THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
1991, Universal, 102 min, USA, Dir: Wes Craven

Claustrophobic terror and a savage satire of Reaganomics drive this tale of a teenager who tries to keep his family from being evicted but ends up trapped in the home of his psychotic landlords.


BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE
L’UCCELLO DALLE PIUME DI CRISTALLO
1970, AGFA, 96 min, Italy/West Germany, Dir: Dario Argento

Director Dario Argento’s debut feature film was a huge success all over the world and served to codify the classic giallo thriller formula like no picture before or since. Visiting American writer Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses an attempted murder when he becomes trapped in the foyer of a small art gallery. Although our hero has failed to glimpse the assailant’s face, the black-clad killer nevertheless starts dogging his trail when not busy dispatching beautiful young women. Suzy Kendall, as Musante’s girl, is stupendous as always, and a great catalogue of character actors joins in the fun, including disturbed gallery owner Eva Renzi, hitman Reggie Nalder and itinerant, cat-loving painter Mario Adorf. A pure giallo lover’s delight from beginning to end, with perhaps Ennio Morricone’s all-time greatest giallo score.


URBAN LEGEND
1998, Sony Repertory, 100 min, USA/France, Dir: Jamie Blanks

Many urban legends end in grisly death, a fact put to excellent use in this appealingly self-aware slasher film. Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Joshua Jackson and Natasha Gregson Wagner are among the students targeted by an unstoppable killer who may or may not be connected to a 1973 massacre at their New England university. Among the suspects is a professor played by A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET’s Robert Englund.


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