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Feature Four Frames

The Pazuzu ‘subliminals’ in The Exorcist (William Friedkin 1973)

Back in the days before The Exorcist‘s long-delayed UK commercial home video release – February 1999 if you’re wondering – we had to rely on poor-quality VHS copies purchased at record fairs, car boot sales and the like from gentlemen wearing AC/DC T-shirts who answered to the name of ‘Dog’. “Yeah, it’s a copy taken […]

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Brilliant Failure Reviews

Brilliant Failure: The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley 1990)

If making a film was like baking a cake one would reasonably expect art school polymath Philip Ridley’s 1990 directorial debut The Reflecting Skin, with its combination of fine ingredients, to have turned out like the grandest Viennese sacher torte. So how come it looks and tastes like a Greggs jam doughnut? Actually that’s a […]

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Feature Four Frames

The final gesundheit in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974)

Walter Matthau was once described as resembling a bloodhound with a head cold, which is a rather unfair description when applied to his role as Lt. Zachary Garber of the New York City Transit Police in Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). As hangdog and curmudgeonly as he may be, he’s […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Gaslight (Thorold Dickinson, 1940)

To qualify as a Big Picture ‘lost classic’ a movie usually has to have been grossly underwatched due to the lack of a video or DVD release, criminally overlooked by TV schedulers or (uncriminally?) not uploaded to video sharing websites. In the case of Thorold Dickinson’s Victorian psychological melodrama Gaslight (1940) its lost status was […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Through a glass darkly: reflections on M and its descendents

Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M, concerning the pursuit and capture of the Berlin child-killer Hans Beckert (memorably played by Peter Lorre), deserves to be regarded as a towering landmark of cinema and an important stylistic catalyst for a host of reasons. Along with the game-changing use of leitmotifs to associate a sound with a character, […]

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Feature Screengem

Screengem: Don’s severed ear in Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)

A word in your shell-like: when you take a walk around Lumberton USA keep your eyes peeled and your nose to the ground. You never know what you might find lying around. In David Lynch’s Blue Velvet young Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan) stumbled upon an opening to a strange world in the form of a […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Jeremy (Arthur Barron, 1973)

If you look along the shelf of ‘American performing arts student coming-of-age movie’ high school yearbooks, back through time beyond the tans and tooth veneers of Glee and High School Musical, beyond the mullets and leg warmers of Fame, you’ll come eventually to a half-forgotten, suitably geeky, split-frame spectacled 70s gem called Jeremy. It’s one […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: Shelley Winters and water don’t mix: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

It probably wasn’t planned this way but it’s really quite remarkable how often the film characters played by actress Shelley Winters met a watery grave. One of her most hauntingly bizarre demises features in Charles Laughton’s lone directorial outing The Night of the Hunter. To silence his new wife Willa (Winters) evil Reverend Harry Powell […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Thus Steak Zarathustra: food in 2001: A Space Odyssey

It’s arguably the most important turning point in human history ever filmed: the moment when early man discovers the tools of slaughter and develops a taste for meat. But the bone-wielding ape in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is merely the departure point for a film that is seemingly preoccupied with all things foody. […]