October is a scary month, both in metaphor and in history. Stock market crashes, serial killers, propaganda promoting political hysteria, lots of other things seem to pop up at this time. Urban legends take root, and conspiracy theories such as that involving the Reagan administration's deal with Iran, the now proverbial October Surprise.
If you could say that any month has a death wish, it would be October.
Just before Halloween, Hollywood usually releases a seasonal movie or two, a safe scare for those who need a distraction, an outlet to release some tension.
I picked up another two volumes of the Deep Focus series along with the DVDs on review: Johathan Lethem's THEY LIVE reviewing the left-leaning John Carpenter movie, and Christopher Sorrentino's DEATH WISH reviewing the right-wing film. Old time Halloween drive-in movie films.
I agree with Lethem's assessment of Carpenter's farce, a mostly campy movie with one marvelous section where Roddy Piper dons the glasses and sees through the capitalist propaganda.
Both books were worth reading and both movies well worth watching, in a campy, funny, Mystery Science Theater way: "I've come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of ass."
They Live, on its best and most serious level, is a paranoid look at modern politics and lifestyles. It takes its logic from George Orwell's 1984, with the psychopaths among the rich at the top of the pyramid (the inner party), sellout mainstream politicians just below that (the outer party), and everyone else below (the Proles). In this movie, the inner party has also sold out to the ghoulish aliens, a corporate alliance made for capital gains and expanded control. George Orwell's explanations can be seen at this link.
Halloween funny/scary, especially when you consider such recent books as Robert D. Hare's Snakes In Suits, Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, and Ellen E. Schultz's Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder And Profit From The Nest Eggs Of American Workers.
Lethem also offers literary interpretations of minor segments which gain added significance once you consider his arguments. Certainly an anti-Reagan film overall, it takes subtle swipes at greedy union officials which invoke Lethem's discussion of Bob Dylan's 1983 "Union Sundown."
The two Deep Focus books go together naturally; Lethem dedicates his work to Sorrentino; Sorrentino dedicates his work in part to Lethem.
Lethem's first epigraph is Sorrentino's take on deep literary analysis taking the place of surface messages. Sorrentino's first epigraph is the quote from Herman Melville's The Confidence Man, ending with "the Indian Hater is as good as gone to his long home, and 'Terror' is his epitaph."
Cormac McCarthy also used this in Blood Meridian and William Gay used The Long Home as the title for his first book.
Gay cites Melville's own source as an epigraph, Ecclesiastes, 12:5, "...desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets."
Death and the gothic death-in-life, prime subjects for the dark humor of the Halloween season.