True (and possibly gross) story: A long time ago in a galaxy...well, in this galaxy, I lived with someone. One fine evening this so-called Co-Habi-Tron 2000 got a stomach bug and barfed. Barfed on the way to the bathroom. Now, I've not had a stomach bug since 1st grade and I've never had food poisoning. I'm not a vomiter, unless...yes, there have been some alcohol-related times but what can you do? I live on the edge, and I always fight for my right to party.
Anyway, this sudden display of not being in control of one's body completely freaked me out. It broke my brain. Really. I became paranoid about catching the stomach bug. I spent the next 2 weeks fixated on perceived feelings of nausea: "Am I gonna throw up? Am I gonna...yes, I think...ohh...I'm...eh, never mind." I never got that bit of flu (awesome) and I never barfed, but no matter: as I said...brain broken. I got paranoid about eating in restaurants for fear of food poisoning. As everyone else in the world has had it at one time or another, I grilled everybody: What's it like? How did you know you had it? How long did you have it? Where did you eat? Whenever someone at work said he had the "flu", I had to ask if it was a cold or a puke thing. I couldn't watch anyone barfing in movies or shows or what have you.
I don't know why it happened or why it continued so long. It was ridiculous. Then all of a sudden I was better. Brains are funny that way, I guess.
Another true (less gross, more juvenile) story: There is an office building along the highway near my hometown that has windows on one side laid out like this:
To me, this place has become known as The Tit Building. Generally people don't know what building I'm talking about when I mention it as a point of reference...but I cannot unsee the word "TIT" spelled out in its windows. It baffles me that it got past the blueprint stage.
I tell you these two anecdotes not simply because my life is so incredibly fascinating...no! I tell you because both anecdotes came to mind while I was watching Uzumaki (2000), the tale of a small Japanese town that falls under the curse of the vortex.
It all starts innocently enough. People "act a bit funny". A man spends several hours quietly videotaping the swirl of a snail's shell. Soon enough, however, many of the citizens of Kurouzu are completely obsessed with the vortex pattern- like, obsessed to the point that they begin to harm themselves in some incredibly grotesque ways. Everywhere they look, they see the spirals. Their brains are broken by the curse, and the only hope, it seems, is to remove all signs of the spiral from their environment. That sounds easy enough, but ask yourself this: is a life without Pecan Spins a life worth living?
Uzumaki starts out as a bit of a kooky fairy tale; the music is exceedingly incongruous with the action, and it almost plays as a horror-comedy. By the time the words "There is still a spiral in your ear..." are spoken, however, it crosses over into the land of dread and mindfuckery. In a word, it's creepy.
None of it is really explained, so you're going to be left with questions in the end, like: Why is the town cursed, exactly? And...how do people turn into giant snails...? But this is an imaginative, bizarre just take the ride kind of horror film, and as such it's both unsettling and entertaining. The idea that thoughts can become obsessive to the point where they lead you to break as many of your own bones as possible- and you think it's a capital plan- is truly terrifying. I'm glad I got over my weird puke obsession when I did.
Yes yes, I'm sure Junji Ito's manga that provides the basis for this film is better than the film itself. I've never read it, although I know I should. And I will, one of these days. You don't need to remind me, Bossy!
Film Club Coolies, y'all!
Parry Game Preserve
In One Ear...
The Horror Section
Va's The Cinema Experience
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia
Pussy Goes Grrr