Dementia 13 (USA/Ireland 1963)

Public domain titles from the golden age of schlock, like Dementia 13, tend to live an unloved life in the bargain bins of any self-respecting dvd store. Price will vary from fifty cents up to maybe five bucks if the merchant is feeling lucky. Why this has such a I’m cheap buy me status is baffling to a lover of old schlock like me. This film owes much of its terror from its setting, its imagery and surreal circumstances that have a hint of something otherworldly. [Read more…]

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The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965 UK/West Germany)

films-1965-the-face-of-fu-manchuThis motion picture exists in a weird 1920s/1960s hybrid. The male fashions and the cars suggest the 20s, but the women are pure 60s. There is enough mystery and action to keep things from slowing down too much, though the film does drag in parts. Fu’s plot is evil enough to propel things, with murdered villagers and a drowned woman to add a bit of grisly horror. But this film didn’t have the budget to portray the horrors of the books. [Read more…]

Barry Lyndon (UK/USA/Ireland 1975)

barrylyndon07Like the sustained cinematic fugue it is, ‘Barry Lyndon”s opening scenes provide a theme that will be treated to increasingly virtuoso variations throughout. Barry’s father is killed in a duel. Barry loses his virginity to a woman playing a role while playing cards. These are the great threads – Fathers, Duels, Mother, Sex, Women, The Unattainable, Masks, Games, Gambling – weaving into the web that will eventually trap Barry Lyndon. Fate, (through Michael Hordern’s sonorous narration) is like a spider picking him off sadistically limb by limb.
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Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)

Angela's Ashes bookA boy growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, starving, freezing and surrounded by the people real families are made of. In a time when memoirs became the finest expressions of high literary art, “Angela’s Ashes” ascended with alacrity to become the most exalted of them. The author paints a watercolour of bleak, smog filled, rainy streets so vivid that I sense the mist rising off the River Shannon and hitting me in the face. [Read more…]

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