While I’m a fan of science fiction film, and science fiction in general, I have a big gaping hole in my fandom, in the form of the Planet of the Apes movies.

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Vertigo is probably one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most beloved films, from a director whose entire filmography is almost universally beloved. It’s also a film which has had the appraisal that it peaks a little too early, one that I tend to agree with. There will be spoilers in this review below the cut, because I need to talk about the last third of the film, so I need to lay out what came before.

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When it comes to horror and documentaries, in the sense of horror films that are deliberately planned to be documentaries, you have two main stripes represented by two big names. On one hand, you have Legend of Boggy Creek, a historical reenactment heavy documentary about a Texarkana cryptid that effectively recounts a variety of local myths and legends in an uncritical manner. On the other hand, there’s Haxan, the film I’m covering today, which is not only a very early work in the documentary genre, it’s also a work that is also very critical of historical accounts of witchcraft.

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Roger Corman is widely recognized as a producer who launched the careers of numerous writers, actors, and future directors. He’s also widely recognized as a producer who churned out numerous exploitation films of a wide variety of stripes almost like clockwork, on the cheap, and without much concern about the craft.

This leads to the problems with Humanoids from the Deep. Part of this film is a very well done horror creature feature, with incredibly suspensefully shot sequences, and is a film that is willing to straight up kill off a kid and several dogs very early in the film. It’s also a film where Roger Corman decided to fire the film’s original director, Barbara Peeters, because he wanted the film’s rape scenes to be more explicit – so he handed those sequences off to the second unit director, and the film is lesser because of this. (more…)

It’s been a while since I watched what I’d call a “Weird Japan” movie – a Japanese film with a degree of creativity and un-reality that is uncommon in Western cinema – and indeed is generally rejected outright in Western independent cinema (see Dogme ’95 and Ethan Hawke’s comments about superhero films). Instead, these films openly embrace science fiction, fantasy, and horror concepts in a way that Western independent cinema (outside of horror) fails to do.

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Altered Space is something of a horror film that isn’t quite a horror film. In a way, it’s difficult to describe – this is my first time watching a film by Ken Russell, but his reputation has preceded him. Specifically, his reputation for psychedelic, religious, and psychosexual imagery. All of those things are present in Altered Space in spades – with subject matter that is fundamentally horrific but is never presented in that manner. (more…)

Suspiria was what I’d describe as one of the best films Dario Argento ever made, with a tremendous visual esthetic, particularly through the use of color in the film, combined with the excellent score by Goblin. So, it’s not surprising that Dario made a semi-spiritual sequel. The second film, Inferno, introduced the thematic series that Argento named “The Three Mothers” trilogy, with the films based around three witches drawn from Thomas De Quincey’s Suspiria de ProfundisInferno aims to basically be “like Suspiria but more so,” but it doesn’t quite work. (more…)

When it comes to bad action movies, there are some names in action films that can be reasonably taken as a warning sign that the film you are approaching is a stinkburger. Frank Stallone is one of those names. Frank Stallone started his career as a musician and composer and has had a reasonably successful career at that. However, as his older brother Sylvester became one of the action juggernauts of the 1980s and ’90s, Frank kept also getting action movie roles, presumably on the basis that he looks enough like Sly, that if you put “Stallone” in large enough letters on the poster, people won’t look closer and recognize that it’s actually Frank. (more…)

Stray Dog is one of the earlier film noir styled films from Akira Kurosawa. It’s an interesting example of the genre, and it also makes for an interesting snapshot of post-war Japan. The premise has Toshiro Mifune playing a rookie homicide op whose weapon is stolen by a pickpocket while on the bus. The detective ends up being partnered with a veteran detective as they make their way through Tokyo’s underworld to find the gun. (more…)

The next Star Wars Story installment is out, and I talk about this film’s depictions of Han and Lando, and how they compare to what we’ve seen in the Legends continuity thus far – with the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian Adventures novels in particular.

Opening Credits: Star Wars Theme from Super Star Wars on the SNES.
Closing Credits: Chiptune Cantina Band from Chiptune Inc. – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvJtiGFudFlvYMfjiU1NKJg

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Eyes Without A Face is a very engaging, but bleak horror film. Not bleak in the sense of the horror exploitation films of the 1970s, where the endings erred on the side of “Nobody survived and this is going to happen again” or even just “None of our protagonists survived” as was the case of Night of The Living Dead. The film’s ending does have a true sense of catharsis, and if it was narratively framed differently, it would end on a much more upbeat note.

To get into this, I’m going to have to get into spoilers for a film from 1960. If you want to come in cold, consider this your warning. (more…)

His Girl Friday has aged poorly.

Let’s start off with the fundamental premise – Newspaperman Walter Burns (Cary Grant) has divorced from his reporter wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) at some point prior to the beginning of the film. She’s stopped by the newspaper to announce that she’s remarrying, to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), and is going to leave reporting – having been burned out by the cynicism. However, this happens on the eve of the execution of a man named Earl Williams (John Qualen) for murder. (more…)

I’m not the biggest fan of musicals. I’ve liked some of them, but I don’t really get into the genre as a whole. One of the Musicals that has always worked for me is Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – with the musical probably being one of the two’s best collaborations. The musical recently got a new stage adaptation, performed live on NBC, and I watched the archive of the show on Hulu. (more…)

Heaven’s Gate is a film that originally had a profoundly negative response – critically panned for its excess, both in terms of the troubled shoot and the film’s length, it was considered everything wrong with “New Hollywood”, even before we get into the reports that horses were killed and maimed in the making of this film to enough of a degree above and beyond earlier westerns that this movie lead to the start of the American Humane Society sending monitors to film shoots to make sure this didn’t happen in the future. Since its initial release, the film built up something of a cult following, which ultimately lead to the film getting a re-edit and re-master to fit the director’s vision for its final release a few years ago from the Criterion Collection. (more…)

Excerpt from the Poster for 8 1/2.

Fellini’s film 8 1/2 is considered his magnum opus, the defining film of his career, and a monumental work of Italian cinema. It’s also a film that, in my view, has been eclipsed by later works influenced by it, in particular Bob Fosse’s film All That Jazz. I’ll explain.

(There will be some spoilers for both films) (more…)

A while back I reviewed the documentary film The Ackermonster Chronicles – a documentary film telling the life story of Forrest J. Ackerman. The film conveyed Ackerman’s life in a way that I compared to people talking about Ackerman at a wake, telling stories about his life, and in my view it didn’t quite get across why, necessarily, Ackerman was historically important or significant. George Harrison: Living in the Material World, from director Martin Scorsese uses the same style of presentation, but gets that point across better. (more…)