Pretty good unwinking found-footage ghost story, or, an Australian remake of Fire Walk With Me with a worse sound mix. Some Paranormal Activity stuff after Alice dies on a family lake trip then is spotted on camera afterwards. These appearances are twice explained away: first her brother was acting ghostly to get her exhumed, then the neighbor actually snuck into the house looking for the sextape Alice made with him. So partly it’s about a grieving family, partly about Alice’s secrets, and maybe there’s a real ghost. The director’s follow-up is a six-hour Netflix show called Clickbait.

This was pretty good, and less than half the length of Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched, which I watched as an extended intro. After his men and horses died with bright red paint for blood, romantic lead Ian Ogilvy (Puppet Master 5 and a Peter Cushing haunted junk shop movie called From Beyond the Grave) returns home to marry his beloved Sara (Hilary Dwyer, who’d return to Vincent Price and witches in Cry of the Banshee) with the blessing of her preacher dad. Meanwhile, Vincent Price is going from town to town with his brute beardo torturer sidekick Robert Russell (of the pre-Revenant Man in the Wilderness) getting paid for ferreting out witches, who are drowned using the Monty Python & The Holy Grail technique or burned or whatever’s convenient.

Villains:

Next time Ian is away, the witchfinders roll into town. Price’s game is to get cash and get hot women. Sara agrees to sleep with him for a time, but he drowns her dad and brands her a witch, and Ian forgives her (weird for a dude in a period film) then sets to hunting the hunters. Price is on the outs with Beardo and has to hire a substitute torturer in the next town, finally gets beaten to death when Ian catches up.

Appreciate that the townspeople left her alone except to enter her house with ladders and put up this witch sign like a happy birthday banner:

Reeves and DP John Coquillon (soon to join Peckinpah) acquit themselves nicely, with a lotta zooms, some nicely framed closeups, a real cool water-to-fire transition. The sound editor however had a minute of anguished cries and kept looping them.

A long doc, broken into chapters with Guy Maddin collage art in between. Begins in-depth on the unholy trilogy of Wicker Man, Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan’s Claw. Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale comes up, and I should really watch more of those, even though I disliked the first. Penda’s Fen looks cool, Rawhead Rex as cheesy as I remember it. The 1980’s films attacking heritage: The Company of Wolves, Lair of the White Worm. Paganism and witchcraft, sure. America gets a chapter, featuring Christian cults, and the “Indian burial ground” obsession (colonizers fearing being colonized, having their own homes taken away). Fear of poor people (Deliverance), racist voodoo movies, then positive shouts to Candyman and Ganja & Hess. The Fool Killer sounds cool, both as a movie and a profession. Into the global folk horror chapter, the doc started to feel long – I tuned out during Brazil and Germany, but should prioritize watching The Juniper Tree, maybe a double-feature when the next Robert Eggers film comes out. Also got my second Jacques Derrida reference this SHOCKtober.

Up to the Expressionism chapter in the Vogel. Our Lady of the Turks was a bust, and I had Viva La Muerte lined up but it sounds depressing, so I’m turning to shorts: three from Expressionism then three from Surrealism.


The Reality of Karel Appel (1962, Jan Vrijman)

The artist looks like he is fencing with the painting, and the camera. Short doc portraits of artists aren’t usually the most creative, so I was surprised to see that Vogel picked a few. This is really good, with a jazz montage of Appel cruising a junkyard, and crashing sfx as he attacks a canvas. Appel contributed his own music.


Visual Training (1969, Frans Zwartjes)

Stonefaced blackeyed man eats his jam and toast in a bowl, then smears his breakfast all over a nude woman on the table. There’s lots of posing, and looking into the camera. Sounds like a Kurt Kren actionist short, but unlike Kren’s, this one is actually good. No audio, I played the opening track to Zorn’s Heaven & Earth Magick. Zwartjes made about thirty more films, and if they’re available somewhere I’d consider a marathon.


The Liberation of Mannique Mechanique (1967, Steven Arnold)

Another short with heavily made-up topless women, this time with less posing, the actors and camera in constant movement. Good use is made of feathers and a glass table, multiple takes of the same scene are strung together. Some pretty-whatever music, I should’ve kept playing Zorn. Debut short of Arnold, a Dalí associate.


Magritte: The Object Lesson (1960, Luc de Heusch)

Cutouts of the paintings fade into each other. I barely know Magritte’s name but I know some of these images – “This Is Not a Pipe” and the hatted man facing away from us. He painted more birds than I realized. Vogel: “one of the few films to deal with the philosophical basis of contemporary art,” true enough. De Heusch worked with Storck, and previous to this he made a film about eating, which would’ve also fit into this program.


Eaten Horizons (1950, Wilhelm Freddie & Jorgen Roos)

Weirdo little short with abrupt picture and sound editing, fetishizing loaves of bread. A woman is opened up so her insides can be eaten, a loaf is cut and bleeds goopy guts. Freddie provides the art-world weirdness here, Roos (who’d just made a Cocteau doc) the cinema experience.


The World of Paul Delvaux (1946, Henri Storck)

Forming a trilogy of short docs about painters. I didn’t dig the music or the dramatic poetry reading, but it’s cool to zoom in and around the paintings, lingering on background details. This one’s all paintings – unlike the other two, the artist doesn’t appear in person. Vogel: “Storck’s outstanding work extends from early radical documentaries to later surrealist films.” He also worked with Ivens, and his other stuff looks interesting; political.

It’s just not SHOCKtober until we watch a crappy sequel, and this one was pretty crappy. The original was no great masterpiece, but Cohen made God Told Me To in between, so I hoped he’d upped his game. I showed Katy a scene where the boom mic played a supporting role, but she was busy noticing that we’ve got the same couch as the 70’s couple. My favorite bit was a pigeon flying around the house, overdubbed with bat sounds.

Motherhood not working out as planned:

The one great idea here is that the isolated incident from part one turns into a national conspiracy (Cohen loves a good conspiracy), dad John Ryan from that movie returning to covertly assist couples with new or expecting mutant killer babies. Arizona dad Frederic Forrest (a Coppola fave) is a real prick – why did anyone put up with guys in the 70’s? New mom Kathleen Lloyd and underground mutant baby-hunting org head John Marley had shared the screen the year before in The Car (he’s the sheriff, she’s the girl whose entire house got run over). The movie tries to build suspense for a full hour so it won’t have to do anything else, then one-by-one POV-camera killings begin. I don’t get why the vigilante “volunteers” tent and gas a house their leader is still inside. In postscript, Forrest becomes either the new underground mutant-baby-hunter or the new underground mutant-baby-rescuer, it’s not clear which, but it’s not important since he’s been replaced by some more likable actors in It’s Alive 3. Nice to see Eddie Constantine here, though.

Mutant Baby is wearing his 3D glasses wrong:

No Sudden Move has lost its status as the year’s most grotesque use of a wide-angle lens, courtesy of some Abu Ghraib flashbacks that turn Oscar Isaac and Willem Dafoe into carnival-mirror dwarfs. Isaac served time for torturing the enemy while his superiors stayed free and rich, and a fellow torturer’s son Tye Sheridan tries to rope Isaac into a revenge plot, but Isaac wants to stay cool and quietly win card games using Tiffany Haddish’s money. Nice to see a movie where cooler heads prevail, the kid is set straight and Isaac gets the girl… oh no, that’s not what happens, two people die and Isaac goes back to jail. I can’t decide how I feel about it – the tone felt off, or maybe I just felt weird being at the Grand all by myself, anxiously trying not to expect First Reformed 2.

On the plus side, the psycho murdering an entire theater group trapped in a locked building is wearing a beautiful owl mask. On the minus, as noted by a letterboxd user this is “super limp [with] dogshit gore FX, awful sound mix, lame characters.” I also felt like it was holding back for a PG rating, feeling tame despite the chopped-off body parts. So, the worst of the four Soavi horrors, but also the earliest – and the climactic scene where the final girl is retrieving a key amidst the Owl’s murder tableau looked great.

A collaboration from the writers of Porno Holocaust and Ghosthouse (there’s your problem). Old Cop was Mickey Knox of the Roger Corman Frankenstein. The Brave Theater Director (who once throws an actress at the chainsaw-wielding killer to save himself) is David Brandon of Jubilee. The actor/dancer who was supposed to play the owl and the security guy who finally shoots the murderous fake owl had both played in City of the Living Dead, and final girl Barbara Cupisti would return as art restorationist of The Church.

One of two new Hamaguchi movies. I wasn’t over the moon like I was with Asako, but these kinds of dramas are refreshing, and he’s playing with the same kinds of identity issues, and his next one is a Haruki Murakami adaptation, so I should keep up with these.

No time or screenshots, so briefly, it’s three 40-minute short stories. First, Hyunri likes a new guy, tells her model friend Kotone Furukawa about it in a cab, Kotone realizes it’s her ex Ayumu Nakajima and confronts him at his office. Next, a bitter ex-student of an award-winning professor Kiyohiko Shibukawa (a minor Miike regular) sends his girlfriend Katsuki Mori to seduce the prof and get him into trouble, which ends up fucking over everyone involved. Finally, after a megavirus has knocked out the internet (!), former classmates attend actual reunions again instead of liking/blocking each other on facebook. Kawai Aoba sees old friend Urabe Fusako and their catchup meeting turns into wistful reminiscence and play-acting when it turns out they never knew each other.

Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:

Wheel is greater than the sum of its individual stories, building an intricate system of echoes across three stories of frustrated relationships, each told in three or four long scenes, primarily in prolonged interior exchanges between two characters … the structure and tone were directly inspired by Eric Rohmer’s 1995, three-part anthology film Rendez-vous in Paris.

This is still the movie I remember from 20-some years ago (filmmaker J-P Leaud is remaking Les Vampires, Maggie Cheung is adrift between crew members, they both get too into their own madness), but I remember it being really excellent, and as the years go by, you forget the specific characteristics that made it so excellent, so it’s nice to rewatch and re-experience that. Every scene is good, but I took no notes, got no screenshots, so let’s watch it again sometime. Fun that Leaud cast Cheung based on Heroic Trio, which they watch together on DVD, and I just watched last month.