Masaki Kobayashi directs the quartet of Japanese ghost stories

‘Kwaidan’ – Japanese ghost stories on Criterion Channel

Kwaidan (Japan, 1964), Masaki Kobayashi’s quartet of ancient ghost stories, may not be strictly speaking a horror film. It’s not scary or particularly unsettling apart for a few exquisitely created images. It is, however, breathtakingly lovely, visually composed like a painting, scored and sound designed by Toru Takemitsu with a spareness that leans on silence, […]

Ray MIlland stars in Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptation

Roger Corman’s ‘The Premature Burial’ on Amazon Prime

Vincent Price starred in all of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations but one. Ray Milland took the lead in The Premature Burial (1962), playing Guy Carrell, an aristocrat with crippling fear that he will be buried alive due to a family history of catalepsy. Corman brings the fear home in the opening scene: an […]

‘Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key’ on Amazon Prime

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Italy, 1972), directed by Sergio Martino and ostensibly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat,” stars the voluptuous, dark-eyed beauty Edwige Fenech, the sex bomb of giallo, in what was (in the words of genre film historian Justin Harries) “Her finest and […]

Ron Perlman is "Hellboy" in Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of the Mike Mignola graphic novel

‘Hellboy’ – A demon of a superhero on Hulu

Hellboy (2004) – Before Marvel recreated the superhero movie in the context of a connected universe of characters and storylines, like the comic books that inspired them, the best comic book movies created their own, self-contained worlds. One of the best of these was Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s cult comic Hellboy and […]

Marianne Morris and Anulka star in the Erotica horror film from Joseph Larraz

‘Vampyres’ – Seventies Eurotica horror on Amazon Prime

In Vampyres (1974, NC-17), one of the more interesting slices of seventies vampire Eurotica, Spanish filmmaker Joseph Larraz (aka José Ramón Larraz) reworks “Carmilla” and rewrites the vampire myth to make his bloodsucking lovelies the restless ghosts of lesbian lovers murdered while making love in their shadowy castle. Reappearing nightly in the twilight forest, they […]

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, and Frank in Richard Kelly's cult movie of teen confusion

‘Donnie Darko’ – Life’s a mystery on Netflix

Donnie Darko (2001) – Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an otherwise normal rebellious, angry kid who slumps and frumps his way through the confusion of his life. He just happens to have a little more confusion than the most of us, much of it caused by visitations from a demonic looking six-foot rabbit named Frank […]

Karl Malden and James Franciscus in the giallo by Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s ‘Cat O’Nine Tails’ on Amazon Prime

The Cat O’Nine Tails (Italy, 1971), Dario Argento’s second feature, follows up his directorial debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in genre, style and “animal” theme (stretched into a trilogy with Four Flies on Gray Velvet). In Bird, Argento explores, pushes at, and plays with the mechanics of suspense and murder mystery spectacle in […]

Delphine Seyrig stars in Harry Kümel's elegant and sexy vampire

‘Daughters of Darkness’ on Amazon Prime

Daughters of Darkness (Belgium, 1971) – “Every woman would sell her soul to stay so young,” remarks smarmy, troubled Stefan (John Karlen) to his newlywed wife Valerie (Danielle Ouimet). He’s referring to the impeccably poised Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig), who sweeps into the off-season luxury hotel they previously had all to themselves, elegant and ageless, […]