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  • It's Alive

    It's Alive

    ★★½

    A History of Horror: Larry Cohen

    When I was a kid, I always thought the monster was Frankenstein... then I went to high school and read the book, and I realized that Frankenstein was the doctor who created him. Somehow the identities get all mixed up, don't they?

    Indeed they do, Frank. This is from a scene in It's Alive, where the conflicted hero, Frank Davis, in a kind of daze after his whole life is turned upside down by…

  • Black Sunday

    Black Sunday

    ★★★½

    A History of Horror: Mario Bava

    I've been trying to get into Bava for a few years now (since Letterboxd gave me a window on the contagious enthusiasms of other horror film fans), mostly in vain — until a particular scene early in this movie. Two rich guys go for an ill-advised walk in a haunted wood. The guys are boring, and their dubbed-over dialogue is lame. Then they find a ruined chapel (complete with ominously whistling pipes from a…

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  • Collateral

    Collateral

    ★★★★★

    Subgenres of the thriller genre:

    1. the thriller as art film, where the artist cannot stoop to actually thrilling his audience

    2. the thriller as philosophical rubbernecking, where we are invited to meditate upon the nature of evil — as severed heads roll our way

    3. the thriller as pastiche of esoteric pop-culture references

    4. the redundant thriller, either a remake of a good thriller or adaptation of a good novel, or both

    My highest praise of Collateral is that…

  • Hellraiser

    Hellraiser

    ★★½

    A History of Horror: Clive Barker

    Yesterday I took my son (12 years old) to the Met. He saw a painting by Henri Matisse and promptly said, "I could totally do that." I'm a huge fan of my kid, but I must admit: I doubt him. On the other hand, the sf writer Octavia Butler, when she was about 12 and watching Devil Girl from Mars, thought, "I can write a better story than that." And yeah, she totally could…