Banned soon after its first midnight screenings, the prints seized and the organizers arrested, Jack Smith’s incendiary Flaming Creatures (1963) quickly became a cause célèbre of the New York underground. Championed and defended by Jonas Mekas and Susan Sontag, the film wildly and gleefully transgresses nearly every norm of Hollywood morality and aesthetics. The plotless, visually dense film features a parade of various “creatures,” mostly queer performers, in a series of antics that play on mainstream film culture’s moral code in a way that is at once searing and affectionate.
Tracing the film’s production and reception history, Constantine Verevis argues that it embodies a unique type of cinematic rewriting, one that combines Smith’s multifaceted artistic work with exotic fragments drawn from the cinematic past. This study of Smith’s magnum opus explores its status as a cult film that appropriates the visual texture, erotic nuance, and overt fabrication of old Hollywood exoticism.
About the Author
Constantine Verevis is an Associate Professor at Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism. His work spans both film theory and cultural studies, and his primary research area is media seriality, including film and TV remakes, sequels, and trilogies. His books include Second Takes: Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel (co-editor, SUNY Press, 2012), Film Trilogies: New Critical Approaches (co-editor, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), B is for Bad Cinema: Aesthetics, Politics and Cultural Value (co-editor, SUNY Press, 2014) and others.
Table of Contents
1. Background and Production
2. Reception and Controversy
3. The Film Work: Flaming Creatures
4. Aftermath and Legacy