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Begotten - Theatre of Material Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Jay Creepy   
Wednesday, 20 February 2019


AKA: Zacet

Directed by: E. Elias Merhige
Written by: E. Elias Merhige
Produced by: E. Elias Merhige
Cinematography by: E. Elias Merhige
Editing by: Noelle Penraat
Music by: Evan Albam
Special Effects by: Harry Duggins, E. Elias Merhige, Dean Mercil
Cast: Donna Dempsey, Stephen Charles Barry, Brian Salzberg, James Gandia, Erik Slavin.
Year: 1990
Country: USA
Language: Silent
Color: B&W
Runtime: 1hr 12 mins

Studio: Theatre Of Material
Distributor: World Artists

Hold on! I mean, hold the fuck on! You know that assault in your mind by rampaging insects that dart around as you try and work out the jaw-dropping thing which you are witnessing? Well, maybe you don't but it happens to me sometimes.

I'm cursed within by a very emotional core which can simply erupt whenever I listen to music which truly smothers me and takes me, or a film when it makes me recoil back – not in a bad way, but in a “wow, I did not expect that!” category.

Begotten just floored me. I don't know anything about it yet, but I am writing this literally minutes in. I love experimental. I love intense visuals due to the array of experimental short movies I watched on badly re-recorded video tapes back in the ‘90s. Begotten, like a handful of similarly themed titles I have reviewed on Severed Cinema, just locked me moments in.

E. Elias Merhige, the man behind the slept on, Shadow of the Vampire (2000) plus some videos with Marilyn Manson, hit the world running in 1990 with this, his first full length... Jesus, is it a film? What can I call it? A barrage and assault of twisted but melancholy images.

To be honest, this will be a shorter than usual review for such a length, because I feel if I try and describe certain aspects of the visuals it will somehow take away that excitement (or endurance) of discovering for oneself just what is waiting for you, if you happen to liken artwork moving across the screen.

The whole thing is grainy and black and white. It feels as if you are peeping through some window into another realm, but with persistent noises from the sometimes Tangerine Dream ripping-off, to a clunking soundtrack, to a constant unearthly chirrup of crickets or something or other.

Beginning with the steady shot of a shack in the middle of the woods, we enter to discover what transpires as a God who is in the process of disembowelling themselves whilst choking on their own blood. Looking creepily similar to Severed Cinema's iconic model, Shaye St. John (check this review for a reminder), the God writhes in its wheelchair as it kills itself slowly.

It doesn't shy away from the fact that even for a God, this is bloody painful. The god has mass uncontrollable fits and shakes as it carves away and plunges its blade inside its belly. Finally motionless, animated and rolling clods of gore splash downwards to the lifeless feet. Out ventures the spirit of Mother Earth, masked and holding her breasts. She turns to the corpse and begins playing with its penis. She takes it and uses it to impregnate herself.

Out in the wilderness (this is where the old style footage concept is at its strongest viewing the outdoors), she walks around rubbing her stomach a while until giving birth to a soil coated man. This is a brilliant sequence, especially as he takes his first breath, sounding like a zombie straight out of Lucio Fulci's world 

Left to fend for himself in the dark on the ground, the Son of Earth is discovered by a group of passing cloaked folks who rattle pieces of junk about. In theme to the idea of birth and death witnessed so far, the mob drag him along as he still hyperventilates and chokes, on what could well be a very lengthy umbilical cord. Afterwards they lay him down to claim the huge globs of vomit which aren't dissimilar to sacks, from his mouth. From then on they are rather unkind to the poor fella.

Mother Earth finds him once they've grown maybe fed up of tormenting her Son, and she then drags him through the woods via that long umbilical cord thing. However, neither of them are about to find a happy ending as the scavengers follow...

You cannot enter this doorway having feasted on such simple and easily digestible meals as Eraserhead or, say Tetsuo. Even the timeless Un Chien Andalou is in a room down the corridor on a plate nearly empty. Befouled (see review here) could be a starter course, followed by some Kenneth Anger shorts just to mellow you out a wee bit. If these repel you in any way or form, then trust me, you won't stand a chance even ten minutes into Begotten. I suppose a close comparison to the style of filming has to be the early Cinema of Transgression period circa the ‘70s and early ‘80s -- that sense of a theatre group or gang of artistic people banding together to make a movie in a way they want to. Tell you what, watch this Marilyn Manson video which takes scenes out of Begotten... Feel ready?

Apparently it is loosely based and re-imagined as the story of Genesis, but there is far more religious symbolism than just that.

Stephen Charles Barry receives top Creepy respect for his portrayal of the ill-fated and badly treated, Son of Earth/ aka Flesh on Bone. He tirelessly wriggles, chokes, gags, writhes about, and thrashes throughout a vast majority of his screen time.

I suppose criticism could be launched (and has been by many) at the padded out length of certain chapters. For instance, the abuse piled upon Son of Earth by the group of scavengers at times almost had me wishing to fast forward a bit because it did drag. You have to be in the proper mood at the correct point in your life in order to experience this and see far into the murky pools, otherwise all you will see is absolute nonsense.

Try it for a moment or so, don't scene skip. If you cannot find any rational sense in what you see, then you aren't ready, so maybe wait for another time, and then try again.




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Vex 3  - Nice     | |2019-03-06 09:47:26
The article you have shared here very awesome. I really like and
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