9 posts categorized "Cult Film"

May 13, 2012


Dark-shadowsTim Burton’s tantalizingly delightful reduction of ABC television’s gothic daily soap opera (1966-1971) makes the most of its vampiric leading man Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp). If a couple of supporting characters —such as Barnabas’s love interest Victoria Winters/Josette DuPres— get shuffled away to back burners, there’s hardly opportunity to hold a grudge amid the compact storytelling.

Bolstered by an energetic cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, and a scene-chewing Chloe Grace Moretz, “Dark Shadows” plays to its depiction of early ‘70s America without slipping into camp. A cherry-picked soundtrack of era-appropriate music ranging from Iggy Pop to The Carpenters to Alice Cooper adds ironic lilt to the pokerfaced humor on hand. Danny Elfman’s evocative score hits all the right notes in setting a darker tone for the spunky melodrama.

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As the backstory goes, the Liverpool-born Barnabas Collins helped with his father’s successful fishing business from the cavernous comfort in Collinwood Mansion in the coastal Maine town of Collinsport in the mid to late 1700s. A miscalculated dalliance with a jealous Wiccan house servant named Angelique Bouchard (played with delicious poise by Eva Green) cost Barnabas the lives of his parents, and that of his true love Josette DuPres. The spurned Angelique turned Barnabas into a vampire before siccing the angry locals on him. His fate was to be buried alive.

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Nearly 200 years later, construction workers dig up our displaced vampire hero across from a McDonald’s parking lot. He responds by killing them. Well, Barnabas Collins is a bloodthirsty vampire after all. Barnabas’s unwelcome resurrection corresponds with the arrival at Collinwood Mansion of Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote)—the spitting image of Josette DuPres—who responds to an ad for a nanny to the household’s youngest member David (Gulliver McGrath)—son to Jonny Lee Miller’s unfit father figure Roger Collins. Barnabas reclaims his rightful place as the household patriarch in the face of Angelique’s place as a permanent rival to the family fishing business, which hangs on by the barest of threads. The only slightly ruffled vampire quickly goes into action to restore the family fortune even as family secrets spring to the surface like so many blades of grass on a golf course.

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Depp’s Barnabas Collins gets ample opportunity to put the bite on his share of necks. Since working together on seven previous films director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have developed a sharpness of communication that translates easily to the audience. “Dark Shadows” is a lot more fun than any of the “Twilight” movies combined. The movie sustains a unique tone of gleeful gothic fun. To that end, it achieves its clever goals quite nicely.

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Rated PG-13. 113 mins.

3 Stars

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October 11, 2011


Sleeping_BeautyA bold feminist exploitation think-piece about the perceived and disguised societal demands placed on women, "Sleeping Beauty" is a hauntingly erotic film that languishes in the recesses of your subconscious. What more could you ask for?

With the producing endorsement of famed director Jane Campion ("The Piano"), Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker Julia Leigh explores what she terms "Wonder Cinema" by way of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, upon which she embellishes and extrapolates. Yasunari Kawabata's "The House of Sleeping Beauties" and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" are meaningful tomes of reference.

Devour Me. If You Think That You Can Stomach Me. | Sleeping beauty movie, Sleeping  beauty, Beauty

Waifish Emily Browning ("The Uninvited") is Lucy, an Australian college student working various jobs to make ends meet. She gives her esophagus and stomach up to paid medical testing, works in a restaurant, and collates copies for a tyrannical female boss. In her spare time the free-spirited lass likes to indulge in spontaneous meat-market pick-ups with random men and women. Casual drug use is also on her menu. Ideals of shame or restraint are not in Lucy's vocabulary. She's a poker-faced extreme urban explorer.

Sleeping Beauty (2011) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Emily takes on a high-paid position as a nude banquet server for private dinner parties in the private mansion of an elegant Madame named Clara (Rachael Blake). After serving her first dinner party, Lucy burns a hundred dollar note from her ample pay. Capitalism, you see, isn't her motivation in life. The fearless femme de provocation is promoted to the position of a sleeper.

febbraio – 2013 – I PRIGIONIERI DELLO SCHERMO - Pagina 5 | Emily browning,  Emily browning sleeping beauty, Sleeping beauty movie

Mistress Clara administers a sleeping potion that ensures Lucy's unconscious state for a male client to do with as he pleases in bed--short of marking or penetrating Lucy's ridiculously nubile body.


The idea of semi-impotent older men paying to lie next to an unconscious woman connects to the obvious choice one such man might make to end his life during the experience. The three episodes we witness reflect on damaged male psyches grappling desperately for a self-identifying, albeit clinical and economic, conquest. Each episode is prefigured by a host/client chat which allows for some character explanation on the part of the ostensibly misogynistic men.


In her private time Lucy likes to spend time with her best friend, an alcoholic bachelor edging closer to committing suicide. The two communicate in a shorthand of polite repartee that disguises their deeper emotional issues. The subplot is the most forced in the film, but contributes a layer of altruism to Lucy's transparent identity.


This deeply sensual character exists at the polar opposite of American cinema's Mumblecore movement of dumbed-down slackerdom. Lucy takes action with gusto even if it means giving herself wholly over to an experience with which she cannot consciously interact. "Sleeping Beauty" is an artistic exploitation film meant to rankle bourgeoisie attitudes of propriety. It’s a dirty job, and Julia Leigh has done it with panache.

FanForce | Sleeping Beauty

Not Rated. 104 mins.

4 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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May 03, 2011


The troll hunterWriter/director André Øvredal should have skipped the obsolete "found–footage" trope to couch this goofy monster movie. You know the drill, viewers of "Blair Witch;" hours of lost-and-found video footage reveal a doomed camera crew's dark fate. In this case, the killer antagonists are…well, you know from the title. Giant trolls.

Three Norwegian amateur filmmakers follow rumored troll-hunter Hans (Otto Jespersen) in hope of catching a glimpse of one of the hundred-foot-high creatures Hans tracks in an understandably restricted region of Norway as part of the government's Troll Security Service. Hans's job is to clear away evidence of the trollian activity and make sure they don't step outside their natural preserve. A nasty battle between a troll and Hans spills with so much obviously fake blood that any suspension of disbelief is spoiled beyond redemption.

Trollhunter: The Wonderfully Ridiculous Found Footage Movie - Life in Norway

More of a cult comedy than a genuine horror flick, "The Troll Hunter" is pure camp. For example: trolls can sense Christian believers, so only atheists need apply to battle one of Øvredal's gargantuan animated clay-like creatures.  

Norwegian trolls - Trollhunter movie - Species profile - Writeups.org

Rated PG-13. 103 mins.

2 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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