Episode Time Markers: Introduction: 0:00:00 – 0:09:47 The Joke: 0:09:48 – 0:36:30 Silver City Revisited: 0:36:31 – 0:54:30 The Cremator: 0:54:31 – 1:17:
Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Denmark / Sweden, 1922
Häxan (a.k.a The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is a 1922 silent documentary about the history of witchcraft, told in a variety of styles, from illustrated slideshows to dramatized reenactments of alleged real-life events. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen, and based partly on Christensen’s study of the Malleus Maleficarum, Häxan is a fine examination of how superstition and the misunderstanding of mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. At the time, it was the most expensive Scandinavian film ever made, costing nearly 2 million Swedish krona. Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what were considered, at that time, graphic depictions of torture, nudity, and sexual perversion. Depending on which version you’re watching, the commentary is
About the films:
Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors—including eventual Oscar winners Miloš Forman and Ján Kadár—began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement’s essential voices: Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel,
On the other hand,
Written by Jaromil Jires and Ester Krumbachová
Directed by Jaromil Jireš
Beginning with Jaroslava Schallerová’s glance directly into the camera, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders instantly and insistently unravels in playful nods of incongruous and intentionally self-conscious stylization. Directed by Jaromil Jireš, this 1970 feature, in classic art film tradition, takes a basic narrative with reasonably standard character types and turns the whole thing topsy-turvy via stunning imagery, a proliferation of ambiguous symbolism, and a structure that leads to places quite unexpected, if certain sequences lead anywhere at all. It certainly is a wondrous week for young Valerie, and the film itself is equally astounding.
After Eaglet (Petr Kopriva) steals Valerie’s (Schallerová) magical earrings, apparently at the behest of the Constable (Jirí Prýmek), otherwise referred to/existing as the malicious Polecat, a vampire-type monster who terrorizes a small Czech town, an
Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Denmark / Sweden, 1922
Häxan (a.k.a The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is a 1922 silent documentary about the history of witchcraft,
As with all lists, this is personal and nobody will agree with every choice – and if you do, that would be incredibly disturbing. It was almost impossible for me to rank them in order, but I tried and eventually gave up.
Directed by Curt McDowell
Written by George Kuchar
Thunderstruck! is by far the most obscure film you will find on this list. It is without a doubt one of the true landmarks of Underground cinema. With a screenplay by veteran underground film maker George Kuchar (story and characters by Mark Ellinger) and directed Curt McDowell (than student of Kuchar),
Thundercrack! is a work of a crazed genius.
Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski’s brilliant horror-thriller was nominated for two Oscars, winning Best Supporting Actress for Ruth Gordon. The director’s first American film, adapted from Ira Levin’s horror bestseller, is a spellbinding and twisted tale of Satanism and pregnancy. Supremely mounted, the film benefits from it’s strong atmosphere, apartment setting, eerie childlike score and polished production values by cinematographer William Fraker. The cast is brilliant, with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as the young couple playing opposite Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, the elderly neighbors. There is ominous tension in the film from first frame to last – the climax makes for one of the greatest endings of all time. Rarely has a film displayed such an uncompromising portrait of betrayal as this one. Career or marriage – which would you choose?
30 – Eraserhead
Directed by David Lynch
Filmed intermittently over the course of a five-year period,
Directed by John Carpenter
1978 – Us
A historical milestone that single-handedly shaped and altered the future of the entire genre. This seminal horror flick actually gets better with age; it’s downright transcendent and holds up with determination as an effective thriller that will always stand head and shoulders above the hundreds of imitators to come. Halloween had one hell of an influence on the entire film industry. You have to admire how Carpenter avoids explicit onscreen violence, and achieves a considerable power almost entirely through visual means, using its widescreen frame, expert hand-held camerawork, and terrifying foreground and background imagery.
24 – Black Christmas
Directed by Bob Clark
1974 – Canada
We never did find out who Billy was. Maybe it’s for the best, since they never made any sequels to Bob Clark’s seminal slasher film, a film which predates Carpenter’s Halloween by four years. Whereas Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released the same year,
Every year I spend the majority of the month of October watching as many horror movies as I possibly can. So I decided to take it upon myself to list off the greatest horror movies ever made. I felt the need to break up the list into several categories. You see, usually when people ask me for recommendations of what horror films they should see, they still have some idea of what sub genre they are interested in watching. So as appose to having one big jumbled list, I’ve broken it down to help with those looking for recommendations in a specific area. Please Note: by the end of the month, the last entry in this series will include a list of what I think are without a doubt, the 31 greatest horror movies ever made.
First coming to the world’s attention with his 1963 debut feature The Cry (exhibited at Cannes), a film of documentary realism and social criticism that displeased his native government, Jires found his talents put on hold as Czechoslovakia’s state-supported film industry turned down script after script he subsequently submitted for production. It wasn’t until 1968 that Jires reappeared on the scene with The Joke, adapted from the novel by Milan Kundera as an ambitious drama attacking totalitarianism.
I’ve yet to see either of those films, but based on what I discovered with Valerie, I’d be eager to explore more of his works. While
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