December 28

Throwback Thursday: CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)

Shot in black-and-white for the drive-in and grindhouse circuit, this surrealistic, low-budget, independently produced horror movie became a cult classic decades later through repeated late-night showings on television. Its director, Herk Harvey, an experienced and award-winning industrial filmmaker, came up with the basic concept for the story while driving past an abandoned lakeside pavilion in Utah — the one that figures prominently in the film — on a business trip. Imagining the danse macabre at the film’s close, he convinced co-worker John Clifford to write a screenplay based on it. The result was “Carnival of Souls” (1962), Harvey’s first and only completed narrative fiction feature. Although consigned to relative obscurity for many years, this movie is now recognized as a genre antecedent and a stylistic precursor for well-known, unconventional films like George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977).

December 25

“M.F.A.” (2017): A Timely Revenge Saga

Not unlike I Spit on Your Grave and Ms. 45, M.F.A. contains scattered kernels of revelation.

Still from THE THETA GIRL December 24

THE THETA GIRL: Psychedelic Grindhouse

Chris Bickel’s indie film THE THETA GIRL is splatter gore with intelligence and a conscience.

Theatrical poster for THE BABYSITTER (2017) December 20

THE BABYSITTER (2017): Postmodern Popcorn Horror Comedy

On one level, this “Netflix original” flick seems like that proverbial “film we’ve seen before” — several times, in fact. It’s a coming-of-age-through-trial-by-fire story that’s fittingly described by cliches. On another level, but related to this one, it’s a semi-clever horror comedy. How much you’ll enjoy it depends on at what level you receive it.

December 15

Christopher Alan Broadstone’s “A Catch in Time: Chapter One”

A Catch in Time: Chapter One is an intriguing teaser for a work of potential greatness.

Clip from AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (2017) November 22

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (2017): Better as a Stand-Alone than a Sequel?

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING falls into the category of films that really didn’t need to be a sequel. Certain movies seem as if they would have been better received if released on their own.

November 14

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (2017): Loss & Sacrifice

Difficult art doesn’t exist to be accepted and loved. It exists to exist.

November 08

The Questionable Resurrection of “Jigsaw” (2017)

I’m not sure what circumstances prompted the Twisted Pictures folks to revive their mascot…but I can’t say Jigsaw’s return isn’t timely.

Still from SHEITAN (2006) November 03

SHEITAN (2006): Multicultural French Hillbilly Horror

SHEITAN (Kim Chapiron, 2006) is a French take on the classic American hillbilly horror film, seasoned with themes and tropes from the New French Extremity.

DVD cover art work for THE BAD BATCH (2016) October 16

Day-Glo Apocalypse: Ana Lily Amirpour’s THE BAD BATCH (2016)

Ana Lily Amirpour weaves universes out of pop culture. Her second film, THE BAD BATCH (2016), is her fantasy of America in the 80’s: a post-apocalyptic, skater culture soaked in drugs and glam. It’s lecherous and carnivorous, lonely and outcast from the promised Eden of the 60’s. But with a touch of John Hughes.