A Prayer Before Dawn (2017)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Damn good biopic based on the true story of an English man jailed in Thailand who betters himself by boxing in prison. This film is as gritty as they come, and absolutely not for the timid viewer. The violence and human degradation is almost constant. A Prayer… feels a little long, but every scene seems to be necessary, so maybe don’t watch in one sitting. The fight sequences kept the pace up even though I am 100% not a sports enthusiast. The acting and cinematography are top notch as well. How in the hell did the director get these performances out of legit Thai criminals? I need to see a making-of. Much like the book “In the Belly of the Beast,” this movie made me value my freedom like you wouldn’t believe.

Available on Blu-ray. from Lion’s Gate.

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Peeping Tom (1960)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The following was my first Patreon post, and will be in the upcoming Anomalous Cinema book. I was so happy to see that this film is streaming in 1080p HD, I just had to share it here too. Enjoy.

Mark is a sad, but somehow lovable, serial killer with a unique murder technique. You might not think that would be the plot of one of the very best films ever made, but it is.

The first time I saw this was on a terrible VHS tape. The colors were washed out and the movie was cropped from it’s original aspect ratio. I liked the story but wasn’t impressed. A couple of years later I got to see a restored 35 mm print, and the difference was unbelievable. The saturated colors alone made such a huge impression. Seeing it properly presented made it one of my all time favorite films.

I really want to avoid talking about specific format releases on Anomalous Cinema, but I will ignore that for this one movie. The reason is the Criterion Collection DVD. I bought a copy shortly after seeing the film print, and it’s really an amazing release. The extras include a long documentary on Leo Marks, who wrote the screenplay. What a revelation that was. Marks is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever learned about. We’re talking William S. Burroughs level interesting. I was so fascinated by Leo Marks I read his book “Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s War, 1941-1945” even though it has nothing to do with Peeping Tom or movies in general.

My experience with this one has been a gradual revelation. Peeping Tom remains a film that I’ve watched over and over, which is very rare for me.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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The Man Who Saw Too Much (2016)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I am a little ashamed to say that I had never heard of Mexican crime photographer Enrique Metinides before. Thanks to this film I am now a certified fan. First there’s the man himself, who is a charming eccentric. Then there’s his work, which is beautiful, but as morbidly graphic as photography can get. To top it off you get to see Metinides interacting with his toy collections, which gets downright touching at times. I say this documentary is perfect and give it my most enthusiastic recommendation. One little side note, at the beginning as he’s talking about his first camera, the Brownie Junior, I looked down and noticed that I have the identical model sitting right below my TV. Cue The Twilight Zone theme.

FYI – There is an impressive looking book available titled 101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides.

Available on Blu-ray from Filmrise.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

Tumbbad (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I’ve been wanting to feature an Indian movie for a long time, but nothing has struck me as good enough. I was going to direct you to check out Veerana: Vengeance of the Vampire / Purani Haveli: Mansion of Evil but that Mondo Macabro disc is selling for crazy collector prices now (maybe try a torrent search). Anyhow, Tumbbad was a real pleasure to find as it’s easily the best Indian film I’ve ever seen, of any genre. It’s super dark, and there’s very little of the silly humor that plagues most Bollywood films. Most important, it is genuinely creepy. Some of the CG isn’t quite up to current standards, but don’t let that keep you away. This is an excellent film with a damn good soundtrack to boot. Oh and by the way, smoking is injurious to your health.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

City of the Living Dead (1980)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The following text is from a little art-slanted curated shelf I did at my beloved local video store Movie Madness a while back…

Lucio Fulci was a huge fan of Antonin Artaud and knew a thing or two about art. Sadly I believe he thought he was stuck grinding out crap cinema for a paycheck. Just watch this and imagine it with no music. You’d swear it’s some unholy mutant child of Luis Buñuel and The Chapman Brothers.

Note: Of course I don’t think Fulci’s work was crap. Critics and moralists did, maybe Lucio himself from time to time. I have featured Don’t Torture a Duckling here and also love his films The Beyond, Beatrice Cenci, A Cat in the Brain, Zombi, and Contraband, among others.

Available on Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing (as The Gates of Hell).

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here.

Death Laid an Egg (1968)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Well, if this isn’t Anomalous Cinema, I don’t know what is. Here is one of the more art film-influenced giallos. Godard’s Weekend came out a year before, and there’s a definite influence. It is also one of the more bizarre entries in the subgenre. Bizarre in the sense it’s surrealistic, and a lot of the set decoration looks like strange contemporary art. Death Laid an Egg is also not as violent or graphic as later gialli, but don’t let that stop you from seeing this one. The cinematography is spot-on, the lead performances are great (I always love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant), and the weird plot will keep your eyes glued to the screen.

The version streaming on Prime looks good, but seems a tiny bit cropped, and is not 1080p. It is also a shorter version than is available on the most recent disc release (I believe the one on Prime is the approx 90 min. “Giallo Version” that Cult Epics released). That’s ok, it’s still definitely worth checking out this streaming version. If you really enjoy the film, you may want to invest in the 2018 UK import from Nucleus. You can read a very detailed review and breakdown of the various disc versions on Nathaniel Thompson’s excellent Mondo Digital website. His book series DVD Delirium was a big influence on my taste in movies.

Import Blu-ray available from Nucleus Films.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

In the ’70s many star-studded thrillers were made (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, etc). None of them really impressed me all that much except this one. The Cassandra Complex is a crazy pebble, that rolls into a crazy snowball, that eventually becomes an avalanche of crazy. This is NOT a five star film. It should be terrible actually, but it’s not. What you get is a very entertaining mess, with seemingly every known working actor of the time thrown in. Get ready for a fun ride on the Crazy Train.

Blu-ray available (with bonus feature The Domino Principle) from Timeless Media.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

Crawl (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu | imdb | trailer

I saw an early screening of Alexandre Aja’s High Tension at the Philadelphia film fest and really enjoyed it. I hoped that he’d become the next great horror director. That didn’t really happen. However Aja has managed to make several entertaining genre films over the years. Crawl is not as intense as his 2006 reboot of The Hills Have Eyes, but I liked it. It’s a solid, well-constructed, horror thriller with some genuinely chilling moments. Expect no more and you won’t be disappointed.

Blu-ray available from Paramount.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

The New One-Armed Swordsman (1971)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The original One-Armed Swordsman was played by Wang Yu. This total reboot stars David Chiang, and it’s a blast. Here the Shaw Brothers go for more straight-forward action, not Five Elements Ninjas-type insanity. Don’t let that discourage you, this is a very entertaining martial arts film. Even the dramatic scenes kept my attention. Recommended, fast-paced action that is not for the whole family (what with the arm chopping and all).

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!

Witkin & Witkin (2017)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Joel Peter Witkin is an influential photographer while his twin brother Jerome is a less celebrated, but excellent painter. This documentary talks about their lives, relationship, and a Mexico City exhibition of both artists’ work. Witkin & Witkin is not for sensitive viewers as it contains a lot of nudity, people with deformities, and dead bodies which make up the majority of Joel’s photographs, as well as some of Jerome’s source material. Overall this is a well made and revealing film that should appeal to anyone interested in contemporary visual art with a dark edge.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider supporting the site over on Patreon. You’ll get exclusive content every week, and help in the creation of a book version very similar to what you see here. You can also show your appreciation via Buy Me a Coffee or Liberapay. Thanks!