Told

God Told Me To (1976)

God Told Me To first published by FilmLand Empire “I grew up at a Catholic Boys’ School at the Bronx. Graduated to DeWitt Clinton High School. A year at Fordham University before I joined the force. Where did you go to high school, Harold?” The speaker is Detective Lieutenant Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco), but at…

Sunshine

Blue Sunshine (1978)

Blue Sunshine first published by FilmLand Empire In Taxi Driver (1976), the contradictory and unstable Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) – an ill-educated Vietnam veteran and porn-addicted romantic – is a product of the same gutter-level environment that he so despises. Though illiberal and unhinged, in his desire to clean up the streets Bickle is not unlike…

Parents

Parents (1989)

First published by FilmLand Empire The black-and-white still of a boy’s face. Carefree kids playing with a skipping rope on the sidewalk of a utopian suburbia (to the brash, brassy tune of a Perez Prado mambo). A pink-lettered title appearing across the fender of a pristine, pale blue Oldsmobile. Bob Balaban’s feature debut Parents (1989)…

Darkman

Darkman (1990)

First published by FilmLand Empire Darkman is a film about transitions. Mild-mannered scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson, showing early promise of the unlikely action hero he would later become) is trying to develop a synthetic skin to help burn victims, but has not quite achieved the breakthrough that will allow the engineered dermal cells to…

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

First published by FilmLand Empire Published in 1949, George Orwell’s dystopian allegory 1984 imagined that by the time of the titular year, the whole world would have become a totalitarian system constantly at war with itself.  In fact, what the real 1984 brought us was The Toxic Avenger, the first foray of indie production company Troma…

Society

Society (1989)

First published by FilmLand Empire “The rich have always sucked off low-class shit like you.” This line, coming late in Brian Yuzna’s Society, effectively summarises the film’s dog-eat-dog – or more precisely pedigree-eat-mongrel – theme. For here, five years after Martin Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and three after Paul Mazursky’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills…

Eaten

Eaten Alive (1977)

Eaten Alive first published by FilmLand Empire Texan filmmaker Tobe Hooper peaked early. Following his freakout debut with the rarely seen hippie time capsule Eggshells (1969), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) was only Hooper’s second feature, but would go on to become an important and influential classic of atmospheric unease, changing the genre landscape forever…

Tears of God (2015)

First published by FilmLand Empire The first thing we see in Robert Hillyer Barnett’s feature debut is a movie camera, filmed head on as though it were filming us. The second thing we see, presumably in reverse shot as the true subject of that initial camera, is a woman (Kate Lyn Sheil), half-lost in shadow…

Anguish (Angustia)

Anguish (Angustia) (1987)

Anguish (Angustia) first published by FilmLand Empire “My name is Tom Goldman,” a voice is heard announcing at the beginning of Bigas Luna’s L.A.-set, English-language Spanish-American co-production Anguish (Angustia), “Welcome to our movie. As you’ve seen in the lobby, we have provided medical service which is free of charge on presenting your ticket stub. Oxygen masks…

He Never Died (2015)

First published by FilmLand Empire He Never Died begins with a day in the life of protagonist Jack (Henry Rollins) – a ‘muttering man’ of reclusion, routine and relatively few words who spends most of his time alone in his New York apartment, sleeping or zoning out in front of the TV. Visited by his…

Jauja (2014)

Review first published by FilmLand Empire Jauja is a real city in Peru. In 1534 it briefly became the nation’s provisional capital until a year later Pizarro settled on Lima instead – and it was also located in a rich area, well supplied with Inca food and clothing, which gave rise to its legendary status…