• The Exorcist

    The Exorcist

    ★★★★★

    Director William Friedkin describes "The Exorcist" as a film about "the mystery of faith." This description is accurate and does so by addressing the struggle between faith and reason that intensified in the Catholic Church in the wake of the cultural revolution of the sixties.

    Father Kerras (Jason Miller) is a priest with a modernist outlook and attitude, informed by his background in psychiatry, which erodes his faith in God. He sees everything supernatural as something that can be explained…

  • Pitch Black

    Pitch Black

    ★★★½

    A sci-fi survivalist story about rising above our animal instincts. Radha Mitchell, one of the great unsung actresses in genre films from this decade, is terrific in the lead, Cole Hauser keeps you guessing as the sleazy merc, Johns, and Keith David effortlessly lends gravitas by simply showing up. A lot has come out of this film centered around Vin Diesel's cool criminal killer Riddick, including animated movies, video games, and two sequels. The direct sequel to this movie, "The…

  • The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera

    ★★½

    The problem with Hammer's "Phantom" adaptation is that it uses the 1943 Claude Rains version as its jumping off point. The problem with this is that the Rains version reduced the themes and ideas in Gaston Leroux's story to a simple revenge tale. This just makes it another monster movie, which would be fine, but the silent classic with Lon Chaney is way better in that regard. Hammer's version is lacking in the crimson shocks and monster moments in which…

  • Dark August

    Dark August

    There are lots genre films from the seventies that throw some occult gibberish, devil stuff, and new age symbols at you, in hopes that you'll think it's far out and groovy, man. "Dark August" is one of those movies. It's about a denim-clad New Yorker who invades Vermont, and gets a hex put on him by an old man who is angry that denim-man ran over his granddaughter, presumably while blaring some Bruce Springsteen from his jeep. He's followed by…

  • Hubie Halloween

    Hubie Halloween

    ★★★

    If you like Adam Sandler and Halloween as much as I do, well, this rough year for movies has a little treat for you. Sandler plays a local pest in Salem, Massachusetts, who earnestly tries to help his community in his own irritating way, despite being openly hated by nearly everyone in town. When locals start disappearing on Halloween, he takes it upon himself to save the town. Sandler's mix of Capra-esque earnestness and humanity wrapped in crude humor is always enjoyable, but it gets some extra points for arriving at a moment like now.

  • Our Hospitality

    Our Hospitality

    ★★★★½

    Buster Keaton blends locomotive creations, the South, and dark humor here in a combination that would prefigure his greatest movie, "The General." The plot is a play on the Hatfield & McCoy conflict, with Buster playing the scion of a family who haplessly arrives in the crosshairs of his bitter rivals. Of course, he falls in love with the daughter of his enemies, and also discovers that, since they pride themselves on their Southern hospitality, they won't kill him as long…

  • The Town That Dreaded Sundown

    The Town That Dreaded Sundown

    ★★★

    A gem of regional filmmaking during a time when the drive-ins needed some quick junk to turn around, and people outside of Hollywood were able to oblige. "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" is a partially-fictionalized account of the Texarkana Moonlight Murders, a series of terrifying unsolved murders that took place in the spring of 1946. Pierce gives it the feeling that we're watching a mix of documentary and dramatization, the same way he did with his cult cryptozoological film "The…

  • Pulse

    Pulse

    ★★★★½

    Kiyoshi Kurosawa's tale of ghosts spreading suicidal depression through the internet has aged exquisitely. It's an unexpectedly apocalyptic ghost story, looking at the internet as something that would tear apart the fabric of society, atomizing individuals to the point of misery. The internet in the age of social media has become defined by rage, which has caused some to say this movie missed the mark, but I don't think it has. The internet allows users to construct their own reality, away from the world, and like the people who contact the ghosts in "Pulse," they seem to disappear from reality, leaving only a trace behind.

  • Blind Husbands

    Blind Husbands

    ★★★½

    Erich Von Stroheim's directorial debut find the director casting himself as the serpent the Garden of Eden that is the Dolomites. The director plays an Austrian lieutenant keen on seducing the wife of an American doctor while on holiday. It's clear that Von Stroheim learned a lot from his mentor, D.W. Griffith, but also came out of the gate fully formed as a filmmaker, filling the film with his favorite themes of the corrupting influence of passion and the wages…

  • The Addams Family

    The Addams Family

    ★★★

    A very nineties, post-Tim Burton's "Batman" take on The Addams Family. It's an extended sitcom episode, but the morbid humor is fun and the performances are terrific. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston are a scream as Gomez and Morticia, in particular. It's one of those movies that's all about the funny little moments sprinkled throughout with the characters, as the overarching plot is mostly forgettable.

  • The Man You Loved to Hate

    The Man You Loved to Hate

    ★★★

    A good rundown of the troubled career of Erich von Stroheim, from his extravagant films, his tyrannical behavior on set, his legendary battles with the studio, his mysterious past, and the ups and downs of his acting career. The stories you hear are the kind of great stuff that could only come out of the early days of moviemaking, when the business was still young.

  • Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

    Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

    ★★★½

    A big-budget, R-rated episode of the nineties anthology show. It's surprising they didn't go the route of an anthology film, like the ill-fated "Twilight Zone" movie, or George Romero's "Creepshow," which was itself an homage to EC comics like "Tales from the Crypt." Turns out, "Demon Knight" made a wise move, since anthology films tend to be hit-or-miss affairs, whereas "Demon Knight" picks one crazy story and goes all-out with it.

    Billy Zane out-mugs the Crypt Keeper in "Demon Knight,"…