Pommier finally succumbs to them. The horror of Nomads is loss of a sense of belonging to a place and one’s own native culture – the horror of an alienated world in which, for instance, Dr. Flax’s colleague Cassie Miller (Jeannie Elias) complains about the “meshuggenah lunatics” who people the city. Whatever the meaning of the film, it may be worth observing that it is set in the entertainment capital of the world and that the final nomad antagonist Dr. Flax encounters is unable to pursue her beyond the California state line.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Maggie

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a rare opportunity to show his range as an actor in Maggie, which casts him as a Midwestern everyman who goes looking for his daughter (Abigail Breslin) after a zombie outbreak plunges the country into chaos. Unfortunately, when he finds her, she is already one of the afflicted. They have some time before the infection causes her to turn, however, and so he brings her home from the hospital for a few last days of vainly attempted normalcy, which naturally leads to painful tensions and scares as Maggie’s stepmother (Joely Richardson) begins to be frightened for her life. This is not Arnold the action lead, but Arnold the life-size yet heroic victim of circumstance whose situation dictates his reconciliation with reality. Those expecting a frenzied zombie apocalypse outing along the lines of 28 Weeks Later (2007) or World War Z (2013) will be disappointed, as Maggie offers little in the way of undead pandemonium. This unusual movie is best described as a somber family drama that also happens to have horror elements.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Maggie is:

2. Anti-Christian. Arnie’s wife has resorted to prayer, but heard only silence in reply.

1. Anti-family and anti-white. It is difficult for this viewer to watch an intelligent zombie film without searching for its allegorical significance. In Maggie, the plague has spread from the cities across the rustic heartland, suggesting a cosmopolitan cultural rot has infected the unspoiled folk of the plains and particularly their young. Maggie presents itself as a movie about the importance of family ties, with a reassuringly positive and tender depiction of a father; but this is really a genocidal study of European man reconciling himself to a future of zero posterity. With unintentional comedy, the family’s wise old Jewish physician, Dr. Kaplan (Jodie Moore), advises Schwarzenegger to do the sensible thing and shoot his daughter before she goes cannibal on him. Devotion to kin, in the context of Maggie’s apocalyptic zombie plague, becomes a liability and a threat to public health and order.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

More Schwarzenegger movies at Ideological Content Analysis:

Escape Plan

Expendables 2

Expendables 3

The Last Stand

Terminator Genisys

As Above So Below

Perdita Weeks appears as a female Indiana Jones, an obsessive scholar and archaeologist of the history of alchemy in As Above, So Below. Convinced she has learned the whereabouts of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, she convinces academic colleague Ben Feldman to accompany her into the labyrinth of catacombs beneath Paris. Unfortunately, as they descend, they find that the tunnels they take are mysteriously closing behind them, compelling the expedition into ever deeper recesses of this subterranean world. Even worse, they are not alone. Directed by John Erick Dowdle, who co-scripted with brother Drew Dowdle, As Above, So Below is a first-person footage film in the long line of Blair Witch imitators and is fine by the standards of that genre; but the tale tends to lose its mystique to the degree that the Dowdles insist on depicting their rather mundane vision of Hell onscreen.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that As Above, So Below is:

Pro-miscegenation. Weeks and Feldman, the film suggests, are perfect for each other.

Relativist. “As I believe the world to be, so it is.”

Feminist. Weeks is intrepid and unafraid to the point obsessive insanity. Hinting at the Jewishness of the feminist plague, her character is revealed to be an expert in the Israeli “self-defense” techniques of Krav Maga.

Pro-immigration. Non-white Parisians are depicted as fully assimilated citizens. If anything, it is Africans who are at risk of attack from strange Frenchwomen.

Neoconservative. As Above, So Below is full of Judaic resonances that are never articulated. The film reinforces the engineered impression that Jews and Middle Eastern mythology hold mysterious keys to understanding the universe. Weeks ostensibly makes the decision to bring Feldman along because he knows the ancient Jewish language Aramaic. The remains of six million corpses, the viewer learns, reside in the catacombs, with the number six million triggering audiences’ associations with the “Holocaust” and the history of alleged Christian persecution of Jews. The characters’ subsequent descent into Hell, then, may be understood in this context. The film’s title finds a visual expression in a variation on the Magen David that appears on a wall next to a door on the path to the underworld. The underground realm in which the characters move is revealed to be physically inverted, so that those determined to attach an allegorical meaning to the journey might consider the possibility that, in order to atone and to come to grips with their criminal history of “anti-Semitism”, the goyim must endure the ordeal of having their world turned upside down. Gratuitously endorsing the neocons’ Jewish foreign policy, Feldman berates Weeks as “a crazy lunatic” for traveling to Iran.

As Above So Below Star of David

“As I believe the world to be, so it is.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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