Over at Alex on Film I’ve added reviews of a couple of horror movies about youth run wild: Them (2006) and Citadel (2012). Ciarán Foy, the writer-director of Citadel refers to this genre as “hoodie horror,” but this doesn’t seem to be a label that has achieved a lot of traction yet. I suspect it goes back to films like Don’t Look Now and The Brood, though in Don’t Look Now it’s a hooded raincoat and in The Brood the little monsters are wearing hooded snowsuits and pyjamas. Today, the hoodie is a class marker, and the movies are more about juvenile delinquency than the supernatural. The hood is short for a ‘hood full of hoodlums. But either way, the hood retains a power to threaten. Personally, I just hate to see kids driving with their hoods pulled up over their heads. What is this doing to their peripheral vision?
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the Taken trilogy: Taken (2008), Taken 2 (2012), and Taken 3 (2014). This was a surprise franchise hit for which I have no good explanation, since I don’t think any one of them is worth watching. That said, I did think the third was the best, which I believe is a minority critical opinion. Not that I thought the third one was good, just that the first two were both crap.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of movies dealing with the theme of the mad artist who makes wax sculptures out of his victims. The ball got rolling with Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), which was a bit of a studio pot-boiler released without any great expectations. The source story had never even been published. With House of Wax (1953), however, the idea received its classic expression. They couldn’t really miss casting Vincent Price as the demented and disfigured sculptor. I then have some notes on a couple of cheap quickies — Nightmare in Wax (1969) and Crucible of Terror (1971) — that are nevertheless of some interest, with Crucible of Terror being well worth checking out just as a curiosity. Finally, I look at House of Wax (2005), probably best known today for being the one with Paris Hilton in it. She gets a pipe driven through her head. Though not a great movie, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this one, especially with the melting museum at the end. Apparently this caused some problems during production, with a big part of the Australian studio burning down and a subsequent lawsuit. That’s unfortunate, but I have to say it looks great.
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)