John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

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

Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’ on Amazon Prime Video

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 […]

Shirley Clarke directs this pioneering American independent film

Shirley Clarke’s landmark ‘The Connection’ on Criterion Channel

The Connection (1962), the debut feature from Shirley Clarke, turns a stage play originally produced by New York’s revolutionary Living Theater as a play within a play into an innovative work of cinema. Clarke was a pioneering American independent filmmaker before that label was even invented and her work was unpreserved and largely unavailable until […]

Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in the science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer

‘Soylent Green’ – The future is bleak on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Set in 2022 New York City, population 40,000,000, the eco-conscious science fiction artifact Soylent Green (1973) looks more prescient than ever. In this overpopulated world, the gap between the rich and everyone else is enormous, poverty is rampant, unemployment high and “the greenhouse effect” (those very words are used in the film) has brought on […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

‘No Blade of Grass’ – Surviving the end of the world on VOD and DVD

Cornel Wilde’s grim No Blade of Grass (1970) is a forgotten dystopian classic due for rediscovery. Gritty and brutal, built on fears of ecological devastation through pollution and overcrowding (with hints of genetic manipulation gone bad), this 1970 end-of-the-world thriller seems to have gotten lost in the overcrowded apocalypse now science fiction cinema of the […]

Don Johnson stars in the film directed by L.Q. Jones from the Harlan Ellison novella

‘A Boy and His Dog’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

A Boy and His Dog (1976), the directorial debut of longtime character actor and Sam Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones, is not the first post-apocalyptic vision of America but it does offer a different approach to the empty streets and ghostly cities that previously stood in for life after the end. Jones, adapting the novella by […]

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

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 […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video and free on Kanopy

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]