Sunday, August 03, 2008

Nit Pickers Anonymous

Why do I have to be this way? Why do I have to be such a nit picker? Why do I take one small bit and make it representative of the whole?

That's the case when I read Nikolas Schreck's The Satanic Screen. Satan's appearances on the silver screen have long fascinated me. I grew up during Satan's heyday -- the '70s. He was racing with Warren Oates and Peter Fonda. He was aiding cheerleading squads. He was popping out progeny like mad. And, he was making lots of girls do lots of naughty things.

Schreck expounds on Satan's many guises since the inception of cinema, starting with his portrayals by George Melies and concluding with his role in The Ninth Gate. Along the way, Schreck breaks down Satan's career by decade with special attention paid to his heyday in the '60s and '70s. Schreck's writing is informative and wonderfully scathing when skewering lower grade demonic fare.

So what's my problem with Schreck's book? It's not the omission of Psychomania, one of my favorite "pact with frog as Devil" films. No, it's his coverage of Boris Sagal's The Omega Man. I can understand reading the vampiric night denizens as a comment on the Manson Family but Schreck errs when he talks about a nuclear war and the protagonist's crucifixion. Yes, Neville (Charlton Heston) ends up in a "Jesus Christ Pose" but it's in a fountain, not on a cross.

Why am I being so picky? Mostly because I'm not familiar with 99% of the movies Schreck discusses. Thus, if he screws up the details of the one film I know then how am I to know that the rest of his coverage is flawless and he only messed up that one time? I can only hope he didn't and believe what I've read is as accurate as it is entertaining. I can definitely make exceptions for older films or movies not available on video -- there are concessions to be made for memory. But, The Omega Man?

Regardless, I recommend this read.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Mike he does get Crucified in the movie (at least it's attempted). It's when the mutants have him in the stadium and are trying to burn him before he gets rescued. So that
author might be correct.

Mike White said...

Ahhh, I'd forgotten all about that. Good point! Maybe I'm just being a dick!

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