Friday, May 14, 2010

Cobra Camp Sublime

A pristine archival Technicolor print of Universal's Siodmak-helmed camp exotica arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan to play to a few scores of people. I tend to be sensitive (oversensitive?) to audiences laughing campily at an old film, but Cobra Woman is so insistently and robustly itself that laughing at it just makes it stronger. Mesmerizing, possessed of a weird logic all its own, this is a film that is too serious a fever-dream to be anything but taken seriously as just that. (And an entire huge facet of the postwar North American avant-garde now seems more legible...) It is no facile paradox (by which I mean merely an unsound suggestion of paradox) that this is both a bad movie and a wonderful one. The colors in the print we saw, which no images I can find online even approximate, are astonishing.

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