The besties review
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objectively not a horror movie, but mmkay.
ps. if i somehow had the ability to turn the annoying ppl in my life into ugly ducks or whatever i would totally do it. no remorse, just BAPP! ur a duck.
I feel like this could’ve been really great if it were just a little more subtle. Even from the first scene it was like, “PAY ATTENTION TO THE CATS! THERE’S SOME SHADY CAT BUSINESS GOIN ON! THIS LADY HAS A WEIRD CONNECTION TO CATS!”
Also, Oliver Reed has to be one of the most oblivious husbands in movie history. Is it so hard to just listen to your wife and also stop spending so much time with the woman from work whom your wife is clearly jealous of? I mean, my god.
The last thirty minutes were a lot more interesting/exciting than the beginning of the movie, but I still didn't love it. Oh, well. I have hopes for the sequel!
I Walked with a Zombie
I definitely liked this a lot better than Cat People. Though it doesn’t explore the same themes in the same ways, it lives in a much richer and more well-defined world.
One of my favorite things about I Walked with a Zombie is its setting. Most great horror stories create a “barrier” between the regular world and the supernatural one, usually represented by some kind of transportation. In Dracula it’s when Renfield takes the coach through the Borgo mountain pass that separates the vampire’s castle from the rest of the village. In this year’s brilliant Midsommar it’s the plane ride that takes Dani and the boys across the world to Sweden. I Walked with a Zombie makes the barrier even more explicit, sending its protagonist on a ship from Ontario to the Caribbean island of Saint Sebastian. Is there an example of a horror movie “barrier” crossing more overt and extraordinary than this?
Writers Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray could have set the film in Saint Sebastian simply for visual appeal, but it’s clear from the opening minutes that the setting contributes more to the narrative and themes than anything else in the movie. Though I Walked with a Zombie is far from what we in 2019 would consider “woke,” I think it is important to recognize how different it is from other movies of the decade. Movies like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and It’s a Wonderful Life will always be considered cinema classics, but there’s something to be said for a Val Lewton-produced horror movie that grapples with (or at least attempts to grapple with) the consequences of slavery.
While the four leads of the movie are white and (relatively) wealthy, they appear emotionally stranded on the island, without any community or happiness. They are plagued by the silent wants and whims of the island people, who can move people through spells, compelling them to travel “halfway around the world,” as Wesley claims. Though they all have free will and a conscious (except for Jessica of course), it’s hard not to wonder whether any of them (or any of us) really do anything by choice. Perhaps we are being controlled, tortured, maybe even secretly enslaved by a group of people we have marginalized for too long. Or at least, that is what Jacques Tourneur seems eager to explore. I Walk with a Zombie forces the audience, both now and in 1943, to confront difficult ideas about America’s past without ever mentioning America. It's a surprising notion for a film of this kind, but I think a rather exciting one.
The Curse of the Cat People
Eh. This movie had about 98% less cats. It’s so lackluster it actually made me appreciate Cat People more.
Amy is not Irena
Tarrytown is not New York City
and The Curse of the Cat People is not Cat People.
Carnival of Souls
“To me a church is just a place of business.” —Mary, the organist capable of stirring the soul, and my goddamned hero.
Candace Hilligoss is nothing short of a scream queen. I was actually quite surprised how much genuinely creepy imagery and affecting music this had. Also loved the settings and cinematography. It seems clear to me why this is such a huge inspiration for horror filmmakers. A shame Herk Harvey and Candace Hilligoss never did more features.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!