Sordid Cinema Podcast
Sordid Cinema Podcast #558: ‘Frailty’ Remains a Solid Horror Mystery

Sordid Cinema Podcast #558: ‘Frailty’ Remains a Solid Horror Mystery

October 26, 2020

Frailty Podcast Review

The late Bill Paxton’s 2001 directorial debut Frailty may have passed by unnoticed at the box office, but over time this low-budget, atmospheric horror film has maintained a steady appreciation. This week Rick and Patrick are joined by Montreal-based film writer and professor Matthew Hays to break down just what makes this underseen gem so good, as well as dive into its themes of religious piety and family dynamics. The story of a man who believes he has been chosen by God to destroy demons living as humans on earth delves into dark places, as this good-natured mechanic also turns his mission into a family affair – even as one of his sons thinks his father may be going insane.

From strong performances to an interesting script with an unreliable narrator, Frailty consistently engages the audience and is sure to surprise them as well with its many (too many?) twists. Join us as we sort out all the plot details and ponder the mysteries. How well does Frailty handle the supernatural elements? Would the film have worked even better with more ambiguity, or is the clarity of vision one of its strengths? For all this and more, have a listen!

Sordid Cinema Podcast #447: An Invitation To The Dance: ‘The Exorcist III’ at 30

Sordid Cinema Podcast #447: An Invitation To The Dance: ‘The Exorcist III’ at 30

October 19, 2020

William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, wrote and directed this creepy thriller, based on his novel Legion. Thankfully he ignored the events of John Boorman’s disappointing Exorcist II: The Heretic, and abandoned cheap scares altogether, instead allowing the events to unfold like a detective story about one man’s search for faith. The Exorcist 3 isn’t quite as good as the first film, but thanks to some powerful performances by Brad Dourif and George C. Scott, Blatty directs a picture that is just as frightening.

There are several stand-out scenes: The dream sequence with George C. Scott moving through Heaven, delivers a strong punch, and the moment where George C. Scott enters the ward and the camera pans upwards to reveal one of the patients crawling on the ceiling, is spooky as hell. However, the most memorable scene comes when a nurse investigates strange noises during her graveyard shift. Director Blatty shows great patience in holding a far shot for an ample amount of time while making good use of ominous sounds heard in the distance. The sequence culminates with not one, but two of the best jump scares you’ll ever see; both will have you jolt from your seat. On the climactic exorcism scene, Blatty fought with the producers who demanded a frenzy of special effects. In retrospect, this might be one of the rare times in which the studio made the right choice and not the director. After all, what is an Exorcist film without an exorcism?

The picture is also extraordinarily well-acted by the likes of George C. Scott, who provides some of his best work, and Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), who is equally riveting as The Gemini Killer. Gerry Fisher’s widescreen lensing is put to excellent use within the narrow corridors and caged cells of the asylum and Barry De Vorzon’s eerie score will make the hairs on your arms stand up. Those looking for a truly creepy picture, look no further. On this episode of the Sordid Cinema Podcast, we’ll go over all this and explain why The Exorcist 3 will surely get under your skin.

Sordid Cinema Podcast #556: ‘Waterworld’ is Buoyed by Fantastic Action

Sordid Cinema Podcast #556: ‘Waterworld’ is Buoyed by Fantastic Action

October 11, 2020

Though perhaps most famous upon its release for being the most expensive movie at the time, Kevin Costner’s aqua-drenched, apocalyptic epic Waterworld has managed to slough that narrative and stay afloat in a sea of sinking blockbusters. The story of a fish-man who befriends a woman and little girl after surviving an atoll raid by smoking pirate goons is a little more comic-booky than its Mad Max facade might initially suggest, but despite odd tonal shifts and a couple of underwhelming performances, there is still a lot to love here.

This week, Rick and Patrick discuss the best parts of this mega movie, including a bizarre setting, lavish production design, and skillful practical filmmaking. They also dive into the trouble-filled shoot, talk a little of Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds’ filmmaking history, and try their best to come up with apt comparisons for this strange film. With action set pieces that are still amazing and gorgeous, colorful ocean imagery that pops off the screen, doesWaterworld has enough ingredients to shedding its soggy reputation? For all this and more, have a listen!

Sordid Cinema Podcast #555: Feel the Need, the Need for Speed

Sordid Cinema Podcast #555: Feel the Need, the Need for Speed

October 9, 2020

It’s been more than three decades since Tony Scott’s aerial action drama first flew into theaters and Tom Cruise took our breath away as Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell. It was May 16, 1986, to be exact when Top Gun was released and inspired moviegoers around the world to put on aviator shades, bomber jackets and try their best to walk and talk like Maverick! Say what you will about Top Gun —you can’t deny the movie was incredibly influential and helped reshape Hollywood action movies moving forward. It made Cruise a superstar and was the start of a hugely successful partnership between Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. And despite its initial mixed critical reaction, the film was also a huge commercial hit grossing $356 million stateside against a production budget of only US$15 million. There’s plenty of reasons to love Top Gun and on this episode of the Sordid Cinema podcast, we’ll tell you why.

Sordid Cinema Podcast #554: ‘Dressed to Kill’ is Draped in Stylish De Palma

Sordid Cinema Podcast #554: ‘Dressed to Kill’ is Draped in Stylish De Palma

July 29, 2020

Dressed to Kill Podcast Review

Though many may not rank it among his best (including our own Ricky D), Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill is nevertheless a perfect example of how a particular director can greatly enhance the material through individual craftsmanship and sensibilities. Sure, what should be a fairly simple story of a high-class call girl both investigating and fleeing from the mysterious woman she witnessed commit a bloody murder might get a bit needlessly convoluted and confusing thanks to De Palma’s screenplay, but there is never any doubt in the clarity of the visuals. The director brings his Hitchcockian best here, with several standout scenes worthy of discussion, including a virtuoso flirtation sequence in a museum, as well as a grisly slashing in an elevator.

 

In addition to the fantastic camerawork, Rick and Patrick also save some praise for the performances, many of which rise above the sometimes-hokey dialogue to create memorable characters (and yes, that praise includes Nancy Allen as call girl Liz). They also discuss De Palma’s influences, and though Dressed to Kill might seem like an overt homage to Hitchcock’s Psycho, it also owes something to giallo horror films of the day. These elements all come together to result in a stylish, adult thriller the likes of which modern audiences could use more of. But can Dressed to Kill still enjoy a wide appeal?

 

For all this and more, have a listen!

 

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #553: The True Villain of “Candyman” Isn’t the Hook-Handed Ghost

Sordid Cinema Podcast #553: The True Villain of “Candyman” Isn’t the Hook-Handed Ghost

July 9, 2020

Candyman Podcast Review

This week the Sordid Cinema Podcast takes a look at Bernard Rose’s Candyman – a radical, sophisticated psychological horror film that is just as effective, relevant, and terrifying today as it was upon its release. Joining us is Sean Colletti (co-host of the Mid-Season Replacements Podcast) to discuss Tony Todd’s iconic performance; Philip Glass’s operatic score; Bernard Rose’s Hitchcockian direction, and Virginia Madsen’s powerhouse performance as the so-called hero (but possibly villain), Helen. All this and more!

Sordid Cinema Podcast #552: Revisiting’Gremlins 2: The New Batch’

Sordid Cinema Podcast #552: Revisiting’Gremlins 2: The New Batch’

July 2, 2020

One of the Best Horror Sequels Turns 30!

Gremlins 2: The New Batch Podcast Review

This week the Sordid Cinema Podcast takes a look at 1990’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one of the strangest sequels ever made by a Hollywood studio. Famous for director Joe Dante’s reluctance to return to his world of the mischievous little monsters without the total creative control eventually granted him, Gremlins 2 plays almost like a satire of the original, as well as of sequels in general and numerous cultural trends at the time. Chaotic, comedic, yet tightly structured, this renegade, Looney Tunes-inspired film mocks everything from the convoluted Mogwai Rules to the sad backstories that Kate seems to have for specific holidays. And thanks to Rick Baker (also a co-producer), there are plenty of amazing creatures perpetrating the hijinks this time around. Bat gremlins, spider gremlins, lighting gremlins – this movie has it all!

Rick and Patrick are joined by writer/film critic Mariko McDonald to parse out the plethora of in-jokes, references to classic horror, odd Easter eggs, fourth wall-breaking, and overall zaniness, while also discussing a bit of the film’s history and how it compares to Gremlins. One could talk for hours about this masterful example of studio-funded anarchy, so for all this and more, have a listen!

Sordid Cinema Podcast #551: Why ‘La Haine’ is as Explosive 25 Years On

Sordid Cinema Podcast #551: Why ‘La Haine’ is as Explosive 25 Years On

June 16, 2020

La Haine Podcast Review

Twenty-five years ago, Mathieu Kassovitz’s French black-and-white drama crime drama La Haine sent shockwaves through the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and the Best Director prize.

A story of social unrest, La Haine was inspired by three isolated incidents involving the killing of unarmed young people by police officers (including the famous case of the 17-year-old Congolese Makomé M’Bowolé) that led to three weeks of riots in Paris and surrounding areas.

Starring Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Vincent Cassel (in his breakout performance), La Haine is set over 19 consecutive hours in the lives of three young men living in the impoverished, multi-ethnic public housing complexes known as Chanteloup-les-Vignes. We follow the three of them in the aftermath of a riot in a banlieue that left their teenage friend Abdel comatose in a hospital after being brutally beaten by the police. When Vinz recovers a gun lost by a cop during the riot, he feels empowered and decides to take revenge.

Twenty years on, La Haine feels more relevant than ever. It’s arguably the best film made about systemic racism and police brutality— easily the best film released in 2015— and one of the most powerful pieces of urban cinema ever made. Today on the Sordid Cinema Podcast we reflect on the film’s lasting significance and why it holds a special place in our hearts.

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Sordid Cinema Podcast #530: Stephen King’s ‘It’

Sordid Cinema Podcast #530: Stephen King’s ‘It’

September 19, 2017

There just aren’t enough movies about crazy killer clowns these days, so it’s with open arms that we welcome Pennywise back onto the screen. He’s grown up a bit, as this latest adaptation of Stephen King’s IT is the first to release theatrically, but not a step has been lost in the process when it comes to terrorizing dorky kids. This week Simon, Rick, and Patrick immerse themselves in a frightening world of town curses, freaky paintings, New Kids on the Block, and tighty whities. How does the new version of IT compare to the 1990 miniseries? Who’s the coolest Loser in the Loser’s Club? Is that one scene from the book really unfilmable? And most importantly, will IT make audiences remember what it’s like to be afraid of slide projectors?

Sordid Cinema Podcast #526: ‘Dunkirk’

Sordid Cinema Podcast #526: ‘Dunkirk’

August 30, 2017

This week on the Sordid Cinema Podcast, Simon and Patrick are once again joined by guest Bill Mesce, author of The Rules of Screenwriting, to discuss Christopher Nolan’s latest experiment in complex timelines and blockbuster filmmaking, Dunkirk. This war film is of a different ilk, ditching narrative for a more sensory experience. While at least one of us absolutely gushed over the virtuoso filmmaking, perhaps others weren’t so enthralled by yet another Nolan puzzle box. Join us as we muse over the poetic style, debate the intrusiveness of the unconventional structure, compare Dunkirk with Nolan’s own repertoire as well as past war films, and wonder whether the writer-director could have pushed the limits of big-budget movies still further. For all this and more, have a listen!

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