Nuns just wanna have fun, clowns are still scary, and “Hallelujah” is officially, seriously retired. Plus: Mark Wahlberg’s magic touch and Tim Burton’s unmistakeable flourish!
Ahhhhh, autumn.The time of changing leaves and chills in the air is upon us, but it’s not all pumpkin spice and everything nice! Right on time for your Halloween “frights of fancy”, reports of terrifying clowns have been creeping into the news (and giving everyone they encounter a good scare) all over the United States. A certain major home improvement chain store has even had to recall some of their controversial decorations, some of which come in full clown face! Given this spate of spooky sightings and to kick off the holiday season right, we thought we’d do a little roundup-within-a-roundup of films that clown around. Buckle up!
- Contemporary clowning has proliferated into popular culture partially via the music of Insane Clown Posse, twisting the jester trope into something much more sinister. In Hellaware, members of a “Juggalo”-type band called Young Torture Killers become the subjects of an up-and-coming New York photographer’s new body of work. He may be exploiting them for their “gritty authenticity”, but will these clown-faced kiddos get the last laugh? The dark humor in this dramedy cuts like a knife through the heart of hipsterdom.
- Clowns are often depicted as male (your Bozo, your Pennywise, your aforementioned ICP), but in acclaimed French auteur Jean Rollin‘s fabulous fantasy Requiem for a Vampire (which is currently streaming only to our US members) the clowns are women. And they are armed. Once they remove their face makeup and costumes, however, is when the real horror begins. If you like your onscreen violence with a healthy helping of eroticism, then this movie will more than do the trick for you.
- And last but certainly not least, you can’t mention clowns on film without Frederico Fellini coming to mind. His 1970 masterpiece The Clowns is also one of the world’s first mockumentaries, and it features real circus performers in a dreamy, funny, melancholy, and relentlessly self-effacing treatise on the the thrall of the carnival and the horrifying hilarity of its comical stars. A must-see, truly.
Tangential to the world of clowns is the unmistakeable aesthetic of Tim Burton and his penchant for the larger-than-life and the heavily made-up. Over on Keyframe this week, Phillip Brubaker breaks the director’s uncompromising vision down with a video essay on all things Burtonesque:
And there are not one, but TWO videos about nuns on film. What’s the segue between clowns and nuns, you may ask? Well, both are subcultures that are oft-misunderstood and heavily projected-upon, for one. For two, they are depicted on film in a multiplicity of ways, from forbidden sex objects to scary disciplinarians. Check out this brief survey of nuns on film from Daniel Mcilwraith:
And this more specifically nunsploitation-oriented approach from José Sarmiento:
*Warning: this video is NSFW, and definitely NSFChurch!
You can get your “convent”-ional entertainment by making a “habit” of viewing this Fandor movie list, all about our favorite brides of Christ. Forgive us, please, for the nun puns! And be wary: If all of this convent-related content has you wanting to cry “Hallelujah”, please refrain. We’re all sick of that song already!
We’ll leave you for the week with something we never get sick of: the Wahlberg touch. Oh, Marky Mark, you’ve come so far since your Funky Bunch days! Until next time, happy watching….