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Ken and Robin Consume Media: H. P. Lovecraft Film Fest Highlights (and more)

October 6th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

10 Rillington Place (Film, UK, Richard Fleischer, 1970) Mousy, diabolical serial killer John Christie (Richard Attenborough) murders the young mother (Judy Geeson) living in the upstairs flat, maneuvering her husband (John Hurt) into prime suspect status. Authentically grim true crime docudrama touches on the notoriously botched investigation that led to the execution of an innocent man and allowed Christie to kill four more victims, but primarily focuses on his criminal profile.—RDL

In Fabric (Film, UK, Peter Strickland, 2018) Seeking a boost of confidence as she re-enters the dating world, a shy bank clerk (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) buys a red dress from a boutique run by pervy capitalist witches. Absurdist satire with a diptych structure reverently conjures the stylistic flourishes of 70s giallo.—RDL

Nina of the Woods (Film, US, Charlie Griak, 2020) Failing actress Nina (Megan Hensley) takes the role of “local witness” in a reality-TV Bigfoot-hunting show, only to re-enter the haunted woods she explored with her father as a child. Thank the Great Spirit, this is not a found-footage film, but instead a plangent folk-horror piece; Stalker with a rural American accent. For trying something new, and for taking the time to paint its supporting characters with life and care, the film gets Recommended despite a somewhat mixed result. –KH

Rabid (Film, Canada, David Cronenberg, 1977) Experimental surgery recipient (Marilyn Chambers) grows a feeding tube under her arm and a thirst for blood, becoming patient zero in an epidemic that spreads via violent bite attacks. Homely seventies Canadian decor grounds the horror in this weird science update of the vampire as pandemic vector motif. And yes it’s super weird that I hadn’t seen this till now.—RDL

Good

Eerie Fairy Tales (Film, Estonia, Mart Sander, 2019) Anthology film comprising four stories: a tavern-told horror (Good but the ending lacks punch); a UFO puzzle in the fine tradition of old, cruel SF (Recommended but somewhat cheap-looking); a beautifully shot proper fairy tale (Recommended); and a shaggy-dog murder mystery joke (Okay for terrible accents and telegraphing its ending almost immediately). –KH

Intersect (Film, US, Gus Holwerda, 2020) Physics prodigy Ryan (Jason Spisak) and two colleagues build a time machine at Miskatonic University. This film needed at least one rewrite (to provide payoff for the time spent in Ryan’s past) and another edit to provide a bigger hit of Primer-style metaphysics and to handle the tonal shifts as the story moves backwards. TV’s James Morrison is sadly wasted in a conventional supporting role; lead Spisak can’t convey enough meaning to invest us; the villain is a cartoon. But, Lovecraftian time machine! [Currently available for rent on Amazon streaming.]

Loving You (Film, HK, Johnnie To, 1995) Brusque, philandering cop (Lau Ching Wan) tries to become a better man and husband after being shot in the head. A couple of years before the epic run that starts with A Hero Never Dies, To’s signature style is pretty much in place, with the weak link a script that fails to connect the emotional dots between its action thriller and romantic drama components.—RDL

The Return (Film, Canada, BJ Verot, 2020) After his father’s death, physics prodigy Roger (Richard Harmon) returns to his family home to find it possibly haunted by his dead sister’s imaginary friend. A nice, tight sfnal twist on the haunted house with a script just a bit too talky to keep suspense up where it needs to be. The actors are fine, but Verot doesn’t trust them to sell the material. –KH

Okay

The Deep Ones (Film, US, Chad Ferrin, 2020) Alex (Gina La Piana) and her husband Petri (Johann Urb) rent a beach house in a gated community and discover … well, you know what they discover. As the leader of the cult, Robert Miano gives a bravura Columbo-villain performance but the rest of the film doesn’t deliver enough juice to lubricate its completely obvious plot. Too-visible creatures and tentacles don’t help. –KH

The Hill and the Hole (Film, US, William Darmon & Christopher Ernst, 2020) A surveyor (Liam Kelly) discovers something weird about a mound in a strange small town. I so wanted to like this film, based on a bluntly creepy Fritz Leiber story, but the script careens entirely arbitrarily from point to point, the comedy fails at both camp and cult, and the effects would have done AIP proud circa 1970. –KH [Currently streaming on Amazon.]

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