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Texas, Adios (1966) ***

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Texas, Adios(aka Texas, Addio) (1966) is a solid shoot-‘em-up with a memorable theme song written by the film's composer Antón García Abril and sung by Don Powell. Released just months after the more successful (and better) Franco Nero-starrer Django (1966), TA doesn't have the same finesse as many other Italian Westerns (even as Ferdinando Baldi attempts to ape the Leone extreme close-up). Additionally, Alberto Dell'Acqua's (here playing the younger brother of Nero's character) reactions as a character are very inconsistent. There are some violent moments, but nothing shocking; TA has more in common with a traditionally-styled western like Peckinpah's Ride The High Country (1962). No big surprises from this one; just a decent way to spend 90 minutes.

Django (1966) ****

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Django (1966) is widely and correctly regarded as one of the best and most influential Italian Westerns. There are a number of reasons for this—one is Franco Nero's handsome and manly titular antihero, who, despite a seemingly misanthropic and even sadist attitude toward humankind, has a certain code of ethics. Another is Sergio Corbucci's story and direction—iconic scenes of Django dragging a coffin across various landscapes, feuding Mexican revolutionaries vs. a former Confederate Major and his private KKK army, a town with the thickest mud you've ever seen, a thrilling bar fight, excessive hand torture, and a certain reveal of a certain beneficial weapon are incredibly memorable. And, of course, there is the music—Djangofeatures a rousing, grand, at times screeching score by Luis Bacalov and an unforgettable ear worm of a theme song that never gets old, crooned to perfection by Rocky Roberts.

Female Trouble (1974) ****

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I only saw Female Trouble (1974) for the first time earlier this year when The Criterion Collection released their delicious Blu-ray of the film. My review from my first viewing is here. It was a blast to see the film with an audience this time, especially the type that at least some of them can appreciate (though judging by the silence during scenes I find really funny, I couldn't tell if some people were truly offended or not). I hadn’t had a good belly laugh like I did tonight for far too long. Rewatching FT put me in the mood, so as I type this I'm listening to A Date With John Waters (2007), an excellent compilation that I highly recommend.

For fans of Waters's subversive humor, guerrilla filmmaking and unique brand, Female Trouble is required viewing (and re-viewing) and don't you forget it!

You can find my John Waters Feature Films Ranked list here.


Eureka (1983) ***1/2

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Eureka(1983) is a disjointed movie, a tonally schizophrenic mess, but not one without moments of pure cinematic brilliance. Much like his films that came before it, Nicolas Roeg's fragmented, experimental style is on display, perhaps a bit less so, but there is no question that this is one of his films.

There are scenes of violent savagery, of sexual abandonment, of dreamlike wonder. Some of the dialogue feels a bit forced and none of the characters are particularly likable, but they are always engaging and the film is never boring (not to mention that the cast is a very peculiar combination of stars). The score by Stanley Myers is sweeping and grandiose.

Much like the way that Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) references the Orson Welles-starring The Third Man(1949)on numerous occasions, Eureka has obvious parallels to Welles's Citizen Kane(1941) and Gone With The Wind (1939) (which it name drops more than once), as well as parallels to the themes and style of TMWFT…

M.R. Mackenzie "In The Silence" (2018) ****

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Full disclosure: M.R. Mackenzie is a friend of mine. I've guest hosted numerous times on the podcast which he co-hosts, Movie Matters. I also helped proofread this book, so this was my second read-through. And I like to support my friends in their creative endeavors. Regardless of all that, I can honestly say that his debut novel In The Silence (2018) is excellent. It's right up your alley if you're fan of gialli such as What Have You Done To Solange?(1972) and/or murder/mysteries in the vein of a modernized Agatha Christie.

A whodunit with a criminology lecturer named Dr. Anna Scavolini as its protagonist, Silence is a riveting page-turner that rarely lets up steam. When Anna returns home to Glasgow for the holidays she witnesses a former classmate die before her eyes. When the police fail to give the case the attention she feels it deserves, she proceeds to investigate on her own. Anna's discoveries will shock and repulse her in equal measure, as well as put her saf…

Street Trash (1987) ****

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Street Trash(1987) is a film I have a long history with, dating back to frequent viewings on VHS with my friends in high school. It holds the distinction of being in my Top 100 Films, if only because it's so blatant in its offensiveness, but also because it delivers—gooey, slimy, splattery, neon gore in buckets, that is.

There's a loose plot involving decades-old booze called Tenafly Viper, which causes those unfortunate enough to drink it to ooze, bubble and drip to their death (why this happens is never explained, but hey, we need an excuse to melt some people here!). On top of that, a sociopathic Vietnam vet named Bronson who rules the roost at a junkyard has some major PTSD and proves a threat to just about everyone. Everything else is just sort of stitched together but that's part of the charm.

Yes, the film's characters are unapologetically mean, racist, homophobic and misogynistic, but it also paints a picture of the homeless, cops, prostitutes, and liquor store…

Murder Rock (1984) ***

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Murder Rock (1984) isn't one of Lucio Fulci's best films but it's a solid giallo with a memorable Italo disco score by the legendary Keith Emerson. Purportedly, the producer had seen Flashdance(1983) and Fame (1980) and "forced" Lucio to incorporate similar elements to cash in on the success of those films. To be certain, Fulci's camera loves to linger on the (frequently nude) female form of the many models making up the majority of the film, but the dance numbers, whilst maybe a bit cheesy, are fun and impressively shot. Plus, I challenge you to find another film with as many glistening spandex-clad buttocks and crotches and stylishly shot murder set pieces.

You can find my Lucio Fulci Feature Films Ranked list here.

You can find my Giallo Feature Films Ranked listhere.

True Stories (1986) ****

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David Byrne's True Stories (1986) is a unique, weird and wonderful film about the everyday lives of a bunch of unique, weird and wonderful people in the fictional Texas town of Virgil. Much of the film has no explanation or obvious connection but the randomness is what makes these stories so special. Visually and musically driven, True Stories, which mixes both actors and non-actors,is funny without being forced, charming without being corny and optimistic without being obnoxious.

The Favourite (2018) ****

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Director Yorgos Lanthimos scores again with his most accessible film to date, The Favourite (2018), his third English language feature, after 2015's The Lobster(2015) and 2017's The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. While those other two films tend to be intentionally obtuse and as accessible as this film may be, it's still a bitter, darkly comic delight about what women of various statures will do for love, for country, and, in particular, for their own gain.

The cinematography draws much attention to itself but Lanthimos goes for broke (to great success) with swish pans, fisheye lenses, multiple exposure, and natural lighting à la Barry Lyndon (1975). All three leads are fantastic, as they plot, yearn, and backstab. The at times rapid-fire, acerbic dialogue is delicious. The costumes and production design are impressive and accurate but a wonderful juxtaposition is created by the crude language, anachronistic dance moves, and the repetitive, tense, atonal score. The movie is ve…

Blood Feast (1963) **1/2

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Having finally seen Blood Feast (1963) I can now say that I've seen a Herschell Gordon Lewis film. And it was about what I'd expected: awful, laughable, cheesy, thinly plotted, and terribly acted but very entertaining. An important film for horror, impressive for having grossed $4 million on a $25K budget, and a huge inspiration to one of my heroes, John Waters, but not one I'd go out of my way to ever watch again.