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Sweetheart, 2019

Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) washes up on a deserted island after the boat she is on sinks in a storm. But while she is lucky to have survived, the sinking, she soon becomes curious about mutilated fish that wash up on the beach, as well as signs that others were living on the same island but did not survive. Soon Jenn comes to realize there's something in the water.

I enjoyed this film, whose approach to some typical horror tropes was refreshing.

I can tell you the exact moment that this movie won me over, and that's a sequence where Jenn collects several fish and shellfish that have washed up on the shore after a storm. Using a sharp rock, she first totally botches an attempt to clean and butcher a fish. Despairing, she then pulls out a clam or oyster and tries, in vain, the crack it open by smashing it against a rock. To me, it just so encapsulated that feeling when you're in over your head, trying things you sort of half-remember, and failing spectacularly.

I also liked the way that the film really owned its monster. It plays a bit coy with the creature at first. And I loved a shot where it is suddenly illuminated in profile from behind by a flare Jenn fires. But then the movie just has it on screen a lot and I wasn't mad about it.

Finally, there's a sequence in the last act where two other characters from the same sinking manage to make it to the island. One of them is her boyfriend Lucas (Emory Cohen) and the other is a friend named Mia (Hannah Lawrence). I was really taken by the dialogue in this part of the film. It is how people who know each other would actually speak to one another: referencing people and events we are not familiar with, but in a way that we get enough information to have the gist of their relationships. We learn, in part by her own admission, that Jenn is not trusted by her friends. And we don't get enough background to know if that's because she is in the habit of lying, or if she just has an unhealthy relationship with her friends. The dynamics in this last act are allowed to be messy and morally ambiguous. It's clear that something happened in the raft between Mia, Lucas, and a third friend. But what? There are several possibilities, but no final resolution.

I didn't have too many complaints with this one. I thought that Clemons was a really engaging protagonist. There is some typical horror stuff, things like the creature being a hyper-efficient predator . . . unless it is attacking Jenn and feels the need to just sort of carry her around, thus giving her a chance to fight back or escape. There's a bit of inconsistency with the creature's speed and strength. I also thought that the final showdown borrowed a bit liberally from the climax of Predators. While I praised the film for not indulging in an exposition dump, in the end I did wish that I'd known a bit more about Jenn, how she ended up on that boat with several people she didn't know, and what had happened between her and Lucas to cause so much friction.

Ultimately, a solid creature/survival flick elevated by interesting choices in the writing.




Absolute agreement with that article, though I think it's odd that Eyes of Laura Mars isn't mentioned as a clear influence on both films, with both trying to twist the concept of "seeing through the eyes of the killer." This is of keen interest to me because both films are less defined by the icons of the genre but rather the American homage to the genre. A pastiche of an homage. We're in post modern hell but only Malignant dances gleefully in the flames.



I havenít seen Malignant, yet, but Soho was a bit of a letdown. Not terrible, mind you, but the last 30 mins didnít live up to the first hour or so.
And I haven't seen either one; I just have a thing for provocative, but interesting articles...






As a doctor, I assure you, it's all about dosing.
As your attorney, I advise you to drink heavily.



There are some points I agree with (like Soho being too nice, and the ending being a stupid nod to modern feminism). Still, as a whole, it's the far superior film of the two. To me, Malignant is just another B-movie tribute that believes the only charm of its inspirations was being bad and, therefore, decides to be bad on purpose. And no, Malignant isn't nasty or daring either.
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Glad you liked Sweetheart, Tak. I found it browsing Netflix and took a chance in it. Definitely deserves more than an innocuous title and being buried on a streaming service.



Yeah, just in case I need to be clear, PLEASE DO NOT MIX PRESCRIPTION DRUGS WITH ALCOHOL, PEOPLE.
Pah. What a prude you are. *shrugs*





THE BLOODHOUND (2020)

This is a sort-of adaptation of Poe's House of Usher. Wealthy guy sends vague request for help to a friend, who arrives not knowing exactly what he's in for. Intense awkwardness ensues. There's also the invalid sister who never leaves her room (a la Madeline Usher).

It mostly worked for me; the increasing awkwardness was effective, the set design/cinematography is great and I also enjoyed the performances. It's mostly a two-person/one-location situation. It moves at an Oz Perkins pace so fidgety viewers need not apply (even though it's well under 80 minutes.)
I wouldn't argue with anyone that hates it, but I think it's a fine debut and I'll be looking for the director's next project with interest.
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After taking some time to digest this article and reflect on my fresh thoughts on LNiS, my fairly recent thoughts on Malignant, and this article, I fundamentally disagree with the article and the author. I feel that this response is not a product of the director trying to shoehorn modern sociopolitical feelings into his film, thereby compromising the film, but the viewer/author shoehorning in modern sociopolitical feelings into her interpretation and response to the film, thereby compromising her reaction and opinion.
I, personally, never felt the movie was
WARNING: "spoiler" spoilers below
about "Girl Power" at any point, right through the very end and it raised both my eyebrows that the author tried to hot-take that in in order to get the clicks. I asked the three people I saw the movie with, including a 21 year-old woman and none of them said they felt that was actually in there either. If anything, the three of the four of us who had seen Deep Red felt there was obviously at least one (and there have been so many more) precedents for the woman being the killer. Wright just gave her a good reason and made it more interesting by letting the main character and audience ponder if what she did was really wrong given the circumstances. And none of us felt the movie was "nice" at all given that a talented young ingenue was coerced and then forced into prostitution while her youth slipped away, essentially being raped over and over and over again - we actually found it quite disturbing. Which makes the ending work well.

So, since that aspect which the entire article is based on never even crossed any of our minds, we were untroubled by it and without that in someone's head, I can say at least for us, the movie's narrative was nearly flawless and we all enjoyed it very much.



I mainline Windex and horse tranquilizer
As your attorney, I advise you to drink heavily.

You should listen to him, Flounder. He's in pre-med.
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You should listen to him, Flounder. He's in pre-med.
Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit
here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.



I'm having this weird jones to watch Messiah Of Evil again.
In December.
This can't be a thing. I watch Christmas movies in December that's my whole idiom (when it's not watching Horror movies in October).
Funny that the first viewing made such an impression on me but the second made it indelible.



I just checked out the list that other Letterboxd users voted on for their favorite
"exploitation movies"
(and I use those quotations sarcastically), and I think a lot of users just defaulted to categorizing any kind of Horror as exploitation, because when you're including something like Night Of The Living Dead in that category, then the only was I can react is...




I just checked out the list that other Letterboxd users voted on for their favorite
"exploitation movies"
(and I use those quotations sarcastically), and I think a lot of users just defaulted to categorizing any kind of Horror as exploitation, because when you're including something like Night Of The Living Dead in that category, then the only was I can react is...

Wow Just checked on a random list and there were such "exploitation" classics as Robocop, Q and Scarface. I'm speechless



Wow Just checked on a random list and there were such "exploitation" classics as Robocop, Q and Scarface. I'm speechless
Well, I think you could make a slightly stronger case for Scarface being a 'ploitation movie than a lot of those other movies, given its fairly lurid content, trashy tone, and the way that it exploited the image of Miami back in its "Cocaine Cowboys", but I still can't say that it 100% qualifies, given its lack of a cheap feeling overall. In fact, I'd say it feels quite expensive in general, like with the shot of the camera sweeping all the way down from the motel room, across the street, and all the way back again, which hardly screams shoestring budget, you know?





Lisa and the Devil, 1973

Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist visiting Spain, and after viewing a fresco depicting the devil carrying off the bodies of the dead she becomes lost in the narrow city streets. Eventually picked up by a wealthy couple and their chauffeur, the four of them end up at the large, decaying mansion of an older Countess (Alida Valli), her son Max (Alessio Orano), and their strange butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) who resembles the image of the devil in the fresco.

Many thanks to MKS for recommending this one, which for some reason I'd mentally cataloged as a kind of lower tier film, but instead was a real delight.

This movie is weird, and it's absolutely the best kind of weird. Often films that go for a strange tone end up throwing things on the screen just for the sake of it. In this movie, there is a coherence to the weird stuff that happens, but it's just strange enough that the whole thing has an unpredictability to it.

Sommer makes for a sympathetic protagonist, but there's no denying that the star of the show is Savalas as the quirky, ever-present Leandro. While it is a bit frustrating that Lisa is a relatively passive lead, she ends up being nicely mirrored in the character of Leandro, who is also in theory subservient, but instead has a lot of sway in the house.

From a plot point of view, I loved the way that there are multiple lurid storylines crammed into the film, all overlapping with each other. The wife of the wealthy couple is having a steamy affair with the chauffeur; Max is obsessed with an unseen woman; the husband of the Countess, a man named Carlo, is oddly absent and yet pops up in strange visions that Lisa has. Oh, and behind all of it is the fact that the mansion is populated by mannequins that strongly resemble the various characters.

Visually, I really enjoyed how this was put together. I loved the little flashes where mannequins went from being alive to being dolls again. There were some great film angles, like a couple's conversation being captured in the mirror of a compact. Then there's the dream/nightmare quality to how many scenes with Lisa are filmed, just begging the question of what is real and what isn't.

I also enjoyed the way that the film subverts a very obvious beat in terms of Max's growing obsession with Lisa. A sequence where he attempts to rape her is shot through a screen, and the focus is on his character's madness. It plays as an interesting counterpart to a more recent sequence in which Leandro finds an unconscious Lisa and . . . starts measuring her? It is much creepier than any trope-ish sexual assault. Max's behavior---which is on the "passionate" side of insanity---doesn't quite hold a candle to the business-like menace of Leandro nonchalantly putting a measuring string around Lisa's neck.

And then I have to mention the final sequence, which after the more "gothic" horror of the big old house is a big shift in terms of the setting of the film, and yet continues the aura of dread wonderfully. It's probably one of the more memorable endings to a horror film that I've seen.

My only complaints were that the first 30 minutes or so were a little slow for me, and I did find Lisa to be a bit more passive than I would have liked.






Lisa and the Devil, 1973

Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist visiting Spain, and after viewing a fresco depicting the devil carrying off the bodies of the dead she becomes lost in the narrow city streets. Eventually picked up by a wealthy couple and their chauffeur, the four of them end up at the large, decaying mansion of an older Countess (Alida Valli), her son Max (Alessio Orano), and their strange butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) who resembles the image of the devil in the fresco.

Many thanks to MKS for recommending this one, which for some reason I'd mentally cataloged as a kind of lower tier film, but instead was a real delight.

This movie is weird, and it's absolutely the best kind of weird. Often films that go for a strange tone end up throwing things on the screen just for the sake of it. In this movie, there is a coherence to the weird stuff that happens, but it's just strange enough that the whole thing has an unpredictability to it.

Sommer makes for a sympathetic protagonist, but there's no denying that the star of the show is Savalas as the quirky, ever-present Leandro. While it is a bit frustrating that Lisa is a relatively passive lead, she ends up being nicely mirrored in the character of Leandro, who is also in theory subservient, but instead has a lot of sway in the house.

From a plot point of view, I loved the way that there are multiple lurid storylines crammed into the film, all overlapping with each other. The wife of the wealthy couple is having a steamy affair with the chauffeur; Max is obsessed with an unseen woman; the husband of the Countess, a man named Carlo, is oddly absent and yet pops up in strange visions that Lisa has. Oh, and behind all of it is the fact that the mansion is populated by mannequins that strongly resemble the various characters.

Visually, I really enjoyed how this was put together. I loved the little flashes where mannequins went from being alive to being dolls again. There were some great film angles, like a couple's conversation being captured in the mirror of a compact. Then there's the dream/nightmare quality to how many scenes with Lisa are filmed, just begging the question of what is real and what isn't.

I also enjoyed the way that the film subverts a very obvious beat in terms of Max's growing obsession with Lisa. A sequence where he attempts to rape her is shot through a screen, and the focus is on his character's madness. It plays as an interesting counterpart to a more recent sequence in which Leandro finds an unconscious Lisa and . . . starts measuring her? It is much creepier than any trope-ish sexual assault. Max's behavior---which is on the "passionate" side of insanity---doesn't quite hold a candle to the business-like menace of Leandro nonchalantly putting a measuring string around Lisa's neck.

And then I have to mention the final sequence, which after the more "gothic" horror of the big old house is a big shift in terms of the setting of the film, and yet continues the aura of dread wonderfully. It's probably one of the more memorable endings to a horror film that I've seen.

My only complaints were that the first 30 minutes or so were a little slow for me, and I did find Lisa to be a bit more passive than I would have liked.

Huzzah! Iím glad you dug it. I think itís the sleeper masterpiece of Bavaís career because he was forced to cut it up for its US release, shoot new footage, and call it ďHouse of Exorcism.Ē

Basically, whatever producer had the rights thought that all the events of the film would be better off as presented within the body of a possessed woman while an Exorcist tried to save her, in among the more obvious Italian cash ins on Friedkenís success (Beyond the Door is clearly more guilty because thereís no better version of that one. Itís all sipping pea soup out of the can).