Sunday, November 30, 2014


One keeps changing one's goalposts, doesn't one? Revising a blown deadline, extending a due date to buy oneself more time? I do so unashamedly, for a number of reasons. When I last posted, I was miffed by how Halloween sneaked by with so little fanfare, and swore to extend the celebration of horror into November, taking the 21st as the true end of Halloween.

The 21st was the night the Castro Theatre unleashed a lovely 2fer of British horror: Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now (from a print brought over from the British Film Institute) and Harry Kumel's Daughters of Darkness, a highly regarded cult film I'd been eager to check out for years. I attended that lovely double feature (accompanied by good friend & editor Michael Guillen - go read The Evening Class, will ya?), and yet still can't just put the damn Halloween season to bed.

Especially not since the Castro's unleashing an even-more-glorious horror 2-fer this month, pairing Argento's Suspiria (which I've seen there before and elsewhere on 35mm, but dammit) with Mario Bava's final film Beyond the Door II (aka Shock), and under-the-wire-but-surely-welcome participation in this, Mario Bava's centenary.

So I'm not pronouncing horror season done until that date (and its accompanying movies) are behind us. As for the movies mentioned above...

--Don't Look Now was basically an unknown quantity; I'd seen it on video back in college but hadn't revisited it since. Even knowing the terrifying ending is coming (and it's still a hell of a jolt, and a heartbreaker, besides), the details of the story remain engrossing. Though Roeg feels like he's keeping himself distant from his story, in which Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie mourn their dead child (retreating to Venice, where something strange among the canals seems to stalk them as insistently as their memories), it's as if Sutherland and Christie are able to spread out inside that distance and really explore the depths of sadness, intimacy, alienation, and desolation. For all its penetrating realism there's more than enough touches of the uncanny to propel the thing into the realm of horror. And I wonder now as I did when I first saw it if its visual linking of one scene to the next was lifted directly by comics scribe Alan Moore.

--Daughters of Darkness stretches a low budget and limited resources really, really far, or spends a huge budget to convey that impression. John Karlen (who shot this between Dark Shadows projects - Kumel's casting must have been deliberate) and Danielle Ouimet are newlyweds who find themselves stuck at a desolate Belgian hotel, with only a bizarre countess (Marienbad's Delphine Seyrig, semi-slumming it here under Resnais' encouragement) and her Brooksian secretary (Andrea Rau). It's decadent and dreamy, never quite solid enough to cohere into something truly great but never running out of strange details with which to beguile us. And it gets a lot of mileage out of Seyrig, her costumes, and those interiors, as well.

More soon(ish) on other movies seen in the post-post-Halloween season, including a video or two.