Exquisite Corpse (2006)

Exquisite CorpseNarrated by Christopher Hackett, Marina Johnson

Directed by Mike Bohatch (USA), Jerry Cappa (USA), Julian Hanby (United Kingdom), Jim Minton (USA), Jeff Pomeroy (USA), Dominic Shaw (United Kingdom), Lucas Tripodi (Chile), Lorelinde Verhees (Holland), Can Yildirim (Turkey), Nick Montgomery (Canada)

Exquisite Corpse is an experimental seventeen-minute film that is composed of several short segments that tell visual tales based on the macabre writings of award-winning author of horror, Michael Arnzen. Each of the individual fragments are joined together to create a stream of imagery that ranges from comical to downright disturbing. Ten different filmmakers shaped their own segments around a singular poem or short story penned by Arnzen.

“Amputate the Phantom” (Mike Bohatch) is a surrealistic visual dance of the macabre. It showcases his talents with quick editing techniques and an eye for the artistic quality of morbid imagery.

Artistic License (click for larger image)“”Artistic License” (Jerry Cappa) is a brief look into the bizarre death of a model using graphic animations and odd images.

“The Suckling” (Can Yildirim) is a truly disturbing contribution to the collection. It includes unsettling scenes of a woman and her “undead child” in the most wretched setting.

“Gasp” (Lorelinde Verhees) is a very brief video of birds flying over a rooftop. It’s not much to look at, but the poem itself is pretty cool.

“Beyond Undead” (Julian Hanby) is a peculiarly ineffective attempt at quick-cut editing to create the mood of crazed terror. The result was one more of annoyance than fear.

“In The Balance” (Can Yildirim) is an oddly shot scene using strange camera movements and glassy effects.

“Stretch” (Dominic Shaw) is a bizarre composition of several pieces of film and still shots put together in varying orders to create the sense of urgency felt when drowning.

“The Scab” (Jim Minton) is by far my favorite poem and film from the grouping. The imagery is imaginative and fits the poem perfectly. Near flawless editing and well suited graphics are combined to create a truly unique and interesting piece of cinema.

Velcro (click for larger image)“Velcro” (Jeff Pomeroy) is a crazy ass stop-motion/claymation type animated segment of a man in an electric chair that’s rather interesting to watch.

“Nightmare Junkie” (Lucas Tripodi) is a freakish study of R.E.M (rapid eye movement). It’s quite well done.

“Taking Care of Baby” (Nick Montgomery) somehow ended up being the one that had me the most worried and yet wound up being the class clown as well. Great job!

As with most assemblages there were segments that I enjoyed and others that I thought were needless. In my opinion the better poems produced superior films. The filmmakers that had access to the finer poetry could in turn generate more interesting and stimulating pieces of cinema. Even if the poem was less than long-winded, if it had greater substance, it gave origin to more engaging film quality.

Michael Arnzen has a unique style of writing that may not appeal to all. Personally, I found some of it to be quite absurd; yet, the pieces I enjoyed, I enjoyed with great zeal. As an artist you must include variety in your body of work or you run the risk of it becoming stagnant and stale. Some of it works and some doesn’t because each individual has his or her own personal taste. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I love cinema so Exquisite Corpse gave me the opportunity to view Arnzen’s work when I may have otherwise missed it completely.

3 out of 5

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