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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: Paranormal Romance from the Golden Age

By Kari Bowles Following the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca(1940), Hollywood saw a trend toward opulent period pictures dripping with atmosphere for the rest of the decade. Some films, following Hitchcock’s lead, directly channeled nineteenth century Gothic literature, such as Robert Stevenson’s version of Jane Eyre (1944), or George Cukor’s Gaslight(1944).  Others were literal ghost…

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“Tickled” Gives New Meaning to ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

The term “stranger than fiction” gets bandied around so often in reference to documentaries about human subjects that it’s lost all meaning.  And besides, fiction isn’t all that strange anymore, is it?  Or rather, its become SO strange (Dr. Strange, perhaps) that the collective big budget output of Hollywood resembles nothing so much as stack…

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Sci-Fi Western “Prospect” Makes the Most of its Low Budget

In “Prospect”, necessity is the mother of invention.  Like the early Star Wars movies, it exists in a universe that feels cobbled together out of pieces in bad repair, or at least the part of the galaxy we get to see feels that way.  We’re introduced to a pair of space freelancers, the kind that…

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The “Suspiria” Remake Adds a Lot to the Original’s Simple Premise

First off, if you haven’t seen Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” but have the unmitigated gall to call yourself a fan of horror, then you need to correct yourself before you wreck yourself.  Whether or not you’re a fan of Argento’s brand of lurid neon “giallo” slashers, “Suspiria” is a film worth taking in, if nothing else…

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“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a Pretty Good, If Improbable, Sequel

By Joe Shelton Sicario” (2015) was something very like a masterpiece, an ambitious tale of crime on the borderlands that sometimes felt like the progeny of a bloody-minded Western and an ethical inquiry disguised as a horror film, didn’t seem like it needed a sequel.  Its various threads were all resolved — or left conspicuously…

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It’s Time for a Hard Truth: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is Really Bad

by Joseph Shelton In these fraught times of fake news and other humbug, in which the truth seems to be losing its currency verisimilitude no longer equates verity, there are certain things that must be said.  And, more than said, taken to heart.  There are some balloons of falsehood that must be popped by the…

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“Damsel” is a Gorgeously Shot Anti-Western With A Few Surprises

By Joe Shelton “Damsel”, the new Western oddity from writer/director team the Zellner brothers, is a love it or hate it proposition.  You’ll love it if you appreciate its unorthodox take on the American western film, and you’ll hate it if you only go in for a certain kind of Western. All westerns are revisionist…

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The “Ash vs. The Evil Dead” Saga Comes to a Gory, Almost Moving End

By Joe Shelton Thirty-seven years ago a cheap, nasty little horror film called “The Evil Dead” splattered onto theater and drive-in screens across the country.  Cheap (or is it thrifty?), exploitative, and bizarre, “The Evil Dead” was nevertheless fiendishly creative in the way that it spent what little money it had in its budget.  It…

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You Were Never Really Here” Turns the Vigilante Thriller Inside Out

By Joe Shelton The great literary critic Leslie Fiedler (who once taught at MSU) wrote that American literature “as a whole seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park ‘fun house'”.  And if we extend his thesis to American films as well, or rather to films about America, I think you’ll find that…

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The almost fun Justice League is a lullaby for bombasts

by Joe Shelton                 Justice League resembles nothing so much as a less scary, more confusing Frankenstein’s monster. Only rather than an arm here and a leg there, it is put together out of bits and pieces left over from a survey of the last twenty years of big budget Hollywood.                 Far from the…

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