DEPRAVED – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Longtime independent Larry Fessenden, whose Glass Eye Pix has consistently supported young genre filmmakers, returns to a classic story he first tackled 25 years ago in No Telling, with a modern-day Frankenstein story that returns to one of the novel’s core themes: The dense and complex relationship between parents and children, however ambivalent the parents and however challenging the child. Fessenden pokes around some uncomfortable truths and the result is a discomfiting horror film for the social-media generation.

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JACOB’S LADDER – Review by Maitland McDonagh

A remake of the 1990 psychological horror film, this new Jacob’s Ladder (which debuted on DISH network before receiving a theatrical release) manages to seem longer than the original—despite being nearly 15 minutes shorter—and is ultimately both less eerily stylish and less compelling.

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DARK SPECTER 2 – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Directed by Richard Tatum and written by/starring Bruce Nachsin, the nine-minute, live-action short Dark Specter 2 opens with self-important good-guy Vibraboom and glowering, scarlet-clad, KISS-eyed supervillain Dark Specter duking it out on an anonymous city street over a big bag of stolen cash. The bad guy sort of wins this, though the loot gets incinerated (pesky fireballs!) and Vibraboom manages to insult Specter by calling him “Little Red Riding Hood” before losing his head in the worst possible sense of that term. Evil Dark Specter!

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LUZ – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Luz is a sleepy, creepy slow burn that—like oh-so-many films about demonic possession—lives in the twilight zone of adolescent sexuality, a sleepy wasteland that breeds monsters of every shape and form. And like so many films whose origin lie in relationships between adolescent girls, Luz is rooted in the primordial horror of female sexuality that stops short of blaming female problems for all the troubles of the world.

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For the Love of Gialli – Maitland McDonagh comments

There was a time when few American moviegoers knew what giallo meant, but the gialli genre helped change the landscape of American films during the 1970s, a time of tumultuous changes in American filmmaking. Gialli brought a new sensibility to American shores—not to art houses, but to local cinemas and then television, video, DVD and streaming—one that has thrilled generations of moviegoers and moviemakers. Nightmares are discomfitingly potent dreams, and gialli are candy-colored nightmares it’s oh-so hard to resist.

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FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Forbidden Photos of A Lady Above Suspicion is a thriller that takes on a whole new significance in our era of, to be honest, frightening biotechnology, in addition addressing—however indirectly—still hot-button issues related to agency, consent and larger social constructs that define a woman’s right to say, “Hell no.”

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STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Where to begin? Strip Nude for Your Killer is a mind boggler—how many movies that suggest they’re all about sexy hijinks open with a pretty young woman—a model, it ensues–legs spread, having a heart attack as she undergoes an illegal abortion? Yes, that’s the start of a fun time at the movies.

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THE CAT RESCUERS – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Animal rescue work is a personal avocation—The Cat Rescuers makes that clear—but it’s also a measure of how seriously a society takes its responsibility to those without power. And it’s not a great leap to immigrant children, the impoverished elderly, abused women and poor children and teenagers.

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BEFORE STONEWALL – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Newly restored to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Greta Schiller’s Before Stonewall (1984) chronicles the making of a gay and lesbian community, through the recollections of gay men and women who paved the road to Stonewall by simply living their lives and loving the people they loved, despite draconian laws that ensured that they could be refused employment or fired from their jobs, denied the right to rent apartments and thrown in jail simply for being who they were. The film reminds us that rights fought and paid for can be taken away, a fact well worth noting in our parlous times.

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KEDI — Review by Maitland McDonagh

In much of the world, stray and feral felines are considered nuisances at best and outright pests at worst. But not in Istanbul, argues Turkish-born, US-based filmmaker Ceyda Torun, whose Kedi (odd how much the word sounds like “kitty”) documents the lives of street cats whose beat—one that spans millennia–is the city’s busting waterfront district, where shopkeepers and residents alike have settled into a symbiotic relationship with the sweet-faced little predators who help keep the rodent population down while happily accepting handouts.

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