The Editor & Obsessive Technical Artists

Astron-6’s The Editor debuts tonight at Midnight Madness at TIFF. A note perfect giallo-comedy that is equal parts tribute and satire, it’s an easy film for me to recommend. Genre (sub-genre?) fans will appreciate the references, be they direct references to The New York Ripper, Tenebrae, Blood & Black Lace and other giallo classics, stylistic with kinetic shots and so much beautiful coloured light, or musical, as Claudio Simonetti, arguably the master of the giallo soundtrack, contributed some great music to The Editor as well as a group of other musicians who nail the sound of these films.

Oh yeah, and Udo Kier is in it. UDO KIER.

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Thematically, The Editor is also in a lineage of some other fantastic genre films. An obsessive technical artist (in this case a film editor) on a troubled and dangerous journey? Sign me up. It’s a theme I can’t seem to get enough of.

Where better to start today as another example than with Snowblood favourite Brian DePalma (it’s his birthday today as I write this) and Blow Out. One of DePalma’s finest films, and also about a technical artist, this time played by John Travolta. Like The Editor, we have a film within the film driving the action (a common DePalma element and an element of The Editor), and an obsessed artist struggling with a mystery. Blow Out is DePalma at the peak of his game.

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More recently, we have Berberian Sound Studio, another film rooted in Italian genre cinema, also dealing with a technical artist struggling with demons both external and internal. Where The Editor plays for comedy and DePalma plays for style, Berberian plays for the arthouse. Carried by Toby Jones and a great soundtrack, this is a movie lover’s movie.

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Finally, a film that was wildly ahead of its time: Lucio Fulci’s Cat In The Brain. This time we have a tortured director, played by Fulci himself. This film is Fulci doing a sort of meta-commentary on his work, his own responsibilities, and perhaps his cinematic legacy. As with our aforementioned films, we watch a technical person unravel around a work of art (or in this case a whole career in art). This is a wild film though. This is Fulci.

I’ve always felt that Cat In The Brain paved the way for films like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (which then led to Scream) and Leslie Vernon: Behind The Mask and the like: self aware horror. Having a meta-commentary in horror is now commonplace, but if you trace back far enough, I believe you end up back at this curious film which gets better with hindsight.

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In conclusion, I’ve just favourably compared The Editor to Fulci, DePalma, Argento, and Bava. All that and a healthy dose of comedy too.

And did I mention Udo Kier?