Everybody’s Coming to Get Me : Suehiro Maruo – “Paranoia Star”

Even more Maruo.  I find 1986’s “Paranoia Star” to be relatively more family-friendly than his other collections. (It would have to be the Manson family, though.) Although there’s still mutilation and dismemberment a-plenty, they happen within the context of war, (which somehow makes it necessary) or in a industrial robotic setting (which makes it understandable: we’re so used to seeing machines torn apart!) There is no eyeball licking here, little horror-for-horror’s sake.

Instead, the mood suggested is one of fear of the modern. The modern would be anytime after the world lost its mind during the 194os: the paranoia-causing “star” in the title is David’s. The Holocaust is evoked here, although with a second-hand feel similar to Osamu Tezuka’s in “Adolph”. Japanese jingo-ism is bitterly satirized in “Planet of the Jap.”

ABOVE: March of the Wooden Boys

Elsewhere, “biologically evolved maoists” are in war with “technologically modified capitalists”; TV opens its maw to devour us all, like in David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome”; gigantic Toshiba stereo systems of the past hypnotize us; old-school TDK cassettes spit out enough tape to mummify us all into paralysis.

ABOVE: “There goes my Duran Duran mix!”

Maruo pays respect to his recurring influences: German impressionism, “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari,” “Metropolis,” “The Blue Angel.” More unusual: a nod to a contemporary compere in surreal horror, the German photographer Miron Zownir. Zownir became known in the 80s for his haunting, unsparing pictures of people living out real-life horror movies. Should they ever make a European, bannable art-film out of Maruo’s work, Zownir should be the director.

ABOVE: Barbed wire, Berlin

RATING : COOL!

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