• Madigan

    Madigan

    ★★★★

    Dan Madigan (Richard Widmark) is, wait for it, a maverick cop dispensing rough justice on the mean streets of New York in Don Siegel's 1968 film. Unfortunately for Madigan, when he and partner Rocco (Harry Guardino) have their guns stolen in a botched shake down, the pair's reputations and jobs are suddenly on the line.

    The moral certainty Siegel would later famously explore in Dirty Harry is absent here, as the titular character - and others - is shown to…

  • No One Lives

    No One Lives

    ★★★½

    Enjoyably deranged horror which initially sees a troubled couple - played by Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey - menaced by a gang of violent criminals. You think you know how the film is going to play out - it's a set-up we've seen many times over - but you're completely, hopelessly wrong. I won't say any more than that because the less you know about No One Lives before you see it the better. I'm kind of amazed there's never been a sequel - lesser films have spawned entire franchises.

  • Caveat

    Caveat

    ★★★★

    Damien McCarthy's feature debut doesn't do anything startlingly original but still manages to chill you to the very marrow. We've seen spooky, isolated houses before, as well as creepy toys, forbidding basements and 'dead' bodies you fully expect to spring back into life at any moment. We've had it all set to an ominous score and served up as horror, mostly of the jump-scare variety. This is far better, McCarthy clearly having a ball breathing new life into hackneyed ideas…

  • The Black Windmill

    The Black Windmill

    ★★★½

    Don Siegel's follow-up to Charley Varrick is a convoluted, occasionally confusing spy thriller, elevated by its relentless pace and a steely star turn from Michael Caine. Set in the UK, it sees Caine's secret agent, Major John Tarrant, playing cat and mouse with the gang of ruthless arms smugglers who have kidnapped his son. As a child of the '70s, I particularly enjoyed the sight of unglamorous Tarrant feeding a pile of two-pence pieces into a public telephone and hopping…

  • Benny Loves You

    Benny Loves You

    ★★★½

    More Toy Gory than Toy Story, this British comic horror sees 30-something loser Jack (played by writer/director Karl Holt) attempt to put aside childish things in a bid to kickstart his floundering career. Unfortunately, one of the toys he bins - a weird Tickle Me Elmo-style creature called Benny - achieves sentience and goes on a murderous rampage. It's utterly twisted, impressively inventive and frequently very funny.

  • Framed

    Framed

    ★★★

    Joe Don Baker - a man with shoulders so broad they exist in separate time zones - is a professional gambler wrongfully imprisoned after killing a corrupt sheriff in self-defence. Once out of jail, he sets about trying to clear his name by beating up anyone who looks at him funny. It's complete nonsense but the violence is enjoyably brutal and there's a great bit with a train smashing full-tilt into a car, which made me value the stuntman's art even more than usual.

  • Army of the Dead

    Army of the Dead

    ★★★

    These days, all blockbusters look like video games so I'm not even sure it's a valid criticism any more. Zack Snyder's zombie epic does little to break the cycle but at least his post-apocalyptic Las Vegas is genuinely immersive - you can almost feel the heat on your face and the sand under your feet. It's certainly more believable than most of the human characters here; the usual rag-tag bunch of hard-bitten bad-asses (including Dave Bautista and Tig Notaro) you…

  • Undergods

    Undergods

    ★★★½

    I like a film it's difficult to wrap your head around and that is certainly the case with Chino Moya's Undergods, a horror and SF-inflected portmanteau affair full of intriguing ideas and elevated by a brutally austere visual aesthetic. Moya presents us with three short stories, each focused on masculine fragility and the fear of being usurped by other men. The first, which sees a locked-out stranger inveigle his way into the lives and home of a married couple, is…

  • Psycho Goreman

    Psycho Goreman

    ★★★

    Steven Kostanski's enjoyably daft, '80s-influenced SF comedy sees an obnoxious young girl (Nita-Josee Hanna) and the brother she bullies (Owen More) resurrect a monstrous alien warlord then bend him to their will with a powerful crystal. Psycho Goreman is visually inventive, occasionally funny and full of gross-out special effects. It also skewers certain blockbusters' propensity for soppy 'power of love' endings that mistake gloopy insincerity for genuine sentiment. Less positively, the film sometimes seems just a little too pleased with itself and Hanna's spoiled-brat routine goes from amusing to profoundly irritating very quickly.

  • Demons

    Demons

    ★★★★

    A cursed movie theatre turns innocent cinema-goers into rampaging creatures of the night in this relentlessly entertaining slice of '80s horror from director Lamberto Bava and producer/screenwriter Dario Argento. Perhaps a mordantly satirical response to the idea that horror movies corrupt and deprave their audience (following the UK's 'video nasties' furore), Demons is full of stomach-churning gore, but blessed with genuine visual panache and one moment so spectacularly out of left field you'll be rewinding to check you hadn't imagined it.

  • The Two of Them

    The Two of Them

    ★★★½

    Márta Mészáros's 1977 drama focuses on the intense friendship between a middle-aged woman (Marina Vlady's Mária) and a young mother (Lili Monori's Juli) trying to leave her alcoholic husband, János. The two women have failing marriages in common (Mária's to the dullard Feri is also on the ropes) and a mother/daughter bond quickly develops between the pair, Juli and her daughter even taking up residence in the boarding facility Mária runs for the government. As we saw in Adoption, Mészáros…

  • Foul Play

    Foul Play

    ★★

    It's a good job Private Benjamin (1980) came along because, by the end of the '70s, Goldie Hawn was stuck in the likes of this mediocre comedy/thriller hybrid with Chevy Chase (hot off of Saturday Night Live) and Dudley Moore (soon to go stellar with 10). She plays a divorced librarian turned damsel in distress embroiled in a conspiracy to assassinate the Pope on a visit to San Francisco. Moore is well utilised in an amusing running gag and the big finale at a lavish production of the Mikado is pulled off with some finesse, but the rest of it is, well, foul.