‘I have always considered movies evil; the day cinema was invented was a black day for mankind.’ Kenneth Anger, 1969. Each of the three films that follow alludes to the magic power of the moving image. 

Films showing in this section: 

15:56 - Anthony Balch and William Burroughs Towers Open Fire 1963
16:06 - Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin Come to Daddy 1997
16:13 - Kenneth Anger Invocation of My Demon Brother 1963

Anthony Balch and William Burroughs Towers Open Fire 1963

16 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

Anthony Balch collaborated on a number of film experiments with William Burroughs, the writer famous for his cut-up method of composing texts. Towers Open Fire is an assault on linear narrative and good taste, and brings together readings by Burroughs, unrelated film sequences, and the pervasive image of Brion Gysin’s prototype Dreamachine - inducer of hallucinations and mental stimulation. 


Anthony Balch was born in 1937, and died in 1980. William Burroughs was born in 1914, and died in 1997. A commercial film distributor and cinema owner, Balch handled an eclectic mix of art cinema and sexploitation films. He collaborated with Burroughs on several released short films and private film experiments. 

Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin Come to Daddy 1997

6 minutes. Collection: Warp Records 

Coming from the world of special effects and music videos, Chris Cunningham has an armoury of digital technology at his disposal. He uses it to visceral effect in the dark but slyly humorous incantation Come to Daddy , made with Aphex Twin. His first gallery installation Flex was made for Apocalypse at the Royal Academy in 2000. 


Chris Cunningham was born in 1970. He learnt his craft as a modelmaker on Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and with designer David Fincher on Alien 1992. His celebrated music videos for Portishead Only You 1997, Aphex Twin Come to Daddy 1997; Windowlicker 1999 and Bjork All is Full of Love 1999 and advertising films such as Sony Playstation’s Mental Wealth 1999, were followed by his first installation Flex, shown in Apocalypse at the Royal Academy of Art 2000. He is now developing films with Warp Records film division. 

Kenneth Anger Invocation of My Demon Brother 1963

12 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive

‘…The vision of the self in Invocation has its foundations in the Romantic notion of the unitary man - whose one character is made up of different individuals in opposition’ P. Adams Sitney 1979. At the centre of his film’s complex montage, Kenneth Anger appears dressed as an Egyptian God, and performing a ritual. For a brief moment he becomes one with his alter-ego, his Demon Brother. 


Kenneth Anger [Kenneth Wybur Anglemyer] was born in the USA in 1927. He started making films in Hollywood in the mid 1940s - inspired by Cocteau and Genet, becoming a lead player in the emerging American film Underground. He lived and worked in London for periods from the 50s onwards. Invocation of My Demon Brother was edited in London from material mostly shot in the USA, Mick Jagger adding its music. Lucifer Rising (1970-80) was shot in England and Egypt, and was financed by Britain’s National Film Finance Corporation.