The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 478)

Mycology’s Greatest Hit *

* (restored)



‘The first well-documented hallucinogenic mushroom experience in Britain took place in London’s Green Park on 3 October 1799. Like many such experiences before and since, it was accidental. A man subsequently identified only as ‘J.S.’ was in the habit of gathering small field mushrooms from the park on autumn mornings, and cooking them up into a breakfast broth for his wife and young family. But this particular morning, an hour after they had finished eating, the world began to turn very strange. J.S. found black spots and odd flashes of colour bursting across his vision; he became disorientated, and had difficulty in standing and moving around. His family were complaining of stomach cramps and cold, numb extremities. The notion of poisonous toadstools leapt to his mind, and he staggered out into the streets to seek help. but within a hundred yards he had forgotten where he was going, or why, and was found wandering about in a confused state.

‘By chance, a doctor named Everard Brande happened to be passing through this insalubrious part of town, and he was summoned to treat J.S. and his family. The scene that he discovered was so bizarre and unfamiliar that he would write it up at length and publish it in The Medical and Physical Journal later that year. The family’s symptoms were rising and falling in giddy waves, their pupils dilated, their pulses and breathing becoming fluttering and laboured, then returning to normal before accelerating into another crisis. They were all fixated on the fear that they were dying, except for the youngest, the eight-year-old Edward S., whose symptoms were the strangest of all. He had eaten a large portion of the mushrooms and was ‘attacked with fits of immoderate laughter’ which his parents’ threats could not subdue. He seemed to have been transported into another world, from which he would only return under duress to speak nonsense: ‘when roused and interrogated as to it, he answered indifferently, yes or no, as he did to every other question, evidently without any relation to what was asked’.

‘Dr. Everard Brande would diagnose the family’s condition as the ‘deleterious effects of a very common species of agaric [mushroom], not hitherto suspected to be poisonous’. Today, we can be more specific: this was clearly intoxication by Liberty Caps (Psilocybe semilanceata), the ‘magic mushrooms’ which grow plentifully across the hills, moors, commons, golf courses and playing fields of Britain every autumn. But though Dr.Brande’s account of the J.S. family’s trip would not be forgotten, and would continue to be cited in Victorian drug literature for decades, the nineteenth century would come and go without any conclusive identification of the Liberty Cap as the species in question. In fact, it would not be until Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD, turned his attention to hallucinogenic mushrooms in the 1950s that the botanical identity of these and other mushrooms containing psilocybin, LSD’s chemical cousin, would be confirmed.

‘But if they were obscure to Victorian science, there was another tradition which would appear to explore the ability of certain mushrooms to whisk humans off to another world: Victorian fairy lore. Over the nineteenth century, a vast body of art and literature would connect mushrooms and toadstools with elves, pixies, hollow hills and the unwitting transport of subjects to fairyland, a world of shifting perspectives and dimensions seething with elemental spirits. Is it possible that the Victorian fairy tradition, underneath its twee and bourgeois exterior, operated as a conduit for a hidden world of homegrown psychedelia, parallel perhaps to the ancient shamanic and ritual uses of similar mushrooms in the New World? Were the authors of such otherworld narratives – Alice in Wonderland, for example – aware of the powers of certain mushrooms to lead unsuspecting visitors to enchanted lands? Were they, perhaps, even writing from personal experience? … ‘




The Basics


Psilocybe cubensis is a medium strength or typical psilocybian mushroom consisting of approximately .63% psilocybin and .60% psilocin in dried wild mushrooms. Indoor cultivated mushrooms tend to have higher concentrations. Note that potency of mushrooms can vary greatly from one batch to the next. The following chart shows approximate oral dosages for (dried) Psilocybe cubensis in grams.

Threshold: .25 g (1/100 oz)
Light: .25 – 1 g (1/100 – 1/28oz)
Common: 1 – 2.5 g (1/28 – 1/10oz)
Strong: 2.5 – 5 g (1/10 – 1/6oz)
Heavy: 5 + g (1/4oz +)

Onset: 10 – 40 minutes (when chewed and held in mouth)
Onset: 20 – 60 minutes (when swallowed on empty stomach)
Duration: 2 – 6 hours
Normal After Effects: up to 8 hours

Comparative potency of selected Psilocybe mushrooms

Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms time lapse

Drying process of Psilocybe cubensis

Magic Mushroom: The Forbidden Fruit (5:13)


Dutch Ban Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

Associated Press, October 7, 2007: 

The Netherlands will ban the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the government announced Friday, tightening the country’s famed liberal drug policies after the suicide of an intoxicated teenage girl. The ban in response to the death and other highly publicized adverse reactions involving the fungus is the latest backlash against the freewheeling policies of the past. Psilocybin, the main active chemical in the mushrooms, has been illegal under international law since 1971. However, fresh mushrooms continued to be sold legally in the Netherlands along with herbal medicines in so-called “smart-shops,” on the theory that it was impossible to determine how much psilocybin any given mushroom contains.

The outright ban came as a surprise: The government had solicited advice from vendors, advocacy groups and the city of Amsterdam, which benefits greatly from drug-related tourism, on how to improve the situation. Mushroom vendors suggested stricter ID controls to prevent underage buyers, and strong warnings against mixing mushrooms with other drugs. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen had suggested a three-day “cooling off” period between ordering them and using them. The Justice Ministry decided those measures did not go far enough.

Guide to Amsterdam’s Smart Shops

Tatanka Mushroom Amsterdam

The Magic Mushroom Gallery Smartshop Amsterdam

The Rise of Psychedelic Truffles in Amsterdam

What are the best magic truffles in Amsterdam??




1. Psilocybe cyanescens: Psilocybe cyanescens grows on woody debris – in the presence of woodchips and mulched plant beds (particularly under rhododendrons). In the U.S., P. cyanescens occurs mainly in the Pacific Northwest, south to northern California. It can be found as well as in Western and Central Europe. This species was likely introduced to Europe, where it occurs mainly in cemeteries, botanic gardens and city parks.

List of the (186) known Psilocvybian Mushrooms

Comparative Psilocybian Mushroom Strengths
Images of the Different Species



30 Days of Magic Mushroom Hunting

The Hunt for Wild Magic Mushrooms


The Florida Mycology Research Center

Helping the research needs of Mycologists and Mushroom Growers since 1972

How To Place An Order:
FMRC no longer takes any credit card or online orders. This is because many are aware of all the records kept on such type orders. Although our customers order items from FMRC for Legal and Academic reasons, they do not want to be included in any “watched activity” or similar list, which the said OnLine method of payments can produce.

If you run across an item you wish to order, just write it down, include payment made out to FMRC, POB 18105, Pensacola, FL 32523, and just mail it in. Be sure to give a good readable shipping address. This is your best protection when ordering mycological items and it has proved itself since 1972.

Overseas And Out of Country Orders: Send payment in U.S. Dollars “CASH” or International Postal Money Order. Any check or Postal Money Order must be drawn on an U.S. Bank. If you send cash, large amounts should be insured. Canada orders should send “Canadian Postal Money Orders” making sure the amount is in U.S. Dollars and not Canadian Currency. These can be bought at your local post office. Payments should also include extra funds to cover Airmail Shipping. Without extra funds for this postage, orders are shipped by low cost land or boat. This can take many weeks sometimes. You may contact us at FloridaMycology@cs.com if you have any questions or need help with the extra money needed for this Overseas and Out of Country shipping.

For mail orders, simply write or type items you wish to order. Use catalog numbers whenever they are given. Always give complete description of item. Show what item cost. Total up the entire order. There are no other hidden charges like postage, handling, or insurance. You send only the amount listed. The best method of payment is a U.S. Postal Money Order made out to FMRC. Personal checks are accepted. FMRC will replace any item which is faulty, and will stand behind products listed in this catalog 100%.

As all products offered by FMRC are for “In-Vitro research purposes only, FMRC waves all responsibility for any injuries or legalities incurred through the use or mis-use of any products it sells.

Update (2019): The Florida Mycology Research Center has had its DEA registration revoked because primary researcher provided psilocybin mushrooms to non-DEA registered individuals and let visitors keep such mushrooms that they found on his property.

Get your mushrooms here (defunct)


The Effects

from mushroomshowto.com: 

Physical: Physical effects are all related to how many mushrooms are consumed. Low doses exhibit effects along the lines of feelings of relaxation or peace, a feeling of heaviness or lightness, and loss of appetite. Higher doses cause numerous effects like a feeling of coldness in some users, numbness of the mouth and adjacent features, nausea, weakness in the limbs (making locomotion difficult), excessive yawning which usually occurs during the come-up, swollen features, pupil dilation, and stiffness in points of the body, often the result of the users staying in awkward positions because of their inability to accurately judge the flow of time and their level of fatigue.

Sensory: As with many hallucinogens, the sensory effects are often the most dramatic of the experience. Most general doses cause a noticeable enhancement and contrasting of worldly colors, surfaces that seem to ripple, shimmer, or breathe, and some visual hallucinations. Heavy experiences cause complex open and closed eye visuals, objects that warp, morph, or change solid colors (juxtaposed with the free-flowing and changing colors of LSD), a sense of melding into the environment, trails, and auditory hallucinations. Intriguingly, some users speak about the feeling of their senses overlapping or synesthesia. A rather interesting genetic trait (which occurs in 1 in every 23 individuals), it causes, for example, a visualization of color upon hearing a particular sound.

Emotional: Feelings of euphoric bliss, relaxation, peace, wonder, anxiety, or fear have all been reported. A childlike sense of intrigue about the world on common doses is contrasted with cosmic revelations and perceptions of a “higher power” on large amounts. Some users may experience intense episodes of hilarity. Emotions can be experienced with increased sensitivity. Heavier trips carry the increased possibility of a surreal event known as ego death, whereby the user loses the sense of boundaries between their self and the environment, creating a sort of perceived universal unity. Also, anxiety and paranoia are possible and if they become severe enough they could culminate into a bad trip.

Psychological: Mushrooms cause the mind to conduct itself in an unusual manner. Abstract thoughts develop and are often difficult to explain to others correctly. A more-thorough thought pattern becomes apparent, climaxing in deep philosophical or introspective silence. Complex personal issues may be taken on full force by more experienced users, helping them arrive at a conclusion and make an appropriate change to their lifestyle. During this process, a user may also gain a new perspective on a thought they’ve held for years. The mind seems to flow more lucidly from idea to idea, making such things as improvisation easier. The natural filters of the mind are bypassed, causing a large increase in mental stimulation and creativity. Time dilation has been reported, with minutes and seconds taking an unusually large amount of time to pass. There may also be some indecisiveness in deciding what to do or get.

Bad Shroom Trip — Jefferson Street Incident

Heroic 8 Gram Shroom Trip Report


61 Year Old Tries “Magic Mushrooms”



María Sabina was the Mazatec curandera from Oaxaca, Mexico who encountered the amateur mycologist and international banker R. Gordon Wasson on a trip to Mexico in 1955. On June 19th, 1955 she introduced him to psilocybin mushrooms during a healing ceremony. He became the first Westerner to experience the effects of these psychedelic fungi, followed shortly thereafter by Valentina Wasson. Wasson wrote about his experience with María and the psilocybin mushrooms in an article for Life Magazine in 1957.

In the Life Magazine article, Wasson referred to María Sabina as “Eva Mendez” in an attempt to protect her privacy, but the attempt failed. Over the coming years, María Sabina was inundated with visitors from the United States. The onslaught of “young people with long hair who came in search of God” disrupted her village and led to her arrest on more than one occasion by local federales. She sometimes turned visitors away, and sometimes introduced them to the mushrooms they sought, occasionally charging a fee, and often not.

María Sabina died in 1985 at the age of 91.


In the movies

Shrooms (2007)

‘A group of walking clichés are on a trip into the countryside of Ireland for the sole reason of getting high off the mushrooms that grow out there. Tara (Lindsey Haun) ends up eating a deathcap mushroom after being told not to & suffers a seizure. Afterwards she is able to see future events when entering a kind of trance…but she can’t control it.

‘She sees all her friends & herself being killed off by a hooded & cloaked killer which may or may not be related to a local ghost story. A story that relates to a crazed monk who worked in a children’s home nearby.

‘Unsurprisingly the cast begin to get picked off by a hooded & cloaked killer. Tara tries to use her visions to save everyone but they always seem to come too late. Coincidental, eh?

‘Throw in a whole load of attempts to give the film a ‘trippy’ feel, two random hicks that are bit ‘rapey’ & a twist that is so obvious it’s almost insulting & what you have is a way below average slasher horror movie.

‘Shrooms was popular when it first came out in 2007. Looking at it now, that makes no sense. It doesn’t have an original bone in its entire body. The cast are incredibly forgettable.’ — Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life




‘After an awkward teen boy and his girl crush switch bodies after taking mushrooms, he discovers that attraction is more complicated than he thought. Magic Mushrooms is an unexpected, wry reflection on gender identity and coming-of-age sexuality.’ — Canadian Film Fest



The Secret of the Magic Mushroom (2016)

‘There’s the tall one and there’s the short one. They are best friends. In order to celebrate a drunken four-eyes party, they go deep into woods of Silschede. Soon the alcohol makes them more aggressive than it’s good for them. Tey starting a silly punching game in which the tall one kills the short one. He is shocked and can’t believe it. When he tries to dispose the body a wicked dwarf is suddenly around him and tells him of a rare kind extremely vitalizing mushrooms, which can bring his dead friend back to life again. But to find these magic mushrooms is everything else but easy…and who knows if those mushrooms really got the effect the dwarf is promising.’ — Werner Timm, IMDb

the entire film


The Psychonaut (2015)

‘Comedian Shane Mauss goes on a series of adventures to deepen his understanding of psychedelics. He describes the indescribable and takes us through some of his most intense experiences, while getting the added perspectives of some of the top scientists and experts in this realm. With moments of both confusion and clarity, this documentary is an honest account of the experiences of a genuine Psychonaut.’ — Psychedelic Experience



Mushrooms and the Law

from Erowid.com

USA: Psilocybin mushrooms are not specifically named in the U.S. federal scheduling system, however their two primary active chemicals Psilocybin and Psilocin are both Schedule I in the United States. This means they are illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute (sell, trade or give) without a DEA license. Fresh and dried psilocybin mushrooms are considered containers of Psilocybin and Psilocin, making them illegal to possess as well.

Because spores contain no psilocybin or psilocin, they are legal to sell and possess (in all states except California, Georgia, and Idaho). But in most states, it is illegal to cultivate or propogate spores into mycelium since mycelium generally contains both psilocybin and psilocin.

Some states in the U.S. (Florida, New Mexico) and some countries have ruled that growing psilocybe mushrooms does not qualify as ‘manufacturing’ a controlled substance (psilocybin).

International: Country by country

Tested for in Standard Drug Tests? NO
Tested for in Extended Drug Tests? Sometimes
Possible to test for? YES
Detection Period in Urine: 1-3 days

The first thing to know about mushrooms and drug tests is that psilocybin and psilocin, the primary psychoactive substances in psilocybe mushrooms, are not commonly tested for in the standard drug test. The basic drug test, currently used for nearly all corporate and sports testing programs, checks for 5 types of substances

Cannabinoids (marijuana, hash)
Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
Phencyclidine (PCP)

Even the extended employment drug tests used by most companies do not test for the presence of psilocybin or psilocin. For more information on the basic and extended drug tests…see the Drug Testing Vault.

It is, however, technically possible to detect psilocybin and psilocin with a drug test and we have received reports of psilocybin testing during criminal probation and a school-related drug test. Because they are less standard, these tests are more expensive to give than the basic test. The more expensive and comprehensive drug tests are sometimes used in cases where there is specific reason to believe that psilocybin mushrooms use is an issue; for example, an individual who is on probation for mushroom use might be specifically tested for the presence of psilocybin in hir system. However, generally mushroom use does not cause an individual to test positive on most random drug tests given by an employer or school.



p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Nice that you’re a familiar with Borowczyk’s films. I wondered. Thanks! ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, Corey. Thank you a million too for … being you? Yep. Wow, it is definitely not every day that one finds anyone, much less a video store clerk, much less a grumpy one, who loves ’11 x 17′. A sign from somewhere, above presumably. I’m a longtime sort of lifelong Nintendo guy. They, and living god Miyamoto in particular, are the masters of the adventure/strategy game, if you ask me. Whew, congrats on acing that test! Well, Zac and I are very instructive with the performers in our films. Their performances are highly shaped and placed, but what we do is work with who the performers are, what they do well, how they speak and move, so the instructing, etc. is very much about find the best way to make who they naturally are radiate outworks and fix within the film. And we’re interested in the instances where their performances go out of bounds. Usually it’s due to a necessity on their part to exceed their given perameters to make what we’re asking them to do feel true, and the takes when they ‘disobey’ have often been the most exciting ones that we end up using. So it’s a mix. It’s not a matter of bossiness, or let’s say that none of our performers have ever expressed any objection at all to what we ask them to do or how we ask. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Definitely difficult to impossible to predict the Cannes decisions, as proven almost every year. The closing ceremony is this evening, and I’ll be glued to the live TV broadcast. ‘Parasite’ is definitely in the running, I think. At least over here, it and the Malick have probably been the most rapturously received. Maybe the Almodovar, yeah, although the reactions here in France have been mixed on it. No, the Kechiche film has been heavily derided and hated here. It’s the festival’s big disaster, they say. Oh, wow, I don’t think I know anything about that ’70s punk and poetry book you mentioned. Huh. I’ll see what I can find out. That’s obviously cool and flattering that I’m part of it. Thanks for telling me. ** _Black_Acrylic, That’s a wacked out, fun film, right? The pic of the Rachel Woodside piece is intriguing. I wish I could see that show, obviously. Have a great weekend, pal. ** Nick Toti, Hey there, Nick! Awesome about the new screening. Damn, I’m so sorry for myself that I’m not in LA to see your series. That sucks. Everyone in, around, near Los Angeles, The excellent brain and talent Nick Toti is curating a film series at the great Poetic Research Bureau, and his next entry is tonight. If you’re there, go go go. Seriously. Here’s Nick to tell you about it. Nick: ‘This Saturday night, 951 Chung King Road once again opens its doors and lends its venue to a new screening series programmed by Nick Toti. This installment will feature the U.S. premiere of ‘the greatest movie that never should have been made by the greatest filmmaker you’ve never heard of’: Zachary Oberzan’s The Great Pretender. The Great Pretender could be conveniently described as an unauthorized remake of Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-up, but it is actually much, much more than that: an examination of the absurdities of fame and creativity, a concert by an Elvis impersonator, and a guided meditation through the dark corner’s of Oberzan’s neuroses. It is the type of movie that descriptions can do no justice, so come witness it for yourself!’ Here’s all the info you need.. I hope it goes great and no doubt! ** Okay. Partly instigated by Colorado’s recent legalising of magic mushrooms, I have hauled this weekend’s old post out of the graveyard for you. Parts are a bit out of date, but hopefully its charm, etc. are still relatively in tact. See you on Monday.

Walerian Borowczyk Day


‘Master craftsman, Dadaist prankster, and unrepentant sensualist, Walerian Borowczyk and his films have yet to be both fully discovered and appreciated. Born in Poland during the 1920s, Borowczyk trained as a painter and sculptor before establishing himself first as a poster artist and later an animation filmmaker. Having relocated to France during the late 1950s, Borowczyk produced a succession of startling, often comic short films that were as innovative as they were provocative. When Borowczyk made the transition to feature films, he joined the ranks of the titans of world cinema.

‘Not only was Borowczyk a trailblazer for fine artists working in film but he also brought a keen, painterly eye to framing and editing objects, animals, and bodies. Expertly marrying film to both classical and electronic music, Borowczyk’s approach to cinema harked back to the silent days (Méliès, Keaton, Eisenstein) and even pre-cinema (Muybridge, chrono-photography, and zoetropes). From the outset, Borowczyk favored both fantasy and eroticism, tendencies in his work that became more pronounced with the relaxation of censorship. A sense of earthy humor masks a distinctly moral sensibility, eager to satirize the corruption of institutions, whether they be feudal, clerical, or bureaucratic.

‘Margolit Fox, in her 2006 New York Times obituary, wrote of Borowczyk that he was “described variously by critics as a genius, a pornographer and a genius who also happened to be a pornographer.” The problem with this assessment is that even at its most sexually explicit, and be warned, the work could get very sexually explicit indeed, Borowczyk never betrays a desire to arouse. His most notorious film, 1975’s The Beast, opens with a scene of unsimulated horse-mating, and ends with a dream sequence in which a maiden is ravished, in a variety of ways and positions, by a man-beast with a massive and rather silly-looking tool of reproduction that keeps spouting…well, you get the idea. I can’t imagine a human being finding such stuff genuinely stimulating in the way that pornography itself actually has to intend in order for it to be pornography (and no jokes about Comic-Con attendees and their predilections, please). So if Borowczyk’s not a pornographer, what is he?

‘Arguably the most controversial aspect of Borowczyk’s filmography is his approach to women. While his gaze is undeniably male and unashamedly voyeuristic, Borowczyk’s heroines are far from shrinking violets, often ready to toss off their corsets and use their sexuality as a means of transcending social constraints, while the men are left dithering between conflicting desires for physical gratification and public respectability. If Borowczyk’s erotic obsessions rendered him a marginal figure in the history books, then it is high time to reevaluate this remarkable artist’s major contribution to cinema.’ — collaged





Walerian Borowczyk @ IMDb
‘The Walerian Borowczyk Collection’
‘Object Lessons: The Films of Walerian Borowczyk’
‘Walerian Borowczyk by Way of Daniel Bird’
WB @ Mondo Digital
Obituary: Walerian Borowczyk
‘Walerian Borowczyk: The Motion Demon’
‘Movies Directed by Walerian Borowczyk: Best to Worst’
‘Installation view of Walerian Borowczyk: The Right to Be Forgotten’
‘Walerian Borowczyk’s Heroines of Desire’
‘Walerian Borowczyk: The Listening Eye’
Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection # The Criterion Forum
‘The Artistry of Walerian Borowczyk’
‘The Ghost of Goto: Walerian Borowczyk Remembered’
‘The erotic fables of Walerian Borowczyk: A ’70s art-porn pioneer rediscovered’
‘Erotica and Subversion: The Films of Walerian Borowczyk’
‘Eastern European Animation Department — Renaissance (Walerian Borowczyk, 1963)’
‘Walerian Borowczyk: Nature or Culture?’
‘A Guide to the films of Walerian Borowczyk’



Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk (trailer)

Obscure Pleasures: The Films of Walerian Borowczyk (trailer)

Daniel Bird introduces his new documentary on Walerian Borowczyk

Table Ronde autour de Walerian Borowczyk


(with Daniel Bird)


The main crux of your documentary film OBSCURE PLEASURES: A PORTRAIT OF WALERIAN BOROWCZYK (2013) is an interview Borowczyk gave in 1984. What was the original context for this interview, how did you find it, and what were the steps you had to go through legally to be able to manipulate and use it to make a new film?

Daniel Bird: The original context of the interview was a program about the Annecy Film festival (directed by Keith Griffiths) which was part of the Visions TV series (produced by John Ellis) broadcast on Channel 4. Peter Hames, who has written extensively on Czech and Slovak Cinema, gave me a typescript of the full interview back in 1996. (Peter was the programmer of my local Film Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, where I first got to see Borowczyk’s short films, along with those of Lenica and Svankmajer). As is usually the case, only a tiny fragment of the interview was used in the program. Nevertheless, I think it is a unique document in that it is one of the few instances where Borowczyk is on camera answering a variety of questions about animation, the graphic arts, ‘Polishness’ and sex. I thought it would be a good idea to edit the rushes into a rounded portrait. John kindly gave me permission to access the rushes from the BFI National Film Archive and I had them transferred.

How much of the original interview was used, and to what extent was the line of questioning re-organized? I ask because when talking about animation, he is seated, comfortable, leaning on a table, whereas when he is asked about his erotic films, he is standing, in a more exposed fashion, against a white wall, and the questions take on an accusatory tone. It almost seems like a different interview because there is such a sharp contrast tonally and visually.

DB: First, it is important to say something about the context in which I edited the film. During the last couple of years I have been working on a project involving the digital transfer and restoration of Borowczyk’s short films and early features. These transfers have been financed by Arrow Films, with support from the Polish Cultural Institute in London with additional support from contributors to a Kickstarter campaign. From the outset, these restorations were envisaged as part of a box-set of Blu-rays and DVDs. While I think both IMMORAL TALES and THE BEAST are wonderful, I was concerned that they would overshadow Borowczyk’s early films, particularly the shorts. Therefore, Michael Brooke (with whom I co-produced the series) and I, set about devising supplementary features as well as a book designed to re-introduce Borowczyk, so to speak. It is not the case that Borowczyk’s films can be divided up into ‘animations’ and ‘sex films’ – these are just different facets of the same artist. This ‘portrait’ of Borowczyk is just one of the supplementary features designed to put forward the case. For me, it was essential to provide a platform for Borowczyk to talk about his films himself. To answer your question, In terms of how much of the interview was used, I would say about eighty percent. Besides the discussion of Annecy, the only section which was not used was a passage about computer animation. While fascinating in itself, it just didn’t fit. About the set up of the interview, I do not know why the questions about sex were filmed the way that they were. That said, I quite like the abrupt shift. To focus on the sexual aspect of Borowczyk is a bit like focusing on violence in Peckinpah’s cinema – yes, it is what made him infamous, but it was not just what he was about.

In the interview, Borowczyk claims to not really be influenced by much Polish art. To what extent do you believe this is the case? Both of them seem to say there is no surrealist tradition in Poland, that the art is more folkloric or pastoral, but if you look at the graphic arts from at least the 1960s onward – the famous Polish posters – that obviously seems to be untrue.

DB: I don’t think he was being deliberately evasive. There is a tendency to shoehorn artists into the traditions of their own country. Of course, these are influences, but they are not the only influences. Borowczyk, for example, trained in the post-impressionist style, and his satirical drawings are clearly influenced not so much by socialist realism as Daumier. Also, John Heartfield’s photo-montage clearly plays a role in some of his posters, as does Max Ernst. Norman McLaren is an obvious influence on his early films with Lenica, and, as I have already mentioned, Léger had a strong presence in Polish art during the mid 1950s. Borowczyk is right in saying that there is no formal surrealist tradition in Poland, like there was in Czechoslovakia. However, Polish art is often surrealistic. Witkacy, Schulz and Gombrowicz are the names which are the most important in this respect. Of course, Poland arguably had the strongest tradition of posters in Eastern Europe during the late 1950s and 1960s, however, I think the posters from all Eastern Bloc countries are very strong during this period. I think this was the result of three factors. First, the relative freedom of the ‘thaw’ period, second, an economic poverty which resulted in an aesthetics of poverty (not just in posters, but also films and theatre), and third, that these artists were not trained as graphic designers, but painters – they were familiar with not just the surrealists, but all sorts of other ‘-ists’. Borowczyk did, however, feel comfortable being associated with surrealism in France. He regularly adapted the work of Pieyre de Mandiargues, for example, and made a film about the Serbian painter, Ljuba (L’AMOUR MONSTER DE TOUS LES TEMPS – see video below). It is also worth remembering that the word, surrealism, was coined by Apollinaire, who was of Polish decent.

How are Borowczyk’s films looked upon in Poland, and has that changed over time?

DB: Traditionally, I think he was valued by his peers – painters like Jan Tarasin and Jerzy Tchórzewski, the Różewicz brothers, writers like Mrożek, critics like Kałużyński. However, most critics deemed him as the less talented half of the Borowczyk-Lenica pairing – to the point where they started describing their films together as Lenica-Borowczyk – which is just wrong. That’s not how their names are credited on the films, Lenica himself acknowledged that Borowczyk was proposed the initial ideas for many of their films together. And, let’s face it, I love Lenica’s graphics and films, but he is very much indebted to Saul Steinberg. In short, I think he was a great poster designer, but ultimately Borowczyk is, for me, a more original artist. Today, things are changing. A new generation of critics are rediscovering Borowczyk afresh – Michał Oleszczyk, Kuba Mikurda, Kamila Kuc – there are new books of essays and documentary films underway. Officially, however, he is still something of an outlaw. Poland, remember, is a Catholic, conservative country.


14 of Walerian Borowczyk’s 45 films

w/ Jan Lenica Dom (1958)
‘Borowczyk, who was commonly known as ‘Boro’, was a self-obsessed megalomaniac who never ceased to hold a grudge against his native Poland, which he left in 1958 after his sensational success at the Brussels Expo 58, where he won the international competition with Dom (House, 1958) – the stupendous, Surrealist animation he made in collaboration with his fellow graphic designer Jan Lenica (the soundtrack is by Wlodzimierz Kotoński, of the PRES electronic studio). The film’s combination of uncanny, sardonic humour, mastery of collage technology and its combination of realism, retro and the abstract made it look unlike anything before or since.’ — Frieze


the entire film


Renaissance (1963)
‘Another strange but surreal animated film from Borowczyk starts off in the dark when it quickly turns to light and we see what appears to be a room with nothing but destroyed items in it. Soon the items begin to morph themselves back to what they originally were. Here’s another winner from the director who brings his strange but imaginative views to the animation world. Having seen a number of his softcore flicks I can’t believe some would rather watch those lazy films when it’s obvious the director had a great mind to work with. This movie is really a lot of fun because it allows the viewer to try and guess what items are being formed while all the visuals are going on. I must admit that I didn’t guess a single one but the greatest scene for me is when the screen goes black and we see some sort of drawing, which really isn’t a drawing as it turns out to reveal something else.’ — Michael_Elliott, imdB

the entire film


Théâtre de Monsieur & Madame Kabal (1967)
Mr. and Mrs. Kabal’s Theatre (Théâtre de Monsieur & Madame Kabal) is a 1967 French animated film directed by Walerian Borowczyk. It is Borowczyk’s first feature-length film and his last animated film. It consists of a sequence of loosely connected scenes, much like a vaudeville program, in which Mr. and Mrs. Kabal perform absurd, surreal, and sometimes cruel acts. A mixture of cut-out and drawn animation is used, but also clippings of old illustrations and photographs and even a processed live-action appearance by the director himself. Most images are black-and-white, with only the occasional coloured element. The sound design adds a lot to the surreal atmosphere. Mrs. Kabal speaks in an illegible collage of cut-up human sounds, sometimes translated into subtitles. The film won the Interfilm Award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival in 1967.’ — collaged

the entire film


Goto, Island of Love (1968)
Goto: Island Of Love is a very surreal film based on a small island called Goto, where all inhabitants live under the dictatorship of Goto III (Pierre Brasseur – The Girl From The Dead Sea, The Return Of Monte Critso). Goto III is married to the beautiful Glyssia (Ligia Branice – Winter Twilight, Behind Convent Walls) who manages to save a man from execution (Grozo played by Guy Saint-Jean) by letting him fight in a gladitorial fight to the death. After Grozo defeats his opponent, Glyssia has her husband give him a job as the Island’s dog walker and fly catcher (yes, you read it correctly). Little do Goto and Glyssia know however, is that Grozo has plans to take over the throne of the island and make Glyssia his wife. The film, although containing a small amount of nudity, gives us an insight into the films that were to come from Borowczyk.’ — letterbox.com

the entire film


Blanche (1971)
Blanche is set in 13th-century France where Michel Simon, who must have been well over 80 at the time, plays an almost senile baron with a simple but beautiful young wife (Branice) who everyone, including the King, lusts after. There is a lecherous page and a handsome but rather vacant lover too, and the film is a kind of fairytale dance of death where tragedy is probable, even if a happy outcome isn’t entirely out of the question. Almost the whole film takes place in the Baron’s castle, where the king comes to stay. And its winding stone staircases, gloomy corridors and rooms full of bizarre decor and mechanical devices are as important as any characters in the film. Once again, every tiny detail is made to count double.’ — The Guardian

the entire film


The Beast (1975)
‘As I was not particularly enchanted with Borowczyk’s Immoral Tales, it came as little surprise to discover that the bulk of what worked least in The Beast came from that – an extended dream sequence in which a young aristocratic woman is raped, then pleasured by the titular animal who pours over her what could only be described as gallons of semen. In the booklet accompanying this release, Arrow producer Daniel Bird and film critic David Thompson argue persuasively that the exaggeration of the Beast’s physicality (never mind the utter fakeness of the costume) indicate that the film in general, and this sequence in particular, are meant to be viewed as comedy. I buy it, but I can’t say I was laughing. I’m just a man, standing in front of his readers, admitting that I totally have my limits and that semen humor isn’t for everybody. Nor, really, should it be.’ — Criterion Cast


Walerian Borowczyk’s The Beast (La Bete) Unboxing


La marge (1976)
‘LA MARGE is one of the oddest films in the legendary Borwoczyk’s filmography. The great master would typically deal in period pieces for his live action epics, but LA MARGE is very much of the time it was made in. I would say that as much as any other film from the seventies, that it belongs to the decade. Everything from the clothes to the music, to the look and attitude makes LA MARGE one of the quintessential features of the 1970’s and, to my eyes, one of the best. … LA MARGE, in a way, can be viewed as Borowczyk’s last effort to really score a hit with an almost mainstream film. It was based on a well known novel by Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues (whose work Borowczyk would film five times), it would be scored with some of the seventies biggest musical acts (including 10CC, Elton John and Pink Floyd) and it would star an actress who two years before had become the biggest box office draw in French cinema, Sylvia Kristel.’ — Jeremy Richey



La Marge ending clip


L’amour monstre de tous les temps (1977)
L’Amour monstre d tous les temps (The Greatest Love of All Times, continues Borowczyk’s flirtations with minimalist documentary focusing on erotica. These films come off more like preliminary visual notes for future films of greater significance, not as complete documentaries or short subjects. This one’s a portrait of Serbia’s erotic surrealist painter Popovic Ljuba, with Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser on the sound track. Coming to it with an interest in independent cinema per se, it is not much of a film, but as an introduction to an artist I previously knew nothing about, it did awaken curiosity.’ — Weird Wild Realm

the entire film


Immoral Women (1979)
‘Borowczyk presents three separate stories centered on beautiful women and how sex changes their lives for the better or for the worse, and unfortunately the quality between the three fluctuates wildly. The second story, “Marceline”, is by far the best and most intriguing of the trio. Marceline, a young French teenager from a well-to-do family, is a free spirit, enjoying frolicking in the beauty of nature with her pet bunny, Pinky. As she explores her budding sexuality on her lush and spacious green lawn, Pinky nuzzles into her nether regions as she reaches orgasm. She professes her undying love for her fuzzy companion, but soon finds that her parents don’t approve of all the time she spends with Pinky. To give away more would be criminal, but there are plenty of surprises and startling violence and sex (as well as more male nudity) before our story ends. “Marceline” is the reason IMMORAL WOMEN gets one of my highest recommendations. It is a strange and distinctly European mix of beauty, emotion, violence, and sexuality; even by itself, out of the context of an anthology film, it is one of Borowczyk’s greatest accomplishments. It is anchored by an endearing leading lady, Gaelle Legrand. Burdened with an unfortunate frizzy hairdo a la Little Orphan Annie, she’s no Marina Pierro, but who is? With a lovely figure, piercing blue eyes, and pouting beauty, she resembles a 1970s variant of Helena Bonham Carter, and gives a wonderful performance. The beautifully composed and photographed “love scene” between Marceline and Pinky is the most erotic sequence in the film, which may surprise some viewers.’ — dvddrive-in.com



Lulu (1980)
Lulu tracks the rise and fall of a beguiling dancer whose sexuality is tied directly to her fortunes. The titular nymph-like seductress flits from romance to romance, strategically positioning herself for social and financial gain. Each of her lovers embodies a Victorian archetype, from the old professor showing off what would now be called a “trophy wife” to the bohemian artist to the bourgeois newspaperman to the naive young man. Borowczyk’s adaptation of Wedekind’s melodramas emphasizes the satirical nature of the story, skewering upper middle class attitudes towards sexual relationships. And believe you me, this is HIGH melodrama, folks! Lulu’s story is sketched out in a series of five scenes, each highlighting one of her relationships. After her first husband suffers a heart attack while walking in on her lovemaking with a young artist hired to paint her portrait, Lulu inherits his fortune. She doesn’t dispense with her philandering ways after marrying the artist, however, and her relentless–to say nothing of ENTIRELY SHAMELESS–affairs lead to the artist’s suicide. Her performing star continues to rise, and she effectively blackmails a successful newspaper owner into marrying her, but she kills him after an emotional confrontation over the fact that she’s sleeping with his son. From here, the unwitting murderess is forced to live in squalor and sell her body to support herself, leading to her death at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Yes, I know–it’s pretty much four seasons of Falcon Crest jammed into ninety-five minutes of film. This stop-and-start structure mimics a stage production very effectively, and Borowczyk’s frank camerawork evokes the experience of watching a theatrical piece, to the point where some shots are partially obscured by columns, doors, or screens. The period setting is deftly handled by the director, featuring highly detailed sets and thoroughly researched costumes. While not as bombastic as the also-Period-Piece Dr. Jekyll and his Women, which would follow in 1981, there’s an exploration of similar themes using a similar set-up of familiar literary/cinematic source material.’ — Love Train

the entire film


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (1981)
Dr. Jekyll and His Women is Walerian Borowczyk’s sexed-up interpretation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella. Amping up the story’s existing criticism of Victorian morality to ELEVEN, Borowczyk creates an explicit nightmare world where sublimated passions destroy anything and anyone unfortunate enough to get in their path. Udo Kier stars as Dr. Henry Jekyll and is supported by a fabulous cast of genre veterans that includes Howard Vernon (who played Dr. Orlof along with approximately a million other fantastic roles), Marina Pierro (who was so plush and lovely in Borowczyk’s “Behind Convent Walls”), and Gérard Zalcberg (already beloved of the Empire as mute henchman Gordon in “Faceless”). The film’s structure is similar to that of Borowczyk’s infamous erotic mindfuck The Beast (yes, the one where the woman has sex with the bear-monster)–it’s established that all the characters are screwed up, there’s an escalating outburst of sexual violence, and ultimately a tragic ending underscoring themes of destruction and dissolution.’ — Love Train

the entire film



Scherzo Infernal (1984)
‘A harshly sensual world in the fiery inferno of Hell. Big-breasted tailed demoness & demons whose tails are phalluses strut, rut, reproduce, nurse, & generally show off amindst the flames. An angelic prostitute confronts God. All voices, male or female, are done by Yves Robert in his own voice, which has a disturbing effect all its own.’ — Weird Wild Realm

the entire film


Emmanuelle 5 (1987)
‘First Emmanuelle film to not star Sylvia Kristel. Basic storyline is that Emmanuelle is at the Cannes Film Festival (advertising her new film) and has to run away from a bunch of reporters who strip her naked (?), leaving her running along the road in the nude. She then dives onto a boat and runs off with the captain to a fictional Arabic country. Once there she meets the countries dictator, who wants her to join his harem. She escapes and all hell breaks loose. I was actually quite surprised how good and how well made this film was. All the rest before it weren’t much good. 4 being terrible. Very surprised. Definately has it’s tongue in it’s cheek. Brilliant soundtrack. A reworking of the original “Emmanuelle Theme” is in there, all 80s up. Sounds amazing.’ — letterboxd.com



Love Rites (1987)
‘The final feature by the great Walerian Borowczyk, who delivered a uniquely spare and poetic–and obnoxiously uneventful–erotic reverie with extremely dark overtones that erupt in the horrific final scenes. Where the film is most intriguing is in the sensuous and detailed imagery of Walerian Borowczyk, who can always be counted on to come up with something visually arresting (such as a seduction sequence viewed entirely through outside windows), even when not much is happening onscreen (which in this film is unfortunately quite often). This is especially true in the unforgettable climax, when Miriam slashes Hugo with her claws. The sequence is a triumph of surreal grotesquerie, mixing beauty and horror in a manner that recalls Borowczyk’s masterpiece DR. JEKYLL AND HIS WOMEN.’ — fright.com


Rent/watch the film on Vimeo




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Whenever I remember anything of my dreams, which is rare, and when real people feature in them, who is actually alive or dead IRL seems to be a non-issue, which is beautiful obviously. ** Sypha, Hi. Yeah, I’m that way about fights and battling in video games. It just feels like a pointless time waster. I’m not a competitive person in real life, and being forced to be one and care about being tougher than some rendered entity in order to advance in an otherwise pleasant fake world is just boring to me. ‘Chairs Missing’ is probably my favorite Wire album. That and ‘Send’. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yeah, I do know about National Enquirer Live! I don’t know that I would contextualise it as a theme park. It seems more like a controversy-baiting, more tech-utilising equivalent of a Ripleys Believe-It-Or-Not Museum, but yeah. I’d check it out. ** Misanthrope, I agree! Kayla will probably like listening to ‘Crowd’s’ score if nothing else, yeah. I like Taco Bell for some reason. Eating its shit, I mean. Once in a while. I just read somewhere that it’s the ‘healthiest’ fast food chain, don’t know why. None of which makes it more interesting to work there, I guess. LPS seems like one of those workers who would spit in people’s food? No? I think I read one Ian McEwan book in, like, the 1980s, and I don’t remember it. I think he might be too ‘literary’ for me, but I should find out, I guess. ** Steve Erickson, Interesting Tyler review, props. I have not seen ‘Diamantino’. Is there a reason I should? Curious to see what gets the Palme d’Or tomorrow. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus guess. I guess the Malick and Tarantino are high in the running. ** Corey Heiferman, I have played a stretch of WarioWare, and, yes, I do really like it. My favorites are games that mix ‘puzzle/strategy’ with adventure, but, yeah, WW is big fun and looks gorgeous. You like it? ** Okay. I don’t know many people out there know the films of Walerian Borowczyk. I’m guessing not a huge number? In any case, his work is something very good to know about and experience, so I set up this post, and now I’ll leave you to it. See you tomorrow.

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