Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kiss Me Deadly: some personal reminiscences

I wrote about seeing Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly for the umpteenth time one or two posts back. I got to thinking about when and where I saw the film for the first time. You know, the film was banned in Finland for 40 years, mostly for being so violent (and it really is, and the soundtrack is full of screaming, screeches, beatings and explosions). I read about it here and there (in Danny Peary's book Cult Movies, for example) and was really intrigued for years. You have to remember this was the time before the internet - you just couldn't swing your Visa and order a VHS from abroad, like you do now (except that you don't order any VHS's anymore).

I'm not sure anymore whether I first saw Kiss Me Deadly in television or in a cinema club screening. I remember distinctly though that I had a hand in showing the film in the cinema club of Pori, where I grew up, and this was already the second time I saw the film. This happened in 1988 or 1989. The film got its first actual screening in Finland in June, 1988. I see from the Elonet database that it was shown on television in 1989. This could be my first seeing of the film, and now that I think of it, I remember the thrill of seeing the ads for the film. I still remember that the teaser was taken from the scene in which Hammer buys popcorn and beats the shit out of a guy who's following him and makes him fall down the stairs - and probably kills him.

My father taped the film and I think I watched the video at least twice, if not more. I remember watching the tape with a friend of mine, who had some liking for film noir, mainly for the stylistic reasons - he liked to wear classic men's clothing. He was very disturbed after the film. He had to play piano to stop his hands shaking. (I'm of course exaggerating a little, but not much. My hands were shaking after I watched the film couple nights back.)

After that I must've seen the film in cinema clubs and the film archive screenings during the 1990's and 2000's, but how many times, I'm not sure. I remember some screenings during which the audience was laughing at the film, thinking it was some high camp. I also remember that influencing my own experience about the film, for which I'm sorry. Later, in the 2000's, I was giving a lecture on the history of cinema at the Tampere university and was talking about film noir and showed the scene in which Hammer tortures the morgue surgeon - the audience was thrilled, some were laughing, some were shocked.

Some years back I started to hear about the original, restored ending. The cheapskate that I am, I didn't order a DVD to watch it, but if it wasn't shown on Finnish television this week, I would've acted sooner or later. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend you do it at once.

(Oops... you might want to check this out. Not safe for work.)

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