Post-Demon Stress Syndrome: Some horror-flick reviews

Stake Land: A teenage boy and his grizzled mentor travel north through a vampire-ridden, devastated America, picking up vulnerable people, encountering security cordons and emptied towns, and seeking a haven they've heard all about on the radio. They forge a found family by killin' the dead. Also there's quite lush cinematography and big sweeping shots. If this is starting to sound familiar, you are correct, this is basically 28 States Later. Even the "vampires" are actually zombies with big … [Read more...]

What If We Remade “I Confess”… But Sleazy?: And more movie notes

Wow, guys, this is a lot. Strap in.A Cottage on Dartmoor: British silent revenge flick; very grabby with the intercutting and the emotional intensity; ends with quite poignant scene of forgiveness. Forgiveness, rather than reunion, as the climax of a love story.Laura: Noir (although the noir style mostly doesn't kick in until late) and mostly standard, although I liked how pleasant and undefensive the career-woman scenes were. There's a specific kind of relationship here, the man who … [Read more...]

Moving Pictures from an Institution: Movie notes

Four films linked by a really depressing theme!Scum: Our institution: a 1970s Borstal (juvenile prison). Does exactly what it says on the tin, not quite two hours of violence and contempt. The use of rules as abuse, creating impossible demands (guard throws a prisoner back into his cell, spilling the guy's mug of soup, then snaps: "Dirty cell, you're on report"); use of prisoners' self-created hierarchies to divide and conquer. The scenes where suicidal prisoners are mocked and beaten are... … [Read more...]

The Viscerally Satisfying “Get Out”: My review

for America magazine: Rarely have I seen a movie audience as viscerally satisfied as the audience with whom I saw “Get Out,” the new horror-comedy written and directed by Jordan Peele of the comedy duo Key and Peele. I saw “Get Out” in a downtown D.C. theater on a Saturday night, amongst a big and mostly black crowd, drawn in by the promise of a horror movie where the villain is racism.You could describe several previous horror films that way. Think “White Zombie” or, to a lesser extent, “Ni … [Read more...]

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids: Three short horror movie reviews

A little of everything here.Left Bank: Artsy Belgian psychological suspense flick about an injured elite-class runner who starts to doubt her boyfriend's motives. Slowly shifts into a very different horror genre. I often dislike those genre switches--in theory I approve of them but I often end up wishing I could just see the movie I thought this would be--but here I loved it. Spooky and weird, and it commits to its bizarre worldview. Strong sense of place; hints of misogyny-as-horror (aka … [Read more...]

Country Darkness: I read “‘Salem’s Lot”

After I finished Alan Moore's hulking tome Jerusalem (of which more presently) I picked up a pulp classic which turned out to have more in common with Moore's jawbreaker than just the Holy Land reference in the title. I'd actually never read 'Salem's Lot, despite loving Stephen King in general and pre-'9os King specifically. It's a great read, a luscious tribute to vampire tales of yore, with all of King's trademark sadness and determination. Some notes:# King returns to many of the images … [Read more...]

No Horror But the Class Horror: Short movie reviews with an unexpected theme

Compulsion: The other, other Leopold and Loeb flick (after Rope and Swoon, although idk, maybe Swoon is one of those things Only 90s Kids Will Remember) and it's definitely worth watching if that sounds like your bag. Unlike Rope, Compulsion focuses on the social context: Prohibition--the law that everybody was above!--and the Golden Age of the gutter press. The KKK burning a cross outside the Clarence Darrow-analogue's window. The fake surnames in this one are super Jewish, is what I'm … [Read more...]