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Cult Vault #21: Peter Strickland on Outer Space

British Filmmaker Peter Strickland chooses a 90s uncompromising Austrian avante-garde

Taken from the January 2012 issue of Dazed & Confused:

British filmmaker Peter Strickland took the festival circuit by storm with his unsettling revenge movie Katalin Varga – made on a shoestring budget, in a language he didn’t even speak. He’s currently putting the finishing touches to his follow up, Berberian Sound Studio, set in an Italian horror-film studio. Strickland chose Austrian filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky’s explosive 10-minute short Outer Space for Dazed’s cult vault. 

“I first saw this film at a house party in Chesterfield around 2000. Now and again, a short film comes along that transcends its own restrictions. Outer Space is right up there with Jordan Belson’s Allures, Tony Conrad’s The Flicker and the Quay Brothers’ Street of Crocodiles as an example of short film-making that is fully realised, bloody-minded and rapturously steeped in its own world. So far, it has eluded audiences. On paper, Outer Space is a formalist hall of mirrors formed out of a few sampled scenes from Sidney Furie’s The Entity that have been painstakingly re-exposed in all manner of formations. A plotline would be too wasteful in such a film – Tscherkassky just cuts to the core of the intensity in both The Entity and the medium of film itself. If anything, Outer Space is prophetic regarding the death of celluloid, what with the medium’s haunted optical crackles and distortions. Tscherkassky has made a film so aggressively cinematic that its very voltage puts a jolt through your system. Seen in the cinema, it’s a stunningly beautiful, convulsive spell of a film – loud, confounding, uncompromising and far more inspiring than too many feature films I could care to mention.”