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.
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This is a solid, deliberately paced, creepy horror movie with an excellent soundtrack. The location is the star of the show though. That is the very real, very ominous, Danvers State Hospital (sadly it was demolished in 2006). The film was written for the location, and the crew did very little additional set dressing. It all works quite well. Session 9 is one to watch in the dark with popcorn. I’d add adult beverages into the mix too, but that’s me. You be you.
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.
I almost didn’t recommend this one as it was on the Netflix Top 10 when it was first released, and has received a lot of press. However, The Platform deserves that attention AND is very much Anomalous Cinema. This movie skillfully blends horror and sci-fi, into a borderline-art film. Now let’s hope this leads to Netflix releasing more even more daring and intelligent weirdo features.
FYI – I recommend if you watch ANY foreign content made after 1990 on Netflix you do so in it’s original language with subtitles. Netflix’s English dubbing is absolutely horrible 99% of the time.
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.
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).