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Film Review: Touch of Evil (1958)

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SYNOPSIS: A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. REVIEW: “This isn’t the real Mexico. You know that. All border towns bring out the worst in a country.” A quintessential entry in the classic film noir genre, Orson Welles’ misanthropic thriller is not only one of his most polished films but one of ...

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Film Review: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

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SYNOPSIS: A self-assured business man murders his employer, the husband of his mistress, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events. REVIEW: “Without your voice, I’d be lost in a land of silence.” Ascenseur pour l’echafaud was Louis Malle’s debut film and certainly one of the strongest cinematic inaugurations of the medium. Typically, a filmmaker’s first feature film is his ...

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Film Review: Kuroneko (1968)

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SYNOPSIS: Two women are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. Soon they reappear as vengeful ghosts who seduce and brutally murder the passing samurai. REVIEW: “Fires everywhere in war, sparks fell even here.” Kaneto Shindo is a filmmaker well-acquainted with ghostly folk tales (Onibaba, Akuto) but he has also made a career out of high drama (Children of Hiroshima, Sorrow ...

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Film Review: Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

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SYNOPSIS: A young woman, Karin, has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. On the island with her is her lonely brother and kind, but increasingly desperate husband (‘Max von Sydow’). They are joined by Karin’s father (‘Gunnar Björnstrand’), who is a world-traveling author that is estranged to his children. The film depicts ...

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Film Review: Alice (1988)

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SYNOPSIS: A surrealistic revision of Alice in Wonderland. REVIEW: “You must…close your eyes…otherwise…you won’t see anything.” Czech filmmaker, Jan Svankmajer, has led an illustrious career with his surrealist films, many of which are told from the perspective of a child. He has influenced filmmakers young and old, from Terry Gilliam to the Brothers Quay with a celebrated catalog of feature ...

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Film Review: Diabolique (1955)

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SYNOPSIS: The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women. REVIEW: “She’ll bury us all. Won’t you, my little ruin?” Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 film, The Devils, is a pioneering example of early psychological noir cinema told in that ...

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Film Review: Psycho II (1983)

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SYNOPSIS: After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude… but the specters of his crimes — and his mother — continue to haunt him. REVIEW: “Goodnight, Mary.” The original film (directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960) was essentially the first slasher film and, in turn, initiated a new avenue of horror that ...

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Film Review: Patrick (1978)

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SYNOPSIS: A comatose hospital patient harasses and kills though his powers of telekinesis to claim his private nurse as his own. REVIEW: “One thing’s for certain: Patrick never does anything on purpose.” The 1978 thriller, Patrick, was a milestone in Richard Franklin’s cinematic career. Its success allowed for such cult classics as Road Games and Psycho 2, though Franklin never ...

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Film Review: Dead Ringers (1988)

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SYNOPSIS: Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman. REVIEW: “I’ve often thought that there should be beauty contests for the insides of bodies.” Cronenberg’s 1988 film is a harrowing character study involving not a single protagonist but two. Specifically, twins Stewart and Cyril Marcus ...

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Film Review: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

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SYNOPSIS: An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown. REVIEW: “This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I’m talkin’ to whoever’s listenin’ out there.” Sandwiched between the sweet science fiction of Starman and the dark, quantum horror of Prince of Darkness, Carpenter’s 1986 film presents a happy medium blending more genres than most ...

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Film Review: Hour of the Wolf (1968)

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SYNOPSIS: While vacationing on a remote Scandanavian island with his younger pregnant wife, an artist has a emotional breakdown while confronting his repressed desires. REVIEW: “Now you are yourself, but not yourself; an ideal state for a meeting between lovers.” Often touted as Ingmar Bergman’s only “horror” film, Hour of the Wolf actually doesn’t stray from Bergman’s characteristic themes of ...

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Film Review: Blood Simple (1984)

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SYNOPSIS: A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple. REVIEW: “If I don’t get away soon I’ll be going blood-simple like the natives.” Garnering a title from Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled detective novel, Red Harvest (quote above), this Coen-directed debut film is equal ...

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Film Review: The Thing (1982) Review 2

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SYNOPSIS: Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills. REVIEW: “Now I’ll show you what I already know.” John Carpenter’s most indispensable film, The Thing, is based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s Who Goes There?, a novella dealing with paranoia and the fear of assimilation by an alien ...

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Fim Review: Visitor Q (2001)

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SYNOPSIS: A troubled and perverted family find their lives intruded by a mysterious stranger who seems to help find a balance in their disturbing natures. REVIEW: “The sea’s so endless. You can’t see anything.” Prolific filmmaker, Takashi Miike, often delights in putting off the audience with controversial subject matter and this film is no different.  Modeled loosely after Pasolini’s Theorum, ...

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Film Review: Throne of Blood (1957)

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SYNOPSIS: A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider’s Web Castle. REVIEW: “The devil’s path will always lead to doom.” Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Macbeth, is certainly one of the greatest representatives of its cinematic form. Portrayed by the great Toshiro Mifune, Washizu ...

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