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All reviews - Movies (43) - DVDs (2) - Books (5) - Music (2)

Influential German expressionism

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 9 December 2007 12:34 (A review of The Golem)

An excellent silent film made in Germany and making great use of the expressionist style of filmmaking from that era. Made by the same studio that produced The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari that same year. It was one of the first "monster" movies as well. This movie was a huge influence on James Whale when he made Frankenstein in 1931. It involves a Jewish community being persecuted by Christians. The Jewish rabbi uses "black magic" to bring a clay statue to life in order to protect them from the Christian emperor. The cinematographer, Karl Freund, would go on to lens Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927 and Tod Browning's Dracula in 1931; and in the 50's he was the director of photography for the "I Love Lucy" show.


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Atmospheric Italian classic

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 4 December 2007 04:45 (A review of Mill of the Stone Women)

A classic example of gothic Italian horror from the '60s. This was originally released in 1960, which would prove to be a seminal year for Italian horror. Mario Bava's directorial debut, Black Sunday, was also released this year. Mill Of The Stone Women was directed by Giorgio Ferroni, who would go on to direct one other horror film in 1972, Night Of The Devils. He was more well known for his "peplum" (Italian heroic fantasy movies) and westerns. The story concerns a young researcher named Hans who travels to a remote village (in 1890's era Holland) in search of a strange tourist attraction - The Carousel of Stone Women. The "carousel" is a large mechanical device featuring life-sized moving statues of famous and notorious female historical figures; and the whole attraction is housed within a windmill, owned and operated by an eccentric art professor named Gregorius Wahl. Wahl welcomes the young researcher, giving him a tour of the mill and allowing him access to diagrams of the machine, which his father had built. Wahl gives Hans five days to study the machine, after which time he must leave the mill. It turns out Wahl has a daughter, Elfy, who ends up becoming attached to Hans. Hans realizes Elfy may be mentally disturbed or perhaps something else altogether. I won't go into anymore of the plot for those who haven't seen it, but it's a movie worth seeking out, especially for those who like the atmospheric gothic films of Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda, and Antonio Margheriti. It was shot in Technicolor, and it makes good use of the process with some great visual set pieces. I haven't seen Ferroni's other horror film that I mentioned above, Night of the Devils, but apparently it's based on Russian writer Aleksei Tolstoy's novelette Sem'ya Vurdalaka, which also provided the basis for "The Wurdalak" segment of Mario Bava's Black Sabbath.


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