This experimental horror film was initially intended to be a theatre production, written produced and directed by Avant-garde artist Edmund Elias Merhige. Development for the film began in 1984 and wasn’t released until 1990 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Upon release, Begotten was banned in Singapore due to its graphic and disturbing content.
Merhige who owned a small theatre company, worked on several other experimental theatre productions before conceiving this nihilistic and nightmarish project. After discovering that his vision for Begotten as a dance theatre production with live music would cost a quarter of a million dollars to produce, he decided to adapt it to film instead.
At only 20 years old Edmund was cited to be inspired by theories and ideas of Philosophers Artaud and Nietzsche, which he believed needed to be adapted to film properly. References to other experimental artists like Francis Bacon, David Lynch and even themes from Christian and Slavic mythology and religion, including Creation, Mother Earth and various others are found throughout this extremely upsetting and gory black-and-white feature.
The entire movie was shot on 16mm using reversal film, a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. Reversal film is processed to produce transparencies or diapositives instead of negatives. Which gave this cult classic it’s hard to shake & other worldly atmosphere. Merhige reportedly devoted ten hours of work processing each minute of this 78-minute film.