My friend and fellow writer Stephen D. Sullivan and I have been doing watch-alongs of Paul Naschy movies, and our latest viewing was INQUISITION. This was Naschy’s directorial debut, and an assured one it is. He plays a quietly fanatical inquisitor whose descent on a small French town unleashes a chain reaction of denunciations, sexual jealousy, power plays, desperation, murder and torture. It’s very much part of the trend triggered by WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968), but typified by MARK OF THE DEVIL (1970) of witch-hunt films whose exploitation brief was to play up the sex-and-torture angle. That’s certainly the case here, in some decidedly unpleasant scenes, but fortunately Naschy’s primary interest lies elsewhere.

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I saw Arrival. There is a lot that I enjoyed about it. It is a visually stunning film, for one thing. The first good look of the alien ship is a Magritte painting come to life, and the aliens themselves are imaginative, awe-inspiring, and are a refreshing break from the convention of making all benign aliens look reassuringly cute. The score is magnificent, itself alien enough to induce its own fair share of awe. And Amy Adams’ performance as Louise Banks is as powerful as it is understated.

All of these are very good things. Should you see the film? Absolutely. Having said that, I have some reservations. Spoilers follow, and I’m going to talk about the ending, so you have been warned.

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Halloween Movies

Posted: October 29, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Halloween is upon us, and yes, I embrace the horror writer stereotype in admitting that it is one of my favourite times of the year. How could it not be? And so my mind turns to appropriate viewing fare. My tastes, at Halloween, run toward the spooky and atmospheric over the visceral (I save Martyrs for Easter, obviously). So herewith is an off-the-cuff list of Halloween favourites, in historical order.

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Thoughts On Shin Godzilla

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Uncategorized
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So the family went to see Shin Godzilla last night, and we all emerged delighted. I managed to go without knowing anything beyond the teaser trailer, and I was glad to hit it cold. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers here, but if you’re planning to go, don’t even read this. And yes, you should go.
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I saw two sequels this week. While I had cheap fun at Independence Day: Resurgence (sometimes at its expense), I flat-out loved The Conjuring 2. Let me try to articulate my happiness. No spoilers, because I want you to see this.
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So we saw Independence Day: Resurgence. Some spoilery thoughts follow.
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Nature's Fury_Jaws

If Moby-Dick is the biggest literary influence on Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws (apart from the novel on which it was based), its primary cinematic touchstone is Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Jaws references Creature by recreating a number of shots from the underwater ballet sequence in the opening scene, and by strongly echoing the earlier film’s score in its own. All this being said, Jaws also has points in common with 1957’s The Monster That Challenged the World. I’m hesitant to posit a direct influence (though as we’ll see, there is at least one moment that is pretty strikingly similar). Rather, I’ll say that Monster taps into the same primal fear as Jaws and Creature, and does so quite effectively. Read the rest of this entry »

I was 19 when the first issue of The Dark Knight Returns appeared. That same year, Watchmen also began its run. My 19-year-old self, then at the height of his comic-collecting years, devoured those series, and waited breathlessly for each subsequent (and increasingly delayed) issue. These were thunderbolt stories for me (along with Alan Moore’s still-ongoing run of Swamp Thing). All this is by way of saying that 19-year-old me would have been rendered over-the-moon ecstatic by Batman V. Superman. He would have grooved like hell over all the direct Frank Miller quotations (the death of Bruce’s parents, many of Alfred’s mutterings, big chunks of the fight itself, and so on). Yeah, past-me would have love this.
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So, just for the hell of it, in the wake of a conversation on Twitter, I’m putting this up for your amusement: my very first paid publication. From Amazing Heroes 165 (May 15, 1989): “Urban Renewal: A Hero History of Godzilla.” So yes, my obsession was already of long-standing 27 years ago.Urban Renewal – A Hero History of Godzilla

The Academy Awards are upon us! And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “My goodness, if only there was someone out there who would tell me what to watch on this most momentous of weekends!” Fear not, unwashed masses, for I am That Someone. I have heard your cry and am hear To Help (TM)!
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