14 items from 2015
Passionate, opinionated and never afraid to rip a terrible movie to shreds (we're looking at you, Entourage), Mark Kermode has built up a devoted following thanks to his weekly BBC Radio 5 live film review show with Simon Mayo.
Now Kermode will be the face of BFI Player+, selecting and introducing hidden gems and new releases for the on-demand service's Kermode Recommends series.
A champion of all things horror, we caught up with Kermode to get five recommendations for Halloween viewing. If these films frightened the life out of The Good Doctor, who knows what they'll do to the rest of us?
The Exorcist (1973)
"The thing with The Exorcist, which is my favourite film of all time, is that it still stands up to this day. The classic thing about it is exactly what [director] William Friedkin said, which is it's a film that gives to you what you bring to it. »
20. The Innocents
Directed by Jack Clayton
The Innocents, which was co-written by Truman Capote, is the first of many screen adaptations of The Turn of the Screw. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad because most people haven’t – but The Innocents deserves its rightful spot on any list of great horror films. Here is one of the few films where the ghost story takes place mostly in daylight, and the lush photography, which earned cinematographer Freddie Francis one of his two Oscar wins, is simply stunning. Meanwhile, director Jack Clayton and Francis made great use of long, steady shots, which suggest corruption is lurking everywhere inside the grand estate. The Innocents also features three amazing performances; the first two come courtesy of child actors Pamela Franklin (The Legend of Hell House), and Martin Stephens (Village of the Damned »
- Ricky Fernandes
Throughout the history of cinema there are countless adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s work, from D. W. Griffith’s early take on The Sealed Room through Roger Corman’s series of lo-fi refittings of the 60s up to last year’s attempt to adapt The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether in Stonehearst Asylum. Looking back at two loose Italian adaptations of Poe’s classic horror short The Black Cat, Arrow’s new Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats set sees a towering duo of giallo cinema auteurs picking and choosing their favorite elements of the original tale and molding them to their supernatural, blade-wielding will with blood-spilling glee and cinematic aplomb.
- Jordan M. Smith
Special Mention: Dressed To Kill
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma’s films, like Tarantino’s, are a cinematic mash-up of influences from the past, and in De Palma case he borrows heavily from Alfred Hitchcock. Obsession is De Palma’s Vertigo, Blow Out his Rear Window, and with Dressed to Kill the director set its sights on Psycho. Dressed To Kill is more thriller than horror but what a stylish and twisted thriller it is! The highlight here is an amazing ten-minute chase sequence set in an art gallery and conducted entirely without dialogue. There are a number of other well-sustained set pieces including a race in the subway system and even, yes, a gratuitous shower murder sequence. Dressed To Kill features an excellent cast (Michael Caine, Nancy Allen, Angie Dickinson), a superb score (courtesy of Pino Donaggio) and »
- Ricky Fernandes
July 25, 1980. That was the day Dressed to Kill opened in theaters across the country, and it marked the first of countless times I would see the movie projected on a big screen, on a drive-in screen, panned and scanned for home video, even interrupted and cut to ribbons for network TV. But I’ll never forget seeing it that first time, in a cavernous old movie palace in downtown Eugene, Oregon, its lush, complex, violently dynamic and meticulously choreographed images, all set to a Pino Donaggio score which reflected precisely those same qualities, thrilling me to my core. I left that theater buzzing, even if at first I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the movie-- it took me a few days and another screening or two to decide that the outraged cries of Hitchcock plagiarism coming from some circles were unwarranted. For me, Dressed to Kill is »
- Dennis Cozzalio
“Murder In Soft Focus”
Brian De Palma’s crime thriller/horror flick, Dressed to Kill, was a controversial release in 1980 for its depiction of violence against women and its sexual content— nevertheless, it was a successful entry in the director’s oeuvre during the most fruitful period of his long career. The film was released in America with an “R” rating—but only after De Palma, under protest, compromised with the ratings board and agreed to cut some footage, re-edit a couple of sequences, and change some lines of dialogue.
De Palma’s preferred unrated version of the film was released on home video not too long ago, but The Criterion Collection has seen fit to issue a new, 4K digital restoration, supervised by the director, of what might have been an “X”-rated picture back in the day. The results are gorgeous. De Palma’s thrillers »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Criterion beautifully restores Brian De Palma’s early masterpiece, Dressed to Kill, his 1980 title often lumped in with a quartet of other films categorized as Hitchcockian riffs, criticized or celebrated for how they playfully exhume style, narrative and tone from iconic titles. Although it’s nearly impossible to discuss the film without an acknowledgment of its obvious homage, it’s also a strikingly original piece in its own right, one that most easily sidesteps the derivative trappings of the ‘anxiety of influence’ theory thanks to its complex design as a critique on rigid social constructions.
Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) is an unhappily married housewife, saddled with husband number two, a man whose underwhelming lovemaking she describes to therapist Dr. Elliott (Michael Caine) as the root her problems. When her precocious teenage son (Keith Gordon) declines to go on a lunchtime museum trip, Kate goes alone, and becomes involved in a casual tryst with a stranger. »
- Nicholas Bell
Fans of David Cronenberg and Brian De Palma are in for a treat this summer and fall, as The Criterion Collection will release the former's The Brood and the latter's Dressed to Kill on respective Blu-rays.
From The Criterion Collection: The Brood: "A disturbed woman is receiving a radical form of psychotherapy at a remote, mysterious institute. Meanwhile, her five-year-old daughter, under the care of her estranged husband, is being terrorized by a group of demonic beings. How these two story lines connect is the shocking and grotesque secret of this bloody tale of monstrous parenthood from David Cronenberg, starring Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar. With its combination of psychological and body horror, The Brood laid the groundwork for many of the director’s films to come, but it stands »
- Derek Anderson
It is fitting that Tourist Trap came out in 1979. This was a year of variety in horror with everything from Ridley Scott’s Alien to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. From space creatures to the walking dead and all points in between, this was the end of a decade and Tourist Trap couldn’t have been made at any other time. It’s magnificently weird.
Released in March by Compass International Pictures, Tourist Trap was not a commercial or critical success. That’s a real shame because it possesses a unique ability to get under the skin of the viewer with the oddest of fears: Mannequins. Have you ever been shopping and felt the dead eyed gaze of these department store statues? Ever felt they were watching…and waiting? Well sit back and strap in as things are about to get strange.
In a nutshell: A traveling group of young adults »
- Scott Drebit
The Criterion Collection has announced its new line-up for August, with some more classic films being added to the collection. On August 4th Jules Dassin’s Night and the City is released, followed on August 11th by Karel Reisz’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman starring Meryl Streep, and on August 18th Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill starring Michael Caine and François Truffaut’s Day for Night. Finally on August 25th the Dardenne Brothers superb Two Days, One Night starring Oscar Winner Marion Cotillard.
You can check out the full press release details below, as well as the artwork for each release.
Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) longs for a life of ease and plenty. Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, he tries to hatch a lucrative plan with a famous wrestler. But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, »
- Scott J. Davis
August marks the fading days of summer, the last gasp of heat-soaked freedom before vacations are over and everyday responsibilities start taking over. But if you've got a few bucks left over from that summer job, or some money you didn't spend on holiday, Criterion's August lineup has some compelling reasons to part with it. Kicking things off, Brian De Palma's sizzler "Dressed To Kill" arrives on the label. It will boast a new high def transfer, all kinds of new interviews (actress Nancy Allen, producer George Litto, composer Pino Donaggio, shower-scene body double Victoria Lynn Johnson, and poster and photographic art director Stephen Sayadian), featurettes about the different versions of the movie that were cut to avoid an X rating, and much more. This looks like a treat for De Palma devotees (but let's hope they change that kinda dreadful cover art). As expected, the Dardennes' acclaimed "Two Days, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Criterion brings British auteur Nicolas Roeg’s most famous title to the fold, 1973’s enigmatic Don’t Look Now, a title that has influenced generations of filmmakers since its successful reception, and marks the director’s fifth title to be included in the illustrious collection. A refracted dreamscape of symbols and motifs, the film is a brooding jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t insist on answering all your questions, and happens to feature an unforgettable finale that’s lost none of its affect (despite providing iconic fodder for famed parodies, ranging from memorable bits in “Spaced” to “Absolutely Fabulous”).
After the drowning of their preadolescent daughter, Christine, in the backyard of their estate, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) take off for Venice, where John accepts a job to restore some mosaics in one of the city’s many dilapidated churches. However, once there, the couple is introduced »
- Nicholas Bell
The first time I saw Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now was October 2008, as I was watching a slew of films in an effort to put together a list of my top ten scariest films. In the end, I came up with six, Don't Look Now wasn't one of them. I mention this because I initially watched this movie under the impression it was tremendously frightening. I had never seen it before, but everything I read about it spoke to how terrifying it was. I didn't find it frightening in the least, not then and not now. However, revisiting it with this new Criterion Blu-ray release gave me a chance to watch it with different eyes and I found myself appreciating it a bit more. Granted, I still can't bring myself to say I'm an overall fan of the picture, but watching it without the expectation it will be something it isn't, »
- Brad Brevet
Nightcrawler I've already written about the Nightcrawler Blu-ray (read that here) and the film not only made my top ten of 2014, but Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo recently won 2014 RopeofSilicon Awards (a very high honor). Suffice to say, this is a film I've grown to really love since first seeing it and heartily recommend you check it out.
Don't Look Now (Criterion Collection) I was able to watch about 30 minutes of this new Blu-ray last night as it only arrived recently and I haven't had enough time to get through it, but I can tell you I've only seen Don't Look Now once before and I wasn't a huge fan of it the first time around. However, knowing how many fans the film has I wanted to give it a second chance and what better way than a feature rich Criterion edition. Just below are all the features it includes »
- Brad Brevet
14 items from 2015
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