BETTER WATCH OUT
2016, Well Go USA, 85 min, USA, Dir: Chris Peckover

A festival fave across the world, this subversive, violent and hilarious Christmas-set black comedy opens as Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is gearing up for another night of babysitting 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) and his geeky best friend (Ed Oxenbould). But the planned evening of pizza, some games and a film soon takes a left turn in this brilliant inversion of the home-invasion formula, as Ashley faces dangers unheard of in order to keep herself and those in her charge alive. With Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen in small but unforgettable appearances as Luke’s parents.


DARK BLOOD
2013, Cinemavault, 86 min, USA, Dir: George Sluizer

Boy (River Phoenix), a young widower with native American roots, lives in a desert in the USA contaminated by nuclear tests. In this desolate place, surrounded by katchina dolls which the indigenous population believes possess magical powers, he awaits the end of the world. His refuge is suddenly invaded by Harry and Buffy (Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis), a couple second honeymooning in an attempt to save their marriage. When their Bentley breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Boy offers to help. But then, hoping to cross over into a better world with Buffy, he starts treating them like prisoners. When Dark Blood’s leading actor River Phoenix died suddenly ten days before the end of the shoot in 1993, the film’s insurance company became the owner of the unfinished material. Years later, director George Sluizer managed to save his footage from being destroyed. In January 2012 he decided to edit the unfinished film. The resulting work is an existentialist latter-day Western which derives much of its evocative power from the presence of its leading man, who was himself teetering on the brink of death.


CAT PEOPLE
1942, Warner Bros., 73 min, USA, Dir: Jacques Tourneur

Serbian immigrant Irena (Simone Simon) can’t bring herself to bed new husband Oliver (Kent Smith) for fear she will transform into a cat, as her homeland’s fables warn. When hubby sends her to a psychiatrist, Irena’s problems only worsen, until her demons come clawing and growling to the surface. Jacques Tourneur’s darkly stylish, genuinely frightening horror-noir is laced with subversive sexual undertones, and was the high point of his estimable collaborations with producer Val Lewton at RKO.


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