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DAEMONIC DELIRIUM AND VOMIT FETISH: THE CINEMA OF FRANKLIN GOLDSTICK JR. by HARLEQUINADE

Although his 1994 feature, The Darkness and Bo Peep, is relatively well known on the festival circuit, with a Jake Fallon-helmed Hollywood remake on the way of New Scratch (2001), it is probably time to take stock of the psychedelic, challenging and often horrific cinema of Franklin Goldstick Jr.

Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA in 1970, Franklin became obsessed with the faux-noir creature flicks of Henry Garcon, and misspent his youth obsessively recreating scenes from those films in his Dad’s basement.

Although enrolled in Boston film school, he was expelled after one semester for his role in a laboratory explosion which left the entire Class of ’87 with a queer and permanent behavioural disfigurement.

His first full length film, Total Fucking Sleep (1988) was a rushed and ill-considered - but ultimately entertaining - reworking of the short story by Henrik Gustav. This simple morality tale of a scientist experimenting with the psychedelic potential of human pineal gland extract – with disastrous results, naturally - captured the attention of William Rawls, then head of HyperTorture Films.

Rawls commissioned Franklin to make a film with his resident cast of washed up porn starlets. Known under the working title of Black Eye, Nosebleed, the project was a catastrophe and Franklin fled to Spain vowing never to return to the US. The exact circumstances which led to this have never been satisfactorily explained, but in his scant 2007 biography, Insert & Rupture, Professor Berys Hamilton speculates that there was rampant pseudo-Satanic homosexuality on set, ultimately leading to an almost exact duplicate of the laboratory disaster that ended Franklin’s schooling.

In Alicante, where he has lived ever since, Franklin Goldstick Jr. fell in with the local DeStRucTaBuiLd art collective. Their violent Dadaist sensibilities - combined with a passion for fine wine, olives, cured meat and cheese - led Franklin to feel comfortable amongst like minds. His best films poured forth with a productivity rivalling that of Ikue Nao, the multi-award winning Japanese historical epic director.

Although his films all feature prominent horror tropes – mad scientists, misunderstood mutants, vast interdimensional monsters, possession, slasher gore, supernatural morality dilemmas, superficial social commentary, theological debate, retarded cannibal families, suspense bordering on the unbearable, sudden shocks, grotesque locations, photogenic heroines, violent fights and sex, sex, sex – they are imbued with a unique and depraved sense of obtuse malice: narrative non-sequiturs, dizzying non-Euclidean set pieces, dialogue pitched up and down out of synch with the visuals in a nauseating incongruence, and subliminally strobing atrocities between frames, which all serve to give his films a ferocity unmatched by any other artist, regardless of medium.

Prof Hamilton (ibid), suggests that these ‘gimmicks’ are a mere attempt by Franklin to raise himself above the glut of similar film makers. If Hamilton is aware of other artists making such work, he neglects to mention them.

Franklin’s oeuvre is also unique in that it forms a singular philosophical vision when taken as a whole – ‘there is redemption only in flesh.’ Violently nihilistic, but never humourless, his films always revolve around a female protagonist – normally nomadic. Decay, bodily fluids, carnage, torn flesh and obtuse physicality are all summoned with a brutal eroticism, which somehow never descends into crass exploitation – these films are not pulp trash, they are always handled artistically, intelligently and with a sensitivity that belies their brutal content.

Noteworthy moments that are typical of these films are plentiful: the opening of The Magnetic Murders (1993), set in a flooded and sloshing septic tank processing facility, features a pre-pubescent girl masturbating with a bloody bone jutting out of a recently severed leg; in Spiral Hole in the Head 2: Exit Wounds (1998), an army of rotting zombies with awkwardly spinning drill bits instead of eyes run rampage in downtown Manhattan; Operation Cephalopod (2003) features the genetic engineering of a porn director satisfying the fetish of vaginus tentacula and, of course, the relentless crescendo of The Chernobyling of God (2006), which features a bloody, sordid and terrifying depiction of Armageddon featuring thousands of multi-phallused winged creatures gang raping humanity over generation after generation until homo sapiens simply cease to reproduce.

Always a controversial figure, the cinema of Franklin Goldstick Jr has never diminished in impact over the past decade, and his early films are as shocking and powerful as anything he has filmed recently, perhaps due to his fierce dedication to real, physical effects and stop motion creatures over CGI.

It is doubtful whether the 3D Hollywoodisation of New Scratch will capture the raw power of the original, but it will hopefully lead a new wave of devotees to this wonderfully uncompromising artist.

Filmography

Total Fucking Sleep (1988)
Black Eye, Nosebleed (1989)
(although never completed, some segments have recently resurfaced in the HyperTorture retrospective box-set, 10 Years of Death).
Blunted Blade Maidens (1991)
PazuzuZoo (1992)
Blunted Blade Maidens II: Insert & Rupture (1992)
The Magnetic Murders (1993)
The Forest Cycle:
The Darkness and Bo Peep (1994)
Red Riding Black (1994)
The Princess Gapes (1995)
NecroCommand (1995)
Spiral Hole in the Head (1995)
Vomitarium Rape (1996)
Cyclops (1997)
Spiral Hole in the Head 2: Exit Wounds (1998)
The Copernican Catastrophe (1999)
MeloTrauma (2000)
The Package (2000)
Spiral Hole in the Head 3: More Holes (2000)
New Scratch (2001)
Void’s Edge (2002)
The Hotel on the Ninth Circle (2002)
Operation Cephalopod (2003)
New Scratch II (2005)
Evolution Twists (2006)
The Chernobyling of God (2006)
Longinus City (2007)
Excretion Architect (2008)
The Fire Beneath (2009)
VirusSpeak (2009)
StilletoEye and RazorGut and the Tentacles of Whorror (2011) in production
StilletoEye and RazorGut and the Temple of the Blackened Skies (2011) in production





Original image 'Skull of a Murdered Child' by Curious Expeditions, some rights reserved.

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