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Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George "Buck" Flower, Peter Jason

They Live

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Conceptually, They Live is probably John Carpenter's best film. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Carpenter, the concept is better than the execution. Of the "modern" horrormeisters, Carpenter has always been the lightweight. The closest he got to a theme seemed to be in Halloween, with its implicit message that girls who "fooled around" get offed by…
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Starring: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray, Dorothee Blank, Michel Legrand

Cleo from 5 to 7

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This is the movie that placed Varda in the ranks of the New Wave filmmakers. Its concept is to follow the vapid title character, a pop singer, in faux real time (the title claims two hours, the film is 90 minutes) as she waits for a biopsy report she dreads. That’s it. But what matters…
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Starring: Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Mariangela Giordano, Michael Adatte

The Sect

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Italian horror is a strange beast. Were I really pressed on the point, I’m not sure I could name a single Italian horror picture apart from Michele Soavi’s Cemetery Man (1994) that I’d call good in any normal sense of the word — and even that film isn’t the last word in logic or coherence. It is,…
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Starring: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Akim Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich

Touch of Evil

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Perhaps the most legendary of all Orson Welles films, apart from Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil (1958) actually deserves its legend status—even if some of the legend is fabricated. (The notion put forth in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) that Universal was spuriously offering up Charlton Heston as a Mexican to Welles is nonsense, since…
Starring: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Ernest Thesiger, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey, Lilian Bond, Eva Moore

The Old Dark House

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James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932) is not by any means the first Old-Dark-House movie, but it’s the only one adapted from the J.B. Priestley novel by that name (though in Britain, the book was called Benighted). (We will not discuss that 1963 abomination by the same title.) The movie — believed to be…
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Starring: Bela Lugosi,Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin, Elizabeth Russell, Minerva Urcal, Angelo Rossitto

The Corpse Vanishes

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In Brief: Wallace Fox’s The Corpse Vanishes (1942) is the fourth of Lugosi’s Monogram Nine — and if nothing else, it’s hands down the nastiest of the lot. (It’s only competition is the same year’s Bowery at Midnight, which was also made by Mr. Fox.) Here we find Lugosi as Dr. Lorenz — mad scientist…
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Starring: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, James Gleason

Meet John Doe

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The great Frank Capra’s most ambitious and disturbing film, Meet John Doe is possibly more relevant today than when it first appeared in 1941. The idea of a completely media-fabricated celebrity — raised almost to the level of deity and used as a tool for political gain — probably seemed pretty fantastic then. Of all…
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Starring: Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt, Dorothy Patrick, Ann Shoemaker, Jody Gilbert

House by the River

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In Brief: One of Fritz Lang's lesser-known films, House by the River (1950) was in fact often referred to as a "lost film." The fact seems to have been more prosaic than that. There was simply no interest in it because it was considered to be physically too dark to be watched on TV, especially…
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Starring: Glenda Jackson, Stratford Johns, Imogen Millais-Scott, Nickolas Grace, Douglas Hodge

Salome’s Last Dance

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In Brief: At an early point in Ken Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance (1988), Oscar Wilde (Nickolas Grace) is surprised to see an amateur production of his banned play Salome interrupted by a photographer taking a flash picture of the proceedings. The photographer is none other than Russell himself, who is playing a visiting dignitary in the show, prompting Wilde…
zombies
Starring: Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor, John Archer, Madame Sul-Te-Wan

King of the Zombies

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In Brief: The story goes that King of the Zombies was written and designed with Bela Lugosi in mind for the villainous Dr. Sangre. It certainly has all the earmarks of a Lugosi role — a creepy foreigner with a zombie-like wife (Patricia Stacey), a sinister, isolated castle, equally sinister servants and a small squad of zombies. Instead,…
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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Damian Harris, Mark Stanley, Jeremy Northam

Our Kind of Traitor

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The Story: A British couple on holiday in Marrakech become involved in espionage and intrigue. The Lowdown: Reasonably cerebral thrills are to be found in this latest transfer of a John le Carré novel to the screen. Solid entertainment with Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris as appealing leads and Stellan Skarsgård and Damian Harris in…
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Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider

Naked Lunch

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In Brief: Only a madman would attempt to film William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, and that is perhaps why David Cronenberg didn't make a film of it, instead making a film about Burroughs and the creation of the book. This does not make his 1991 film of Naked Lunch an easy undertaking for the casual…
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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 29-July 5: Swiss Legend of Our Kind of BFG De Palma Election Year

In theaters.  It’s the July 4th weekend, which I guess means people are expected to go to the movies. I don’t know. I can’t keep track of these things anymore. So maybe. Actually, there are only two mainstream movies locked in a death match (the third is on a wholly different level). So that means […]

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Starring: Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies, Angela Davies

Dark Horse

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The Story: Documentary about a real-life uplifting sports tale of an unlikely racehorse. The Lowdown: Sweet without being cloying, crowd-pleasing without being obviously manipulative, this is how this kind of tale ought to be told. See it now before Hollywood decides to remake it.
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Starring: Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, Jonathan Haze, William Roerick

Not of This Earth

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In Brief: In 1957, this Roger Corman cheapie played on a double bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters and was advertised as a “Terrorama! Double Horror Sensation!” As with most sci-fi horror pictures of its era, the ad campaign smacks of wishful thinking. Yet, there’s no denying that Not of This Earth (a premise Corman liked so much…
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Starring: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper, Hugh Wakefield

The Man Who Knew Too Much

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's first monthly ticketed film, 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much, is the movie that gained Alfred Hitchcock the attention of the international film world — attention that would increase with The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), the films that took him to America. It is also a film that…
maraviglioso
Starring: Kasia Smutniak, Riccardo Scamarcio, Jasmine Trinca, Vittoria Puccini, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers

Wondrous Boccaccio

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In Brief: Put bluntly, the Taviani Brothers' Wondrous Boccaccio (2015) isn't. That's not all that surprising since it's from the Taviani Brothers, gained no release in the country and is out on DVD from Film Movement, whose name is synonymous with movies no one else would touch. What you get with this adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's…
Port-of-Shadows
Starring: Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan, Pierre Brasseur, Édouard Delmont

Port of Shadows

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In Brief: Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) is — not unjustly — celebrated today as a kind of precursor to film noir, but the truth is that it's more a very French fatalist romance of a kind that can best be called poetic, trashy melodrama. And that is not a put-down by any means.…
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Starring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Adam S. Barta, Amit Bagga, Sydney Leathers

Weiner

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The Story: Documentary about Anthony Weiner's doomed bid for redemption by running for mayor of New York City. The Lowdown: Yeah, you almost certainly know how this is going to play out, but that doesn't keep the film from being compelling and even fascinating.
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Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Inayah Rodgers, Da'Sean Minor, Antonio A.B. Grant Jr., Lauren Gibson

The Fits

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The Story: A young girl finds her world opening up when she becomes a member of a dance group at a community center. The Lowdown: Virtually impossible to synopsize and not even easy to describe. Let me just say that this is a rather special movie.