By Sandro Forte
1- Man Bites dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous) Belvaux-Bonzel-Poelvoorde, Belg, 1992)
Even by today’s standards there is still some highly provocative moments in this independent film from Belgium. Shot in a documentary style before it was a la mode, it follows the adventures of a serial killer with a cynical tone and It’s certainly not to everyone’s taste as it crosses the boundaries of decency more than a few times.
2- Dr Petiot (Christian De Challonge, France, 1990)
Leading man Michel Serreault once said he liked to play under De Challonges direction because he was one of a few stylish directors in France. Taking him by his word, the filmmaker choose to give a surrealistic Nosferatu-like- feeling to this peculiar portrait of real War-time serial killer taking advantage of jews trying to flee German occupation during world war II. The resulting film is quite original.
3- Hangover Square ( John Brahm, US, 1945)
Sometime It’s about climax and Brahm does it well especially during the final showcase which involves a chilling concerto by the musician turn killer. It plays as incidental music owing much to Bernard Herrmann (of Psycho fame) writing skills. Pure Candy. In glorious Black & White!
4- M (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1931)
Lang’s first talkie is an ultimate classic from the artistic angle. But it also foresaw the degradation of social climate leading to Nazi Germany by depicting a common resignation from ordinary people to let criminals take care of things. The bound linking criminals to officials in a race to find a child killer, regardless of the fact they actually are abominable crimes, is still very contemporary. As the child killer everyone’s after, Peter Lorre pushes acting to a level of genius rarely matched in the history of the film medium. A classic.
5- Seance on a wet afternoon (Bryan Forbes, UK,1964)
Careful directing, great framing , beautiful B&W cinematography a top-notch Barry score (far away from his James Bond entries) and one of numerous celluloid proof of Richard Attenborough’s talent as an actor while he actually makes us care about a character so despicable in the first place. Movie-making at its best.
6- Ten Rillington Place (Richard Fleischer, UK, 1971)
Blockbuster director Fleischer abilities when on a more restrain budget offers one of his finest film. Richard Attenbourough (of Jurassic Park fame) shows what a great actor he was as he renders a sympathetic character with high psychological complexity out of a real life killer. A film as overlooked as it is good.
7- The Collector (William Wyler, UK, 1965)
Fresh out of larger than life shooting of Ben-Hur extravaganza, veteran Wyler Offers great variation on the subject of impulsive maniacs with his usual skill. With numerous classic Hollywood A-pictures Behind him it was surprising that, at this late point of his career, he gave us such a wonderful little gem far from the Charlton Heston vehicle. This is one of the greatest film on the subject by one of the greatest director of all time.
8- The element of crime (Lars Von Trier, Danemark, 1985)
Before going completely insane, Trier made this one with panache, visual style, a sense of storytelling and Breathtaking ambiance. What happened since is beyond understanding.
9- The match factory girl (Aki Kaurismaki, Finland, 1990)
In this atypical Serial killing film, Kaurismaki’s Muse Kati Outinen goes on a killing spree with such gentle caring face, you just don’t see it coming… as her victims don’t. As usual the question raised by Kaurismaki surreal ways is: shall we cry or laugh?
10 – The twisted nerves (Roy Boulting. UK, 1971)
The Boulting Brothers were mainly associated with comedy efforts but they ventured from time to time into the thriller world. A troubled young man with the mind of a child is obsessed by a beautiful librarian in this carefully crafted shocker. Great Art direction lifts the story into a childlike world. Also on the level, the main music theme by Hitchcock’s most trusted composer, Bernard Herrmann, is highly effective by playing the contrasts between suspenseful and childish elements. Patrons will recognize Herrmann’s whistled theme as Quentin Tarantino borrowed it for Kill Bill: Vol 1.
11- Vengeance is mine (Sohei Immamura, Japan, 1979)
Just like one big picture, Immamura’s whole filmography seems to point at Japanese audiences the weird things that do happen under the rising sun. Its crucial to understand this aspect of his films as a whole in order to fully appreciate it from an an occidental point of view. The shape and pacing might be a bore to some Hannibal fans since there’s no Hollywood Glamour here, nonetheless this is a great uncompromising dark and depressing tale by a gifted filmmaker.
12 – Who saw her die? (Aldo Lado, Italy, 1972)
Preceding by a year the similar and much more favored (at least by critics) Don’t look now, this Italian thriller is simply better than Roeg’s film. Music is top 25 All-time Morricone. You also get one time-James Bond George Lazenby as its lead, as well as beautifully shot city of Venice for its Background to action. Beautiful and Creepy
13- (Your choice in the commentary section)