Horror, westerns science fiction, crime, magic, demons, vampires, zombies, witches, a one-legged detective, people trapped in a deadly house, a damsel in distress and a film editor driven mad by cheap exploitation movies …
Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition of Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan (1922) reveals a startlingly complex and modern work; a multi-layered essay on the subject of the European witch craze of the 14th to 17th Centuries, the film is richly detailed exploration of religion, power and madness which still has relevance today.
Yet more recent random viewing: Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s movie-biz tragedy The Barefoot Contessa (1954); Lucio Fulci’s first and (almost) last gialli, One on Top of the Other aka Perversion Story (1969) anf The New York Ripper (1982); Ivan Nagy’s oddly poetic serial killer movie Skinner (1993); and some cheap bargains from the local drugstore.
Although a very prolific director (of mostly television) from the 1950s to the ’90s, Paul Wendkos isn’t a well-known name today, though at his best he had a real flair for unsettling visuals which suited the burgeoning paranoia of the ’70s. That style is well showcased in The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970) and The Mephisto Waltz (1971).