Monday, April 11, 2016


You have the right to vomit all along: gross, gross and gross incorporated


You will at once think of a film that came out in 1973 with Michel Piccoli, “Themroc,” in its English title “The Urban Caveman.” The book came out just two years later and it is an easy writing task. J.G. Ballard has the style of an easy-going and ordinary underground traveler. The plot is simple, at times surprisingly unclear and you will get lost in the 40 floors of this London high-rise, and first of all by the fact that such a high-rise with 2,000 inhabitants could ever be thought of in 1975. The only downtown tower block in those days was the Tottenham Court Tower if it was called that at the corner of Charring Cross Road and New Oxford Road, across from the Tottenham Court Road underground station. Then tower blocks were far away from the center and certainly not beyond twenty floors, what’s more not really luxurious high-rises, check “Only Fools and Horses” to have a picture of the type in those days. J.G. Ballard must have been writing science fiction in 1975 and he was imagining things like the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater or the Walkie Talkie. Why not the London Eye? The highest building in those days in that central area of London must have been the Monument.

But the imaging of this high-rise moving towards a fully self-contained universe that will little by little keep the inhabitants more or less captive and make them regress to the most primitive state of non-development: the survival of the hungry ones who do not have any prejudice or limits. We have to consider they went back to cannibalism and the last chapter but one is pure gross phantasm if not nightmare made dream again in a full pool of blood since the top floor has become a slaughterhouse of men in the hands of women and for the benefit of children. More regressive than I you die: back to your mothers men and just die. The only man that was there will be revealed to have died some time before a lot lower in the high-rise (10th floor and not 40th floor) and yet the second man arriving will shoot him, though not to death. Ghost or just hallucination?

And that final well named Mr. Wilder will walk armed with one small feminine hand bag pistol to the women there armed with sharp carving knives. Yum! Yum! Children, good meat on the way! And he has completely undressed himself to be ready for the pit I guess, not the pit of the pendulum, but the pit full of fire where he is going to be nicely roasted after being bled to death.

There is another man alive somewhere on the 25th floor and this one is the slave of two women and they have just eaten the last dog on the block and there is only a cat left after that and then two women against one man is not fair but it is clear.

And yet there is something missing in this short novel. It grosses the reader out a lot but it does not terrify him and it certainly does not horrify him or her actually, or is it momentarily, though it sounds rather like a novel written by a man for a male audience of the slightly not yet adult type.

They want to make a film adapted from this book? They will have to also make a big effort to make it reasonably believable: nearly 2,000 people disappeared from the face of London and no one, absolutely no one, though many of them worked in important positions outside, ever wondered what happened to their high-ranking personnel, or to their bosses when they did not show up to open the store (a jeweler’s store for example) or the businesses. It is not disbelief we must suspend. It is simple basic reason and sanity. There use to be a time when I got sick when watching horror films: that was in the 1970s, definitely before Stephen King who has entirely regenerated the genre, with a couple of other writers. But that is another story entirely.


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