German Expressionism, Neighborhood Ghouls and Denzel Washington

I have an eclectic selections of films for you tonight as the countdown rolls on. We are almost halfway and we are now officially beyond the point at which I quit last year, so … progress.

MV5BNWJiNGJiMTEtMGM3OC00ZWNlLTgwZTgtMzdhNTRiZjk5MTQ1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTMxODk2OTU@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,705,1000_AL_55. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
1920

You gotta love German expressionism. The set pieces alone in this silent masterpiece are reason enough to watch it. You’ll also get an education. I love words (I have the best words). I had occasion to drop “Scholomance” in my second novel. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari taught me somnambulist – sleepwalker.

In the film, Dr. Caligari is a bit of a sideshow showman and he uses his charge, Cesare (played by Conrad Veidt), to commit murder at his behest, or does he? This is an early example of the unreliable narrator concept. It’s hard to get your head around that part of it because it is a silent film. This movie inspired a lot of early Gothic horror, and definitely had influence on F.W. Murnau who made Nosferatu two years later.

Veidt went on to star in The Man Who Laughs (1928), which is widely considered the model and inspiration for the look of iconic Batman villain, The Joker. Veidt also played a significant role in 1942’s film noir classic, Casablanca.

MV5BNGQ4OTI4NmUtZDI1Mi00NTA2LWFlY2YtYWVmNjgzYmFmZjIyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_54. The People Under the Stairs
1991

Wes Craven crafted a really good dark film with this one. Weirdos in the neighborhood kidnap and collect children. If a child doesn’t behave, he/she ends up mutilated and sent to the basement.

Urban legend says the creeps are loaded and Ving Rhames plays the neighborhood crook who is going to get that money. A young neighborhood boy saves the young girl, Alice (A.J. Langer), destined to be the next to be sent to the basement. There is some great dark humor in this film and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Everett McGill and Wendy Robie play the miserly brother and sister who have been terrorizing the neighborhood for years. Sean Whalen is a treat as Roach.

MV5BY2Q1OGI4ZGQtMzc3OS00YzIyLThhNWQtYWUxODc3NzU0YWQ4L2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_53. Fallen
1998

Oh, what a treat this is. Denzel Washington plays a man who goes from cop to demon hunter as he is terrorized by the singing demon Azazel, who travels from person to person and comes to enjoy tormenting Washington’s character.

John Goodman, Donald Sutherland and Embeth Davitz (Army of Darkness, Bicentennial Man) star in this pleasant surprise. Don’t let the title or the Rotten Tomatoes review score scare you off on this one. Washington’s Detective John Hobbes comes up with a plan to rid the world of Azazel once and for all, but as always, the best laid plans of mice and men … this is my favorite Denzel Washington film.

Directed by Gregory Hoblit and written by Nicholas Kazan, Fallen explores demonology, theology, and good old-fashioned detective work. There are some gut-wrenching deaths in this one. You really feel for Hobbes and his inner circle.

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