Spirits of the Dead

The Horror…The Sacrifice…The Emptiness…


Each time I see or hear about the tragic death of a young talented musician, actor, performer or artist, it reminds me of Toby Dammit, the cinematographic liberal adaptation by Fellini of a short story by American author Edgar A. Poe, first published in 1841, ”Never Bet The Devil your Head–A Tale with a Moral” (or ”Don’t Wager your Head to the Devil”). Poe didn’t intend the message to be about the spoils of victory, the sacrifice of those shooting stars that we so freely create now and then. So it’s remarquable that Fellini’s one and only horror movie would be dedicated to those who made it far enough to see themselves exposed to a decaying life, falling apart into superficiality, losing their moral compass and reaching a point of no return. Life becomes tasteless and pointless.  Its always been some sirt of fatality that seems to have been accepted to go hand in hand with success. Artists like Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin and countless others have been added to the already incredible amount of fatalities, and more recently musicians like Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain (both incidentally died on April the 5th) who were terrified, unable to cope anymore, feeling so alone and abandoned that they chose death.  I won’t tell their kids or any kid at all that ”it’s better to burn out than to fade away’‘ like it’s written in Kurt’s letter to Boddha (Kurt ‘s childhood imaginary friend that later became his alter-ego ) in Cobain’s suicide note. I know they will have to be either so pained by it all that they will chose to stay away from it all or either suffer more or less the same fate.As I was saying, I was talking about this Fellini’s movie called Toby Dammit, played here by Terence Stamp who gives an astonishing performance in this superb short from the collective ”Spirits of the Dead” (1968 – I was 1-year-old!) I never forgot that face, never will and I totally freaked out when I later learned that it was in fact THE DEVIL HIMSELF who was represented here! I had for sure seen it when I was young, I have no idea how old, but one thing is for sure, I never forgot it. It really haunted me; Fellini creates both haunting and magnificent visions based on our lives.. He resembles a child.. One second he can be so naive and full of a sense of amazement but  in a flash you’ll be thrown in something very ”Tragédie Grecque” and he will bring you to a caricatured degree that is so satirical,  surreal, maniacal and nightmarish that you will want to escape this bad dream where everyone looks and acts in such strange manners. Nope I never forgot it, I never could forget the first time I saw the devil’s face…

Here it is for you, the only horror movie Federico Fellini ever did, watch it here from Spirits of the Dead, TOBY DAMMIT!

3 thoughts on “Spirits of the Dead

    1. It is not gory..hardly any blood..It’s just a general atmosphere… out of a bad dream.. Some might not find it scary at all.. It is from 1968… Fellini had a way to make you very uncomfortable though.. There is such a uniqueness about his movies…They even created an adjective with his name that is now accepted by all and listed in dictionaries: ”Felliniesque”

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