Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching three adaptations (I use the word loosely) of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Killers.” Of course, I just watched them together because they’re all included in Criterion’s DVD package. Robert Siodmak’s 1946 version is classic noir, and very good. For some reason Andrei Tarkovsky’s student film is the closest to the source. I’m not sure if he’d seen Siodmak’s movie. Finally, Don Siegel’s 1964 version, originally planned as a TV movie, has some interesting credits but struck me as a pretty lousy flick. It gave Lee Marvin a nice warm-up for Point Blank though.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been looking at a couple of movies about guys who experience some excessive shrinkage. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), based on Richard Matheson’s classic novel The Shrinking Man, is a fun adventure story but also a surprisingly serious meditation on man’s place in the universe. I’m still not sure how they got away with that ending. Ant-Man (2015), on the other hand, is the usual Marvel fare, only sillier.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve added notes on a couple of adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual.” First up is Le Trésor de Musgrave (1912), which is, surprisingly, the most faithful to Conan Doyle’s story, despite being a silent short. Then we have Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943), which is a much freer interpretation but still a great movie in its own right.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of werewolf movies lately. The werewolf, or wolf man, has proven to be a durable movie monster, in large part due to his plasticity. He can be mostly wolf or mostly man, sympathetic or wholly evil, as the case requires. The basic idea is that there’s something violent and predatory latent within all of us (or at lest all men, since it’s mostly a male phenomenon). Under the right circumstances the beast will out. Haven’t we all felt that way, every once in a full moon?
Anyway, here’s the list:
Werewolf of London (1935)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Undying Monster (1942)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
House of Dracula (1945)
She-Wolf of London (1946)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
The Beast Must Die (1974)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Howling (1981)
Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985)
Silver Bullet (1985)
Bad Moon (1996)
An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Underworld: Evolution (2006)
The Wolfman (2010)
Late Phases (2014)
Over at Alex on Film I’ve posted my notes on Behind the Green Door (1972), which finishes up my take on the trilogy of films that all came out within a year of each other and defined the short-lived phenomenon of “porno chic.” (The other two films, both directed by Gerard Damiano, are Deep Throat (1972) and Devil in Miss Jones (1973).)
At the time it was thought that porno chic heralded the coming mainstreaming of porn, which is something that didn’t happen. In part because the movies themselves just weren’t very good. Deep Throat in particular is dreadful. Devil in Miss Jones, however, is still worth watching and Behind the Green Door, while no longer a cult film, has some historical interest.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve finished posting my notes on Tom Six’s three Human Centipede movies: First Sequence, Full Sequence, and Final Sequence. These movies are notorious for being among the most tasteless and disgusting ever made, though that’s a distinction we can expect will fade with time. I thought it was interesting that Six did at least try to make three very different movies, not just in terms of subject matter but also in tone, linked in a meta-cinema way. Unfortunately, I also thought the series went downhill (or, to mix metaphors, off the rails entirely), and that the third instalment deserves its reputation as one of the worst movies of the decade. Where do we go from here?
Over at Alex on Film I’ve added my notes on Cat People (1942) and Curse of the Cat People (1944), a pair of very different horror movies produced by Val Lewton. Though you might question whether Curse of the Cat People is really a horror movie, or a sequel. I really wanted to include notes on Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake, starring Nastassja Kinski, but you’ll have to wait for that. I haven’t seen it in years!