Humphrey Bogart is an undead freak in this, gotta love it.
Michelangelo Antonioni, with The Passenger, is constantly searching for a contrast against emptiness, both as a visual idea and a concept. Likewise, the protagonist, David Locke, is less of a full-fledged character than a state of being, a drifter who takes on an identity not just as a way of obtaining information, but becoming someone else. He's seeking answers to questions that his current self cannot provide. What a role for Jack Nicholson, who at this point seemed to…
A rickety wooden rollercoaster ride of a movie. You can feel your reality start to shake as you watch it, tumbling down that first drop. Existential and harrowing. This low-budget carnival horror flick spent basically all of its money on the 35mm film, so the set design is molded out of bubble wrap and newspaper and tin foil. A labor of love that resulted in a sinister viewing experience. Ghouls and abandoned rides and punishing darkness. Pair it with Messiah of Evil or Carnival of Souls.
Such a fabulous Pre-Code horror film from Michael Curtiz, now restored to scintillating effect and released by Warner Archive. A mix of Old Dark House shenanigans, comic relief, and mad scientist imagery. So many emerald-green lab vials and beakers. A charming and spooky early 30s concoction. The two-strip Technicolor photography by Ray Rennahan, just like in Curtiz' Mystery of the Wax Museum, fits like a glove in the Horror genre, and it's so unique and dreamy. The images glow…
Good lord. Nasty across the board. Hippie paranoia mixed with LSD and rabies and meat pies. The citizens of a small town at the end of its life due to a new dam are confronted by the bad vibes of a Manson-esque clan, and that's *before* a dog's rabies-contaminated blood ends up in the food. Drive-in trash operating at an insane level, never anything less than committed to its scuzzy, hopeless energy. Sloppy gore and constant screams and an…
Extraordinary depth of field to the 'WarnerColor' images, with Bob Fosse's choreography at an expressive peak in all layers of the frame. There's not one area of the composition ignored. Stanley Donen and George Abbott offer a sugary, cartoonish energy to the narrative, with some of the prettiest colors you'll find in a golden age musical. A pro-union slant is there, but it's sadly muddled with rough sexual politics and a lack of chemistry in the two leads. And too bad every song is total dud. Ice pick in ears type stuff. But my god, the colors!
Tod Browning plays with form in Mark of the Vampire, and it results in quite an interesting film in 30s Horror. One of the first shots is a harsh transition from a towering church steeple to a set-bound town square. The artifice is very much aware of itself. It's less of a traditional spooky film of the time and more of a murder mystery with Gothic elements, often reveling in cliché and amped-up atmosphere while placing the focus on an excellent ensemble cast and parodic twists and turns. Quite good, and worth a look.
Stock car mayhem, full of earthy beauty. Sid Haig shines in a role that is so emotive, by turns hysterical and painful. He could turn any supporting performance into the shining star of the picture. But Brian Donlevy and Richard Davalos are just as memorable, and Pit Stop as a whole, alternatively known as The Winner, is a poetic glimpse into the hardened economy of 'figure-eight' racing. It's almost impossible to avert your eyes from the rough energy of this Jack Hill classic.
Have you ever had a nightmare where you're against an almost insurmountable force, but instead of being alone, you have a few friends and family there to back you up? To help fight whatever it is that's evil? Phantasm captures this, all while evoked in liminal spaces, with ideas of adolescence and grief floating in the autumn air. One of my favorite openings to a horror film, with the blood-red title card and dreamy score hitting like an adrenaline shot.
Rutger Hauer absolutely terrifies in The Hitcher, an action-horror hybrid that balances a mythic ambiguity for its antagonist and a downward spiral for its lead. After the initial barebones set-up, there's a sense of surreal plotting as Hauer's John Ryder comes and goes as he pleases, disappearing into thin air. The result is a tense mix of horrific imagery (captured with such beauty by DP John Seale) and hard-hitting action beats. The car crashes in this are unreal! One of the kind - The Hitcher rides such a delicate line between two genres, all without breaking a sweat.