Small Town Crime (2017)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a solid crime thriller with some good, at times extremely graphic, bursts of action. The cinematography looks great as well. Saturated colors and deep shadows are featured. It’s nice to see Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Walking the Edge, Alligator, etc) given lots of screen time. Small Town Crime is an enjoyable dark film, with a lot packed into 90 minutes.

Available on Blu-ray from Lionsgate.

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The Five Venoms (1978)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I avoided recommending this one (aka The Five Deadly Venoms) until now as it’s very well known among martial arts fans. Anything I saw on TV regularly as a kid may even be too obvious. However, I think a lot of younger folks may have missed this classic Shaw Brothers film. It’s got all the crazy fight choreography you’d expect, and the majority of Shaw’s greatest stars, plus a mystery angle with a very dark edge. There are some parts that even look like a Mario Bava film. Maybe hold off on watching something in the Netflix Top 10 and check out this fun piece of Anomalous Cinema.

Available on Blu-ray from Celestial Pictures.

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Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer 

This film marks the beginning of the end for Hammer Studios. They had hoped it would be the first in a series of movies to rescue the company from it’s financial decline. That was not to happen. Kronos failed to do well enough in the theaters to help. Luckily it’s now gained a bit of a cult following. This one is not as impressive as my favorite Hammer films, but absolutely worth watching. It is fast-paced, and not missing much of the late-period Hammer naughtiness and violence. Vampire Hunter is on the cheesy side, so make sure to enjoy it with an open mind, and your favorite psychoactive substance.

Available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

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The Hospital (1971)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Crazy. Awkward. Stupid at times. Lots of “overacting.” Totally inappropriate by modern standards. At least two full-blown George C. Scott yelling rants. A very ‘70s sexual assault that is somehow also consensual. Oh, and it’s a comedy! In the end, a challenging, but quite amusing example of Anomalous Cinema. I also enjoyed seeing Diana Rigg (The Avengers, Theater of Blood, etc.) and Richard Dysart (who we all know best from The Thing).

Blu-ray available from Twilight Time.

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Rebecca (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This recommendation is specifically for fans of director Ben Wheatley. I have seen the majority of his film output, and have enjoyed everything. The critical response to Rebecca has been unfavorable as Alfred Hitchcock made a very highly regarded adaptation of the book in 1940. I am a fan of Hitchcock but not enough to watch a mystery / romance (the latter being a genre I avoid). That was not the case with Wheatley’s film, which actually happens to be more faithful to the book. I took this 2020 adaptation for what it is, and I enjoyed it. I’m not going to watch it multiple times like High-Rise, but it’s a damn good film that I absolutely suggest Wheatley fans check out. If you like it, take a look at this article for an added layer. Thank you David Graham for nudging me into giving Rebecca a shot.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Monos (2019)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a beautifully photographed borderline-art film about teenage rebel fighters with an American hostage. It has several violent scenes, but is mostly a deliberately paced dark drama. The jungle locations are stunning, and seem so remote they’re from another planet. All the actors are excellent, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Julianne Nicholson (Law and Order / Boardwalk Empire) knock it out of the park as the hostage. This film also features a killer electronic soundtrack by Mica Levi who also did the music for Under the Skin. Monos is an almost perfect film that I strongly recommend to any patient film buff.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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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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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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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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