František Vláčil directs this epic from Czechoslovakia

‘Marketa Lazarova’ – Czech epic on Criterion Channel

Marketa Lazarova (Czechoslovakia, 1967), an epic based on one of the revered masterpieces of Czech literature (considered unfilmmable by many), was voted the greatest Czech film ever made in a 1998 poll of Czechoslovakian film critics and professionals. Yet it is all but unknown in the U.S., rarely revived and never on home video before […]

Barry Sullivan stars in Mario Bava's Italian sci-fi horror cult film

Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ on FilmStruck

Despite the title Mario Bava’s funky 1965 sci-fantasy thriller Planet of the Vampires (Italy, 1965), there are no bloodsuckers to be seen, merely an unseen force that kills the astronauts (led by a craggy Barry Sullivan) that land on a primeval otherworldly planet of jagged rocks, bubbling lakes of lava mud, and purple skies. If […]

Bradley Cooper stars in the Clive Barker horror film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura

‘The Midnight Meat Train’ – Clive Barker on Netflix

Curiosity is a killer in The Midnight Meat Train (2008), adapted from the short story by Clive Barker (one of the first he wrote) and directed by Japanese style-bomber Ryuhei Kitamura in his American feature debut. Leon (Bradley Cooper), a street photographer who chases police calls for a living but prefers to document the underbelly […]

Jean Rollin’s weird, trashy, and dreamy ‘Requiem for a Vampire’ on Amazon Prime

There was no director like Jean Rollin, the French horror fantasist who died in the waning days of 2010 at the age of 72 and left behind a strange and wonderful (and sometimes horrible) legacy in his distinctive films. His reputation never really extended beyond cult circles but the weird sensibility and distinctive style and […]

Amy Adams in 'Arrival,' directed by Denis Villeneuve

‘Arrival’ – First contact on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Arrival (2016) is the most cerebral of first contact films, a science fiction drama about communicating across cultures and across species and even across time without a common language, while failing to communicate within our own world. It is a film that looks out beyond our galaxy and inward to our own souls, to challenge […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Amazon Prime

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Vera Clouzot in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Hitchcockian thriller with Simone Signoret

The original ‘Diabolique’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Henri-Georges Clouzot was called the Hitchcock of France for his shadowy thrillers and the atmosphere of distrust and suspicion that ran through so many of his films. Diabolique (France, 1955, not rated, with subtitles), his 1955 thriller about a plot to commit a perfect murder and the wrenching tension when the corpse disappears, plays like […]

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Bruce Dern in Quentin Taratino's 'The Hateful Eight'

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ on Netflix and Showtime

The Hateful Eight, the eighth feature by Quentin Tarantino, is something strange and audacious even for a filmmaker whose films are rarely short of either. It’s a vivid widescreen western epic that runs nearly three hours yet plays like a chamber piece, largely contained within the intimate quarters of a stagecoach stopover during a blizzard […]