My Favorite William Wyler Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

2.   Dodsworth (1936)

3.   Hell’s Heroes (1929)

4.   Counselor at Law (1933)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Heiress (1949)

2.   The Letter (1940)

3.   The Collector (1965)

4.   The Little Foxes (1941)

5.   Roman Holiday (1953)

6.   Jezebel (1938)

John Charet’s Favorite Horror Films of All-Time

Hey there dear readers 🙂 Before I say anything else, let me say that I am aware that some television episodes of horror items are missing and I intend to periodically update this list to include them when I am not so busy. I put this list together fast that is why. Also, I have been enjoying myself this month by watching nothing but horror films 🙂 So I hope all of you enjoy this list that I composed by each decade in chronological order. Enjoy the list and last, but not least, I would love to wish all of my dear readers a Happy Halloween 🙂

1896-1920

1. The House of the Devil (1896) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(a.k.a. The Haunted Castle)
(a.k.a. The Devil’s Castle)
(Short Cinema)
2. A Nightmare (1896) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(Short Cinema)
3. The Bewitched Inn (1897) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(Short Cinema)
4. The Astronomer’s Dream (1898) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(Short Cinema)
5. The Four Troublesome Heads (1898) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(Short Cinema)
6. Bluebeard (1901) (Dir: Georges Melies)
(Short Cinema)
7. The House of Ghosts (1908) (Dir: Segundo de Chomon)
(Short Cinema)

1920’s

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) (Dir: Robert Wiene)
2. The Haunted Castle (1921) (Dir: F.W. Murnau)
3. The Phantom Carriage (1921) (Dir: Victor Sjostrom)
4. Haxan (1922) (Dir: Benjamin Christensen)
5. Nosferatu (1922) (Dir: F.W. Murnau)
6. Faust (1926) (Dir: F.W. Murnau)
7. The Unknown (1927) (Dir: Tod Browning)
8. Un Chien Andalou (1929) (Dir: Luis Bunuel)
(Short Cinema)

1930’s

1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) (Dir: Rouben Mamoulian)
2. Frankenstein (1931) (Dir: James Whale)
3. Freaks (1932) (Dir: Tod Browning)
4. Island of Lost Souls (1932) (Dir: Eric C. Kenton)
5. The Old Dark House (1932) (Dir: James Whale)
6. Vampyr (1932) (Dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer)
7. The Invisible Man (1933) (Dir: James Whale)
8. King Kong (1933) (Dir: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack)
9. The Black Cat (1934) (Dir: Edgar G. Ulmer)
10. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (Dir: James Whale)

1940’s

1. Cat People (1942) (Dir: Jacques Tourneur)
2. The Ghost Ship (1943) (Dir: Mark Robson)
3. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) (Dir: Jacques Tourneur)
4. The Leopard Man (1943) (Dir: Jacques Tourneur)
5. The Seventh Victim (1943) (Dir: Mark Robson)
6. Bluebeard (1944) (Dir: Edgar G. Ulmer)
7. The Curse of the Cat People (1944) (Dir: Robert Wise)
8. The Uninvited (1944) (Dir: Lewis Allen)
9. The Body Snatcher (1945) (Dir: Robert Wise)
10. Dead of Night (1945) (Dir: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer)
(Anthology Film)
11. Isle of the Dead (1945) (Dir: Mark Robson)
12. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) (Dir: Albert Lewin)
13. Bedlam (1946) (Dir: Mark Robson)
14. The Spiral Staircase (1946) (Dir: Robert Siodmak)
15. Fireworks (1947) (Dir: Kenneth Anger)
(Short Cinema)
16. The Queen of Spades (1949) (Dir: Thoroid Dickinson)

1950’s

1. The Man from Planet X (1951) (Dir: Edgar G. Ulmer)
2. The Thing from Another World (1951) (Dir: Christian Nyby)
3. House of Wax (1953) (Dir: Andre De Toth)
4. Godzilla (1954) (Dir: Ishiro Honda)
5. Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) (Dir: Kenneth Anger)
(Short Cinema)
6. Them! (1954) (Dir: Gordon Douglas)
7. Diabolique (1955) (Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot)
8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) (Dir: Don Siegel)
9. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) (Dir: Jack Arnold)
10. Night of the Demon (1957) (Dir: Jacques Tourneur)
11. Dracula (1958) (Dir: Terence Fisher)
(a.k.a. Horror of Dracula)
12. The Testament of Doctor Cordelier (1959) (Dir: Jean Renoir)
(Television)

1960’s

1. Black Sunday (1960) (Dir: Mario Bava)
2. Eyes Without a Face (1960) (Dir: Georges Franju)
3. The Housemaid (1960) (Dir: Kim Ki-young)
4. Jigoku (1960) (Dir: Nobuo Nakagawa)
5. Peeping Tom (1960) (Dir: Michael Powell)
6. Psycho (1960) (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
7. Village of the Damned (1960) (Dir: Wolf Rilla)
8. Hercules in the Haunted World (1961) (Dir: Mario Bava)
9. The Innocents (1961) (Dir: Jack Clayton)
10. Carnival of Souls (1962) (Dir: Herk Harvey)
11. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) (Dir: Robert Aldrich)
12. The Birds (1963) (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
13. Black Sabbath (1963) (Dir: Mario Bava)
(Anthology Film)
14. The Haunting (1963) (Dir: Robert Wise)
15. Matango (1963) (Dir: Ishiro Honda)
16. These Are the Damned (1963) (Dir: Joseph Losey)
(a.k.a. The Damned)
17. The Whip and the Body (1963) (Dir: Mario Bava)
18. Blood and Black Lace (1964) (Dir: Mario Bava)
19. Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) (Dir: Robert Aldrich)
20. Kwaidan (1964) (Dir: Masaki Kobayashi)
21. The Masque of the Red Death (1964) (Dir: Roger Corman)
22. Onibaba (1964) (Dir: Kaneto Shindo)
23. Planet of the Vampires (1965) (Dir: Mario Bava)
24. Repulsion (1965) (Dir: Roman Polanski)
25. Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966) (Dir: Mario Bava)
26. Punch and Judy (1966) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
27. The War of the Gargantuas (1966) (Dir: Ishiro Honda)

28. Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967) (Dir: Giulio Questi)
(Horror/Western)
29. Viy (1967) (Dir: Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov)
30. The Flat (1968) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
31. Hour of the Wolf (1968) (Dir: Ingmar Bergman)
32. Kuroneko (1968) (Dir: Kaneto Shindo)
33. The Living Skeleton (1968) (Dir: Hiroshi Matsuno)
34. Night of the Living Dead (1968) (Dir: George A. Romero)
35. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) (Dir: Roman Polanski)
36. Shogun’s Joys of Torture (1968) (Dir: Teruo Ishii)
(Anthology Film)
37. Spider Baby (1968) (Dir: Jack Hill)
38. Spirits of the Dead (1968) (Dir: Federico Fellini)
(Segment: “Toby Dammit”)
(Anthology Film)
39. Witchfinder General (1968) (Dir: Michael Reeves)
40. Blind Beast (1969) (Dir: Yasuzo Masumura)
41. Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) (Dir: Teruo Ishii)
42. Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) (Dir: Kenneth Anger)
(Short Cinema)

1970’s

1. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) (Dir: Dario Argento)
2. Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970) (Dir: Mario Bava)
3. The Ossuary (1970) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Documentary)
(Short Cinema)
4. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) (Dir: Jaromil Jires)
5. A Bay of Blood (1971) (Dir: Mario Bava)
(a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve)
6. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) (Dir: Piers Haggard)
7. Daughters of Darkness (1971) (Dir: Harry Kumel)
8. The Devils (1971) (Dir: Ken Russell)
(I watched it online)
9. What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) (Dir: Curtis Harrington)
10. Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971) (Dir: Curtis Harrington)
11. The Devil (1972) (Dir: Andrzej Zulawski)
12. Images (1972) (Dir: Robert Altman)
13. The Last House on the Left (1972) (Dir: Wes Craven)
14. Sisters (1972) (Dir: Brian De Palma)
15. The Baby (1973) (Dir: Ted Post)
16. Blood for Dracula (1973) (Dir: Paul Morrissey)
17. The Crazies (1973) (Dir: George A. Romero)
18. Don’t Look Now (1973) (Dir: Nicolas Roeg)
19. The Exorcist (1973) (Dir: William Friedkin)
20. Flesh for Frankenstein (1973) (Dir: Paul Morrissey)
21. Ganja & Hess (1973) (Dir: Bill Gunn)
22. Lisa and the Devil (1973) (Dir: Mario Bava)
23. Messiah of Evil (1973) (Dir: Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck)
24. Theatre of Blood (1973) (Dir: Douglas Hickox)
25. The Wicker Man (1973) (Dir: Robin Hardy)
26. Black Christmas (1974) (Dir: Bob Clark)
27. It’s Alive (1974) (Dir: Larry Cohen)
28. Phantom of the Paradise (1974) (Dir: Brian De Palma)
29. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (Dir: Tobe Hooper)
30. Young Frankenstein (1974) (Dir: Mel Brooks)
31. Deep Red (1975) (Dir: Dario Argento)
32. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) (Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini)
33. Shivers (1975) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
(a.k.a. They Came from Within)
34. Trilogy of Terror (1975) (Dir: Dan Curtis)
(Segment: “Amelia”)
(Anthology Film)
(Television)
35. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) (Dir: Alfred Sole)
36. Carrie (1976) (Dir: Brian De Palma)
37. God Told Me To (1976) (Dir: Larry Cohen)
38. The Tenant (1976) (Dir: Roman Polanski)
39. Castle of Otranto (1977) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
40. Demon Seed (1977) (Dir: Donald Cammell)
41. Eraserhead (1977) (Dir: David Lynch)
42. Martin (1977) (Dir: George A. Romero)
43. Rabid (1977) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
44. Suspiria (1977) (Dir: Dario Argento)
45. Dawn of the Dead (1978) (Dir: George A. Romero)
46. Empire of Passion (1978) (Dir: Nagisa Oshima)
47. The Fury (1978) (Dir: Brian De Palma)
48. Halloween (1978) (Dir: John Carpenter)
49. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (Dir: Philip Kaufman)
50. Someone’s Watching Me! (1978) (Dir: John Carpenter)
(Television)
51. Alien (1979) (Dir: Ridley Scott)
52. The Brood (1979) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
53. Legend of the Mountain (1979) (Dir: King Hu)
54. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) (Dir: Werner Herzog)
55. Phantasm (1979) (Dir: Don Coscarelli)
56. Salem’s Lot (1979) (Dir: Tobe Hooper)
(Miniseries)
(Television)

1980’s

1. Altered States (1980) (Dir: Ken Russell)
2. The Changeling (1980) (Dir: Peter Medak)
3. The Fall of the House of Usher (1980) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
4. The Fog (1980) (Dir: John Carpenter)
5. Inferno (1980) (Dir: Dario Argento)
6. The Ninth Configuration (1980) (Dir: William Peter Blatty)
7. The Shining (1980) (Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
8. Zigeunerweisen (1980) (Dir: Seijun Suzuki)
9. An American Werewolf in London (1981) (Dir: John Landis)
10. The Beyond (1981) (Dir: Lucio Fulci)
11. The Evil Dead (1981) (Dir: Sam Raimi)
12. Possession (1981) (Dir: Andrzej Zulawski)
13. Scanners (1981) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
14. Basket Case (1982) (Dir: Frank Henenlotter)
15. Creepshow (1982) (Dir: George A. Romero)
(Anthology Film)
16. The Entity (1982) (Dir: Sidney J. Furie)
17. Next of Kin (1982) (Dir: Tony Williams)
18. Poltergeist (1982) (Dir: Tobe Hooper)
19. Q (1982) (Dir: Larry Cohen)
20. Tenebrae (1982) (Dir: Dario Argento)
21. The Thing (1982) (Dir: John Carpenter)
22. Vincent (1982) (Dir: Tim Burton)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
23. The Dead Zone (1983) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
24. Down to the Cellar (1983) (Dir: Jan Svanmajer)
(Animation)

25. The Fourth Man (1983) (Dir: Paul Verhoeven)
(Short Cinema)
26. Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983) (Dir: John Landis)
(Music Video)
(Short Cinema)
27. The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope (1983) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
28. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (Dir: George Miller)
(Segment: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”)
(Anthology Film)
29. Videodrome (1983) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
30. Frankenweenie (1984) (Dir: Tim Burton)
(Short Cinema)
31. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (Dir: Wes Craven)
32. Day of the Dead (1985) (Dir: George A. Romero)
33. Phenomena (1985) (Dir: Dario Argento)
34. Re-Animator (1985) (Dir: Stuart Gordon)
35. The Return of the Living Dead (1985) (Dir: Dan O’Bannon)
36. The Stuff (1985) (Dir: Larry Cohen)
37. The Fly (1986) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
38. From Beyond (1986) (Dir: Stuart Gordon)
39. Gothic (1986) (Dir: Ken Russell)
40. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) (Dir: John McNaughton)
41. Manhunter (1986) (Dir: Michael Mann)
42. Angel Heart (1987) (Dir: Alan Parker)
43. Bad Taste (1987) (Dir: Peter Jackson)
44. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) (Dir: Ching Siu-tung)
45. Epidemic (1987) (Dir: Lars Von Trier)
46. Evil Dead II (1987) (Dir: Sam Raimi)
47. Hellraiser (1987) (Dir: Clive Barker)
48. Near Dark (1987) (Dir: Kathryn Bigelow)
49. Opera (1987) (Dir: Dario Argento)
50. Prince of Darkness (1987) (Dir: John Carpenter)
51. The Stepfather (1987) (Dir: Joseph Ruben)
52. White of the Eye (1987) (Dir: Donald Cammell)
53. Dead Ringers (1988) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
54. Lair of the White Worm (1988) (Dir: Ken Russell)
55. Manly Games (1988) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
56. Monkey Shines (1988) (Dir: George A. Romero)
57. They Live (1988) (Dir: John Carpenter)
58. Flora (1989) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Animation)
(Short Cinema)
59. Society (1989) (Dir: Brian Yuzna)

1990’s

1. Jacob’s Ladder (1990) (Dir: Adrian Lyne)
2. The Reflecting Skin (1990) (Dir: Philip Ridley)
3. Two Evil Eyes (1990) (Dir: Dario Argento and George A. Romero)
(Anthology Film)
4. Army of Darkness (1992) (Dir: Sam Raimi)
5. Candyman (1992) (Dir: Bernard Rose)
6. Dead Alive (1992) (Dir: Peter Jackson)
(a.k.a. Braindead)
7. Raising Cain (1992) (Dir: Brian De Palma)
8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) (Dir: David Lynch)
9. Body Bags (1993) (Dir: John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper)
(Anthology Film)
(Cable/Television)
10. Cronos (1993) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
11. The Dark Half (1993) (Dir: George A. Romero)
12. In the Mouth of Madness (1994) (Dir: John Carpenter)
13. Cemetery Man (1994) (Dir: Michele Soavi)
14. The Kingdom (1994-1997) (Dir: Lars Von Trier)
(Miniseries)
(Television)
15. Cure (1997) (Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
16. Mimic (1997) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
17. Perfect Blue (1997) (Dir: Satoshi Kon)
(Anime)
18. Ringu (1998) (Dir: Hideo Nakata)
19. Vampires (1998) (Dir: John Carpenter)
20. Audition (1999) (Dir: Takashi Miike)
21. eXistenZ (1999) (Dir: David Cronenberg)
22. Ravenous (1999) (Dir: Antonia Bird)

2000’s

1. Bruiser (2000) (Dir: George A. Romero)
2. Ginger Snaps (2000) (Dir: John Fawcett)
3. Little Otik (2000) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(a.k.a. Greedy Guts)
(Live-Action/Animation)
4. The Devil’s Backbone (2001) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
5. Ichi the Killer (2001) (Dir: Takashi Miike)
6. Pulse (2001) (Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
7. Trouble Every Day (2001) (Dir: Claire Denis)
8. Blade II (2002) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
9. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) (Dir: Don Coscarelli)
10. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002) (Dir: Guy Maddin)
11. May (2002) (Dir: Lucky McKee)
12. Shaun of the Dead (2004) (Dir: Edgar Wright)
13. Three… Extremes (2004) (Dir: Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike)
(Anthology Film)
14. The Descent (2005) (Dir: Neil Marshall)
15. Land of the Dead (2005) (Dir: George A. Romero)
16. Lunacy (2005) (Dir: Jan Svankmajer)
(Live-Action/Animation)
17. Masters of Horror (2005) (Dir: John Carpenter)
(Episode: “Cigarette Burns”)
(Cable/Television)
18. Masters of Horror (2005) (Dir: Joe Dante)
(Episode: “Homecoming”)
(Cable/Television)
19. Masters of Horror (2005) (Dir: Don Coscarelli)
(Episode: “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”)
(Cable/Television)
20. Bug (2006) (Dir: William Friedkin)
21. The Host (2006) (Dir: Bong Joon-ho)
22. Masters of Horror (2006) (Dir: Takashi Miike)
(Episode: “Imprint”)
(Cable/Television)
23. Masters of Horror (2006) (Dir: Larry Cohen)
(Episode: “Pick Me Up”)
(Cable/Television)
24. Masters of Horror (2006) (Dir: Lucky McKee)
(Episode: “Sick Girl”)
(Cable/Television)
25. The Woods (2006) (Dir: Lucky McKee)
26. American Zombie (2007) (Dir: Grace Lee)
(Mockumentary)
27. Diary of the Dead (2007) (Dir: George A. Romero)
28. Inside (2007) (Dir: Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo)
29. Rec (2007) (Dir: Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza)
30. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) (Dir: Michael Dougherty)
(Anthology Film)
31. Let the Right One In (2008) (Dir: Tomas Alfredson)
32. Antichrist (2009) (Dir: Lars Von Trier)
33. Coraline (2009) (Dir: Henry Selick)
(Animation)
34. Drag Me to Hell (2009) (Dir: Sam Raimi)
35. Heartless (2009) (Dir: Philip Ridley)
36. Jennifer’s Body (2009) (Dir: Karyn Kusama)
37. The Loved Ones (2009) (Dir: Sean Byrne)
38. Splice (2009) (Dir: Vincenzo Natali)
39. Survival of the Dead (2009) (Dir: George A. Romero)

2010’s

1. Let Me In (2010) (Dir: Matt Reeves)
2. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010) (Dir: Eli Craig)
3. The Cabin in the Woods (2011) (Dir: Drew Goddard)
4. The Woman (2011) (Dir: Lucky McKee)
4. The Babadook (2014) (Dir: Jennifer Kent)
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) (Dir: Ana Lily Amirpour)
6. It Follows (2014) (Dir: David Robert Mitchell)
7. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) (Dir: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi)
(Mockumentary)
8. Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015) (Dir: Sam Raimi)
(Episode: “El Jefe”)
(Cable/Television)
9. Crimson Peak (2015) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
10. The Devil’s Candy (2015) (Dir: Sean Byrne)
11. The Invitation (2015) (Dir: Karyn Kusama)
12. Southbound (2015) (Dir: Chad, Matt & Rob, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner and Patrick Horvath)
(Anthology Film)
13. We Are Still Here (2015) (Dir: Ted Goghegan)
14. The Witch (2015) (Dir: Robert Eggers)
15. The Love Witch (2016) (Dir: Anna Biller)
16. Raw (2016) (Dir: Julia Ducournau)
17. Under the Shadow (2016) (Dir: Babak Anvari)
18. Gerald’s Game (2017) (Dir: Mike Flanagan)
19. Get Out (2017) (Dir: Jordan Peele)
20. Little Evil (2017) (Dir: Eli Craig)
21. Mother! (2017) (Dir: Darren Aronofsky)
22. XX (2017) (Dir: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama)
(Anthology Film)
23. Annihilation (2018) (Dir: Alex Garland)
24. The Haunting of Hill House (2018-Present) (Dir: Mike Flanagan) (Anthology Series)
(Netflix Streaming Series)
25. Hereditary (2018) (Dir: Ari Aster)
26. Mandy (2018) (Dir: Panos Cosmatos)
27. A Quiet Place (2018) (Dir: John Krasinski)
28. The Dead Don’t Die (2019) (Dir: Jim Jarmusch)
29. Midsommar (2019) (Dir: Ari Aster)
30. The Lighthouse (2019) (Dir: Robert Eggers)
31. Ready or Not (2019) (Dir: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett)
32. Us (2019) (Dir: Jordan Peele)

My Favorite Richard Fleischer Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Mandingo (1975)

2.   The Narrow Margin (1952)

3.   The Boston Strangler (1968)

4.   10 Rillington Place (1971)

5.   The Vikings (1958)

6.   20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   Compulsion (1959)

2.   The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955)

3.   Violent Saturday (1955)

4.   So This Is New York (1948)

My Favorite John Huston Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Wise Blood (1979)

2.   The Maltese Falcon (1941)

3.   Fat City (1972)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

2.   The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

3.   The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

John Charet’s Take On: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Warning: This review contains potential spoilers. If you have not seen the film then I advise you to not read any further.

Pulp novelist Mickey Spillane’s 1947 potboiler I, the Jury is not only notable for being his first novel, but it also served as our introduction to the character of Mike Hammer. Unlike the anti-heroes of Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade) or Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe), detective Hammer came off as a vulgar brute and Spillane’s stories were made all the more sexier and violent as a result. Regardless of what literary critics thought about Spillane’s Hammer books, the public quickly gobbled up each entry while eagerly awaiting the next one. Eventually, Hammer would make the leap from the page to both screen and television beginning in the 1950’s with arguably hit or miss results. However, If I were to single out only one film adaptation of his as an unqualified success, it would be 1955’s Kiss Me Deadly, the sixth installment in Spillane’s Hammer series.

Los Angeles private detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) is driving on a road one night and discovers an escaped female mental patient (Cloris Leachman) on the street clad in only a trench coat and in desperate need of both help and a ride. Hammer picks her up and shortly after introducing herself as Christina and reminding him to “remember me”, she and Hammer are ambushed by what appears to be three seedy criminals. Eventually, Christina is tortured to death (offscreen) and along with a slightly unresponsive Hammer, the gang places both of them in Hammer’s car and then dumps it off the cliff leading to it’s destruction. A few days after the incident, we learn that Hammer has miraculously survived as he awakens in a hospital room. Shortly after leaving the hospital, Hammer is questioned by members of the Interstate Crime Commission in regards to the events that unfolded on that night. Hammer believes that the now deceased Christina (last name Bailey) had to be involved in “something big” as he puts it.

Ignoring the advice of his superiors, most notably that of Lt. Pat Murphy (Wesley Addy) and (later on) a stranger who warns him (via a phone message) to not go any further with the case, Mike Hammer goes out to solve the mystery. Thanks to a science reporter by the name of Ray Diker (Mort Marshall), Hammer is able to track down information on the names of Leopold Kowolsky and Nicholas Raymondo via two people: Harvey Wallace (Strother Martin) and Carmen Trivago (Fortunio Bonanova). Kowolsky is a pro fighter and Raymondo is an atomic scientist. Hammer learns from both Wallace and Trivago that along with Christina, Kowolsky and Raymondo were killed as well. In between those two meetings, Hammer is led to two gangsters by the names of Charlie Max (Jack Elam) and Sugar Smallhouse (Jack Lambert), who both work for kingpin Carl Evello (Paul Stewart). Even though the gang is responsible for the killings, at the same time, they may have been ordered to murder them by the mysterious Dr. G.E. Soberin (Albert Dekker). In addition to all of this, Hammer learns that the real name of Christina’s roommate was not Lily Carver, but Gabrielle (Gaby Rodgers) and that she was hired by Soberin to get the key from her since it belongs with the mysterious box acquired by him.

Directed and produced by the two-fisted Robert Aldrich (Vera Cruz) and written by tough as nails novelist turned screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides (Thieves’ Highway and On Dangerous Ground), Kiss Me Deadly is both intended (from Aldrich’s point of view) and unintended (from Bezzerides point of view) as a political allegory for it’s then current time period. Nevertheless, Aldrich and Bezzerides remained united in their loathing for Mickey Spillane’s 1952 novel of the same name and under the eye of Aldrich, Bezzerides was more than happy to deconstruct the source material. Likewise, Spillane reportedly hated their version of his book as well. Speaking for myself, I see Kiss Me Deadly as a 1950’s film noir with openly anti-fifties tendencies.

As entertainment, Kiss Me Deadly feels and moves like a joyride. Blissfully unaware of anything relating to political or social comment, screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides is only interested in having a lot of fun in regards to where he goes with each colorful character and situation. Coincidentally, we as the audience connect to the material in the same way he does. On film, Ralph Meeker’s portrayal of Mike Hammer comes off as the detective we hate to love. When he is not casually and suddenly roughing up a bunch of thugs; leaving another genuinely frightened, he similarly closes a desk drawer on a poor sap’s hand. If that is not enough, Hammer also tricks another thug into killing one of his own (under the false impression that he is killing Hammer). Hammer’s interrogation methods are not so much rooted in rage (though that is part of it) as much as it is in getting the job done. To put it in other words, Hammer debatably makes Harry Callahan (a.k.a. Dirty Harry) look like a Social justice warrior (SJW) by comparison. Our devilish grins at this kind of behavior feels wrong, but for some odd reason, it doesn’t thanks to the film’s extremely dry sense of dark humor. As for the women Hammer converses with on his trail, we go from Cloris Leachman’s semi-crazy, but sweet-natured Christina to Maxine Cooper’s sexy secretary Velda (Hammer’s assistant) to Marion Carr’s even sexier Friday (“a very loose woman”) and finally to Gaby Rodgers deceiving Lily Carver/Gabrielle. On a personal note, Lily Carver/Gabrielle may just be the femme fatale to end all femme fatales within the film noir genre. We (the audience) are enjoying ourselves immensely on this joyride so much that we are expectedly or unexpectedly (yet intentionally) thrown off by the explosive finale. In my view, this symbolizes the car crash made inevitable by our recklessness (i.e. by applauding all of this onscreen anarchy).

On the outside, A.I. Bezzerides script for Kiss Me Deadly may resemble the mentality of a prankster, but on the inside, it represents (by design) the work of a killjoy courtesy of director Robert Aldrich. Screenwriter Bezzerides may have had a ball writing it, but Aldrich saw it as something more radical. One might get the feeling that the overall film gives off a sense of nihilism, but a significant portion of that quite possibly stems from Aldrich’s personal feelings about the 1950’s in general. Hardboiled writer Mickey Spillane may have been a staunch anti-communist, but this fact did not stop Aldrich and Bezzerides (both left-wingers) from intentionally and unintentionally deconstructing one of his Mike Hammer books and in the process, unapologetically subverting the conformity that shaped that decade as a whole. Considering the setting’s relocation from New York (in Spillane’s novel) to Los Angeles (in Bezzerides script), this gave Aldrich the opportunity to take all of the Cold War era paranoia ripped from the headlines and bring it closer to home in more ways than one. Detective Hammer’s vigilantism (for better or worse) truly appealed to fifties readers and as nasty as he was there, he is even nastier here. Aside from violently beating up criminals simply for the sheer joy of it, Hammer reveals himself to be a sociopath as he also blackmails the men and women involved in the divorce cases he takes on. Not only that, but Hammer seems to be motivated more by self-interest than in justice for Christina Bailey. Unlike the revelation used in Spillane’s story (a briefcase supposedly full of illegal drugs), the MacGuffin here comes in the form of a glowing Pandora’s box containing deadly radioactive material. The inevitable unleashing of it is symbolic of the American public’s then current fear of nuclear war, as well as the atomic bomb and other weapons of that magnitude.

When he is not gleefully wallowing in sadism for our delight or engaging in politically charged theories, director Robert Aldrich allows us to appreciate the even finer things that Kiss Me Deadly has to offer. Shot in a gritty black-and-white by cinematographer Ernest Laszlo, the film’s tone is set close to after two minutes into the beginning as we are introduced to the opening credits scrolling backwards down instead of up while Nat King Cole’s “Rather Have the Blues” plays on detective Mike Hammer’s car radio. Cole’s song coincidentally and eerily foreshadows the chain of events Hammer (Meeker) will unexpectedly get himself into after picking up the frightened Christina Bailey (Leachman) whose life is in danger. Prior to all of this though, Hammer and Bailey share a lighthearted moment together where she gently teases him with her theory about him being one of those “self-indulgent males” who only thinks about himself. Finally getting on his nerves, a mildly annoyed Hammer hilariously tells her to “let it go.” This sweet moment only makes Bailey’s death at the hands of her pursuers all the more tragic. As viewers, we notice that this scene marks the only time that Hammer expresses his softer side even If it is all too subtle. Last, but not least, Aldrich treats us to a grand tour of what the city of Los Angeles looked like at that time. Highlights for me include (but are not limited to) some of the Bunker Hill locations (read here and here) that were torn down during the late 1960’s.

Operating under it’s thinly disguised status as the definitive Mike Hammer movie/adaptation of a Mickey Spillane property, Kiss Me Deadly actually starts off as an unconventional B film noir and for a while, that is where it seems to be heading. Once the plot gets into high gear though, it suddenly turns into an anti-noir with implicit political overtones and elements of science-fiction blended together into one. In the end, the apocalyptic Kiss Me Deadly finishes up as a genuinely unclassifiable American cult classic with a distinctive European or semi-European flavor.

-Star Rating-
* * * * (Out of * * * *)

My Favorite Agnes Varda Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Faces Places (2017)
(co-directed with JR)
(Documentary)

2.   The Gleaners and I (2000)
(Documentary)

3.   Vagabond (1985)

4.   Daguerreotypes (1976)
(Documentary)

5.   Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)

6.   Jacquot de Nantes (1991)
(I saw it on an old VHS tape)

7.   The Beaches of Agnes (2008)
(Documentary)

8.   Happiness (1965)
(no relation to the 1998 film)

9.   Cinevardaphoto (2004)
(Documentary)

10. Far from Vietnam (1967)
(co-directed with Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais)
(Documentary Anthology)

11. Mur murs (1981)
(Documentary)

12. La Pointe Courte (1955)

13. Jane B. for Agnes V. (1988)

14. Documenteur (1981)

15. One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977)
(I saw it on an old VHS tape)

16. Kung-Fu Master! (1988)

17. The World of Jacques Demy (1995)
(Documentary) 

18. The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993)
(Documentary)

19. The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002)
(Documentary)

20. One Hundred and One Nights (1995)
(I saw it on an old VHS tape)

21. Lions Love (and… Lies) (1969)

* * * * (Out of * * * *) (Short Cinema)

1.   Cleo from 5 to 7: Remembrances and Anecdotes (2005)

2.   La cocotte d’azur (1958)
(Documentary Short)

3.   Ydessa, the Bears and etc. (2004)
(Documentary Short)

4.   Ulysse (1983)
(Documentary Short)

5.   Salut les Cubains (1971)
(Documentary Short)

6.   Along the Coast (1958)
(Documentary Short)

7.   Black Panthers (1968)
(Documentary Short)

8.   Uncle Yanco (1967)
(Documentary Short)

9.   The So-called Caryatids (1984)
(Documentary Short)

10. Elsa la rose (1966)
(Documentary Short)

11. 7p., cuis., s. de b., …a saisir (1984)

12. Diary of a Pregnant Woman (1962)

13. Women Reply (1975)
(Documentary Short)

14. You’ve Got Beautiful Stairs, You Know (1986)

15. Le lion volatil (2003)

16. The Pleasure of Love in Iran (1976)
(Documentary Short)

My Favorite Robert Wise Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Set-Up (1949)

2.   The Haunting (1963)

3.   The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

4.   The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

5.   The Body Snatcher (1945)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   This Could Be the Night (1957)

2.   Executive Suite (1954)

3.   Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

4.   The Andomeda Strain (1971)

My Favorite Billy Wilder Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Avanti! (1972)

2.   Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

3.   Some Like It Hot (1959)

4.   Ace in the Hole (1951)

5.   Sunset Boulevard (1950)

6.   Double Indemnity (1944)

7.   Fedora (1978)

8.   The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

2.   The Major and the Minor (1942)

3.   Stalag 17 (1953)

4.   The Fortune Cookie (1966)

5.   One, Two, Three (1961)

6.   The Apartment (1960)

My Favorite Orson Welles Films

* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Chimes at Midnight (1965)

2.   F for Fake (1973)

3.   Othello (1951)

4.   The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

5.   The Trial (1962)

6.   The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

7.   Touch of Evil (1958)

8.   Citizen Kane (1941)

9.   The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

10. Mr. Arkadin (1955)

11. Filming Othello (1978)
(Documentary)
(Television)

12. The Immortal Story (1968)
(Television) 

13. Macbeth (1948)

14. The Stranger (1946)

* * * * (Out of * * * *) (Short Cinema)

1.   The Fountain of Youth (1956)
(I watched it on youtube)
(Television)

2.   Around the World with Orson Welles (1955)
2a. Episode: “Pays Basque I (The Basque Country)”
2b. Episode: “Pays Basque II (La Pelote basque)”
2c. Episode: “Revisiting Vienna” (a.k.a. “The Third Man Returns to Vienna”)
2d. Episode: “St. -Germain-des-Pres”
2e. Episode: “Chelsea Pensioners”
2f. Episode: “Madrid Bullfight”
(Television)

Note: In case any of you readers are interested, Netflix is going to premier Orson Welles last film The Other Side of the Wind (1972-1976) in November (November 2, 2018). The film can best be described as both completed and uncompleted (read here for more info). Here is the link to the trailer in case any of you readers are interested below 🙂