Part 1 of 2
Point of Terror (1973); 88 min. Director: Alex Nicol; Writers: Peter Carpenter (story), Ernest A. Charles (screenplay); Stars: Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Lory Hansen.
Manhunter (1986); 119 minutes. Director: Michael Mann; Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Michael Mann (screenplay); Stars: William Peterson, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Tom Noonan, Chris Elliot
Groundhog Day (1993); 101 minutes. Director: Harold Ramis; Writers: Danny Rubin (screenplay), Harold Ramis (screenplay); Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky
“I am awake only in what I love & desire to the point of terror — everything else is just shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain.” — T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, by Hakim Bey
We’ve already looked at the popular comedy Groundhog Day through the lens of The Gilmore Girls. Since Gilmore Girls 2.0 is being rebooted as a “sleepy coastal town,” then let’s move on to a similar such town for our next movie.
We discussed The Gilmore Girls as an interesting example of putting a smug jerkass like Groundhog Day’s Phil into a similarly timeless setting, but making him (or rather her, or even the two of them) the hero. Or heroine(s). But as we said, it achieves its advantage over Groundhog Day somewhat unfairly, as it luxuriates in an indeterminate, ultimately seven, year run rather than a tight 100 minutes. As Wagner proved, you can’t write a five hour comedy.
If you don’t have the time or interest to devote to the Girls (which until recently was running endlessly and sequentially on the Soap Network) you can avail yourselves of a delightfully distasteful 88 minute piece of ’70s sleaze called Point of Terror, which has just had a brand new DVD release, with enough re-mastering and interviews to make it look like as if it were a really worthy film.
It’s not, of course. As one ironic fan noted, it feels like a ’70s porn flick with all the sex cut out, and I can testify to it having just about that effect on me when I saw it on late night TV sometime in the mid-’70s, in the days before cable porn when teenage boys would hunker down in the basement “rec room” and channel surf all night for the obscure offerings of even more obscure local TV stations.
Channel 62 in Detroit was one (weirdly, as the result of one of those TV station for newspaper swaps, it’s now become the local CBS outlet), which showed what one fan called “French symbolist cop dramas and Italian neo-realist sex farces.”
Like the rest of films shown on Channel 62 and the like, the only reason to watch Point of Terror was the promise of numerous well-endowed women, among them Dyanne Thorne (the future Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS; how many young boys have become Nazis thanks to her? Greatest recruitment tool ever.)
If Gilmore Girls gave us egotistical Phil as seen by fellow egotists, thus cosseted and coddled rather than provoked to change, Point of Terror goes all the way: our protagonist is also the writer and producer himself, and quite possibly the director as well. We thus have the chance to see Full Frontal Phil, and it’s a greasy, unappetizing spectacle.
As the “film” opens we get a heapin’ helping of our auteur, doing a preview of his “act,” resplendent in a red fringed suede jumpsuit that Elvis only dreamed of. Peter Carpenter, or at least his character here, has been rightly described as “Tom Jones without the looks or talent.” I’ll let the implications of that sink in.
Carpenter supposedly worked in Vegas as a “jazz dancer” so I’ll take his choreography as intentional. Inverting stereotypes of racial choreography, Pete can certainly swivel his hips with the best of them, but it’s his arms that seem useless. He certainly makes the most of the famous “jazz hands” move, but the oddity is his stiff armed gestures — that’s where the fringe comes in, in a big way — suggesting at times a crucifixion, at other times a puppet, perhaps one, hanging upside down, like Dante’s Satan — the fringe again, combined with the red suede and decor.
While we’ve seen in discussing Psychomania, that stony immobility is symbolic of the Realized Man, the puppet presents another symbol entirely, stiff and lifeless, but with motion controlled by others, the, if you will, polar opposite of the stone. Earthly Man, not a Stoic but a stooge, a “victim of coicumstance [sic].”
The puppet is the recurrent — timeless — metaphor of the “block universe experience of total determinism and no free will” that Michael Hoffman has identified as the common central experience of mystery religions, entheogenic drug experience, and psychedelic rock. Indeed, with its ’70s vibe and garish red and green palate, perhaps PoT — get it? — is intended to be, or originated in, a classic “bad trip.”
Despite internet legend, he does not repeat the same song over and over throughout the film, although each is mind-numbingly repetitive in itself. The first one, now playing, is an up-tempo number, indeed, if the credits are to be believed, produced from the Motown stable. But when it came to the lyrics, it’s like they took the pathos of “Across 110th Street” and re-wrote it for some smug White slumlord. Pete, playing “Tony,” has a ’70’s perm that recalls Tony Francioso’s mobster in that Blaxploitation classic, and Tony’s frenetic flapping around suggests the inverse of Pam Grier’s Stoic motionlessness — the metaphysical opposite of Pete’s gyrations, although with shared Afro — as the song plays at the opening of Tarrantino’s Jackie Brown.
I lent a deafened ear to all the sounds of sadness
Watched with blinded eyes to all the looks of loneliness
Broke and heartless
Won’t give a damn if you’re down and dying, whoa I’m
Broke and heartless
Running wild and running free
This is me, this is me
Born against the wall I had to learn the hard way
Armed with deafened mind [?] I had to stalk my prey
And as proud as I can be
This is me, World, this is me
People say that love is stronger than fate [hate?]
But with my job [?] I guess that stuff will come too late
Like a storm that drifts at sea
This is me
You can’t change the way I am, this is me,
There’s no one else I’d want to be, this is me,
Running wild and running free, this is me,
This is MEEEEEEEEE!
Etc. Just about at the point where the viewer is about to scream, we cut to Tony (as we’ll soon be introduced to him) on the beach, screaming. So it was all a nightmare; indeed, that seems the best category for what we’ve just been though — eventually, we’ll realize the red outfit and lighting are mean to suggest Hell.
Tony is soon appeased, however, by the approaching bosoms of bikini-clad future NS She-wolf Dyanne Thorne, who seems unaware or uninterested in Tony having been screaming his fool head off a few seconds ago. She quickly conveys that she is what today would be called a wealthy cougar, which is fine with Tony, since he’s got a gig over at the local rich ladies hangout, The Lobster House [!] which does indeed resemble some decaying local fish shack cum nightclub of the sort one might find in a West Coast version of the Hamptons.
We briefly meet Tony’s current regular Saturday night thing, and after apparently shagging her on the dressing room floor — as we said, the sex scenes seem to be implied while leaving the general porn ambience intact — our recharged Lothario enters stage right to begin his “act” proper.
Remember the odd “storm that drifts” where we would expect “ship” line just now? The second song is a “slow dance” sort of thing that takes up the “drift” metaphor. It would seem to be his public face, rather than the private one we just heard — indeed, this time there is indeed an audience. It’s his “bad boy who needs love” shtick, à la “Game.”
This is what I am and what I’ll always be
A drifter of the heart until love changes me
Take me for myself; let your mind run free
And find what lies ahead across the open sea
As you can imagine, the music at this point is eerily like the “Love Boat” theme. However, I can’t help but point out that the lyrics are structured in the same inverted way as Dancing Queen: opening with what we will realize is the chorus. For the verse, the music moves into something like the bridge from Sly Stone’s Everyday People:
I’ve been right and I’ve been wrong and I’ve been in between
On the tip of my fingers I’ve balanced all my dreams
Love is something I can’t keep I only seem to borrow
I play the game hard and fast like there’s no tomorrow
If things go right and I’m on top love will be around
Like the wind they’ll all be gone if ever I am down
My constant lonely searching life is the price I have to pay
To do the Things I want to do and live this life my way
Chorus, repeated over and over until you just want to scream, again, but in Pete’s movie it’s a chick magnet, so good luck to him. Fortunately, his “act” seems to consist of just the one song, so it’s good night and try the veal.
As Pete/Tony smarms his way through his “act” one can’t help but recall that wonderful skewering of two-bit lounge acts on SNL, Nick the Lounge Singer; wait, that was Bill Murray!
As Tony works his charms on the audience of lonely rich chicks (no disparagement intended, Dyanne’s own BFF even calls her “Chickie”) the camera circles around the stage from below, which I guess is supposed to be his hypnotic spell being cast, but it really suggests his career and life swirling around a drain. Metaphysically, these are the “Lower Waters” the Hero need to traverse, and the ever-spinning world of Samsara.
Anyhow, we now have had our two themes pile-driven into our skulls: this is who I am, and will be, until love changes me — a pretty fair approximation of Groundhog Day. Everyone all set with the premise? Tony, like Phil, is a jerkass tool who thinks he’s “doing what he wants” like any swinging ’70s cat, but is in for a surprise . . .
Before getting back to the “plot” we might as well jump ahead and get the last song over with. We only get a fragmented listen to it, as it’s the potential “big hit” that we watch Dyanne “producing” in the studio, but fragments are all we need if the song, as we expect, is another musical Mobius strip. Starting in mid-verse, with music that sounds like some ’70s corporate promo film like “This is 3M!,” we have this inflicted on us:
I’ve had dreams and desperation
Waiting for some world of time [?]
Now it’s time for celebration
Lifebeats turning into lovebeats
Lovebeats turning into lifebeats
Lifebeats turning into lovebeats
Moving in and taking control of me
Life’s a drummer and my heart’s a drum
Love the music gotta get me some. 
The whole recording session looks like the Euro-crap song we see being recorded early in Pod People, and one wishes one of these actors would also give an ironic thumb-forefinger sign and add “It stinks.” Incredibly, this Motown number was actually re-cycled a few years later for … Diana Ross. Yet more incredibly, it was recycled again for . . . Don Johnson in his early post-Miami Vice career. And in a Crowning Moment of Awesome, it bears more than a little resemble to the end credit music for Michael Mann’s post-Miami Vice film Manhunter, which will take up our next section.
The lyrics drive home the themes of dreams, desperation, helpless instrument of fate, etc., which the chorus evokes the endless repetition theme.
But we must tear ourselves away from these poetic heights and return to the mundane matters of the plot, which is a sort of smutty version of Double Indemnity Tony takes Dyanne back to his swinging pad where she reveals she is not merely rich but married to the head of “National Records,” who, being wheelchair bound (thanks to Dyanne, as we will learn, along with the possibly useful fact that she — or they — murdered his first wife — a brief and confusing flashback gives the movie poster its misleading “terror” image), has turned the day to day running of the business over to her. Tony slaps on his ever-handy demo tape — that’s where she tells him he “needs more strings” — and before you can say “Wham bam, thank you ma’m” Angie and Ziggy — I mean, Andrea and Tony — are in the studio recording his first big record! But first, after a midnight pool shag, Dyanne puts the finishing touches on her rather understandably jealous and bitter husband by pushing him into the still enseamed pool.
Although not part of Tony’s plan, he figures he’s got it made now, and proposes to Andrea, who turns him down with a laugh, pointing out that he’s a boy toy, not husband material; she’s now the free one, and doesn’t need another ball and chain. Inexplicably, this obvious truth seems to surprise Tony, who pouts until Angela’s step-daughter shows up for the funeral. When Andrea underlines her independence by a spur of the moment vacation, Tony turns on his irresistible charms, woos the daughter, and marries her in Tijuana.
This doesn’t sit well with the returning Andrea, and . . . well, I can’t do better than Cinema de Merde’s recap (although I will emphasize some symbolically important phrases):
[T]o say that Andrea throws a scene would be to say the very least. She clings to his leg as he drags her up the lawn. Oh by the way, in here is an obvious section where something was clearly edited out—using stone tools, by the looks of it—but one wonders what kinkiness was just too hot for us to hear. Anyway, through some bizarre, inexplicable edit, Andrea throws herself at Tony’s FEET and somehow ends up hanging around his shoulders. At this point—listen here, this is amazing—he starts spinning around [as any one of us would do in such a situation] with such apparent speed that the centrifugal force is pulling Andrea’s legs STRAIGHT out behind her. Now, Tony and Andrea WERE by the beach, but walked up the path to the house, which means that, when Andrea finally lets slip her grip, the force of Tony’s spinning sends her body flying horizontally a MINIMUM of 95 feet, where she lands on the rocks of the beach, killing her instantly! Sadly, such accidents are ALL too common. And how many of us, when landscaping our homes, adequately guard against how surprisingly far our bodies might be horizontally flung in JUST such an everyday situation?
Oh well, just another sunny day in California. Tony and sugar momma’s step-daughter turned-wife prepare to move on, when Tony gets a call from his pregnant girlfriend. Wait, you forgot about the girlfriend back at the club? And that she was or got pregnant? So did everyone else. Tony rushes over, and she blows him away with a shotgun. Really, all this takes place in less time than it took me to type those sentences — again, were scenes cut, or a reel lost?
Before we have time to start asking questions Tony wakes up screaming. So, it was all a dream! Thank goodness, we were really worried about what was happening to this wonderful guy we cared so much about. But wait, didn’t he scream at the beginning? So it’s starting all over again! And sure enough, here comes Andrea and her remarkable bikini. And Tony — and we — scream again.
And so ends our story. A cautionary tale, to be sure.
Just as genre, and especially Grade Z flicks, can, thanks to their below the radar status, present non-PC, anti-modern and even Traditionalist themes, they can also present us with more brutally realistic scenarios than standard “Hollywood” fare.
Unlike the light-hearted Groundhog Day, in this crummy small town a heartless egotist repeats the last few weeks of his swinging gigolo life endlessly, but without any change of character.
And why would he change? And how could he, even if he did “want to”? As Schopenhauer and Evola both assert, our character is fixed, indeed, given to, or chosen by us prenatally, and our lives are merely the unfolding of that eternal character in Time. To break free of the Round of Existence requires spiritual initiation, which is needed precisely so as to grant a new character, a new being, to the initiate. But of course, it is also that same given character that grants one the indispensable qualifications for initiation — as well as providential birth in an area and time with access to a true spiritual current; only in the most exoteric, even sentimental sense, can it simply be distributed wholesale. As Evola says,
What has to be negated most decisively is the transposition to this field of the individualistic and democratic view of the “self-made man,” that is, the idea that anyone who wants to can become an “initiate,” and that he can also become one on his own, through his own strength alone, by resorting to various kinds of “exercises” and practices. This is an illusion, the truth being that through his own strength alone, the human individual cannot go beyond human individuality, and that any positive result in this field is conditioned by the presence and action of a genuine power of a different, nonindividual order.
The appeal of Groundhog Day, both to the general public as well as the representatives of various spiritual paths of one or another level of legitimacy who have praised it, may perhaps lie in its presentation of profound spiritual truth — every day is Groundhog Day — with a comforting spiritual illusion to make it more palatable — we can break free if only we try hard enough, or do just the right thing.
Of course, it is true that the “love of a woman” has frequently been used, either as a metaphor for initiation, or even sometimes as a means of initiation itself, in which case
the desire and rapture aroused by woman is not allowed to develop along material and profane lines, but is used as the means for a spiritual realization, which may even partake of the nature of an initiation. For such purposes a real woman is simply used as the starting point and as a support.
To read Groundhog Day along these lines, we would see Rita’s list of the Ideal Man’s qualities  less as her equally selfish “counter-game” but as a real initiation.
Women have learned well to be dubious of such male-derived cults of Woman; as Evola hints here:
For such purposes a real woman is simply used as the starting point and as a support.
The true object of the cult [of Chivalry] was indeed a woman possessed of autonomous reality, apart from the physical personality of the real woman, who could eventually serve as her support, and who could in a certain sense, incorporate and represent her.
And, as Evola makes explicit elsewhere, this is less about “worshipping the Goddess” or even taking out the garbage, and more like ruthless exploitation. Indeed, Evola notes that some Taoist “texts give reason to suspect, that in some cases the purpose served is even a form of masculine vampirism.”
What can be said, is that both promiscuity, casual (Phil) or frenetic (Tony), and marriage (Phil and Rita, Tony and Modern Mother and Daughter), seem to be either beside the point or positively harmful. As the path from mundane duality to transcendental wholeness, initiation is inherently nondual if not entirely paradoxical.
This allows us to see the Tony/Andrea relationship in a surprising new light, particularly the odd scene where Tony proposes marriage. Tony has until now been portrayed as an aging rent boy or even a sexual predator, but now suddenly proposes marriage, which Andrea rejects with contemptuous laughter. As we have seen, both roles are alien to the process of initiation. Like Parsifal, Tony is a fool who has learned nothing from his encounter with Andrea.
If Tony is Parsifal, then Andrea’s crippled husband, confined to his sterile ’70s mansion, is the Fisher King. After Andrea “makes love” with Tony in the pool, he — the husband — is dumped in it and drowns. And now the bullfight noises make sense, referencing the lance that wounds Amfortas.
His death summons the daughter from abroad, who we can think of as Andrea rejuvenated by his death. Tony certainly thinks so, and proceeds exploit her naiveté — which matches his own — by renewing his pitch for matrimony, this time successfully.
If there’s a failed initiation here, short circuited by Tony’s naiveté, we can find some clues by taking a close look — if you can stand it — at the curious sexual dynamics of Tony and Andrea.
Many later viewers and reviewers have noted, with either contempt or “campy” humor, that Andrea — and indeed, most of the older women among her rich set at the Lobster House — “looks like a drag queen.” Whatever that expression may mean as an insult or endearment, it’s true that with her big, bad blonde hair and rather hard features, the future SS Warden Ilsa does resemble a certain kind of big, often Southern, drag queen.
Meanwhile, her daughter has implausibly long hair — about waist length — that suggests a certain over-compensating, and first appears wearing a black leather overcoat that’s sinisterly masculine and certainly recalls the future Ilsa. And her aforementioned BFF is almost always falling down drunk and loudly wishing she “had tits like Andrea” — earlier, Andrea introduced Tony to her as “having a waist slimmer than yours” — while appearing in several scenes wearing an obvious and askew wig.
Above all, symbolically, their names; Andrea, with its masculine edge, is no doubt a favorite among a certain class of closeted cross dressers, as well as its suggestion of “andro-”; while the daughter seems to be named Helene, but according to the credits, it’s “Helayne,” suggesting another kind of half-assed drag name. And while I’m not going to suggest there’s anything obviously “masculine” about Andie MacDowell, “Andie” is pretty close to Andrea, and her real name, Anderson, is even worse; to say nothing of her beginnings in the notoriously androgynous world of fashion mannequins.
As for Tony, there is a longstanding notion of the Don Juan or Lothario as, paradoxically, a feminine type, seeking affirmation from others. Though certainly a ‘Z’ movie, Point of Terror is intended to be “mainstream” — i.e., not gay porn or a Kenneth Anger or Jack Smith-style “avant-garde” piece. So the amount of “beefcake” is extraordinary. His revulsion from Sally’s pregnancy is perhaps mostly for its reminder that he is, after all, supposed to be the man here, while desperately seeking marriage to Andrea or Helayne like some Boston spinster. Come to think of it, “Tony” is as ambiguous as “Andrea.”
What we see in this aspect of Point of Terror is well described by Camille Paglia in her musings on Coleridge’s poem “Christabel”:
An alchemical experiment whose main event is the crystallization of a rebis or hermaphroditic personality. The poem is an alembic of superheated psyche. Energy is released and rebounded. Vampires make vampires. . . . Fascination, capture, possession, transfiguration.
“Fascination, capture, possession, transfiguration” does seem to be the plot here, but Tony is unable to pull off the transfiguration part. Tony and Andrea are androgynous figures, but rather than vampirically making use of Andrea, he succumbs to the feminine role and seeks domesticity. As Evola explains:
Since every symbolism is based on specific relationships of analogy, it is necessary to begin with the possible relationships between man and woman. These relationships can be either normal or abnormal. They are abnormal when the woman dominates the man . . .
[I]t is necessary to refer to the normal relations between man and woman as the basis of the analogy and of the symbolism; hence the fundamental concept of a situation in which the virile principle retains its own nature. The spirit, vis-à-vis the masculine, is the “woman”: the virile principle is active, the spirit passive. Even before the power that transfigures it and vivifies the hero, the virile principle retains the character that man has as the lord of his woman. In passing, we must note that this is exactly the opposite of the bridal symbolism prevalent in religious and especially in the Christian mysticism, in which the soul is attributed a feminine role, namely, that of the “bride.”
This is not to insist on any rigid kind of gender roles, only that each player needs to know where they stand. Tony turns out to be not man enough for Andrea. Tony fails to control and dominate the female.
All this is brought home in a remarkable scene I’ll call the “Sofa Scene.” It’s the only thing I really remembered after all these years from seeing it once on late night TV, no doubt because of the enticing moment when Andrea lies back on a sofa and — well, it’s not the sort of thing commonly seen on basic cable even today; but we’ll get to that.
When Tony proposes to Andrea, she, as we noted above, laughs with contempt and points out that she plans to remain free, and that Tony is just a gigolo. Then, in a reversal of normal human, or even primate behavior — typical of what makes Grade-Z films so fascinating — she demonstrates her dominance by lying down on the sofa and spreading her legs. Tony, not to be outdone, reveals that he didn’t go straight home and in fact witnessed Andrea’s little bullfight scene. She gets up to protest his implicit blackmail threat — nice way to start a marriage, Tony; and say, didn’t you see what happened to the last guy that knew too much about Andrea’s homicidal tendencies? — and Tony then takes her place on the sofa, giving us an unwelcome shot of his own, um, area.
Andrea then turns the, um, tables again threatening to reveal their relationship to Helayne. (What, she doesn’t already know Tony is an unlikeable scumbag?), and it’s back to the couch to wait for Tony to fail to call her bluff.
This odd bit of stage business enacts the unnatural nature of Tony and Andrea’s relationship. As Baron Evola quotes the hermeticist d’Espagnet:
“The Female at first is stronger than the Male and dominates him, in order to transmute him into her own nature. But then the Male recovers his vigor and in turn gains ascendancy, dominates the Female and makes her like himself. . . . The Female must first be allowed to surmount the Male, and then the Male the Female.”
Andrea, in short, should seek to dominate Tony, using her masculine energies to attract this fundamentally feminine male; but having succeeded, she must be dominated in turn by the newly invigorated Tony. None of this, of course, can be accomplished with either a one-night stand or a happily married life in the suburbs.
The notorious whirling death scene also makes more sense. Tony is rejecting the path of Initiation with Andrea and choosing domesticity with Helayne. When Andrea returns to find that Tony, the invincible fool, has defied her and married Helayne, she attempts to drag him back, whereupon he flings her away into the sea — again, like the pool, and the swirling audience at the Lobster House, we have here the symbol of the Lower Waters.
But this should be seen from the perspective of one of Hitchcock’s reverse angle shots, as in Vertigo or especially the Statue of Liberty scene in Saboteur. It is Tony who is flung away and lost, not Andrea. As we saw in Psychomania, the withdrawal of the Realized Man — or in this case, the Shakti power — is perceived by the worldly as not just immobility but death.
This is confirmed in the immediately following scenes, where again jarring cuts and wonky geography indicate that time has changed into space, or at least is fragmented; Tony’s girlfriend reappears, suddenly pregnant, as a sped-up version of his marriage, and puts an end to him — and the movie.
Speaking of Tony’s long missing “girlfriend” Sandy, we recall that Tony — or rather, Peter Carpenter — gave himself a lost little boy scene with her soon after meeting Andrea — on the same couch! — complete with heart-tugging memories (his father shined shoes!), triumph over adversity (“When I sang, nobody laughed;” keep telling yourself that, Tony) and even tears. Hello, Oscar!
Anyway, Tony lets us know that
I want to be somebody. Not much time left for me, that’s what I want to be — somebody. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, to be — somebody. I’d do anything.
Now, as Andrea taunts Tony from the sofa, she warns him
You’ll have nothing. Nothing but self.
Tony has confused the personality and the Self, rejected transcendence of the ego for the more familiar personal triumph — singing career, marriage. Like the Modern Woman, he wants it all!
No matter how many times he repeats the cycle,
A drifter of the heart, that’s what I’ll always be.
Tony fails because he insists on marrying Andrea, then moves on to her daughter. Weirdly his mundane swinger lifestyle encompasses both promiscuity AND settling down, both inappropriate here choices for the initiate.
Groundhog Phil is wiser; although he seems all to ready to settle down with Rita, he immediately starts to hedge:
“Let’s rent first.”
Unless he’s just crazy to begin with, we can assume that Tony screams at the beginning for the same reason he screams at the end: waking up to the realization that it’s the same day again; only now we’re in on it too, having — unfortunately for us — seen the preceding film. So far, pretty much like Groundhog Day, only with a longer cycle of several weeks or months. In fact, Groundhog Day was going to open the same way, already in Groundhog Day mode but not telling us, letting us wonder why Phil always already knows what’s going to happen next.
Except — since Tony, the first time we see him, doesn’t continue screaming, or trying to get out of the loop like Phil does, we can assume further that he immediately forgets what happened, and then relives essentially the same events. In fact, since Tony himself, unlike Phil, is denied any knowledge of what is happening to him, he has no motive to even try to “reform” himself, especially since everything seems to be going his way, chick and career wise. Until it doesn’t, and rapidly spins down the drain, only to start up again.
There’s no telling how long this has been going on, but considering the very time-specific hair, clothes, music, technology, etc., and assuming each reiteration is, like the one we’ve just seen, the same, it must be fairly recently. Still, like any dream, the actual time passing could be minute, so this could be the 10,000th cycle.
If Phil is in Purgatory, Tony is in Hell.
If he’s lucky, perhaps it’s a Buddhist hell.
Thirst is, if only strong enough, almighty. At the moment of my death it will make me find out in the infinite universe the beloved being which had died before me; moreover, my thirst will infallibly bring about my attachment within the beloved being’s range. Thus we shall meet again, though both in a new shape; although we shall not recognize one another, this reunion will deeply move both of us, calling forth a “love at first sight.” All this may repeat several successive existences.
Our Buddhist author, however, also provides us a ray of hope
Naturally, in the course of time, even in such a case estrangement shall gradually set in, wherewith even this love transcending death shall prove to be impermanent.
Contrary to the childish nightmares promoted by Christianity, all is impermanent, even Hell. We can imagine that Tony’s obsession will gradually decay, until — again, should his essential character, created by past karma — some insight into his condition arises; perhaps then he will perceive suffering, the cause of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering.
If Tony is in Hell, it’s a kinder, gentler version, since he seems only aware of his situation at the moment of awakening. With all due suspending of disbelief, I find it hard to believe that Phil, or anyone, could literally live the same day over and over again without going mad long before they had the chance to make any improvements in themselves and thus, inadvertently, end the cycle. We’ll look at that idea — Mad Phil — in Part Two.
From Punxawaney PA to Woodstock IL to Stars Hollow, CT to a sleepy Coastal California town; in Part Two let’s complete our geographical circle to the Deep New South, whose Gothic/Futurist horror has been well mined by Michael Mann, first as Miami Vice, then in the Georgia, Kansas City and Alabama locales of Manhunter.
1. See “From Groundhog Day to Gilmore Girls” here, note 32.
2. “I don’t have time for this . . .” “Time, get it?” – MST3K, Time Chasers.
3. In the ’80s, the USA cable channel created a ‘legit’ version called, of course, Up All Night; while the ’90s brought us a show put together from the crap movies in a local TV station library: Mystery Science Theater 3000.
4. The nominal director was Alex Nicol, the non-auteur of a handful of lousy films, most famously the MST’d The Screaming Skull; this, plus the title, trailer and poster, might have given credence to the idea that his is a horror or terror film, rather than just horrible and terrible.
5. Although, unusually for a mainstream film, our auteur gives us almost as much of his own well-packed cut-offs, International Male swim wear, button-fly hip-huggers — I had those! — and even, in the uncut version, if you pardon the expression, several glimpses of his bare ass, as the three ladies involved. Truly a movie with something for everyone! Come to think of it, William Peterson will be showing a currently unfashionable amount of male skin in our next film, Manhunter, like this lavender hotpants/sneaker combo. As we’ve said before (in various essays, including the title Manifesto, in The Homo and the Negro), our current, giggly reaction to ’70s and ’80s Aryan male fashion is as far from “natural” or “enlightened” as Victorian prudery, and like the latter signals a Judaification of our culture.
6. When his record company-owning sugar mama listens to the demo of the song, she’ll mutter the suggestion “Maybe add strings.” What will soon be the booming real estate district of Hell is created by Satan in his Fall, as he tunnels through the Earth to wind up immobilized and upside down in the center; during this Fall he loses the gem in his crown, or his Third Eye, which is the Philosopher’s Stone, the Grail, or the Green Lantern ring; see my reviews of Psychomania and Green Lantern here and here.
7. And thus the polar White Man generally; as Detroit Techno producer Carl Craig said admiringly of Kraftwerk, those dudes were “so stiff they swung.” Satan’s immobility, given the Christian, anti-heroic context, is an inversion — ha! — of the symbol. As Guénon likes to point out, “Satan is the ape of God”; see The Reign of Quantity, 4th revised edition (Ghent, N.Y.: Sophia Perennis, 2004), p. 4 and p. 198.
9. “More or less the way my method works is you have got to find the opening credit sequence first. That starts it off from me. I find the personality of the piece through the music that is going to be in it . . . It is the rhythm of the film. Once I know I want to do something, then it is a simple matter of me diving into my record collection and finding the songs that give me the rhythm of my movie.” — The Guardian Quentin Tarantino interview (II) with Pam Grier, Robert Forster and Lawrence Bender. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
10. See our musing on the psychogeographic predilections of the upper classes in “The Gilmore Girls Occupy Wall St.” here and in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).
11. MST3K, The Starfighters.
12. The ’bots repeatedly add “I’m a jerk” to each line of the game warden’s explanations of his actions in the MST3k version of Attack of the Giant Leeches.
13. I kinda wish his head was a drum.
15. At one point Pete sings “heartbeat” not “lifebeat,” either by mistake or as part of the rehearsal supposedly going on, which brings it even closer to the Manhunter song, “Heartbeat (It’s a Lifebeat).”
16. Or, considering Dyanne Thorne’s contribution, what Crow called “Double D Indemnity” in reference to a similar character in Coleman Francis’ The Skydivers.
17. “Who’s your decorator, Bela Lugosi?” she asks; which is a pretty odd line — it’s beach bum bachelor pad, not a bit Transylvanian — until you realize later it sounds the note of vampire/zombie/living death.
18. He’s portrayed as a virtual prisoner of their oceanfront mansion, despite a super-duper motorized wheelchair so advanced it has its own line in the opening credits. “You know I can’t come down to the office” he shouts into the phone at one point. Without getting into advocacy for the differently-abled, it’s hard to see why, even for the ’60s; it sure didn’t stop Dr. Strangelove, now did it? I also like the very ’70s porn idea that a woman, given control of a record company, would naturally turn it into a her own personal escort service.
19. “Suffragette City” was released as the B-side of the single “Starman” in April 1972.
20. Impossible to watch now without thinking of the infamous pool scene in Showgirls. Kyle McLaughlin will of course become Mr. Mayor of Portlandia, another music-infested piece of upper class waterfront psychogeography.
21. “In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed.” – Hamlet.
22. Actually, in the film’s most “psychotronic” moment, she goads him into chasing her around the pool, using a tablecloth like a matador until he falls in. This is all set to bullfight cheers and horns. I suspect this scene is Alex Nichol’s contribution; since Pete’s not in it, he likely had no interest in directing it. It’s the sort of scene that Quentin Tarrantino would delight in, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
23. Where they get a better deal than in Vegas because the locals think he’s Herb Alpert.
24. Delivered by Crow with a plummy English criminologist voice at the end of Devil Doll.
25. See, generally, Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies.
26. See Evola’s Ride the Tiger; Stolfi is well within this tradition when, writing of Hitler’s youth, he refers to “that mysterious period of childhood and adolescence in which every man becomes set in his final character.” R. H. S. Stolfi, Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2011).
27. Op. cit, p. 214. See also Doctrine of Awakening, Chapter 7. Determination of the Vocations,” p. 73f. Phil actually seems to cycle through the various spiritual (or rather, racial in Evola’s sense) attitudes to Samsara, from delight in transience to despair to a kind of “ascesis” in an attempt to transcend it.
28. While Ramis has always disavowed any deep spiritual message, it’s no surprise to learn he professes to be a secular Jew; Judaism itself, or at least its Talmudic form, being the least “spiritual” of any supposed tradition and, even in its most orthodox form obsessed with the minutiae of “the law” — this is why “orthopraxy” is perhaps a better word; and also no surprise that Jews make up a disproportionate number of New Agers, both followers and gurus, seeking spirituality while also importing their banal ideas of “follow these laws” or “just be a mensch.”
29. See Evola’s “The ‘Mysteries of Woman’ in East and West” here and part of chapter 15 of Julius Evola, East and West: Comparative Studies in Pursuit of Tradition, ed. Greg Johnson, forthcoming from Counter-Currents in 2013.
30. “In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (Sanskrit ऋतं ṛtaṃ ‘that which is properly joined; order, rule; truth’) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders. Conceptually, it is closely allied to the injunctions and ordinances thought to uphold it, collectively referred to as Dharma, and the action of the individual in relation to those ordinances, referred to as Karma . . .” Wikipedia.
31. In accord with our principle that Grade Z cinema is richer in more explicit themes of tradition, we recall (“From Groundhog Day to The Gilmore Girls,” note 11) that in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Apollonia is portrayed explicitly, though delusionally, as a goddess delivering the tablets of [Mosaic?] Law. Phil is right to inquire “This is a man we’re talking about, right?” less because of the list’s Alan Alda, beta male features than because the Initiate, by transcending duality and achieving Wholeness, partakes of the Androgyne and even can be said to practice “Philosophical Incest,” just as Tony marries his almost-step-daughter and displays his boy-toy body throughout the film like the objectified female of feminist theory; or as the dominant, controlling Grandma Lorelei, who married her cousin and is nicknamed “Trixie” (i.e., Hermes the Trickster). See Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, passim.
32. See Eros and the Mysteries of Love, aka The Metaphysics of Sex, where flogging and deflowering are the recommended methods.
33. Garbage and the Goddess is the long since suppressed record of Bubba Free John’s period of teaching through sex and drugs; see William Patterson, Adi Da Samraj: Realized or/and Deluded? (Arete, 2012).
34. Evola, in Part Two of the article cited above. Another way to understand Andrea’s weird line to Tony, “Who did your decorating, Bela Lugosi?”
35. “Absolutely Fabulous evolved from a French & Saunders sketch called “Modern Mother and Daughter” (from series 3 episode 6), which starred Saunders as the mother (named ‘Adrianna’) and French as the daughter . . .” Wikipedia.
36. As I have frequently pointed out, the traditional role of the homosexual or androgyne as a cultural and spiritual creator has been effectively co-opted by the Judaicly derived culture-distortions of not only the Right-wing — punished as sin or crime — but more subtly, of the Left, in the form of post-Stonewall promiscuity and, post-AIDS, marriage and adoption. See the manifesto “The Homo and the Negro” in my book of the same title, Counter-Currents 2012.
37. See Mysteries of the Grail, passim, especially Chapter 19, “The Dolorous Stroke.” Is it cruel or trivializing to relate him to Baron Evola himself? We can note that while Andrea’s husband dies under water, Evola, we are told, had himself wheeled over to a window so that he would die as an Aryan, upright and in the rays of the rising sun.
38. The previous year, 1972, which I’ve speculated before as the highpoint of White youth culture, brought us not only Ziggy Stardust but also the film Cabaret, which has some odd parallels to 1973’s PoT. Both movies open with a disembodied drum roll, the constant talk of money — “Money makes me class!” Andrea shouts at Tony — recall the “Money Song” — “Money makes the world go around” — along with the club scenes, the Nazis, of course, Andrea’s BFF with her pixie hair, Tony’s girlfriend, named Sally, who eventually becomes pregnant, the lurid red and green palette, and so on.
39. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 341.
40. As Guénon points out, contrary to self-congratulatory secular mythologizing, symbolism is by no means an arbitrary assignment of this or that meaning to things, as occurs in mere allegory (“The Yellow Brick Road is the gold standard”) but based on real, natural relations — if two things are called “flowers” they must also share “stems” and “seeds” as well; hence it can be understood by anyone, and passed on — traditio — without loss or alteration.
41. Mysteries of the Grail, pp. 21-22.
42. “Ahh! Mike, his batch! It’s . . . AH!” — MST3K, The Legend of Boggy Creek. If the characters weren’t so vile, these would be examples of the trope known as “Fan Service.”
43. Tony spends a lot of time supine. There’s our first meeting with him on the beach; he’s on the couch with Sandy; here, on the couch confronting Andrea; on the ground as Andrea attacks him at the climax; shot down by Sandy, then we cut to him back on the beach. Was he tired from all the singing and directing?
44. The odd geography and wild cuts also make sense in this Parsifal context; “Here time turns into space.”
45. Unless, of course, she just blew the line “but yourself” and no one noticed or cared.
46. There’s also this exchange, driving home the “puppet” motif:
Sandy: I’m gonna buy you a kite.
Tony: With my luck, the string would break.
47. Given its “mother like daughter” premise, and its view of men as disposable, easily manipulated tools — in several senses — its odd that The Gilmore Girls never took up this theme explicitly, if only from its post-feminist Girl Power viewpoint, not Point of Terror’s Penthouse Forum sleaze. There were hints, though; the very first scene of the pilot introduced us to the Girls and the theme by having a passing hitchhiker first try to pick up Lorelei, then unknowingly move on to Rory. And the second episode, entitled “The Lorelei’s First Day of School” is widely hated by fans for her bizarre decision to dress like Daisy Duke for Rory’s first day at private school, and for immediately flirting with all the fathers among the parents; in fact, she soon begins a romance with one of Rory’s teachers. And we recall that Lorelei’s grandmother not only shared her name, but married her (second) cousin.
48. We might see a parallel here to the modern Left’s neutering of the traditional cultural role of the homosexual by promoting the only apparently different “lifestyles” of bathhouse promiscuity and gay marriage.
49. It’s rather like the scene in Hitchhikers Guide, where there’s a crashed space ship whose suspended animated passengers are re-awakened every couple hundred years, thrash about screaming and trying to get out, then re-suspended, and so on.
50. Buddhist Wisdom: The Mystery of the Self by George Grimm; translated by Carroll Aikins; edited by M. Keller-Grimm (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1978), p. 35.
51. There is perhaps a hint of this in Gilmore Girls, in a curiously self-aware opening bit where Lore and Rory are watching Grey Gardens, and suddenly realize that they are Big Edie and Little Edie, but of course nothing comes of it and after the comedic blackout things go on.