In preparation for the upcoming Tarot section of this blog, complete with a brand new online Tarot reader, here is a television documentary on the history of Tarot cards. It’s narrated by the super-hammy Christopher Lee!
The best thing about the documentary is its brief outline of Tarot history. Its explanations of card meanings and interviews with Tarot readers are superficial and absurd. The interviewees tend to be of the type who predict actual events and make foolish assumptions rather than focus on what the cards suggest to a person and what they represent as possibilities in that person’s thinking. Most of the unfortunate people featured in this documentary are of the variety that the Tarot tradition should avoid at all costs. Pay no attention to them.
Enjoy the film for what it is and remember that if you have an interest in Tarot you won’t be disappointed in the new app which will be a very deep resource of information about the entire Tarot de Marseilles deck and will give full 10-card Celtic Cross readings with explanations and card details.
Here’s an extremely rare underground Halloween treat for anyone who loves film. Ah, but only the very fewest of you will actually watch this all the way through! Give it a try. Not only is this film underground… it’s underhanded. Pere Portabella made ‘Cuadecuc, Vampir’ in 1970 by filming on the set of a Christopher Lee film called ‘Count Dracula’ that was being directed by Jesus Franco. Portabella’s underground classic is on its surface a silent horror film. But it’s also a documentary about the making of the Dracula film. It tells its story by stealing scenes from the feature being shot around it, almost as if the film were a mashup of existing footage! The high-contrast black and white photography evokes such cinema greats as Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ‘Vampyr’ and F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu.’ We see typical horror scenes like a stagecoach racing through the wilderness, or a dusty crypt, interrupted by the arm of a prop person using a fan to blow fake spiderwebs or a cameraman shooting from behind furniture. These slippages from horror into documentary actually produce a weird terror when you realize that the film was being shot under the watchful eyes of Spain’s dictator, General Francisco Franco. What the film really is underneath all the fantastic and disturbing imagery is a vicious attack on Franco and the false media manipulation that keeps all dictators in power. The portrait it paints of Franco himself is one of a sad, disturbed and largely ineffective vampire who lives inside a mental construction based on the past. The other characters in the film seem to be wandering through this psychotic realm, trying to find a way out.
The soundtrack incorporates jet engines, muzak, electronic music, opera singing, jackhammers, stuck records and various other electronic sounds. Don’t let this throw you because the soundtrack is one of the most eerie and unsettling that you will ever hear.
And I’m thinking that Criterion needs to jump on this and make a nice blu-ray release out of it.
This version of the Frankenstein story caused critical outrage when it was released. It was ground-breaking in its level of gore and violence and it kicked off a long series of popular horror flicks from Britain’s Hammer Film Productions.