Monday, October 31, 2016

Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box, the award-winning debut novel of Joe Hill, is a 2007 ghost story/revenge tale. I don't read much horror at all but always include something from that genre in my reading for October. This was perfect for me. I'll probably look for others by this author.

from the back of the book:
Aging death-metal rock legend Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals... a used hangman's noose... a snuff film. But nothing he possesses is as unique or as dreadful as his latest purchase off the Internet: a one-of-a-kind curiosity that arrives at his door in a black heart-shaped box... a musty dead man's suit still inhabited by the spirit of it's late owner. And now everywhere Judas Coyne goes, the old man is there -watching, waiting, dangling a razor blade on a chain from his bony hand.
The New York Times calls it "a wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty tale of horror" and says,
In a book much too smart to sound like the work of a neophyte, he builds character invitingly and plants an otherworldly surprise around every corner. It would be much easier to compare Mr. Hill’s work to Stephen King’s if Stephen King were not his actual father. (His full name is Joseph Hillstrom King.)
Time Magazine says it's "a top-notch piece of horror fiction". Strange Horizons calls it "a good novel and worth reading" but "conventional". Kirkus Reviews concludes, "He’s got horror down pat, and his debut is hair-raising fun."

The title comes from the Nirvana song:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ganja & Hess

Ganja & Hess is a 1973 horror film, an experimental effort directed by Bill Gunn (who was a playwright, novelist, and actor in addition to being a film director). This film was chosen as one of ten best American films of that decade at the Cannes Film Festival. This is an interesting movie. The ideas have held up well, and Spike Lee remade it in 2014. (This film does include nudity, just in case that bothers you.)

The New Yorker concludes with this:
“Ganja & Hess,” like the movies of Gunn’s great independent-outsider contemporaries, suggests what has been missing from modern studio filmmaking—and what’s missing from Hollywood to this day.
Slant Magazine says,
Ganja & Hess, which has been retroactively, circumstantially cast as a berserk dash toward career suicide on Gunn’s part, is so singular, so opaque, that it doesn’t even have the draw of commerce-friendly exoticism. If Shaft is Barry White and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is the Sex Pistols, then Ganja & Hess is John Cage.
DVD Talk opens a positive review with this:
Not just an important horror film but one of the true "lost films" of the 1970s and a significant piece in African-American cinema, Ganja & Hess (1973) so transcended genre and overall aesthetic expectations that it all but doomed itself to a fate of almost total obscurity for several decades.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 83%.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Night Stalker

The Night Stalker is the 1972 made-for-TV horror/detective film starring Darren McGavin. McGavin is best known for his role as the father in The Christmas Story but was Mike Hammer in the 1950s tv series and also the founder of the X-Files in that franchise among many other roles in stage/film/tv.

via Youtube:

Moria says it "was one of the sharpest and most amusingly well written of these in its attempts to come to terms with the idea of a vampire in the modern-day." DVD Talk says, "at the time that it aired in 1972, The Night Stalker was the highest rated TV movie ever broadcast by a wide margin," calls it "entertaining" and "one of the best TV movies ever broadcast," and praises the acting. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 86%.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Devils of Loudon

The Devils of Loudon is a 1952 non-fiction book by Aldous Huxley. It's the story of a man accused of demonic possession in France in 1634. A priest is accused of seducing an entire convent of Ursuline nuns to serve the cause of the devil. Fun times in the French countryside. The priest who inspired this book (pictured above) was convicted and executed. Even under torture he never confessed. The Huxley book explores the possible causes of this phenomenon.

It's possible the entire affair was a politically motivated plot.

The book begins:
It was in 1605 that Joseph Hall, the satirist and future bishop, made his first visit to Flanders. “Along our way how many churches saw we demolished, nothing left but rude heaps to tell the passenger, there hath been both devotion and hostility. Oh, the miserable footsteps of war! ... But (which I wondered at) churches fall, and Jesuits’ colleges rise everywhere. There is no city where these are not rearing or built. Whence cometh this? Is it for that devotion is not so necessary as policy? These men (as we say of the fox) fare best when they are most cursed. None so much spited of their own; none so hated of all; none so opposed of by ours; and yet these ill weeds grow.”

They grew for a very simple and sufficient reason: the public wanted them. For the Jesuits themselves, “policy,” as Hall and his whole generation knew very well, was the first consideration. The schools had been called into existence for the purpose of strengthening the Roman Church against its enemies, the “libertines” and the Protestants. The good fathers hoped, by their teaching, to create a class of educated laymen totally devoted to the interests of the Church. In the words of Cerutti —words which drove the indignant Michelet almost to frenzy— “as we swathe the limbs of an infant in the cradle to give them a right proportion, so it is necessary from his earliest youth to swathe, so to speak, his will, that it may preserve through his life a happy and salutary suppleness.”

The spirit of domination was willing enough, but the flesh of propagandist method was weak. In spite of the swaddling of their wills, some of the Jesuits’ best pupils left school to become free thinkers or even, like Jean Labadie, Protestants. So far as “policy” was concerned, the system was never as efficient as its creators had hoped. But the public was not interested in policy; the public was interested in good schools, where their boys could learn all that a gentleman ought to know. Better than most other purveyors of education, the Jesuits supplied the demand.

“What did I observe during the seven years I passed under the Jesuits’ roof? A life full of moderation, diligence and order. They devoted every hour of the day to our education, or to the strict fulfillment of their vows. As evidence of this, I appeal to the testimony of the thousands who, like myself, were educated by them.” So wrote Voltaire. His words bear witness to the excellence of the Jesuits’ teaching methods. At the same time, and yet more emphatically, his entire career bears witness to the failure of that “policy,” which the teaching methods were intended to serve.
Depending on the copyright laws where you live -I swear copyright law is so byzantine I can't figure it out and trust I'm not violating it when I find things online- you can read the book online at this link.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Plague of Zombies

The Plague of Zombies is a 1966 Hammer Films horror film. Influential in the genre, it's worth seeing for that reason alone; but it's also interesting in and of itself. It takes place in the Cornish countryside, where the local squire doesn't want any of the spate of recent deaths looked into. It seems he has plans bwahaha.

Moria praises the effects and points at the political subtext. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "...zombie movies didn’t come a whole lot better than this before George Romero arrived on the scene". gives it a positive review and says, "Don't miss this one." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 78%.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 1890 novel by Oscar Wilde (pictured above). It's the story of a man who sells his soul so that he will never age while his portrait takes on all the ravages of his evil life. It is in the public domain and can be read online at Project Gutenberg, the University of Virginia,,,, and endless other sites.

It's a fascinating story. It's been adapted for film and television, including in
  • 1910 (Danish silent),
  • 1913 (American silent directed by Phillips Smalley),
  • 1915 (American silent directed by Eugene Moore),
  • 1916 (British silent directed by Fred W. Durrant),
  • 1945 (award-winning American film starring George Sanders, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, and Peter Lawford, with Cedric Hardwicke narrating),
  • 1961 (Armchair Theater made-for-tv production starring Jeremy Brett as Dorian Gray),
  • 1976 (Made-for-tv movie starring Peter Firth, Jeremy Brett, and John Gielgud),
  • 1983 (made-for-tv, with a female Dorian Gray, also with Anthony Perkins),
and numerous adaptations since. The most recent I know of is the Penny Dreadful tv series in which Gray is played by Reeve Carney.

The book begins with a preface defending the artist's right to create. This is the entirety of chapter 1:
The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

"It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Henry languidly. "You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place."

"I don't think I shall send it anywhere," he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him at Oxford. "No, I won't send it anywhere."

Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette. "Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion."

"I know you will laugh at me," he replied, "but I really can't exhibit it. I have put too much of myself into it."

Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and laughed.

"Yes, I knew you would; but it is quite true, all the same."

"Too much of yourself in it! Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you—well, of course you have an intellectual expression and all that. But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful. Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is some brainless beautiful creature who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence. Don't flatter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him."

"You don't understand me, Harry," answered the artist. "Of course I am not like him. I know that perfectly well. Indeed, I should be sorry to look like him. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings. It is better not to be different from one's fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live—undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are—my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray's good looks—we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly."

"Dorian Gray? Is that his name?" asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward.

"Yes, that is his name. I didn't intend to tell it to you."

"But why not?"

"Oh, I can't explain. When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one's life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?"

"Not at all," answered Lord Henry, "not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet—we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's—we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it—much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me."

"I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry," said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden. "I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose."

"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know," cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.

After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch. "I am afraid I must be going, Basil," he murmured, "and before I go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago."

"What is that?" said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.

"You know quite well."

"I do not, Harry."

"Well, I will tell you what it is. I want you to explain to me why you won't exhibit Dorian Gray's picture. I want the real reason."

"I told you the real reason."

"No, you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish."

"Harry," said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul."

Lord Henry laughed. "And what is that?" he asked.

"I will tell you," said Hallward; but an expression of perplexity came over his face.

"I am all expectation, Basil," continued his companion, glancing at him.

"Oh, there is really very little to tell, Harry," answered the painter; "and I am afraid you will hardly understand it. Perhaps you will hardly believe it."

Lord Henry smiled, and leaning down, plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass and examined it. "I am quite sure I shall understand it," he replied, gazing intently at the little golden, white-feathered disk, "and as for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible."

The wind shook some blossoms from the trees, and the heavy lilac-blooms, with their clustering stars, moved to and fro in the languid air. A grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall, and like a blue thread a long thin dragon-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings. Lord Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward's heart beating, and wondered what was coming.

"The story is simply this," said the painter after some time. "Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon's. You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages. With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians, I suddenly became conscious that some one was looking at me. I turned half-way round and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale. A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself. I did not want any external influence in my life. You know yourself, Harry, how independent I am by nature. I have always been my own master; had at least always been so, till I met Dorian Gray. Then—but I don't know how to explain it to you. Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life. I had a strange feeling that fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows. I grew afraid and turned to quit the room. It was not conscience that made me do so: it was a sort of cowardice. I take no credit to myself for trying to escape."

"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things, Basil. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all."

"I don't believe that, Harry, and I don't believe you do either. However, whatever was my motive—and it may have been pride, for I used to be very proud—I certainly struggled to the door. There, of course, I stumbled against Lady Brandon. 'You are not going to run away so soon, Mr. Hallward?' she screamed out. You know her curiously shrill voice?"

"Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty," said Lord Henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long nervous fingers.

"I could not get rid of her. She brought me up to royalties, and people with stars and garters, and elderly ladies with gigantic tiaras and parrot noses. She spoke of me as her dearest friend. I had only met her once before, but she took it into her head to lionize me. I believe some picture of mine had made a great success at the time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers, which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality. Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me. We were quite close, almost touching. Our eyes met again. It was reckless of me, but I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him. Perhaps it was not so reckless, after all. It was simply inevitable. We would have spoken to each other without any introduction. I am sure of that. Dorian told me so afterwards. He, too, felt that we were destined to know each other."

"And how did Lady Brandon describe this wonderful young man?" asked his companion. "I know she goes in for giving a rapid precis of all her guests. I remember her bringing me up to a truculent and red-faced old gentleman covered all over with orders and ribbons, and hissing into my ear, in a tragic whisper which must have been perfectly audible to everybody in the room, the most astounding details. I simply fled. I like to find out people for myself. But Lady Brandon treats her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods. She either explains them entirely away, or tells one everything about them except what one wants to know."

"Poor Lady Brandon! You are hard on her, Harry!" said Hallward listlessly.

"My dear fellow, she tried to found a salon, and only succeeded in opening a restaurant. How could I admire her? But tell me, what did she say about Mr. Dorian Gray?"

"Oh, something like, 'Charming boy—poor dear mother and I absolutely inseparable. Quite forget what he does—afraid he—doesn't do anything—oh, yes, plays the piano—or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?' Neither of us could help laughing, and we became friends at once."

"Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one," said the young lord, plucking another daisy.

Hallward shook his head. "You don't understand what friendship is, Harry," he murmured—"or what enmity is, for that matter. You like every one; that is to say, you are indifferent to every one."

"How horribly unjust of you!" cried Lord Henry, tilting his hat back and looking up at the little clouds that, like ravelled skeins of glossy white silk, were drifting across the hollowed turquoise of the summer sky. "Yes; horribly unjust of you. I make a great difference between people. I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a fool. They are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me. Is that very vain of me? I think it is rather vain."

"I should think it was, Harry. But according to your category I must be merely an acquaintance."

"My dear old Basil, you are much more than an acquaintance."

"And much less than a friend. A sort of brother, I suppose?"

"Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else."

"Harry!" exclaimed Hallward, frowning.

"My dear fellow, I am not quite serious. But I can't help detesting my relations. I suppose it comes from the fact that none of us can stand other people having the same faults as ourselves. I quite sympathize with the rage of the English democracy against what they call the vices of the upper orders. The masses feel that drunkenness, stupidity, and immorality should be their own special property, and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself, he is poaching on their preserves. When poor Southwark got into the divorce court, their indignation was quite magnificent. And yet I don't suppose that ten per cent of the proletariat live correctly."

"I don't agree with a single word that you have said, and, what is more, Harry, I feel sure you don't either."

Lord Henry stroked his pointed brown beard and tapped the toe of his patent-leather boot with a tasselled ebony cane. "How English you are Basil! That is the second time you have made that observation. If one puts forward an idea to a true Englishman—always a rash thing to do—he never dreams of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. The only thing he considers of any importance is whether one believes it oneself. Now, the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be coloured by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices. However, I don't propose to discuss politics, sociology, or metaphysics with you. I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. Tell me more about Mr. Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?"

"Every day. I couldn't be happy if I didn't see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me."

"How extraordinary! I thought you would never care for anything but your art."

"He is all my art to me now," said the painter gravely. "I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the world's history. The first is the appearance of a new medium for art, and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, sketch from him. Of course, I have done all that. But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. There is nothing that art cannot express, and I know that the work I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way—I wonder will you understand me?—his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. 'A dream of form in days of thought'—who is it who says that? I forget; but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad—for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty—his merely visible presence—ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body—how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me! You remember that landscape of mine, for which Agnew offered me such a huge price but which I would not part with? It is one of the best things I have ever done. And why is it so? Because, while I was painting it, Dorian Gray sat beside me. Some subtle influence passed from him to me, and for the first time in my life I saw in the plain woodland the wonder I had always looked for and always missed."

"Basil, this is extraordinary! I must see Dorian Gray."

Hallward got up from the seat and walked up and down the garden. After some time he came back. "Harry," he said, "Dorian Gray is to me simply a motive in art. You might see nothing in him. I see everything in him. He is never more present in my work than when no image of him is there. He is a suggestion, as I have said, of a new manner. I find him in the curves of certain lines, in the loveliness and subtleties of certain colours. That is all."

"Then why won't you exhibit his portrait?" asked Lord Henry.

"Because, without intending it, I have put into it some expression of all this curious artistic idolatry, of which, of course, I have never cared to speak to him. He knows nothing about it. He shall never know anything about it. But the world might guess it, and I will not bare my soul to their shallow prying eyes. My heart shall never be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry—too much of myself!"

"Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. They know how useful passion is for publication. Nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions."

"I hate them for it," cried Hallward. "An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. Some day I will show the world what it is; and for that reason the world shall never see my portrait of Dorian Gray."

"I think you are wrong, Basil, but I won't argue with you. It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue. Tell me, is Dorian Gray very fond of you?"

The painter considered for a few moments. "He likes me," he answered after a pause; "I know he likes me. Of course I flatter him dreadfully. I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I shall be sorry for having said. As a rule, he is charming to me, and we sit in the studio and talk of a thousand things. Now and then, however, he is horribly thoughtless, and seems to take a real delight in giving me pain. Then I feel, Harry, that I have given away my whole soul to some one who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer's day."

"Days in summer, Basil, are apt to linger," murmured Lord Henry. "Perhaps you will tire sooner than he will. It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man—that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value. I think you will tire first, all the same. Some day you will look at your friend, and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing, or you won't like his tone of colour, or something. You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart, and seriously think that he has behaved very badly to you. The next time he calls, you will be perfectly cold and indifferent. It will be a great pity, for it will alter you. What you have told me is quite a romance, a romance of art one might call it, and the worst of having a romance of any kind is that it leaves one so unromantic."

"Harry, don't talk like that. As long as I live, the personality of Dorian Gray will dominate me. You can't feel what I feel. You change too often."

"Ah, my dear Basil, that is exactly why I can feel it. Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies." And Lord Henry struck a light on a dainty silver case and began to smoke a cigarette with a self-conscious and satisfied air, as if he had summed up the world in a phrase. There was a rustle of chirruping sparrows in the green lacquer leaves of the ivy, and the blue cloud-shadows chased themselves across the grass like swallows. How pleasant it was in the garden! And how delightful other people's emotions were!—much more delightful than their ideas, it seemed to him. One's own soul, and the passions of one's friends—those were the fascinating things in life. He pictured to himself with silent amusement the tedious luncheon that he had missed by staying so long with Basil Hallward. Had he gone to his aunt's, he would have been sure to have met Lord Goodbody there, and the whole conversation would have been about the feeding of the poor and the necessity for model lodging-houses. Each class would have preached the importance of those virtues, for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives. The rich would have spoken on the value of thrift, and the idle grown eloquent over the dignity of labour. It was charming to have escaped all that! As he thought of his aunt, an idea seemed to strike him. He turned to Hallward and said, "My dear fellow, I have just remembered."

"Remembered what, Harry?"

"Where I heard the name of Dorian Gray."

"Where was it?" asked Hallward, with a slight frown.

"Don't look so angry, Basil. It was at my aunt, Lady Agatha's. She told me she had discovered a wonderful young man who was going to help her in the East End, and that his name was Dorian Gray. I am bound to state that she never told me he was good-looking. Women have no appreciation of good looks; at least, good women have not. She said that he was very earnest and had a beautiful nature. I at once pictured to myself a creature with spectacles and lank hair, horribly freckled, and tramping about on huge feet. I wish I had known it was your friend."

"I am very glad you didn't, Harry."


"I don't want you to meet him."

"You don't want me to meet him?"


"Mr. Dorian Gray is in the studio, sir," said the butler, coming into the garden.

"You must introduce me now," cried Lord Henry, laughing.

The painter turned to his servant, who stood blinking in the sunlight. "Ask Mr. Gray to wait, Parker: I shall be in in a few moments." The man bowed and went up the walk.

Then he looked at Lord Henry. "Dorian Gray is my dearest friend," he said. "He has a simple and a beautiful nature. Your aunt was quite right in what she said of him. Don't spoil him. Don't try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don't take away from me the one person who gives to my art whatever charm it possesses: my life as an artist depends on him. Mind, Harry, I trust you." He spoke very slowly, and the words seemed wrung out of him almost against his will.

"What nonsense you talk!" said Lord Henry, smiling, and taking Hallward by the arm, he almost led him into the house.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Still Life with Compotier

Still Life with Compotier:

by Paul Cezanne, who died on October 22, 1906 of pneumonia at the age of 67.

I feel an attraction to this offering, with its simple fruit with a glass of water. It's often my own choice.

Here's a 5-minute biography of Cezanne showcasing some of his paintings:

For a more in-depth look, try this hour-long exploration of his life and work:

Please join the T Tuesday blog link-up and share a drink with us. Bleubeard and Elizabeth host at the Altered Book Lover blog.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Ghost (1963)

The Ghost is a 1963 Italian horror film starring Barbara Steele. This is more gothic thriller than horror, and I thought it was a fine murder/revenge mystery story. You can't go wrong with Barbara Steele.

via Youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours says, "anyone who enjoys Mario Bava’s moody, languorous gothics from the same era will find much to like about The Ghost." Weird Wild Realm says it's worth watching for Barbara Steele alone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Orgy of the Dead

Orgy of the Dead is a 1965 horror film. This has a frame story but only enough of one to provide space between the all-but-nude women "dancers" who then receive their just punishment. This may well be the worst movie I've ever seen, and I've seen some bad movies. I could embed it here, but I'd hate to subject you to the pointless drivel. Poorly done soft-core porn/S&M. Surely this trailer will be enough.

Topless female nudity alert in case that offends you:

"A pussy cat is born to be whooped."

Please spare yourself. I didn't finish it.

DVD Talk calls it "ridiculous" and says, "This isn't really a horror film but a cheap girlie show as primitive as the one-reelers of strippers seen in the omnibus collection Best of Burlesque" and "This is basically 90 minutes of repetitious and numbing strip acts, with poor cutaways to the presiding ghouls who bicker about how much time they have before dawn or who gets to stab who."

Moria gives it 1/2 star and says, "There is really little more to the film than this parade of strippers doing their thing." Million Monkey Theater describes it as a "weird exploitation/horror/smut movie". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 0%. Yes, you read that right -zero%.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Face at the Window

The Face at the Window is a 1939 horror film directed by George King and starring Tod Slaughter, who played the title role in the 1936 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. "They dared call me mad." Bwahaha.

via Daily Motion:

Time Out calls Slaughter's performance "oddly chilling". Cult Reviews concludes:
it’s a great joy to watch the talent of two artists at their best moment, and one can only wonder what would had happened with their careers if they had been hired by Universal or Columbia. Just like Boris Karloff is American cinema’s icon for the horror genre, I see no problem with considering Slaughter as his equal in British cinema. Classy, grim, sinister and even fun, “The Face at the Window” is definitely the proof that George King was a true artist of the genre, and Tod Slaughter the British master of Victorian shock and horror.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blood Feast

Blood Feast is considered the first splatter film, and the novelty of that is all I see here. It's a 1963 American film about an Egyptian caterer who kills young women to use the body parts in his business and to offer sacrifices to the goddess Ishtar.

Moria says, "Blood Feast is one of those films that is so bad it exerts its own fascination for reasons that lie somewhere between the terrible and the outrageous." calls the acting "downright atrocious" but likes the ending. Stomp Tokyo concludes, "it should be watched for its historical value, but be sure to warm up your hooting and jeering equipment beforehand -you will need it." Roger Ebert's site says, ""Blood Feast" is a terrible film, and a historically important one, too." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 36%.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Babadook

The Babadook (2014) is a deep exploration of the effects of denying grief. It's a scary look at the life of a young mother whose husband was killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital to deliver their son. The son is now 7 years old. The pair is deeply disturbed. There is no gore here, more psychological terror than the more traditional jump scene-dependent horror movie. I highly recommend this one.

I'll wager with you, I'll make you a bet. The more you deny, the stronger I get.


The Rolling Stone has a fascinating article on the inspiration of the film. The Atlantic says, "Those lucky enough to have already seen the movie, which the director of The Exorcist called the most terrifying film he'd ever seen, quickly realized it wasn't quite about the titular boogeyman itself". The New York Times has a positive review.

Entertainment Weekly opens their positive review with this:
Any parent with young kids lives in a constant, almost paralyzing state of fear that they won’t be able to protect them from danger. It may be the most primal emotion there is. Maybe that’s why Aussie director Jennifer Kent’s bogeyman chiller The Babadook zapped me with the high-voltage force of a cattle prod.
Empire Online concludes: "One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years — with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade." Slate describes it as "a terrifyingly great horror movie about motherhood". Village Voice calls it "a rare horror triumph". Slant Magazine says, "It's a shattering psychological study whose supernatural aspect is a mere catalyst or perhaps even misdirection."

Moria says, "The Babadook belongs more to a school of psychological horror – if it has an ancestor it is surely Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), which follows the mental disintegration of a woman as she remains locked inside her apartment where her sanity begins to crumble to the point she has a difficulty distinguishing between reality and nightmare." DVD Talk calls it "a winner".

The Guardian says,
It got a rapturous response at the Sundance festival when it was first screened earlier this year and has received uniformly positive reviews. Kim Newman, the doyen of horror film criticism, described it this month as “one of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years” which “imparts a lingering sense of dread that will stay with you for days”.

Roger Ebert's site says, "Kent’s directorial strategy is a marvel." Rotten Tomatoes has a 98% critics score.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Exterminating Angel

The Exterminating Angel is a 1962 Mexican dark fantasy film directed by Luis Buñuel. Guests at a formal dinner party find themselves inexplicably unable to leave. Bizarre, but then it's a surreal film, so I expected that.

(The video is over three hours long for some reason, but the film is just over an hour and a half and the rest of the video is dark. At 94 minutes, this is well worth watching.)

Slant Magazine says, "From the start, Buñuel is pointing out all manner of innate and prescribed modes of behavior, offering up this spectacle of human folly for our shocked bemusement." The Guardian calls it "one of the most disconcertingly profound films ever made." Senses of Cinema explores the film in a short essay best read after viewing the movie.

The NYT says, "In his customary fashion, Mr. Buñuel stages this play with cumulating nervousness and occasional explosive ferocities. He whips up individual turmoils with the apt intensities of a uniformly able cast; and he throws in frequent surrealistic touches". DVD Talk reviews the Criterion edition and says the film "is endlessly fascinating due to its labyrinthine concepts, but it's also an enigma compelling enough to spark actual desire to witness the material many times over," calling it "Surreal and utterly gripping, it's one of Buñuel's best - and a tour de force in its own right."

Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 95% and an audience rating of 93%.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Every-Night Dreams

Screenshot from the Youtube video embedded below

Every-Night Dreams is a 1933 silent film by director Mikio Naruse. It is the tragic story of a family struggling during the Depression. The woman works as a bar hostess trying to earn enough money to support her son. The estranged man of the household returns, insisting he'll get a job to support them. In the scene above, which takes place before her son's father returns, the older woman has brought the tea kettle to the younger woman's room and tries to convince the young mother to seek more respectable work for the sake of her son.

This is just an hour long and free to watch. You can't go wrong here, unless of course you prefer happier subject matter:

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema says, "Everynight Dreams was successful not only because it created a convincing social context for the melodrama but also because it featured a very delicate performance by the silent star, Sumiko Kurishima, in the role of the heroine." Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars.
DVD Talk calls it the "least hopeful" of Naruse's silents. says,
Mikio Naruse's elegantly distilled early silent film Every Night's Dreams provides an archetype for the filmmaker's recurring themes: pragmatic, determined women who tenaciously hold onto their failing relationships, weak men who lead a life of increasing dependence on the women they mistreat, life stations that grow baser as characters paradoxically strive to improve their situation.
I'm sure there are more hopeful posts over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly T party. Please join in the fun.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Images is a 1972 psychological thriller directed by Robert Altman and starring Susannah York and René Auberjonois. IMDb offers this plot description: "Schizophrenic housewife, engulfed by terrorizing apparitions, kills off each, unknowing if these demons are merely figments of her hallucinatory imagination or part of reality." This is fascinating.

DVD Talk says it's
a relentlessly artsy picture that nevertheless amounts to a good puzzle picture about schizophrenia, experienced from the inside out. Susannah York gives one of her best performances as a woman so mentally fractured that determining what's real and what is not is a fruitless quest.
Moria says, "Images is sort of, if one can imagine, Last Year in Marienbad by way of Repulsion (1965)." Roger Ebert praises it saying, "“Images” is a film Altman admirers should make a point of seeing. Its very differences with most of his work help illuminate his style, and he demonstrates superb skill at something he’s supposed to be weak at: telling a well-constructed narrative."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Big River Crossing 42

photo from The Memphis Flyer

They're installing a pedestrian crosswalk on a bridge here that crosses the Mississippi River. It's not open yet, but here's a video from the Memphis Business Journal:

Here's a 5-minute history of the Harahan bridge:

I can hardly wait to walk across!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a 1974 zombie movie, with a modern technology twist. It's a decent zombie movie, and I'm glad I've seen it.

Images Journal gives it a positive review but says, "A word of caution concerning Let Sleeping Corpses Lie: the first hour of this movie is extremely slow-moving, constructed more as a mystery than as an out-and-out horror film" and concludes, "Modern audiences might demand a little bit more gut-munching, I suppose, but I’m quite happy with Let Sleeping Corpses Lie just the way it is."

Stomp Tokyo concludes by saying the film:
has lapsed into semi-obscurity, overshadowed by the more graphic and intense Romero films and the wave of Italian gut-munchers that followed the success of Dawn of the Dead. This is truly unfortunate, as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is not as immediately disposable as many of its kin, and deserves more recognition as an attempt to expand Romero's zombie genre in a new, halfway thoughtful direction.
Moria says it "emerges as one of the better copies of Night of the Living Dead (1968)." Horror Movie a Day has a positive review. Horrorpedia has screenshots. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 79%.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dark Water (2002)

Dark Water is a 2002 horror film, a ghost story, but not a scary or gory one. Such a sad story of trauma and sacrifice. Not many horror stories will make you cry, but this one will.

On the other hand, the mother makes me so mad!


Moria gives it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. calls it "a first class horror film". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 77%.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dead to the World

Dead to the World is the 4th book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I picked up the first five in this series at the same time when I saw them in the bookstore's used book section. More romance than horror, and neither genre is my thing at all. I picked them up because they were in the mystery department. The mysteries aren't really enough to make it worth slogging through the romance. I may make it through the next one, but then again, I may not. After the way the last book handled a particularly icky date rape, I thought I'd just give up on them completely. And yet, here I am... It seems wasteful somehow to have them and not read them... I'm torn.

They've been adapted for television. Ask me if I care.

from the back of the book:
It's not every day that you come across a naked man on the side of the road. That's why cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse doesn't just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn't a clue who he is, but Sookie does. It's Eric the vampire -but now he's a kinder, gentler Eric. And a scared Eric, because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie's investigation into who and why leads straight into a dangerous battle among witches, vampires, and werewolves. But a greater danger could be to Sookie's heart -because this version of Eric is very difficult to resist...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Night Tide

Night Tide is a 1961 creepy thriller movie directed by Curtis Harrington in his first feature film. It stars Dennis Hopper. A sailor on leave meets a young woman who plays a mermaid in a shore-side attraction, and it seems she may actually be a mermaid. I think "atmospheric" would be a good descriptive word for this film.

The review at Slant Magazine begins, "Few films capture the mood of dashed sensual yearning that often greets summer nostalgia with the vivid acuity that distinguishes Night Tide." DVD Talk calls it "a modest, moody psychological thriller that almost but not quite becomes a horror film." Images Journal says, "Night Tide is fun to watch for several reasons .... But the main reason for the movie's success is simply the presence of Dennis Hopper."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Eddie Zuckermandel and the Cat

I had never heard of Alice Neel until I came across the picture above online recently. She's described as a major twentieth century portraitist, but I'm uninformed about the art world. I'm glad to find her. I think this work is striking. There is a 2007 documentary film about her life, which can be viewed online here. It left me feeling sorry for her children.

Alice Neel (1900-1984) was born in Pennsylvania, the third of four children. In 1925 she married a Cuban painter and moved to Havana, where her art found appreciation. In 1927 they moved to New York with their infant daughter, who died of diphtheria just before her first birthday. They had a second child in 1928, but in early 1930 the father took the child and moved back to Cuba. Devastated, Neel suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. After a suicide attempt and a year in the hospital, she was released and eventually returned to New York. She never divorced or re-united with her husband. She did have two more children -one in 1939 by a night-club singer who left her in 1940, and another in 1941 by a communist activist who left her in 1955 to marry someone else.

Neel died of colon cancer on October 13, 1984, when she was 84 years old. Four years before her death she painted a self-portrait, a nude:

NPR says,
Neel commented that "the reason I did it was because my own face bores me. I can't bear that little Anglo-Saxon face. But with the whole body, there are strange things going on -- the flesh is falling off the bones...I always had bad feet -- I have a prehensile big toe and there's a leg that as a leg is frightful, but as a work of art, it's gorgeous."

Neel is naked in the painting, save for a pair of eyeglasses, which was her way of saying "look, I'm someonebody who looks. That's who I am. I'm somebody who inspects, I'm somebody who scrutinizes."
"Art is not as stupid as human conversation." -Alice Neel


In 1959 she appeared in a short Beat film named Pull My Daisy. The film was adapted by Jack Kerouac from one of his plays. You can watch it compliments of

This video is a 15 minute staff-led overview of Alice Neel's life and times and a more in-depth exploration of one of her portraits:

The photo at the top of the post is from Victoria Miro, where there was a recent exhibition of Neel's work.

I'm scheduling this post as I can, because we're having internet issues here. Please share your T(ea)-related interests (you did notice the cup in that painting at the top of the post, yes?) over at Bluebeard and Elizabeth's weekly gathering.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cry of the Banshee

Cry of the Banshee is a 1970 Vincent Price movie that focuses on the murder of witches in Elizabethan England. The witches aren't the evil ones.

Moria gives it 1 star and calls it "drab and extremely cheap looking". DVD Talk says,
Nary a scene goes by without some poor actress having her top ripped off or yet another bit of unconvincing bloodshed. Hence a dullness sets in, as it is impossible to tell whether the actors are bad or just defeated by a relentlessly bad story.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Last Winter

The Last Winter is a 2006 horror film directed by Larry Fessenden and starring Ron Perlman. An American oil company is building an ice road to explore the remote northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "The arctic tundra has been frozen for centuries... and so has what lies beneath." The members of the expedition seem to be going slowly mad. This is striking and eerie.


The NYT says,
It’s amazing what you can do with a low budget, an expansive imagination and a smooth-moving camera. (A fine cast helps.) An heir to the Val Lewton school of elegantly restrained horror, wherein an atmosphere of dread counts far more than a bucket of blood and some slippery entrails, the director Larry Fessenden is among the most thoughtful Americans working on the lower-budget end of this oft-abused and mindlessly corrupted genre.
Weird Fiction Review concludes, "What this viewer was left with, at the end of The Last Winter, was a sense of having brought near something elementally numinous, as well as an appreciation for the gifts of Larry Fessenden and his talented cast.. Rotten Tomatoes has a 76% critics rating.

Saturday, October 08, 2016


Mimic is a 1997 science fiction/horror film directed by by Guillermo del Toro. The monster here is huge, genetically modified cockroaches. This director is a genius, but I'm not a fan of cockroaches. If you're squeamish about bugs, avoid this one. It's horrifying. Who would think genetically modifying cockroaches to help in disease control would turn out bad? Nobody? Well, it turned out bad, And now they're huge and reproducing and killing folks. Not my kind of monster.


Moria says, "Mimic does the basics rather well." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a monster yarn in the classic style, efficiently told". EW says, "A stylish B horror movie about giant insects in the catacombs of Manhattan, it’s by turns queasy, gross, terrifying, and — never underestimate this one — enthusiastically dumb." Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
"Mimic'' is superior to most of its cousins, and has been stylishly directed by Guillermo Del Toro, whose visual sense adds a certain texture that makes everything scarier and more effective. It's not often that a movie like this can frighten me, but I was surprised at how effective "Mimic" is.
Rotten Tomatoes has a 61% critics score.

Friday, October 07, 2016


Pyro... The Thing Without a Face is a 1964 Spanish horror/revenge film about a man who has a brief affair with a woman who tries to destroy his family when he ends the relationship. It stars Barry Sullivan and Martha Hyer.

Troma Movies has it at youtube:

TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience rating is 50%.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Black Spider

The Black Spider is an 1842 novella by Swiss author Jeremias Gotthelf (photo above), his best-known work. An introduction and the first part of the book can be read online here. It's a story within a story, with the frame tale being the celebration of an infant baptism.

It begins
The sun rose over the hills, shone with clear majesty down into a friendly, narrow valley and awakened to joyful consciousness the beings who are created to enjoy the sunlight of their life. From the sun-gilt forest’s edge the thrush burst forth in her morning song, while between sparkling flowers in dew-laden grass the yearning quail could be heard joining in with its love-song; above dark pine tops eager crows were performing their nuptial dance or cawing delicate cradle songs over the thorny beds of their fledgeless young.

In the middle of the sun-drenched hillside nature had placed a fertile, sheltered, level piece of ground; here stood a fine house, stately and shining, surrounded by a splendid orchard, where a few tall apple trees were still displaying their finery of late blossom; the luxuriant grass, which was watered by the fountain near the house, was in part still standing, though some of it had already found its way to the fodder store. About the house there lay a Sunday brightness which was not of the type that can be produced on a Saturday evening in the half-light with a few sweeps of the broom, but which rather testified to a valuable heritage of traditional cleanliness which has to be cherished daily, like a family’s reputation, tarnished as this may become in one single hour by marks that remain, like bloodstains, indelible from generation to generation, making a mockery of all attempts to whitewash them.
The NYT calls it a "dire, bone-freezing short novel" and concludes,
“The Black Spider” is scary as hell, and the evil it portrays with such apparent simplicity seems, in the end, a more complex phenomenon than we might have thought. Throughout, Gotthelf keeps his readers aware of the rhythms of nature, so the awful powers unleashed here seem to arise out of the eternal order of creation, a great storm of evil combining the destructive forces of the natural world and the self-destructive force of human nature after the Fall. He does something only the best horror writers, and the best preachers, can do: he puts the fear of God in you.
The Northwest Review of Books says, "The Black Spider is so densely packed with symbolism and religious imagery that it carries the weight of a much longer novel. As a Christian parable it is predictable and heavy-handed, but as a horror story it is as haunting as the best works of Edgar Allan Poe." Strange Horizons says, "The Black Spider is an unflinching, theologically correct look at what it means to believe in the Christian god."

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Addiction

The Addiction is a 1995 horror film starring Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor. A different take on the vampire story in black and white.

via Youtube:

The NYT opens its review with this: "There are no neat, glamorous or witty vampires in "The Addiction." Instead, Lili Taylor portrays the vampire as grungy graduate student in philosophy, quoting Feuerbach before she bites."

Moria says, "The Addiction has a tendency to leave one feeling like they are being hit over the head by the collected works of Western nihilist philosophy" but calls it "a powerful and complex reworking of the central metaphors of vampirism." Rotten Tomatoes has a 73% critics score.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is the original, later re-made in 1978. This one stars Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, and Carolyn Jones (who played opposite Elvis in his best film and was priceless as Morticia Addams in the tv series). Also making appearances are Dabbs Greer and Whit Bissell. This one is a must-see.


Moria gives it a full 5 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the quintessential alien paranoia movie. It is one of the most intelligent and original sci-fi/horror films of the 1950’s" and concludes, "I don’t like to throw words like “timeless” around casually, but this is one case where the use of that adjective is fully warranted."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 98%.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Halloween II

Halloween II is the 1981 sequel to the 1978 slasher/horror original. This picks up right where the first one left off. Michael Myers continues to be scary.


Reviews are wildly mixed. Moria calls it "a big disappointment." DVD Talk says, "the movie still works quite well for what it is." says, "Halloween II is the second strongest film from the lot, only falling short of the impeccable original."

Roger Ebert opens with this: "It's a little sad to witness a fall from greatness, and that's what we get in “Halloween II.”" Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 29% but an audience score of 64%.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Truly Madly Deeply

Truly Madly Deeply is a 1990 fantasy tale made for the BBC and starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. It's directed by Anthony Minghella. This is a sad, sweet, gentle ghost story.


Empire Online concludes: "A divisive film -too overwrought for some, perfectly emotionally pitched for others- how much it will appeal will depend on how romantically inclined the viewer is feeling." Slate gives it a glowing review and closes with this: "It might make Minghella happy to know that those still figuring out how to mourn him can turn to his own best movie for advice."

Spirituality and Practice says, "Juliet Stevenson gives a heartfelt performance as an English woman who travels to the far country of grief and almost doesn't make it back. Watching the process whereby she is restored to the wonder, joy, and confusion of life is a delight to behold."

The NYT says it, "should be enchanting, but it isn't. Everyone pushes too hard, especially Mr. Minghella, the writer and director." Roger Ebert calls it "a truly odd film, maddening, occasionally deeply moving."