I wanted to do films just to fuck
with people, basically. It's very clear. You know, cinema was
this big billboard type of thing, and I like horror movies and
bodies all fucking up. I just love that shit and I wanted to do
it. It's just a totally perverse thing. I had no bigger picture
for change in cinema. Nothing. I just wanted to get those people
I'd seen in sitcoms and I wanted to kill them. And that's what
I fucking did in Body Melt. Unfortunately it didn't get
me too far, so I'm still trying to get the next project up. I
could only make what I wanted to see myself. That was always the
simple impulse with Body Melt.
Brophy, interviewed in 2003 (see reference below)
Philip Brophy displays an artistic will to never have just one
story, path, focus or identification figure. His early short films
and videos made with the collective Tsk-Tsk-Tsk characteristically
lined up a parade of figures before the camera to utter pithy
refractions of a concept or tag; they were an early '80s expression
of Pop Art's predilection for the serial mode, or what artist
Richard Dunn called a "strategy of parts". Working his way into
relatively continuous narrative forms Brophy still contrives to
have, inside his stories, a group of characters whose paths brush
past or collide with each other; as well as, over the stories,
structures (cyclical, serial, entropic, catastrophic) that pattern
a differential grid of days, seasons, viewpoints or archetypal
myths. His Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat (1988) explored
such a structure, with its 'four days in the life' trail that
was also four stories and four ideas - and, across this segmentation,
a gradually apocalyptic spectacle of crack-up on both an individual
and collective scale.
one of those practitioners of the film fantastique - like
George Romero or Larry Cohen - fond of a certain form of allegory
which is specific to popular art. This is not the stately, schematic,
architectonic allegory of Peter Greenaway, but it has a similarly
determining, almost didactic force. Narrative situations provide
a kind of prism whereby a series of variations on a central premise
are illustrated, demonstrated, explored, contradicted, synthesised.
In the popular-allegorical mode, characters are conceived of as
variable bundles of traits, tics and appearances that are exemplary
in relation to film's chosen field of inquiry. In Brophy's work,
pop-allegory meets the speculative ruminations of the essay-film.
key subject has long been the body and our experience of it: life
seized as a calculus of bodily effects, stimuli, drives, mechanisms.
Horror cinema offers an expressionist statement of what is, for
him, a kind of base, physical reality - bodies that devour and
decay, consume and expel, peel and ravage.
Martin, Senses of Cinema (see reference below)
8 films with Tsk-Tsk-Tsk:
Contracted Cinema (Excerpts) (1978, 14 mins), The
Phantom No. 692 (1980, 25 mins), The
Opening of the 1980 Moscow Olympics as Televised by HSV Channel
7 (1980, 7 mins), Suspense/Play
(1981, 8 mins), Romantic
Story (1981, 16 mins), No
Dance (1982, 15 mins), The
Celluloid Self (1982, 11 mins), I-You-We
(1982, 5 mins), Muzak:
Rock and Minimalism (1983, 7 mins), Caprice
(1983, 4 mins), and
Story and No Dance were re-made, on 16mm, in the mid '80s.
Saliva, Sperm & Sweat
(1988, 50 mins, 16mm)
(1993, 83 mins, 35mm)
of Milk (Prologue) (2004, 13 mins, DV)
in my Mouth - Voices in my Head (Anna) (2004, 7 mins, DV)
Things: Body Melt
by Adrian Martin, Senses of Cinema, Issue 16, Sep-Oct 2001.
Saliva, Sperm and Sweat review by Allan, on Terror
'em all - Interview with Brophy by Nat Bates, on Sleepy
Melt review, by Blake.
Philip Brophy, April 2005
to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page