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  • The Frozen Dead

    The Frozen Dead

    ★★★

    [Originally appeared at cinespect.com.]

    Herbert J. Leder’s The Frozen Dead is the only movie I know that touches on that awkward teenage feeling of finding out that your uncle is a Nazi mad scientist who’s keeping your best friend’s decapitated head alive in his dungeon laboratory as part of a plan to create an army of zombie storm troopers. Forget rich allegory or fine feelings or even good filmmaking for a moment —the pleasure of The Frozen Dead lies in…

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    [Originally appeared at the now defunct cinespect.com.]

    As the ‘60s faded into the ‘70s, British horror movies turned vicious, and movies like Michael Reeves’s The Conqueror Worm(1968) and Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) avoided the comforting tidiness and blurry but profound moral distinctions that had characterized British genre cinema for two decades. Piers Haggard’s spooky, nightmarish 1971 period horror film Blood on Satan’s Claw mirrors the mood of that era with its tale of demonic, galvanic evil messily…

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  • Beautiful Darling

    Beautiful Darling

    ★★★½

    Very moving and funny and sacred as an ode to Candy Carling, yet also not half the film it could have been. Speaking to Fran Lebowitz, as a contemporary and a witness to Candy and her scene, is justifiable, and her vocal transphobia helps you instantly and accurately perceive how even the queer refuge of Warhol's coterie was far from Utopia for someone like Candy, but I nevertheless question of the wisdom of giving her so much more speaking time…

  • Are These Our Children

    Are These Our Children

    ★★½

    A familiar tale, eccentrically told: straight from listening to hot jazz music to sitting on death row. The fall of hot jazz and the rise of sweet swing saved so many American yutes from fast damnation. God bless you, Guy Lombardo and Glenn Miller.

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  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★★

    All you need to make a movie is a girl, a gun, and a life insurance policy.

  • In the Mood for Love

    In the Mood for Love

    ★★★★★

    A movie about memory, and about clothes and food and cigarettes and Nat King Cole records, all of which play their part in a story not only of lost love, but of an ancient empire in which love collapsed in on itself in a quiet apocalypse. In his attention to minutiae, Wong realizes the aesthetic ambitions of the 1920s film theorist and filmmaker Jean Epstein, the prophet of photogénie, the fetishistic obsession with photographic detail and arrested gesture. In its…