• Tales from the Hood

    Tales from the Hood

    ★★★★

    BANGER. Did not expect this to be as in-your-face prescient as it wound up being; this thing gets real dark. The offset of Clarence Williams III's kooky interstitial energy adds some lovely levity to the proceedings, but the booming echo of the film's razor-sharp dissection of American race barely allows one to breathe. While the walking corpse and the killer dolls are both quite good, it's really "Boys Do Get Bruised" (with its chillingly believable "monster" of a stepfather) and…

  • The Fly

    The Fly

    ★★★★½

    Cronenberg casts aside the emotional repression which fuels so many of his most noted films, and lets the operatic tragedy play out in all its pulpy, horrifying glory. Essentially a three-hander for much of the run-time, we are trapped in the periphery of this heartbreaking transformation from man to animal (or something else entirely) with no escape. The blunt finality of the ending is the perfect capper: There's no way out for any of these characters, except the void. One of the most viscerally upsetting films ever made.

  • The Curse of the Cat People

    The Curse of the Cat People

    ★★★★★

    I've been sitting here thinking of what to write. Yet it honestly feels like words would break this fragile, precious slice of magic into gossamer pearls on the wintry forest floor. This is delicate and enigmatic beyond reason, one of the most inexplicable Trojan-horse sequels ever made, and yet I couldn't be more glad it exists. Honestly, this is one of the most difficult films for me to finish in recent memory... not by any fault, but simply because nearly…

  • Prince of Darkness

    Prince of Darkness

    ★★★★½

    How come nobody told me this would be so HEAT?

    Intelligent, philosophically oblique, and claustrophobic as hell, this is Carpenter operating in a unique register. Some of the most nightmarishly tense sequences I can remember, paired up with a genuine willingness to plumb the depths of our relationship to faith that most "issues" films would cower at. A truly haunting final five minutes are the beautifully liminal capstone on this idiosyncratic treasure. I loved this movie a whole lot.

  • Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein

    Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein

    ★★★★

    Works great as both parody and genuinely reverential treatment of the Universal giants it has as its showcase. My dad described the Vincent Price ending as "on a level with 'Some Like it Hot'". He may be onto something.

  • Titane

    Titane

    ★★★★½

    Yeah, alright. I finally allowed myself to submit.

    Not even gonna attempt to unpack everything this is expressing about identity and family and bodily autonomy. Ducournau took her already excellent "Raw" and ratcheted everything a step beyond. More expressionistic, more surreal and more emotionally incisive. Perhaps not always the most cohesive film, but this is a case where the potency of the film's fixations (at least for me) manages to override the slight structural aberrations. Like... Agathe Rouselle speaks like 150 words in the film total, and her performance is one of the most affecting in recent memory. I loved this immensely.

  • Island of Lost Souls

    Island of Lost Souls

    ★★★★½

    Maybe I should just ditch my watchlist and stick to only watching 70-minute pre-codes for the rest of my life.

    Gruesome and richly atmospheric, with Laughton's pitch-perfect, reservedly camp performance the unflaggingly Wellsian centerpiece. There's just something so beautifully unsettling about the makeup, the lighting, the lengthy stretches of unscored silence... I just want to dive into these early horror films again and again, I find their specific brand of terror so bizarrely intoxicating. The pathos of Lota's story, while admittedly basic, leaves a real twinge of sympathy; the icing on this surreal, unreasonably compelling cake. Very, very much "my thing".

  • Rosemary's Baby

    Rosemary's Baby

    ★★★★½

    Shamefully, my first viewing. It's strange, because in some ways this doesn't feel like a typical horror film at all, while being widely considered one of the shining paragons of the genre. There's more this all-pervading, sickly sense of unmooring for Rosemary which becomes so uncomfortable through how nonchalantly all those around her treat the circumstances. Seriously, the casual nature with which Guy tells her he raped her (even jokingly using the word "necrophilic") is more horrifying than most genre…

  • Lake Mungo

    Lake Mungo

    ★★★★

    Makes genuinely frightening use of its fuzzy digital images, to be sure. (Reminded me of a slightly less mystified variation on Kurosawa's use of the same tactics in "Pulse".) But honestly, this is a solid horror film wrapped inside a truly excellent deconstruction of grief, and knowing a cry for help was received too late. Sorely overlooked, and probably the most convincing "mockumentary" I've witnessed. Seriously, those interviews are almost frighteningly convincing.

  • Diabolique

    Diabolique

    ★★★★

    Clouzot is so damned good at raising that oppressive tension through the roof, I think what stuck out to me even more than the (admittedly well-done) plot twists was just the constant feeling of the tightening screws orchestrated throughout the film's duration. Christina's predicament just becomes more constricted and maddening as the film progresses, a more internalized variation on the ratcheting tension of Clouzot's famed "Wages of Fear". Just a cracking good thriller, through-and-through.

  • The Funhouse

    The Funhouse

    ★★★★

    Scuzzy small-town carnival vibes mixed with pop-filtered German expressionism. Do I need to paint a road map as to why this is awesome?

    This is just a jam on oh-so-many levels. Hell, the first half is pretty much just some teens dicking around at a local carnival and it's filled with so much country-fried accumulated detail that it's mesmerizing. And the design of the funhouse as this truly endless, neon-colored Freudian nightmare is the stuff I dream of. Hooper just had IT, ya know?

  • Cure

    Cure

    ★★★★½

    This and "Pulse" alone have me convinced Kiyoshi is one of the best to ever do it. The low-angle shot of the water dripping from the ceiling took my breath away like few images in recent memory. Cinema of tactility as the key to the ugly subconscious.