Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Architectural Modernism as Evil in the Movies–The Magazine!

"I don't think that any iteration of modernism was ever intended to convey coldness, though it's certainly been codified that way in various pop cultural vehicles, Hollywood movies among them. I suppose it's funny, in the end, that even these happy, vibey California homes can somehow be retrofitted to house vice. And that the filmmakers would deem them appropriate containers for villainy in the first place is something I can't help but smile at."
Benjamin Critton discusses his "tabloid treatise," Evil People in Modern Homes in Popular Films, now on sale at Printed Matter. (via, via)

19 Comments / Post A Comment

keisertroll (#1,117)

Does the front cover come in poster form? Because I want to hang it on my wall and pay twice as much for it.

Matt (#26)




6h057 (#1,914)


Art Yucko (#1,321)


deepomega (#1,720)

Everyone knows that evil comes in two forms: clean and modern, and cluttered and gothic. Your villain should be in a castle or in a glass box.

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

I can\\\'t wait to read this…but I would argue that there is no form of house not associated with evil in American film, from the picket-fence New England Colonials of \\\"Blue Velvet,\\\" \\\"A Nightmare on Elm Street\\\" and \\\"The Amityville Horror\\\" to the Spanish Colonials of \\\"Double Indemnity\\\" and \\\"Sunset Boulevard\\\" and of course including the grand Victorian mansions in \\\"The Haunting,\\\" etc., and the Greek Revival plantations in \\\"Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,\\\" etc. Log cabins, trailer homes, suburban cookie-cutter developments and Frank Lloyd Wright masterworks all have received the going-over fairly equally.

I think it\'s less the presence of evil and more the type of evil that is associated with a particular style.

I may agree with you!

Though I do think Evil Housing is probably lumped into tropes, right? And you're naming some super-good ones here. I love Evil White Picket Fence myself.

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

Let's not forget the Gothic apartment house: "Rosemary's Baby"

And the modern apartment house: "Sliver"

And the Art Deco hotel: "the Shining"

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Yes, and Evil Housing + Violin Glissando = SUPEREVIL

But Evil Modernist Housing + Elliott Carter = Alienated Richies

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Any Stephen King film is rife with white-picket fence wickedness.

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

Yeah, in terms of tropes, I would argue that the picket fences stand for modern-day repression and hypocrisy, the Spanish colonials suggest indolence and sensual perversion, the Victorian mansions and Greek Revivals symbolize troubled pasts, ill-gotten gains, snobbery and insanity (the Greek Revivals also featuring the stain of slavery). Log cabins = existentialistic horror and nature horror, trailer parks and similar dwellings are fears of poverty and degradation, suburban cookie cutter developments stand in for random violence and alienation and Frank Lloyd Wright just seems to work whatever film you put him in, from "Blade Runner" to "The House on Haunted Hill."

Modernist House evil tends to be about either Bond-villain like chicanery or sterile sociopathic behavior.

zidaane (#373)


Art Yucko (#1,321)

Of this particular genre of evil as it is applied to Modernist architecture, I'd say one stellar example of recent years was Lynch's Lost Highway. If you aren't creeped out by the house that Fred/Renee~Pete/Alice live in, you must not be paying attention.

Matt (#26)

Now do Tony Stark's beach chalet in Iron Man.

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

Truly, "Lost Highway" was one of the most unnerving films ever made, and also featured a great Malibu-style house with swimming pool, where the most frightening scene in the whole film takes place.

The Wright-inspired house in "North by Northwest" is also worthy of mention.

It's in there! I have one!

C_Webb (#855)

Don't forget the great old Eddie Murphy joke about why white people stay in haunted houses, which made his role in Disney's Haunted Mansion all the more depressing.

Slapdash (#174)

I'm just happy that people are still making zines.

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