Fuelled by childhood nightmares and memories of a haunted house, Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) makes eerie, dark, distorted electronica. After her 2011 debut album The Entire City, she returns with Unflesh, to be released later this year. Continuing her exploration of the human body through costume and disguise, she has created a new persona, a hooded, faceless girl (inspired by The Brood), to accompany the creepy vocals and menacing beats of her new material. Her new single, ‘Belly of the Beast’, is released on 3 March on Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records. It will be available for a limited time as a free download. For more information please visit Gazelle Twin’s website. Below, Elizabeth Bernholz picks the 10 films that have most thrilled and inspired her.
Watch a teaser clip from ‘Belly of the Beast’:
1. Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
I’ll get straight to the point: Alien (1979) is a far superior film in every way possible, but because I encountered Aliens so young, it has a very deep nostalgic significance for me. Between ages 9 and 19, I used any chance I had to watch it. Anytime, anywhere. Now I’m 32 and I still talk about it on a daily basis. It is about as Proustian as a film can get – the sheer excitement I get from the rain-soaked, half-eaten donut, the motion tracker sound effect, the fatty gloop of the Queen laying her eggs, the click of the buckle on the ‘loader’, Bishop’s milky blood – I could go on and on… I now realise that there are many more elements that appealed to my subconscious as an ‘outsider’ kid, and later as I endured the lonely terror of puberty, like the feral, clever character of the orphaned Newt surviving alone against all odds, and Ripley, a powerful maternal role model with a flamethrower. The film planted many integral seeds in my brain, and they’re just starting to sprout.
2. The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
I don’t know of a film as beautiful and heartbreaking as this. The story, the set design, the make-up, the acting… It’s a perfect film, and for me, the perfect subject matter. I based one of my costumes on Joseph Merrick’s silhouette through the sheer love of this film. I am always surprised by the fact that it was only made possible (and with Lynch’s final cut) because of the support of one of its ‘silent’ producers, Mel Brooks. If only the case had been the same for Dune…
3. The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979)
If psychosis took on a physical form, what would it look like? Of the horror films I’ve seen that feature child demons/monsters, I find this the most disturbing and visually lingering. There’s something extremely disconcerting about the brightly coloured snowsuits and matching, pastel, bedtime onesies worn by the ‘brood’. Together with their synchronised movements, they are the stuff of proper, unfiltered nightmares.
4. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
Aside from its industrial soundscape, visionary art direction and profound anxiety, what I love most of all about Eraserhead is that Lynch’s sense of humour remains present in all aspects, even the most physically disturbing scenes. And, like almost all of his films, the ‘making-of’ story behind it is just as thrilling as the thing itself.
5. Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)
In his Decalogue, Jan Švankmajer claimed, ‘Obsessions are the relics of childhood’, and this is another of mine. There’s so much sensuality and imagination in this film, it’s as if Švankmajer is able to inject MORE life into his props than he could in real, moving things. I’m mostly obsessed by the foley, which sometimes seems to be at odds with the visuals (but that’s what makes it all the more appealing to me). The crunching, scuttling, dripping, ticking… the out-of-sync English overdubs on the close-up of Alice’s mouth (speaking in Czech)…
6. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
The atmosphere of loneliness, panic and human weakness that is created in this film is unrivalled. The extreme horror is kept so brilliantly close to a comic-book portrayal of a story, with just enough comedy to maintain a balance. The Morricone score is one of my favourites, especially as it is still rooted in Carpenter’s minimalist synth drone world. I’ve made so many references to this in my own music that it’s verging on the obsessional.
7. Walkabout (Nic Roeg, 1971)
I have always been interested in the meeting point between tribal and urban life. This film makes something very special out of the collision of social circumstances, very particular to its setting. There are many more themes entangled in the story, most of which are never really made explicit. All the viewer ever really has to go on is Roeg’s compelling use of juxtaposition – universal harmonies and discordances.
8. The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962)
It’s hard to accurately describe the nauseating, nightmarish, psycho-surrealist atmosphere this film creates, and all with complete subtlety and surprise. It’s a feeling close to sleep paralysis or a night terror – a sort of inert doom without any obvious source. It harbours pretty bold socio-political, anti-fascist messages that are revealed in pleasingly pagan-like symbols (mostly animals – alive, or the remains of) and is summed up best by Roger Ebert’s review from 1997: ‘They’re trapped in their own bourgeois cul-de-sac’.
9. Who Can Kill a Child? (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1976)
Somewhere in between The Wicker Man (1973) and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), this film is possibly rendered more terrifying because of the time in which it was made. There’s something slightly MORE gruesome about 70s fake blood and 70s foley; films of this era seem to induce a particularly depressing effect on me (which I like). It’s the message in the screenplay that really intrigues me though. The idea of revenge as a collective instinct that has evolved out of the need to protect oneself, and revenge not just for personal trauma, but for humanity itself. I’m fascinated by studies of evolution in psychology, and this explores a hypothetical situation to the very extreme.
10. Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
Bergman is one of my all-time favourite philosopher/directors, and this was his last feature film. He said it summed up his entire life, and so the full, five-hour version is a real voyage to experience. It has many similarities to Night of the Hunter (1955), which was a very strong contender for my tenth film. It’s a brilliant depiction of childhood, where dreams and fears merge with fantasy and desire, to the point where it is no longer possible to distinguish either.