4 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Fear X (2003)
Fear X is indeed a mystery
9 April 2005
John Turturro starred as a shopping mall security officer obsessed with finding the murderer of his wife. For most of its length this was a terrific film with Coen Brothers (think Barton Fink)/David Lynch (think Lost Highway)/ Stanley Kubrick (think The Shining) influences. Slow but deliberately paced drama that was quite suspenseful and drew you in. Only the ending let it down, it just seemed to fizzle out and left you with a "is that it?" feeling. Perhaps I missed something along the way. This is a film worth seeing on the big screen if you get the chance because of its cinematic qualities. It certainly has merit but, on one viewing at least, it was a bit of a let down.
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Mizu no onna (2002)
Woman of Water is strange!
9 April 2005
Strange art film from Japan about a woman who can make it rain when she gets emotional. She meets a pyromaniac and they strike up a strange relationship. All this symbolism about fire and water was a bit heavy handed but it did intrigue me. Oddball stuff that caught me off guard.I saw it at a film festival and knew nothing about it beforehand. Not a lot of dialogue so it was one of these films where you had to watch the images carefully to know what was happening. It was actually propelled by the visuals rather than dialogue. Interesting but not for everyone. I'd actually like to see it again because I think there was more to it than met the eye and it deserves more than one viewing .
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Gruesome is quite good
9 April 2005
My first introduction to Dick Tracy was the cartoon series of the 1950s (60s?) and then later the Sunday comics. I saw the big screen Warren Beatty/ Madonna effort and was curious about these earlier efforts. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised by this adaptation. Gruesome, played by Boris Karloff, looks as if he just stepped out of the Chester Gould strip (without the lavish makeup of the 1990s version) and several supporting characters also have the grotesque look that made the comic popular. The story revolves around a mysterious gas that can temporarily freeze people. While they're in suspended animation, the baddies can rob the bank (the perfect plan huh?) Anyway, it's up to Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd) to solve the mystery and put an end to Gruesome's crime spree. It's all good fun with more plot than you'd expect and a solid amount of screen time to Karloff. Humour peppers the thrills to make it an enjoyable film.
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A film for fans of cult cinema
2 November 1999
Enter a world of hidden rooms, sliding panels, secret passages, narrow sewers and opium dens; a world where, at the Hour of the Rat, pretty Chinese girls are auctioned off to the highest bidder. When Gilbert De Quincey (Vincent Price) arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1902, he is quickly embroiled in a viscous Tong war between two rival factions. The seductive Ruby Low and her followers organize the picture bride auctions on behalf of ancient Ling Tan. The supporters of the Chinese Gazette's murdered editor, George Wah, oppose them. De Quincey bears the moon serpent tattoo, aligning him with Ruby Low, but his actions suggest he may have other motives.

Albert Zugsmith, better known as the producer of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil", produced and directed "Opium Eater", a black and white b-grader hastily dismissed by reviewers. It has genuine merit to those who like offbeat cinema. Although it uses Thomas De Quincey's 1821 book title, (actually called "Confessions of an English Opium Eater") it conjures up its own story of deception and murder. Price as Gilbert De Quincey, who also narrates the film, suggests he is an ancestor. "Opium Eater" actually has more in common with the Fu Manchu mysteries or the yellow peril pulps popular in the 1930s. Add to this its fortune cookie dialogue and ramblings about dreams, reality, death and destiny and you have one very strange movie indeed. There is no doubt "Opium Eater" is bizarre, but it is also literate and genuinely mysterious.

Albert Glasser's spooky soundtrack is one of the films great strengths. His eerie electronic score endows it with an ambience of unease and dislocation. In one scene, after Price awakens from his opium-induced nightmare, axe-wielding henchmen chase him across rooftops. Here the music drops right off the soundtrack and we are left with only an unnerving silence. Zugsmith's direction is clumsy at times but many intriguing moments make up for this, including his creative use of slow motion and the nightmare montage in the joss house. This drug scene must have been quite controversial in 1962 and I wonder if it was snipped from certain prints or caused the film to be banned in some areas.

The love/hate relationship between De Quincey and Ruby Low suggests their fate is predetermined and leads to a quite unexpected, but oddly satisfying outcome.

It's a flawed film, but remains a curious, haunting experience deserving of a cult following. >
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