“Food becomes a metaphor for living. The camera relishes the sheen, the succulence and the colour of its chosen morsels”
up at a battered mansion somewhere in the rainiest corner of Wales. The family that inhabits the building is among the most impressively dysfunctional in cinema history. Ernest Thesiger plays the withered, permanently dyspeptic father figure. Eva Moore is his largely deaf, religiously crazed sister. Upstairs an impossibly old man lies dying and a crazed pyromaniac waits to deliver Armageddon.
The centre of the film involves a dinner party from hell. More grey, flabby meat is passed about. Puzzlingly for the contemporary viewer, the mute butler offers vinegar with the grim repast. Thesiger punctuates every tense silence with an enthusiastic offer that seems to have some hidden meaning. “Have a potato,” he snaps. The scene showcases cinema dining at its most tellingly grim. The food is vile. The company is worse. All familial misery is here.
Horror directors have always found ways of bringing food into their cinema. After all, few commonly encountered phenomena have that ability to disgust and delight in equal
Bon appetit: Goodfellas; Pulp Fiction; The Gold Rush; Big Night; Babette’s Feast; Chocolat; Tampopo; 9½ Weeks and (left) The Old Dark House