Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The collaboration of director Jacques Tourneur and producer Val Lewton resulted in two such exemplary horror films, among the best produced during the horror boom that coincided with World War II, that it’s easy to use their names as a shorthand for everything that the genre is capable of at its most artistic and effective […]

Once again, I must beg your pardon: my Father’s Day entry in the Year of Blood is behind schedule, because sometimes you get the DVD when you need it, and sometimes you do not. Regardless, here we are with a tribute to all that makes dads what they are: psychotic authoritarians whose desire to wreak […]

2012 marks the eighth year that Amanda Seyfried has been a Young Actress to Watch, following the one-two punch of her supporting performances in Mean Girls and Veronica Mars, and at some point those of us in her cheering section are probably going to get the message and go home. Maybe if they do an […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/15World premiere: 16 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival It’s a kind of weird achievement that Snowtown, the debut of Australian director Justin Kurzel, starts off by promising to be one kind of incredibly distressing movie and turns into another kind of even more incredibly distressing movie entirely; sort of like […]

Come with me back to 1988. I mean that in a particularly literal way: over the years, one of the things that I’ve come to love about shitty horror pictures from the ’70s and ’80s is the way that they seem to capture the essential Zeitgeist of the moment of their creation in a way […]

There’s a temptation to over-praise I Saw the Devil on the grounds of sheer novelty: it takes a basket of ripe clichés and mixes them into something that you simply do not ever see in American cinema, however much each ingredient is individually over-worked to the point of moral indecency. 1) Serial killer 2) who […]

The Saw films and I are not buddies, to put it mildly. Though there is hiding within the first one a very good psychological “chamber horror” film, it is not itself a very good film, and the sequels have all in their way proven to be one diminishing return after another. And morally vicious! I […]

From among the Video Nasties In the special features of a very carefully and lovingly assembled 2002 DVD – the film’s first legitimate release in several years – director Nico Mastorakis admitted that the motivation behind his debut and most famous work, 1976’s Island of Death, was entirely financial. One year before he started making […]

From among the Video Nasties When the Director of Public Prosecutions assembled the legendary list of Video Nasties, they obviously couldn’t be bothered to do something unreasonable like watch all of the movies they wanted to publicly prosecute, to make sure they were actually obscene. So some shortcuts were taken: if a film sounded like […]

Jim Thompson was one of the great pulp authors of American literary history, a crime novelist active primarily in the ’50s who wrote some of the harshest, most grueling prose in 20th Century English fiction. Besides contributing to Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and Paths of Glory, he’s had a number of his books made and […]

From among the Video Nasties The Video Nasty craze in Great Britain was nominally due to the lurid covers of two particular movies, prominently advertised in publications where too many Nice People could catch an accidental glimpse of them (the actual reason for the Nasties list was of course a complex chain of interrelated cultural, […]

The worst thing that ever happened to Peter Jackson was getting ahold of big budgets. When that happened, the gifted, snot-nosed indie director of the brilliant gore comedy Braindead (Dead Alive to us Yanks) and the unnerving psychological thriller Heavenly Creatures all but instantly forgot every damned thing that he ever knew about fleet storytelling. […]