In possibly the most mind-blowing episode to date, filmmaker E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire) traces his path from the genesis of the acclaimed experimental film Begotten to its highly anticipated rebirth in definitive and alternate versions on 35mm and Blu-ray in the near future. He explores and dissects his cinematic vision in the context of a shared interest with the Weird to push boundaries to create beautiful, powerful and terrifying works, recounts his first epiphanal encounters with Nietzsche and Artaud and the birth of his obsession with “art that actually lives,” relates his own creative process to a form of possession culminating in a volcanic eruption, transports listeners back to the life-changing screening of Begotten in Susan Sontag’s New York apartment when he was just age 25, discusses the fertile artistic nexus in the early-to-mid 20th century with surrealism, Dadaism and expressionism, muses on the artist/writer/filmmaker as our culture’s shamans, gets passionate about cinema as alchemy and creating film emulsions that act as a lens for exploring meaning, effuses about the CERN Collider (an example of how now there is “more going on in science and biotech than in most art galleries”) and photographs as “life forms,” discusses why he feels more freedom working with lower film budgets, talks about the joy he gets from conversations with his creative contemporaries and his excitement in connecting with the Weird community, draws back the curtains on a beautiful back story involving John Malkovich, cocktail napkins and the powerful train scene in Shadow of the Vampire, provides an eclectic playlist of the music that drives his creativity (Wagner, Iggy Pop, John Cage, Nurse With Wound, Diamanda Galas, Stuart Dempster, and many more) and reveals an intriguing roll of artists, authors, poets and filmmakers who have served as his biggest influences and provocateurs from Homer to Baudelaire, Bely to Ligotti.
The conversation concludes with what’s next for Merhige including making the final feature-length installment of the trilogy that started with Begotten, writing a new film script which relates the Hiroshima bombing through the eyes of schoolchildren, editing the second draft of his first 900-page novel, and culminating with the restoration of Begotten. Included are exclusive announcements about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for Begotten’s restoration and dynamic details about the endeavor which go beyond your wildest imagination. As Merhige says, ”some exciting shit, my friend.”
News from the Weird:. Arkham Digest columnist/Strange Aeons fiction editor Justin Steele joins Scott for the latest news and a retro review of classic horror novel, Throat Sprockets (1994), by Tim Lucas, editor/publisher of the venerable Video Watchdog. The book was inspired by cinema, has been described as “If JG Ballard wrote Dracula,” and was recommended by author Gemma Files.
This archival episode will be available again at This Is Horror soon. In the meantime, subscribe at iTunes or Blubrry to make sure you don’t miss an episode.
Next week’s guest: Simon Strantzas, author of Burnt Black Sons and editor of The Year’s Best Weird 3.
Begotten on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101420/
Din of Celestial Birds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCnp63TbxXw
Suspect Zero trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJLYRnHk8AE
Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Joujouka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwEoDGeNyrE
News From the Weird: