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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Possession of Joel Delaney (1972) / The Vigil (2019) / Hatching (2022)

POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY This screening (part of Dukefest, a small festival curated by the Duke Mitchell Film Club) was busy, though thankfully not so busy that when a person of enormous stature sat in front of me I couldn't just shift to the seat next to me. What...

Kinoteka 2019: Love Express and Fugue

LOVE EXPRESS: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WALERIAN BOROWCZYK Kuba Mikurda's documentary presents a pretty standard view of Borowczyk, which won't be a problem for people who have no idea who Borowczyk is I suppose, and they are the vast majority of the population, and...

The Witch

I saw this at the Odeon Covent Garden. Amazingly, they are only charging £6.00 a ticket at the moment for any showing Monday to Thursday. I hope this doesn't get out, or my chances of getting an entire screen to myself (that ever-elusive dream) will diminish even...

Frightfest 2016 Day Three

MAN UNDERGROUND Or do I mean Day Four since I skipped Day Three? Oh what the hell. Nobody's paying me to do this. By this stage (Bank Holiday Monday) 'not really horror' (a term coined by Anton Bitel in a recent article for Sight and Sound online) seemed to be turning...

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...

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...

BFI London Film Festival 2017: Casting, 9 Fingers

In the toilets next to NFT2 a man was calling out for someone called Antonio – he had been asked to do so by a woman outside. Antonio didn't pipe up, although one of the cubicles was in use I noticed. Conceivably Antonio was inside - asleep, dying, or simply unwilling...

The Woods Have Legs – Three Films

Blair Witch The woods! A simple enough phrase but so ominously evocative – I was quite intrigued on discovering that director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's film The Woods was due to premiere at Frightfest this year. I found much to enjoy in Barrett/Wingard's...

Office Killer (1997)

The first thing I knew about photographer Cindy Sherman making a sort of horror film was when I saw that feminist film club the Final Girls were screening it at the Prince Charles; either that, or I did actually see it at the cinema in the 90's and subsequently forgot...

BFI London Film Festival 2014: The Duke Of Burgundy

When nervous maid Cynthia (Sidhe Babett Knudson) turns up at the mansion of entomologist Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna) our first impression – as she harshly calls into question Cynthia's ability to wash knickers - is that Evelyn is an exacting, even cruel, mistress. But...

Some more reviews.

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...

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...