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Outer Space: Hexus Journal Pick An Experimental Horror Bakers Dozen
The Quietus , October 13th, 2017 10:06

To start our run up to Halloween, Thogdin Ripley and Philippa Snow of avant-horror publishers Hexus Journal pick thirteen films that blur the worlds of horror and the avant-garde to frightening, funny and sometimes shocking effect


Outer Space (Peter Tscherkassky, 1999)

Tcherkassky’s Outer Space takes the minimalism of Zulueta’s Frank Stein and runs with it — right out of (and, following the implausible horror cliché — back into) the violent, poltergeist-ridden house. Using scenes from Sidney J. Furie’s infamously nasty 1982 film The Entity as a starting off point, Tcherkassky uses film as a screen, re-projecting the fragment over itself in stark overlays.

The Entity (based on the factual Doris Bither case that is every bit as disturbing as the film) presents the story of a sexually abusive apparition in a woman’s home in 1980s America in the mode of other slick phantasmagorical thrillers of the time and, perhaps unsurprisingly, plays out like Poltergeist manifested at a back street porn cinema: grimily smutty, arguably exploitative, and genuinely nasty in its presentation of violence (sexual and other) — a point that’s only exaggerated in the polish of its relatively high production values.

Passing through into Tscherkassky’s non-space of obsessive reflection, actress Barbara Hershey re-enters a house that’s been turned into a weapon against her — supposedly a familiar and safe space that is benign in its domesticity — only to find it expand around her, casting off an infinite mirror-world of generational decay. Through his process, Tscherkassy doubles-down on the feelings of everyday isolation and fear, and frees the film from any diegetic sense of meaning, insisting the viewer confronts both its dissolution and ultimately its integral parts with a stunning force, and moving the source material into the purism of the avant-garde. If images are where the battle is, Tscherkassky’s work is unafraid to show the violence of war. He repeats the specific exercise (a sort of filmic equivalent to Alvin Lucier’s famous sound art piece I Am Sitting In A Room) with 2015’s The Exquisite Corpus, which eviscerates scenes of Patrizia Webley from the 1978 porno shocker Malabimba: The Malicious Whore — another woman under supernatural threat, undoubtedly meant titillate the male gaze — in much the same way.