Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Films I Love #28: Come To Daddy (Chris Cunningham, 1997)
Come To Daddy was the first music video that director Chris Cunningham created for eccentric electronic musician Richard D. James, AKA Aphex Twin. It's a miniature masterpiece of audiovisual assault, marrying one of James' most demented, frantic tracks to an appropriately warped visual sensibility that mingles horror with absurdist humor. There's something simultaneously unsettling and hilarious about the way Cunningham clones James himself, placing the musician's demonically grinning visage atop an army of cheerful kids and later grafting his face onto a hellspawned creature who crawls, Videodrome-style, out of a TV set to scare the wits out of a passing old woman. It's a marvelously deranged piece of work, frightening and ridiculous, and possibly a bit perverted — a tendency Cunningham and James would pursue further in their equally outrageous follow-up, Windowlicker, a rap video parody with a chorus line of ass-jiggling, bikini-clad Aphex Twins.
"Come to Daddy," the song, joins James' usual frenetic, inhuman beats to a trashy, static-laden pseudo-metal vibe, with James' chanted vocals seemingly beamed in direct from Hell: "I want your soul/ I will eat your soul." Cunningham takes the lyrics at their word, and visually interprets what it might look like to see James devouring souls, whether he's incarnated as a strangely creepy midget child, or as a towering demon birthed from the television. The pace of the editing matches the energy of James' beats, and Cunningham establishes recurring patterns within the chaos: repetitive loops of James-faced little brats storming through an abandoned building, assaulting anyone who gets in their way as they pay tribute to their televised master. It's a disturbing, unforgettable few minutes, a reminder of the tremendous and often underused capacity of the music video as a medium for experimentation.