Peter Tscherkassky (1999)

PopGap #28: Outer Space (1999)

By dorrk, May 25th 2017

While the other two avant garde short films in this month's Potluck Film Festival have had an enduring influence on mainstream cinema for several decades, Peter Tscherkassky's Outer Space — the second chapter in his Cinemascope Trilogy — works in the opposite direction, fashioning something new out of an existing commercial feature. In Sidney J. Furie's arguably exploitative 1982 horror movie The Entity, a woman (Barbara Hershey) is repeatedly assaulted by an unseen force. In a fearsome 10-minute burst, Tscherkassky repurposes The Entity with heavy optical processing to produce a startling meta-horror: in his version, it appears as if Hershey is being stalked and attacked by the very act of filmmaking, or even film itself. Whether Tscherkassky intends this as a comment on the misogynistic nature of horror, or movies in general, it's a viscerally bracing experiment that lashes out at the audience, as well, with its potentially seizure-inducing pulses of high contrast frames. It's disturbing and impactful, with compelling visual effects.

Outer Space was brought to my Potluck Film Fest by Flickcharter Mike Seaman, who can be found on Flickchart under the username Celldweller7. He ranks it on his chart at #541 / 2323 (77%), putting it at #4 on his chart of 108 short films. Outer Space ranked on my Flickchart at #1319 (66%) making it my 9th favorite out of 15 short films.

My Top 5 Short Films

Media Life Crisis recommendations!

Peter Tscherkassky

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