As a feature relatively hidden from mainstream film culture, Death Occurred Last Night’s only critical talk belongs to the hardcore giallo enthusiasts. Debate over whether the film fits into the strict classifications of giallo or perhaps the less-enthused poliziotteschi take prominence in these discussions, with something of a consensus drawn as “probably neither”.
In 1975, Bud Cort, high from his recent success as Harold in Harold & Maude, decided to don a rough goatee and follow a trail of money that ended at a psychedelic passion project from a no-name director. In some ways, Hallucination Strip could remind one of the recent Under the Skin insomuch that Cort’s baby-face and mustachio combo along with his heavy Italian ADR give him the image of a well-blended alien amongst the Roman hippies.
ia’s opening scene for A Touch of Sin acts as a device for reintroduction. We have previously seen the sixth generation Chinese auteur craft with slow-paced sensibility and political tinge to win over audiences with Unknown Pleasures (2002), The World (2004), and Still Life (2006). The aesthete continues to creep alongside Jia’s work as his camera quietly pursues a man on a motorcycle, donning a Chicago Bulls skullcap and weighty cargo jacket, manufactured black but padded with a layer of dust.
By just examining the title, L’immortelle appears to be the quintessential Alain Robbe-Grillet film. It’s French, it’s feminine (that is, it’s being used to describe a woman), and it translates to “The Immortal”, a reference to how often the woman appears posthumously thanks to its unique narrative structure. Robbe-Grillet is primarily known as a writer, and primarily known in the film world as having penned Resnais’s equally immortal Last Year at Marienbad just two years before this feature.
During the silent era, the reinvention of visual horror allowed filmmakers and producers to experiment in film techniques that would become a mainstay in the genre’s mode of expression. Many of these relied heavily on makeup (Frankenstein, Dracula) or early pioneering special effects (The Haunted Castle, The Phantom Carriage), but some relied on more human sensibilities. Mere movement and facial expressions dominate the horrific tone in F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, Max Schreck’s grotesque, almost Korinian features have remained a cornerstone of vampiric imagery for nearly a century. In the same vein, John Barrymore has managed a horror portrait in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that has left John S. Robertson’s vision of the Robert Louis Stevenson story a target for restoration and preservation against countless other Jekyll remakes. Barrymore’s future star power is present in his depiction of the familiar transformation scene — overacting by today’s standards perhaps, but the contortions and physical limits he is willing to break in order to make the change memorable has itself solidified Robertson’s interpretation as a milestone in early horror.