Monday, 5 August 2013


Well, I haven't written about much for the last few weeks. I was feeling a bit burnt out, but now I'm feeling a bit more enthusiastic about writing again. I eased myself back into the blog with a very enjoyable interview with Dr Bloodand thought that I would get the ball rolling with a Terry Gilliam month. One reason I'm doing this is because I think he is still such an outsider as a director, even though he has made so many memorable films. Another reason is because I want to distance myself a bit from talking about horror. I know the look of my blog is pretty misleading, and I'm thinking of giving the page a completely new look. What do you think about this idea?

Anyway, back to the subject.

"Tideland" (2005) is based on a novel of the same name by Mitch Cullin (I haven't read the book so don't know how similar it is).

Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) has a strange family life. Her life mainly consists of giving her methadone and chocolate addicted leg rubs, and shooting up heroin for her drugged up father (Jeff Bridges), whilst living in a fantasy world with her collection of doll heads. After her mother has a methadone overdose and dies, Jeliza-Rose and her father run away to her grandmothers remote farmhouse. Once at the farmhouse, her father decides he wants a hit of heroin. After that, Jeliza-Rose is pretty much left to deal with things on her own, spiralling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of her own imagination.

"Daddy's going on vacation"

When I saw this film on dvd, I watched it with the introduction by Terry Gilliam, where the director states that most people will hate the film, and a lot of people won't know what to think about the film. He also states that the story is filmed with a childs innocence, so the best way to watch the film is to throw all notion of adulthood from your mind. Children are very resilient and tend to bounce back when confronted with hardship.

As much as I like the film, once you are an adult it is very hard to see things from a child's perspective. Especially when it deals with some of the frankly disturbing topics which are brought up in this film, and believe me, this film goes into very dark, nightmarish, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" like levels of disturbing. It is indeed a strange beast, but I have always liked challenging films.

When I picked up "Tideland", it was very much a blind purchase. I was attracted to the artwork. At the most, I was expecting an eccentric fairy tale like story. I never expected the film to be so challenging. Whilst watching, pretty much in the very first scene, Jeliza-Rose shoot up her father with heroin, and my first thought was "Okay, not what I was expecting at all". Once the mother dies and they go to the farmhouse, the film gets a bit more fantastical. But then things take a dramatic turn into darker and darker territory in the last third of the film. Body preservation, and borderline paedophilia (which was the most uncomfortable for me) are just some of the things that happen later on, so if you have issues with this kind of material, this film isn't for you.

Nope. Nothing at all wrong with this image.
I have tried to be vague about the story but warn people who could be potentially offended so that they have fair warning before viewing the film. You have been warned!

I was a massive Monty Python fan as a child. I loved the surrealism and Gilliam's animation was totally mental. Then, the first film I saw after that was "Time Bandits", which I totally loved as a child, especially the anti-Hollywood bad ending (for a child's film at least). But Terry Gilliam has never been a favourite with Hollywood anyway. Reluctant to play by Hollywood's rules usually put's him last in line to direct any big film. In fact, "Tideland" was a British-Canadian independant production. 

Although I stated I was veering away from horror for a few posts, I find David Cronenberg's claim that the film is "A Poetic Horror Film" very apt. If you look at it that way, there definitely are some very surreal horror elements in the film. I find the film very challenging and thought provoking, and I applaud Gilliam for making the film with such integrity and single-mindedness. And I'm glad he doesn't give a damn whether you like the film or not.

Thank you for reading.