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Since the entirety of October is officially Halloween this year (shut up, you!), we at Psycho Drive-In have decided to attempt to fill the month with thirty-one recommendations for horror-related movies, comics, books, TV shows, toys, games, and everything in-between. It’s gonna be a grab-bag of goodies we feel you should be exposed to, whether you like it or not! But don’t expect your standard suggestions for Halloween fun, we’re digging into some stuff that we love in the hopes that you might make this October a little bit weirder than usual.

Weirder in a good way. Not like what’s going on outside in the hellscape of 2020.

In 1995, David Cronenberg interviewed novelist Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was in hiding due to a Fatwa being put on his life by Muslim extremists because of his controversial book The Satanic Verses. This gave Cronenberg an idea of “a Fatwa against a virtual-reality game designer.” From this idea, eXistenZ (1999). For those who do not watch Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000- ), a Fatwa is a ruling under Islamic law on a style of worship and can sometimes call for the death of a person.

Video game designer, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a marketing trainee, Ted Pikul (Jude Law), are on the run from “Realist” assassins who believe video games and virtual reality have gone too far. In order to decide if the only copy of her most recent game is damaged, Geller must play the game with someone who is “friendly.” Not sure who to trust with her life and latest game, Pikul is her best hope. Incidentally, Pikul has never played a video game.

This movie is a must see for fans of video games, horror movies, and science fiction. Unlike most movies that have a plot that centralizes on technology, this film does not rely on digital imagery. This helps keep production costs down and also means that the movie is less likely to appear dated, a sad fate that even the best technology-based films fall victim to. Even though the movie is over 20 years old, I was easily convinced that it could have been set 20 years into our future.

Another clever aspect of the film is that the technology Cronenberg dreamed up is his own creation. The game console in the movie, is simply called a “game pod.” Instead of being pure machinery, it is a weird biological and mechanical hybrid that is alive. It uses an umbilical cord-like tube of wires to connect to a bio port in the small of the user’s back and runs off of the natural electricity that is in a person’s body. The port itself is a simple tramp stamp hole in a person’s back with a design around it. The bio port along with the concept of plugging in to the console is oddly sexualized. Geller says that Pikul’s port is excited and needs action. She even licks her finger and inserts it in his port. Meanwhile, Pikul is nervous because it is his first time plugging in.

At first, I felt these innuendoes were out of place, but in retrospect, it makes sense. The console itself is alive and connect to the body in a very intimate way. A game designer like Geller who spends hours upon hours with the console might view the game pod as an extension of herself. It is interesting to see the gender role reversal. In this instance, Geller is trying to coerce and pressure Pikul who is acting frigid or prudish.

eXistenZ not only kept me constantly trying to decide who Geller and Pikul could trust, but it also kept me busy while I was trying to decide what was real in the universe of the movie. It peeled back layer upon layer like an onion. It was hard to guess who really was friendly and who was out to get Geller. It was equally hard to decipher when Geller and Pikul were in the digital game world or in reality.

Willem Dafoe has a small role as Gas, a man who runs a gas station and also deals in illegal ports. His character in the film adds to the strangeness and otherworldliness of the film. He easily could have stolen the film from Law and Leigh, but his performance is just one of the many instances of control that the film exhibits. Dafoe could have easily been over the top and the film could have over explained itself or made cash-grabbing sequels. It is definitely a modern classic.

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