In Richard Raskin's interview with Alison Maclean, published in p.o.v. 13,  in which they discuss themes and references in Kitchen Sink, the short film is described as a "minefield of metaphors," prominent among which is "a Pygmalion-type story, with the genders reversed." Though only 14 minutes long and almost without any dialogue, KS certainly has an abundance of metaphors and references. Other articles I have found on the short have references to e.g. "the atmosphere and mood" of Eraserhead, the motifs of "hair, water, eye and razor" in Un Chien Andalou, a "home-alone horror" variation of the Kiwi Gothic, and finally Psycho's foregrounding of "the loneliness and pathology of domestic space." 
To the list of references may be added a few of my own: Touch of Evil (having been pulled laboriously out of the pipe-system, the baby-like monster in KS lands on the table looking down over the edge at the frightened female protagonist (Theresa Healey) lying on the floor; these shots are quite similar to the shots of the strangled Akim Tamiroff's head, tongue sticking out, leaning on the bedpost above the frightened Janet Leigh coming out of her sedation), Creature from the Black Lagoon (the KS monster in the bathtub surfacing menacingly while Healey talks on the telephone), the myth of Pandora (everything in the world was fine until Pandora absolutely had to open the lid, i.e. pull the hair at the back of the now rather likeable monster's neck in KS) - and anachronistically, Takashi Miike's Audition from 1999 (when Healey in KS with a razor in hand sneaks in on the plastic sack in which the monster is struggling for air, we are reminded of Eihi Shiina about to do excruciatingly horrible things to men wrapped up in sacks or paralyzed, not with a razor, but with acupuncture needles and cheese wire).
The most important reference is, however, to Siegel's horror/sci-fi film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956, which nobody to my knowledge has referred to so far, and for this reason I want to line up a few similarities and differences between the two films. But let me start out by indicating how nicely KS fits Noël Carroll's definition of horror: The monster, a necessary condition for horror, is disgusting and culturally impure as it transgresses cultural categories: we, the audience, as well as Healey, the protagonist, are uncertain of what this unknowable, slimy and hairy exotic semi-human piece of (vegetable/ animal?) garbage really is. Carroll operates with a twofold hypothesis: a "universal," and a narrower - but still very broad - "general" hypothesis. According to the "universal" thesis - universal because it applies to all manifestations of "art-horror" - we find monsters at the same time both disgusting and fascinating, both emotions arising from the fact that monstrosity is grounded in categorical confusions. The "general" thesis, meanwhile, argues that many (perhaps all) horror fictions are structured by a "drama of disclosure," in which the enigma posed by the monster is gradually revealed, investigated and solved.
Both Carroll's universal and general horror theories are confirmed seeing that we and the woman react with disgust as well as fascination (the two feelings are co-existent, according to Carroll's theory, and the horror is "the price to be paid" to watch the monster/the enigma being investigated/solved). We, the audience, let our fascination rule by watching the short film to the very end, and Healey is thrice ruled by her fascination: she takes the creature out of the garbage bin, later on she opens the plastic bag in which it is struggling to get air, and at the end of the film she starts kissing the accommodating monster.
However, we are cheated out of the actual solution of the enigma as the woman's Pandora-like curiosity forestalls a real disclosure by her "pulling the plug out of the sink" again as it were. We are left with the presumption that the monster will die - and possibly give birth to a new baby monster. Other endings are possible as the monster by definition transcends categories, but the closing shots of his black rounded mouth, corresponding to the opening shots of the black hole of the kitchen sink and the pulling of the hair, accentuated by the iris-in closure, may indicate a new birth of something unheimlich.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Like most horror films from the 50s IBS is rather a hybrid between horror and sci-fi, most frequently interpreted as a political allegory, either anti-communist or pro-McCarthy, whereas KS seems to be without political references (yet, the color of the monster-man's face while lying on the bed is noticeably dark and might possibly be interpreted as Maori - or a sign of death/putrefaction - in a short film otherwise void of national, political or racial references?)
Where the pods in IBS arrive from outer space to land in a rather isolated small town environment in the USA, the KS monster comes from if not the ground, then mysteriously arisen from the sewage system. And having landed on the kitchen table it looks like a mixture of vegetable and animal matter.
Just as the pods gradually develop more and more human-like features, the monster in KS (albeit furiously fast) grows into an adult living, but oddly lifeless human being who - in spite of the woman's loving care (bath, shave and clothing) - apparently has not reacted in a satisfactory manner in bed. In KS the monster in the plastic bag closely resembles the pod which the pod-replicant does not break out of until the transformation has been completed. And where the pod people promise exemption from pain, the monster offers the woman "bliss" (sex/human contact) - something she may not have had for a long time seeing that she has isolated herself from others (not responding to the little girl at her door, the telephone call) possibly left by the man in the photo whose clothes and razor are still in the house. Where IBS's hero (Kevin McCarthy), who is driven by curiosity as well as by a desperate search for escape, allows himself to be lured away by the song of sirens from a distant radio, thus sacrificing his exhausted girlfriend (Dana Wynter), Healey herself, by submitting to her curiosity, sacrifices the common future of the couple. Where Dana Wynter's dead face and kiss devoid of feeling, produce the most horrible moment in IBS, the KS man's surprised, stiffening and fearful face (the only - and last time we see him express feelings -thereby giving the audience a possibility of identifying with him!) proves to be the climax in KS, underlined by the final thud on the soundtrack when the screen has turned black. Our fear, though, becomes mitigated by silent amusement at the thought of the woman's lost (erotic) opportunities - making love to a sort of punctured inflatable sex doll must be a rather flat experience, I imagine.
The short film is in black and white with a skilful variation of close-ups and medium shots to underline the claustrophobic environment, as we never leave the house, and the occasional use of the wide-angle lens makes the house seem even more claustrophobic. The most prominent camera movement is a slow eye-level traveling shot towards Healey's back and head, which is used twice. The first time she is sitting on a chair in the kitchen, and we get an eerie feeling that it may be the monster's p.o.v. even though it is lying in the garbage bin. This kind of shot we know from the opening sequences of films like Peeping Tom and Halloween (the most famous precedents). But here we do not have a p.o.v., rather an intimation of the woman's troubled thoughts: what to do about the thing in the bin?
The second time - towards the end of the film after the monster has taken the razor from her - we do not believe that what we see is a p.o.v. shot and we consequently become a little surprised on noticing the soundless monster's right hand appear in the frame, however only to caress her hair. After some hesitation they embrace and sweet music arises. The chilling music, obviously inspired by Carpenter, which off and on has been used in the film - together with actual sounds, often enhanced to become strange effect sounds - now sounds enticingly romantic, only to become immediately threatening again when the hair is pulled.
With Kitchen Sink Alison Maclean has created a brilliant horror short film, facetted and filled with cinematic references which have been used in an independent, original and integrated way - with a nice twist of humour.
A real pleasure to watch.
3 Roger Horrocks. "Alternatives. Experimental Film Making in New Zealand" in Jonathan Dennis & Jan Bieringa (eds), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand. Victoria University Press, 2nd edition 1996, p. 78.
4 Ian Conrich. "Kiwi Gothic: New Zealand's Cinema of a Perilous Paradise" in Steven Jay Schneider & Tony Williams (eds), Horror International. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2005, p. 124.
5 Kirsten Moana Thompson. "Experiments with Desire. The Psychodynamics of Alison Maclean" in Ian Conrich & Stuart Murray (eds), New Zealand Filmmakers. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2007, p. 309. 6 Noël Carroll. The Philosophy of Horror. Routledge, New York, 1990.
Noël Carroll. The Philosophy of Horror, Routledge, New York, 1990.
Ian Conrich. "Kiwi Gothic: New Zealand's Cinema of a Perilous Paradise" in Steven Jay Schneider & Tony Williams (eds.), Horror International. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2005, pp. 114-127.
Roger Horrocks. "Alternatives. Experimental Film Making in New Zealand" in Jonathan Dennis & Jan Bieringa (eds.), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand. Victoria University Press, 2nd edition 1996, pp. 57-87.
Richard Raskin. "Interview with Alison Maclean on Kitchen Sink. p.o.v. 13, March 2002, pp 99-110; reprinted in the present issue, pp. 7-13 [An interview with Alison Maclean].
Kirsten Moana Thompson. "Experiments with Desire. The Psychodynamics of Alison Maclean" in Ian Conrich & Stuart Murray (eds.), New Zealand Filmmakers. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2007, pp.304-319.
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