Kill List (2011) Ben Wheatley

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Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)

For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.

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Jug Face (2013) Chad Crawford Kinkle

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Jug Face (2013)
Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Produced by Andrew van den Houten, Robert Tonino
Cinematography by Chris Heinrich
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:21)

I’m not sure where or how I heard about Jug Face. I think it popped up as I was researching something else, but I was intrigued enough to request it through interlibrary loan. You have to understand that I’m not a huge horror fan, so when I looked at the cast on the movie’s DVD cover, I thought I recognized the name Larry Fessenden, but I couldn’t think of any of his films. (I later saw that Fessenden has made many films, including an astounding 26 movies since Jug Face, to say nothing of his work in short films and television.) I did recognize Sean Young’s name, but I figured it was some other Sean Young. To be honest, I got so caught up in the film, I didn’t even recognize her until the film was over. That’s because Jug Face is a film that’s so good it’s easy to get caught up in it.

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Stoker (2013) Park Chan-wook

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Stoker (2013)
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Costigan
Written by Wentworth Miller
Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung
DVD – library (1:39)

Another recommendation from the guys at Pure Cinema Podcast, Stoker is the first English-language film from South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, whose previous films include the Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and who later made Snowpiercer (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016). If you know Chan-wook’s earlier work, Stoker will seem quite toned-down, but for this particular story, a quieter, more serene atmosphere serves to heighten the tension rather than reduce it.

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Night of the Comet (1984) Thom Eberhardt

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Night of the Comet (1984)
Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt
Produced by Andrew Lane, Wayne Crawford
Cinematography by Arthur Albert
Library DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)

“The burden of civilization is on us, okay?”

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Night of the Comet is a horror/science fiction/comedy/satire recommended by the guys at Pure Cinema Podcast last week. The plot is pretty simple: a comet has streaked past the Earth several days before Christmas, wiping out every person in the Los Angeles area except for a few survivors who stayed indoors protected by any structure made of steel. It’s not much of a set-up, but it’s enough to get us going.

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The Horror! The Horror! My Reluctance to Embrace Horror and How Scream Factory and Pure Cinema Podcast May Change My Movie-Watching Life While Sucking My Bank Account Dry

(How’s that for a title, huh?)

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I have a very unusual relationship with horror movies. I own very few of them and most of the ones I do own are from Hollywood’s “classic” era, including several of the Universal monster films and later more “psychological” horror films such as The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963), films that suggest more than they show. Most of the horror in those films comes from implications and a sense of dread rather than actual physical danger and mayhem. These are the elements that – at least to me – offer the best justifications for rewatchability. Yet after listening to the latest Pure Cinema Podcast, I might be picking up more horror.

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In their most recent show, Episode 6: Scream Factory, I came away with at least 16 titles I absolutely must check out:

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The Visit (2015) and a Challenge to M. Night Shyamalan

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The Visit (2015) M. Night Shyamalan
Universal DVD – library (1:34)

At least there’s some discussion going on about whether or not The Visit marks a return to something even approaching a good film from M. Night Shyamalan, which has certainly not been the case for quite a few years. As I often try to do before watching a film, I avoided any spoilers, synopses, or even trailers for the film, instead simply putting a hold on the DVD from the library.

I will briefly recount my thoughts, including pleasant surprises, levels of disappointment, and a challenge to Mr. Shyamalan.

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