Thursday, 29 December 2011

Film Review: Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977) is a classic representation of pure horror. This movie contains the use of bold colour to imbibe the sense of fear amongst its audience. That makes the atmosphere of the film highly disturbing as there are elements, which generally arouse positive emotions among the viewers that are used to create a sense of fear among them instead. It can also put the audience in mind of Disney's cellular animation techniques where the colour is bold and blocked. As reviewer Ed Gonzalez states, "Argento's visuals actively evoke a fairy-tale fantastique, engaging and toying with the Technicolor glory of Disney's cartoon version of Snow White" Gonzalez,Ed.(2001).Slant Magazine Film Review.Suspiria
Fig 1: Suspiria Movie Poster

The plot begins with a young girl by the name of Suzy Bannion, who arrives in Munich, Germany to perfect her ballet dancing. She arrives at the academy in a thunderstorm that is quite blatantly created by the flapping of large metal sheets and the use of water pipes. However, this is appreciated by reviewer, Whilst trying to enter the Academy, Suzy encounters a young girl who seems distressed. The girl mutters something that Suzi comprehends as "secret" and "iris".
Later that night that same girl is killed by what appears to be a hand with a knife. An image that one would find reminiscent of the Turok video game.
Another aspect of the film that disturbs the audience is its soundtrack. At the worst of times, the haunting music comes to life and causes panic within the viewer.
Fig 2: Death of The First Victim

Another incident leaves the blind pianist of the academy devoured to death by his seemingly calm dog after he 'senses the presence' of an unidentifiable being. Again, Suzy is told by a friend of her's that the pianist uttered the words "secret" and "iris" the day before he died.

Driven by fear and curiosity, Suzy decides to look further into the matter. The sets of Suspiria look like the colour-saturated counterparts of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920) or as reviewer Keith Breese states "The film slides forward in disorienting bursts, a somnambulist nightmare comparable to Caligari's." Breese,Keith.(2005) Film Review.Suspiria.
Suzy is seemingly drugged or just is strongly overcome by a very powerful sleep when her friend Sarah tries to wake her up.
Fig 3: Suzy Running Through The Corridor

Sarah abandons her attempts to wake Suzy and begins her run down the labrynthine corridors of the academy. She is chased by the very same "Turok hand" and locks herself in a storage room which she escapes through a small window. However, she falls into a room filled with coils of barbed wire where she tragically (and rather gruesomely) meets her end.
When Suzy finds out that her friend Sarah "suddenly left the premises" she smells a rather well fed rat and begins investigating the incident herself.
She later comes to realize that the words "secret" and "iris" correspond to a secret passageway within the building that can be accessed by turning a blue iris three times. On doing so, she stumbles upon a corridor that looks like something out of The Innocents. There she discovers that the teachers of the academy are all part of a cult and are, in fact, witches.
Suzy then encounters the ghost (or what appears to be a phantasm of sorts) of an ancient witch called Helena. She tries to convince Suzy not to take any action but Suzy grabs a knife within the room and stabs Helena.The witch fades away in the style of the TARDIS from BBC's Doctor Who. This causes all the witches of the cult to yell out in agony (typical). The death of the witch causes a fire which burns down the building. The film ends with a satisfied Suzy, walking away from the academy with a smile on her face.
Fig 4: Suzy In The Room With The Irises

Suspiria is a film filled with maggots in the ceiling and young girls falling through stained glass ceilings. It is a whole family film. As reviewer Janet Maslin puts it,"(Suspiria has) Tubular Bells"-type music by a group called The Goblins, and a great many graphic tips on how to carve one's fellows into rib roast." Maslin,Janet.(1977).Times Movie Review.Suspiria(1977): 'Suspiria,' a Specialty Movie, Drips With Gore.


Gonzalez,Ed.(2001).Slant Magazine Film Review.Suspiria Available online at : (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Breese,Keith.(2005) Film Review.Suspiria. Available online at: (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Maslin,Janet.(1977).Times Movie Review.Suspiria(1977): 'Suspiria,' a Specialty Movie, Drips With Gore. Available online at: (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Illustration List:

Fig 1: Argento,Dario.(1977).Suspiria (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Fig 2: Argento,Dario.(1977).Suspiria (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Fig 3: Argento,Dario.(1977).Suspiria (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Fig 4:Argento,Dario.(1977).Suspiria (Accessed 3rd December 2011)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Cages and Columns

So here are some images of bird cages that I will be using as references to create the bird cages in Maya.

And these are the references for the columns

Friday, 9 December 2011

Road to Nowhere

Here is a sign created using textures in Photoshop.
I plan on using it in my scene. The sign says "Don't Go Nowhere" as a warning to the people in The Chamber Of Dimensions to not go to an empty dimension.

This will go well with the birdcage idea. The thumbnails for which will be posted soon.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Artist Infuence: Mark Ryden

 Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art. His work first garnered attention in the 1990s when he ushered in a new genre of painting, "Pop Surrealism", dragging a host of followers in his wake. Ryden has trumped the initial surrealist strategies by choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation.

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Ryden’s vocabulary ranges from cryptic to cute, treading a fine line between nostalgic cliché and disturbing archetype. Seduced by his infinitely detailed and meticulously glazed surfaces, the viewer is confronted with the juxtaposition of the childhood innocence and the mysterious recesses of the soul. A subtle disquiet inhabits his paintings; the work is achingly beautiful as it hints at darker psychic stuff beneath the surface of cultural kitsch. In Ryden's world cherubic girls rub elbows with strange and mysterious figures. Ornately carved frames lend the paintings a baroque exuberance that adds gravity to their enigmatic themes.

Information and images from (Accessed 8th December 2011)

Maya Tutorial: Pirates' Treasure Trove

Idea Uno: City of Worlds

The idea that I had for a city of different worlds stacked on top of each other and instead of roadways, there would be waterways whose liquid would reflect what each disc (world) contains.

Please let me know if this is a good idea. The thumbnails for my other ideas with the birdcages and lightbulbs shall be uploaded shortly. Then, the decision making begins.

More Weird Stuff

After consulting one of my creative partners for this unit, I realized that the idea of having a room filled with empty birdcages, where each birdcage is a world would be the one that would be very strong.
I was pretty keen on the idea of having disks as worlds but empty birdcages in a seemingly endless hallway felt more 'uncanny' to me than anything else.
The thumbnails for my first idea should be up soon and I am working on the birdcage idea with all my might.
Prepare to be spooked =)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Film Review: The WIcker Man (1973)

Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man is an art house documentary on the Pagan worshipers of Scotland. This film focuses on the use of sex as a way to perform religious activities. The belief that the flow of energy is in a cycle and that a person does not truly die but passes on into the store of energy that runs the universe, is strong in this film. According to Elaine Macintyre it is a, "Thriller, fantasy or musical. art house film or horror flick... undisputed cult classic." Macintyre,Elaine.(2011) Classic Film Review: The WIcker Man (1973) 

Fig 1: The Wicker Man Movie Poster
The plot begins with a Sergeant Howie who is tasked with the investigation of a missing girl by the name of Rowan Morrisson. He goes around an island in Scotland, questioning its inhabitants about the girl. To his frustration, the residents of the island do not reveal their knowledge of the girl. As he digs deeper into the matter, he discovers that everyone on the island is trying to conceal the disappearance of the girl, Rowan.

Fig 2: A Pagan ritual portrayed in the movie.

He unearths her grave and discovers a hare in the casket. There are many references regarding the fact that Rowan has been reborn into a hare and is living in the fields where she is most happy.
There are constant clashes between Christianity and Paganism that are highlighted in the film.The Sergeant, being a Christian, is constantly displeased with the practices of the people on the island.
The focus on sex in this movie is very high. It is hinted that the children are taught about it from a very young age.
The editing of this movie gives an interesting feel to the environment of the film itself. Certain scenes were restored and have a 'home movie' feel about them. The heavy contrasts in the hues give the scenes a 'burning' look that causes distress to the audience.

Fig 3: Sergeant Howie

The Sergeant later finds the girl and realizes that she is a subject of sacrifice to the gods in order to receive a good crop that year. He frees her, but is caught by the rest of the people and is used as a sacrifice himself.
He is placed inside a large man made of wicker and is burned.
Until the last fifteen minutes of the film, the practices of the villagers do not seem threatening. They merely come across as a different way of life. In a way they may even be deemed as mystical and beautiful. However, when the idea of killing a human being to please a deity comes into play, there are certain flaws to that concept of beauty. As Nigel Honeybone correctly states, "It is a genuinely shocking ending to an otherwise fairly quiet film." Honeybone,Nigel.(2010) Wicker Man (1973)
Fig 4: The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man is a fast paced film with a believable plot that could have been improved with better visuals. According to Damian Cannon,"Watching The Wicker Man is a truly strange and unsettling experience" Cannon,Damian.(1997) Wicker Man (1973).

Bibliography and Illustration List:


Cannon,Damian.(1997) Wicker Man (1973). Available online at (Accessed 6th December 2011)

Honeybone,Nigel.(2010) Wicker Man (1973) Available online at  (Accessed 6th December 2011)

Macintyre,Elaine. (2011) Classic Film Review: The WIcker Man (1973) Available online at (Accessed 6th December 2011)

Illustration List

Fig 1: Hardy, Robin.(1973).The Wicker Man.

Fig 2:Hardy, Robin.(1973).The Wicker Man.

Fig 3:Hardy, Robin.(1973).The Wicker Man.

Fig 4:Hardy, Robin.(1973).The Wicker Man.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Film Review: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

'The Uncanny' takes a strange turn in Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock. The chief characteristic of this movie is that it has no genre. The very fact that it is so ambiguous means that it can have multiple interpretations. The message of this film differs from person to person.

Fig 1: Picnic at Hanging Rock Movie Poster

There are many sexual references in this movie with regards to the natural structures of rock that look too phallic for anyone's own good. The curiosity of young girls with regards to such structures and the Victorian concept of covering up a woman's body in the blistering heat. As Roger Ebert rightly states, it is "a film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria." Ebert,Roger. (1998) at Hanging Rock (1975)

Fig 2: The Phallic structures of Hanging Rock

The story revolves around a group of young girls from an Appleyard College for Young Ladies who venture out to a place called Hanging Rock for a picnic. A girl by the name of Miranda shares a room with another by the name or Sara. Sara is an orphan who adores Miranda and Miranda, although who is very fond of Sara in return, tells her to stop loving her as much as she does as she (Miranda) will not be there for long. Miranda gives of the impression of being somewhat of a psychic or ethereal being. She seems to see things that others are oblivious to. As reviewer Carlo Cavagna rightly states, "Just as there is something otherworldly about Hanging Rock, there is something otherworldly about Miranda herself. It's as if she, too, is the incarnation of some sort of elemental force." Cavagna, Carlo. (1999). Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)
As the party moves on to Hanging Rock, Miranda and three other girls venture out to explore the volcano that rests in the region. Edith (one of the three other girls) urges the rest to return to the party but they ignore her and keep exploring.
At this time, back with the rest of the picnic, the tutor's watch stops at 12 noon.
Later on the rest of the class return to the school with Miranda and the two others missing. Edith is questioned but is too shocked to remember what exactly happened.
Sara, who doesn't go for the picnic as she is advised by the headmistress to stay behind, begins to mourn the loss of her dear friend.
A search party is sent out by the police to retrieve the missing girls but the operation is in vain. Later, a young Englishman by the name of Michael goes out to look for the three girls with his valet Albert. He does so as he sees Miranda earlier and is attracted to her immense beauty and becomes determined to find her.
Fig 3: Miranda

Albert and Michael get separated as Michael ventures further towards the rock. Albert finds Michael by the paper markers that Michael leaves behind (in a very Hansel and Gretel style). He finds Michael distraught and in shock. As the doctors take him away, Michael leaves something in Albert's hand which is later revealed to be a piece of lace from one of the girls' clothing.
Albert goes back to the rock and finds Irma who is still alive but unconscious.
Michael keeps seeing visions of Miranda which are followed by the appearance of a Swan.
The news of the disappearance of the girls causes the parents of the other girls to get worried and they withdraw their children from the college.
The headmistress Mrs. Appleyard is in a financial predicament. She tells Sara that her guardian has not paid her fees in over six months and if that continues, then she will be forced to dismiss her from the school.
Sara then tells the maid that prior to coming to the school, she was in an orphanage where she was treated badly.
Later that night, Mrs. Appleyard tells Sara that she will be returned to the orphanage. The following day, at 12 noon, Sara is found dead in the greenhouse. She allegedly kills herself.
In the end, Mrs. Appleyard goes to the Hanging Rock. Her body is found at the foot of the mountain.
Fig 4: Michael

This film contains many takes on the functioning of the human mind. The effect that objects may have on people is strong. There are scenes in the movie where the rock 'speaks' to Michael and Edith, causing them to go crazy.
The constant appearance of the swans hints at the Aboriginal law of 'The Dreaming'. Even the heat, which is constantly brought up, could have caused the characters to have illusions due to dehydration. As Vincent Canby states ," The heat of the day is as much of a presence during the picnic as the rock formation that provides shadow for the group." Canby, Vincent.(1979).New York Times. Movie Review: Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)

Bibliography and Illustration List:


Canby, Vincent.(1979).New York Times. Movie Review: Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) Available online at (Accessed 5th December 2011)

Ebert,Roger. (1998) at Hanging Rock (1975) Available online at
(Accessed 5th December 2011)

Cavagna, Carlo. (1999). Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) Available online at (Accessed 5th December 2011)


Fig 1: Weir,Peter.(1975).Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Fig 2: Weir,Peter.(1975).Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Fig 3: Weir,Peter.(1975).Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Fig 4: Weir,Peter.(1975).Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Film Review: Don't Look Now (1973)

Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now (1973) is an amalgamation of all that is symbolic. From the use of the colour red to denote danger, to the concept of compensation to fill an action that hasn't been fulfilled. Every time a character in the movie uncrosses their legs, another character crosses theirs. The sense of balance is kept strong in the film. As reviewer David Wood states, "As if piecing together an intricate puzzle, key motifs constantly recur: the colour red, shattered glass, water, until their ultimate meaning is finally revealed to horrifying effect." Wood, David. (2001). BBC Films review. Don't Look Now (1973).
The story begins with a couple John and Laura Baxter (played by Julie Christie and John Sutherland respectively) who lose their daughter Christine due to her drowning in a pond. She was wearing a red coat at the time.

Fig 1: Don't Look Now Movie Poster

The mother, Laura, finds it hard to cope with the loss of her child and the couple move to Venice as John gets a job to restore a church.
In a restaurant in Venice, Laura meets two sisters, one of whom is psychic. She tells Laura that her daughter is still among them and proves the accuracy of her vision by describing Laura's daughter to her perfectly.
Laura tells of her experience to John, who refuses to believe her. The couple keeps running into the sisters again, throughout the course of the film. A parallel plot line suggests a murderer who is on the loose.

Fig 2: Laura and John's child in a red coat

The cinematography of this film leaves a lot to be desired. It contains the look of a home made movie with the grainy film and the out of focus shots. However, that adds to the mysterious and paradoxical nature of the film.

Fig 3: The Wanted Murderer

Towards the end, it is made clear that John has a psychic power of his own where he can see his own future. He witnesses his funeral without knowing that it is his funeral and chases after a red hooded figure of a child thinking that that is his dead daughter. On cornering this figure, he realizes that it is the wanted killer. The murderer slits John's throat and kills him.
The things that we lose, have a way of finding us when we least expect it and stabbing us in the heart.
Don't look now is a dark movie with a soundtrack that is positively cheerful. The contrast in the emotions of the two, instills a feeling of discomfort among the audience. As Damian Cannon states, " Much of this discomfort stems from Graeme Clifford's editing, though that barely begins to describe the warp of this particular film. Sounds fade in and out, magnified and brought forward, then diminished to a whisper." Cannon, Damian. (1999). Don't Look Now (1973) Even the weather in the movie is perpetually gloomy. There is not a single scene where there is a ray of sunlight.

Figure 4: The funeral of John that John foresees.

All this could be done to draw attention to the red coat of the late child and the killer. As reviewer Peter Bradshaw rightly states, "In Don't Look Now, Roeg is careful to exclude, as much as possible, the colour red from his screen, so that Christine's red mac becomes even more starkly visible." Bradshaw, Peter. (2011). The Guardian. Don't Look Now and Roeg's red coat.

Bibliography and Illustration List


Wood, David. (2001). BBC Films review. Don't Look Now (1973). Available online at (Accessed 4th December 2011)

Bradshaw, Peter. (2011). The Guardian. Don't Look Now and Roeg's red coat. Available online at (Accessed 4th December 2011)

Cannon, Damian. (1999). Don't Look Now (1973). Available online at (Accessed 4th December 2011)

Illustration List:

Figure 1: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now

Figure 2: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now

Figure 3: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now

Figure 4: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Film Review: The Innocents (1961)

Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961) is the very core that Alejandro Amenabar's The Others (2001) came from.
The story begins with a Miss. Giddens (played by Deborah Kerr) who is hired as a governess for a girl named Flora. Her responsibilities double as Flora's brother Miles is expelled from his school and returns to live in the family home.
Fig 1: The Innocents Movie Poster
Miss. Giddens begins to see people who shouldn't be present in the house. Fleeting images of people whom she believes to be dead. This is done in live action to give a sense of 'reality' as far as the protagonist is concerned. As reviewer Steve Biodrowski suggests, "its (The Innocents') ghostly apparitions, achieved without special effects convey a palpable sense of horror" Biodrowski, Steve. (2008). The Innocents (1961) – Retrospective Review.
She later realizes that these visions are ghosts of the previous governess and her lover who is the previous valet of the uncle of the two children. They have possessed the bodies of the children and are living through them. She confirms her doubts after seeing a photograph of the valet in a music box in the attic of the house. The music box plays a tune which is repeated by Flora and played on the piano by Miles as well. The linking of the tune in various formats is a strange way of showing a connection between the past and the present.
Fig 2: The Apparation that Miss Giddens sees

The children have a very adult look in their eyes which gives the audience a sense of unease.
This is similar to the description of the character Elva from Christopher Paolini's The Inheritance Cycle where a child of 7 years of age has the personality of a grown woman.
The very loss of innocence in the children releases, in the audience's mind, a feeling of fear and discomfort.
Miss. Giddens then takes it upon herself to save the children and rid their bodies of the evil spirits.
The spirit in Miles begins to fall in love with Miss Giddens. This is another aspect of the film where the abnormal maturity of the children is highlighted. One of the most disturbing parts of the film is where the adults do not acknowledge the unnatural maturity of the children. The very fact that the horror of this movie is hidden in plain sight, disturbs the viewer.

Figure 3: Flora and Miles

The cinematography of this movie is beautifully executed in black and white. The use of lighting and music creates the sense of gloom and horror in this film. The English cast and Victorian architecture also add the the 'spooky' element. As reviewer Julia Merriam appropriately states, "Further, since the film's soundtrack consists mostly of harmonious, complementary tones, those times the music takes a turn for the dissonant are exceptionally jarring, providing as much of a shock as the visual imagery they accompany." Merriam, Julia. (2007) The Innocents (1961).

Figure 4: The female spirit that Miss Giddens witnesses.

 Ultimately, the spirits are banished and Miles is killed due to the trauma that his body has to suffer due to the 'possession'. It is never really made clear if the events throughout the film are a figment of Miss Giddens' imagination or if they are actually occurring. However, as Professor Albus Dumbledore of J.K. Rowling's famous Harry Potter series appropriately says "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth would that mean that it is not real?" Rowling, J.K. (2007). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. London. Bloomsbury.

Bibliography and Illustration List


Biodrowski, Steve. (2008). The Innocents (1961) – Retrospective Review. Available online at (accessed 4th December 2011)

Merriam, Julia. (2007) The Innocents (1961). Available online at (Accessed 4th December 2011)

Rowling, J.K. (2007). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. London. Bloomsbury.

Illustration List:

Figure 1: Clayton, Jack. (1961). The Innocents. (accessed 4th December 2011)

Figure 2: Clayton, Jack. (1961). (accessed 4th December 2011)

Figure 3: Clayton, Jack. (1961). (accessed 4th December 2011)

Figure 4: Clayton, Jack. (1961). (accessed 4th December 2011)


Unit Three: Environment: Uncanny Inspiration

So for Unit Three, the theme that we are required to adhere to is The Uncanny.

What we have to focus on is Ambiguity and create something that is vague, undefined and has multiple interpretations.

What I had in mind was creating something from reflection. In Ransom Brigg's book Miss Peregrine's school for Peculiar Children, the author uses old photographs to create a story that makes one believe in the spooky and magical nature of the subjects captured within the photographs.
Figure Zero

Figure 1
Figure 2
Then my eyes were caught by the images of the reflections and I remembered the plot of CLAMP's manga Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, where the protagonists travel through dimensions using mirrors. That stemmed memories of Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew (Where there is a forest with ponds and each pond is a gateway to another world).
So what I have in mind is an environment of a multiverse. A region where all dimensions collide. And where everything's true nature is reflected but not seen by the naked eye.

I wanted to show a collection of dimensions and use familiar objects to represent them. Imagine a room filled with birdcages, where each birdcage contains a different universe.

Other objects I thought of using were light bulbs. This reminds me of The Hall of Prophecies in The Department of Mysteries in The Ministry of Magic from Harry Potter. The inspiration for this was the photograph by Jeff Wall with the ceiling filled with light bulbs
Figure 3: Photograph by Jeff Wall

Figure 4: The Hall of Prophecies
Figure 5: Visual Inspiration image: Light Bulbs

 All this would be in a room that one could enter. Like a walk in closet where you could pick a new dimension every day.

Here are the images that have sparked the sense of The Uncanny in my thought processes.

Figure 6
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Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 11
Figure 12 Bruce Munro's Field of Light at The Holbourne Museum in Bath
Figure 13
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Figure 15
Figure 16
Figure 17
Figure 18
Figure 19
Figure 20

 Figure 20 is a picture of a boat that was parked on the river that I can see outside my window. I put it with the 'influence images' because the very reflection of the boat, made me look at it as a Pod Racer from The Star Wars Saga. That's when I began to think about how a reflection can make the 'real' object look different.

Figures 16, 17 and 18  also have a strange hold on me. I got the idea of putting disks together. Like a short stack or a pile of onion rings. Each disk is a dimension and there are bridges connecting these worlds together.
These piles would be placed in such a way that they look like sky scrapers in a city. Their reflection resembles the worlds that they hold.