Fat Girl

Criterion Files

Warning: some spoilers ahead. For a company known for its arthouse fare, The Criterion Collection is not short on great horror films. From early oddities like Haxan to silent classics like Vampyr to classic B-movies like Corridors of Blood to cult classics like House to newer visions like Antichrist to the just-released Rosemary’s Baby, The Criterion Collection can provide a unique encyclopedia of the development of the horror genre across nations and decades. But while the horror genre specializes in fear, tension, and disturbing visions, it doesn’t have a monopoly on any of these categories. Violent revenge films, psychosexual dramas, depictions of real-life political struggle, documentaries that capture terrible moments in history, and movies that depict the quick dismantling of social structures all employ devices and emotional effects similar to that of the horror film, most notably dread, disturbing imagery, shocking juxtapositions, and perhaps the major defining component of the horror film: the tense anticipation of a horrible event. Here are ten terrifying non-horror films from The Criterion Collection.

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Catherine Breillat’s new film The Sleeping Beauty (La belle endormie) marks yet another entry in what seems to be a growing set of preoccupations for the feminist auteur: the costume drama and the fairy tale. In her follow-up to 2009’s Bluebeard, The Sleeping Beauty is her second consecutive deconstruction of a Charles Perrault fairytale, and her third past-set movie when taking into account 2007’s The Last Mistress. This is an interesting transition for a filmmaker whose previous work focused frankly and explicitly on contemporary gender politics and the exercise of power through the human body. Breillat’s intellectual obsessions remain largely the same even as her aesthetic and spatiotemporal settings have changed, but Bluebeard and The Last Mistress, while a welcome transition into ostensibly “new” territory, were in this writer’s opinion far from her best work. It’s difficult to deny a feeling of rejuvenation throughout The Sleeping Beauty — a joyful embrace of carnival ambivalence in both tone and content that looks and feels inspired, a film that explores (in a way unprecedented in her work) the potentially irreverent (and, let’s face it, fun) excesses of the medium while still providing room for Breillat to exercise her signature mode of critique.

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Thanks to Netflix, it has become easier to watch controversial movies at home, but it’s also harder to find the quality. Often times a movie’s description is more misleading than helpful and may lead a person to feel duped once the credits have rolled. Following the website-generated suggestions only takes you so far—or right into the awaiting arms of something too line-crossing for a newbie – and a quick Google search turns up pages and pages of porn. I think it’s time someone makes this search a little less difficult. Yes, there are tons of lists out there compiled by reputable sites detailing which sex-centric movies are the quintessential, the most titillating, and even the most disgusting, but what if you just want to put your toe into the sex movie pool? You can have a movie that’s all about sex but doesn’t have one hot sex scene or a drop of chemistry in it…hello Last Tango in Paris!

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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