Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beyond the Black Rainbow

In 1983, a young woman is being kept in some sort of futuristic medical facility, overseen by what has to be the doctor with the world's worst bedside manner. As the doctor increasingly seems to lose his sanity, the woman discovers certain abilities that may help her escape the facility.

It seems that director Panos Cosmatos (son of director George P. Cosmatos) and I have something in common: as children, we spent a lot of time hanging out in video stores, looking at the VHS boxes of the 80's horror and sci-fi movies, pouring over the images, and imagining movies in our heads that the genuine article could never live up to (not that we'd ever even get to see those movies for many years). Beyond the Black Rainbow is extremely evocative of this; not the movies themselves, but rather the bizarre films that ran through our fevered imaginations. I imagine I'm not the only young person out there who can relate to this.

In the interview with Cosmatos that I linked to above, he compares the plot of his film to the music/score; integral, but not the focus, and something he can turn up and down depending on the needs of the scene. What little plot there is in Beyond the Black Rainbow is mostly cryptic anyway, just an excuse to guide the audience on a unique ride through the oversoul of late 70's/early 80's horror and sci-fi.

The film is the most unapologetically psychedelic I've seen in forever, even more so than Enter the Void. It's a film that luxuriates in bold colors (deep blues and greens, stark whites, lush red/oranges), surreal images, slow motion, blurring and focus, minute set details. It's all slathered in a rich synth soundtrack that guides the viewer into a near trance. And Cosmatos is even kind enough to throw in some fucked up monsters as the cherry on top.

If you know me, you should already know how I feel about this one: I loved it. It is consummation of those times I spent marveling at the boxes for movies like Xtro or Return of the Living Dead or Outland and wondering what mysteries lay inside. The irony being, of course, that I would have hated Beyond the Black Rainbow as a child; it's far too slow and obscure. But as an adult, it tapped me back into that primal place of childhood imagination that I hadn't visited in a long time.

Rating: A-

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