By Shirley Jackson
Publication Year: 1962
Tags: Thriller, Horror, Classic
The book’s beginning: “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.” Continue reading “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”
(2010, R) Val Kilmer (Mr. Nobody), Dylan Neal (Det. Alexander Black), Paul McGillium (Dep. Pine), Camille Sullivan (Dep. Hollows), Nels Lennarson (Dep. Sherwood), Christopher Gauthier (Desk Sgt. Gulloy), John Cassini (Dept. Hawkins). Music: Ross Vanelli. Screenplay: Joseph C. Huscat. Director: Michael Oblowitz. 91 minutes.
Tags: Thriller, Horror, Revenge
Notable: A few good twists on an old trope, with a deus ex puellita ending.
A drifter walks into a police station on a rainy Christmas Eve to confess to a series of murders, none of which has happened… yet. A terrible thing happened in this police station a year ago, and those involved are about to discover that karma is, indeed, a bitch. Continue reading “The Traveler”
(1974, Rated PG) Elliott Gould (Sean Rogers), Trevor Howard (Col. Azarin), Joseph Bova (Dr. Lucas Martino), Edward Grover (Finchley), John Lehne (Haller), James Noble (Gen. Deptford), Lyndon Brook (Dr. Barrister), Michael Lombard (Dr. Besser), Kay Tornborg (Edith), Joy Garrett (Barbara), John Steward (Frank Heywood). Screenplay: John Gould (based on the novel by Algys Budrys). Director: Jack Gold. 93 minutes.
Tags: Psychological Thriller, Cold War, Existential
Notable: Also released as Roboman and The Man in the Steel Mask. Various sources list the film’s release date as 1973, 1974, and 1975; the film’s opening credits show MXMLXXIV — 1974.
An important American scientist is burned nearly to death in an automobile accident inside the borders of the Soviet Union. He is returned after six months, only his right arm and his brain still intact; the rest of him is a silvery, robotic imitation of a human being. The FBI agent assigned to bring him back to his work on the top-secret Neptune project is not satisfied with the artificial man’s identity. The arm is real; the fingerprints and DNA identity are real. What about the brain — is it the scientist, and even if so, has he been brainwashed into being a Soviet agent? Who is he… really? Continue reading “Who?”
(1973, R) Edward Woodward (Sgt,. Howie), Christopher Lee (Lord Summerisle), Diane Cilento (Miss Rose), Britt Ekland (Willow), Ingrid Pitt (Librarian), Lindsay Kemp (Alder MacGreagor), Russell Waters (Harbour Master), Aubrey Morris (Old Caretaker/Gravedigger). Music: Paul Giovanni (performed by “Magnet”; “Corn Rigs” sung by Paul Giovanni). Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer. Director: Robin Hardy. 88 minutes.
Tags: Thriller, Suspense, Horror
Notable: Britt Ekland before she became a “Bond girl”; Edward Woodward’s first leading film role
A hard-nosed, devoutly Christian police officer from the mainland, Sgt. Howie (Woodward), is sent to the Island of Summerisle to search for a missing young girl. What he finds is a small, isolated population devoted to the faith and practices of the “Old Gods,” with all the accompanying pagan sensuality, nature worship, rites, and rituals, along with a firmly-established wall of secrecy and misdirection from every person on the island. Continue reading “The Wicker Man (1973)”
(1974, PG) James Coburn (Prof. Robert Elliot), Lee Grant (Jean Robertson), Harry Andrews (Bert Parsons), Ian Hendry (Alex Hellman), Michael Jayston (David Baker), Christiane Kruger (Christina Larsson), Keenan Wynn (E. J. Farnsworth), Julian Glover (Arnold Pryce-Jones). Music: Roy Budd. Screenplay: Barry Levinson and Jonathan Lynn (based on “Internecine” by Mort W. Elkind). Director: Ken Hughes. 99 minutes.
Tags: Suspense, Thriller, Spy vs. Spy
Notable: New meaning to the phrase “Timing is everything”; reliance on low-tech gimmicks, for the most part
Robert Elliot (Coburn) is a renowned professor of economics who is about to be promoted to the highest chairmanship in the U.S. government policy-making committee. He is also a former corporate spy who must get rid of anyone or anything associated with his dark past. As the masters of intrigue would say, he must “clean up his network,” which means killing four people. He creates a perfect plan that some call the Circle of Death – in a single night, his former associates will kill each other, in a perfect circle of mutually assured destruction. Continue reading “The Internecine Project”
(1971, rated G “but may be too intense for younger children”) Arthur Hill (Jeremy Stone), James Olson (Mark Hall), Kate Reid (Ruth Leavitt), David Wayne (Charles Dutton), Paula Kelly (Karen Anson), Ramon Bieri (Maj. Manchek), Kermit Merdock (Dr. Robertson), Eric Christmas (Sen. Phillips), Ken Swofford (Toby). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Nelson Gidding (based on the novel by Michael Crichton). Director: Robert Wise. 130 minutes.
Tags: Sci-Fi, Suspense, Alien Contact
Notable: All of the tech that you see was directly from then-current-day laboratories, showing we’re further ahead than we all thought before; actor Arthur Hill really used the mechanical hands himself; James Olson, usually cast as a “bad guy,” gets to be the hero for a change.
A NASA probe, Scoop VII, has crash-landed near the tiny town of Piedmont, New Mexico (Population: 68). An Army team of two sent in to find and retrieve the satellite finds a town full of dead bodies, and they too are swiftly killed through no identifiable means from a distance. A biological agent is suspected, creating a “Wildfire Alert” – an immediate priority to scramble a specific team of scientists to gather at a huge underground facility specifically created to combat a biological emergency of this type. Jeremy Stone (Hill) petitioned the government to create it a few years earlier, citing a failure to avoid contamination at the NASA lunar lab; now, the facility, and the scientists who have been called, are about to be put to the test. Continue reading “The Andromeda Strain (1971)”