Early Warning

It’s always fun to see a director’s humble beginnings and recognize imagery that crops up in later, more famous output. Killer’s Kiss, Stanley Kubrick’s feature debut from 1955, shows that his distinct talent for framing shots was already in place. In addition, this film noir has a couple of visual cues that are too striking to go unnoticed by the seasoned film buff.

A man with an axe.

A man with an axe.

A short, solarized dream sequence, in which the camera moves through empty New York streets, is a clear precursor to the tunnel of light/Star Gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The fight at the end, meanwhile, is of even greater interest, at least to horror fans. As Frank Silvera’s villainous dancehall owner grabs an axe from the wall, intent on killing the virtuous boxer played by Jamie Smith, it’s hard not to be reminded of Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Another man with an axe.

Another man with an axe, 25 years later.

The finale to Killer’s Kiss manages its own brand of surreal creepiness, however, thanks to the highly unusual setting—a cavernous storage room full of mannequins. Legs, torsos and heads fly in a surprisingly brutal brawl, observed by an impassive, more or less sexless audience. And although Killer’s Kiss is a gritty crime drama, you might get a bad dream or two out of it if you suffer from pediophobia.

How would you like to be locked up here for the night?

How would you like to be locked up here for the night?

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting post!

    How do you go about finding the images? ‘Cause in this case, I guess the images were quite essential to the post…

    I assume you’ve seen the Killer’s Kiss? Something for me, you think?

    • Hola, Hilde! I make the images myself, with a little help from VLC media player. OK, a lot of help :-). Killer’s Kiss is essential viewing for Kubrick fans, but no masterpiece. You can get it as part of this set.


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