Favorite films

  • The Red Shoes
  • Legend of the Mountain
  • The Triadic Ballet
  • Himiko

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  • Dream Demon

    ★★★

  • After Blue (Dirty Paradise)

    ★★★★

  • Deathstalker II

    ★★★½

  • Lady in a Cage

    ★★

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  • The Sword and the Dragon

    The Sword and the Dragon

    ★★★★

    Insofar as sheer spectacle is concerned, the only thing I can think of that might have this beat is Bondarchuk's War and Peace. But in the realm of fantasy & myth nothing else comes close to this, and few are the films that can match its physical gorgeousness and inventiveness, either. Insofar as the script and performances go it's undeniably on shakier ground, and its nationalist themes, while appropriate for the story being told, are a turn-off. Nonetheless, this is rousing,…

  • Cannibal Holocaust

    Cannibal Holocaust

    ★★★★

    Pretty hard to take its moralizing seriously, given how cartoonishly evil the documentarians are, and considering the exploitation involved in the actual production of the film itself, but as a landmark work of extreme cinema, with all of its head-spinning self-implication, nauseating violence and gore, legendary controversy, & grueling location shooting, it's unmissable.

    I finally picked up the Grindhouse blu-ray for the express purpose of watching the animal-cruelty-free version for the first time, and it's by some distance my preferred cut--I'd…

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  • After Blue (Dirty Paradise)

    After Blue (Dirty Paradise)

    ★★★★

    I have a rough time with Mandico--aesthetically he's 100% my jam (well, other than perhaps his propensity for smothering everything in what looks like moist pubes--let's call it 90%), but I generally find myself frustrated by his wobbly storytelling, & I think what little he seems to have to say about queerness & gender is either trite or toxic.

    I liked this an awful lot though--it's a perfectly simple, almost traditionally-structured story, spiced with surreal amusements, playful & humorous curlicues, & wonderous effects & design,…

  • Deathstalker II

    Deathstalker II

    ★★★½

    May be an even lower-effort cash-grab that exists due only to the success of the first, but it's so much better. Between John Lazar, Monique Gabrielle's awe-inspiring terrible performance for the ages, the emphasized camp & comedy (including some lame outtakes that play during the end credits!), and the considerably reduced amount of rape & assault, this one's a ton of fun.

    The real question is, now that I love Maria Socas, is it worth watching The Warrior and the Sorceress just for her?

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  • The Vampire Doll

    The Vampire Doll

    ★★★★

    Marvelous Japanese gothic horror, working in a similar vein to that of the most memorable British & Italian genre efforts. Proper slow-burning, atmospheric, legit scary stuff (with just enough silliness, including a spring-loaded doll-in-a-coffin), miraculously & efficiently fit into just 70 minutes. And Kayo Matsuo is perfect in the thankless role of the wide-eyed, mostly helpless heroine.

  • Odd Couple

    Odd Couple

    ★★½

    The duels here are simply gorgeous, sophisticated & rigorous almost beyond comprehension, punctuated regularly with many extraordinary flourishes & uncanny timing. Insofar as melee weapon combat is concerned, I don't think I've ever seen anything that looks half as graceful, or dangerous.

    But, while the story itself is of pretty sound construction, I found its generally silly tone & the almost nonstop mugging from the actors overbearing, & painfully at odds with the agile beauty of the choreography. I'm not saying that something with…