UTG’s 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘A Clockwork Orange’


Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the UTG staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.

Now in its fourth year, 31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring feature that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home.

This year, the entire 31 Days series is dedicated to the memory of our friend, Justin Proper. We wouldn’t have a film department without him, and he specifically helped pioneer our involvement in the horror genre. Rest in peace, JP.

a clockwork orange poster

Day 29: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

As Under The Gun Review’s resident scaredy cat, I’ve opted to avoid contributing to 31 Days Of Halloween in the past. I would be lying if I said I’m a horror fan, and the list of things that terrified me as a child includes the guy who dressed as Captain Hook at Disney World circa 2001, the Boar’s Head logo (which still looks way more like a werewolf than a boar to me), and this horrifying book that my dad just loved to terrorize me with on Cub Scout trips. However, for this year’s edition of 31 Days, I saw an opportunity to write about a film that has intrigued me for ages, spawned one of the most popular Halloween costumes of the past several decades, and even received multiple “Treehouse Of Horror” parodies. I am, of course, referring to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

Despite taking a few undeniable liberties in both the stylistic and narrative elements of the 1962 novel upon which the film is based, Kubrick’s controversial adaptation captures the magic and danger of Anthony Burgess’s wonderful source material with poise and swagger. This is no small feat; by using a visual medium, Kubrick bypasses a majority percentage of Clockwork‘s invented language, nadsat, that contributes significantly to its unique style. Rather than relying on rote narration of the book’s events to express the odd dystopian setting, Kubrick uses his eye for the disturbing and powerful imagery to illustrate futuristic London. For instance, the unsettlingly long, nightmare-inducing opening shot of the film’s protagonist (that is Alex) with his three droogs (that is Pete, Georgie and Dim — Dim being really Dim) staring directly into the fourth wall in the Korova Milk Bar is perhaps the image most closely associated with the title, while the claustrophobic scene involving Alex’s eye-widening submission to the Ludovico technique is still cringe-inducing, in a good way, to this day.

Clockwork droogs

An indisputable classic, A Clockwork Orange has warmed a spot in the movie buff’s essential canon since its release. However, the film’s plot, cast and style is usually overshadowed by historic bouts of controversy involving critics of its gruesome content, the Catholic Church’s condemnation upon release, and Burgess himself, who took issue with Kubrick’s complete omission of the novel’s final redemptive chapter and referred to the adaptation as a “radical retelling” of his written work. In the department of offensive material, Clockwork is infamous. The film’s unapologetic depiction of realistic violence and graphic sexual content remain shocking to this day, over 40 years after its initial theatrical release where it ran with the extremely rare “X” rating in the United States. However, the objectionable content is far from senseless. In fact, it’s necessary to impart the concepts of “good” and “bad” required to explain Alex’s plight and the plot’s absurdist parody of behaviorism and conversion therapy. Unfortunately, full-frontal has a tendency to make people lose their minds, and the story’s quirky intricacies are lost in a impenetrable forest of movie boobs and over-the-top violence.

clockwork bloody alex

Nearly a half-century after the the film’s initial run, A Clockwork Orange remains one of the most important examples of film to ever see a formal release. Its alluring danger and controversy will draw you in, while its twisted sense of humor, Kubrick’s masterful sense of tone and direction, and the abstract moral message within will keep you hooked. Maybe it’s a stretch for our 31 Days Of Halloween feature, but hey, it’s spooky and cerebral. That’s gotta count for something, and if you’re anything like me (fainted and collapsed on a linoleum floor during high school sex-ed on STD day, mortified of bees, still kind of afraid of the dark) Clockwork is the perfect dose of October cheer. What’s it gonna be then, eh?

A Clockwork Orange is currently available to stream on Netflix. It’s also available to purchase in HD via iTunes and on Blu-Ray.

PS: The book is better.

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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