Sunday, April 09, 2006


Mad Genius of Movies

With his latest film -- Cigarette Burns -- director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) explores the hypnotic power of extraordinary movies to invade our souls. Carpenter has gone down this road before, but the last time he traveled it -- with his fim In the Mouth of Madness -- the subject was Stephen King style books. Now available on DVD, Cigarette Burns (which refers to the visual cue, seen on a movie screen, to remind a projectionist to change the reel), is Carpenter's entry into the "Masters of Horror" film series -- which also includes works from Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Dario Argento (Suspiria), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Joe Dante (The Howling), Mick Garris (The Stand) and Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator). The story is reminiscent of both 8MM and (oddly enough) the documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession. As in both of those films, Cigarette Burns tells the tale of one man's journey to find a rare film, and how it drives him to the brink of madness. In this case, the film is La fin absolue du monde (The Absolute End of the World), a legendary motion picture so infamous, every viewing of it has ended in chaos and murder. Carpenter has directed Cigarette Burns -- his best film in decades -- with all of his visual signatures in place, and then some. The film is a true cinephile's delight, which relishes (albeit in Grand Guignol fashion) the value, the mystery, and the excitement of discovering a lost work of cinema -- as well as the anticipation and the sometimes obsessive need to view it.

I must tip my hat to you for your powers of persuasion. I am going to make a point of seeing a John Carpenter film. Those are words I never thought I'd say.
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