1963; B&W, 93 minutes
Directed by James Landis
Starring Arch Hall, Jr., Helen Hovey, Richard Alden, Marilyn Manning, Don Russell
“The whole film is filled with a feeling of heat and agony, a constantly blazing sun shining down into a barren waste land of dead cars and dead bodies. Flashes of hope are rare and always beaten down with such hatred and force that the viewer almost hopes it won’t come back . . .” — (IMDb review)
Like most who fancy themselves aficionados of the B, or even the “bad” film, I was familiar with the rather, ah, distinctive performances of the teenaged Arch Hall, Jr. in both Eegah! (1963) and Wild Guitar (1962). I have not seen his cinematic swan song, The Nasty Rabbit (1964, also by James Landis). But this year, my Thanksgiving Treat was finding, buying, and viewing a DVD of Arch Hall, Jr. in his penultimate, and greatest work, The Sadist.
Now, the tale of Arch Hall, Sr. and Jr., is well known to the bad film community. Basically, Arch Sr., an independent producer of sorts, decided his son, Arch Jr., could be the next Elvis, and began to craft a series of films to introduce the love-starved masses to their new teen idol.
Unfortunately, for the Halls and their audiences, Arch Jr.’s most notable feature, bedsides a pudgy, doughy body, is a rather unusual face. It’s an odd, pushed-in kind of baby-face, surmounted by several inches of greasy pompadour hair.
Despite the general mockery, not only on MST3k, some directors seem to like this kind of look. It rather reminds me of Ettore Garofolo, in Pasolini’s contemporaneous Mamma Roma (1962); more recently, a similar kind of face and pompadour certainly hasn’t hurt Leonardo di Caprio’s carrier, first as teen heartthrob and then as serious actor with Martin Scorsese.
But I was not at all prepared for Arch Hall, Jr.’s transformation here. This is the birth of a cinematic legend.
Before Terrence Malick’s Bandlands, before Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, before the book and movie In Cold Blood, there was a stomach-churning little serving of under-cooked turkey called The Sadist.
So here’s the set up:
Three people driving into Los Angeles for a Dodgers game have car trouble and pull off into an old wrecking yard where they are held at bay by a bloodthirsty psycho and his crazy girlfriend. (IMDb)
Three math teachers, that is, on their way to ball game — whoo hoo! With the admirable swiftness of the B movie, a number of things are quickly established — apart from being math teachers on the way to a ball game, when the car breaks down we learn that both men know a lot about fixing cars (plot point!) and the woman, Doris, doesn’t seem to understand the simplest rules of baseball when patiently explained to her by the elder teacher; she may teach math but, being a woman, she’s not that bright.
Now, the latter is what would be called typical ’50s, B movie misogyny, but I’m more interested in the first point. The two male teachers, one old enough to be the other’s father, both belong to the last generations when men were expected to be able to do things. If your car broke down, you fixed it. These new-fangled postwar electrical appliances were a different thing, of course, being both complicated and dangerous; for those, there were specialist (men, of course) who ran repair shops and even made house calls. If your son (me) needed a bookcase, you (my father) didn’t go to IKEA, you went to a lumber yard, bought enough planks and built it yourself.
When danger arrives, in the form of the new postwar generation, represented by one Charlie Kidd (note the name: child, pirate, Wild Boy) the two male teachers, old enough to be father and grandfather, figure he should be easy to handle; “He obviously doesn’t know much about cars” is the key to their cunning plan.
But as the real men of that generation learned, all that being good around the house won’t save them. Another thing carefully established is that they took the mountain route to avoid the desert in the afternoon; this is a liminal spot, between mountain and desert, suitable for some sort of mythological tale or initiatic ritual.
The elder teacher for some reason put me in mind of Gary Oldman’s version of Commissioner Gordon (a point we will return to) while also for some reason suggesting, along with the black & white photography and minimal setting, one of those old “industrial films” by companies like Centron or Jam Handy that Mystery Science Theater would mock. It’s a relevant connection (industrial films, not MST3k) since it was around this time that Herk Harvey broke out of the world of Centron with his independent horror legend, Carnival of Souls (1962).
Looking around the wrecking yard, the elder teacher finds a house, presumably the owner’s, where lunch is laid out for four, “apple pie still warm” on the table as he reports back (having given it a pat or two, purely in the interests of science).
With the black and white photography, the minimalist setting, the absence of other people despite evidence of habitation (we never do find out exactly what happened to “the people that run that place”), the ’60s time period, I began to get a kind of Twilight Zone vibe (with the elder teacher looking more like Burgess Meredith now). We’re about ten minutes in — did I mention, the movie takes place in real time, even with a few bursts of radio commentary from the missed game? — and things sudden take a decided turn for the worst.
But first, about that cinematography. With that crack about “industrial films” and the minimalist, apparently vérité setting, I may have led you to think it looks cheap and washed out. Not at all; and here’s the first sign things are not as they seem with this “B” production.
The camera work is by one “William Zsigmond.” If that sounds familiar, he is; you know him as Vilmos Zsigmond, possibly the greatest cinematographer of the American film world. The following year, the Hungarian immigrant “got his union card” by filming The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies for Ray Dennis Steckler (along with fellow future camera legends Joseph V. Mascelli, author of the still-standard textbook The Five Cs of Cinematography, and László Kovács (listed as Leslie Kovacs).
This, however, would be his first American film, and I can’t help but think that the presence of such a future legend would account not just for the high quality of the camera work, but the sudden upturn in Arch Hall Jr.’s film presence.
For it is Hall, Jr. who strides onto the screen at this point, towering over his 5 foot nothing teenage lover/accomplice, waving around a .44 Magnum, and any thought of this being a snaky campfest goes out the window. Or rather, gets shot in the face.
Some reviews of Hall, Jr.’s performance as “thrill killer” Charlie Kidd:
This is a characterization of fierce, elemental horror: a damaged young man on a killing spree, devoid of mercy and unwilling to listen to any rational thought. Hall has a beady-eyed, pudgy-faced look that is the stuff of nightmares. And he is accompanied by an incredibly creepy, whispering girlfriend (Marilyn Manning) who seems to feed him ideas.
The black and white close-ups of his demonic face are terrifying, as is the rest of the camera work.
Both at the beginning of the film (a chilling introductory voice over by Arch Hall, Sr.) and at the film’s climax, the audience is given a close up of Charlie’s crazed, beady eyes peering out of the shadows — a striking effect, recalling Bela Lugosi’s famous glare in White Zombie of 30 years earlier.
We’ll discuss the relevance of the notion of “white” and “zombie” a bit later. For now, let’s just say Hall, Jr. manages to create an on-screen persona that is probably the greatest example of the white trash nut job film archetype.
In addition to his beady eyes and pudgy face, Hall, Jr. has admitted to studying Richard Widmark’s legendary psychopathic gunsel Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death; that would explain the giggling. He also has an odd, loping walk that he sometimes forgets to use, which suggests Dennis Weaver’s fool “Chester” from Gunsmoke. What also comes and goes is little bits of James Cagney; at times, he even suggests one of Jim Carrey’s dangerous idiots, especially with his odd hair and big, scary teeth.
As we’ll see, Charlie is not given to elaborate explanations, so it’s hard to tell what Hall, Jr. is trying to play, what Charlie‘s “damage” is. Mental illness? Brain damage? Simple illiteracy? He certainly has a grudge against teachers. Incest victim? Inbred?
In the end, I can only imagine that he managed to channel all the frustration and public humiliation he had had to endure being Susie to his father’s Charles Foster Kane.
What’s really important hear, though, is the incredible, thoroughgoing Nihilism of this plot, written by director James Landis. We’ve seen this set up hundreds of times, going back to, what, The Petrified Forrest? We’ve seen all the moves, the deserted desert locale, the “clever plans” of the captives, the last minute rescues, over and over, albeit with occasional “surprise twists.”
What we haven’t seen, is a film in which each and every one of those plans fails, and people, hostages and lawmen, are easily, methodically tortured and killed one after another, by a gleefully giggling psychopath. Charlie is simply an amoral killing machine, with no interest in anyone’s story, plans, or badges.
He simply loves to intimidate, threaten and murder. Period. (IMDb)
The Sadist is more violent, more nihilistic, more transgressive, than the entire catalog of Tarantino and Stone, or even Eli Roth.
He tears up pictures of their families he snatches from their wallets, gropes the terrified female teacher and rubs her face in the dirt, rips their clothing and pretty much makes it clear he’s going to kill all of them once the car is fixed. He also guns down two cops and shoots someone point blank right in the face. Charlie and his woman spend a lot of time sitting around sipping soda and laughing while watching their victims squirm.
[It shows that] overkill gore, music video speed editing, loud soundtracks, computer effects, murky photography, shakycam and break-neck pacing of today often do little but distract from the meat of the story. This one takes place is broad daylight and manages to be starker, more tense, more suspenseful and scarier than most movies being passed off as horror these days. No distractions, no flash, no gloss, done on a small budget, no tabloid celebrities rounding out the cast. . . . Just a well-made film that knows what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
Landis clearly knows all the film clichés, so his contempt for them seems to suggest another agenda than Saturday afternoon B movie entertainment. Remember, this spare, deserted junkyard is located between mountain and desert, a liminal space, suitable for teaching or delivering a message. But what is the message or teaching? I suggest we look at another, more recent screen nihilist.
Remember when I said that the elder teacher reminded me of Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon? I must seriously wonder if Heath Ledger’s Joker was in any way based on Arch’s Kidd. He’s the only other example I can think of such a completely realized psychopath, by which I mean a character so crazy he doesn’t just violate society’s rules — while still serving a function within some “well crafted” screenplay — but even the rules of cinema itself.
In neither case do we get a clear “origin” story — the Joker makes up several just to toy with his victims, while Kidd just mumbles some boilerplate about being disliked; he makes James Dean seem like Demosthenes. One thing this does is prevent any audience empathy or sympathy. In the Joker’s case, his multiple bullshit stories reflect his contempt for stories, words, plans and “schemes.” Kidd, too, notices right away that these are not just teachers but people, like the rest of us, who live by telling themselves and others stories: “big talkers” he calls them, and he loves forcing them to try to account for themselves, beg for their lives, and then coldly shooting them — plans and planners — down.
The climactic — or anti-climactic — plan, shows us the younger teacher finally able to run off, but eventually trapped in a dead end. Turning on his pursuer, he chooses his final gambit, the Berserker trope: screaming like a banshee, he runs toward the still armed Kidd. Kidd’s gun, of course, now jams. Surely now the “hero” will win the day? No, Kidd just keeps pulling the trigger until it kicks in and shoots the guy dead. Then, he amuses himself further by standing over him, emptying the rest of his clip, giggling.
It clearly recalls the sequence in The Dark Knight where the Joker dares Batman to run him down; but here, the cops — and Commissioner Gordon — are already dead and can’t save the day.
Both Kidd and the Joker are men who have realized that the modern world is an illusion whose end time has come and while away their lives amusing themselves by forcing Oridnary Joes — us — to admit it to ourselves. In this they perform a perverse kind of teaching function. In The Sadist, the teachers get taught a lesson.
Speaking of guns and plans, one foiled cinematic cliché has the teachers trying to keep a running count of his shots, anticipating that he’ll soon run out. (They are, after all, math teachers). Kidd, of course, easily foils this by simply having more clips, and taunts them for their idiocy. One wonders if this is the origin of Dirty Harry’s famous “Do you feel lucky?” speech in 1971, especially we are told that Kidd carries the same .44 Magnum as Harry. Of course, Harry Callahan is supposed to be the Good Guy, fighting the Zodiac-inspired psycho, but Harry seems so crazy to both ordinary citizens and fellow cops, and the psycho is such a pantywaist compared to Kidd, that Harry and Kidd may be playing the same role as Psycho Teachers.
Though it may be doubtful or impossible to determine now if Arch Hall, Jr. influenced Ledger, I’m certain the influence can be found inn Rob Zombie’s House of a 1000 Corpses, as well as its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects. All three films share the same nihilistic worldview, the same “white trash” contempt for city slick-talkers too busy gabbing away to see what’s in from of their faces.
Cinematically, both share the audience-expectation-overturning trope of two investigating cops being summarily killed; the second dies like the elder teacher, forced to kneel and wait (along with the audience) for the headshot — Zombie presents this Tarantino-style, a long overhead shot with loud, “ironic” country music (Slim Whitman?) while Landis has a tighter, more original idea: Kidd chugs down a Coke, having promised to kill the old man when he’s done.
Above all, The Devil’s Rejects shares The Sadist’s nihilistic rejection of movie-style heroism. Otis drags his motel captives out to a similar desert junkyard wasteland and taunts them as they feebly try to resist and escape.
“Boy the next word that comes out of your mouth better be some brilliant fucking Mark Twain shit. Cause it’s definitely getting chiseled on your tombstone.”
“Ha, that’s what they all say, ‘Fuck you.’ Well it ain’t gonna save you. It don’t scare me none. And it certainly doesn’t make you a fuckin’ hero! You want to see what happens to heroes boy? You want to see bad ass motherfucker! I’ll show ya badass!”
Because, quite simply,
“I am the Devil, and I am here to do the Devil’s work.”
And what is the Devil’s work? A tradition, parallel (Steiner) if not necessarily hostile to Christianity (Evola, Crowley, La Vey), would identify the Devil’s function as initiation, in preparation for the end of this cycle and the start of the next, which begins by stripping us of our old, everyday, bourgeois illusions. As one reviewer at IMBD noted, “the victims . . . become real people upon the appearance of the Sadist,”
In all these films, appearing in a tight cluster from 1958 to 1972, but mostly in the early ’60s, we see, in appropriate ’50s “B” movie fashion, some kind of atomic mutation has taken place. The world is ending, but the old folks — the GI Joes suckered into fighting WWI and WWII — don’t know it. The kids, like Nietzsche’s Mad Man, to be “psychos” (a new, dismissive word of the time) as they live out, and deliver, the new gospel of nihilism.
Like Tura Satana’s Varla in Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill! (1965), Charlie Kidd is an implacable, amoral force of nature. At first, when he drives out into the desert to chase down Doris, and abandons the car when the tires sink into the sand, I thought she would use it to run him down, just as Tura is finally mowed down by the Final Girl, but instead, in a bravura B movie move, he falls into a pit filled with rattlesnakes, giving us a few more minutes of his wonderful shrieking and eye-popping.
But like Faster, the ending is no triumph for the Good Guys over the Bad Guys. As I’ve said before, these kinds of deaths are not “just desserts” as in moralistic fiction, but mere genre conventions, serving to bring to an end a drama that theoretically would go on indefinitely — if Charlie and Varla are forces of nature, then they can truly come to an end only with nature itself: the Apocalypse, which hasn’t quite arrived.
The Good Guys, if they survive, have listened to and absorbed the gospel of nihil; they are “changed, changed utterly.” Doris simply walks away from the car, as the baseball game continues to play out inanely on the radio. But soda pop, apple pie, and baseball will never be the same.
1. Otherwise notable for the performance of Richard “Jaws” Kiel as the titular caveman, and for an inexplicable shout of “Watch out for snakes!” that has become the stuff of internet legend.
2. And not to be confused with Judaic culture-distorter and actor-killer John Landis.
3. This is the 2003 Alpha Films release, which is its usual bare bones presentations: six chapter stops and that’s it. There seems to be some kinda “high definition special edition” from 2008 available as an “instant download” at Amazon, but Grandpa here hasn’t figured that stuff out yet. As we’ll see, if I were a man of an earlier generation, I’d have it all figured out by now.
4. “I get it, he’s a Cabbage Patch Elvis!” — MST3K, Eegah!
5. I complained about the indistinguishable baby-faces of di Caprio, Matt Damon and Mark Walberg, in contrast to Jack Nicholson, in Scorsese’s The Departed in my review of Andy Nowicki’s Under the Nihil, here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others.
6. “This is believed to be the first feature film based on real life serial killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate. Mainstream Hollywood would not produce films inspired by the pair until a decade after this one. A number of films were inspired by the duo (some very loosely) and included such major examples as Terrence Malick‘s Badlands (1973) and Oliver Stone‘s Natural Born Killers (1994).” IMDb.
7. Although later she’s smart enough to take off her heels before trying to run away.
8. The eponymous Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), whom we’ll refer to again, rigs up a TV set to electrocute someone trying the doorknob; remember, kids, TVs are dangerous!
9. In the educational short “Why Study Industrial Arts,” a gym teacher explains to some prospective shop students that although, yes, his industrial arts classes haven’t help his teaching gym (“Look at me now” sneer the MST3k gang), it did give him “a mechanical interest, and know-how” that help him to fix his own car if it breaks down on the road, or, when buying a house, inspect it for himself. The MST3k kids find this absolutely hilarious. (“’Why study industrial arts?’ Uh, because you’re no good at math?”).
10. “The thing that astounds me most is how well this film has aged. The junkyard location is sort of timeless, the dialogue isn’t stilted and dated like most other films of the era and no pop culture (except Coca-Cola) date it to any specific place and time. Even “Psycho,” a film whose success they’d intended to ride the coattails of, is far more dated than this one. It’s a psychological character movie, pure and simple. And it’s because of the simplicity of the whole thing that it’ll continue to stand the test of time.” (IMDb reviewer)
11. An interesting corollary to “back then no one locked their doors” that no one seems to realize is that at the same time, everyone felt entitled to open your door and just walk in. Several of Lovecraft’s protagonists are caught in sudden rainstorms, and just “take refuge” in some too conveniently located old manse. So do Wodehouse’s characters in suburban London of the 20s, such as in “Uncle Fred Flits By.” When was this replaced by the “pounding on the door” trope? I experienced this myself when visiting Fire Island; there were no locks, and people would not just walk into the front room, but walk all the way through the house until they found someone to visit with. This is an aspect of the re-created “small town with no rednecks” that the elite prefer to live In; see “The Gilmore Girls Occupy Wall St.” here and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).
12. Adam Chance: “You think you can’t get hurt, Doctor, because this is America? Apple pie and all that jazz? [Crow: And hula hoops and dungarees?] Well, it’s my job to keep the pie on the table, and nobody asks me how I do it!” — Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966); MST3k Episode 815.
13. According to Wikpedia, the film is a favorite of Joe Dante, who owns the 35mm print used for DVDs, and also directed a segment of the Twilight Zone movie.
14. “It follows real time from start to finish, imprisoning the viewer (like the victims) within every second by second development.” (IMDb reviewer).
15. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964); McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971); The Hired Hand (1971); Deliverance (1972); The Long Goodbye (1973); Scarecrow (1973); The Sugarland Express (1974); Obsession (1976); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977; Academy Award); The Deer Hunter (1978); The Rose (1979); Heaven’s Gate (1980); Blow Out (1981); The River (1984); The Witches of Eastwick (1987); The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990); most recently, Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010). Zsidmond was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Cinematographers Voted on by Camera Guild, being ”in the front ranks of a new wave of filmmakers who transformed the art form beginning in the 1950s. They were “outsiders” with diverse backgrounds and different ways of thinking than the Hollywood cinematographers who worked under contracts at studios.”
16. Who appeared briefly in Eegah! and co-starred with both Halls in Wild Guitar.
17. See, or hear, Joe Bob Briggs’s “Introduction” and commentary track on the Guilty Pleasures DVD release.
18. I actually rather like the cinematography of Eegah! It’s a brightly lit time capsule showing us the sweaty, greasy bodies of people wearing white dinner jackets in Palm Springs in the early ’60s.
19. The real Starkweather’s girl was 14, but a convenient police bulletin tells us she’s a high school grad, so as to chill out the censors.
20. As he would next year in Incredibly Strange . . . there are a few expert touches that reveal the talent behind the B-movie camera, such as a couple of Killer-can POV shotes, and a nicely done tracking shot.
21. Weaver also played the motel “night man” in Touch of Evil (1958), which was a clear influence on Tony Perkins’ Norman Bates in Psycho (1962).
22. Zsigmond certainly helps here, giving Charlie’s teeth and eyes a really frightening appearance in the black & white filming. Charlie’s eyes in extreme close-up fill the top of the screen in the opening; like Gaby’s in Kiss Me, Deadly, they seem to boil like jellied fire. The latter movie shares the same blinding, post-apocalyptic, hyper-real cinematography, although taking place largely in LA rather than the desert beyond; see my “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me, Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale,” here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).
23. Another dangerous White idiot with a gun … excuse me, rifle: “Private Pyle, what is your major malfunction?” — Full Metal Jacket.
24. “Star Arch Hall Jr. (“Charlie Tibbs”) and Helen Hovey (“Doris Paige”) were actually first cousins; his mother and her mother were sisters.” (IMDb). Even better: Arch Sr., film producer, plays the crooked music producer who exploits Arch Jr. in Wild Guitar; Arch Jr.’s girlfriend in both Eegah! and The Sadist is the same actress, Marilyn Manning (not Manson); Manning was Arch Sr.‘s secretary, and supposedly having an affair with him, which explains the odd cave scene in Eegah! where he seems overly amorous with Manning, who is playing his daughter.
25. It’s not likely Robert Blake took any influence for his own baby-faced killer in the later In Cold Blood, but Hall Jr. also suggests Michael J. Pollard, who would soon debut in the equally violent, kinda Starkweather based Bonnie and Clyde (1967; young white trash lovers on the run, including cop shooting and face shooting) as well as, more recently, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, (2003), which we will soon look at again.
26. In Coleman Francis’ 1961 desert apocalypse, The Beast of Yucca Flats, the eponymous beast is described by the ever-present narrator as “Joseph Javorsky, respected scientist. Now a fiend prowling the wastelands, a prehistoric beast in a nuclear age. Kill, kill just to be killing.”
27. Review at The Bloody Pit of Horror, here.
28. The movie is not so much influenced by as hoping to ride on the coattails of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1962); I would argue The Sadist may well be superior; for one thing, Hitchcock ruins the ending by bogging us down in several minutes of Freudian bafflegab (relieved only by our amusement at noticing that one of the cops is Ted Knight). Sadist starts off with some off-screen narration about the definition of a sadist, apparently delivered by Arch Hall Sr., in what is thankfully his only contribution to the film, but our attention is really on the crazy eyes staring at us at the top of the blacked out screen (see poster), and there’s 90 more minutes to recover the momentum. The self-defense scene in Fritz Lang’s M similarly goes astray; the National Socialists detourned it by adding it to The Eternal Jew as an example of the typically Judaic defense of the unfit and degenerate. By the 80s, “FBI manhunter” Will Graham is “sick of all you sons of bitches” and, however the Tooth Fairy was abused as a child, just wants to “shoot him out of his socks” — and does so; see “Will and Phil: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror and Manhunter,” here as well as my review of Andy Nowicki‘s Beauty and the Least (Chicago: Hopeless Books, Uninc., 2014), here.
29. After eighty minutes of stand-off, it finally turns out to be rather easy to just run and get away, especially if all three had done so right from the start; he‘s not very good at moving targets, but if he can persuade you to kneel down he can make the headshot as well as Lee Harvey Oswald that same year. He does accidentally kill his girlfriend as she‘s running, but she was running towards him. Is this a flaw in the screenplay, of is it meant to suggest that it’s their cowardly/heroic reliance on escape “plans” that ultimately dooms them? On the other hand, Hall Jr. was supposedly a crack shot himself, and after several mishaps with blanks, convinced the director to let him shoot real bullets, apparently quite successfully.
30. We discussed this in reviewing Brian De Palma’s Aryan initiation epic, The Untouchables, here and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro.
31. In 1962’s Dr. No, audiences were taken aback when supposed new “hero” James Bond not only shoots an unarmed man (after emptying his gun for him) but then shoots him several more times in the back. Of course, he was trying to kill Bond in the first place, but it just didn’t seem cricket. While Connery at least didn’t giggle, one might suggest his famous post-killing bon mots (“Shocking, positively shocking”) serve the same function.
32. “The end of a world never is and can never be anything but the end of an illusion.” René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (Ghent, N.Y.: Sophia Perennis, 2001), p. 279.
33. I discuss these aspects of Zombie’s films in “The Return of Repressed White Wisdom in Rob Zombie’s Firefly Family Films” here.
34. If its OK to wax nostalgic during such a film, one of the lovely period details is the Coke chest — not machine — that the teachers make for right at the start and which provides delicious icy cold bottled refreshment throughout the action.
35. “I fixed tanks in the war” boasts the younger teacher.
36. “Something’s happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear” — Buffalo Springfield; “Something is happening but you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mr. Jones?” — Bob Dylan.
37. Perhaps a call-back to Eegah!, where Hall’s dune buggy, he proudly points out to his girl, has tires filled with water.
38. W. B. Yeats, “Easter, 1916.”