21
Dec
12

Crimes of the Future (1970)

I'm not sure if the polish is supposed to be some kind of notice that men are now wearing cosmetics and so are also victims of Rouge's Malady?

I’m not sure if the polish is supposed to be some kind of notice that men are now wearing cosmetics and so are also victims of Rouge’s Malady?

Just a year after Stereo, David Cronenberg succeeds in making another bizarre, hour-long silent film. Unlike StereoCrimes of the Future actually does have some background sound, and while most of it is cacophonous in nature it still seemed to make the viewing easier on the brain. Still, this movie is totally weird and even more disjointed than the first, but again presents subject-matter interesting enough to keep me from turning it off.

This time, we start off at the House of Skin. The dermatologist who used to run the place, Antoine Rouge, has disappeared. Perhaps he is dead, perhaps he is held hostage, no one really knows, but his protégé, Adrian Tripod, is trying to figure out the exact nature of his disappearance.

Rouge’s name is known all over, but not for something positive: he’s the doctor who discovered a disease caused by modern-day cosmetics, and this disease now carries his name: Rouge’s Malady. Rouge’s Malady has, it seems, wiped the world clean of mature females, and so what we see for most of the film is a world with men trying to deal with a womanless society. Adrian Tripod starts off by trying to run the House of Skin, but

Bizarre foot massage.

Bizarre foot massage.

what seemed to have been their last client, a male, has just passed away from Rouge’s Malady – really bad news, because it’s apparent the disease is now spreading to men. Before he leaves though, he licks the last corpse clean of fluids that have oozed out of its orifices: black stuff from the mouth and eyes, white stuff from the ears – apparently the ooze of Rouge’s Malady is irresistible! Feeling Cronenberg yet?

Tripod ends up at a few other bizarre institutes, such as the Institute of Neo-Venereal disease, where a once-famous doctor collects useless organs his body is producing as a result of one of these new VDs, and the Oceanic Podiatry Group, where he ends up giving some guy on the street a weird foot massage (and yes, he has webbed toes).

I’m not sure what the point of all this traveling is, but eventually Tripod falls in with a group of pedophiles, who induce

I don't even know where this place is or what this is supposed to be, but hot damn, it looks good.

I don’t even know where this place is or what this is supposed to be, but hot damn, it looks good.

menstruation in young girls in hopes of impregnating them, I assume because it’s the only hope for carrying on civilization.

Clearly, this movie has a lot in common with Stereo: silent films with weird narration about medicine gone wrong. Honestly, I can’t say which one I liked better – though again I have to say this was more interesting as a study of Cronenberg’s brain and the limits of film than something that’s actually enjoyable to watch.

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