05 March 2012

Obsession: A Taste For Fear

Italy - 1988
Director - Piccio Raffanini
Imperial Entertainment Corp., 1989, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 30 minutes

Some of my favorite future-sci-fi movies are the ones set in a year which, by the time I see the film, has already passed. I just love laughing at vintage dreams. Even post-apocalyptic films usually do the same thing. They may be dystopian but usually they are typified by fantastic technology and absurd fashion, strange languages. But my, things sure didn’t end up nearly as awesome as they thought they would. Still you can’t help but sympathize with the poor optimistic suckers. Just like we all often do, these films imagined and hoped for something different and better than what they had. Most of them did anyway. There was one era which was so narcissistic that it didn’t really look forward for the future so much as in the mirror.

It is hard to see it now except in film because that is such an all encompassing medium. But if movies are any kind of cultural barometer, the 80’s was so convinced, so all fired sure that the it was the raddest that stuff would ever get, that it cocieved a future that looked, sounded and acted just like itself. Obsession: A Taste For Fear takes this sort of instantaneous self-adoration to new circular depths. It starts with a cookie-cutter thriller/Giallo plot in which young women keep turning up dead and at one time or another everyone is a suspect. Australian actress Virginia Hey stars as Diane, a snotty fashion photographer whose ex-husband George makes abstract video porn. Both call their work “art” presumably because it features boobs, neon and computer screens; all sure to be popular in the future. Soon, their shared models begin to get killed off, their deaths filmed in videos that look just like Diane’s photos and George’s pornos. And just like Obsession: A Taste for Fear. Of course, this makes both of them prime suspects and a surly cop chases them around between scenes of harshly-lit softcore and second-string period hits on the soundtrack. Finally Diane’s gay assistant is revealed to be the killer and Diane herself retreats cathartically into her pornographer Ex’s reassuring grasp. Ladies and gay men take note; the future may remain less than liberatory.

Wow, I honestly don’t know if I can compute that. If the future is exactly like right now how do we know it’s even the future? Truth be told, Obsession does have an odd looking car in one scene and I heard a rumor about a ray-gun somewhere. There are a few computers that clack and bleep so that’s peripherally, hintingly supposed to be the future I guess. What gave it all away though was the overwhelming sense that what was happening on screen, and on the screens on screen, and on screens on screens on screen, was the most significant and important thing that could happen. It was the feeling of imminence exuded like last night’s cocaine from every solipsistic pore of Obsession that made it an exercise in self abuse. It’s the sort of future that looks great in everything except the rear-view mirror.


Scumbalina said...

This looks so good and I've never even heard of it! Will be checking out for sure. I especially love the last and third from last posters.

The Goodkind said...

Get ready for an exercise in pain.