Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's (Classic) Ways Not To Die


Today is the 4oth anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock's film Frenzy. It was Hitch's second to last film - penultimate, you might say! His beloved wife Alma suffered a stroke during the making of the movie, but she would still outlive Hitch by a full two years. In 1976 he would make his final film the comic crime caper Family Plot, before dying in 1980.

Frenzy was a modest success and was seen by many to ba a return to form after his previous two films, Topaz and Torn Curtain, were generally met with shrugs. Michael Caine turned down the role of the bad guy because he didn't want to be associated with such a "disgusting" character. Can't say I blame him.

So anyway in its honor here's a "classic" Ways Not To Die (i.e. I'm being lazy and reposting something old instead of making something new) from March of last year from the film.

Happy 40, Frenzy!

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.

See the rest after the jump!

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?

Frenzy (1972)

Previous Ways Not To Die: Staring Contest of the Dead -- Satanic Self Sacrifice -- Fist and Fortune -- Psychedelic Penis Slice To Window Toss -- For Crimes Against Accent -- Sacked -- Speed Bumped For Traffic Spikes -- Shark Versus Jet-Ski -- Hot Oil Treatment -- Tucked In By Jason -- Just A Pair of Snowbodies -- Poison Pellet Kibble Swap -- Dolly Disassembled -- Fire Escape Fall Out -- Unbuggered -- Tell 'Em Large Marge Sent'cha -- Blue Man Gooped -- Tongue Stung -- Now Wouldn't Cha, Barracuda? -- Leaving on a Rat Plane -- Panthers! -- Fashion Faux-Pwned -- "It's Just A Box." -- Blasted Pigeons -- Taunting Ahnuld -- The Too Hot Tub -- Beyond the Veil -- Sunken Prayers-- Super Crack -- Brains Blown -- Fur For The Boogens -- White Hot Bunny Rabbit Rage --Dragged To Hell -- The TV Van That Dripped Blood -- Don't Mess With Mama -- Heads Ahoy --Martyred For Sheep -- Heads Nor Tails -- He Loves Me Knot -- 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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank You! You've nailed the problem I've always had with this film. For a "wrong man" scenario to work the way Hitchcock usually played it, the audience has to root for the hero somehow. Hitchcock toyed with this convention in 1957's "The Wrong Man" by making the lead creepy and suspicious, but was shrewd enough to give the role to the always watchable Henry Fonda. Jon Finch in "Frenzy" is no Fonda (not even Jane). And the character Blaney is such a self-pitying jerk, doing stupid things up to the very last scene, that his plight becomes annoying. The first time I saw this I was actually disappointed by the ending. I wanted to see Blaney go to the wall for being such a total loser.

"Frenzy" is still impressive with its bravura touches and kinky black humor, but the lack of a strong, engaging lead makes it fall short of classic Hitchcock, imo.

Oh, and thanks for the gruesome screenshots. I never noticed Barbara Leigh-Hunt wearing a cross in her death scene. Hitchcock's Catholic sense of guilt rearing its head again...