Discussion of the 1987 sci film, “Cherry 2000” on The stark Truth podcast. The basis for the conversation was this 2014 review and the recent uptick in news stories regarding “sexbots” in the past few weeks. We talk about the film’s depiction of the (then) future and how the social themes relate to contemporary life.
I first saw The Wicker Man about 15 years ago when I rented a VHS copy from Blockbuster Video, in the hope that it might feature some 70’s nudity. I think I ended up fast forwarding through most of it, except briefly for that Britt Ekland seduction scene which ends disappointingly. So yeah, as far as erotic horror goes, it’s no Stormswept. However, in spite of having almost no interest in the plot of The Wicker Man at the time, I could not bring myself to fast forward through the final scene, which was genuinely disturbing.
Unlike a throwaway fun flick like “The Wraith” that you that you can watch like 50 times whenever you want some background ambiance, The Wicker Man is one of those movies you regret watching, not because it’s bad, but because it files a traumatizing memory image into your brain that can’t be unseen. I would have been happy to never see or think about this film ever again, but somehow I roped myself into rewatching parts of it and decided it was worth giving a few thoughts on.
The plot centers upon a Christian police sergeant who travels to a small Scottish island to investigate a case of a missing young girl. He soon discovers that the locals on the island have abandoned Christianity and are practicing a crude form of Celtic paganism. He is disturbed by their promiscuous behavior and what he perceives to be bizarre and superstitious activities (they utilize folk medicine like swallowing live toads to cure sore throats.) The people on the island make his investigation frustrating as they claim the girl he is looking for never existed. Eventually he locates the girl and saved her from a fate of being sacrificed as the “May Queen” (only she doesn’t appear to want to be saved.) The sergeant gets caught with her while trying to escape. He winds up being the sacrifice instead, and the film ends with him being burned alive in a giant Wicker Man, while the townsfolk joyously look on and sing “Sumer Is Icumen In.”
The leader of the island, “Lord Summerisle” (played by legendary actor Christopher Lee) resembles something of a neoreactionary figure. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, he manipulates the islanders into embracing traditional paganism (which he himself clearly doesn’t believe in) as a means to control them as well as to establish a harmoniously cohesive and functioning society. The island serves as a prototype for a mostly autonomous, rural “city state” which has deviated from modernity in favor of folklore and superstition. However, with people having wild orgies in graveyards, it is less prudish than the killjoy culture that “Little House on the Praireactionary” factions of neoreaction idealize. That being said, life on Pagan Island looks pretty groovy to me.
Anyway, near the end of the film when the police sergeant has been captured and is about to be sacrificed, he pleads with the villagers that their beliefs are a lie, and tries to convince them that sacrificing him to “their gods” won’t prevent the harvest from failing. The townspeople ignore his appeals to reason and gleefully carry out the sacrifice, burning him alive in a giant wicker man.
The irony is that for almost the entire duration of the event he is vocally professing the Christian afterlife beliefs, asserting that the Christian God he was brought up to believe in is the true one. As the flames slowly begin to engulf him, he desperately curses the islanders and recites Psalm 23, oblivious to the notion that his own prayers are no more or less likely to be answered.
What makes this film ultimately disturbing though is the way it mercilessly reveals the horror of being the odd man out among a mob of people swept up in groupthink. Regardless of what one believes, the viewer can relate the the movie to situations where they perceive themselves to be the rational individual caught in a world gone mad.
Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism
(this article originally appeared Nov 22, 2014 in Stepkid Magazine but has recently become relevant again)
One of the most prescient dystopian science fiction films of the 1980’s turned out to be the (direct to video?) 1987 movie, “Cherry 2000.”
The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot (Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.
With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.
Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks (which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)
Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games (such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.
In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.
Dust off your 1980’s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.
Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism
“I never seen so much wool. You could knit a sweater.”
So, on a nostalgic whim I decided to revisit the movie Porky’s (1981,) which I hadn’t seen since my childhood. Don’t ask me how I was ever allowed to watch this film as a kid. We had HBO in those days, and I was basically always off quietly doing my own thing by myself (when I was six I spent weeks attempting to build an airplane out of cardboard boxes and other random crap in the basement.) Anyhow, I pretty much watched whatever I wanted, and no one cared. It was the early 80’s after all…when toy machine guns still looked real and helicopter parenting hadn’t yet taken off.
Porky’s is a screwball coming of age teen comedy set in a 1950’s Florida town. I’m not going to write a full review here, but it’s another of those “80’s nostalgia for the 50’s” movies that were so prevalent at that time. The film basically chronicles the misadventures of a group of horny teenage guys. A lot of the gags haven’t really aged well, but there are a few memorable funny scenes if you can appreciate bottom of the barrel toilet humor. The movie also is notable for featuring a young Kim Cattrall in one of her sexiest roles.
The most annoying thing about this movie is the way they shoe horn in an unnecessary anti-racist subplot. The way it is done comes off as utterly forced. It’s also ironic in how in its anti-racist message it manages to reinforce stereotypes of Jews, Blacks and southern Whites by caricaturing pretty much every type of person in the most archetypal depiction possible. Even the “racist” teen in the film conforms to every cliche. Of course he couldn’t be “racist” because of something like noticing patterns of behavior that he perceives to appear disproportionately among certain groups or due to a string of unpleasant encounters or experiences when engaging with hostile people from other races. No, in the film, the character’s racism is a result of him being physically and verbally abused by his drunken white trash father. Give me a break. Even openly anti-white propaganda films like “American History X” at least made some effort to illustrate some of the legitimate concerns of whites that lead them down this path. Then again, Porky’s is not meant to be a serious film on any level, so it’s understandable but also kind of a boner killer that this was thrown in to an otherwise fun movie.
There is a significance to why I bring up the anti-racist subplot of Porky’s though. The director and writer of Porky’s, Bob Clark felt he needed to make a point to take a swipe at the bogeyman of racist southern white rednecks. Tragically, Clark and his son were killed by an illegal alien drunk driver in 2007 in California. The very sort of white nativist people he railed against as dangerous and misguided were the ones advocating the restrictive immigration policies that could have prevented his own child’s death (sounds familiar.)
Clark and his son, Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were killed in a head-on car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles on the morning of April 4, 2007. The crash occurred when an SUV crossed the median and struck Clark’s Infiniti I30, causing the closure of the highway for eight hours. Police determined that the SUV’s driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava, had a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit and was driving without a license. He initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, but changed his plea to no contest in August. On October 12, 2007, Velasquez-Nava was sentenced to six years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement. In addition, he may face deportation to his native Mexico, as he entered and was living in the United States illegally.
Wow, 6 years and he may face deportation. One wonders what it actually does take to get deported, if the above horrific crime only results in a maybe.
In Bob Clark’s quest to virtue signal and show he was “one of the good whites,” did he kill the wrong pig? Porky’s a fun throwback to both the 80’s and the 50’s. It spawned a couple of shitty sequels like Porky’s: The Next Day, and Porky’s Revenge. It’s a shame Clark never to see Porky’s Pathological Altruism, the final chapter he wrote for himself and his (our) descendants.
So I hadn’t seen Orca (1977) since it was on HBO sometime in the early to mid 80s. Even then I didn’t recall much of the plot (besides the obvious.) The only scene I really remembered is when the main character is trapped on the floating iceberg at the end, and the whale tilts it, sending the man sliding down it to his inevitable death.
I decided to revisit the film given that it was produced by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis (who also produced Death Wish) and directed by Michael Anderson, who had just previously directed one of my favorite films, Logan’s Run. Anderson would also later direct the eeirly watchable TV miniseries adaptation of The Martian Chronicles in 1980, which I also enjoyed. Given this, I went into watching Orca probably with higher expectations than most people would when they sit down to view a 70’s horror movie about a killer whale that attacks people.
I’ll spare you the suspense, and just tell you up front that this movie is not good. I was prepared going into re-seeing this film to possibly write about how it was much better than I remembered it, maybe even better than Jaws and an underappreciated classic…but it just isn’t any of those things. It is interesting though, which is partially what makes it so difficult to watch, because one can’t help but be dismayed by all the wasted potential (including a cast which boasts of such highly respected names as Richard Harris and Charlotte Rampling.) Charlotte you might recall was in the news recently when she was attacked by SJWs for stating the obvious about the lack of “diversity” at the 2016 Oscars .
The opening sequences and first 10-15 minutes or so are just beautiful, featuring an award winning musical score and leaving you with the impression you’re diving into a real artistic masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much downhill (way downhill) from there until the last 5 minutes of the movie when it gets good again. In fact, if you cut about an hour and a half out of Orca , and just made a film out of the first 15 minutes and the last 5, you’d have a damned good movie.
The plot is actually very similar to Death Wish, only this time it’s the killer whale who is the vigilante seeking revenge for the death of his wife and child, who were killed by a careless and emotionally troubled fisherman. The fisherman having lost his own wife and child in a car accident with a drunk driver, feels guilt as well as empathy for the whale. He wishes he could communicate how sorry he is, but the killer whale apparently isn’t interested in apologies and terrorizes him, his crew and the entire town out of vengeance. Orca is based on the novel of the same name (which I haven’t read,) by Arthur Herzog.
Since killer whales are highly intelligent, conceptually the plot isn’t all that implausible on the surface. It’s not a stretch to believe that the creature could harbor complex emotions and be able to carry out elaborate revenge scenarios. At least it’s more believable than a great white shark doing these things, like in the awful Jaws the Revenge (which was probably a ripoff of Orca come to think of it.) Cinematically, Orca actually reminds me a lot of Tentacles, an Italian horror film which also came out in 1977 featuring another great musical score and preposterous plot (this time with a giant Octopus terrorizing a beach community and a couple of friendly killer whales teaming up with man as the heroes who save the day.)
The problem with Orca though is that pushes the whale’s vengeance plot way past any point of believability, to the point of absurdity. If they had just kept it reasonable to where it was simply the story of an intelligent whale that was upset over the loss of its family and neurotically began attacking local people and seeking retribution on the fishing boat crew he recognized as being the culprits, it could have worked and been profound. However, what actually happens is the whale terrorizes the fisherman and the town with such precision and specificity that it just makes the whole premise(which was already implausible) utterly ridiculous. For example, the whale angrily sinks every boat in the harbor, except the fisherman responsible, supposedly to torment him and to indicate he wants to have a showdown with the man out at sea. The local townspeople and everyone seems to just know that’s what the whale wants. They presume to know what the whale is thinking. The whale even somehow knows what house the fisherman and his crew live in and he comes by and knocks it into the water. The film even contains the stereotypical wise and spiritually connected Indian/native man, there to instruct the fisherman what he must do. I suppose in 1977, the prophetic and mysterious Indian character may not have been a tired cliché yet. At a certain point in the film I gave up and no longer felt any sympathy for or connection to the characters. The movie becomes so outlandish and unreal that I just kind of detached from the story…almost.
“If he [the orca] is like a human, what he wants isn’t necessarily what he should have.” -Rachel
The ending though, is interesting. When Captain Nolan’s (the fisherman) wife and child were killed by the drunk driver, he just got really depressed. He didn’t really take any action. Because the whale is actively seeking revenge and on a grand scale, the Captain concludes that the whale loved his family more than the fisherman loved his own. Much like many humans, the whale ends up seeking a punishing revenge that’s excessive for what the crime against him warranted, while the captain wrongly assumed he and the whale might come to some kind of understanding and make peace. He hesitates when he has a clear chance to shoot the whale near the end. The compassionate gesture doesn’t appear to phase the whale, which proceeds to kill him mercilessly anyway.
The film ends with the Orca swimming beneath the thick arctic ice, unable to surface. Having swam out too far in committing his last act of revenge against the fisherman, the whale himself seems unlikely to survive the ordeal. Some have interpreted this as the whale possibly committing suicide. Perhaps though it’s illustrative of how when righteous vengeance is taken too far, it can wind up consuming and destroying oneself. The whale stubbornly insisted on getting more revenge than he was owed and paid the price.
Captain Nolan: Can you commit a sin against an animal?
Priest: Why, you can commit a sin against a blade of grass. Sins are really against oneself.
The plot device is ironically relatable to the film itself, which overextends its whale revenge premise such that it strains the capacity of viewers to take any part of Orca seriously as a movie. If it accomplishes one thing though, it’s that it makes us think about how we treat these creatures, not because they might hate us and become bloodthirsty murderous maniacs if we’re mean to them (they probably won’t…even when we deserve it,) but because they’re worthy of more respect and compassion than we tend to give them.