The Girl Next Door (2007)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

It would probably be best for you to NOT watch this movie. This is possibly the most extreme horror / exploitation flick currently on Netflix. Are you still reading? Ok, well… this is a fact-based film about a young girl that was tortured and abused back in 1965. I saw this when it came out, and it made quite an impression. Back then I was a much more negative horror maniac, and it cut right through my “I’ve seen it all” bullshit. I didn’t feel titillated. I felt sympathy and dread. This was originally a novel by Jack Ketchum, who was likely the smartest author working in extreme horror. Maybe only Clive Barker’s early work was a match. If the above has not scared you off, and you’re ready to be brutalized for “entertainment”, check out The Girl Next Door. Also look into Ketchum’s books. The ones I read were a big step above most horror fiction.

Available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.

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The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This film is based on an unsolved series of murders in 1946. It was made with a docudrama style, but shot in a really great looking widescreen format. Unlike most fact-based horror films, The Town that Dreaded Sundown manages to maintain a genuinely unnerving vibe throughout. This feels more like a true crime thriller than stalk and slash horror, but I recall feeling truly creeped out while watching it for the first time. That is a rare thing for me. Get ready for a slow, but very disturbing ride. This was remade in 2014, but I say stick with the original. Looks like the “reimagining” was done purely for money, unlike quality films like The Thing (1982) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

Blu-ray available from Shout Factory.

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In Order of Disappearance (2014)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent Swedish revenge film that was remade as Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson as the lead. The original stars Stellan Skarsgård, and is just as superior as you would imagine. It’s violent, packed with black humor, and made with a style that borders on art film. Need I say more?

Blu-ray available from Magnolia.

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Bacon’s Arena (2006)

Streaming on YouTube | imdb

Francis Bacon was one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. He also led a very interesting and tumultuous life, which was the focus of the dramatic bio pic Love is the Devil (worth a watch). You are familiar with his work, wether you know it or not, as it is referenced in popular culture regularly. He is best known for painting disturbing, distorted images of the human face and figure like his “screaming popes.” Bacon’s seated figures were sloppily brought to life by Lucio Fulci in A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (which is an excellent giallo, but Bacon must have despised it). This excellent TV movie is the best biography of the artist I’ve seen yet. The quality is not quite up to current standards, but don’t let that deter you. If you have an interest in counter culture on the dark side, this is mandatory viewing.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Streaming on Netflix and Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is Sergio Leone’s flawed, but still amazing, final film. Once Upon a Time in America is a wide-ranging epic about a prohibition-era Jewish gangster in New York City. I will spare you all the gory details about what went wrong in the cutting and release (you can read all about it over here). I saw this in whatever the hell version was on DVD around 2005 and loved it. Yes, this film is slow. However it tops Goodfellas in the level of violence and scope. To keep it simple, if you are a fan gangster movies and TV series, you need to see this. The amazing cast is reason enough. Just go in knowing it’s a long slow ride with some seriously bloody sections. Maybe even break it up into two or more viewings for maximum enjoyment (that’s my plan for a re-watch soon).

The domestic Blu-ray is currently Out of Print.

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Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The Z Channel was an early pay cable network that was very much like the current Criterion Channel (but began years before Criterion was even releasing laser discs). The story of it’s rise and fall, plus the channel’s influence is fascinating. You also get the tragic story of programming chief Jerry Harvey. I first saw this back when the movie was originally shown on the IFC cable channel. I never would have thought this doc would get remastered and made available again, but I’m glad it was. The filmmakers managed to get so many great interview subjects it’s amazing. The segments with Tarantino are particularly interesting. I didn’t understand the depth and range of his cinema obsession before seeing this movie. If you love independent and arthouse cinema, this documentary is essential viewing. I recall chasing down titles I hadn’t seen for years after.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Hot Fuzz (2007)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a spoof of action films, that is also better than most action films. I liked Shaun of the Dead, but enjoyed this (and The World’s End) much more. Those three films make up the Edgar Wright / Simon Pegg “Cornetto Trilogy”, and I think Hot Fuzz is my personal favorite. What is not to love about a relentless pace with legitimately funny lines sprinkled throughout. As usual with these guys, there are lots of subtle references throughout the film. The best is the desk sergeant reading a copy of Iain Banks’ excellent novel Complicity. Edgar Wright’s recent Last Night in Soho wasn’t bad, but I like his action work best. I’m very much looking forward to his upcoming version of The Running Man. Oh and if you somehow missed the Wright / Pegg / Frost series Spaced, get on it. That remains one of the very best English comedy series ever made.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Renewed Movies for May!

I have updated this site, so all movies should be streaming on their respective service. Also, I am happy to report that the following expired movies have been renewed and/or picked up by other streaming services (linked to my original recommendations):

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)

Dirty Harry (1971)

The Hospital (1971)

Killer Joe (2011)

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

The Stranger (1946)

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

The Video Dead (1987)

Happy viewing! -Jonathan

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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a documentary about $80 million in forged abstract expressionist art that was sold through a major NY art dealer. If you have little to no interest in art, then this will bore the hell out of you. I found it to be very well made, and engaging throughout. It is mostly one-on-one interviews, peppered with some high quality documentary photos and appropriate video / film footage. Oh yeah and there’s that one element that you’ll see in 99% of contemporary documentaries… the animation. There seems to be a rule that there MUST be at least one section featuring animation in every doc. It’s as if there’s a big scary enforcer that shows up in the editing process and says “I ain’t seen no cartoons in dis here picture yet” while showing the director his bloodstained baseball bat. I get why documentary makers feel it’s necessary, but it’s become a cliche. If you just have to do it, please do something really interesting like the animation in Gimmie Danger. Sorry, I had to get that out. Where was I? Ok, here’s why Made You Look is worth your time: you get to learn about rich and powerful people becoming victims of their own stupidity and greed. Enjoy the schadenfreude my friends.

Not Available on Blu-ray.

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Clan of the the White Lotus (1980)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Aka Fists of the the White Lotus. “Deadly Needle Kung Fu Against the Invincible Armor of The White Lotus!” Right out of the gate this Shaw Brothers flick will grab you (with it’s crotch). White Lotus features crazy-complex fight choreography, and a good sense of humor too (not in that goofy Jackie Chan / Sammo Hung way either). If you’re not sold before the opening credits are done, then hit stop and go watch a superhero movie. I gave this film a 9 out of 10 rating on imdb.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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