Plot summary[ edit ] Jonathan Gates is a student at UCLA in the early s, where he begins his love affair with film at The Classic, a rundown independent movie theatre. Clare, meanwhile, has become a respected New York film critic, entrusting the Classic theatre to her one-time projectionist Don Sharkey, who stops showing artful films in favor of shallow entertainment for a new generation of moviegoers. Among the up-and-coming directors Sharkey showcases is year-old Simon Dunkle, creator of ultra-low budget exploitation films of unprecedented gore and remarkable popularity among young people. Gates learns Dunkle belongs to the same religious sect as Max Castle. Gates begins to investigate the Orphans, despite their own attempts to stifle his research and the adverse effect that the constant viewing of Orphan-made films is having on his personality.

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Ulmer Seeing Edgar G. I had to admit, I never really thought of Flicker as a horror novel in the strictest sense while I was immersed in it— the first half reads more like an indulgent orgy of movie lore woven expertly into a pleasingly reluctant, expertly teased detective story.

Ulmer, and much, much more. I did, and I will again soon. It would not be the last time the book would evoke the spirit and the specter of the late and great film critic. Pauline Kael — Photo courtesy of Nick Lacy Photography Flicker is an orgy for movie lovers too, but not precisely the kind Kael was suggesting. Mayhem, mutilation, rape, surrealistic sadism. Beyond this, nothing. But it moved briskly and with great precision, so that, in spite of myself, I was beginning to find it satirically effective.

A great American cannibal feast as Mack Sennett might have handled it if he lacked all inhibition. Gates traces his own path down into the basement Classic, from childhood fascination with the exploits of a fictional serial heroine, busty Nylana the Jungle Girl, through an adolescent fixation on James Dean and Marlon Brando.

Ulmer with a tendency toward the transgressive impulses of a Herschell Gordon Lewis—were largely lost or left to indifferent decay. Why is the viewer left with the feeling, during the vampire seductions he choreographs, that there might be real sex going on beneath the veneer of familiar horror iconography?

Forgive me as I try to remain as spoiler-free and vague as possible. Part of the experience of watching old films, especially on TV in the days predating VCRs and the home video movement but even during the heyday of revival theaters, was the feeling of being visited by ghosts, by thoughts and intentions and expressions that lay just outside of articulation, generated by people on and off screen who were often years, decades dead.

Seen from this perspective, the whole of cinema history can be painted, if not with the malevolent strokes hinted at by Max Castle and his legacy, then at least with a sort of gothic mournfulness, pictures of a past that cannot entirely accurately represent or express the intricacy of their origins. The films have their own purpose, their own urgency, but they also call to us like a lighthouse through a very thick fog, and perhaps only part of that purpose makes it through the mist.

As one moves through Flicker it becomes clear that, for Roszak, some things should be unclear, should be left unseen. But if this is so, it is also true that the author has reserved his most awful, frightening joke for last, and patience will reward the reader who makes his way toward the light at the end of the tunnel, and the dimming of that light, pinched off as if by the closing of an iris.

He spends his precious little free time writing, cooking and trying to reconcile himself to a new reality weighted more toward catching up on movies at home, where distractions abide, and less in the overpriced, chatter-infested environs of 21st-century cinemas.


Flicker by Theodore Roszak

Nobody these days would think of using a hole in the wall like that for a theater. But in its time — the middle fifties — it was the humble home of the best repertory film house west of Paris. Now, looking back more than twenty years, I can see how appropriate it was that my first encounter with the great Castle should take place in what might have passed for a crypt. It was a little like discovering Christ in the catacombs long before the cross and the gospel became the light of the world. I came like the bewildered neophyte wandering into the dark womb of an unformed faith, and found Not a sign of the kingdom and glory to come.


Flicker: A Novel

Start your review of Flicker Write a review Shelves: read-in , monster-movies 4 stars "I really liked it". Short version: Despite a troubling and dated narrative voice and an off-the-rails ending, I greatly enjoyed this book about hidden film imagery and religious conspiracy. He represents the very worst of baby boomer patriarchy. The only women important in this book are ones that sleep with the 4 stars "I really liked it". Modern culture is, according to the narrator, literally destroying humanity; MTV and John Waters movies are soon going to have us all grunting like cavemen. Sometimes the plot is interrupted so the narrator can go on multiple-page rants about "kids these days. This book is also slow paced.


Theodore Roszak (scholar)


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