Archive for jacques tourneur

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on July 15, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

Here is a quintet of directors I don’t think get nearly the love they should! I’m getting down to the nitty gritty here; the next list I post will bring me to the mid-point of this project!


#35. Hiroshi Teshigahara

What I’ve Seen: Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1966), Man without a Map (1968), Rikyu (1989), Gô-hime (1992)

Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara sadly only made 11 films! I have seen six of his 11 films and they are all magnificent! Absolute masterpieces! I had borrowed Woman in the Dunes from the library and was waiting in the queue far too long for Teshigahara’s Pitfall and The Face of Another. I couldn’t bare it any longer so I actually bought a used copy of the Criterion 4-disc set from a guy on Craigslist. I had already seen Woman in the Dunes which I gave perfect marks so I felt confident I would at least enjoy the other two. Enjoy them I did! They blew my mind actually! I am so pleased to own this set, which evidently was in absolute mint condition! I have already watched the trio twice! Perfectly constructed films full of striking visuals and intriguing richly drawn characters that make me drool they are so freaking good! In addition to his directing he also became the Grand Master of the School his father founded that taught ikebana (Japanese style of flower arranging). This dude was multi-talented! Hiroshi Teshigahara died on April 14, 2001 at the age of 74, and should be celebrated as one of the great masters of Japanese cinema!


#34. James Whale

What I’ve Seen: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

I have seen just five of the 21 full length feature films directed by James Whale. Four of five of these are the best that classic horror has to offer! Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein are his trio of pure gold I gave a perfect score to. Fantastic sets and costumes, beautifully acted, unique and inventive visuals and effects made these delicious gothic fairytales come alive. Whale had commercial successes with several titles but apparently all good things must come to an end and Whale’s career in the movie industry petered out. James Whale left an indelible mark on film and the horror genre in particular. His 1931 Frankenstein and its sequel Bride of Frankenstein have been the inspiration for multiple decades of filmmakers. James Whale committed suicide on May 29, 1957 at the age of 67 after a long, troubling bout with his health. James Whale is a legend. Word.


#33. Jacques Tourneur

What I’ve Seen: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), Days of Glory (1944), Out of the Past (1947), The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Nightfall (1957), Night of the Demon (1957), The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

I have given four of French-American director Jacques Tourneur’s films a perfect score. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Out of the Past, and Night of the Demon are all magnificent. Be warned, Out of the Past is the only one of the four that is not a horror film; but it is one of my very favourite film noirs. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man were all produced by the immensely talented Val Lewton whose films have given me copious amounts of enjoyment since starting this blog! Tourneur and Lewton were a quality team; I wish they had collaborated more! Tourneur made 36 full length feature films and was an amazing creative talent who’s extraordinary, moody and beautifully filmed masterpieces should be given the ample respect they deserve! Jacques Tourneur died December 19, 1977 at the age of 73 and is one of Goregirl’s Gods!


#32. Takashi Miike

What I’ve Seen: Audition (1999), Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999), Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha (2000), Visitor Q (2001), Ichi the Killer (2001), The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002), Gozu (2003), One Missed Call (2003), Izo (2004), The Great Yokai War (2005), Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), Detective Story (2007), 13 Assassins (2010)

Japanese Director Takashi Miike is one interesting cat. He covers a variety of genres in each one of his 74 full length feature films. Okay, I have not seen nearly that many of his films, I’m basing that on the 15 I have seen. The man is a movie making machine! This is certainly an eclectic list of flicks! One of my favourite horror films from the past couple decades has been Miike’s intense Audition. Most of Miike’s films are not straight up horror but do contain elements. The ultra-violent weirdfest Ichi the Killer, the disturbing family drama Visitor Q, the bizarre horror musical The Happiness of the Kutakuris and the samurai epic 13 Assassins are all films I have given high marks to. I could recommend checking out any of the fifteen films on this list, but I was a little mediocre on Deadly Outlaw: Rekka and Sukiyaki Western Django but otherwise a quality library. Miike is one of the most talented and original filmmakers working today.


#31. Jim Jarmusch

What I’ve Seen: Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Year of the Horse (1997), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), The Limits of Control (2009)

I have seen all 11 full length feature films from American director Jim Jarmusch. He also has a film in pre-production; Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) which needless to say, I am anxious to see! I absolutely love the deadpan humour, the chance encounters, the great casting and the exceptionally likable no-good-nick characters he often features in his films. I love the black and white photography and the real-time lingering of his camera on his subjects. The man is not afraid to show someone chewing on a piece of toast and reading the newspaper. It is superb how he mixes languages in films; like in Night on Earth which is about the adventures of various cab drivers on one particular night in various cities around the world; each segment is subtitled appropriately. There is something charming yet bleak about the way Jarmusch looks at his own culture that is very appealing to me. I gave Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Night on Earth and Dead Man perfect marks! And Mystery Train and Ghost Dog would not be too far behind. Jim Jarmusch is a true American original whose films I eagerly anticipate.


CAT PEOPLE – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by goregirl

Thanks to 366 Weird Movies who suggested I check out the films of producer Val Lewton. I picked up a Lewton double feature with ‘The Cat People’ and ‘The Curse of The Cat People’. I can’t wait to check out more films from this troubled but fascinating man who had a fear of cats. There will be more on Mr. Lewton with my review of ‘The Curse Of The Cat People’. It’s amazing what you can learn when you rewatch a film with commentary!

Irena, new to the city and friendless, meets Oliver Reed who she invites over for tea. She tells Oliver the story behind her strange statue of a man on a horse brandishing a sword impaling a cat. She is haunted by a myth from her small Serbian village that suggests her people are witches and that strong emotions could change them into panthers. Living in the shadow of this curse she believes her passion for Oliver will turn her into one of the cat people. Dismissing her fears, Oliver will have none of it, and so the two get married. But her fears continue and their marriage is troubled, complicated further by a female co-worker who happens to be in love with Oliver.

Oliver is instantly mesmerized by Irena’s beauty, but barely gets a chance to know her before they are married. Her strange story didn’t seem to faze him, but then again, he is portrayed as a man who is naive in the ways of love and women. It doesn’t take long for the marriage to break down. Complaining that everything has always been just honky-dorey for him, he has no idea how to deal with being unhappy. There were a few “poor Oliver” scenes where he is left on the wrong side of closed doors in his unconsummated marriage. Normally I would be put off by pairing up a fairly wishy-washy character with one as intriguing as Irena. But it actually works quite well here. Helping to beef things up is Alice, Oliver’s smart and confident female co-worker and friend. Alice admits to Oliver that she is in love with him. She actually seems genuine in her intentions and wants the best for Oliver. During a scene where the two are having coffee at their favourite haunt, she sends Oliver home to his new wife to work things out, referring to herself as “The new type of other woman”. This makes for a fascinating dynamic. In the end, it is strong emotion, jealously in fact, that brings out the cat woman in Irena.

Simone Simon is excellent as Irena. She is beautiful and sultry, yet sweet and almost child-like. It is easy to understand how Oliver falls instantly in love with her. Kent Smith brings a naive charm to the character of Oliver and Jane Randolph totally sells it as the intelligent and confident Alice. Also along for the ride is Tom Conway, who plays psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd who attempts to treat Irena. He does a nice job playing it mildy quirky and just a bit sleazy. As the film moves along we learn the doctor’s intentions may be less than admirable.

The love triangle can be a dangerous thing, as Alice finds out in two of the film’s most suspenseful moments. The scene where she is walking home alone at night is spectacular. Also impressive is her scene in the swimming pool. It is amazing what can be achieved with the power of suggestion. You never actually see what is stalking Alice and this fear of the unseen really adds to the intensity. In fact, there are two scenes where you do get a glimpse of a cat that I felt were considerably less effective.

The atmosphere is pure perfection and I loved the use of all the cat paraphernalia. The sketch Irena tosses on the ground in the zoo when her and Oliver first meet makes for some excellent foreboding. It also felt appropriate that she sports a long fur coat for most of the film. I adored each and every scene where she visits the panther cage. Particularly poignant is the scene where she cannot resist bringing kitty a treat. There are countless subtle little scenes that are extremely effective, too many to mention. The use of shadow throughout the entire film is a visual treat. It is what you don’t see that makes ‘Cat People’ a truly amazing film. The mood is tight throughout. ‘Cat People’ is a truly outstanding film. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Jacques Tourneur

Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, and Jack Holt