Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer—John McNaughton—1986

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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a film of profound emotional impact. It takes subject  matter familiar to the movies—the psychosexual killer—makes it wholly its own, and it does this on the tail end of the biggest wave of cinematic Psychomania in history. Formally it is masterful in its deployment of mise-en-scene, cinematography, and sound […]


From Dusk Till Dawn—Robert Rodriguez—1996

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This year marks the 15th anniversary of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s cult artifact, From Dusk Till Dawn. Like everything Q.T. has put his hands on, it’s reception has been polarized, and predictably even those that have praised it couch their attaboys in meaningless platitudes about “fun” and “exploitation.” “…made to order for the stimulation […]


“Doppelgangland”—Buffy the Vampire Slayer—1999

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Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the show’s peak in terms of both theme and narrative. Other seasons—2, 5, and even 6—all reached greater emotional heights, and seasons 4 and 7 were visual stunners that strove for cinematic aesthetics and actually got them. Season 3, however—with the introductions of Faith and Anya, the  deep […]


Escape from New York—John Carpenter—1981

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Escape from New York has never been taken very seriously. Its main character, Snake Plissken, is a cult icon of both sincere reverence and high camp, and as such he’s a figure of immutable ambiguity. Much of the film’s limited critical praise falls on its dour black humor which seems largely self-parodic by 2011 standards regardless of Carpenter’s […]