Sara Fist tweets a lot about movies, especially horror, noir, and Sergio Corbucci's Compañeros (@fisty). She's two-thirds of the Peanut Butter & Gialli blog (https://peanutbutterandgialli.wordpress.com/) and Tumblr (http://peanutbutterandgialli.tumblr.com/), and also Tumbls at Horror Without People (http://horrorwithoutpeople.tumblr.com/) and Rendezvous in Noir (http://rendezvous-in-black.tumblr.com/). Sometimes she moderates Dreadit. Her Letterboxd is at: http://letterboxd.com/sarafist/
This was on my to-watch list for ages, and now that I've seen it, I'm torn between wishing I'd seen it sooner so that I could have had years more to love it, or being grateful I first saw the Code Red Blu, which lets its true beauty shine. Because this is one gorgeous flick. A surreal, unnerving, Lovecraftian nightmare in a Quiet Little American Town. Arletty comes to Point Dude looking for her artist father, and while she doesn't find him, she finds his diary describing a ddescent into madness. Aided by the mysterious collector Thom and his duo of nymphets, she attempts an investigation, but their efforts are stymied by the horrors overtaking Point Dune. I'm in love with everything in Messiah of Evil, and watched it every day for a week this October. Every. Damn. Day. It's really the unsung masterpiece of American Seventies horror, and I can't rhapsodize about it enough.
Though he's still writing and directing in Italy, Pupi Avati pretty much fell off the horror map after Zeder, with that and the giallo House with the Laughing Windows as his genre legacies. But in 1996 he released this beautiful, moody, and incredibly spooky period horror about a seminary student who takes refuge from his sins (and prosecution thereof) with an excommunicate priest and diabolicist. If we've learned anything from horror films, that is just not a good idea. So Giacomo learns as the atsmosphere and gradually increasing dread coalesce into an absolute nightmare of evil. It's a sort of folktale of fear; the Devil therein isn't apocalyptic in scope, but one of the devils that plague us daily.
When I saw this on TCM's Next On, I knew I could miss Bette Davis as a washed-up actress hitting bottom, and I was right. This is Bette Davis at possibly her most Bette Davisesque, and a beautiful young Sterling Hayden star in an enjoyably histrionic melodrama. The Star's Margaret Elliot lies somewhere between Margo Channing and Baby Jane Hudson, with her drunken antics (the Oscar drive is a delight) and redemption by way of the love of a good man (somewhat contrived, yes, but who wouldn't give up a great deal for that Norse God?). A pure popcorn film.
Claire Trevor is the calculating divorcee Helen, and Lawrence Tierney murderous bad boy Sam, and Born to Kill is an illustration of what happens when two irresistable forces collide, and it is hot as fuck. In a year of noir discoveries (by virtue of TCM's #NoirSummer, as well as #Noirvember), Born to Kill is one of the most memorable; many of the #TCMParty people I watched it with were equally stunned. HHelen's gotten a quickie divorce so she can marry up, but then she meets Sam, and the obsession is instant and mutual. When she returns to her finace, he follows her and marries her wealthy foster sister. Things get complicated by a few murders along the way. Trevor's Helen is a bitch in heat, and Tierney's Sam a hot-tempered psychopath, and their greed and ruthlessness and self-destructive desires combine to destroy virtually everything they touch. It's grim, it's hardboiled, it's amoral and perverse, and it is so very sexy.
Flavia checked off my nunsploitation category for the October Horror Movie Challenge, but it's really not exploitative in the slightest. Florinda Bolkan, she of the cheekbones and eyes, is positively incendiary as a not so young noblewoman immured in a convent per her father's wishes. She has an inquiring mind and a desire for more than the world behind the convent walls, leading her to friendship first with her tutor, Abraham the Jew, and later with a heretical (and possibly mad) nun, Sister Agatha. The corruption and hypocrisy she witnesses in the Church leads Flavia to flee and seek vengeance, taking up arms against her people with an Ottoman invader, Ahmed. Often stunning, sometimes sickeningly gory, and occasionally delirious, Flavia straddles the line between art film and exploitation, but what it is is (bluntly) feminist and scathingly anticlerical (can you imagine a more depressing double feature than this and Fulci's Beatrice Cenci?). Also notable is Anthony Higgins as the beautiful Ahmed; his relationship with Flavia is fascinating.
Runners up: The White Reindeer, Sobrenatural, Ganja & Hess, Rabid Dogs.