Ten Favorite Horror Films Plus Some

A little Halloween fun with this post. A list of my ten favorite horror films plus a dozen more. As a kid, the one film that scared the hell out of me was Robert Wise’s, The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House.  I was a young teen, home alone on a Saturday night. On TV was this ghostly classic. It wasn’t what you saw that was scary, it was what you didn’t see. The unknown and the unseen are definitely more frightening. I was never so happy to have my parents finally come home!

I always found horror films that take place in normal or everyday situations, meaning without monsters or blobs, much scarier than the ones with three headed creatures or aliens. Rosemary’s Baby takes place in New York City. A typical couple who live in an apartment building with neighbors all around. Who doesn’t have neighbors, right? We can all relate. Rosemary’s only problem is her nice friendly neighbors are devil worshippers and her loving, but hungry for success, out of work husband/actor made a hellish deal. The same with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except we are now in small town America. Can your neighbor be a pod? Will you be next? Continue reading

Raw Deal (1948) Anthony Mann

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Raw Deal was Anthony Mann’s second film with John Alton as cinematographer. It was a cinematic marriage that produced some of the finest low budget film noirs in cinema. Both Mann and Alton did excellent work with others, but together their sensibilities were simpatico. It was like they each knew what the other wanted. A short film, only 79 minutes, it’s packed with action, characterization, stylish dramatic dark lighting and expressive camera angles that tell as much about the story as the dialogue and plot reveal. Continue reading

The Long Goodbye (1973) Robert Altman

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Back in 1973, when I first saw The Long Goodbye, at the Trans-Lux East on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, I did not like it. My mind set at that point in time was pure Bogart. I left the theater thinking Altman really missed the boat. I never watched the film again, that is, until just a few weeks ago. It took all these years to come to the realization that it wasn’t Robert Altman who missed the boat…but yours truly. Continue reading

The Unfaithful (1947) Vincent Sherman

The_Unfaithful-WA_DVD_TitleDavid Goodis is in the pantheon of pulp fiction’s great crime writers. Though not as well known, he’s up there right alongside Chandler, Cain and Hammett. For years Goodis’ work was serialized in magazines and published in book form. Serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, his novel, Dark Passage gave him his big break. Hollywood came a knocking and the result was a big time hit movie from Warner Brothers starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. That same year (1947), he co-wrote, with James Gunn, the screenplay for The Unfaithful, another WB production. Continue reading

Gone Girl (2014) David Fincher

Gonegilr1On the surface, Gone Girl appears to be nothing more than a trashy mystery. But, under the pretext of a thriller, both director David Fincher and author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn have created a complex noir like film; a dark, twisted venomous satire about marriage, childhood trauma, parents, illusions and the media. It brings to mind questions like, do you really know your spouse? Do married couples deceive each other? Deceive themselves? Do they deceive neighbors, friends and co-workers? Does anyone really know anyone? Is life a façade? Is love a fantasy that fades when life takes unexpected turns? For Nick and Amy Dunne the answer is yes. Continue reading

A Walk Among the Tomstones (2014) Scott Frank

walk A Walk Among the Tombstones has been receiving a wide mix of reviews. Criticized, correctly, for its brutal and nauseating treatment of its female victims. There are a few scenes early on of violent misogynistic behavior, verging on the pornographic, which certainly could have been handled with more taste. The film has also been slammed for Liam Neeson’s role with claims the actor is just repeating himself with a character similar to what he played in the two Taken films. This second claim is where I feel certain critics have missed the boat. Neeson’s Matt Scudder is a much more complex three dimensional  character with a depth lacking in many of todays films. There is a sadness to his flawed character. Scudder is a man who has seen much, too much, pain in his life and visually wears it.    Continue reading

Finding Vivian Maier (2014) John Maloof and Charlie Siskel

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It takes a certain quality to be street photographer. You need to get close enough to your subject in order to capture that decisive moment, yet manage to remain elusive, almost invisible to all. You always take the chance of offending someone for invading what may be considered a private moment. It’s a balancing act.

An unassuming woman, Vivian Maier, roamed the streets taking, and compiling, street scenes totaling more than 150,000 negatives and rolls of film. What may have helped Maier shoot her photographs without making eye contact was the type of camera she used. She always carried a Rolliflex which unlike a single lens reflex camera was the kind of camera you held at waist level, looked down at and thru the viewfinder. This meant, unlike with SLR’s you, the photographer, did not directly engage in eye (lens) to eye contact with the subject. It’s possible many of Maier’s subjects were not even aware they were being photographed. Continue reading