Jo Shishido stars in the Japanese gangster film from Yasuharu Hasebe

‘Massacre Gun’ – Japanese Gangster action on Amazon Prime

Massacre Gun (Japan, 1967) – Yasuharu Hasebe, a disciple of Nikkatsu’s maverick filmmaker Suzuki Seijun, made his directorial debut with Black Tight Killers (1966), a crazy, campy spy adventure fun shot in bright, pop-art color. His follow-up feature remains in the action genre but takes a turn into the dark alleys of gangster noir with […]

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi write, direct, and star in the vampire mockumentary 'What We Do in the Shadows'

‘What We Do in the Shadows’ on Amazon Prime

What We Do in the Shadows (2014) takes the mockumentary approach to the vampire film, though that hardly describes the deadpan absurdity of this comedy of ancient European vampires in New Zealand, who after centuries of unlife haven’t gotten any smarter. It’s written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who previously collaborated on […]

Meiko Kaji stars in the Japanese women-in-prison series

‘Female Prisoner Scorpion’ Saga on Amazon Prime

The women in prison genre has never been so much fun as the Female Prisoner Scorpion series from Japan. Gonzo doesn’t begin to describe this mad mix of outrageous exploitation, flamboyant art movie, and energetic comic-book craziness. Meiko Kaji gives a near silent performance as Nami Matsushima, aka Scorpion, a woman framed for a crime […]

Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Eun-shim in Kim Ki-young's original "The Housemaid" from South Korea

‘The Housemaid’ – The 1960 Korean classic on VOD and Criterion DVD

Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid (South Korea, 1960) is a classic of South Korean cinema but until Criterion released the film on disc in 2013 it was largely unknown (or at least unseen) to even the most dedicated cinephile apart from its inspiration for Im Sang-soo’s 2010 remake. As I discovered, the two films couldn’t be […]

Marci Miller and Manu Bennett in 'Death Race 2050,' directed by G.J. Echternkamp and produced by Roger Corman

Roger Corman’s ‘Death Race 2050’ on Netflix and Blu-ray/DVD

Death Race 2050 (2016) – After Paul W.S. Anderson’s humorless Death Race, his 2008 remake/reworking of the Roger Corman-produced cult movie Death Race 2000 (1975), there’s something oddly satisfying in getting a genuine remake produced by Corman himself in the impudent spirit of the original. Death Race 2050 is a modern B movie, produced directly […]

Nicole Heesters and Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Wolfgang Kremm's "Kamikaze '89"

‘Kamikaze ’89’ – Fassbinder goes cyberpunk on Amazon Prime and Sundance Now

Kamikaze ’89 (Germany, 1982) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder takes a rare onscreen lead in what would be his last screen appearance in Wolfgang Kremm’s 1982 new wave science fiction cop drama. Based on a satirical science fiction novel by Swedish crime writer Per Wahlöö, it’s a cyberpunk murder mystery in a totalitarian near future, where […]

David Carradine and Barbara Hershey in Martin Scorsese's "Boxcar Bertha"

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Boxcar Bertha’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Boxcar Bertha (1972) – Martin Scorsese was just another college film school grad with a student feature under his belt (Who’s That Knocking at My Door) when producer Roger Corman tapped him to direct AIP’s entry in the Bonnie and Clyde craze of depression era gangster films. It was a straight work-for-hire job and it will […]

TITLE: SUNSET BOULEVARD • PERS: VON STROHEIM, ERICH / SWANSON, GLORIA • YEAR: 1950 • DIR: WILDER, BILLY • REF: SUN025AL • CREDIT: [ THE KOBAL COLLECTION / PARAMOUNT ]

‘Sunset Boulevard’ on Kanopy

“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small!” Sunset Boulevard (1950), the blackest of Hollywood’s self-portraits, is an old dark house of a ghost story inhabited by the living shadows of its discarded stars. Gloria Swanson is magnificent as Norma Desmond, the former silent movie queen living in her memories while plotting a fantasy […]