Dr. Hess Green is stabbed three times by a mystical dagger and becomes a different kind of vampire. Different is an understatement with this experimental dream of a movie. Director Bill Gunn was tasked with delivering his version of Blackula. Instead he made an art film in the guise of horror. Despite an award at the Cannes Film Festival, the original cut was butchered down to a more commercial version, and faded into cinema history. Thankfully MoMA and Kino Lorber were able to restore the original version. They didn’t do the drastic restoration job that we’re used to these days either. The film probably looks similar to when it was first shown, warts and all. That was a wise choice, as polishing Ganja & Hess would have taken away from all the elements that make it special.
This movie will not be to everyone’s taste. It challenges your attention span at times, and then challenges your sense of decency. That’s why I love it. Additionally you get to see Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead) in his very best screen performance. That should be reason enough to see this, but the script is great, and the music is excellent as well. Watch with patience and you might just appreciate it as much as I do.
Ok, so this movie was one of the epic flops in cinema history. The nutshell version is that the estimated budget was 44 million and the cumulative gross worldwide revenue was less than 3.5 million. Ouch. However, Heaven’s Gate is a damn good film! It’s also bloated, over-complicated, bizarre, and excruciatingly slow at times. I can imagine seeing it in the theater was quite a trial. Watch this in a few chunks, and you’ll appreciate what Michael Cimino was trying to do. Some of the scenes in this movie are just jaw droppingly insane on multiple levels. It’s honestly a must-see work of Anomalous Cinema. I’m just very happy that the director got to see it appreciated during his lifetime.
I try to avoid talking about Oscar winners here, but this felt the most Anomalous among my Netflix choices. I hadn’t watched the film since it initially came out, so I turned it on assuming I would just zoom through to refresh my memory. That plan did not work out as I was sucked in as if I’d never seen it before. This is a good example of what can be done with a drama in the right hands. It does run a little long, but that feels justified in the end. Babel is a beautiful, thought-provoking film with excellent music. I personally like Iñárritu’s Birdman a bit more than this, but it’s among his very best work.
Linda Blair (The Exorcist) is all grown up, and out for revenge. This movie is one-half total cheese, one-half brutal exploitation, and 100% not for sensitive viewers. Sounds perfect for Friday night, right? Savage Streets is best enjoyed with your favorite mind-altering substance.
Bonus: This movie got some really well-made poster art thanks to Linda Blair’s involvement (and revealing outfit). You can see them over at Wrong Side of the Art.
Here’s an entertaining Technicolor British horror film starring Peter Cushing (also with Anomalous Cinema favorites Patrick Magee and Christopher Lee). Those facts alone don’t sell you on this? Well, it is not just any old possessed skull. It’s the former head of… the Marquis de Sade himself (insert thunder sound effect here)! In spite of what the poster and trailer want you to think, this is slow, suspenseful horror. Know that going in and you’ll probably enjoy it.
I think this one got overlooked or underrated by a lot of people as it is a bit long and deliberately slow. This is not in-your-face horror or blockbuster action. The crafted look and pace lean more towards an art film. If you can get yourself into the right frame of mind you will see that Hold the Dark is an almost flawless movie. Director Jeremy Saulnier has made three excellent films in a row (plus work on True Detective), and I’m looking forward to his next one, Rebel Ridge.
Experimental plastic surgery leads to the zombie apocalypse. This is arguably David Cronenberg’s best early film. Yes, the low budget shows at times. However this is intelligent, action-packed horror, and among my all-time favorites. It’s a shame Marilyn Chambers wasn’t able to permanently transition into legit acting. She’s good in this movie.
The Shaw Brothers made this absolutely bonkers horror / action flick years before The Toxic Avenger. It is even more gloriously ridiculous than Toxie. You might just enjoy this movie so much you have to own the collectible vinyl figure (it ain’t cheap though).
This is a surprisingly well-constructed dramatization of the 2008 terror attacks. It does not pull any punches, so be prepared for a lot of graphic violence. The bloodshed is balanced with mostly-believable human stories. Hotel Mumbai manages to shine some light on a story that I didn’t know nearly enough about before watching.