If you’re a cult film fanatic and you haven’t read Kier-La Janisse’s amazing House of Psychotic Women: An Autobigoraphical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films, go buy it and read it now.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Done? Good. By now you know that the book is part memoir and part film study written by someone who is steeped in genre knowledge. Janisse weaves this knowledge with memories of her own life, using the films to help tell her story and explain how she became obsessed with celluloid.
Even though the stories are raw and real, the film analysis is very measured and informed, so it presents a very unusual narrative that feels both personal and highly intellectual. And it did what all film theory or critique should do – it changed the way I look at film in my own life.
Because Janisse specializes in rare cult and exploitation films, I hadn’t seen 90% of the movies mentioned in the book. I wanted to watch as many of them as possible, and since we already have a platform to talk about film, I decided to document my journey along the way.
In a new blog series, I’ll be watching the films Janisse writes about once a week and writing about my experience. I’ll include where she discusses the movie in the book, how I watched the film, and my thoughts on the picture. In some cases, the films are rare and very difficult to find, but I will make every effort to try to locate all of them. (If you know how to get access to one of the films I’m missing, feel free to contact me through our email, or leave a comment below!)
Mubi user Dana Danger has put together a beautifully curated list of the films discussed in the book, which I’ll be using as my guide. Check it out, if you’d like to follow along!
So, join me on my journey through the House of Psychotic Women. Week by week, we’ll discover together how women, depictions of mental illness, and the horror genre are represented in film through the lens of one remarkable woman’s life.
We start tomorrow with Sidney J. Furie’s The Entity (1983), starring Barbara Hershey. It’s available on Amazon for DVD purchase.