Underground filmmaker Tina Mori became a legend in the late 1970s with a stolen camera, a series of visionary Super 8 shorts (The Eye, The Stairs, The Imperial Dynasty of America) and a single feature film, heralded as her masterpiece, Dragon’s Teeth. Then she disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Was it foul play, or did Tina Mori go somewhere else? And if so, where? Could it have been the otherworldly Carcosa so often referenced in her films?
Through many layers, including letters, a ‘zine made by a teenage horror film fan, and a memoir written by Mori’s college roommate and muse, film historian and debut novelist Brian Hauser delves deep into Tina Mori’s life and legacy, exploring the strange depths and fathomless shadows situated between truth, fiction, fantasy, and the uncanny.
Hauser delivers an engrossing, baffling horror debut that veers hard into the weird, its disturbing aspects enhanced by its faux-nonfictional structure. Hauser's in-depth study of underground horror film visionary Tina Mori which is so realistic that readers may start looking for the fictional Mori's Wikipedia entry begins tangentially with a glance into the life of teen horror fan Billie Jacobs. Through excerpts from the unreleased final issue of Jacobs's horror fanzine; a memoir penned by Mori's college roommate and inspiration, C.C. Waite; and a mysterious note sent from Waite to Jacobs, Hauser recounts the strange, chaotic time between the birth of Mori's cinematic obsession and her unexplained disappearance. Although Waite's memoir is primarily concerned with the women's coming of age, Hauser expertly entwines the chronicle of their growth with an undercurrent of strangeness and horror in the world around them, increasingly reflected by the disturbing power of Mori's art. Fans of the uncanny (and especially of Robert W. Chambers's The King in Yellow, to which this work alludes) will find much to love and laud, but those unfamiliar with the genre are likely to be left bewildered by the story's ominous final turn.