Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Devil in Folklore and Folklore in Horror

January 16th, 2024 | 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.


Cloven Country: the Devil and the English Landscape (Nonfiction, Jeremy Harte, 2022) Starting in the 16th century English folktales explaining unusual landscape features underwent a switch, substituting a comic, thwartable Devil for the giants and fairies that previously starred in them. In a scholarly but wry and accessible voice, Harte comprehensively rounds these up, abjuring the temptation to theorize a grand cause for the shift and then bend the evidence to fit.—RDL

Ladies in Retirement (Film, US, Charles Vidor, 1941) Staid companion/housekeeper (Ida Lupino) to a fussy former actress (Isobel Elsom) resorts to desperate measures to keep her chaotic, mentally ill sisters (Elsa Lanchester, Edith Barrett) housed with her. Expressionistic Victorian-set gothic based on an English murder play.—RDL

No Hard Feelings (Film, US, Gene Stupnitsky. 2023) In danger of being priced out of her own home town and needing a vehicle to make her summer nut as an Uber driver, a beleaguered townie (Jennifer Lawrence) accepts an offer from worried rich parents (Matthew Broderick, Laura Benanti) to relieve their introverted son (Andrew Barth Feldman.) Reaffirms the heartfelt raunchy comedy as the last vestige of realistic characterization in mainstream movies, with a healthy dollop of class awareness and something of a Mike Nichols vibe.—RDL

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (Film, US, Kier-La Janisse, 2021) The resurgent horror sub-genre gets a comprehensive, international and pancultural survey from critics and filmmakers. Long but meant to be consumed in chapter-length chunks, this will have you scrambling to JustWatch to see which obscure 70s British TV dramas are available for streaming in your region.—RDL


The Black Report  (Fillm, Japan, Yasuzô Masumura, 1963) Cops and prosecutors confront bribes and perjury in the case of a murdered, philandering CEO. Cynical courtroom drama beats Dick Wolf to the Law & Order structure by 30 years.—RDL


Sakra (Film, China/HK, Donnie Yen) Stalwart leader of a Song Dynasty bandit gang (Donnie Yen) battles his own allies when he is framed for the murders of his parents and a subordinate. Setup for a franchise fails to untangle a convoluted plot it has presumably inherited from its wuxia source novel.—RDL

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