Fright Club: This Cast!

We are beyond delighted to have been allowed to screen Jim Jarmusch’s new zombie classic The Dead Don’t Die two days in advance of its national opening. To honor this remarkable film and its amazing cast, we look at the best other horror movies that star these actors.

5. Zombieland (2009) – Bill Murray

Just when Shaun of the Dead convinced me that those Limey Brits had created the best-ever zombie romantic comedy, it turns out they’d only created the most British zom-rom-com. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick take the tried-and-true zombiepocalypse premise and sprint with it in totally new and awesome directions.

And the cameo. I cannot imagine a better one. I mean that. I’m not sure a walk on by Jesus himself could have brought me more joy.

That’s not true. Plus, in zombie movie?! How awesome would that have been?!

Jesse Eisenberg anchors the film with an inspired narration and an endearing dork characterization. But Woody Harrelson owns this film. His gun-toting, Twinkie-loving, Willie Nelson-singing, Dale Earnhart-number-wearing redneck ranks among the greatest horror heroes ever.

I give you, a trip to a loud and well-lit amusement park is not a recommendation Max Brooks would make during the zombiepocalypse. Still, you’ve got to admit it’s a gloriously filmed piece of action horror cinema.

4. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – Tilda Swinton

The Dead Don’t Die is not Jim Jarmusch’s first foray into horror. In 2013, the visionary writer/director concocted a delicious black comedy, oozing with sharp wit and hipster attitude.

Great lead performances don’t hurt, either, and Jarmusch gets them from Tom Hilddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve (perfect!), a vampire couple rekindling their centuries-old romance against the picturesque backdrop of…Detroit.

Not since the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve pairing in The Hunger has there been such perfectly vampiric casting. Swinton and Hiddleston, already two of the most consistently excellent actors around, deliver cooly detached, underplayed performances, wearing the world- weariness of their characters in uniquely contrasting ways.

There is substance to accent all the style. The film moseys toward its perfect finale, casually waxing Goth philosophic about soul mates and finding your joy.

3. Suspiria (2018) – Tilda Swinton

It is 1977 in “a divided Berlin,” when American Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson, nicely moving the character from naivete to complexity) arrives for an audition with a world-renowned dance company run by Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton, mesmerizing).

This “cover version” (The Tilda’s phrase, and valid) of Argento’s original lifts the veil on the academy elders early, via the diaries of Patricia (Chloe Moretz), a dancer who tells psychotherapist Dr. Josef Kiemperer (also The Tilda, under impressive makeup) wild tales of witches and their shocking plans.

Guadagnino continues to be a master film craftsman. Much as he draped Call Me by Your Name in waves of dreamy romance, here he establishes a consistent mood of nightmarish goth.

But even when this new Suspiria is tipping its hat to Argento, Guadagnino leaves no doubt he is making his own confident statement. Women move in strong solidarity both onstage and off, dancing with a hypnotic power capable of deadly results. In fact, most of the male characters here are mere playthings under the spell of powerful women, which takes a deliciously ironic swipe at witch lore.

2. American Psycho (2000) – Chloe Sevigny

A giddy hatchet to the head of the abiding culture of the Eighties, American Psycho represents the sleekest, most confident black comedy – perhaps ever. Director Mary Harron trimmed Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, giving it unerring focus. More importantly, the film soars due to Christian Bale’s utterly astonishing performance as narcissist, psychopath, and Huey Lewis fan Patrick Bateman.

There’s an elegant exaggeration to the satire afoot. Bateman is a slick, sleek Wall Street toady, pompous one minute because of his smart business cards and quick entrance into posh NYC eateries, cowed the next when a colleague whips out better cards and shorter wait times. For all his quest for status and perfection, he is a cog indistinguishable from everyone who surrounds him. The more glamour and flash on the outside, the more pronounced the abyss on the inside. What else can he do but turn to bloody, merciless slaughter? It’s a cry for help, really.

Harron’s send up of the soulless Reagan era is breathtakingly handled, from the set decoration to the soundtrack, but the film works as well as a horror picture as it does a comedy. Whether it’s Chloe Sevigny’s tenderness as Bateman’s smitten secretary or Cara Seymour’s world wearied vulnerability, the cast draws a real sense of empathy and dread that complicate the levity. We do not want to see these people harmed, and as hammy as it seems, you may almost call out to them: Look behind you!

As solid as this cast is, and top to bottom it is perfect, every performance is eclipsed by the lunatic genius of Bale’s work. Volatile, soulless, misogynistic and insane, yet somehow he also draws some empathy. It is wild, brilliant work that marked a talent preparing for big things.

1. Get Out (2017) – Caleb Landry Jones

Opening with a brilliant prologue that wraps a nice vibe of homage around the cold realities of “walking while black,” writer/director Jordan Peele uses tension, humor and a few solid frights to call out blatant prejudice, casual racism and cultural appropriation.

When white Rose (Alison Williams) takes her black boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) home to meet the fam, she assures him race will not be a problem. How can she be sure? Because her Dad (Bradley Whitford) would have voted for Obama’s third term “if he could.” It’s the first of many B.S. alerts for Peele, and they only get more satisfying.

Rose’s family is overly polite at first, but then mom Missy (Catherine Keener) starts acting evasive and brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) gets a bit threatening, while the gardener and the maid (both black – whaaat?) appear straight outta Stepford.

Peele is clearly a horror fan, and he gives knowing winks to many genre cliches (the jump scare, the dream) while anchoring his entire film in the upending of the “final girl.” This isn’t a young white coed trying to solve a mystery and save herself, it’s a young man of color, challenging the audience to enjoy the ride but understand why switching these roles in a horror film is a social critique in itself.

Get Out is an audacious first feature for Jordan Peele, a film that never stops entertaining as it consistently pays off the bets it is unafraid to make.

Halloween Countdown, Day 23: Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Vampires again! Can’t we just give it a rest already?

I hear ya, but before you write them off completely, let Only Lovers Left Alive renew your faith in the genre’s possibilities.

Leave it to visionary writer/director Jim Jarmusch to concoct the perfect antidote to the pop culture onslaught of romantic teenage blood drinkers. OLLA is a delicious black comedy, oozing with sharp wit and hipster attitude.

Great lead performances don’t hurt, either, and Jarmusch gets them from Tom Hilddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve (perfect!), a vampire couple rekindling their centuries-old romance against the picturesque backdrop of…Detroit.

I’m not going to lie, they had me at Swinton/Hiddleston/Jarmusch/vampires, but it’s such a treat to find the end result only exceeds expectations.

Not since the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve pairing in The Hunger has there been such perfectly vampiric casting. Swinton and Hiddleston, already two of the most consistently excellent actors around, deliver cooly detached, underplayed performances, wearing the world- weariness of their characters in uniquely contrasting ways.

The less you know about the lifestyles of Adam and Eve, the better, and the plot consists mainly of consequences from a surprise visit by Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). But Jarmusch, as he often does, creates a setting that is totally engrossing, full of fluid beauty and wicked humor.

His camera lingers in dark corners and high ceilings, swimming in waves of sublime production design, evocative music and mood lighting that is subtle perfection. This is a master class in style and atmosphere, conjuring up a dark world you’re just geeked to spend time in.

There is substance to accent all the style. The film moseys toward its perfect finale, casually waxing Goth philosophic about soul mates and finding your joy.

Ironically, Jarmusch treats the possibility of nightwalkers among us more realistically than any vampire flick in recent memory. And in the process, has some wry fun with how the whole thing went south.

Talk about finding our joy.

Listen weekly to MaddWolf’s horror podcast FRIGHT CLUB. Do it!





Fright Club: Best Female Vampire Movies

An aching loneliness tends to be the overwhelming theme of any vampire film that focuses primarily on the female predator – unless, of course, the focus is girl-on-girl action. But even then, aching loneliness, too. Whether evil bloodsuckers or just tragic and doomed to feed off the living, there’s something peculiarly spooky about these ladies. Here we celebrate the vampiress with our countdown of the five(ish) best female vampire movies.

Listen to the podcast, complete with a live studio audience, HERE.

5. The Hunger (1983)

Director Tony Scott’s seductive vampire love story has a little bit of everything: slaughter, girl-on-girl action, ’80s synth/goth tunage, David Bowie. What more can you ask?

Actually the film’s kind of a sultry, dreamily erotic mess. Oh, the gauzy, filmy curtains. Catharine Deneuve is the old world vampire Miriam, David Bowie is her lover. But he suddenly begins aging, and she needs to find a replacement. Enter Susan Sarandon as a medical specialist in unusual blood diseases and a fine actress who’s not above smooching other girls.

There are three reasons people will always watch this film: Bowie, Catherine Deneuve’s seduction of Susan Sarandon (classy!), and the great dark-wave Bauhaus number Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Together it’s a Goth Trifecta! And Goths do love them some vampires.

4. Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Seduction, homoeroticism, drowsy lustfulness – this one has it all.

Countess Bathory – history’s female version of Dracula – checks into an all-but-abandoned seaside hotel. The only other guests, besides the Countess’s lover, Ilona, is a honeymooning couple.

Effortlessly aristocratic, Delphine Seyrig brings a tender coyness, a sadness to the infamous role of Bathory. Seyrig’s performance lends the villain a tragic loveliness that makes her the most endearing figure in the film. Everybody else feels mildly unpleasant, a sinister bunch who seem to be hiding things. The husband, in particular, is a suspicious figure, and a bit peculiar. Kind of a dick, really – and Bathory, for one, has no time for dicks.
Caring less for the victims than for the predator – not because she’s innocent or good, but because her weary elegance makes her seem vulnerable – gives the film a nice added dimension.

The accents are absurd. The outfits are glorious. The performances are compellingly, perversely good, and the shots are gorgeous. Indulge yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFRuSbykaV0

3. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Leave it to visionary writer/director Jim Jarmusch to concoct a delicious black comedy, oozing with sharp wit and hipster attitude.

Great lead performances don’t hurt, either, and Jarmusch gets them from Tom Hilddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve (perfect!), a vampire couple rekindling their centuries-old romance against the picturesque backdrop of…Detroit.

Not since the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve pairing in The Hunger has there been such perfectly vampiric casting. Swinton and Hiddleston, already two of the most consistently excellent actors around, deliver cooly detached, underplayed performances, wearing the world- weariness of their characters in uniquely contrasting ways.

There is substance to accent all the style. The film moseys toward its perfect finale, casually waxing Goth philosophic about soul mates and finding your joy.

2. Let the Right One In (2008)/Let Me In (2010)

Let’s be honest, we’ve combined these two films just to make room for an additional film in the countdown. In 2008, Sweden’s Let the Right One In emerged as an original, stylish thriller – and the best vampire flicks in years. A spooky coming of age tale populated by outcasts in the bleakest, coldest imaginable environment, the film breaks hearts and bleeds victims in equal measure. Kare Hedebrant‘s Oskar with a blond Prince Valiant cut falls innocently for the odd new girl (an outstanding Lina Leandersson) in his shabby apartment complex. Reluctantly, she returns his admiration, and a sweet and bloody romance buds.

Hollywood’s 2010 version is the less confusingly entitled Let Me In. Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) managed to retain the spirit of the source material, while finding ways to leave his own mark on the compelling story of an unlikely friendship.

While the original had an ominous sense of dread, a feel of bleak isolation, and a brazen androgyny that the update can’t touch, Let Me In scores points all its own. Reeves, also adapting the screenplay, ups the ante on the gore, and provides more action, scares and overall shock value.

Together the films set the standard for child vampire fare, and neither one should be missed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hz0x67hMcg

1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour has made the world’s first Iranian vampire movie, and though she borrows liberally and lovingly from a wide array of inspirations, the film she’s crafted is undeniably, peculiarly her own.

Set in Bad Town, a city depleted of life – tidy yet nearly vacant – Girl haunts the shadowy, lonesome fringes of civilization. The image is highly stylized, with a hip quirkiness and stationary camera framings that noticeably mine Jarmusch’s early work. Indeed, Amirpour seems an avid fan of American indies of the Eighties and Nineties, as well as the films of endlessly imitated French New Wave filmmakers and Sergio Leone – so that’s a mish mash. But Amirpour effortlessly balances the homages and inspirations, the cultural nuances alive in Girl giving every scene a uniqueness that makes the whole effort surprising.

Amirpour is blessed with a cinematographer in Lyle Vincent capable of translating her theme of loneliness in a dead end town, as well as the cultural influences and Eighties pop references, into a seamless, hypnotic, mesmerizingly lovely vision. The film is simply, hauntingly gorgeous.





Fright Club: Best Horror in 2014

If you think 2014 was a paltry year in horror, you just weren’t looking hard enough. Sure, the big blockbusters – Ouija, Annabelle, etc. – disappointed, but there were independent and foreign gems aplenty. We count downt the best horror had to offer in 2014. You’re welcome!

5. Housebound: Long before Hobbits and dragons, kiwi Peter Jackson filled New Zealand cinemas with laughs and screams while covering their screens in blood and body fluids. The torch has been passed to Gerard Johnstone, whose Housebound is a funny, clever, heart-racing horror flick about a potentially haunted house. It’s also among the very best of the genre released this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT1KcYiPb4I

4. Big, Bad Wolves: In Isreal’s hypnotic fairy tale nightmare Big Bad Wolves we follow one driven cop, one driven-to-madness father, and one milquetoast teacher who’s been accused of the most heinous acts. Not for the squeamish, the film boasts brilliant performances, nimble writing and disturbing bursts of humor. It treads in dark, dark territory, but repeatedly dares you to look away. It’s a bold and brilliantly realized effort.

3. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night: Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature – also Iran’s very first vampire film -is a gorgeous, peculiar reimagining of the familiar. Amirpour mixes imagery and themes from a wide range of filmmakers as she updates and twists the common vampire tropes with unique cultural flair. The result is a visually stunning, utterly mesmerizing whole.

2. Only Lovers Left Alive: The great Jim Jarmusch (Ohio boy!) updates the vampire genre with a well conceived twist on the unusual, aided by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful performances as well as his own dry humor and magnificent eye for visuals.

1. The Babadook: A familiar tale given primal urgency, the horror fueled by compassion, the terror unsettling and genuine – this film is more than a scary movie, and it immediately ranks among the freshest and most memorable the genre has to offer.

Listen in to our new Fright Club podcast with Golden Spiral Media!

FC 01-Best Horror in 2014





Best Movies You Missed Countdown

2014 was actually a pretty great year, movie-wise. Most of the biggest box office smashes were worthwhile films – Guardians of the Galaxy and The LEGO Movie, for example. But it’s hard to track down every really great film, and this year, we’re betting you missed a lot –  A LOT – of outstanding movies. But you can make up for that with this list of the films you may have missed and need to see. It’s our post-holiday gift to you!  You’re welcome!

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch’s trippy vampire classic needs to be seen, but in all likelihood, you did not. You should remedy that situation.

Get On Up

How is it possible that this wonderfully acted biopic promising wall to wall great music drew such a tiny audience? Tragic! See it tomorrow when it comes out for home entertainment viewing!

Calvary

This surprising, wearily funny, gorgeously filmed and spectacularly acted gift from Ireland did not get the reception it should have.

We Are the Best!  (Vi ar bast!)

Two young girls with no musical experience start a punk band. This film is an absolute joy.

Whiplash

Hopefully its inevitable Oscar nomination for J.K. Simmons (and very likely win!) will give this remarkable little film second life in theaters. If so, do yourself a favor and see it!

Locke

It’s a tough sell: Tom Hardy, alone in a car for 90 minutes, but man, what he can do with a show to himself!

The Drop

Another underseen Tom Hardy gem! His versatility is amazing, and here he gets a great supporting assist from James Gandolfini.

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson reminds us again of the superb talent she possesses in this hypnotic alien adventure.

Dear White People

Witty, incisive and one step ahead of you, this excellent indie comedy needs to make everyone’s home entertainment watch list.

Frank

Michael Fassbender as you have never seen him – stuck inside a giant false head. Funny, tender and woefully underseen, it’s another reason to be amazed by Fassbender.

Snowpiercer

Tanked by its own studio, the film found a market in home entertainment. If you haven’t found this ingenious piece of SciFi, do so right now!





Counting Down the 20 Best Films of 2014

2014 was a banner year, with great films in an enormous range of genres: blockbusters and indies, horror and SciFi, dramas and comedies, as well as films from first time filmmakers, a lot of great stuff from women directors, and an unusually high number of excellent films with one-word titles. No idea that that trend might mean. Anyway, today we walk through our 20 favorites of the past 365 days.

20. Into the WoodsRob Marshall proves again that he’s the man you want filming a musical, using inventive techniques to bring the  cross-cutting fairy tale narratives in this Sondheim musical to glorious life. Not your traditional Disney effort, Into the Woods offers a sophisticated, often dark but insightful and imaginative look at the other side of fairy tales.

19. The Lego Movie: The tone is fresh and irreverent, the voice talent spot-on, and the direction is endlessly clever. The Lego Movie was the most fun to be had at the cinema in 2014.

18. Guardians of the Galaxy: Director James Gunn nails the tone, the color, the imagery, and the sound of one Earthling dartin’ about space scavenging, smooching, and basically living the dream. The effortlessly likeable Chris Pratt leads a crew of ragtag misfits who collectively become the most enjoyable team of intergalactic scoundrels since Han Solo piloted the Falcon. This is the definition of a great summer movie.

17. Calvary: World-weary humor, brilliant writing and one stellar performance from the always remarkable Brendan Gleeson mark this underseen gem from Ireland about humanity, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption.

16. The Imitation GameA wonderful mix of exciting historical mystery and heartfelt examination of the complicated man at the mystery’s center, The Imitation Game is a film about secrets boasting an Oscar-worthy performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.

15. American Sniper:  The bio of America’s most lethal sniper is tense, heartfelt, and wise. Director Clint Eastwood hasn’t been this invested in years, and along with an astonishing lead performance from Bradley Cooper, strikes just the right tone with a story that could have easily been mined for manipulation. It isn’t, which is another reason to salute American Sniper. 

14. Locke: A masterpiece in simplicity, Locke tags along on a solo car trip: just you, the great Tom Hardy, and several simultaneous crises he handles on his mobile.

13. Under the Skin: This hypnotic, low-key SciFi thriller – the latest from filmmaker-to-watch Jonathan Glazer – follows Scarlett Johansson around Glasgow in a van. Light on dialogue and void of exposition, Under the Skin demands your attention, but it delivers an enigmatic, breathtaking, utterly unique vision of an alien invasion.

12. The Babadook: A familiar tale given primal urgency, the horror fueled by compassion, the terror unsettling and genuine – this film is more than a scary movie, and it immediately ranks among the freshest and most memorable the genre has to offer.

11. Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest defies easy summarization as an inebriated PI (played by Joaquin Phoenix as you’ve never seen him) fits together pieces from several different puzzles to create an unpredictable, barely coherent but wildly enjoyable whole.

10. A Most Violent Year: This gem is a film about the merits versus moral compromise of the American dream, and a slow boil drama that keeps you on edge for its full 125 minute running time because there is absolutely no guessing what is coming next.

9. Snowpiercer: Though incompetently marketed and abysmally underseen, Snowpiercer is an immediate dystopian classic. Visionary direction from Joon-ho Bong maximizes claustrophobic tension while brazen casting victories (Oh my God, Tilda Swinton!) and another solid lead turn from Chris Evens work together to create an enthralling allegory of the makers and the takers.

8. Foxcatcher: Director Bennett Miller’s understated true crime film benefits from seriously unusual casting. Steve Carrel is revelatory as John du Pont, millionaire weirdo and wrestling enthusiast who bankrolled Olympic hopefuls (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, both award worthy), ensnaring then in his unpredictable psychosis. It’s riveting stuff.

7. Only Lovers Left Alive: The great Jim Jarmusch (Ohio boy!) updates the vampire genre with a well conceived twist on the unusual, aided by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful performances as well as his own dry humor and magnificent eye for visuals.

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel: The great eccentric genius Wes Anderson inches his way closer to mainstream acceptance and Oscar with the most meticulously framed, wickedly clever dark comedy. Filled with melancholy and whimsy, full to bursting with fascinating cameos, and boasting an almost unimaginably perfect performance by Ralph Fiennes, it’s a work of genius that could spring only from the mind of Anderson.

5. Whiplash: As sure as J.K. Simmons will walk home with his first Oscar this year, Whiplash will astonish you. No film this year ratchets tension like this one, as one musician and his mentor do battle that makes the Hobbit look light hearted. Brilliantly written, expertly directed, and boasting two excellent performances (not to mention some really great music!), Whiplash is easily one of the best features of 2014.

4. Nightcrawler: No telling why it took so long to combine Network and American Psycho, but Nightcrawler is here now, so buckle down for a helluva ride. Jake Gyllenhaal is at his absolute best in a film that is as scorchingly relevant an image of modern media as it is a brilliant character study in psychosis.

3. Birdman: Meta-magical-realism at its finest, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s look at the transience and transcendence of fame will nab some Oscars this season. This is a brilliant director and a magnificent cast at their playful, creative best.

2. Selma: Ava DuVernay’s account of the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama doesn’t flinch. You can expect the kind of respectful approach common in historical biopics, but don’t let that lull you. This is not a laudable and forgettable historical art piece, and you’ll know that as you watch little girls descend a staircase within the first few minutes. Selma is a straightforward, well crafted punch to the gut.

1. Boyhood: Richard Linklater manages the impossible. By checking in on one family every year for 12 years, collecting not the major incidents but all those everyday moments, he provides an achingly, hilariously, touchingly realistic impression of an entire childhood. The cast is brilliant, and the sense of family they evoke is as authentic as anything you will ever see on film. Boyhood is a film like none other ever made, and it is imperative viewing.





Vampires and Ghosts For Your Queue

Oh glorious day, Only Lovers Left Alive is out today for your home viewing pleasure. What a fantastic film this is!

The great Jim Jarmusch reminds us that vampires are, after all, quite grown up and cool. His casting helps. A wonderful Tilda Swinton joins Tom Hiddleston (not too shabby himself) as Eve and Adam, vampires hanging around Detroit. Only Lovers Left Alive is a well thought-out film, a unique twist on the old tale, filled with dry humor, exquisite visuals, and wonderful performances.

And while you’d be wise to chase that with any Jim Jarmusch film, if we have to pick a favorite, it would be 1999’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. This hypnotic urban poem on masculinity, violence and wisdom may be Jarmusch’s most likeable picture – as funny and dark as anything Tarantino has ever filmed, but with a surreal, dreamlike quality and a soul full of integrity. It’s a work of art, perhaps Jarmusch’s masterpiece.





Vampires Done Right

 

Only Lovers Left Alive

by George Wolf

 

Vampires again! Can’t we just give it a rest already?

I hear ya, but before you write them off completely, let Only Lovers Left Alive renew your faith in the genre’s possibilities.

Leave it to visionary writer/director Jim Jarmusch to concoct the perfect antidote to the pop culture onslaught of romantic teenage blood drinkers. OLLA is a delicious black comedy, oozing with sharp wit and hipster attitude.

Great lead performances don’t hurt, either, and Jarmusch gets them from Tom Hilddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve (perfect!), a vampire couple rekindling their centuries-old romance against the picturesque backdrop of…Detroit.

I’m not going to lie, they had me at Swinton/Hiddleston/Jarmusch/vampires, but it’s such a treat to find the end result only exceeds expectations.

Not since the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve pairing in The Hunger has there been such perfectly vampiric casting. Swinton and Hiddleston, already two of the most consistently excellent actors around, deliver cooly detached, underplayed performances, wearing the world- weariness of their characters in uniquely contrasting ways.

The less you know about the lifestyles of Adam and Eve, the better, and the plot consists mainly of consequences from a surprise visit by Eve’s sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). But Jarmusch, as he often does, creates a setting that is totally engrossing, full of fluid beauty and wicked humor. 

His camera lingers in dark corners and high ceilings, swimming in waves of sublime production design, evocative music and mood lighting that is subtle perfection.  This is a master class in style and atmosphere, conjuring up a dark world you’re just geeked to spend time in.

There is substance to accent all the style. The film moseys toward its perfect finale, casually waxing Goth philosophic about soul mates and finding your joy.

Ironically, Jarmusch treats the possibility of nightwalkers among us more realistically than any vampire flick in recent memory. And in the process, has some wry fun with how the whole thing went south.

Talk about finding our joy.

Vampires are back, baby, and Edward can suck it.

 

Verdict-4-0-Stars

 

 





Great Directors’ Horrifying Output

This week, the great writer/director/Ohioan Jim Jarmusch releases just another masterpiece, the vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive. While Jarmusch is certainly not an easy artist to peg, a vampire film was not exactly a predictable choice.

Still, loads of the most prestigious filmmakers have made horror films. Back in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock made it acceptable for directors of immense talent to take on the genre. In 1991, we even had a horror film win best picture (and actor, actress, director, and screenplay).

Some filmmakers, like Sam Raimi or Brian DePalma, are as well known for horror as for their more mainstream titles. Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski were equally at home in horror as they were in any genre. Other giants in the industry, like David Cronenberg and David Lynch, cut their teeth in horror before moving on, while a few, like Jarmusch and Martin Scorsese, dabbled in the genre late into an established career.

Here is a peek at the horror output of some of the greats that you may have missed.

Ingmar Bergman: Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Like all Bergman films, this hypnotic, surreal effort straddles lines of reality and unreality and aches with existential dread. But Bergman and his star, Max von Sydow, cross over into territory of the hallucinatory and grotesque, calling to mind ideas of vampires, insanity and bloodlust as one man confronts repressed desires as he awaits the birth of his child.

Peter Jackson: Dead Alive (1982)

Long before Peter Jackson went legit with the exceptional Heavenly Creatures, or became infamous for his work with hobbits and apes and more hobbits, he made his name back in New Zealand with some of the all time goriest, bloodiest, nastiest horror comedies ever produced. The best of these is Dead Alive, a bright, silly, outrageous bloodbath. For lovers of the genre, the director, or the Sumatran rat monkey, it is essential viewing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eigwPFVmMIU

Michael Haneke: Funny Games (1997, 2007)

The Oscar winning director behind Amore, The White Ribbon, and Cache, made a horrific experiment of etiquette in 1997, and then again in 2007, with Funny Games. Made first in his native German, and a decade later, with nearly shot for shot integrity, in English, Funny Games upends the comfort of societal expectations in a number of ingenious and terrifying ways.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Has9E7j9Lrg

Lars von Trier: Antichrist (2009)

Lars von Trier’s cinematic output had been punishing viewers for decades. In 2009, he finally embraced the genre that he’d been courting his whole career. Antichrist is a beautiful, poetic, painful, horrifying examination of guilt, laden with all the elements that mark a LVT effort. What’s unusual is that he takes, for the majority of the film, a traditional “cabin in the woods” approach, depositing his unique vision in well-worn horror territory. And once there, he embraces the genre with much zeal. And a few gardening tools.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBdDcQONmkM

Francis Ford Coppola: Dementia 13 (1963)

Copolla began his career under the tutelage of B-movie god Roger Corman, and Dementia 13 was one of his first solo flights as director. It wasn’t his last attempt at horror – we all remember the abysmal Dracula remake – but Dementia 13 marks the early promise of a guy who understands the power of killing a loved one in a rowboat on a lake.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tcI47OkNhg

James Cameron: Piranha Part Two:  The Spawning (1981)

Just three years before taking Hollywood by storm with The Terminator, James Cameron showed absolutely no sign of competence behind the camera when he helmed the sequel to Joe Dante’s B-movie Piranha. This time around, those deadly man-eaters manifest a new mutation. They can fly! Sure, it might look like someone standing just off screen is throwing them at naked women and minorities, but they can fly, I tell you! This one is an underseen gem of bad cinema, and it offers an early peek at Cameron’s fixation with water, strong female leads, and Lance Henriksen.