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FrightFest 2023

FrightFest 2023

FrightFest has a new sponsor and is now the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest. It has to be said that Pigeon Shrine isn't the most inspiring name – 'the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest' sounded suspiciously like a bargain basement version of the original, and my fears seemed to be...

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Talk To Me / Asteroid City / Nope

Talk To Me / Asteroid City / Nope

TALK TO ME Directors Danny and Michael Phillipou come to us from YouTube, where they operate some sort of channel apparently, which may explain why this BFI showing was full of young people. They were probably taking advantage of the BFI under-25's offer (as if youth...

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Enys Men / Skinamarink

Enys Men / Skinamarink

ENYS MEN Mark Jenkin's follow-up to the attention-grabbing and fiercely Cornish Bait is being sold as 'folk-horror' but it's a bit more experimental than that might suggest. I don't know if anyone has complained. Certainly I won't, since I enjoy an experimental film,...

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Barbican Nights: Into The Woods Part Two

EYES OF FIRE (1986) This, Josh Saco explains, is a 'lost' film, and just because it is here tonight screening in front of us that doesn't mean it has been found again. I mean, who are we to 'find' it? Even the director, Avery Crounse, was happy to let it go and move...

FrightFest 2023

FrightFest has a new sponsor and is now the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest. It has to be said that Pigeon Shrine isn't the most inspiring name – 'the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest' sounded suspiciously like a bargain basement version of the original, and my fears seemed to be...

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...

THE UNTAMED RAW NOCTURAMA

THE UNTAMED This London Film Festival showing represented my first visit to the Picturehouse Central. Entering, you feel like you've walked into a bar, and a busy one – and you have. Retreating in horror from all this socialising, which is not what I come to the...

The Million Eyes Of Sumuru (1967)

'I have a million eyes, for I am Sumuru', says Shirley Eaton in voiceover at the beginning of this particular disaster. She doesn't really have a million eyes - that's the first disappointment. The notional 'million eyes' belong to her followers. Sumuru leads an...

Frightfest 2019 Part One – Home Discomforts

Set in my ways as I am I prefer to buy my Frightfest tickets in person, at whatever passes for a 'box office' nowadays. Over the years this has become more and more difficult and now entails leaving it to the very last moment. This time around I thought my resistance...

The Invisible Life

It was a lovely day, sunshine sparkling on the Thames, Green Park bustling with life. The freshness in the air seemed almost to be trying to dissuade me against seeing a bleak existential drama about death at the ICA, but I was determined - even if, in the event, it...

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....

Caged Women: Hounds of Love, Berlin Syndrome, The Beguiled

HOUNDS OF LOVE In 1987 sullen Australian teenager Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) seethes with resentment at her mum, who has chosen to split with surgeon dad, necessitating a move to a seedier part of town – still, things could be worse, as she soon discovers when...

Theatre Of Blood (1973)

Mark Kermode once stated that anyone who said they'd guessed the ending of The Usual Suspects was lying. I have never quite forgiven him for this - I guessed it, but what proof do I have? Essentially he was out there calling me a liar and I had no redress. However, I...

Some more reviews.

BFI London Film Festival 2022: Lockdown Lingers

BFI London Film Festival 2022: Lockdown Lingers

COMA I am increasingly belated. Already it is 2023 and I still haven't got around to dealing with the 2022 London Film Festival. However, in many respects the festival itself hadn't yet escaped the preceding lockdown years – obviously nobody was expected to wear a...

Frightfest 2022

Frightfest 2022

'Keep On Rollin', says a T-shirt on a little girl outside the Prince Charles Cinema, which I at first imagined was a reference to Jean Rollin, French director of sex vampire films and subject of the documentary Orchestrator of Storms, showing at Frightfest. The image...

Post-Horror: Men / Bergman Island

Post-Horror: Men / Bergman Island

MEN I see that the Barbican are putting on a summer season of 'post-horror' films. Is that a film you see after a horror film, for light relief perhaps? Well no, apparently – it's just another iteration of our old friend 'elevated horror'. So the films in question...

Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom (1960)

I used to say that Michael Powell's Peeping Tom was my favourite film. That I don't say it now has nothing to do with the quality of the film or my changing perception of it; more, it's down to a realisation that there are too many films, and that I have too many...

Amulet /Master

Amulet /Master

AMULET Can horror be 'progressive'? Actor and now director Romola Garai talks about 'changing the narrative' of horror with her first film but I'm not sure that she's managed it (what is this 'narrative' anyway?) though she might have thrown a few spokes in its...

Bad Luck Banging, Or Loony Porn

Bad Luck Banging, Or Loony Porn

Ah, masks! Still de rigeur at the ICA at this point (this was before Plan B kicked in). During the London Film Festival I dared to go in there unmasked, which felt like a transgressive act, but hey, it was a festival and anyway isn't the ICA supposed to welcome...

BFI London Film Festival 2021: Age and Agency

BFI London Film Festival 2021: Age and Agency

LA ABUELA In this Spanish film from Rec director Paco Plaza, Susana (Almudena Amor), a fashion model on the verge of success, has to take a career break when her grandmother Pilar (Vera Valdez) has a brain haemorrhage and she has to go and look after her, at least...

BFI London Film Festival 2021: Between Feast and Famine

BFI London Film Festival 2021: Between Feast and Famine

THE FEAST I remember overhearing a punter at the London Film Festival one year asking the guy next to him what he'd seen and he replied: 'A lot of films that could have been better'. My experience this year (last year) was a bit like that. Even before it started I had...

Frightfest 2021

Frightfest 2021

NIGHT DRIVE A mysterious fugue enveloped Frightfest last year – it's like it didn't really happen. But suddenly here I am again in the Empire Leicester Square, and – after a few 'missing' years - Dave is even back, and sitting next to me. It all feels suspiciously...

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...

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...

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...

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....

The Boxer’s Omen (1983) / Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003)

The Boxer’s Omen (1983) / Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003)

THE BOXER'S OMEN I saw this in late 2016 at the Barbican in a season called Cheap Thrills, a celebration of bad taste. Is this then a 'bad film'? If so, we need to dismiss any judgmental qualities that might still be clinging to the word 'bad'. We are not condemning...

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...