The Sunday Cult film Corner: “Man Bites Dog (1992)”

06 Mar

Today i had a tweet from a friend saying that she was sitting beside a large rugby player type of guy who stank of BO and was reading American Psycho. Amazingly enough, i’m actually re-reading this book right now, and it’s a book that definitely sticks in the mind. It’s not just the lashings of Gore and exceedingly graphic details of torture, murder and rape of course, it’s also the lengthy musing and thoughts of the killer himself . Just what the hell goes through a serial killers mind is something that has intrigued and puzzled most people and professionals over the decades.

And this of course translates often onto celluloid. There have numerous films about serial killer over the years, from “Silence of the Lambs” and “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer”, to the obvious adaptation of American Psycho (which alas is not on YouTube. Damn). But it’s to Belgium, the land of mussles, chocolate and paedophile sex killers, where i take this weeks cult serial killer movie. Ladies and Gentlemen, i give to you MAN BITES DOG.

Directed in 1992 by Remy Belvaux (whose other claim to fame was throwing a custard pie in the Face of Bill Gates during an anti globalisation demo), the film is a faux documentary that shows a student documentary film crew following and recording the exploits of  Ben a prolific and unrepentant serial killer. Throughout the film, Ben describes the workings that goes into being a serial killer, from the methods used to how he goes about disposing the bodies. We also get to see more about his life, from his pretentious musings about art and culture, to seeing his family and friends, as well as his local bar where he often gets drunk. Ben is articulate and charismatic and as the film progresses, his charms work itself upon the director and the crew as they slowly move from being dispassionate observers, to reluctant accomplices, to active participants.

filmed in stark black and white, it give a bleak view of Belgium, with its bad weather, grey soulless council estates and drab boring people. And yet it also has dollops of the blackest humour going, from killing and old woman by giving a heart attack (“to save a bullet”), to accidentally killing a rival serial killer who is also being followed by ANOTHER documentary film crew!

Sharp and witty, but also faintly uncomfortable and still retaining a lot fo its danger, Man Bites dog is superior way to excise those rather unsettling thoughts i’ve been getting recently….

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Posted by on March 6, 2011 in Film


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