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 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 →
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 →
David 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 →
On 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 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 →