After more than a decade of sober political dramas and socially minded period pieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories. Featuring colorfully surreal sets and luminous cinematography, these haunting tales of demonic comeuppance and spiritual trials, adapted from writer Lafcadio Hearn’s collections of Japanese folklore, are existentially frightening and meticulously crafted.
Gymnastics school teacher Caroline Trewella inherits a house on the Cornwall coast. In the basement/smuggler’s cave, she discovers mermaid Miranda. The young women share a common ancestor and are remarkably alike in looks. While Caroline is away on a bicycling tour, Miranda has fun taking her place on land. With the help of her friend Nurse Carey, Miranda feigns an injury that keeps her wheelchair-bound… or more often needing to be carried by a man. And the ever flirtatious Miranda certainly knows how to attract all the men of the village!
The Adventures of Hercules II / Le avventure dell’incredibile Ercole (1985) Luigi Cozzi, Lou Ferrigno, Milly Carlucci, Sonia Viviani, Adventure, Fantasy
Once, Zeus created seven mighty thunderbolts that kept peace, but some other, rebellious Gods steal them, rendering Zeus powerless, creating chaos on Earth, and sending the Moon on a collision course with our planet. Two sisters named Urania and Glaucia speaks to the Little People and learns that only Hercules can save them, so, after hesitation, Zeus sends Hercules back from the stars to Earth to aid the humans, but the vengeful gods resurrect their own warrior, Hercules’ old foe King Minos. Hercules sets out to find the thunderbolts, which are hidden inside monsters….
Harte Jungs / Ants in the Pants (2000) Marc Rothemund, Tobias Schenke, Axel Stein, Luise Helm, Comedy, Fantasy
A late bloomer, 15-year-old Flo experiences his sexual awakening, relentlessly targeting his gorgeous classmate Leonie. Flos friends eagerly try to help him out. The only problem may be Leonies boyfriend.
La macchina ammazzacattivi / The Machine That Kills Bad People (1952) Roberto Rossellini, Gennaro Pisano, Marilyn Buferd, William Tubbs, Comedy, Fantasy
A demon bestows on a self-righteous working photographer’s camera the power to smite from the Earth “evil-doers”. Naturally, the indignant photographer turns his new weapon on, one by one, his entire village, beginning with the wealthy or illustrious. Soon, the poor he is so supposedly so enamored of become his victims too, so rife with impatience and contempt is he, that the slightest flaw is cause for smiting. Inevitably, he embarks on a task to destroy everyone.
Kunoichi ninpo: hyakka manji-garami / Female Ninja Magic: 100 Trampled Flowers (1974) Chûsei Sone, Junko Miyashita, Hitomi Kozue, Yûko Katagiri, Fantasy, Erotic
Acclaimed Nikkatsu studio pinku eiga filmmaker Chusei Sone directed this action-packed softcore melodrama concerning a group of female ninjas who use sexual magic along with their considerable fighting skills to protect their province from takeover by a ruthless shogun and his band of fighters.
One Touch of Venus (1948) William A. Seiter, Gregory La Cava, Robert Walker, Ava Gardner, Dick Haymes, Comedy, Fantasy, Musical
In the art department of a large department store, the statue of the famed Anatolian Venus comes to life and falls in love with Eddie Hatch, a window trimmer. Just before the unveiling of the prized statue, Eddie takes “Venus” to the model-display house in the store, where the store’s boss finds her. He, too, falls in love with her and makes her Glamour Girl Number One. Eddie and Venus dance in Central Park, but Eddie is arrested for stealing the statue. Venus goes back to her pedestal and Eddie is released. While Eddie is sadly preparing for another unveiling, a new employee asks him a question. She tells him her name is Venus Jones.
A Cara que Mereces / The Face You Deserve (2004) Miguel Gomes, José Airosa, Gracinda Nave, Sara Graça, Comedy, Fantasy
Until you turn 30, you have the face God gave you. After that, you have the face you deserve.” The estranged musical comedy that is Gomes’ first feature film seeks to convince its protagonist, Francisco, of that saying/dogma; precisely, during his thirtieth birthday. Or maybe it’s the complete opposite, and that Francisco who dresses up as a cowboy for the school play at the school where he teaches the children he detests, seeks to convince A cara que mereces of the fatality of the little phrase. But Francisco is a trick: he knows he deserves his face and his body because of him being intolerable. And A cara que mereces, hunted hunter, becomes a claustrophobic film that seeks to run away from Francisco using cinephilia as a way of escape; boarding, as Mark Peranson has observed, to the heart of Rivette, to the train (of dreams) of the recent Godard and, finally, to an impossible (but well-deserved) version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Der Apfel ist ab / The Original Sin (1948) Helmut Käutner, Bobby Todd, Bettina Moissi, Joana Maria Gorvin, Comedy, Fantasy
Adam happens to be married to someone else when he falls in love with his secretary Eve. His guilt over his illicit lustings sends Adam to a Godlike psychiatrist. To test Adam’s will power, the doctor gives his patient an apple, ordering him not to eat it. Alas, this strategy is as ineffectual now as it was “In the Beginning”.
The Demon of Mount Oe / Ooe-yama Shuten-dôji (1960) Tokuzô Tanaka, Kazuo Hasegawa, Raizô Ichikawa, Shintarô Katsu, Fantasy, Horror
A demon-faced monster seeking revenge appears in the forms of a gigantic ox and a huge spider! The young Genji warrior protects the Fujiwara Clan and the beautiful lady in tragic love! A grand visual epic told with mesmerizing extravagance!