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  • The Rape of the Vampire

    The Rape of the Vampire

    ★★★½

    While I don’t find it as interesting as the films which follow, Rollin’s debut does neatly set up almost all of the director’s key obsessions.

    Above all, it is structured around a series of locations which continually recur in his films. The first part of the film is largely set in a castle, where three visitors meet the four vampire sisters and the “lord of the manor,” a mysterious figure who tells the girls he is protecting them from the…

  • California

    California

    ★★½

    Wild West Summer 2017
    Challenge: Watch a Western starring Barbara Stanwyck

    This gets off to a really good start: Stanwyck gets tossed out of a town by the local busybodies, causing her to hop aboard a wagon train to California where she is begrudgingly accepted after Barry Fitzgerald’s character sticks up for her. Stanwyck then goes around being awesome, taking everyone’s money at cards and completely ignoring Ray Milland being an asshole. I wish more of the film took place…

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  • Blood and Black Lace

    Blood and Black Lace

    ★★★★★

    A visual masterpiece. The mise-en-scene pops with exquisite colors and a baroque set design filled to the brim with odd knick-knacks. The camera floats supernaturally through this fantastic reality, sometimes connected with the killer and sometimes not. The film’s magic has little to do with the plot, although it establishes key motifs of the giallo, including the sexually charged setpiece murders. The twist is fun, too.

  • The Smiling Madame Beudet

    The Smiling Madame Beudet

    ★★★★★

    This French impressionist masterpiece is about the interior life of a housewife who fantasizes ways of escaping from her emotionally (and perhaps physically) abusive husband. Her interiority is registered in terms of cinematic invention, placing her husband in the place of reality (and perhaps realistic cinema) while her resistance to reality is to be found in inventive editing, strange angles, and haunting superimpositions.

    Every second of this 45-minute film is packed with brilliance, but a few sequences stand out: first,…