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Censor / Surge

Censor / Surge

CENSOR Prano Bailey-Bond's Censor makes a link between censorship and (emotional, psychological) repression that's pretty obvious, but the film has a knack of making the obvious work – which has the additional virtue of being thematically appropriate. After all, the...

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In Pictures 2: Rope (1948) /Possessor (2020)

In Pictures 2: Rope (1948) /Possessor (2020)

ROPE On the extras on my DVD of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope screenwriter Arthur Laurents nails several of the reasons why this adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's play (based on the Leopold/Loeb case in which a couple of students felt entitled to kill a 14 year old boy...

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Apples / In The Earth

Apples / In The Earth

APPLES Who on earth, returning to the cinema after – well OK, during – a global pandemic would go and see a film that is about the pandemic, even if obliquely? About six people (including me) is the answer, if this afternoon showing is anything to go by. Apples seems...

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In Pictures

In Pictures

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964) Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) is said to be the first giallo, but of Bava's films it is this that feels like the ur-giallo, a template for everything that came after – not just 70's gialli, but 80's slasher films as well....

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Screen Time

Screen Time

MYSTERIES OF LISBON (2010) Lockdown was a good time to finally sit down, maybe even lie down, and watch those films whose running time demanded an entire day devoted to them, and their extras. The Chilean director Raúl Ruiz, in the extras on the New Wave Films DVD of...

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Frightfest 2015 Day One

The Rotten Link Raulo and Roberta (Luis Ziembrowski and Paula Brasca) are two unlikely siblings: a simple-minded hulk, he looks old enough to be her father while she is a pretty young thing barely out of her teens. But they fit into their isolated Argentinian...

Bone Tomahawk / Chronic

There is, or there was, a 'projection issue' in the Curzon Bloomsbury's Phoenix Screen. A sheet of A4 paper warns you of it just before you go in – though after you have paid for your ticket. It doesn't make it entirely clear, or maybe I didn't read it closely enough,...

Mothra (1961)

After a self-imposed double-bill of Camille Claudel 1915 and Miss Violence at the Curzon Soho, what better way to cool off than with a showing of Mothra, at the Prince Charles off Leicester Square? So I reasoned. And it only cost a pound, if you were a member. I was....

Goodnight Mommy

TV presenter Mommy (Suzanne Wuest) returns from plastic surgery with a bandaged face and a bad temper, so that her twin boys Elias and Lukas start to wonder if she's really Mommy at all, the question mark over her identity deftly conveyed in a scene where she plays a...

Sins Of The Fleshapoids (1965)/Orphans Of The Cosmos (2008)

I settled down for this Kuchar Brothers double-bill at the BFI with three cushions (Christmas presents for Mum) in carrier bags, a burden bulky enough to suggest that I should have splashed out on another ticket. With an amused gay man on my left and Brian Sewell...

And Soon The Darkness (1970)

Forget everything I said about the Horror Channel, like for example that it’s 99% shit. In fact it has been keeping me fed with delightful tidbits without over-stimulating me – what more could anyone ask for? This is a case in point. Like The Devil’s Rain it was...

Crimes At The Dark House and elsewhere – some films with Tod Slaughter 1937-1946

Crimes At The Dark House (1940) is nominally a version of Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman In White in which Tod Slaughter is Sir Percival Glyde – or rather he isn't, he's an impostor first seen hammering a tent peg into the real Sir Percival's left ear. Which is to...

Frightfest 2015 Day Three

Over Your Dead Body The vexing question of what to see and what not to see at these festivals often results in me scouring the internet for reviews from other festivals. It didn't do me a lot of good in this case since I found two reviews for OYDB, one of which...

Frightfest 2019 Part Three

DEPRAVED In 1991's No Telling, Larry Fessenden's first take on the Frankenstein story – and first film, in fact – the mad scientist has, by the end of it, managed to weld a Border collie and a calf together, which would only have made the third act in a standard...

GUILT-FREE CINEMA? The New York Ripper (1982) / Hitch Hike To Hell (1977)

At some point in the run-up towards Christmas I found myself watching a documentary on BBC4 by Catherine Bray that encouraged us not to feel 'guilty' about watching 'bad' films. It seemed to be right up my alley and for a good twenty minutes all seemed to be well....

Some more reviews.

Downton Abbey (2019) / Ray and Liz (2018)

Downton Abbey (2019) / Ray and Liz (2018)

DOWNTON ABBEY For many years the TV series Downton Abbey, created by Julian Fellowes, mined the Sunday night craving for reassurance about the past, presenting it as a world in which everyone knew their place. The past, at least the past we never knew personally, is a...

LFF 2019: Jallikattu/Saint Maud

LFF 2019: Jallikattu/Saint Maud

Ah yes, the London Film Festival. I remember that. Well it did happen this year, it was just 'different' – they even tried to suggest that the festival we had (mostly online) represented some kind of exciting innovation rather than an attempt to pretend that a film...

Phantoms of the Opera

Phantoms of the Opera

IL MOSTRO DELLA OPERA (1964) In the days before the cities became tombs and the cinemas morgues I went to a showing of this obscure Italian film at the Barbican on a Saturday morning, only to discover that I was encroaching upon a Phantom Of The Opera symposium. Who...

Rabid (1977) / Black Magic 2 (1976)

Rabid (1977) / Black Magic 2 (1976)

RABID (1977) I watched this (on Arrow Video Blu-Ray) quite early on in lockdown, before the later symptoms of COVID-19 like frothing at the mouth with blue foam and biting people in the neck appeared. Oh no wait, that hasn't happened yet has it? Nevertheless this is...

Privilege (1967) / Duck Soup (1933)

Privilege (1967) / Duck Soup (1933)

PRIVILEGE On this BFI DVD you get a couple of early short films from director Peter Watkins, one of which is 1961's The Forgotten Faces, an urgent, authentic-seeming account of the 1956 people's uprising in Hungary, filmed in Canterbury. Therein lies the moral of much...

LOCKDOWN! The Giant Claw (1957)

LOCKDOWN! The Giant Claw (1957)

How often have I fantasized about the government forbidding me to leave the house so that I am finally compelled to watch all the DVDs I have accumulated over the years? Well never, since that would have been absurd, even for a fantasy. Nevertheless here we are. Or at...

The Burning (1981)

The Burning (1981)

CAUTION: Contains unlicensed film theory Carol Clover's Men Women and Chainsaws is most famous for drawing our attention to the figure of the Final Girl. Clover had been struck by the way that slasher films, aimed (as she saw it) at an audience of adolescent males and...

In Fabric / Little Joe

In Fabric / Little Joe

IN FABRIC Peter Strickland's follow-up to the excellent Duke Of Burgundy is a bumpier ride, but you get to enjoy that after a while. Apparently it's set in 1993 – I read this on the Sight and Sound letters page – but it seems to be taking place in some kind of...