Gothic (1986)

Gothic (1986) Lord Byron invites Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife and mistress for a stay at Lake Geneva in the Villa Diodati , where, as all Romantics were wont to do, they make up ghost stories and play hide and seek, under the influence of laudanum. I refer to most Ken Russell movies as … More Gothic (1986)

Twins of Evil (1971)

Twins of Evil (1971) Hammer Studios became synonymous with Technicolor Horror, and this picture, late in their production history, was inspired by producer Harry Fine seeing a Playboy fold out of identical twins, and thinking, “Hey! Why not a vampire film featuring twin virgins?” The Collinson sisters, buxom in their Victorian bodices, portray good and … More Twins of Evil (1971)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) Nothing so becomes Halloween than resurrecting past icons for trick or treating. This parody, written, co-produced, and directed by Don Coscarelli, was based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale that appeared in the anthology “The King Is Dead: Tales of Elvis Post-Mortem.” Set inside the Shady Rest Nursing Home, Bruce Campbell, … More Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

The Congress (2013)

The Congress (2013) “Ultimately everything makes sense. And everything is in our mind.” Ari Folman adapted ideas from Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress in a movie that combines real footage with animation, and which predicts a CGI  hallucinogenic future for the Dream Factory of Hollywood. Robin Wright plays an actress who signs away her image … More The Congress (2013)

Le Doulos (1982)

Le Doulos (1982) Jean-Pierre Mellville ‘s stylish classic noir, enhanced by Nicolas Hayer’s cinematography, deploys gangster metaphors to recreate the existential dread of Paris in a post-war society where betrayal underlies all good enterprises. Jean-Paul Belmondo relishes this double-crossing informer, suave and hip to Paul Misraki’s jazz soundtrack, in what becomes a defining performance. He … More Le Doulos (1982)

Hanger (2009)

Hanger (2009) Banned in Australia and Germany, this gross Canadian horror film follows the story of an aborted fetus raised to take revenge on the pimp who murdered his mother. Ryan Nicholson co-wrote and directs this splatterpunk geekfest, brooding with resentment toward Jehovah’s Witnesses and Santa Claus, among other discarded icons from junkyard trash. Having … More Hanger (2009)

A Tale of Lost Time (1964)

  A Tale of Lost Time [Skazka o poteryannom vremeni ] (1964) The Walt Disney of Soviet Cinema, Aleksandr Ptushko directed Evgeny Schwartz’s fable about elderly who steal children’s youth. The set designs and special effects are magical, especially the sorcerers’ coven hidden inside a tree. Sergey Martinson, a “master of pantomime, buffoonery, and grotesque,” … More A Tale of Lost Time (1964)

Safe (1995)

Safe (1995) Todd Haynes’ methodical study of “environmental illness,” originally alluding to the AIDS crisis, now has taken on a prescient quality, given the rise of Coronavirus and its mutations. Julianne Moore gives an outstanding performance as a “home maker” suddenly afflicted by an unknown illness. Part of the film satirizes New Age cults, through … More Safe (1995)

Kandahar (2001)

  Kandahar (2001) The now-exiled Iranian film director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, adapted this true story of Afghan-Canadian Nelofer Pazira, who received a letter from her sister indicating plans to commit suicide after the next solar eclipse. Pazira set out to find and comfort her, but, as a woman, travel became an extremely dangerous set of social … More Kandahar (2001)