Thursday Feb 23, 2023
Thursday Feb 23, 2023
On this edition of Parallax Views, David Metcalfe, Santa Muerte researcher and Editor-in-Chief of Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies, joins us for a long, jam-packed discussion of the Morbid Anatomy online course he is teaching with Dr. Diana Pasulka entitled "Your Waking Nightmare: Exploring the UFO Through the Lens of Horror and Techno-Realism". The course will take a media studies approach that delves into understanding the phenomena of Unidentified Flying Object, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, by way of the themes explored in the horror genre. It will also feature guest speakers Amanda M. Radcliffe, the occult and ritual witchcraft advisor for the Nicolas Cage-starring H.P. Lovecraft movie The Color Out of Space, and Whitley Streiber, the world's most famous claimed alien abductee and a former horror author whose novels like The Hunger and Wolfen set him up to be a successor for Stephen King before he became famous in regards to the UFO/alien abduction subject.
This isn't necessarily a conversation about believing in the UFO phenomena or being skeptical of it, but rather what the horror genre can say about people who claim to have "paranormal" experiences and perhaps even what these experiencers can say about themes touched upon in horror that relate to philosophical and social issues.
Among the topics discussed in the course of this conversation:
- Whitley Streiber and his career as a horror author; his alien abduction memoir Communion (originally set to be titled, interestingly enough, Body Horror) and it's dealing with subject like the Self vs. the Other (and bridging the gap between the two); filmmaker Phillipe Mora's movie adaptation of Communion; Whitley Streiber and psychological/physical trauma; Whitley Streiber's relationship with William S. Burroughs
- UFO researcher Jacques Vallee and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Valle served as the basis for the Francois Truffaut character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind; creatives who don't necessarily believe in the UFO phenomena taking an interest in the subject
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as it was released) and it's invocation of astrology ("Saturn in Retrograde) that arguably adds a cosmic horror element to the story
- The horror genre and catharsis; David's college horror binge that included a diet of Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, and movies like Wes Craven's Last House on the Left (and why David pulled back on watching those movies before returning to them for the course)
- Lucio Fulci's The Beyond, Don Coscarelli's Phantasm, and hell/other dimensions depicted in film; horror movies and ritual experience; Kenneth Anger's perspective on cinema
- The art of the jump scare; the visceral nature of the horror genre; the intersection between horror and comedy
- The Travis Walton alien abduction case and the movie depiction of it in the police-procedural-turned-full-on-horror-in-the-third-act Fire in the Sky; the depiction of alien abductions in cinema; intentional artificiality and theatricality in Phillipe Mora's Communion starring Christopher Walken as Whitley Streiber; Communion vs. Fire in the Sky and the ways in which Communion portrays the alien abduction experience in a stranger, harder-to-grasp way
- Lovecraft, the encounter with the unknown in horror, and the inability to adequately express/fully comprehend alleged anomalous experiences
- Clive Barker's 1987 cult classics Hellraiser, reframing the concept of the alien/extraterrestrial, and interdimensional beings; Alien amorality in Hellraiser; Cliver Barker's Cabal (later made into the movie Nightbreed) and sympathy for the Other; exploration of the anomalous rather than belief in the anomalous; the occult-tinged industrial music project Coil, led by Jhonn Balance and Peter Christopherson, and Hellraiser; Hellraiser, the BDSM underground, and the Barker's The Hellbound Heart as a dark fairytale/dark romance exploring what loves means and is
- The dark portrayal of psychology in Nightbreed, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
- The late psychiatrist Dr. John E. Mack, professor and the head of the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and his perspective on alien abductions; Mack's desire to understand the alien abduction through, among other things, Eastern spirituality; how John Mack's approach to alien abduction differs from other alien abduction believers such as Budd Hopkins or David Jacobs; how alien abductions and how they are understood in popular culture are forced in a a specific narrative to the preclusion of all else
- Different cultural perspectives on UFOs: Christian evangelical and charismatic Christianity narratives about UFOs; Islam and exorcisms; Muslims who believe UFOs can be warded off by the Koran; the use of exorcism in the Santa Muerte tradition; occult rocket scientist Jack Parson, occultist Aleister Crowley, Parsons' love Marjorie Cameron's UFO experience (interestingly, Cameron appeared in a Kenneth Anger movie), and the Aeon of Horus
- Albert K. Bender, the first notable case of someone who claims to have had Men in Black encounters, and his interest in the horror genre and pop occultism
- Demonic possession narratives; The Exorcist; charismatic Christians and Pentecostals in relation to exorcisms; grocery store grimoires and ritual magick's connection to the tradition of exorcism; exorcism in various religions; Catholicism and exorcism; the mediation of these topics in popular culture
- The concept of techno-realism; virtual worlds and virtual reality; David Cronenberg's eXistenz and the UFO experience; hallucination and reality in Nightmare on Elm Street 3; the real life inspiration for A Nightmare on Elm Street and parallels to the alien abduction experience
- Revulsion to the extraordinary and anomalous as well as longing for the extraordinary and anomalous in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and Hellraiser
- The media and anomalous experiences
- The Natalie Portman-starring adaptation of Jeff Vander Meer's weird fiction tale Annihilation; The Color Out of Space and the desire for experiences beyond the normal comprehension of existence; transcendental experience in The Color Out of Space; horror and union in The Color Out of Space; the ultimate other as both beautiful and horrifying; the Necronomicon and ritual magick
- Techno-realism and John Carpenter's They Live; parallels between They Live and Robert Anton Wilson's fnords in The Illuminatus Trilogy
- Tobe Hooper's Invaders from Mars remake; paranoia and fear in the films of Tobe Hooper; Tobe Hooper's Stephen King adaptation Salem's Lot and it's parallels to Invasion of the Body Snatcher and it's marketing as a vampire story; the character of Mr. Barlow in Salem's Lot; Tobe Hooper's apocalyptic alien vampire movie Lifeforce
- Druids, ritual witchcraft, synchronicity, and apocalypticism in Halloween III: Season of the Witch; the weirdness of John Carpenter's religious-apocalypse-meets-quantum-physics-meets-time-travelers-meets-aliens movie Prince of Darkness; Prince of Darkness's "broadcasts" which act as premonitions transmitted through the characters dreams
- The British horror anthology The House That Dripped Blood and why it will be taught in the course; Jacques Tourneur's Curse of the Demon and expectations around anomalous experiences
- Horror and philosophy; Eugene Thacker's In the Dust of This Planet; the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher and the eerie
- And more!
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