Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Notebook Extract


Otis turns Gloria around and whilst holding her neck he gently caresses her shoulder blade with the barrel of his gun. She is drawing short and panicked breaths, looking down at her husband. CUT. The side of his face and neck are splattered in congealing blood. He looks back up at her, helpless, knowing what is going to happen. He slowly drops his head and covers his face with his hat, unable to watch this humiliation. CUT. Otis continues to stroke Gloria’s body, trailing the barrel of the gun down her chest, between her breasts, pushing it beneath her bra. He whispers in her ear: “You like this don’t you. Say yes I do.” He pauses and then levers the cup of the bra off, exposing Gloria’s right breast. CUT. Otis grins. He continues to move the gun further down Gloria’s body, pressing himself against her as he pushes the gun into her panties and then between her legs. Gloria inhales sharply. Otis cocks the hammer of the gun and then begins to kiss Gloria, occasionally looking across at her husband.

“At the end of the day nothing really happens. It’s more just verbal abuse and mental intimidation but it’s so much worse than if he did anything”

Rob Zombie

Otis’s torturous act is carried out as a double performance and for a double audience. For Otis there is the dual pleasure of sexual arousal and the pleasure of humiliation. The gun – for Otis and the audience – is clearly a violent phallic symbol. As an extension of Otis is represents his power and authority whilst simultaneously allowing him the opportunity to indulge his perverse sexual needs. Pushing the gun between Gloria’s breasts, caressing her nipple with the barrel and then forcing it between her legs are all blatantly sexually aggressive actions, ones which simultaneously render her husband impotent and him as the powerful, dominant male.

The observers of this torture are both Gloria’s husband and friends and the audience themselves. Standing in front of the three hostages (and the camera), Otis carries out his humiliating actions. The characters watch as the audience watch, unable to move or act for fear of the consequences.

Although Zombie does not use any Point of View shot within this sequence (in fact, he rarely uses any POV shots throughout the entire film) he does force the audience into viewing the intimacy of the violation though using sustained close-up images. These are predominately of the sexual aggressive moments – a close up of the barrel pushing Gloria’s bra away to expose her breast, where the camera lingers on her erect nipple, all bleached out by the coarse sunlight filtering into the room and a further close-up of the gun being forced between her legs. So intense is this scene that these images take on the powerful connotations of the Point of View shot. Acting as a surrogate for this type of image, these close-ups highlight both the violation of Gloria and represent what her husband is seeing.

Given this, the torture itself becomes a double for just as Gloria must undergo the physical violation, her husband and friends must undergo a psychological torture: they can only sit and watch Gloria’s humiliation, bound by the knowledge that if they attempt to help her their actions will either get Gloria or themselves killed. Given Otis’s controlled sense of violence, it is likely that he would kill them both. This sense of character incapacitation finds itself reflected into the audience. Given the beginning of the film, the audience is aware that Otis is not just a psychopath but also a necrophile. The first time he is seen in the film is in ariel shot, lying in bed with both arms wrapped around the corpse of a naked cheerleader. His sadistic touching of Gloria can only lead to one conclusion – her rape and her death, with the order of these events remaining ambiguous. As the viewers gaze remains upon the lingering shots of Gloria’s exposed body the tension mounts as this inevitable conclusion draws near. This awful knowledge is in their eyes and that too is reflected in the eyes of Gloria’s husband. Seemingly aware of this, Zombie allows Otis further time to revel in the moment, making the scene a painful protraction for both the four innocent characters and the audience. And, just as they all think the inevitable is about to happen, Otis pushes Gloria away and tells the men they have work to do.

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