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Donato Totaro

Related: horror film - film criticism - women and horror films

Donato Totaro is an Canadian academic who writes for offscreen.com. I discovered him in the summer of 2003, with this article on horror in relation to feminism.

Koji Wakamatsu

Koji Wakamatsu is one of the more important directors to have worked in the pink film (pinku eiga), a genre of softcore, dramatically charged films which were dominant on the Japanese domestic scene in the 1960’s and 1970’s (the roman porn were a more radical and explicit subset of the pink film). The Japanese studios who produced these films, including Nikkatsu, were reluctant to distribute these films abroad, for fear of the sort of image the films would project of Japan. Seeing these films today one must conclude that it was not the more obvious sexual display that worried the Japanese, but the radical anarchist politics of the films, perhaps above all else, often compounded by violent sadomasochism, and the undercurrent of misogyny.--Donato Totaro, http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/ecstasy_angels.html


The site where Donato Totaro writes for:

Horror is not Dead

Historically, Halloween has its origins with the ancient Druids, who believed that on the eve of "All Saints' Day," the lord of the dead, Saman, would summon a host of evil spirits. These days the only evil spirits called on during Halloween (excluding all those little tyrants running around in costumes!) are those emanating from movie screens. And it appears that everyone is a horror fan come Halloween. But also, these days it isn't always clear what constitutes a horror film, a question I would like to address here. Many folk lament the "death" of the horror genre (fans have heard that echoing forever), pointing to the market-driven taste for big-budget spectacle, science-fiction and star vehicles. Or, they say that perhaps people have just become too cynical to be taken for a good old-fashioned scare-ride. That we've lived through too many wars and political horrors to crave or desire fictional horror (and there's nothing scarier than a gloomy, looming uncertain future). As I've argued elsewhere ("Independent Horror"), good, effective horror is still being made, only much of it is scattered around the globe. My argument here is that we need to (re)consider the evolving nature of the horror genre (and by extension all genre) and that much of what I (and other) genre fans would consider as horror today is not marketed as such by the powers that be, and consequently is not considered as horror by most mainstream viewers and critics. -- Donato Totaro, http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/9710/halloween_anglais/scare.html

Gilles Deleuze [...]

Both Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson were, to extremely varying degrees, philosophers interested in cinema who used cinema to suit their particular intellectual needs. In the case of Bergson, he cultivated his ideas during a zeitgeist that included the invention of cinema (late 19th century). To a large extent, Bergson's philosophical ideas were shaped by the same cultural, economic, and technological climate that gave rise to narrative cinema. Deleuze on the other hand, erected a two-volume Bergsonian philosophy of cinema toward the end of the century that stands as one of the most stimulating studies of time and cinema. Although a self-professed Bergsonian, Deleuze's sprawling philosophical style is in stark contrast to Bergson's precise and systematic philosophical system. Deleuze's postmodern style is part of its appeal -playful, mercurial, and open to creative interpretation. Terms that are meant to carry critical weight are introduced offhandedly and then left hanging for pages. One neologism gives birth to three others. In a sense, Deleuze's style, forever Becoming, is more Bergsonian than Bergson. --Donato Totaro,"Gilles Deleuze's Bergsonian Film Project"  Part 1 by Donato Totaro


  1. Eaten Alive!: Italian Cannibal and Zombie Movies - Jay Slater [Amazon US]

    Eaten Alive! tells the story of the graphically gory movies created from the late 1970s through the early 1990s by Italian exploitation moviemakers. Jay Slater explains how the myth of the Haitian walking dead (zombies) merged with legends of third-world cannibalism to create such gruesome zombie cult films as Cannibal Holocaust, an acknowledged influence on The Blair Witch Project. --amazon.com

    But the real find here, for me is a guy called Donato Totaro who I’ve never heard of but is another academic. While he intellectualises the splatter genre, you never feel he’s doing it just to apologise for liking this stuff – whether he’s giving us the HP Lovecraft angle on Fulci’s well-worn Gates of Hell films or drawing lines between Michel Soavi’s Dellamorte Dellamore and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, he convinces with his intellect and that he clearly loves these films. --Richard Wilson via amazon.co.uk

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