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My father once told me about a Vietnamese folk-tale monster:  the ma lai nuốt ruột.  We were on Federal Boulevard, in the strip mall of Vietnamese restaurants and grocery stores.  My mother was shopping, as she did most weekends, stocking up on nước mắm and hoisin sauce and other thick, tarry substances that smelled of decay and sweet rot.

While she shopped, I spent my time in the Asian video rental store a few doors down.  Most of what they stocked were Hong Kong soap operas, these multi-volume sets that people rented by the pound.  I lingered at the horror movies, a single shelf.  I remember clearly The Gates of Hell.  On the back of the video case, an inset still of a pickaxe coming perilously close to a woman’s head; another with a corpse, its flesh sloughing off like oatmeal.  I wanted to watch this movie so bad.  I had come under the spell of ‘art-horror,’ which Noel Carroll describes, in The Philosophy of Horror, as a necessary feeling of threat “compounded by revulsion, nausea and disgust.”

One day, the owners of the store taped up a poster of a creature I’d never seen before.  On the poster, a woman’s severed head floated about a hollow body, entrails oozing down like candle drippings, and the large intestine dragging on the ground, glistening.  My father told me, “That’s a ma lai nuốt ruột.”  The ma lai nuốt ruột (roughly, to “hybrid-ghost gut swallower”) is a Vietnamese version of an vampire (in Thai, the krasue; in Malaysian, the penanggalan).  But it consists of only the head and intestinal tract.  The digestive system given malevolent life.  It sucks away the victim’s blood with its bladed tongue, and the dead person will rise to become another ma lai nuốt ruột.  To kill it, you either had to destroy the rest of its body before sunrise.

On the poster, it was a latex head, of course, held up by wires.  The viscera were coated in glycerin, rather than lymph.  But, I felt that strange combination of fascination and disgust.  The creature was real in a way that I knew that it was not real.  Carroll explains, “Saying we are art-horrified by Dracula means we are horrified by the thought of Dracula where the thought of such a possible being does not commit us to a belief in his existence.”

In Fiend Without a Face, the creatures that stalk the American-Canadian border are invisible.  They’re the materialization of thoughts; ideas that have been given form outside of the mind.  “Mental vampires,” one character calls them.  When they become visible, they appear as brains perambulating on their ganglia, similar to the ma lai nuốt ruột, but not exact.  We are horrified at our own thoughts.

I’ve never been able to track down the film from the poster.  It could be Witch with the Flying Head or Mystics in Bali.  But in some ways, I don’t want to find it.  I prefer having it out there, wandering, invisible, a thought detached the mind that spawned it.  It’s eating my brain, even now.

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Thomas Aquinas says that gluttony “denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire.” It is that desire, “inordinate through leaving the order of reason,” that constitutes the sin. He classifies the appetite twofold: 1) the unconscious appetite, naturalis, which refers to hunger and thirst, and to which considerations of virtue and vice are irrelevant; and 2) the “sensitive appetite,” animalis, which requires the knowledge of what is pleasant and useful. It is in the concuspience of the latter that gluttony exists.

At first glance, The Blob appears to be a creature of pure naturalis, consuming “in accord with its nature, without any knowledge of the reason why such a thing is appetible.” Indeed, as Aquinas argues, if The Blob exceeds “in quantity of food, not from desire of food, but through deeming it necessary to him, this pertains not to gluttony, but to some kind of inexperience.”

But, according to Bruce Kawin, The Blob represents the growing consumerism of 1950s America — consuming for the sake of consuming. Americans’ “complacent desire to stuff themselves with goods and good times had shown itself to be a monster,” says Kawin.  If this is the case, then The Blob fulfills Aquinas’ requirements for gluttony: “when a man knowingly exceeds the measure in eating, from a desire for the pleasures of the palate.” The farmer’s hand would have been enough, but it ate the whole farmer; the nurse would have been enough, but it ate the doctor too; the projectionist would have been enough, but it swamped the theater itself; one diner would have been enough, but it engulfed the entire diner whole. Dayenu.

At the Golden Castle diner, where I sometimes have late-night meals, the neon signs reflect off the surface of the glass. It feels as if we’re being smothered in raspberry preserves. The waitresses move with desultory good cheer and, in the moments in between customers, discuss what may lie outside of the diner. Bills to pay. Disappointed families. The sadness that night brings. All the things that eat you alive.

My order arrives: a French dip, which comes with a side of fries and a condiment cup of coleslaw. The roast beef is smothered in Provolone, which looks like melted plastic bag. I release a red splotch of ketchup adjacent to my fries, trying, as much as possible, not to let it touch the fries themselves. Nonetheless, it seeps towards them, maybe from the tilt of the plate, maybe of its own accord.

At the end of my meal, very little remains. A few burnt tips of French fries like fingernail clippings. A shallow pool of au jus with a flotilla of coagulated oil, which I sop with a piece of bread. I slouch in my booth, like I’m sinking into the vinyl. I’ve always trusted my metabolism to keep my waistline in check, but lately, I’m not so sure. The skin on my stomach stretches taut, and I imagine it eating more, eating endlessly. The blob waits to consume us all.

The waitress asks if I want a refill. Of course I do.

In his preface to the 1904 Tauchnitz edition of Kwaidan, Lafcadio Hearn explains that most of the stories he retells are taken from old Japanese manuscripts.  Some may have had Chinese origins, he suggests, but “the Japanese story-teller, in any case, has so re-coloured and reshaped his borrowing as to naturalise it.”

The unnamed author of the introduction writes:  “The Japanese… have possessed no national and universally recognized figures as Turgenieff or Tolstoy.  They need an interpreter.  It may be doubted whether any oriental race has ever had an interpreter gifted with more perfect insight and sympathy than Lafcadio Hearn has brought to the translation of Japan into terms of our occidental speech.”

Oh, we lucky, lucky Orientals.

*

In fourth grade, my teacher assigned the class to write a Halloween story.  I used my brother’s computer, a heat-spewing bludgeon with a black-and-cyan monitor.  After seven pages, however, the cursor froze at the edge of the screen, forcing me to go back and wrap up my story quicker.  The next day, I discovered that my classmates’ stories hardly went up to two pages.  My teacher flipped through my dot-matrixed creation warily.

For me, ghost stories were second nature.  I’d read the anthologies in my elementary school library — 100 Great Ghost Stories; Tales of the Supernatural — the page edges brown and warped from moist fingertips.  I’d come across, time and again, the same Victorian and Edwardian writers:  Sheridan Le Fanu, M.R. James, Arthur Machen, Robert Aickman, Walter de le Mare, Algernon Blackwood.  (Lafcadio Hearn must surely have been among them.)  I absorbed the stories, ingested the prose until the word ‘eldritch’ became part of my every day speech.

And yet, my story read like a collection of horror movie clichés:  full moon; someone impaled on a television antenna; tame gore; someone falling into an open grave.  I wonder now:  what had happened to those eminent Victorians?

*

The final segment of Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan, “In a Cup of Tea,” comes not from Hearn’s Kwaidan, but instead from Kottō: Being Japanese Curios.  In introducing his story, Hearn relies on classic Gothic imagery (“Have you ever attempted to mount some old tower stairway, spiring up through darkness, and in the heart of that darkness found yourself at the cobwebbed edge of nothing?”) before starting his narrative.  But the story itself is incomplete:  Hearn ends the fragment with an ellipsis.  “I am able to imagine several possible endings;” he writes, “but none of them would satisfy an Occidental imagination.  I prefer to let the reader attempt to decide for himself the probable consequence of swallowing a Soul.”  Kobayashi, for his part, ends his film by showing the story-writer himself, trapped in a cistern of water, as if to suggest that this is the answer:  one becomes what one consumes.

Did Lafcadio Hearn disappear into a cup of green tea for swallowing the Japanese soul?

Will I disappear into a pot of orange pekoe?

I am able to imagine several possible endings, but none of them would satisfy an Occidental imagination.

This is my sister’s first Halloween with her older brother. She’s heard of trick-or-treating, of course, perhaps from some of the other children at Fort Chaffee, but that first October after they had arrived at the National Guard base was too confusing. Many of the other refugee families came with nothing, so there’s nothing to give out, and this is not home, this former POW camp. Who goes door-to-door in a barracks?

No, her first Halloween is in Carbondale, where the family’s sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Lee, live. The Lees are elderly, religious, and that Sunday, when the family trots off to church on Sunday, she leans against her father, who has closed his eyes in a good approximation of prayer, and naps.

The end of October air is brisk. The Lees’ church provided them with some cool weather clothing, but no costumes, and so she wears her everyday clothes. She feels conspicuous. She is nine; her brother is twelve.

The sun has disappeared under the horizon, but orange light still suffuses the sky like fire. Jack o’lanterns exude the odor of pumpkin from jagged mouths. Her brother rings the doorbell, and they hold out their plastic grocery bags.

“Trick or treat,” he says, and she echoes it a moment afterwards.

Puzzled, the homeowner reaches for the candy bowl. He speaks very slowly, as if they can’t understand.

“Halloween is tomorrow,” the man says.

Her brother whispers to her in Vietnamese: I’ve got it covered.

“It’s a school night,” he says.

This is my sister’s first Halloween with her younger brother. He’s heard of trick-or-treating, of course, since he’s spent most of his life in America, and now that they’ve moved to Aurora, Colorado, Vietnam seems further away than ever. This is the suburbs; they have their own furniture (not new, but new-ish), and even their parents know to turn off the lights to discourage people from coming to the door.

She’s long outgrown trick-or-treating, but her little brother seems excited by the promise of free candy. Each year, Halloween grows larger and larger; Vu Lan and Tết Trung Thu seem distant, like days that appear on the calendar, but nowhere else. Tonight, she will take him door-to-door.

Snow starts to fall; the first snow of the season. Her brother has refused to wear the plastic frock that came with his Smurf costume; he only wears the mask, but he complains that it makes it difficult to breathe.

“You don’t have to wear it all the time,” she says. She is fourteen; he is five.

He has started to make friends with other kids on the street; she has her friends at school. Her other brother is looking at the School of Mines. Next year, he will not need her to accompany him. She tells him to use a pillowcase, and not one of those tiny baskets the other children use. “You can fit more candy in.”

He looks at her for tips on sugar acquisition.

“I used to trick-or-treat the day before Halloween,” she says. “Then again on Halloween.  Twice the candy!”

I bought a copy of Carnival of Souls in high school.  The age of VHS — magnetic tape, we called it.  Video rental stores were as plentiful as trilobites, and brontosaurus-sized Blockbusters lumbered across the land.  I had mastered taping movies right off the TV or making tape-to-tape duplicates.  At the time, I thought taping at EP or SLP instead of SP meant that I could fit more movies onto a single tape, thus ‘saving tape,’ but I didn’t learn until later how that degraded the picture quality.  Watching the tapes repeatedly, as well, wore out the tape, and, over time, the movies became ghosts of themselves, shaky and speckled, one image bleeding into the next.

I owned very few horror movies on VHS.  In the 80s, videotapes of movies were expensive — priced for rental, not ownership, and the film was a staple on PBS; on Halloween night, I could count on either Carnival of Souls or Night of the Living Dead playing (much in the way that I could expect falling snow during trick-or-treating).   Nevertheless, I bought my copy from the Aurora Mall Suncoast Video.  On the cover, a dazed, muddy Candace Hilligoss clambers out of a river, and the title whirls its way out the home for psychedelic fonts.

Cynthia Freeland, in her book The Naked and the Undead, suggests that horror movies work by the processes of fusion and fission.  Fusion, she explains, is the conflation of discrete entities:  the distinct states of being of ‘living’ and ‘dead,’ for instance, merge into ‘living dead’; the physical distinctions between ‘man’ and ‘beast’ blur into the form of a werewolf (or, if you prefer, a sexed-up humanoid cicada).

Fission, on the other hand, is the separation of a conceived-of whole.  Killers with split personalities exhibit fission, as do most slasher films (separation of head from body, viscera from stomach, fingernails from fingers).  Carnival of Souls, then, is all about the fission:  from her godless organ playing to her sangfroid with a potential suitor, Mary’s soul seems detached from her body.

Watching the movie so long after abandoning my VHS tapes to the dusty ignominy of my parent’s basement, I feel a similar fission.  It’s the process of growing up; the theory-addled academic can no longer be the giddy teenager walking out of the mall, though he remembers the smell of ozone from a hot VCR player; the crinkling as he removes the cellophane; the shaking hands as he inserts a new videotape into the player, waiting for phantasmagoric images to flicker into life.  He still enjoys the movie on an aesthetic level:  the atmospheric shots of the abandoned amusement park, the oblique camera angles.  But he wonders when the white-faced ghouls will catch up, dragging him, kicking and screaming, back to the decrepit Saltair pavilion.

My knowledge of Peeping Tom will forever be incomplete.  For some reason, my disc freezes and refuses to play from about the 75-minute mark to the 85-minute mark.  (From what I understand, I miss two crucial scenes:  Mrs. Stevens’ confrontation with Mark and the psychologist’s explanation of scopophilia.)  And now that Criterion’s version is out-of-print, I can’t easily go out and buy a new one.  I looked to see if the disc was scratched, but no:  all I could see was my horrified reflection staring back at me, screaming No, no!

Even with the commentary track switched on, no go.  Shortly after Laura Mulvey says, “It was Andre Bazin who first pointed out the relationship between photography and death,” she cuts out entirely.  Even stranger:  when I went to check out Visual and Other Pleasures from the University of Delaware library today, it was listed as ‘missing.’

The world conspires to keep me ignorant.

I know just enough film theory to pontificate convincingly, but not enough to do it with conviction.  My lack of conviction, however, wasn’t enough to keep me from presenting a paper at the 8th Annual Lambda Rising Queer Studies Conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  (I don’t believe that a 9th Annual Conference ever took place.)  This was in the spring of 2000, after I’d already decided to attend the University of Houston for my MFA in fiction writing.  I don’t recall ever taking a formalized class in film as an undergraduate; most of what I knew was self-taught.  I was a dilettante.  Still, I thought, it would be fun.

So the Saturday morning of the conference, Matthew and I made our way up to Boulder.  I’d practiced my presentation — a running commentary on the film Sleepaway Camp — with the ease of a man trying to pass off a cubic zirconia as a diamond.  And I wonder if my nervousness that day was akin to the nervousness I feel the first day of classes every semester:  all those faces, waiting for you to feed them knowledge.

My presentation, admittedly, was an unholy mish-mash of Laura Mulvey, Carol Clover and Harry Benshoff — not to mention that Sleepaway Camp hardly merits critical attention.  But as I lectured, I could almost believe my own theories:  the camera as not just a male gaze, but a homosexual male gaze; watch how it travels beneath the partition of the bathroom to peek at the occupant, how it lingers on the bodies of the male skinny-dippers.  Oh, Camille Paglia would have my head on a platter, but theory is nothing if it isn’t a way to look at the world, and while I spoke, I understood the world of Camp Arawak, and the foothills sunshine of the city outside me, and the audience that sat before me, who gasped as that curling iron really went you-know-where.

I got a giddy little thrill when the opening credits for The Most Dangerous Game rolled:  “from the O. Henry Prize Winning Collection story by Richard Connell.”  Ohmigod, I thought, that could be me.  In the past several years, there’s been a small resurgence of movies adapted from short stories:  In the Bedroom from the Andre Dubus’ “Killings”; Jindabyne from Raymond Carver’s “So Much Water So Close to Home”; The Illusionist from Steven Millhauser’s “Eisenheim the Illusionist.”  When Zoetrope: All-Story accepts a story, the contract asks for both first serial rights and a one-year film option (previously, the right of first negotiation to acquire film rights).  Why can’t my story (or two! three!) be adapted into a film?  I’d even be willing to write sequels for as long as the franchise is profitable.

Some writers of literary fiction disdain cinematic aspirations.  Why would I want to sully my artistic output with crass commercialism? they scoff.  But I wonder if having a film made of your work is a dream which literary writers must harbor secretly, like an urge to kick pigeons.  No one wants to admit to selling-out; no one wants to be known as the pigeon abuser.

Herein lies the other dream that writers hold deep in their hearts — less of a dream, really, and more of a dagger:  I’m going to be forgotten.  Richard Connell, for example, received three O. Henry awards in his lifetime, but the rest his work has mostly faded from memory.  Indeed, if it weren’t for the film of The Most Dangerous Game, I might not have known of him at all.

Literary fame touches so few, remembers so few.  When I look at the table of contents of the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, I wonder how many of my fellow recipients will continue to work, to be lauded.  All of them, I hope.  But Count Zaroff is a ruthless hunter, and only a lucky few escape the island; the rest end up as preserved heads in his trophy room.  The way I see it, Ha Jin, Nadine Gordimer, Paul Theroux and Junot Diaz are already on the speedboat.

It might be that I place too much stock in the idea of writing ‘for posterity.’  It also might be that the New Yorker’s list of 20 Writers Under 40 put me in the doldrums when they misspelled my name as ‘Joshua Ferris.’  But I keep going anyhow — once you’ve accepted the invitation to be the most dangerous game, you have no choice but to continue, avoiding Malay man catchers and Burmese tiger pits as necessary.

Just in case, though, I offer this memo to Hollywood executives, listing acceptable changes if you’d like to adapt my story for the screen:

· instead of regular middle school, school for ninjas.

· Vietnamese Communists to be replaced with Chinese Communists.

· add adolescent love interest and crunk dancing sequence.

· traumatic flashbacks involving carpet bombing will be shot in slow-motion.

· fewer eviscerations; more beheadings.

· post-production conversion to 3-D.

· all Asian roles can be played by white actors.

· in the end, it’s all a dream anyway.

One drawback to watching films with a ‘shocking twist’ or a ‘shocking ending’ is that the shock only works once.  I watched The Sixth Sense like it was the second coming of Jacques Tourneur, but the second time around, I thought, “This movie’s as dead as Bruce Willis’ hair follicles.”

I always hoped that Diabolique would be one of those suspense films that hold up to repeated viewings.  My first time watching it, I felt tense and agitated, unbearably so, as Vera Clouzot wandered the dark hallways of her boarding school, her heart straining in her chest.  Returning to the film a few years later, I waited for same dread to creep along the back of my neck.  While I could admire the film’s craft — a wardrobe door opening and framing the frightened schoolmistress in its mirror — that sense of horror didn’t arrive.  I know what’s coming, I thought.  And then it didn’t come.

Being unable to rid myself of previous expectations or to sufficiently suspend disbelief is my own fault, but immediate reactions such as surprise and wonder are always tenuous and fleeting.  They’re momentary miracles, like snow in Texas.

This past weekend, I made my second trip to New Orleans.  I’d been there about 8 years before and was seduced by its bizarre charms and even more bizarre odors.  Voodoo!  Ghost tours!  24-hour gay bars!  Above ground cemeteries!  Drunken frat boys!  This time around, however, I passed the voodoo shops without glancing.  I pitied for the heavily-costumed ghost tour leaders, leading around their stickered charges to the next balmy location.  Even the drunken revelers seemed more annoying:  on Bourbon St., a frat boy slammed his shoulder into me without so much as an apology.  I daresay he did it on purpose — I wonder if he later laughed with his friends about that dude he’d knocked around like a bowling pin.

I was in town for a literary conference, lured by my friend S___, who has attended this conference for the past several years and had talked it up as a networking extravaganza.  But this time, he seemed less than taken.  “I basically came here,” he said, “to meet up with people I haven’t seen in a while.”  He compared previous trips to this one:  the ribs in the Faubourg Marigny restaurant were better last year.  There were no torrential downpours.  The mosquitoes seemed less blood-thirsty.

On the last night of the conference, we gathered upstairs at the Bourbon Street Pub and soaked in the cool weather — the floor-soaking rains from the morning now a moist memory.  It was warm enough to wear short-sleeved shirt, and the humidity had hit breathable levels.  On the balcony overlooking t he street, I shielded my eyes from the sun and talked to newfound friends.  I devoured the plates of Costco cream puffs that had been set out.  Bourbon St. was as quiet as it ever gets, five different types of music blaring out of four different bars.

This slice of the city, this moment of contentment and calm — I won’t be able to replicate it, even if I wanted to.  But the next time I’m in New Orleans, I suspect that it will return to haunt me — a dead headmistress giving a young boy back his slingshot.

In Blood for Dracula, the titular count suffers withdrawal and cries out for “wergins!  I must have the blood of wergins!”  Anything less makes him puke.

I can relate.  Until this evening, I had a sealed, mint condition copy of Blood for Dracula (now out-of-print).  With trepidation, I peeled away the skin of cellophane like it was a prom dress and picked away the top edge sticker.  The DVD breathed a sigh of relief, and it was done.  Breaking that seal lost me $50 on the resale market — it was no longer pure.  I had deflowered my DVD.

I blame the fetishization of purity on comic books — the collecting habit for young obsessive-compulsives.  I had never worried about keeping my toys in pristine condition.  Out of the package they came, and I abused them until their decals wore off and the plastic weapons broke off in their hands.

But once I got into comic books, it was less about the content than the condition of the object.  Bent spine?  That’s $5 out of your pocket.  Corners bent?  30% of value gone.  Accidentally spill your drink on the cover?  My friends, you now hold nothing more than colorful wood pulp in your hands.  I referred to the price value guide books like they were a holy codex.  The book itself became sacrosanct, something to protect, reliquary-like, in poly bags outfitted with acid-free backing boards.

Then, in the early 90s, comic book publishers decided it would be a good idea to pre-bag comic books with trading cards or such.  But that meant you couldn’t read the comic book without opening the bag, which would downgrade the value from mint condition to near mint, at best — much like taking your clothes out of the dry cleaning bag make them slightly less clean.  So for those of us obsessed with intact comic book hymens, that meant buying two copies.

But the real problem was that I had fooled myself into thinking that these comic books would be worth more than I had spent on them initially.  Someday.  I heard stories all the time about secret treasure troves of comics, worth sums that would comfortably pay for major surgery in the  United States.  The comics I had organized and filed away in long, white cardboard boxes were a retirement fund.  A four-color 401(K).

Of course, I hadn’t counted on that fact that millions of other kids probably had the same idea.  As well, their comics books were most likely in better condition because they had had turned the pages with tweezers under a low-radiation light bulb.  In short, the market was flooded and my four-color investment was entertaining but worthless.  Better I had learned about complex derivatives instead.

But all this presupposes that the primary motive for collecting is for financial gain.  People collect things in order to enjoy them (psychological disturbances notwithstanding).  With that in mind, I undertook this project knowing that all those perfectly sealed discs would have to be opened.  I had two choices:  I could be snobby and say that I own the entire Criterion Collection, or I could be unbearably pretentious and say that I’ve watched the entire Criterion Collection.  Let it be said that I’m always interested in ways I can be more insufferable.

I’ve struggled with what to say about Flesh for Frankenstein for several days now.  Should I talk about how I once taught The Bride of Frankenstein in a film class?  Or about gay adoption?  My interactions with tall, lumbering men with “abby normal” brains (or, for that matter, my love of Young Frankenstein)?  None of these seemed to work.

Now, I realize why:  in the classic monsters of Hollywood pantheon, Frankenstein runs dead last.  Behind vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and zombies.  Behind the mummy, for God’s sake.  All the other creatures have had recent spates of popularity.  Zombies, for instance, seem to rule the direct-to-DVD horror movie market lately; vampires see their fortunes come and go but are, for better or worse, omnipresent.  And both werewolves and the mummy have had big-name remakes, as well as mini-resurgences here and there.  But Frankenstein?  Frankenstein is the red-headed step-child, sitting quietly in the corner, waiting to be picked to dance.

This is why I have to go way back to Bride of Frankenstein to find a Frankenstein movie that has stuck with me.  The Bride nearly killed Jennifer Beals’ career (what a feeling!… but somehow Sting continues to find work?).  Frankenstein Unbound veers towards the ridiculous.  Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 version is, much like Coppola’s Dracula, too pretentious and overwrought for its own good.  Certainly, films deploy the Frankenstein tropes often:  the  mad scientist meddling with God’s law, genetic overreach, the creature escaping from its master’s plans.  Any movie in which the government creates the perfect bio-engineered killing machine tips its hat to poor, doomed Victor.

Part of the reason might be that other subgenres are packed with symbolic possibility.  Vampires are, of course, all about seduction, while werewolves struggle to contain the beast within.  Zombies nowadays can represent almost anything (and those who argue that zombies aren’t erotic merely haven’t watched the right films).  But Frankenstein is and will always be a creation myth — Mary Shelley’s subtitle to Frankenstein is, after all, A Modern Prometheus).  The horror of Frankenstein isn’t the fact that the doctor created life out of death, but that he created life outside out sexual activity.

Flesh for Frankenstein gleefully tosses all this aside and instead introduces scopophilia, nymphomania, scar tissue fetishism, necrophilia, and — I’m not sure what the psychological term for an untoward sexual attraction for gallbladders is, but there it is.  Our poor Slavic Frankenstein makes longing eyes at lusty peasant Joe Dallesandro — possibly the gayest Frankenstein movie since Dr. Pretorius pranced across the screen in The Bride of Frankenstein.  All of which is to say that Paul Morrissey has somehow stitched together this movie from numerous spare parts.  And it lives!  It lives!

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