• The Hound of the Baskervilles

    The Hound of the Baskervilles


    tfw you have a reputation as the "Don't Let Anybody Tell You" guy but you feel increasingly like things people call horror aren't...this is even less of a horror movie than the 1939 Rathbone/Bruce joint, which at least filled its scenes with fog & the stagebound atmosphere of the foreboding moors. This is shorter on mood than its predecessor & has a similarly disappointing lack of deduction.

    Every time I watch a Hammer movie, I feel like I do so out of…

  • The Screaming Skull

    The Screaming Skull


    About halfway through the film I thought, "this has all the hallmarks of the old 'it appears to be supernatural but really they're trying to frighten the already-fragile woman into a breakdown to get ahold of her money' chestnut, but some of these happenings do seem legit supernatural & besides, she's not the one with the money--wouldn't it be cool if they did a double-double-cross & led us to believe that's where it was going & then the twist was that it actually…

  • The Hound of the Baskervilles

    The Hound of the Baskervilles


    Mystery isn't really my genre, but my favorite part of any detective story is at the end when the detective explains how he figured it all out. This verbal reconstruction, this use of language to cement & express the methodical process of deduction, is always fascinating to me, especially if the deduction is clever. It's been a long time since I read The Hound of the Baskervilles the novel, but I'm pretty sure it had such a scene. This adaptation does…

  • The Fog

    The Fog


    I don't think I ever really appreciated this film as a youngster. Knowing it was Carpenter's feature film followup to Halloween, with Curtis & Cyphers along for the ride, I think I was expecting something closer to the tone of Halloween. Instead, I got a deliberately slow, atmosphere-drenched mood movie with gorgeous locations (the lighthouse!) & the most beautiful lighting of Carpenter's career. Dean Cundy is the real MVP, but Carpenter is really showing his range here.

    I still don't think Jamie…

  • War of the Colossal Beast

    War of the Colossal Beast


    He kept changing size & that really annoyed me. Also, of all the sizes he appears to be, none of them resembles the "60 feet tall" that the dialogue informs us he is. I wasn't expecting the emotional punch at the end when Manning remembers his crimes & chooses to end it. I'm usually skeptical of movies where suicide is supposed to be read as a happy ending, but this one problematizes it enough with the sister's reaction & the surreal shift to color. A solid Saturday night's entertainment courtesy of Svengoolie!

    Cf. The War of the Gargantuas

  • Cocaine Bear

    Cocaine Bear


    The crazy thing is that's how Ray Liotta actually died.

    Elizabeth Banks must have been paying close attention on Slither because the action here is very reminiscent of James Gunn working in Troma mode, but the writing is very Danny McBride. Not the worst blend of elements & luckily it stops short of being the modern cynical manufactured "B-movie sensation" that I was worried about, but the algorithm hype machine must have been working overtime because this got memed to death…

  • 555



    It's interesting to see an '80s slasher that owes more to H.G. Lewis than any of its more direct antecedents. The killer is a '60s throwback & so is the production. It's pretty faithful to its Blood Feast-esque procedural elements (lots of unlikable cops sitting around nondescript offices talking) but it balances that with chunkblowing stalk'n'slash sequences that would make daddy Herschel proud.

    Cf. Blood Cult

  • Anthropophagous



    Not nearly as balls-out & abject as its reputation would suggest, this is pretty much a slog for most of its runtime. Faceless characters do a lot of wandering around an abandoned island town & not much of anything else. Without the Mediterranean Gothic trappings & memorable antagonist (who gets far too little screentime) this is C-tier Eurosleaze at best.

    Cf. Who Can Kill a Child?

  • Hospital Massacre

    Hospital Massacre


    It doesn't really work as a slasher, but it works brilliantly as a mood piece & an allegory for what it sometimes feels like to try to get medical care with one or more minoritized statuses. They withhold information from her about her own body, they treat her with disbelief & skepticism, & they subject her to seemingly sadistic, humiliating procedures without transparency. The plot justification for this is to build red herrings into the narrative, but the cumulative effect is a nightmarish helplessness in the face of the institution that could almost be called Kafkaesque if it weren't so humorless.

    Cf. Halloween 2

  • The Red Spectacles

    The Red Spectacles


    Reading Takayuki Tatsumi recently had primed me to recognize the peculiarly Japanese brand of postmodernism this traffics in: post-industrial navelgazing punctuated by bizarre transgressive humor, critiquing hypercapitalism by participating in it, etc. Regrettably, understanding does not translate to appreciating in this case. The movie is determined to keep you at arm's length, daring you to like it despite withholding the simpler cyberpunk pleasures it promises. I felt every second of the 116 minutes & I'd rather go to jail for eating stand-up noodles than watch this again.

    Cf. Until the End of the World

  • Two Evil Eyes

    Two Evil Eyes


    Romero's half is probably more consistent but definitely more boring than Argento's. Shortly after coming away from the film, the Valdemar story had pretty much faded from my memory while I was still trying to unravel The Black Cat. Keitel's sudden turn from more-or-less normal guy to multiple-murdering nut is unexplained in a similar to way to Poe's story. But in the story, the narrator's bizarre way of expressing himself & the heightened intensity of everything gives it the feeling of…

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


    This adaptation is flagrantly uninterested in telling Stevenson's story & much more interested in mapping the contours of an abusive relationship. The acting talk (& Oscar) seems to center around March, but the truly impressive performance to me is Miriam Hopkins as Ivy. In her pre-code dishabille, the wary hopefulness she shows around Jekyll, & the mixture of terror & defeat she has around Hyde, it's a brave performance & incredibly strong stuff for 1931.

    Cf. Mad Love