surrealist horror

You people that like the spooky stuff, do you know about the surrealist short film Meshes of the Afternoon?  It’s just… wow.   It was made in 1943 by a husband and wife team, Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid and it’s not just technically amazing for what is essentially a home movie, it’s deeply unsettling. The thing is like a dissociative fugue state.

It’s on youtube in various versions and people like to create music for it.  Whatever soundtrack is provided - TURN IT OFF! It didn’t have one and it doesn’t need one.  Watch this film in silence - it’s the kind of thing that will trick your brain into providing the sound.

The effect is mesmerizing.

we all have different taakos, and that’s beautiful, and my taako is an ugly looking yet charismatic-ish almost attractive scumbag who wears a shirt that says “put the high in high elf” except he turned it into a croptop so it just reads “put the high”, and is also wearing a crushed velvet skirt that flares up very nicely whenever he spins and underneath he’s wearing neon blue sequin booty shorts, and it turns out they aren’t booty shorts, it’s just all his underwear is covered in sequins, and since the temporal chalice revealed to him that he wasn’t the one who poisoned all those people, he honestly needs to be reminded that it happened because hey my good man that’s not on me, taako is off the hook on that one, and all in all it’s like if some kind of horrific deep sea fish made a wish to his fairy godmother to be human (“but like better than human, you feel me? hmu with that immortality”) and born anew not from the sea foam but from the dumpster behind a forever 21 


Shintaro Kago

Shintaro Kago (駕籠 真太郎 Kago Shintarō?, born 1969 inTokyoJapan), is a Japanese guro manga artist. He debuted in 1988 on the magazine COMIC BOX.

Shintaro Kago’s style has been called “fashionable paranoia”. He has been published in several adult manga magazines, gaining him considerable popularity. Many of his manga have strongly satirical overtones, and deal with grotesque subjects such as extreme sex, scatology and body modification.

He has also written Sci-Fi non-guro manga, most notably Super-Conductive Brains Parataxis (超伝脳パラタクシスChoutennou Paratakushisu) for Weekly Young Jump. Many of his shorts are experimental and bizarre. He frequently breaks the fourth wall, and he likes to play with the page layout in extreme ways, mostly for comedic effect.


in the face of all that’s known

ch. 1 out of 10; pg-13 to R; MSR UST; angst/case-file; set immediately after Amor Fati; After years of being gaslit by the universe at large, Scully seeks to overcome an overwhelming despondency (and Mulder’s attempts to crawl into her brain) by solving the mystery of the Town That Didn’t Know Anything. Without Mulder.

chapter list

Author’s notes: Jesus, this took me a long time. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote it again. Writing as Scully does not come very natural to me (I find Mulder a lot easier), but I have high hopes for this and want to write a story that both fleshes out characters we know and love while telling a bizarre and slightly scary little story. Constructive critique would be very helpful. Beta readers, too. Readers in general would be great. I hope you enjoy it.


ch. 1

His head felt heavy in her lap. Dead weight, a crate of oranges, ten large textbooks neatly stacked from her thighs to the tip of her nose. Heavy, damp and feverish as she stroked his hair, mindful of the bandages that capped it.

The tape recorder on the coffee blinked spider-like in the dark and waited patiently in apology for the restlessness of its owner. It listened because she didn’t want to, not really. But in dreamy monologue he referred to it, a cold, black thing, as you, I couldn’t find you, then you were there, can you get me a glass of water. And then we. He said we a lot.

She turned it off when the pain meds kicked in and he began lolling about, lifting his fingers in the air to count them and fail, rolling his face into her belly and burrowing in like a sleepy lapdog.

“I spent a good amount of my life trying to get in other people’s heads,” he moaned into her shirt, talking to air. “But you find out there’s not a lot worth listening to.”

“You’re not still hearing them,” she wondered uneasily. He bumped his head insistently against the fingers that stopped moving in his hair and she resumed petting him.

“I am a little,” he admitted. “Bits and pieces filter in. The headaches are gone. I hear maybe a few voices at a time, and only when they’re right next to me.” His chuffed laughter into her bellybutton tickled and made her squirm. “It’s why I don’t let you take me to my PT appointments. You should’ve seen how disappointed Brendon was that it would be me stretched out over that medicine ball.”

Her fingers had stopped again but now he was too tired to pout. The solid heat of him in her lap, the humid air of his sweltering apartment: how worthless it all was in calming her cold as lake water insides. It filled her suddenly like a downed ship. “It’ll stop soon,” she said, not bothering to mask the harshness of her voice. Why even bother? “Dr. Farrah said your brain activity is steadily decreasing to a normal rate. You’ll be cleared for desk duty at the start of next week.”

He pulled his head back and stared at her. Topsoil brown in the pulsing light of the fish tank, they bored into her, a psychic lobotomy, and she felt him inside her playing clumsy archeologist.

His voice went louder than it had in weeks, intrusive and unaware like the rest of him, his gangly limbs and too big nose and tendencies to never shut up. “Not yet. I’m not ready yet.”

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Angel’s Egg (1985) 

I recognize and appreciate anime’s influence on film culture, yet, outside of the works Hayao Miyazaki and a few others, I don’t generally enjoy Japan’s often-melodramatic animated offerings. Mind you, I don’t maintain any prejudice against anime; good cinema is good cinema, and it can be found even among the grubbiest of artistic traditions. So, when I find a film that piques my interest, associated, say, with the labels surrealism, Judeo-Christian mythology, and Gothicism, I don’t hesitate to give it due process - no matter it’s nationality or tradition. I’d advise others to do the same because, if it hadn’t been for this open-mindedness, I would’ve never had the privilege of seeing Mamoru Oshii’s Angel’s Egg. (Oshii is most know for the much-lauded cyberpunk thriller, Ghost in the Shell, one of the first anime films, along with Akira, to find an American audience.)

In a damp post-apocalyptic dream-world filled with Gothic, Art Nouveau architecture and the remains of primeval Lovecraftian megafauna, a young girl wanders empty streets, collecting glass jugs of water for no particular reason and carrying a large white egg under her dress. She meets a lone soldier who follows her to her home in catacombs under the remains of a giant boat or perhaps a beached leviathan. Neither of them know who they are or why they’re there, but seem nonetheless compelled toward certain unknowable goals. References within the film’s scant dialogue to the story of Noah’s Ark only muddy the waters.

Angel’s Egg is hard to categorize; is it science fiction, fantasy, horror? It has elements of each, but resembles a dream more than anything. Like a dream, it has no obligation to tie its emotionally vivid audio-visual elements into any kind of lucid whole. It’s also uninclined to move at any more than a leisurely, 2001-esque pace. There are moments of shocking surrealistic horror, padded by quiet scenic tours of meadows lined with monolithic structures, primordial burial grounds, and rainy streets patrolled by stone fishermen searching for colossal shadow fish. The films effect is lurking and subconscious - felt but inarticulable.

The artwork by Yoshitaka Amano - known for his work on Final Fantasy - is exquisite and the animation, unburdened by action pieces, is instead focused on the subtleties of water and wind. Yoshihiro Kanno’s score - an eerie mixture of violin, piano, and lyricless vocals - and a great soundscape of bells, whistles, and porpoise-like screeching really takes the film over the top. Thirty years later, it all still holds up.

In spite of its hypnotic atmosphere, creative iconography and many other strengths, Angel’s Egg is probably not a film for everyone. It’s not what you’d expect, as an anime or a film. The pacing may be bearable due to the film’s meager 70-minute runtime, but the ambiguous symbolism and nearly non-existent plot will deter many. It’s challenging - in fact, unbeatable. Though many have attempted to find its meaning through internet research and obsessive rewatching, I consider Angel’s Egg to be almost entirely a subjective experience; it allows you to fill it with whatever you’ve brought along.

~ M.W. Nash