Rose McGowan’s innocent boyfriend is the rabbit from Donnie Darko, they pick up dangerous third wheel X (Jon Schaech of a Romero remake spinoff sequel). The three attract unwanted attention – people seem to recognize Rose or think she’s someone else – and make some narrow escapes, usually after X kills someone. Finally fate catches up to them, which is to say that nazis cut the boyfriend’s dick off.

A few good insults sprinkled in with the cliche valley-speak – Katy said this looked like the sleaziest thing I’ve watched in years. I get busy watching acclaimed/respected film, should watch more fun disreputable movies (and/or anything with MC 900ft Jesus on the soundtrack). Don’t think this even counts as disreputable, since Araki got a Criterion Channel spotlight. It’s my second by him – I’d forgotten he made Smiley Face.

Verboten! (1959)

Fuller WWII film six months before The Crimson Kimono with a Paul Anka theme song (oh no), starring nobody in particular. Our not-so-bright hero Sgt. Brent is The Killer Shrews star James Best. He survives the sniper attack that killed a bunch of his men, is rescued by German girl Susan Cummings (Bavarian, of Corman’s Swamp Women), then stays behind after the war to marry her.

Post-war, Brent works for Captain Harvey (Fuller regular Paul Dubov, a master criminal in Underworld USA) in cleanup, along with wide-mouthed Bruno (star of High School Big Shot), his new wife’s secret confidant and a member of the Werewolves, a secret Himmler youth army aiming to carry on the war after defeat. “Hungry people are easy to bamboozle.” Susan’s little brother Franz (not great) is of course a werewolf, but comes to his senses, rats on his mates and pummels his werewolf boss to a fiery death. “Ride of the Valkyries” soundtracks a bombing/assassination montage twenty years before Apocalypse Now. The cuts to stock footage are hardly seamless but all the postwar Germany film is interesting on its own.

Dogface (1959)

“Siegfried has located the enemy” – the nazis send a dog to locate dogfaces, and Infantry Sergeant Rock’s first mission in this would-be TV series is to assassinate the nazi dog. I imagine network TV execs weren’t on the edge of their seats wondering what unseemly missions Rock would take on next. Good movie though, better than Verboten!. Our lunkhead hero injures the dog but lets it live, and it saves him after a steamy shower shootout. The plan was an authentic war series with basic tech, tough-guy actors, and a ton of military slang – since this never aired, Sgt. Rock’s career went nowhere.

We try to keep Shocktober light and not end up watching psychosexual nazi stories, I don’t know how this keeps happening. A visually striking Spanish movie about ugly shit, the Apt Pupil of its time.

Nazi pedo (who was also in The Boys From Brazil, appropriately enough) is stuck in iron glass lung, cared for by wife Griselda (Almodóvar regular Marisa Paredes) and kid Rena. Then crazy Angelo moves in with his weird eyebrows claiming to be a nurse, actually a witness to the nazi’s final victim before the suicide attempt that landed him in the lung. I thought it a revenge plot but Angelo tells the old guy he wants to be his protege, so, no good guys in this. Nice giallo-lite as he stalks the wife through the house and hangs her, then he starts kidnapping random local boys and reenacting murders from the man’s journals in nazi cosplay. This is almost worth it for the way the music tears itself apart in the climax when Angelo is killing his idol and taking his place.

Rena is okay with Angelo wrecking the place:

Diminishing returns on the “lonely man with violent past pushed to the edge” series… dialogue scenes are off, stilted, and it’s all dialogue scenes. Voiceover cover-up indicates something has gone wrong between page and screen. Looks really nice though.

Sigourney asks her ex-nazi gardener/lover Joel to take on her troubled grandniece Maya (comic superhero Quintessa Swindell), but he gets more invested than anyone intended, helping her detox and dealing with her violent garden-wrecking ex. Abandoned by Sigourney and by Parole Officer Gabriel, at least they’ve got each other.

Vikram Murthi in The Nation:

Master Gardener’s final scene … a soon-to-wed Narvel and Maya dancing on the porch of a cabin they’re rebuilding together as Schrader’s camera slowly pulls back, lending them both privacy and dignity. Schrader has explicitly swiped the ending of Bresson’s Pickpocket on at least three occasions … But the ending of Master Gardener almost scrubs the Pickpocket ending of its tragic, unfulfilled dimension: Narvel and Maya’s silent expression of love doesn’t need to bypass any barriers because the two have already torn them down. A director whose career trudges on against all odds, Schrader finally lands somewhere near contentment, reveling in the warmth of a second chance.

Maybe everyone’s doing the best they can with an ill-begotten concept, but this looks especially poor and cartoonish after seeing Mission Impossible 7 this month. There’s more nazi and jesus stuff since everyone loves part 3, but as with part 4 the CG isn’t up to the task, so the movie swerves into ugliness. Ending is okay and Mads makes a fine villain, so at least it’s not a new low for the series.

CG Young Indy (who speaks with Aged Indy’s voice) and Toby Jones stop nazis from getting Archimedes’s time-travel dial, then in I think the 1970s Indy teams up with Toby’s daughter Wombat (Fleabag) to stop them again. Precocious kid joins them at some point, since everyone loves part 2. Indy gets to meet Archimedes, and gets to live happily with Marion in the end since everyone loves part 1. Mangold obviously chosen for this movie due to his time travel experience on Kate & Leopold.

Oh yes, it’s time to revisit the Lang films. After directing a couple of American West mythology stories, he got a hell of a screenplay with this one. Closely based on a 1939 novel about a hunter’s “sporting stalk” of an unnamed dictator, John Ford’s screenwriter Dudley Nichols did a find-and-replace to insert the name Hitler, this started filming in March 1941 and was opening wide in June.

Walter Pidgeon (wartime drama Mrs. Miniver, later Forbidden Planet) is our hunter, his monocled nazi captor after the pretend assassination is George Sanders from the previous year’s two Hitchcocks. Sanders wants Pidgeon to sign a confession saying the British government sent him, using this to justify war. Failing that, they hunt Pidgeon all the way to Britain after he escapes on a boat.

Tale of two hunters:

Hilarious cabin boy helps him escape, full of “I say, my word, rather” Britishisms. I didn’t know he was Roddy McDowall, but sensed right off that it was someone important. As soon as Pidgeon lands in Britain he hears a Chumbawamba song, which is accurate to my own experience. He gets out of a street-level chase by abducting Cockney Joan Bennett – extremely pretty, but whose awful accent cripples the movie for a while. Wonder if it’s meaningful that her name is Jerry (also a British term for Germans). She finally grows on you, and Lang obviously liked her, casting her in three more movies.

Presumed dead after a subway fight where Pidgeon third-rails the thug holding his passport, Pidgeon hides in a cave in the woods to wait out the hunt, so he won’t be a threat to others – but too late, the baddies track him and bring the arrow-shaped hat pin of the poor murdered girl who loved him. Pidgeon makes an absurd bow and arrow using the pin and his belt, kills Monocle Nazi Sanders with it, and gets grievously injured so we can see Joan again via fever-montage. Finally provoked into admitting that he did intend to kill Hitler after all, he heads to Germany to finish the job.

Dave Kehr:

These are Nazis as observed by someone who knew them intimately. In fact the chief villain of Man Hunt, a Gestapo officer who calls himself Major Quive-Smith, wears Lang’s trademark monocle. Lang was also known for using his own hands for close-up shots, and the finger on the trigger of Pidgeon’s gun may well have been his own.


Some things I wrote down:

absolute pre-war depravity
urgent manual camera movement mixed with drone shots, real bizarre
a cinephile nazi movie
german Inland Empire

Tom Schilling is our man, falling for barmaid law student Saskia Rosendahl (both actors from Never Look Away), getting fired from his cigarette advertising job, dealing with the suicide of rich political friend Albrecht Schuch (the new All Quiet on the Western Front). This would make a cool double-feature with Transit by Graf’s Dreileben buddy Petzold, both movies ending with a person waiting hopefully in a cafe waiting for someone who will never appear.

Frames within frames:

Hidden name on an artboard, gone when cutting to the next angle:

Hell of an accidental death for our man:

A new horror anthology, with a bunch of directors and actors I like. For those of us who still miss Masters of Horror and won’t watch American Horror Story.

Lot 36 (Guillermo Navarro)

Aaaand it’s not starting out too great. Series producer Guillermo Del Toro wrote this for his longtime cinematographer to direct. Tim Blake Nelson is a bitter, racist veteran, in debt to some dangerous dudes, buying abandoned storage units in hopes of turning a profit off the junk inside. He finds some rare German books in a dead nazi’s unit, and cult expert Sebastian Roché offers to buy them for 10k, or 300k if Tim can find the missing book. They return to the unit together, find the hidden passage behind the false wall, and CG Cthulhu eats Sebastian Roché.

Tim finding the book in less than mint condition:

Graveyard Rats (Vincenzo Natali)

Hmmm, another gross guy in debt trying to make quick cash off the dead… two episodes, and the series is already in a rut. Much more silly dialogue in this one, as David Hewlett (of Natali’s Cube and Splice) robs graves (and other grave robbers). Afraid of rats and confined spaces, of course he becomes buried alive in a rat tunnel, and wouldn’t you know it, he finds another Cthulhu down there. He smooshes the giant blind mama rat, evades a zombie chanting “mine mine mine” like a Nemo seagull or a Jon Spencer song, does not make it out, and gets the Creepshow roach ending.

The Autopsy (David Prior)

More dead bodies, another tentacle creature, and going from a rat cave to a mine. This one is much more complex and original, with elegant camerawork tying the night sky to underground rock to a spiderweb. Sheriff Glynn Turman investigates a bombing that killed some miners, and the stolen identity of late miner Luke Roberts (Batman’s dad in the latest reboot) while Dr. F. Murray Abraham digs through the bodies. One body comes alive, knocks out Dr. Abraham and self-autopsies while meticulously explaining his evil plan (“we have inhabited men for millennia” – it’s a Hidden situation). Given the extra time to plan, and seeing as how he’s dying from cancer anyway, Abraham sabotages his own body to trap the alien when it takes over.

The Outside (Ana Lily Amirpour)

Stacey works at a bank where she doesn’t fit in, shoots and taxidermies ducks in her spare time, is married to cop Martin Starr (blinded in Infinity Baby). She gets addicted to a pricey lotion (with TV spokesman Dan Stevens) that turns everyone else beautiful but only gives her a bad rash, so she uses more and more of it, until she meets her The Stuff doppelganger and they re-enact the end of Annihilation, then she kills her husband and goes to work. Excellent performance by Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oates) trapped in a grueling, overlong episode.

This opens with scenes of death camp nazis bulldozing bodies… Indian starvation camps… mutilated Korean War orphans, and so on, a Faces of Death montage. Feels like an poor way to set the tone for your stupid horror movie, but it turns out they’re making a more socially conscious version of Village of the Damned, and the kids’ psychic murder rampage is payback for all the needless child death caused by adult decisions.

English couple travels to a Spanish island for vacation, having never heard of the Spanish language or culture before, and they happen to arrive on the day the kids rise up against adults. A good British person, he’s obsessed with never telling his pregnant wife what’s happening – when he witnesses the kids string up an adult as a human piñata and attack it with a scythe, he insists to her that it’s nothing, and everything’s fine. This is his fatal flaw, since he becomes convinced that the kids are monsters and she doesn’t, so she wrecks the car when he tries to run them down while escaping. Her own baby attacks her from inside, and he gets a Night of the Living Dead ending when a postman from the mainland sees him killing a kid and shoots him.

Serrador made The House That Screamed, which I didn’t love, but this was on some horror lists and proved to be good and messed-up. The lead guy was in Dr. Phibes Rises Again and his wife in The Secret of Seagull Island. DP José Luis Alcaine has been an Almodóvar regular since Volver.