• Poison for the Fairies

    Poison for the Fairies

    ★★★½

    A little too kid-centric for me, even if the leads are both excellent and behave like children instead of some adult’s conception thereof. (A double-edged sword if ever there was one in a few uncomfortable, mercifully brief scenes.) The climax is uncommonly satisfying, too, and Taboada leaving the witch-in-training angle open-ended is an impressive feat, although I’m still bugged by the fact that it’s partially (mostly?) in service of a horror trope some male artists just can’t seem to get…

  • Trash Humpers

    Trash Humpers

    ★★★★★ ÷ ☆☆☆☆☆

    It’s the trees I feel bad for.

  • The Girlfriend Experience

    The Girlfriend Experience

    ★★★★

    sex, lies, and credit default swaps

    The quaintness of the post–2008 economic crisis, Obama-era setting evaporates when one of Chelsea’s clients — pitiful whores and loathsome pimps to a man — characterizes the collapse as “only the beginning.” The downhill slide of chaos capitalism has just picked up speed since, best of luck finding something genuine to cling to on the ride to the bottom.

    It’s strange seeing the various complaints about Sasha Grey’s flat affect here and in contemporaneous…

  • Check it Out! with Scott Clam

    Check it Out! with Scott Clam

    ★★★★

    “I don’t know about the other show, but we run a clean Clam show.” Thank you, Dark Lord.

  • Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare

    Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare

    ★★★★

    Remember, kids: Always pack more of your meds than you think you’re going to need. A lot more.

    Gives Visitor Q a run for its money in that it anticipates and delivers just about every atrocity you can come up with, sidestepping incest and lactation in favor of, uh, babysitting and barbecue. Whereas Miike’s movie is backhandedly life-affirming, though, this one just succeeded in grinding my latest bout of found-footage obsession into the (bloody, shitty) asphalt; I think I’ll find…

  • Sea Fever

    Sea Fever

    ★★★

    To say this borrows elements of other, better horror movies is being kind — it’s more like a sandwich with Alien as the meat and The Thing as the bread. It’s still reasonably tense before turning listless, and the understated pathos Nielsen and Scott bring to their roles is deep and satisfying. The puny budget is never not a deficit, though, and having the lead character — whose scientific chops and scary intellectual focus are touted again and again in…

  • S&Man

    S&Man

    Like Murder Death Koreatown, I can’t bring myself to rate this. Too raw, too real, too fucking bleak.

    At least it saved me from ever having to watch one of the hyper-indie faux sex/snuff videos J.T. Petty uses as a framework for his prickly and unnerving fictional narrative. Based on the, um, artists he interviews — a hippie-hating hippie rape-o auteur so beered up he can barely get a shot, a self-described scream queen who sounds more like a hostage…

  • Red Shift

    Red Shift

    ★★★★½

    “Where’s God when you’re frothing at the mouth and your tongue’s down your throat?” One for the ages, literally.

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★★★

    “Have all the others, then, succumbed to Mark‘s distemper?”

    The slowly, then suddenly, enveloping sense of oppression and hysteria are where this movie stands out, along with Haggard’s devotion to pure cinematic indulgence. It’s only really marred by the climax, in which the devil turns out to be as terrifying as one of those giant stuffed animals you win at county fairs (he falls apart about as easily, too). Still excellent, though; Tigon didn’t last long, but off the top of my head I can’t think of a Hammer film from the same time period that has as distinctive an aesthetic and narrative impact.

  • Hot Rods to Hell

    Hot Rods to Hell

    ★★★½

    “What‘s left for kicks?”

    A childhood perennial, re-watched for the first time in over 40 years with zero recollection of the plot. The mood of constant menace, conveyed in simplistic terms (and scenes of legit car terror) any kid would respond to, had to have been the appeal. I think this is where my preoccupation with Mimsy Farmer got its start, too — her scary, hair-trigger bad-good girl in loud, seam-busting getups left a real impression.

    The adult portion of…

  • Zig Zag

    Zig Zag

    ★★★½

    I‘ve officially seen enough of George Kennedy.

  • I Walk the Line

    I Walk the Line

    ★★★★

    Makes such good, counterintuitive use of Gregory Peck’s bottled-up persona that the sad and ugly un-bottling thereof has real shock value. That his character’s behavior goes unredeemed puts this in the ranks of prime 1970s cinema, and despite Peck’s (to me unfairly hobbling) status as a mid-century icon of Hollywood-style righteous moral fortitude, here at least he excels at playing a guy who couldn’t find the high road on a map.

    There’s more to the movie than just an aging…