An extraordinary recreation of the technicolor style late 60’s/early 70’s melodramas/horror films is a heady, strange and often hilarious tale of Elaine, a beautiful modern day witch searching for love in a glossy californian soap opera b movie timewarp. She casts her considerable spell on various men so that they will fall in love with her but she finds them to be somewhat wanting; they find her femininity overpowering, quickly surrendering their sanity and dignity and unable to see her as anything other than an object of desire and worship. Anna Biller’s film is a lush, mesmeric trip; a stylized battle of the sexes with a wicked sense of humour and through line of sincerity, offering a unique female perspective on love and desire through a distinct genre filter. the score alone is to die for; a lush ennio morricone meets krzysztrof komeda deal and the visual aesthetic of the film is like a mashup of rosemarys baby beyond the valley of the dolls and italian b movies. grade: B+
Spring (2014) Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Scott Moorehead
Beguiling and bewitching are words I rarely use when writing or in everyday life so I invoke them now with no small amount of caution but Justin Benson & Aaron Scott Moorehead’s Spring and it’s lead actress Nadia Hilker are fully deserving of both adjectives.
An unlikely fusion of HP Lovecraft and Richard Linklater, marrying the naturalism with horror in a subtle, effective way never losing sight of the love story at its core. The tale is simple. A young twenty-something American guy called Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), escaping his aimless, troubled life back home – including the death of his mother from – travels to the South of Italy to to heal his soul and indulge in some Old World hedonism. There, he meets the mysterious and beautiful Louise (Nadia Hilker) who is forthright, funny, disarming, spontaneous, single and most importantly for a lonely, horny backpacker such as Evan, speaks perfect English.
However, Louise is not all she seems and as the smitten Evan is drawn further into her mystery, he is forced to break out of his own emotional torpor and confront both his own past and that of his Italian (?) beloved.
Hilker and Pucci have palpable chemistry and it is their shared intimacy, set amidst the beautiful yet sinister backdrop of an Apulian coastal village that carries us along even when the dialogue becomes somewhat overly explanatory and convoluted in its final third.
Suffice to say that the unravelling of any further plot thread would make me a villain so sample this unique, evocative, achingly romantic oddity for yourself. It’s on the Netflix if you have it on your digitalthingamywotsit.
Here, a mother figure, moving in dream like reverse recalls the long-haired wraiths predominant in modern Japanese horror cinema or ‘J’ Horror. A memory distorted through slow motion, black and white and ambient dread foreshadow the works of many a stylistic acolyte; Tarkovskys’ traces that appear in the future works of David Lynch and Lars Von Trier, specifically in scenes from The Elephant Man (1980) and Anti-Christ (2009).
Summer’s End. All Hallow’s Eve. Samhain. Yes, Halloween is upon us going and yet again, as a sensible grown adult (supposedly) I am denied the right to dress up in a ridiculous costume and get drunk. This is mostly due to a lack of long-term planning and general poverty thus I can only blame myself. But rather than flagellate myself with a leather belt or piss and moan like a little girly-man – my usual default mode when I don’t get my way- I will instead spend an evening appreciating cinema that is mainly horrific in tone.
What is it that is making French actress Jacqueline Pierreux (pictured above) gasp in terror? That would be telling now wouldn’t it? I suddenly feel a sadistic compulsion to withhold this information from you dear reader and instead will direct you to the origin of said image, namely from a supremely creepy morality story entitled ‘The Drop of Water’ which features in the 1963 horror anthology Black Sabbath from the great genre master, Italy’s Mario Bava.
The film is composed of three horror stories and features horror icon Boris Karloff as a narrator – he also portrays a character in the middle chapter film ‘The Wurdulak’- and is a stylish, superbly atmospheric collection of spine tingling tales with the ‘The Drop of Water’ being the pick of the ghoulish bunch which sustains a level of old school creepiness throughout and where the source of Miss Pierreux’s terror is fully revealed.
As luck would have it, Black Sabbath is available to view in its entireity on You Tube in Italian . If you want to get into the spirit of the evening, ‘I Tre Volte Della Paura ‘ can be viewed by clicking here.