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).

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Session 9 (2001)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

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.

Blu-ray available from Shout Factory.

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Zodiac (2007)

Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book version of Zodiac is a serious page turner. It’s one of the best I’ve true crime publications I’ve ever read. This adaptation isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damned solid. I love the dark atmosphere, which David Fincher wisely ported over to Mindhunter. If somehow you missed this one, check it out.

Blu-ray available from Paramount.

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Hold the Dark (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

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.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Twins of Evil (1971)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I am a fan of several Hammer Horror films, but some of their output is far better than others. I avoided this one because the title and premise seemed just too damn cheesy. How could a movie called Twins of Evil be any good? Well, I watched it for the first time recently, and it’s not good. It’s fantastic. I loved this movie. Part of my reaction could be to the stellar restoration job that Synapse did. Also, I’m a big fan of Peter Cushing. However I’ve seen him in several Hammer stinkers, so I think there’s more to this flick. Twins of Evil is a very effective horror movie that uses a gimmick (twin Playboy Playmate sisters) to the best possible ends. I guess I need to look into any other Hammer gems I may have missed out on.

Available on Blu-ray from Synapse.

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Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes (2013)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is the first film based on the popular Danish book series by Jussi Adler-Olsen. It’s a well-made crime thriller that borders on Law & Order level cheese, but is thankfully saved by it’s grit and stylishness. The sequel, titled The Absent One, is also streaming on Hulu, but I haven’t checked it out yet. Judging by the imdb ratings, it’s on the same level as Keeper, so I will definitely be watching it.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Remember (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This film was not well regarded by critics, but I enjoyed it. Yes, it’s not nearly as good as my previous Atom Egoyan recommendation The Sweet Hereafter. However I appreciated Remember better than a few other critically acclaimed films by the same director. It’s a good thriller, really. Check it out.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

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Night of the Devils (1972)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | no trailer available

In Eddie Murphy’s Raw he talks about a starving man eating a cracker. Well I was starving for good Italian horror, and this film was my cracker. You see, pretty much every non-recent horror movie I’ve recommended here I’ve seen multiple times. I think I may have seen a bad VHS dub of Night of the Devils back in the early ’00s, and wasn’t really blown away. Let me tell you, Raro Video’s presentation of this one blew me away, glued me together, and blew me away again. This movie looks fantastic. If you’ve ever seen Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath you’ll recognize the story. It comes from the Tolstoy’s “The Family of the Vourdalak”. Devils is a different, very good, and longer version of what Bava created. One disclaimer… the gore FX are cheap. I found that pretty charming, but I’m a weirdo. Anyhow, if you haven’t already seen this one, get ready for a creepy good time.

Available on Blu-ray from Raro Video.

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Blow Out (1981)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is one of the less talked about Brian De Palma movies, but it’s among my favorites of all his work. To me this feels as if Dario Argento got a big budget, and made a giallo for an American audience. Blow Out has even got a very Goblin-esque score by Pino Donaggio and product placement by J&B Scotch. The opening scene is unforgettable. You’ll wonder what the hell kind of movie you’re in for. A key part of the opening is wisely referred to multiple times throughout the movie. This might also be my favorite film ever shot in Philadelphia. I lived there for 14 years, and it was a trip down memory lane to watch this again. Oh and for all your cult movie nerds, check out the amazing posters on the walls of the place John Travolta works. His performance is flat-out excellent in this one too.

Blu-ray available from Criterion Collection.

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Q (1982)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Prolific cult movie screenwriter and director Larry Cohen passed away last year. When he was involved in a good project you could bet it would be weird, fast paced, and entertaining. This is one of my personal favorites among his output, and it is 100% Anomalous. Here is one of the few movies I saw as a kid that I remember every step of it’s release. First there was the above iconic teaser posters and print ads. Then the “Q is here” poster and TV ads. I distinctly remember watching the film being reviewed on At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert a little while after. I was nine years old so I didn’t see it in the theater, although my older brother did get me into an original screening of Conan the Barbarian around that time (thank you Chris). I ended up seeing Q on cable in 1984 and was not disappointed. Yeah, the low budget shows at times but that is forgivable. This movie is a blast, and it has a really great cast to boot. Enjoy.

Blu-ray available from Shout Factory.

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