“Wounded Beauty”: Me in America

magazine, talking about horror films and the sublime: I love horror movies because they show me the sublime. I love them for a lot of other reasons too, I admit, depending on my mood. I don’t believe in a grand, unified theory of horror, or of any other genre of film; most genres are a welter of traditions and counter-traditions. Sometimes you want to see evil defeated by the triumphant “final girl”; at other times, by contrast, you want to see that even the most competent and loving heroines ca … [Read more...]

Hammered Horror: “A Horrible Way to Die”

Indie horror flick A Horrible Way to Die is a great example of how a moviemaker can misunderstand what's so special about his idea. The basic story of the film is straightforward: A woman tries to settle in to her new life in a new town, but her serial-killer ex (whom her evidence put away) has escaped from prison and is on the road heading back to her. There are some twists and turns, because Not Everyone Is What They Seem, and then there's a final confrontation between killer and girl.But … [Read more...]

“Wish You Were Here”: It’s a Thriller. You Know, Like “Crime and Punishment.”

Wish You Were Here is a slight Australian suspense flick about a married couple, expecting their third child, who go on a tourist jaunt to sunny Cambodia with the wife's sister and the sister's beau. After a night of hard partying the boyfriend can't be found. The married couple return to Australia as the girlfriend stays behind to try to find her man; when she comes back, still alone, it's obvious that she's hiding something--and so is her sister's husband.There are plenty of good things … [Read more...]

Nun Is the Loneliest Number: “Black Narcissus”

Last week I saw 1947's Powell & Pressburger convent fever dream Black Narcissus. It's set in the high, windswept mountain peaks of India (with requisite "half devil and half child" native caricatures, so just know that going in--I really liked the blunt old lady though), where an iron-spined young Anglican nun played by Deborah Kerr tries to run a convent in a former house of concubines. It's stunning to look at, of course, and I am not kidding about the "fever" aspect of this dream: It … [Read more...]

Cherry Blossoms of the Dead: Springtime Horror?

All the other seasons get a good supply of horror flicks. Summer has Sleepaway Camp and the other summer camp slashers, Stand by Me and the other "loneliness of childhood" films, and all the end-of-school flicks from Prom Night to The Boys Next Door. Fall has the Halloween movies, of course--if you want an entry into that field which may be new to you, check out the "Hallowe'en Party" episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, which is quite dark and has incredible, spooky Halloween atmosphere. And … [Read more...]

Papa Was a Rollin’ Dracula

I finally watched Dracula's Daughter, sometimes called the first lesbian vampire movie. It's... a mixed bag. All scenes in which the aforementioned Daughter are offscreen are slow and boring, and the jealous-woman subplot is painful. The gowns are awesome! Also the furs.I thought the sapphic subtext was more blatant than Final Girl did (and yes, I basically stole my post title idea from her). I do agree with this: "Gloria Holden is appropriately mesmerizing as the Countess--her reluctance to … [Read more...]

Ferris Bueller’s Day of Spree Killing

I watched The Boys Next Door because I read the following words in Kindertrauma's review: 1985, Penelope Spheeris, Netflix streaming. Stopped reading right there. I wasn't disappointed--although I will say that this isn't a movie I'd recommend to most of my readers, even those who do like a lot of horror flicks. The Boys Next Door is sleazy and free of redeeming social value. As Kindertrauma notes, there's a ton of in-character racism and homophobia and misogyny, and it's ugly but also … [Read more...]


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