Monday, 13 June 2011

Revisited: KURONEKO

MARCH 2010

I close my eyes and again I feel the bite of the Flame on my naked flesh. My soul is burning. My loins are burning. This is a Hellish Consumption.

The film "Yabu no naka no kuroneko" left a lasting impression on me. A 1960s black and white Japanese horror film about feminine revenge and demonic lust will always score double points in my household. Set in feudal Japan, the first shot is of an isolated house in tranquil surroundings, birdsong being the only sound. An army of about 30 or 40 Samurai sneak slowly towards the house after a good five minutes of screen time and enter. They find a mother and daughter cooking inside, gang rape them and set fire to the building. Still the only thing on the soundtrack is birdsong. The next scene shows the charred remains of the two women being licked and eaten by hungry cats.
The rest of the film features a series of unfortunate samurai travellers being tempted away from the road by two beautiful women and then washing up in the river with their throats torn out. A war hero returns and is tempted away by the women, who later reveal themselves as Cat Demons or Bakeneko and try to eat him. He sets the house on fire and escapes, but the demons are never laid to rest.
This film caught my imagination so much that ever since I first saw I wanted to recreate it somehow. Recently, I had forgotten it entirely, until a friend of mine Innamana received second degree burns on her legs and hands. Her wounds reminded me of the film, well that and the fact that she looks a bit like a Persian Cat, or so I always thought.

Innamana was perfect for this role. She and her mother could be the demonic duo from the film, man-hating, spiritual, confrontational and feline in the most human way possible. I had always thought Innamana was a striking woman (note I say woman, despite only being 18, she seems more womanly than my other friends), but I had been unsure of how photogenic she would be. But she proved my doubt unfounded. Her face is anchored by an exquisitely strong jaw and high forehead. She has an adorable pixie nose and ears and a beautiful natural complexion.
We worked on the styling together, as she had such a marvellous array of interesting clothing pieces including a kimono that I estimate to have come from the 30s or 40s. Interestingly, the printed flowers on the kimono looked a lot like the half healed burn, so it all came together quite well. Normally I would have ummed and erred about this idea for a while, but I knew I needed to act fast before her wounds healed completely and left me with nothing so I shoved her into a studio and ripped off her bandages whether she was ready or not. For hair, I wanted massive, untamed locks, twisting and writhing like flames. For make up, I wanted heavy black and reys, smudged down her face like soot.




I was so pleased at how well these pictures came out. I think Inna's face is phenomenal, and we worked so well together. We always listen to old Tom Waits and Eartha Kitt records together, and that's how I think Inna comes across in images, rough and raw, yet poised and sexual. I love these pictures because they have a Witkin-esque glorification of physical deformity, and the same Kabuki stage-like quality that the film possessed.

We're so Pop Tart Brit Punk Clit Rock Art Cunt that we can melt your face.

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