A Short Story of Eeriness, narrated by Jörg Buttgereit
The “Something Different” program is based on a small curatorial experiment. The starting point for this film presentation was an advertising slogan for the classic horror movie THE HILLS HAVE EYES, whose trailer includes the words, “They were looking for something different, but something different saw them first.” A sensational slogan as well as a wonderful definition of the elementary ambivalence between cinema and audience.
At the invitation of the Viennale and armed with this tagline, the well-known German filmmaker, critic and aficionado Jörg Buttgereit has put together a program of about a dozen films, each of them playing with fire in their own way: a fire that suddenly flares up in flames of eeriness, horror and fear. They are stories, sometimes everyday stories, about the thirst for adventure and new knowledge, curiosity and greed for profit, recklessness and a craving for the other and the unknown. But something saw them first.
“They wanted to see something different, but something different saw them first!” These deadly serious, hastily spoken words mark the beginning of the trailer for the small, rough and independently produced horror movie THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977). Wes Craven’s second film tells the story of a family that goes on a camping holiday in the Californian desert and is brutally attacked by a cannibalistic mutant family. The trailer goes on to say: “The story of an American family who lost everything but the will to survive.” This sensational, exploitive advertising slogan at the very beginning of the preview for THE HILLS HAVE EYES sums up the topic of cinema of the abnormal in an amazingly pragmatic way.
It is our seemingly insatiable thirst for the unusual, unknown and adventures beyond our everyday life that repeatedly leads to our downfall. With our unbridled urge to explore, our relentless quest for knowledge and the supposed truth, we evoke misfortune time and time again. In our constant restlessness, we are more than ready to cross borders – at least in cinema. We go there to get intoxicated and enlightened, excited or frightened. We feel safe within the anonymity of the audience and the narrow cinema seat – and are caught off-guard again and again. For in cinema, the hills have eyes and watch us from the screen long before we’ve even noticed them. Our latent fear of the unknown – this certain “something” – which is also the fear of our own death, materializes and manifests itself on the screen in the shape of a horrible monster, an alien life-form, a grotesque mutation, a beast in the guise of a human being that makes our fear visible and tangible, so that we are in the position to fight it.
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD marks both the beginning and end of my subjectively selected film series. We will present the 1951 original by Christian Nyby as well as John Carpenter’s 1982 remake The Thing, a milestone in analogue special-effect cinema. What lies between is poles apart and includes such different genre gems as Tobe Hooper’s splatter classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the British giant-eye film THE TROLLENBERG TERROR , Japanese monster trash like Uchû daikaijû Girara/The X from Outer Space featuring a huge, extraterrestrial green chicken and Mario Bava’s secret Alien prototype TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO/PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. You can look forward to staggering mushroom people, chainsaw-brandishing backwoodsman and slimy tentacle monsters. To get you in the right mood, here’s another quote from the end of the trailer for THE HILLS HAVE EYES: “She thought she knew what the world was all about, but nothing prepared her for this!”
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, Christian Nyby, USA 1951
THE TROLLENBERG TERROR, Quentin Lawrence, GB 1958
THE ANGRY RED PLANET, Ib Melchior, USA 1959
MATANGO, Ishiro Honda, Japan 1963
TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO, Mario Bava, E/I 1965
FANTASTIC VOYAGE, Richard Fleischer, USA 1966
UCHU DAIKAIJU GIRARA, Kazui Nihonmatsu, Japan 1967
DELIVERANCE, John Boorman, USA 1972
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, Tobe Hooper, USA 1974
THE HILLS HAVE EYES, Wes Craven, USA 1977
ALIEN, Ridley Scott, USA/GB 1979
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, Ruggero Deodato, I 1979
THE THING, John Carpenter, USA 1981