District B13 (2004)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

A cop and a former hooligan join forces to stop a disaster. District B13 remains one of the more over-the-top action films I’ve seen in the last 20 years. It’s also on the cheesy and unrealistic side, but if that doesn’t scare you off… buckle up. This movie isn’t even 90 minutes long and the pace is insanely fast. You won’t know what hit you.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent doc on the man behind so much amazing creature / FX design and stop motion animation, including the OG Star Wars trilogy, RoboCop 1 and 2, Starship Troopers, Jurassic Park and much more. I had no clue the depth of his career until seeing this film. It also covers a bit of his recently released movie Mad God (recommended – currently streaming on AMC+ and Shudder).

Bonus: Many short films mentioned in the doc, including the fantastic Prehistoric Beast, plus tons of behind the scenes videos, are on Phil Tippett’s YouTube channel.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Yes, I’m finally getting around to an Argento movie. This is his first film, and among his best. I wouldn’t recommend Dario newbies start with this one, as it is honestly very slow, and almost bloodless. It’s definitely a giallo, but far more thriller than horror. However this movie is as creepy as can be, beautifully filmed, has a very good cast, and the Morricone score is phenomenal. Most people see Suspiria first, and are a little disappointed by Argento’s other great films. Then they go on to be downright depressed by the rest of his output (I gave up after sitting through Giallo). Sadly he has not made a decent movie since Sleepless, but he was excellent acting in Gaspar Noe’s Vortex. Besides Suspiria, my personal favorites are Tenebrae and The Cat o Nine Tails (honorable mentions for Deep Red, Inferno, and DA’s edit of Dawn of the Dead). Did you hear that? It was the sound of dozens of horror nerds yelling out What about (fill in the blank)?!?!?!

Available on Blu-ray from Arrow.

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Lifeforce (1985)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

An astronaut inadvertently brings back… Space Vampires. This is a personal favorite that nearly qualifies as a guilty pleasure. Lifeforce is very over-the-top, and even cheesy at times, but I think you’ll be too entertained to be bothered. This is one seriously fast-paced blast of an action, sci-fi, horror mashup. Directed by Tobe Hooper, and somehow financed by the Cannon Group with a generous budget, plus the cinematography and makeup effects still look great. They even made a 70mm version of the film, which I’ve seen, and the sound design / score were a delight for my ears. This film also features a surprisingly perfect cast, with a standout memorable moment featuring Patrick Stewart. The last reel of the film is just plain bonkers too. Get ready for a good time if you’ve never had the pleasure.

Available on Blu-ray 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.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema, please consider supporting this site by donating any amount (even $1.00 is appreciated) via Venmo @vergeoflight / Cash App $vergeoflight / or Paypal at this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

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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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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Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The first installment of a two part series on the career of criminal Jaques Mesrine (the second is Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One). This is the French answer to Scarface (1983), but based on true events, and much larger in scope. Other than the usual fake looking gun action, this movie is a total blast. Vincent Cassel is perfect, as usual. If you’d like to see him do something more fun / dumb I recommend you also check out his film Dobermann (looks like it’s available on YouTube if you sign in).

Available on Blu-ray from Music Box.

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Zana (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime (and Kanopy) | imdb | trailer

Zana is an excellent, dark drama from Kosovo. The film reminded me a bit of Tarkovsky’s work, but the pace is a little faster, and it’s only 97 minutes long. The cinematography is fantastic, and all the actors pull off top-notch performances. One word of warning, this movie is very sad. It maintains that tone from start to finish, minus a few moments. If you’re not in the mood for a downer, then maybe pick something perky from the Netflix Top 10 (you wimp).

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The mighty Christopher Lee plays a murderous Count, who is back from the dead, and out for revenge. Sounds similar to the plot for Mario Bava’s Black Sunday right? That’s ok, because part of why I enjoyed this movie so much is that it reminded me of Bava’s work, and early Hammer Horror. It also is an extremely loose adaptation of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” so we get additional reminders of Roger Corman’s Poe horrors. All that may sound like this isn’t worth your time. Not true. The film has been lovingly restored and looks absolutely beautiful. The saturated color and deep shadows sold it for me. Torture Chamber… is an old fashioned horror film, and is not particularly smart, but I highly recommended classic horror fans see it. If you enjoyed the young and handsome Christopher Lee acting like a creep, make sure to check out Bava’s The Whip and the Body. This director made an earlier creepy horror movie called The Strangler of Blackmoore Castle, which is also worth watching.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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