Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thursday's Ways Not To Die

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Why have I always disliked Frenzy so much?


I saw it for the first time in college, I was probably nineteen or so, and I hated it. I was gorging on Hitchcock's movies and loving them left and right but this one instantly made me feel... gross.


I saw the hints of Hitchcockian mastery peeking through and appreciated those for what they were, but surrounding them just seemed to be endless unattractive meanspiritedness.


I always felt that Hitchcock got slapped with misogyny more than he deserved, except with this movie. I characterized it as an ugly movie full of ugly people being ugly to each other.


The story goes that by the end of the 60s, with several unsuccessful films behind him, he'd been branded unhip in Hollywood and had been forced to go make movies in his native Britain again and he was miserable about it.


That whole "Tippi incident" probably wasn't helping.


Whatever the case, there is a real palpable sense of ick to Frenzy.


Whether it's this scene, or the one where a corpse's stiff fingers are graphically snapped - those of our leading lady, no less! - or just the fact that our leading man is such an uncharismatic, make that unlikeable, sot, Frenzy has a lot going against it.


But now I look at it more as a case of unmet expectations. You expect certain things from a Hitchcock movie. Pretty people in an exciting dangerous beautiful world.


He'd already upended that once with Psycho - no budget, cheap sets, no big movie stars except the one he stabs to death in the shower half an hour into the film.


Going through this scene now, which mind you retains a strong sense of the aforementioned ickiness, it seems to me that the classic sense of Hitchcock that I love is there.


The editing in is flawless - the way we're played right alongside poor Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt), thinking she's gonna be fine, then thinking she'll "just" be raped and then he'll let her go, and then understanding the full extent of it with horror.


Anyway now I feel closer to Frenzy than I used to. Or perhaps my morals have just crumbled to bits with time. Who knows?

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Previous Ways Not To Die: The Great Bouncing Brad -- Miss Kitty's 8 Mishaps -- Boat Smoosh -- Meeting the French-Tipped Menace -- A Magic Trick -- Slick Suck -- We Who Walk Here Walk Alone -- Raptor Bait -- Kneegasm'd -- Dare to Dream in Fincher -- Reach Out and Throttle Someone -- De-Faced -- Voluntary Drowning -- Cross Borne -- Pulled Up Hell's Sphincter -- An Arrow Up The Ass - The Numerous Violent Unbecomings of Olive Oyl -- Ack! Ack! Zap! -- Baby's First Acid Splash -- Chop, Drop and Sashimi Roll -- Forever Rafter -- Can't You Hear Me Now? -- Daisies Ways #5 - Harpoony Side Up -- Acid Dip -- On a Wing and a Prey -- For Standing in the Way of Sappho -- Busting Rule Number Three (For The Purpose of Number Two) -- Daisies #4 - Window Dressed To Killed -- Hands Off the Haas Orb -- Bullet Ballet -- A Single Vacancy at the Roach Motel -- A School Bus Slipped Thru The Ice -- Trache-AAHHHH!!!-tomy'd - For Mel Gibson's Sins -- A Wide Stanced Slashing --- Daisies Ways #3 - Scratch n' Snuffed -- The Victim of a Viscous Hit & Run -- Curled -- Kabobbed -- Daisies Ways #2 - Aggravated Cementia -- Boo! Nun! -- 2009's Ways Not To Die -- Bug Scratch Fever -- Daisies Ways #1 - Deep Fat Fried in My Own Unique Blend of 500 Herbs & Spices -- By the Yard End of the Stick -- Screwed From A Very Great Distance -- A Righteous Bear-Jew Beatdown -- Fisted By Hugo Sitglitz -- Xeno Morphed -- Fuck-Stuck -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 4 -- Lava Bombed -- The Cradle Will Rock... Your Face Off!!! -- The Food of the Nilbog Goblins -- The Slugs Is Gonna Gitcha -- Phone Shark -- Hide The Carrot -- Sarlacc Snacked -- Avada Kedavra!!! -- Hooked, Lined and Sinkered -- "The Libyans!" -- Axe Me No Questions -- Pin the Chainsaw on the Prostitute -- The Wrath of the Crystal Unicorn -- The Ultimate Extreme Make-Over -- Drown In A Sink Before The Opening Credits Even Roll -- The Dog Who Knew Too Much -- Don't Die Over Spilled Milk -- Inviting the Wrath of Aguirre -- An Inconceivable Outwitting -- The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique -- Nipple Injected Blue Junk -- Your Pick Of The Deadly Six -- Thing Hungry -- Don't Fuck With The Serial Killer's Daughter -- DO Forget To Add The Fabric Softener -- Any Of The Ways Depicted In This Masterpiece Of Lost Cinema -- Rode Down In The Friscalating Dusklight -- Good Morning, Sunshine! -- Mornin' Cuppa Drano -- The Cylon-Engineered Apocalypse -- Tender-Eye-zed -- Martian Atmospheric Asphyxiation -- Maimed By A Mystical Person-Cat -- The Sheets Are Not To Be Trusted -- Handicapable Face-Hacked -- I Did It For You, Faramir -- Summertime In The Park... Of A Pedophile's Mind -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 3 -- Strung Up With Festive Holiday Bulbs By Santa Claus Himself -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 2 -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 1 -- Decapitated Plucked Broiled & Sliced -- Head On A Stick! -- A Trip To The Ol' Wood-Chipper -- Pointed By The T-1000 -- Sucking Face With Freddy Krueger -- A Pen-Full Of Home-Brewed Speed to The Eye -- Motivational Speech, Interrupted -- A Freak Ephemera Storm -- When Ya Gotta Go... Ya Gotta Go -- Hoisted By Your Own Hand Grenade -- Having The Years Suction-Cupped Away -- Criss-Cross -- Turned Into A Person-Cocoon By The Touch Of A Little Girl's Mirror Doppleganger -- Satisfying Society's "Pop Princess" Blood-Lust -- Done In By The Doggie Door -- Tuned Out -- Taking the 107th Step -- Rescuing Gretchen -- Incinerated By Lousy Dialogue -- Starred & Striped Forever -- Vivisection Via Vaginally-Minded Barbed-Wire -- Chompers (Down There) -- Run Down By M. Night Shyamalan -- Everything Up To And Including The Kitchen Toaster -- Sacrificed To Kali -- Via The Gargantuan Venom Of The Black Mamba Snake -- Turned Into An Evil Robot -- The Out-Of-Nowhere Careening Vehicle Splat -- "Oh My God... It's Dip!!!" -- Critter Balled -- Stuff'd -- A Hot-Air Balloon Ride... Straight To Hell!!! -- Puppy Betrayal -- High-Heeled By A Girlfriend Impersonator -- Flip-Top Beheaded -- Because I'm Too Goddamned Beautiful To Live -- By Choosing... Poorly... -- Fried Alive Due To Baby Ingenuity -- A Good Old-Fashioned Tentacle Smothering -- Eepa! Eepa! -- Gremlins Ate My Stairlift -- An Icicle Thru The Eye -- Face Carved Off By Ghost Doctor After Lesbian Tryst With Zombie Women -- Electrocuted By Fallen Power-Lines -- A Mouthful Of Flare -- Taken By The TV Lady -- Bitten By A Zombie -- Eaten By Your Mattress -- Stuffed To Splitting -- Face Stuck In Liquid Nitrogen -- Crushed By Crumbling Church Debris -- Bitten By The Jaws Of Life -- A Machete To The Crotch -- Showering With A Chain-Saw -- In A Room Filled With Razor Wire -- Pod People'd With Your Dog -- Force-Fed Art -- Skinned By A Witch -- Beaten With An Oar -- Curbed -- Cape Malfunction -- In The Corner -- Cooked In A Tanning Bed -- Diced -- Punched Through The Head -- Bugs Sucking On Your Head
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4 comments:

Adam said...

Haha, I got the only B on a film class exam because I wrote a feminist critique of how Hitchcock only sexualizes the woman during this rape scene. It's a truly wacky scene.

Nick Bewsey said...

Great choice for Thursday WNTD, but interesting to see that Frenzy has "haunted" you since 5FF two weeks ago. Even though this movie was made back in the early 70's, maybe more time needs to elapse for "frenzy" to be re-discovered as a classic and one to be viewed anew. I can't say it's in my Top 10 Hitchcock, but it's undeniably a great film albeit far rougher than his other movies. BTW, it's interesting how few of your readers - at least those who tuned in today - have actually seen it. That's what I love about film: there's always one I missed and waits for me to discover!

Ms Scrappy said...

I know that icky feeling, I got it watching Maniac. That scene where he's choaking a woman and there's a POV of the victim with the titualar maniac's face twisted with rage. And then I thought that there are poor souls where that IS the last they see I just couldn't enjoy the movie at all.

Anonymous said...

It´s good to great Hitch, my fave scene is the one where we actually don´t see the murder-the camera tracks slowly down the stairs and out on the street. We all know what´s happening inside the house the camera just left but outside life just goes on...terrifying AND brilliant. I think that HItch in a way saw his chance to do a more graphic movie, maybe this was a way to become more "hip" but I do believe that his movies always pushed boundries and this was his next step in that "evolution".