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The November Sparrow

Updated: 2014-10-14T10:19:50.538-07:00


Bon cinéma!: Fantasia Fest 2009, week one


Every summer Concordia University in Montreal plays host to North America's greatest genre film festival.A couple days after arriving back from beautiful Montréal's incredible, annual Fantasia Fest, I've plucked some favorites from my overcrowded brainpan.1. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008): What an experience! A four hour perverted paean to love that coasts along with uniquely Japanese pop

Naked City: "Carrier" (1963)


This woman is dangerous. Sandy Dennis plays a carrier.Kept in isolation in an island hospital since the age of fourteen, Loraine Kirshwood has been shielded from the outside world because she is the carrier of a fatal disease, the rare Van Norton Sawyer's Fever from New Guinea. One day she slips out of her entrusted prison into New York City. The police---led by the ever earnest Paul Burke--

That Cold Day in the Park (1969)


Sandy Dennis in a beautifully sad moment courtesy ofcinematographer László Kovács.(Busy blogger Jeremy Richey has dedicated the month of February to films which have eluded the U.S. DVD market over at his excellent Moon in the Gutter blog. Check it out, I guarantee you'll come across a slew of movies that you must see now. This is my nomination for digital revival.)“I want to tell you

L'Éternité pour nous (1963)


Jean Marc (Michel Lemoine) is a moody piano player in a desolate seaside hotel, pounding out simple tunes for simple tastes. His wife and chanteuse (Sylvia Sorrente), with an obscene body threatening to explode out of skin tight sweaters and hot pants, feels her raging youth being snuffed out by the quiet surroundings. In a room upstairs lays a man dying, the elderly husband of the hotel

Goodbye Ann Savage, Renegade Girl (1946)


"And suddenly she turned to face me." It's hard to shake that indelible image of Ann Savage as Vera in Detour waking from sleep and turning her head toward the camera with a feral glare. That look begs me to run my hand through that greasy hair while she scratches out my eyes. Can't blame Tom Neal for acting like a pussy-whipped sucker around this cat. She's scary. This is one of the

Running Woman (1998)


Art restorationist Emily Russo (Theresa Russell) is framed for the murder of her young son, throwing her into a vast conspiracy involving the LAPD and a prominent philanthropist with a shady Government defense contract. Russo goes from being a grieving mother to a fugitive with a suitcase of disguises in no time flat. With the help of a secret brotherhood of Mexican priests, she can perhaps

L'Enfer sur la plage (1965)


Jose Bénazeraf's take on the espionage film may at first seem typical of the genre---a sun-baked setting, beautiful women, raucous action, and a Sylvie Vartan song over the opening credits. But the actors (all unknowns) and direction ranges from understated to detached. The story---as far as I can tell---concerns the head of a gunrunning ring hiding out in his yacht with his wife and younger



More clips, photos, and a bio on Bénazeraf can be found here.

Jose Bénazeraf and La Nuit la plus longue (1964)


Known as "The Antonioni of Pigalle", Jose Bénazeraf had a very idiosyncratic approach to the fledgling genre of the softcore thriller. Toeing the line between the cool sophistication of contemporary art cinema (Godard probably being a bigger influence than Antonioni) and the tawdry skin flicks that were all the rage, Bénazeraf was the first, and only, hipster pornographer. His slow, deliberate

Passport for a Corpse (1962)


The great Paul Muller plays a cohort in crime.It begins like countless crimes; a group of men sitting around a table illuminated by a single, hot bulb. Outside of their small congregation is pure darkness. They’ve been studying the plans laid out on the table for some time now. You almost choke on the air, thick with smoke trailing up from each of the four men’s cigarettes. The next day, in

With both barrels...


I've gotta catch up with The Lady and the Monster! Can't go wrong with Erich Von Stroheim!

Notes on Devil Bat's Daughter (1946)


Nina: "Bats! Bats!"Dr. Morris: "It's not a bat, Nina. It's a bird."Nina: "My father!"I must remind myself that Devil Bat's Daughter actually exists. Others have seen this sequel to The Devil Bat (William K. Everson briefly discusses it in his essay on Strangler of the Swamp in his seminal Classics of the Horror Film), a few, I'm sure, have appreciated it. I keep coming back to it, just to

Jess Franco in conservative Cincinnati


Cincinnati hosted some first run Jess Franco films, though we were reticent about the titles. Eugenie's journey is stopped short from going "into perversion", while Succubus had no title at all!8/22/71, the co-feature is directed by Mac Ahlberg.Who knows what readers of this summer of '69 adthought of this mysterious, nameless film?

Frankenstein 2000 (1992)


Donald O'Brien glows green as Frank 2k.Poorly dubbed, sparsely plotted, and with a tacky commercial tendency, Joe D'Amato's Filmirage productions are rather disreputable affairs. I love them for their cheapness, their community theater histrionics, and all the unusual locations these intrepid Italians filmed. Frankenstein 2000 found Filmirage in Austria, of all places. Donald O' Brien (Dr.

Happy Halloween!


A very special PRC greeting to all you Mad Monsters!Make it a Strange one!

Dangerous Intruder (1945)


Jenny Jackson (Veda Ann Borg) awakes to danger.Dangerous Intruder is PRC's attempt at a murder-mystery about a strange family à la Guest in the House (1944). Struggling ingenue Jenny Jackson is hitchhiking back to New York from Boston when she is struck by a reckless driver. She wakes up in the the stately home of one Maxwell Ducane. Suspicious movements at night, a bedridden matriarch with a

Strand/Telenews, Cincinnati


Here's a quartet of irresistible ads from a long-gone theater in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, in the sound era alternately known as either Strand or Telenews. These date from 1944 to 1947.If I had been around back then, I surely would have been a member of the Crime Club.

Diary of a Nymphomaniac (1972)


Linda Vargas (Montserrat Prous), nymphomaniac.It begins, in proper Jess Franco fashion, with a strip act. Bathed in a red glow, two women caress each other to a ritualistic, driving rhythm. One woman---the younger looking of the two---stares intently into the audience. After the show, she directly approaches a middle-aged man. Several bottles of champagne later, the drunk and smitten man

"An Obscenity of Violence"


On April 20, 1979 Dawn of the Dead came to Cincinnati:I almost feel like apologizing for dredging up this Cincinnati Enquirer mini-review, but I think it illustrates how shocking the film's violence appeared:Such wonderfully colorful writing! The version I saw, however, was exciting, uniquely plotted, wryly topical, well-acted, and, well, yes, relentless. I love how the writing and performances

Love Crimes (1992)


"I love your eyebrows and little slender wrists. I love yourlittle daddy long legs."---the sadist sizes up Ms. Sean YoungSean Young plays a District Attorney in a performance that, at times, seems to be channelling Joan Crawford. Unfortunately, besides thick eyebrows, these two actresses have very little in common---and herein lies the main problem with Love Crimes. This lead role requires a

"A Case of Depressive Psychophobia": Voice in the Wind (1944)


The crashing waves underneath the credits eventually dissolve into a view of a serene body of water as a voice intones:"Again it has happened, and in our time. That hundreds of thousands of innocent people, human beings like you and me, have been forced in unprecedented terror to flea their homes and their countries. Some of those who fled the medieval darkness of Europe succeeded in reaching

White Zombie revivals


This is from the May 13, 1944 Cincinnati Enquirer:Dostoevsky and Lugosi---two chiller dillers!The following day's ad:I found this ad from a 1946 Cincinnati Enquirer:The third feature ("Stark-Authentic-Horrible" Camps of the Dead) is a documentary about Nazi concentration camps, which seems just a tad out of place next to the fantastical main features. I can't imagine how that went over with the

Trade-Off (1996)


Theresa Russell seduces Adam Baldwin (who, it turns out, is noteven a Baldwin brother).An early nineties made-for-Showtime movie with Adam Baldwin may not have the most appeal, but Trade-Off is a gem of an erotic thriller. In debt, falling behind at work, and unhappily married, Tom (Baldwin) meets Jackie (Theresa Russell) by chance one night at a bar. She is worse off---married to an abusive

Lighthouse (1947)


John Litel as Hank broods in his lighthouse.From the opening scroll: "And always watchful, vigilant, is the man who tends the lighthouse, living his life of oppressive loneliness and seclusion. He lives in his own little world so that others may live---it's a small world---but things happen in it...."Things, indeed. Like most films out of the PRC factory, Lighthouse runs a scant 62 minutes.

The House Next Door (2002)


Theresa Russell and James Russo welcome you to the neighborhood.A young couple with perfect teeth and idyllic jobs (one is a children's book illustrator) move into a house next door to an abusive ex-Marine, Carl (James Russo, perfectly clad with flannel shirt and graying mustache) and his withering wife Helen (Theresa Russell). Carl's abusive tirades are capped off one night with a gunshot,