DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gerard de Nerval Day *

* (restored)

 

I have already lost, Kingdom after Kingdom, province after province, the more beautiful half of the universe, and soon I will know of no place in which I can find a refuge for my dreams. — Gerard de Nerval

The first moments of sleep are an image of death; a hazy torpor grips our thoughts and it becomes impossible for us to determine the exact instant when the “I,” under another form, continues the task of existence. — Gerard de Nerval

 


Gérard de NERVAL – Vie et mort de Gérard de Nerval (conférence, 1955)

 

‘Gérard de Nerval lived from 1808 to 1855, dying one year after Arthur Rimbaud was born. He was an acquaintance of Baudelaire, his junior by thirteen years. Nerval’s Journey To The Orient is said to have inspired Baudelaire’s poem A Voyage To Cythera and his interest in the orient. Gerard’s real last name was Labrunie. Nerval was a pseudonym based on his belief that he was a descendent of the Roman emperor Nerva.

‘Nerval was widely regarded as being a distracted soul, a dreamer perpetually lost in a state of supernatural reverie. He studied the Occult and was fascinated by antiquity and dead religions for which he always felt a spiritual affinity. Nerval’s taste in literature tended towards the macabre or mystical which in his day and age meant Edgar Allen Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Swedenborg, and Goethe’s Faust. He was particularly influenced by Faust and gained literary renown as one of the foremost French translators of the German play.

‘Nerval eventually lost the ability to distinguish dream from reality and his bizarre behavior resulted in numerous anecdotes. He was seen walking a pet lobster on a leash in the gardens of the Palais Royal. He came to believe that he was the son of Napoleon’s brother. Nerval was committed to an insane asylum, described as being more of a literary rest home than a true institution, where he believed he was being put through an initiation ritual. Nerval came to a tragic end, hanging himself from a bar in a sewer grate.

‘There are many inaccurate accounts of exactly where he hanged himself. The back cover of Journey To The Orient claims “He died in 1855, hanging himself from a lamp-post in the snowy streets of Paris with an old apron string that he believed to be the Queen of Sheba’s garter.” The Anchor Anthology of French Poetry’s brief introduction to Nerval tells a different story, “…hanged his humble and gentle self in a cellar in the rue de la Vieille-Lanterne on a freezing January morning”. However, Solomon Rhodes’ biography of Nerval provides the most detailed account of Nerval’s suicide so it is probably the most reliable. He describes the spot as where “…the street sank down and was connected with the lower level by a stairway…at the foot of it, level with a man’s head…there was a vent-hole with an iron-grating and cross bars”.

‘Nerval is a significant literary figure because he was unusually absorbed in his inner life. He spent so much time lost in reverie that his surprisingly considerate friends remarked, “Sometimes one would catch sight of him at a street corner, hat in hand, in a sort of ecstasy, obviously far withdrawn from his immediate surroundings. . . . When we found him absorbed in this way, we were careful not to accost him bluntly for fear of causing him to fall from the height of his dream like a somnambulist suddenly awakened with a start while walking with eyes closed in deep sleep along the edge of a roof.” Nerval has become closely identified with the power of dreams to lure us away from the world and for this he is worthy of close study.’ — Robert Robbins

 

Under his name, which appears under his portrait, Gerard de Nerval wrote, in his own hand, as a legend: Je suis l’autre (I am the other); above the portrait these cryptic words: feu G.rare; and, in the upper left-hand corner, these even more obscure words: cigne allemand.

 


Gérard de NERVAL – Gérard Labrunie (DOCUMENTAIRE, 1966)

 

‘The poet Gérard de Nerval had a penchant for lobsters, or at least for one lobster. Nerval was seen one day taking his pet lobster for a walk in the gardens of the Palais-Royal in Paris. He conducted his crustacean about at the end of a long blue ribbon. As word of this feat of eccentricity spread, Nerval was challenged to explain himself. “And what,” he said, “could be quite so ridiculous as making a dog, a cat, a gazelle, a lion or any other beast follow one about. I have affection for lobsters. They are tranquil, serious and they know the secrets of the sea.” (The episode is captured by Guillaume Apollinaire in a collection of anecdotes from 1911). Was there any basis to this story? A generation of Nerval scholars attempted to debunk it, but then a letter to his childhood friend Laura LeBeau was discovered. Nerval had just returned from some days at the seaside at the Atlantic coastal town of La Rochelle: “and so, dear Laura, upon my regaining the town square I was accosted by the mayor who demanded that I should make a full and frank apology for stealing from the lobster nets. I will not bore you with the rest of the story, but suffice to say that reparations were made, and little Thibault is now here with me in the city…” Nerval, it seems, had liberated Thibault the lobster from certain death in a pot of boiling water and brought him home to Paris. Thus we know that it was Thibault, and not just “some lobster,” who went for that celebrated promenade in the gardens of the Palais-Royal.

‘But Nerval’s attitude towards animals is not, as his contemporaries supposed, a casual eccentricity. Rather, he follows in the footsteps of the great Pythagoras, whose thinking has come down to us only in the fragmentary accounts of other writers—including the “Golden Verses” which provide direct inspiration to this remarkable poem. Pythagoras was a vegetarian of a very strict sort; indeed, he would not even harm beans, a fact which according to some accounts led to his death.

‘“All things feel,” says Nerval’s Pythagoras. There is a ribbon, though it may not be blue, that ties all the forms of life on our planet; their interrelationship is very profound. And humankind is too quick to assume its own mastery and to turn all other things and creatures to its use. But the lobster is a special case, as animal rights activists argue (still much disputed, particularly by the seafood industry) that lobsters are sentient beings with a great capacity for feeling pain which is maximized by the once-favored cooking technique of emersion in boiling water. When Nerval proudly took his lobster for a promenade, he was making the same point he made in this poem: humans make themselves the masters of their environment and the beasts around them, and in so doing have they not lost a sense of the universe and the natural order among beings? Do they not recognize obligations that go with that mastery? It was not, perhaps, quite so comic an act as it may have seemed.’ — Scott Horton

 

 

El Desdichado’
‘Fantasy’
‘To J-Y Colonna’
from ‘Traveling by Carriage’
‘An Old Tune’
‘Golden Verses’

 


Appearance of the spirit of Gérard de Nerval in the presence of Mr. Dumont. Spiritist photography by Jean Buguet, at 5 boulevard Montmartre in Paris, c. 1873.

 

from Sylvie (1853)

I passed out of a theatre where I was wont to appear nightly, in the proscenium boxes, in the attitude of suitor. Sometimes it was full, sometimes nearly empty; it mattered little to me, whether a handful of listless spectators occupied the pit, while antiquated costumes formed a doubtful setting for the boxes, or whether I made one of an audience swayed by emotion, crowned at every tier with flower-decked robes, flashing gems and radiant faces. The spectacle of the house left me indifferent, that of the stage could not fix my attention until at the second or third scene of a dull masterpiece of the period, a familiar vision illumined the vacancy, and by a word and a breath, gave life to the shadowy forms around me.

I felt that my life was linked with hers; her smile filled me with immeasurable bliss; the tones of her voice, so sweet and sonorous, thrilled me with love and joy. My ardent fancy endowed her with every perfection until she seemed to respond to all my raptures—beautiful as day in the blaze of the footlights, pale as night when their glare was lowered and rays from the chandelier above revealed her, lighting up the gloom with the radiance of her beauty, like those divine Hours with starry brows, which stand out against the dark background of the frescoes of Herculaneum.

For a whole year I had not sought to know what she might be, in the world outside, fearing to dim the magic mirror which reflected to me her image. Some idle gossip, it is true, touching the woman, rather than the actress, had reached my ears, but I heeded it less than any floating rumours concerning the Princess of Elis or the Queen of Trebizonde, for I was on my guard. An uncle of mine whose manner of life during the period preceding the close of the eighteenth century, had given him occasion to know them well, had warned me that actresses were not women, since nature had forgotten to give them hearts. He referred, no doubt, to those of his own day, but he related so many stories of his illusions and disappointments, and displayed so many portraits upon ivory, charming medallions which he afterwards used to adorn his snuff-boxes, so many yellow love-letters and faded tokens, each with its peculiar history, that I had come to think ill of them as a class, without considering the march of time.

We were living then in a strange period, such as often follows a revolution, or the decline of a great reign. The heroic gallantry of the Fronde, the drawing-room vice of the Regency, the scepticism and mad orgies of the Directory, were no more. It was a time of mingled activity, indecision and idleness, bright utopian dreams, philosophic or religious aspirations, vague ardour, dim instincts of rebirth, weariness of past discords, uncertain hopes,—an age somewhat like that of Peregrinus and Apuleius. The material man yearned for the roses which should regenerate him, from the hands of the fair Isis; the goddess appeared to us by night, in her eternal youth and purity, inspiring in us remorse for the hours wasted by day; and yet, ambition suited not our years, while the greedy strife, the mad chase in pursuit of honour and position, held us aloof from every possible sphere of activity. Our only refuge was the ivory tower of the poets whither we climbed higher and higher to escape the crowd. Upon the heights to which our masters guided us, we breathed at last the pure air of solitude, we quaffed oblivion in the golden cup of fable, we were drunk with poetry and love. Love, alas! of airy forms, of rose and azure tints, of metaphysical phantoms. Seen nearer, the real woman repelled our ingenuous youth which required her to appear as a queen or a goddess, and above all, inapproachable.

Some of our number held these platonic paradoxes in light esteem, and athwart our mystic reveries brandished at times the torch of the deities of the underworld, that names through the darkness for an instant with its train of sparks. Thus it chanced that on quitting the theatre with the sense of bitter sadness left by a vanished dream, I turned with pleasure to a club where a party of us used to sup, and where all depression yielded to the inexhaustible vivacity of a few brilliant wits, whose stormy gaiety at times rose to sublimity. Periods of renewal or decadence always produce such natures, and our discussions often became so animated that timid ones in the company would glance from the window to see if the Huns, the Turkomans or the Cossacks were not coming to put an end to these disputations of sophists and rhetoricians. “Let us drink, let us love, this is wisdom!” was the code of the younger members. One of them said to me: “I have noticed for some time that I always meet you in the same theatre. For which one do you go?” Which! why, it seemed impossible to go there for another! However, I confessed the name. “Well,” said my friend kindly, “yonder is the happy man who has just accompanied her home, and who, in accordance with the rules of our club, will not perhaps seek her again till night is over.”

With slight emotion I turned toward the person designated, and perceived a young man, well dressed, with a pale, restless face, good manners, and eyes full of gentle melancholy. He flung a gold piece on the card-table and lost it with indifference. “What is it to me?” said I, “he or another?” There must be someone, and he seemed worthy of her choice. “And you?” “I? I chase a phantom, that is all.”

On my way out, I passed through the reading-room and glanced carelessly at a newspaper, to learn, I believe, the state of the stock market. In the wreck of my fortunes, there chanced to be a large investment in foreign securities, and it was reported that, although long disowned, they were about to be acknowledged;—and, indeed, this had just happened in consequence of a change in the ministry. The bonds were quoted high, so I was rich again.

A single thought was occasioned by this sudden change of fortune, that the woman whom I had loved so long, was mine, if I wished. My ideal was within my grasp, or was it only one more disappointment, a mocking misprint? No, for the other papers gave the same figures, while the sum which I had gained rose before me like the golden statue of Moloch.

“What,” thought I, “would that young man say, if I were to take his place by the woman whom he has left alone?”

I shrunk from the thought, and my pride revolted. Not thus, not at my age, dare I slay love with gold! I will not play the tempter! Besides, such an idea belongs to the past. Who can tell me that this woman may be bought? My eyes glanced idly over the journal in my hand, and I noticed two lines: “Provincial Bouquet Festival. To-morrow the archers of Senlis will present the bouquet to the archers of Loisy.” These simple words aroused in me an entirely new train of thought, stirring long-forgotten memories of provincial days, faint echoes of the artless joys of youth.

The horn and the drum were resounding afar in hamlet and forest; the young maidens were twining garlands as they sang, and binding nosegays with ribbon. A heavy wagon, drawn by oxen, received their offerings as it passed, and we, the children of that region, formed the escort with our bows and arrows, assuming the proud title of knights,—we did not know that we were only preserving, from age to age, an ancient feast of the Druids that had survived later religions and monarchies.

 

from Auerlia (1838)

—“Nonetheless,” I told myself, “it is certain that these sciences are interspersed with human error. The magic alphabet, the mysterious hieroglyphs arrive to us incomplete and partially distorted by time as well as by the efforts of those who have an interest in perpetuating our ignorance; were we to find the lost letter or an erased sign, reassembling the dissonant whole, we would gain force in the spirit-world.”

It is in this way that I thought to perceive the connections between the real world and the spirit world: The earth along with its inhabitants and their history are a theater where physical actions take place in preparation for the existence and determine the situation of immortal beings tied to its destiny. Without addressing the impenetrable mystery of the eternity of the universe, my thoughts went back to the period when the sun, like the planet which shares its name-sake, which while inclining it head follows the revolution of its astronomical path, sowed on earth the fertile seeds of plants and animals. This was none other than fire itself, which, being compounded of souls, formulated instinctively their communal dwelling. The spirit of the God-Being, reproduced and, as it were, reflected upon the earth, became the prototype of human souls, each of whom, was by turns both man and God. Such beings were the Elohim.

 

from Journey to the Orient (1851)

In 1851, Nerval’s first prose book Le Voyage en Orient, resulted from his extended hashish-filled trip of 1842 to Cairo and Beirut. It puzzled readers of conventional travel books by retelling Oriental tales like Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in terms of the artist and the act of creation. appeared. Under the guise of a travelog, it concerns itself with the pilgrimage of a soul, being more revealing of the inner geography of Nerval than of Egypt, Lebanon, or Turkey.

While Soliman welcomed Balkis at his country residence, a man, crossing the heights of Moriah, looked pensively at the twilight dwindling in the clouds and at the blazing tapers which pierced the shadows around Millo like a multitude of stars. He bid his beloved a silent farewell and took a last look at the rocks of Solyme and the banks of the Kedron. The weather was cloudy, and before the pallid sun fully set, it had time to see the night advancing upon the earth. At the noise of the hammers on the bronze bells, sounding the call to muster, Adoniram struggled free of his thoughts and hastened on his way. Soon he passed through the crowd of assembled workmen to preside over the distribution of salaries. He entered the temple through the west door and emerged at the partly open east door to place himself at the foot of the column of Jachin.

Lighted tapers below the peristyle crackled under drops of tepid rain to which the panting workmen merrily offered their sweating limbs. The crowd was large, and Adoniram had at his disposal, besides the book-keepers, stewards in charge of the different categories. To divide the workmen into the three hierarchical grades a watchword was used, replacing in these circumstances the hand signals which would have taken up too much time. Then the salaries were distributed on the declaration of the password.

The apprentices’ watchword was Jachin, the journeymen’s Boaz, and the masters’ Jehovah. Arranged in their appropriate groups and lined up one behind the other, the workmen presented themselves to the stewards at the counting-house. Before each one received his wages, Adoniram touched his hand, and the workman whispered a word in his ear. The password had been changed for this final day.

The apprentices said Tubal-Cain, the journeymen Shibboleth, and the masters Giblim.

Gradually, the crowd thinned out, the precincts grew deserted, but when the last petitioner had withdrawn, it was clear that not all of the men had attended the ceremony, for there was still some money in one of the coffers.

‘Tomorrow,’ Adoniram said to his stewards,’summon the men
together again to discover whether they are ill or have been visited by death.’

As soon as Adoniram’s officers had left, Adoniram himself, zealous and vigilant to the last day, took hold of a lamp, as usual, to inspect the empty workshops and the various locales of the temple, to make sure that his orders had been executed and that the fires had been extinguished. His footsteps echoed sadly along the flagstones. Looking once more at his monuments, he stopped, for a long time, in front of a group of winged cherubim, the last work of the young Benoni.

‘Sweet child,’ he sighed.

Once this pilgrimage was over, Adoniram found himself in the temple’s huge hall. The dense shadows around his lamp unrolled into red volutes, revealing the high mouldings on the vaults, and also the walls of the hall, the exits of which were three doors facing north, west, and east. The north door was reserved for the people, the west for the king and his warriors, the east for the levites, and outside this latter door stood the bronze columns of Jachin and Boaz. Before leaving by the west door, which was the nearest to him, Adoniram glanced at the dark recesses of the hall, and, deeply moved as he remained from looking at the innumerable statues, his imagination evoked the shade of Tubal-Cain in the shadows. Concentrating his gaze, he tried to penetrate the darkness; the phantom grew taller but glided away; it reached the very depths of the temple and vanished close to the walls, like the shadow of a man spotlighted by a torch which slowly withdraws. A woeful cry seemed to resound among the vaults. Then Adoniram turned round and prepared to depart.

Suddenly, a human form detached itself from the pilaster and said to him in a ferocious voice :

‘If you wish to leave, tell me the password of the masters.’

Adoniram carried no weapons upon him. Respected by everyone, accustomed to command by only a sign, he did not even dream of defending his sacred person.

‘Wretch !’ he exclaimed, recognizing the journeyman, the Hebrew Methuselah,’step back at once ! You will be welcomed among the masters on the day that crime and treachery are honoured ! Flee with your accomplices before the justice of Soliman falls upon your heads.’

At these words, Methuselah lifted up his hammer in his muscular arms and brought it down with a crash upon Adoniram’s skull.

Stunned but still conscious, the artist staggered towards the north door, but the Syrian Phanor was waiting for him there.

‘If you wish to leave, tell me the password of the masters.’

You have not worked for seven years,’ Adoniram managed to
reply.

‘The password !’

‘Never !’

Phanor the mason thrust his chisel into Adoniram’s entrails, but he was unable to aim a second blow, for aroused by the pain, the architect of the temple flew like an arrow towards the east door in order to escape from his assassins. There, the Phoenician Amrou, journeyman among the carpenters, was waiting for him, and he, too, cried out in his turn:

‘If you wish to leave, tell me the password of the masters !’

‘This is not the way that I learned it myself,’ Adoniram gasped.
‘Request it from the one who sends you here.’

As he strove to open the door, Amrou plunged the point of his compasses into Adoniram’s heart.

At that moment the storm erupted, heralded by a mighty stroke of thunder.

Stretched out upon the temple floor, Adoniram’s body covered three flagstones. The three murderers reassembled at his feet and linked their hands together.

‘This man was great,’ Phanor murmured.

‘He won’t take up more space in the tomb than you,’ Amrou said.

 


Gerard de Nerval ‘reads’ his poem ‘Epitaphe’ (1:21)

 

Gallery


Salvador Dali’s etching ‘Angel Melancholy/Gerard de Nerval’

 


Monument to Gerard de Nerval, near Chatelet, Paris

 


Gerard de Nerval’s home, Montmartre, Paris

 


Etching of Gerard de Nerval by Georges Stall

 


Original manuscript page from Gerard de Nerval’s ‘Pandora’

 


The illustrations in Gerard de Nerval’s ‘Sylvie’

 


Gérard de Nerval, Introduction à Les Ballons, de Julien Turgan

 


Gérard de NERVAL, letter to Théophile Gautier

 


Galérie Viro-Dodat (1826), site of a café where Gérard de Nerval had a last drink before he hanged himself.

 


Etching of the spot where Gerard de Nerval committed suicide by Pierre Gevres

 


Painting of the spot where Gerard de Nerval committed suicide (artist unknown)

 


The Death of Gérard de Nerval (La Rue de la Vieille Lanterne, La Mort de Gérard de Nerval), 1855, by Gustave Doré

 


suicide de Gérard de Nerval – Lithographie de Gustave Doré

 


The Class of 1972, Lycee Gerard de Nerval, Paris

 


Class of 2008, le collège Gerard de Nerval, Vitré, France

 


The grave of Gerard de Nerval, Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

 


Gérard de Nerval – Le Valois chimérique (13:23)

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. Today I’m on my way to Holland in order to visit Efteling. While the p.s. and I are indisposed, please enjoy this restored post about Gerard de Nerval, won’t you? And leave comments, if you like, which I will interact with when I return here on Wednesday. The blog will see you again tomorrow.

Brad Dourif Day

 

‘Fans of the vampire apocalypse sub-genre will already be en route to the nachos, but no matter what your taste there is at least one reason to recommend the newly released Priest. That reason, buried as he usually is in the depths of the supporting cast, is Brad Dourif. Because I don’t think it would be rash to claim Dourif as king of the character actors – champion of that noble tradition of bit-part players and background colour, a self-confessed “whore” who never fails to elevate even the dopiest hokum, psychotic creeps a speciality but capable of much, much more.

‘Almost everyone reading will, I imagine, have relished a Dourif performance at some point in their lives, in part because the man is as tireless as he is gifted, in part because among his many jobs have been a number of near-inescapable cultural behemoths (leaving aside Star Trek: Voyager, he reportedly dispensed with his eyebrows to appear in two of Peter Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings films). But he’s due far more reward than a place for life signing headshots at comic conventions. For all his workhorse tendencies, it would be a mistake to laud them over his actual talent – the waxy delicacy of his features the canvas for a rare, skewed intensity, his unnerving presence never once played as smirky camp.

‘But his gifts were obvious from the start. Because, of course, when we rewind as far back as 1975, we find him as the very newest of Hollywood sensations, and rightly so – the breakthrough Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and his pivotal turn as frail, doomed Billy Bibbit, a role he fitted so perfectly it was if Ken Kesey had foreseen a vision of him writing the source novel 13 years earlier. For a boy of 25 it was a staggering performance, deft and touching and every bit as compelling as those of Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. His Oscar nomination was inevitable; a stellar career was assured.

‘Except, as it turned out, it wasn’t. Instead of an ascension to the upper slopes of the industry, the decades since have provided a hectic route through strange landscapes and scenic backwaters. There were more great performances – shortly after Cuckoo’s Nest came some masterful jitters in the prime slice of New York kink that was The Eyes of Laura Mars, after that John Huston’s mordant Wise Blood, most recently a lovely moment as a melancholy alien (surely the role he was born to play) in Werner Herzog’s The Wild Blue Yonder. There were also roles in a number of grand cinematic missteps: the daddy of them all, Heaven’s Gate; David Lynch’s Dune, in which he gamely held forth about “the juice of sapho”; Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s rickety Alien Resurrection. But while Lynch would hire him again for Blue Velvet, and Herzog has used him as a one-man rep company, the best part of the last 20 years has been spent paying the bills in all manner of horror projects, from the iconic (in some circles he’ll be forever best known as the voice of Chucky in the Child’s Play series) to the altogether less celebrated – but always performed with respectful sincerity.

‘In interviews, Dourif himself talks about the shape of his career as simply a product of a working actor needing work, particularly as a father – in the same year Cuckoo’s Nest came out, his first daughter was born. But sometimes when I think about him I also find it hard not to picture that otherworldly bearing and remember the example of another thin young man too wispy and off-kilter to be anyone’s male lead: Anthony Perkins. But then, much as I love Anthony Perkins, Dourif is by a long way the better actor, both more intense and more versatile. He could always do repellent (as racist wifebeater Clinton Pell in 1988’s Mississippi Burning his presence is skin-crawling) – but his Doc Cochran in TV’s old west saga Deadwood was a masterclass in unexpected decency, while what made his work in Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant so fine was the way he acted as a steadying hand amid the crazed whirl of breakdancing souls and watchful iguanas.

‘And it’s important, I think, not to embrace him just because he’s a favourite of Herzog and Lynch, but because he’s been fantastic in their films as he has so many others – and because the risk with anyone so reliable is that they get taken for granted, particularly when the wonders they deliver are small in scale. I’m sure Dourif himself would see his career as anything but thwarted for all that he never did get that Oscar, and we should follow his example. Bills have to be paid, and it would be patronising to assume he would have been happier with his name above the titles of wood-stupid action flicks. In any sane hall of fame, his place is safe already.’ — Danny Leigh

 

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Stills

















































































 

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Further

Brad Dourif @ IMDb
Brad Dourif: How weird is Brad?
Brad Dourif on possessed dolls, David Lynch, and playing sociopaths
Brad Dourif @ Twitter
Brad Dourif Reveals the One Chucky Scene That Shocked Him
Genre Icon Brad Dourif on Finding the Horror and the Humor in CULT OF CHUCKY
Brad Dourif for Kids
Pophorror’s Countdown to Brad Dourif’s Top 8 Performances
The Best Brad Dourif Movies
In Appreciation of… Brad Dourif
Great Horror Performances: Brad Dourif in Halloween II
ZOLA JESUS ON… THE CHARACTER ACTING OF BRAD DOURIF

 

_____
Extras


vietnamologue


The Many Laughs of Brad Dourif


Brad Dourif Q&A


Brad Dourif does the Chucky voice

 

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Interview
from Den of Geeks

 

Were you familiar with the works of Herschell Lewis before Wizard Of Gore?

No, I wasn’t.

He had a very bold and over the top style of horror that the new version seems to be going for as well – is that a tone you enjoy playing?

Well, I came into Wizard Of Gore without really knowing what I was getting into, to tell you the truth. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it happened. I was doing a series and it was kind of like ‘Could you come and do this for a couple of days?’. And I did, but I barely had time to read the script. I read it in a flash and then I had to spend time getting ready to shoot. That was basically a day learning lines, and then I went in and shot.

So it was really pressed upon me very quickly, and it’s not a way I like to work. But it’s kind of the way I did work. It happened so fast and it was over so fast. I went in for ADR on it, and I couldn’t figure out what the fuck The Wizard Of Gore was, couldn’t remember it. I was sitting there going ‘What the fuck is this…?’. I was really embarrassed, because the director was there, everybody was there, and I couldn’t remember doing it. It was in such a flash…it went into my consciousness and right back out.

You’ve mentioned before that the fun of a part is often in the rehearsal period, so how do you cope in a situation like that, when you’re ‘straight in’?

Well, you really you then just go by the seat of your pants, by your gut and with your instincts. A lot of times our instincts are much smarter than we are anyway. So I just went with it, talked to people and tried to figure out what I was doing…and just made it work!

You’ve said before that you love situations like that where you have to create under pressure, as well as rehearsal periods where you get to work the character out. Don’t those two ways of working contradict each other?

Yes, and also it depends upon the part. If you have time before a shoot to get ready and learn all your lines…I don’t think you should show up to a shoot unless the entire movie is memorised. Some say you should never memorise, but I don’t, because even in the memorisation of the lines you’re going to get some kind of feeling for the rhythm of the whole piece. So I always memorise everything at once.

The best thing to do is go in and get a lot of work done, and a lot of options, and still be open. Then shooting is like a rehearsal that you’re well-prepared for. You’re really inventing the scene as you go, but you’re very prepared.

Are gruesome scenes like those in Wizard the kind of thing that you’re immune to now as an actor on set, and as a viewer?

Yeah, I’ve had blood thrown on me ‘til the cows come home – I’ve done all those things. So yeah, though I’m getting a little old for doing a lot of stunts, but I’ve certainly done my share. Not particularly dangerous ones, but I’ve done a lot of falls on concrete, runs and other stuff that I really can’t do any more, because if I fall, I’ll break something. You don’t bounce like you used to at 58, you know? [laughs]

At some point you went from being a character actor in films to a cult actor in your own right, like Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing – how do you feel about that?

I’m not really aware that I am a ‘cult actor’ – I don’t think of myself that way. I’ve always thought of myself as just a little misunderstood [laughs]. I don’t think of myself in any particular way…I mean what does it mean to be a ‘cult actor’ anyway…?

I guess that you’ve got a following independent of the movies you do. I’m a fan, and some of your other fans have made notable websites about you…and that people are really keen on you and your work…?

To the extent that people know my work and really like it, I’m absolutely flattered by that, of course. But the mantle of being a cult actor…I did a TV series that was way outside cult, and I’m certainly capable of doing things way outside of that genre, and I do them.

As a family-man who’s worked hard all his life, I guess there’s a fund of life-experience you have to offer that horror films are never really going to tap…?

Exactly. And fortunately I have been able to tap them, and I work hard on finding things. A lot of villains don’t, at this point, have tremendous appeal for me, ‘Chucky’ being an obvious exception.

When you’re a father and you have children, really you’re kind of like a servant, you know? [laughs] You really are! You’re constantly making little meals for your kids…then they grow up – my daughter’s an actress; I get calls from her for brainstorming something or breaking a scene down or that kind of thing. That’s really where I consider myself to be who I am.

Those things are important to me. But I did the Deadwood TV series, where I played a doctor who is probably the most decent person in Deadwood, except for the priest in the first season. I did a film that’s coming out about a pot-grower. He’s very much of a family man – a physics teacher and professor and very much not a scary person.

Are you developing projects for yourself as well?

No, it really would be very difficult for me to produce a movie. I don’t write. My girlfriend is a poet, the lady I live with, and I really have a great deal of respect for good writing. Since I don’t write, it would be very hard for me to develop or produce or anything like that. You would really need to be a writer and come in bringing something to the table, and I just don’t bring enough to the table to do that.

So you don’t have any dream projects?

I had them when I was younger, and there were certainly some things that I really wanted to do, but, you know, they never got done. There’s tons of things that I still want to act in, but as far as me developing, I’ll say that I don’t think it’s going to happen, but then it could turn around and happen tomorrow.

Does your own capacity for self-criticism ever work against you?

I suppose, at times. But at this point, once I get on a set, nothing gets too much on my way, including myself. Once my glands salivate, I’m off to the races. So in that respect, I trust myself as an actor most of the time.

I don’t want to be full of myself. I really have fun when I’m working, and I don’t want to not have fun when I’m working, because I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ‘somebody’. I don’t like it, and I don’t enjoy other people who are like that. And that’s one of the reasons why doing smaller-budget stuff is really good. You don’t run into that so much…

Is there any common strand between the good directors out of the many that you’ve worked with?

I remember Milos Forman telling me that his problem was that ‘I can’t imagine’. And that’s what great directors do – you can’t imagine what they’re going to do. They come up with something that is unique, and very very different.

I did a film with John Huston called Wise Blood. It didn’t look like a Huston film; it looked like a young film-maker made this film, but it was a really good little film. I don’t know how great it was, but it was certainly very different from what he normally did, and it was a unique movie.

Have you ever been disappointed in a film you made and re-appraised it more favourably later?

I think the first time you see a film, it really doesn’t look good, because you experience [making the film] in a much richer way. I’ll give you an example: Lord Of The Rings. When we went and shot the day that we were outside in Rohan…when Gandalf first comes in and they chase me out of town. That whole part of the exterior stuff…

That place was probably the most beautiful place I was ever in in my life. It was such an extraordinary world. The view was unbelievable, when you’re looking out over all of this stuff, and it looked beautiful in the movie, but it didn’t look anywhere near as beautiful as it looked in real life. It was paled by comparison.

Part of that is just the physics of the human eye, because what we do is that your eye moves around and takes a million little pictures, and just keeps putting them together into this big picture, and you get the whole feeling of something in a way that you could otherwise never get. You could probably do it in a painting, a little bit. But you don’t ever see an exact replica of how beautiful something is.

As someone who has played an above-average number of dark and emotionally-disturbed roles, have you found it easier or harder to leave a role at the studio and not take it home?

I’ve gone through periods where I have gotten very, very depressed. The biggest time was when I was doing Mississippi Burning. Frances McDormand was sitting at a table and she had all her beat-up make-up on. We made jokes about it and so forth, but I really walked away feeling horrible. I really had this feeling that I’d done it. And that that’s really what my life was about, and that’s not who I am…it just hit me really hard in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.

It stayed with me for a very long time, and finally I saw…the first ‘angel’ movie, it had Peter Falk in it…?

Wings Of Desire?

Yeah! And Peter Falk does this speech about a cup of coffee, and that kind of woke me up a bit. I said ‘That’s what I want to do!’. [laughs

Are your family a big help – do you come home and find that maybe they see what you can’t see – that a role has followed you home.

My girlfriend is a real artist, she’s the real artist of the family as far as I’m concerned, and her opinion is one that I very much trust. Her bar is quite high, and she really tells me the truth

My feeling is that when you finish a movie, you’re starting all over again, and you’re looking for something that you can really really do a good job in. And a lot of things, you can’t – they happen so fast. I’ve worked with people who don’t understand what it is to direct. They don’t really even understand what the job is, and you can’t really make a good movie that way

I’ve wound up blocking scenes – figuring out what the director wants and then trying to block it so that it can be shot. Instead of the director getting up and saying ‘No, do this shot or this shot’ which…you know, is a fucking horror [laughs]. You just can’t work like that.

 

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22 of Brad Dourif’s 167 roles

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Milos Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
‘Billy has a confidence problem. That’s highlighted by the way he stutters uncontrollably whenever he’s asked a difficult question. Billy might have mental illness, but he’s also a young man deep down, and maybe just hasn’t figured it all out yet. He’s interested in women, as we hear in his story at the group therapy session about how he “brought Celia some flowers and I said ‘Celia, will you marry me?'” But when it comes to his attraction to women, Billy also has a deep sense of shame about his own sexuality, which is connected to his relationship with his mother. Nurse Ratched recognizes this weakness and uses it to torture Billy on two occasions, saying, “What worries me is how your mother’s going to take this.” On the second occasion, Billy is so distressed that he commits suicide.’ — schmoop


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Asking Brad Dourif about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

 

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Irvin Kershner The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)
‘With a screenplay by John Carpenter and featuring some decent actors – The Eyes Laura Mars has some good ingredients. 1970s NY has a certain disco-flair coupled with the still relevant satire on violence to sell products (Mars’ photo-gimmick). The soundtrack keeps things tense (save for the aforementioned ear-bleedingly bad title and credit Streisandfest), the good supporting cast of Brad Dourif, Raul Julia and Rene Auberjonois go a long way to make up for some of the other shortcomings. Unfortunately, Faye Dunaway is occasionally OTT in her manic grief, and there’s a cheesy/unrealistic romantic subplot to offset the creepy and suspicious vibe the movie tries to create. It’s solidly directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back, Robocop 2), and of the leads at least Tommy Lee-Jones puts on a good show as the determined detective Neville.’ — Gerard A


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John Huston Wise Blood (1979)
‘John Huston’s hellfire burlesque is one of the great lost films of the 1970s and a movie to stand alongside his Maltese Falcon or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I first blundered across the thing as a teenager, stumbling blind around the late-night TV schedules. Last night I paid a return trip and was reassured (I hesitate to say relieved) to find it just as rich, dark and flat-out weird as it was before. Adapted (pretty faithfully) from the novel by Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood charts the efforts of a wild-eyed young preacher to establish a new religion. Rattling around a depressed southern town, antsy Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif) preaches the gospel of “the Church of Christ Without Christ – where the blind can’t see, the lame don’t walk and the dead stay that way”. When setting out the landmarks of 70s American cinema, we inevitably namecheck the usual suspects: Badlands, Nashville, Taxi Driver, The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, etc. And fair enough: they’re all great films. But the more light we shine on the anointed few, the more we risk blinding ourselves to the others, to films that are arguably just as interesting, ambitious and unusual but which have been left to languish in the shadows. Films like Wise Blood, say, or The Hired Hand, They Might Be Giants, Cockfighter, Smile or The King of Marvin Gardens.’ — The Guardian


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Michael Cimino Heaven’s Gate (1980)
‘In 1978, Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and the toast of New Hollywood, was given $11.6 million by United Artists to make a film based on a historic pitched battle between ranchers and settlers on the sky-burnished plains of Wyoming. This was to be the western to end all westerns; lo and behold, it almost did. Two years later and $32 million over budget, Cimino delivered his film: five-and-a-half-hours long and all but unreleasable. It was trimmed to 219 minutes and then shredded to 149; on its initial release it recouped less than ten per cent of its budget. The losses sunk United Artists, along with the risk-taking Hollywood culture in which Cimino (and Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola) had thrived.’ — Robbie Collin


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David Lynch Dune (1984)
‘First of all, when I read the part, I said I didn’t want to do it. I felt that Piter was a sociopath, and if I did one, then that’s all I would ever do. That may or may not have been true, but then eventually David [Lynch] called me up and said, “Please do it,” and I said, “Okay.” Then I read everything much more carefully and figured out a way to do it that would keep me interested. Really, instead of making it about what he does, I got more into what a Mentat is. I started to create a lot of little side stories for myself. I created a hand language so that Piter was always talking with his hands, either repeating what he was saying out loud or saying something different.’ — Brad Dourif


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David Lynch Blue Velvet (1986)
‘When you have a bunch of people there, and you haven’t really written the thing and somebody kills a copperhead, the copperhead will go into the thing if it’s right. So it was, “Play with the corpse of the copperhead,” which I wound up doing. Beyond that, David knows what he intends to do. Obviously, he’s smart and some things will change, but he knows what he’s up to. Blue Velvet was the script. There are no real differences between the script and the movie. The only thing was that the gas that Dennis [Hopper] was sucking on was supposed to be helium, and he was supposed to talk in a squeaky voice the whole time. [Lynch] couldn’t have him do it that way, so what he was going to do was use the vocal and then pitch it up way high, but he looked at it, and he said, “No, it’s a great idea, but it doesn’t work. Too silly.”’ — Brad Dourif


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Tom Holland Child’s Play (1988)
‘What happened is when they did the first Child’s Play, I was doing Mississippi Burning at the time, and they needed me to go to the studio, which, of course, I couldn’t go to because I was on set working, so they got somebody else,” Dourif told the site. “They just couldn’t wait around. They got this guy, and him and Tom Holland did the whole movie, and they stood up and they laughed their asses off, and apparently it was really funny, and they loved it, and they put it in front of an audience, and the audience hated it. They fucking hated it. At that point, I’d finished working on Mississippi Burning,” the actor continued. “I was going to go to Woodstock and spend some time there, and they said, ‘No, no, no. Please come and do this,’ so I went there and did it. I listened to what they did, and I just said, ‘It’s very clear why this doesn’t work. You can’t really play it comedically. He’s serious, and what’s funny is funny.’ The ‘fuck you’ on the elevator, that was just improv. I said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. I know what to do here.’ It wasn’t like we were against something that’s funny. Everything is about the event, and Chucky’s always had to be a little camp. He’s never not been camp. It’s been a huge part of what’s made him successful. It eventually went into total self-referential, which was Bride and Seed, and now that everybody’s doing remakes, it’s gone back to being scarier.’ — Brad Dourif


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Alan Parker Mississippi Burning (1988)
‘Speaking of Brad Dourif, he gives a chilling performance as a Sheriff’s Deputy/KKK member who has absolutely no remorse for his actions because he doesn’t think they are wrong. He plays the role with the same kind of voracious conviction we’ve come to expect from him every time.’ — cinema-fanatic


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Ken Loach Hidden Agenda (1990)
‘A cracking conspiracy thriller informed by John Stalker’s exposé of the British Army’s shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland, Hidden Agenda has a great cast headed by Frances McDormand and Brian Cox. They play characters investigating the murder of an American human rights lawyer (Brad Dourif) in Belfast. When Hidden Agenda premiered at Cannes, it caused a storm of outrage, denounced by some British critics as IRA propaganda. It stands now as a notable classic of its genre.’ — ifi


Trailer

 

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William Peter Blatty The Exorcist III (1990)
‘One of the most amazing things about Exorcist III and one of the absolutely crucial reasons it needs to be seen is Brad Dourif’s performance as the Gemini Killer. His acting in this is astoundingly good. The structure of his appearances and the amount of screen time he has are both reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, which would be released the next year. I’m not exaggerating when I say Dourif deserved an Oscar nod for his performance here. He makes the most of his limited screen time and his acting is almost lyrical, moving up and down between calm and casual—even a little funny—and a complete raving psychotic.’ — Wicked Horror


Excerpt

 

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Spike Lee Jungle Fever (1991)
‘The interracial love story that anchors Jungle Fever is the least interesting element of Spike Lee’s 1991 joint. It’s the dull circle from which more compelling plot tangents offshoot. While the director is game for a surface-level exploration of the trials and tribulations of forbidden love, his once-controversial subject matter is merely a selling point designed to get asses into theater seats. Once Lee hooks his audience with the promise of sin, he pivots his social commentary to a tragic secondary character, just as Douglas Sirk did in Imitation of Life. This is appropriate, because Jungle Fever is the equivalent of a 1950s message picture. Expertly wielding his influences, Lee throws a dash of Delbert Mann and a soupcon of Stanley Kramer into the proceedings. Though the outcome is at times woefully dated, it’s also the origin of several ideas Lee would return to in subsequent films.’ — Odie Henderson, Slant


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Hanif Kureshi London Kills Me (1991)
‘Twenty, unemployed and tired of being in debt, Notting Hill drugs dealer Clint (Chadwick) decides to go straight. Trouble is, friend and posse boss Muffdiver (Mackintosh) is reluctant to let him go. Worse, Clint not only rivals Muff for the affections of junkie Sylvie (McCourt), but he lacks the shoes he needs to become a waiter at a local diner. Ready to beg, steal or borrow from anyone, Clint embarks on a quest for footwear. Kureishi’s directing debut means well, but wayward plotting, charmless performances and flat direction ensure that tedium sets in early. Evidently intended as an authentic look at Notting Hill life, it rarely rings true; and Kureishi buries the flaws beneath sporadic bursts of running about to music (hoary clichés for showing the wild, irresponsible joys of youth). It’s hard, finally, to know exactly what it’s all about, or even whether it’s meant as a comedy.’ — Time Out (London)


Trailer

 

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Dario Argento Trauma (1993)
‘Italian horror maestro Dario Argento’s tale begins at a grim séance which ends in blind panic as a voice, possessed by evil, proclaims there is a murderer present. Terrified, a young girl (Asia Argento) watches as her parents flee from the scene. The next time she sees them they are dead – their headless corpses identifying them as the latest victims of a serial killer. Convinced she will be the next victim, the girl pleads with a friend to help her unmask the murderer.’ — Hive Store


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Jean-Pierre Jeunet Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Alien: Resurrection is so disappointing — both then and now. It shoots a flamethrower on the entire franchise, over what was once a wholly unified trilogy, and commits some of the greatest sins in Hollywood filmmaking. For starters, the premise itself pays gluttonous fan service by indulging in their superfluous grief over losing a beloved character, while also subjugating that story’s world to a lackadaisical deus ex machina (i.e. cloning) that subverts the franchise in all the wrong ways. Gone are the hefty stakes, the emotionalism, and the bewilderment, all in lieu of ironic action. That’s not to say it isn’t fun or of quality. To the studio’s credit, they tapped some extraordinary talent for their fourth go-around, hiring The City of Lost Children visionary Jean-Pierre Jeunet and then-rising screenwriter Joss Whedon, who both take some major creative liberties to make this their own thing. But that’s what, in turn, makes the film so complicated: Because for as ludicrous as it gets — and yes, this film turns batshit crazy super fast — there’s still enough to appreciate on its own. The underwater sequence, the xenomorph escape, Brad Dourif, the whole “kill me” sequence…’ — Consequence of Sound


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Ronny Yu Bride of Chucky (1998)
‘Clever is the word that comes to mind when I think of the mixture of horror and comedy that makes up a good deal of BRIDE OF CHUCKY, much of the humor due to some good one-liners by Chucky (courtesy of BRAD DOURIF’s voice). And JENNIFER TILLY does an exceptional job as a dim-witted, evil partner of the doll eventually turned into a doll herself who is just as manic as her boyfriend. NICK STABILE and KATHERINE HEIGL are the leads, the unsuspecting victims of much of the mayhem, who have to confront the evil they’re dealing with which leads toward a cemetery in Hackensack where the evil dolls hope to retrieve an amulet from a corpse that will restore their original bodies. It’s photographed expertly, well directed by Ronny Yu and there’s an unusual amount of range to the expressions on both dolls that make them seem eerily real. The final scene in the cemetery is guaranteed to give you a final startled moment.’ — Neil Doyle


Trailer


Bride of Chucky Q&A

 

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Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
‘In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, Gríma was played by Brad Dourif. Here, he is depicted as dark-haired, emaciated and eyebrowless, wearing black robes with dark fur, as well as being extremely pale and gaunt (the only detail coming from the book). According to Dourif, Jackson encouraged him to shave off his eyebrows so that the audience would immediately have a subliminal reaction of unease to the character.’ — Fandom


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LOTR, Brad Dourif behind-the-scenes

 

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Werner Herzog The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
‘Within the canon of such awe-inspiring epics as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: Wrath of God, the wilfully whimsical Wild Blue Yonder may perhaps be seen as not a ‘significant’ Herzog movie. Made in 2005 (the same year as Grizzly Man) and billed as ‘a science fiction fantasy’, it is a deceptively slight affair which mischievously hijacks documentary footage of space travel and underwater exploration and reworks it into a fanciful tale of alien invasion. Wild-haired, crazy-eyed, snaggle-toothed cult star Brad Dourif is our extraterrestrial host, his lilting lunatic tones (eerily reminiscent of his demonic Patient X in The Exorcist III) reciting a narrative of failed colonisation and doomed exploration. ‘You see aliens as these technologically advanced superbeings who can destroy New York City in two minutes flat,’ he rants, standing in front of the derelict buildings and trailer parks which his fellow doomed Andromedans intended as the centre of their earthbound civilisation. ‘Well, I hate to tell you this, but we aliens all suck!” — The Guardian


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Rob Zombie Halloween (2007)
‘As an actor, Dourif has that ’70s cache that Zombie loves, having been nominated for an Oscar for playing Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as boasting a number of horror credits: in addition to voicing the murderous doll Chucky in all of the Child’s Play films, Dourif appeared in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion, the Stephen King adaptation Graveyard Shift, Body Parts, The Exorcist III, Grim Prairie Tales, Critters 4, Alien Resurrection, Urban Legend…the list goes on. He’s a guy with bona fides, and when Zombie cast him as the (largely ineffectual) Sheriff Brackett it seemed like just another example of the director filling every part with a familiar face. He’s fine in the movie, but is mostly on hand because Rob Zombie wanted Brad Dourif in his movie and not because the role is particularly demanding.’ — F This Movie


Trailer

 

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Rob Zombie Halloween II (2009)
‘Dourif’s Sheriff Brackett is Annie’s father, and their early scenes have such a warmth and lived-in familiarity that it’s impossible not to be drawn into their lives as real people, not just the standard slasher movie victim characters. Though he looks his usual crazy self — long hair, handlebar mustache, bugged out eyes — Dourif is soft and lovable. There’s a great scene during which he teases the girls about ordering a pizza where you get the sense that he has created a home for the girls that feels safe without being jittery. But where Dourif really shines — and what makes Zombie’s Halloween II a fascinating horror movie and so much better than its (terrible) reputation — is after Annie is killed and he comes home to find her body. Zombie makes an interesting choice (removed from the theatrical version of the movie, one of many reasons his director’s version is far superior) to intercut the moment with actual VHS footage of Danielle Harris as a little girl. It’s devastating, and Dourif’s reactions rip your heart out. The realization that his little girl is gone — and that no matter how how he tried, he was unable to protect her — is the thing that really resonates about Zombie’s movie, more than any savage beheading or ghostly white horse imagery. There is so much pain in the moment, in the performance, in all of Halloween II, as Zombie infuses a sense of humanity amidst his usual grimy, bloody aesthetic. It’s a slasher movie about real people. Dourif is the realest among them.’ — F This Movie


Halloween II Interview – Brad Dourif

 

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Werner Herzog Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
‘Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans” creates a dire portrait of a rapist, murderer, drug addict, corrupt cop and degenerate paranoid who’s very apprehensive about iguanas. It places him in a devastated New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina. It makes no attempt to show that city of legends in a flattering light. And it gradually reveals itself as a sly comedy about a snaky but courageous man.’ — Roger Ebert


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Werner Herzog My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is Werner Herzog’s sardonic, nutso, reimagining of an actual true crime in California perpetrated by a disturbed young man who ran his mother through a sword and then (possibly) held hostages in his flamingo-decorated house in a police stand off. Michael Shannon perfectly inhabits the role of Brad, the large, shambling, mentally unstable crackpot holed up in his home while a detective (Willem Dafoe) outside interviews Brad’s fiancé (Chloe Sevigny), his theater director (Udo Kier), who rehearsed him in a production of Electra, and the neighbors (Loretta Devine, Irma Hall) who witnessed the killing of his mother (Grace Zabriskie). Everything here is surreal, deadpan, dark, more similar in tone to Herzog’s 1977 Stroszek, and there are many scenes of inspired weirdness. A visit to Brad’s uncle (Brad Dourif)’s ostrich farm is particularly unhinged.’ — Paper Magazine


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Justin Steele Death and Cremation (2010)
‘I have always been a huge fan of Brad Dourif, and once I found out that he was in “Death and Cremation” I was pretty excited about checking it out. He has owned every role he has ever been in and he doesn’t disappoint this time around either. He is absolutely awesome as Stan, and even though he is a ruthless killer you can’t help but like him. Hell, I was rooting for him the entire time because all of the people that he kills deserve it. Stan is a great character and “Death and Cremation” is great movie.’ — Todd Martin


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p.s. Hey. So, as I’ve previously mentioned in passing here and there, lucky me is being granted a two-day trip to my favorite amusement park (the Dutch wonderland called Efteling) as a late birthday present. As the two days start very early on Monday morning, that means there won’t be a p.s. on Monday or Tuesday because I will be busily riding rides that entire time. So I will be back, p.s.-wise, to catch up with everyone and everything on Wednesday. ** JM, Hi. Thanks. With any luck, I’ll have ‘WoNfY’ under my belt by the next time I see you. If you have ‘Dream Police’ then you have my ‘Selected Poems’, yes. The Lockhart-titled poem(s) is in it. Thank you for buying my Cycle books too. I appreciate it. Mm, as far as what of my stuff I’d most highly recommend … I’m hugely proud of ‘Permanent Green Light’ but you can’t see that yet, sadly. I’m very proud of my second literary gif novel ‘Zac’s Freight Elevator’. I definitely recommend it. And it’s free and can be yours with a click. My favorite, and I think the best of my novels is ‘The Marbled Swarm’. So there you go. Thank you very much for asking that. You know, I’ve hardly read Henry James. There was a point years back when I was vey curious about his stuff, and I think I started to read one — ‘The Golden Bowl’ — and it was obviously great, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I was hungry for at the time. I should read him, although it feels daunting. He’s one of those writers like Proust where when I say I’ve hardly read him, his fans get all shocked and turn into Bible salesmen types, which has probably contributed to my neglect of his work, ha ha. Anyway, long answer to a short question. Yeah, he seems like a writer where, once you get it, you want to gorge. I’ll be AWOL for a couple of days too. Good timing. Enjoy whatever else you’ll be doing. ** Chris Cochrane, Hi, Chris! How cool to not only get a comment from you but a comment from Vietnam, which has to be a blog first. I want to hear tons about your trip when I see you. I would say you picked a great time to be away from US, but really every time is a great time to be away from there these days if you ask me. Stuff’s good here, yeah. Sending big love back to you, buddy. Enjoy the waning time, and safe trip home. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Remixes of stuff by perfectionist artists like PSB so very rarely create improvements. I like that new beginning of your film. I love quiet, nothing obvious going on scenes (See: ‘PGL’). And, rhythmically, it sounds like an effective strategy too. Late Kinks is pretty spotty, yeah. Post-‘Schoolboys in Disgrace’ something happened. Maybe post-‘Misfits’. ‘Better Things’ is a pretty song. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Helluva songwriter, that Arlen. Belated happy b’day to his remains. Why is that my gay pet rock? Why is he naked and looking for battleship to bomb at the same time? What a strange hunk. ** Ferdinand, Hi, man. Good to see you! Oh, wow, cool. I actually have a fondness and possibly even mild addiction to youtube channels of ‘book reviewers’ — booktubers, nice term — so I’m happy. But, yeah, don’t eat away your writing time, obviously. Great, I’ll go watch your thing and subscribe the second I launch this thing. Everyone, Ferdinand, fine fellow and writer and d.l., has launched a booktube channel! And his first volley is an introduction to Downtown literature, which is inherently interesting. So I highly recommend you click these words and watch/listen/etc. to him cover that exciting ground excitingly. And subscribe to his channel while you’re at it. A no brainer, really. Do that, and thank you!. Yeah, awesome! That’s very cool. I greatly look forward to being your viewer. Take care. ** Jamie, Pitter-pat, Jamie! I’m pretty good, thank you. Oh, wow, what timing on the post and your script. How strange. Gosh, I have no idea what made me do that post. It must have been something really random. I can’t even remember. Maybe it was a psychic pick up from your script. Don’t worry about the script quality, just add mileage. Editing will sort out any chaff. The film script is going really well. The other is still starving on the vine or whatever. I am told that I should be able to de-secretize that project next week, but I have been told that at least a dozen times before. The interview was actually really good. The interviewer/ writer really understood and liked the film and is a smart guy. So Zac and I were pleasantly surprised. Subotnick is one of the last still-living early electronic music composer/pioneers, so getting to see him is pretty ace. My weekend is as much work as I can manage today and then taking off with pals in a rental car tomorrow night to Holland where I will frolick in an amusement park until Tuesday night when I will return to Paris by rental car. I would say it will be a fine weekend. Good luck with your long shift. And, ooh, front row seats at a building demolishing! There’s a collapsed building in ‘PGL’, and we were supposed to be able to film there part way through the demolishing of it so the building would look half-collapsed and teetering, but the demolishment company fucked up and forgot to alert us in time, so we had to go film right after the whole building had been demolished, and it just looks like a big pile of cement and stuff, and I guess collapsed buildings do look like that, but it really does just look like a big pile of mostly white crap. But enjoy yours for me. I haven’t seen those balloons, no. Maybe at the amusement park! That makes sense, right? May your weekend be a Droomvlucht . Tuhinga o mua love, Dennis. ** Wolf, Wolf Queen of Wickedness! Your response singlehanded,y saved Pyrokinesis Day from being just another post the cat dragged in. Well, yes, it’s true that writing a book is a thing. A taxing thing. But it’s true that some writers have this thing where they can just bang a book out, flurry flurry, and it’s fucking great. I don’t know. I just think a book by you would rock. Well, I’m not, like, in love with Ellroy’s prose, and I could been in a snooty mood and shrugged or something, it’s true. But, not being in a snooty mood, I think he’s good. I love Lydia Davis. She’s great, she’s fantastic. And she’s also an absolutely incredible translator of French lit. into English. Maybe the best there is these days. So, yes, big up on Lydia Davis. Fun weekend? In theory and/or in practice? ** Keo, Man, did spellcheck really, really want to change your name to Neo. I practically had to fight to the death to get it to give up changing your name. Interview was good, weirdly. Oh, okay, gotcha about Italy. That makes so much more sense. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Oh, thank goodness indeed that you didn’t get sick and especially not that flu. Keep that orange juice flowing. Like I told Jamie, the interview went really well. The guy really paid attention to the film and had very interesting questions and things to say about it. So hopefully the article will be good. Ah, you’re reading Peter Sotos. Yeah, he’s great, totally singular, great writer, and very brave. Awesome! The interview and a bit of work was most of my day, but it was good enough. I hope your weekend flies by but with lots of fantastic details. What happened? ** _Black_Acrylic, True. Well, there’s that guy who suggested you could pyrokinesis to warm up ‘bums’, ha ha. And, you know, there’s always the White House and the Congress. ** Misanthrope, Oh, is that right? Too bad you’re not Aquaman. No, I never search myself on Data Lounge. I don’t believe I’ve ever looked at Data Lounge. Hm. Maybe I’ll get really bored, but I’m kind of weird because I never get bored. It’s weird, but I just never do. Well, except when I was watching ‘Bladerunner 2049’. Work your novel like hell until further notice, man. That’s adamant. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. Good to see you! I haven’t read ‘State of Siege’. Hm. I do like Kippenberger very much. I have had his work in posts here, but not a full day for him. His work is so voluminous and various it seems like it would be hard or a lot of work to represent him well. But I should try shouldn’t I? I will. All is good here. The secret project is vexing me right now, but I’ll find a way into it. I’m not worried. I’m just a bit too addicted to working on the new film script, I think. What are you up to, bud? ** Sypha, Hi. Oh, was S.T. Joshi in that post? I must have been poorly spacing out when building it. I’ll re-find his thing. ** H, Hi, pal. Very nice to see you! Busyness I well understand. I hope it’s all going well. And enjoy the snow! ** Bill, Hi, B. Oh, the magazine is AnOther Magazine. Fire simulation is a pain. We had an idea at one point to do that for a bit in ‘PGL’, but we were told it would look like shit and to drop it entirely if we could, which we did. I hope those fires get put the hell out. Out enough for you to have a sweet weekend. **  I decided it would nice thing to draw your attention to Brad Dourif this weekend. The blog will see you on Monday and Tuesday, as always, and I’ll see you as a living-breathing typer again on Wednesday. The very best to you all until then.

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