(Fubo/peacock/Shudder/tubi/Vudu) GINGER SNAPS is an extremely Canadian production from John Fawcett (co-creator of ORPHAN BLACK) and Karen Walton. Fawcett had the concept and directed it, Walton scripted it, but ultimately it was a collaborative effort. It’s about two goth sisters living together in the basement of their idyllic, overly understanding Fitzgerald parents (Mimi Rodgers and John Bourgeois), struggling to make it through high school ridicule. The older sister is Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle, who has had one hell of a TV career, and she glows in AMERICAN MARY), an extremely confident, very protective-yet-belligerent redhead to her younger sister, Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins) who is the quieter, less confrontational but more bookish, sibling.

I don’t know why I’m wasting words when the opening title sequence showcases their dynamics and interests perfectly. Even if the rest of the film was garbage, it’d be worth watching for this perfectly executed bit (which is also really NSFW). (Mike Shields’ amazing opening theme also does a lot of heavy lifting there! )

To summarize: dogs in the Fitzgerald’s suburban neighborhood are repeatedly found torn to shreds, but no one really pays much mind. The two Fitzgerald sisters head out to play a prank against a fellow classmate which goes horribly awry. Ginger has her first period at the same time, informs her sister, and is then is grabbed and scratched by something large and wolflike in a wildly Raimi-esque sequence. The two escape to a road, almost get run over, but youthful drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche, who had a small role in David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and does a fair amount of TV work now) accidentally runs over the beast with his ambulance.

Brigette drags Ginger home, tends to her wounds and, almost immediately, Ginger is a different person, a different species, growing hairier, more bloodthirsty from there, but handwaving it away as cramps until she’s full werewolf and embodying a vengeful Carrie.

Brigette tries to keep Ginger on the down-low, but … she’s uncontrollable. Matters escalate.

GINGER SNAPS wasn’t the first horror film I’d seen that was a woman transformation parable — that’d be Neil Jordan’s IN THE COMPANY OF WOLVES but it was almost certainly the first I was overtly aware of, and it was quite the revelation.

A lot has happened since then, so here are a few links:

Karen Walton reflects on GINGER SNAPS, 20 years later.

Apparently, it’s slated to be rebooted as a TV series soon, which I hope will be brilliant.


(AMC+/Shudder/tubi/VOD/Vudu) An intriguingly economical Canadian thriller from Zach Gayne. For once, I’m going to use the official description (with a few tweaks) because too many details might spoil some of the fun: “Middle-aged Linda (Precious Chong) befriends youthful Michelle (Alex Essoe), but one becomes obsessed with the other.”

The script was penned by Gayne, as well as the two leads (Chong and Essoe). It has a charismatic verve to it that I can’t help but appreciate, and while you may suss out the ending before the film expects you, it’s still a wild ride.


(Criterion/Kanopy/VOD/Vudu/YouTube)? Robert Downey, Sr. passed away this week at the age of 85. While his son is mostly known for more accessible fare, Downey Sr. was an anarchic indie filmmaker, and there’s no better example of his cinematic skills than PUTNEY SWOPE.

PUTNEY SWOPE is a nihilistic indictment of Madison Avenue, American capitalism and everything it’s created (including filmmaking and anti-American capitalist revolutionaries), while also being damn funny and inventively shot. The faux-commercials it features are perhaps only rivaled by ROBOCOP (1987) or the best of Adult Swim. For instance:

I need to note that this is an incredibly insensitive film in ways I haven’t quite managed to personally reconcile — after all, it’s a film written and directed by a middle-aged white man about a Black man breaking the system — but it is also endlessly fascinating.

GOTHIC (1986)

(Plex/tubi/VOD/Vudu) This is the predictable final entry in a three-part series of recommendations regarding films about Mary Shelley. It is, of course, Ken Russell’s GOTHIC (1985). Again, I’m no Mary Shelley scholar, and — given this final entry — it should be obvious that I have no interest in discussing the veracity of the portrayal of these real-life persons. (I simply don’t have the knowledge, but I don’t begrudge those that do.)

While GOTHIC is, on the surface, about the storytelling night between Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley’s stepsister Claire, it’s primarily concerned with Mary and her life and her way of coping with this foursome, which becomes heightened via what one surmises is a fever dream.

GOTHIC is essentially fan-fiction, occasionally slash-fiction and, surprisingly, posits Mary as, for all intents and purposes, the Final Girl, with Lord Byron being the executor of the madness they endure. (Or not; there are many ways you can read it, but that’s my interpretation.)

There’s a lot to unpack in this film, far more than I can do justice to in a simple post, so I’ll just note a few highlights and leave it at that:

  • As usual, Russell has a ton of visual anachronisms, one of the boldest being the hexagonal ceiling molding designs, which are then mirrored when Mary finds herself as a prisoner.
  • It portrays Mary as someone who doesn’t buy into Percy’s ‘free love’, and touches on her problematic pregnancies.
  • I just happened to be going about this three-part project as I was reading MEN, WOMEN, AND CHAIN SAWS, which spends a significant amount of time talking about horror films’ handling of eyes, then Percy seeing nipples as eyes, which MEN, WOMEN, AND CHAIN SAWS author Carol J. Clover touches on regarding the feminine masochism viewing perspective, and yeah, there’s not more perfect film for that than this.
  • I’ll also note: I first saw this film at what I think is absolutely the perfect time in one’s life, in my mid-teens, thanks to my friend Chris, although I do know I spent a lot of time staring at the LaserDisc cover well before actually watching the film. I hadn’t re-watched it until today. It is far crazier and hornier than I remember, and I can’t believe we got away with watching it while his parents were away.

My friend Mark pointed out two other Mary Shelley films, both released in the late 80s, which I have yet to watch — there are DVDs available of both, but they can’t be streamed — that I hope to catch, and perhaps you may be interested in them as well:


HAUNTED SUMMER (1988, which certainly backgrounds Mary, but is very much about her):

And, of course, here’s the trailer:


(kanopy/Plex/Pluto/tubi/Vudu/VOD) SOUND OF NOISE is a Swedish feature film that’s based on the short film MUSIC FOR ONE APARTMENT AND SIX DRUMMERS about a collective of musicians who break into an apartment and make music solely with whatever exists in the apartment. There’s a lot of clanging on ceramics and glasses, rhythms created via vacuum suction, books thrown to the floor and the like.

“How can that possibly be turned into a feature film?” you might ask. The answer is: in a very cartoonish way. The troupe is sheer anarchy as they break into hospitals and banks to realize their musical works, progressing to one ultimate performance, all while being pursued by a tone-deaf cop. It’s funny and infectious, and the musical pieces stand on their own. (Well, they do if you’re a fan of say, avant-garde, percussive works.)

While there is an attempt to give an emotional, romantic core to the film, it falls a bit flat, but it’s not entirely unwelcome. Really, the set-pieces are the allure here.

One of my favorite pieces is a skillfully edited highway driving scene — it features co-director/co-writer Ola Simonsson and is a bit more liberal with its use of sound sources — as it vaguely reminds me of the experimental electronic band SHINJUKU FILTH:

-Music for One Highway-:


(Also, check out the companion track, -The Sale- if you can.)




(fubo/Hulu/kanopy/Netflix/tubi/VOD/Vudu)? No, not John Carpenter’s adaptation of Stephen King’s CHRISTINE — a fine horror film, but you hardly need me to tell you that — this is a dramatized depiction of Christine Chubbuck, a local TV news reporter in the 70s who struggled with depression. The film details her personal and professional troubles as she tries to grow her career and realize the life she wants.

There are other facets of Christine’s story that you may or may not be familiar with. I’m not completely sure whether detailing them would improve a viewing, so I’m going to err on the side of caution and intentionally bite my tongue.

If this were a fictional film, I’d feel a lot better about it, and it wouldn’t have the ending it has. Every thing leading up to that is a smart, nuanced portrayal of a complicated woman, bolstered by Rebecca Hall’s amazing performance. It’s fantastically cast film — Michael C. Hall as Christine’s fellow news man, Tracy Letts as her boss, Maria Dizzia as her co-worker, J. Smith-Cameron (from the previously recommended RECTIFY) as her mother, and VEEP’s Timothy Simons as the weatherman — but this film wouldn’t work without Rebecca Hall’s nuanced handling of Christine. She’s a persona we rarely see on-screen: a smart-but-flailing woman, clearly awkward in general, but so goddamn determined to succeed, and to hide from and survive her mental issues.

Again, if it were fictional, it’d be a triumph. While it’s still a stunningly scripted movie, it just feels… dirty. But that’s a matter for tomorrow.

“Yes, but—”

M.F.A. (2017)

(Plex/Prime/Tubi/VOD/Vudu)? A revenge thriller from director Natalia Leite (BARE) and actress/writer Leah McKendrick that pairs well with PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. It’s a stylish tale about assault and baring yourself in your work, unfurls at a fine clip, and is more complex than you might expect.


(hoopla/peacock/tubi/VOD/Vudu) I don’t know how many favors debut writer/director Christian Papierniak asked to nab this amazing cast, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s now indebted to 80% of LA. I’d watch any film that featured just -one- of the following performers:

Mackenzie Davis
Carrie Coon
Dolly Wells
LaKeith Stanfield
Kyle Kinane
Alia Shawkat
Rob Huebel
Annie Potts

Somehow he managed to wrangle all of ‘em for this chaotic ‘one fuckup’s last gasp at attaining an old flame’ film. I’ll grant that it’s overworked — did we really need inter-titles for every scene? — and if Mackenzie Davis wasn’t the lead the film probably wouldn’t work, but she is and ultimately it does. Also, Mackenzie and Carrie Coon ‘reunite’ and play a HEAVENS TO BETSY cover that features -many- layers and that scene alone is worth the price of admission. (I’ll save you the search.)

“I’m not going to wish you good luck.” “No, no one in their right mind would.”


(hoopla/kanopy/Prime/VOD/Vudu) Paul (Jaeden Martell, IT (2017), THE LODGE) is a thirteen-year-old boy with Hypertrichosis (also known as ‘Werewolf Syndrome’), whose body is fully covered with hair. He’s grown up without his mother and feels ostracized and misunderstood by all — even his loving but somewhat misguided father (Chris Messina, SHARP OBJECTS, BIRDS OF PREY) — so, when he gets a birthday present from his mom, marking a spot in Philadelphia and promising answers, he takes off in search of her.

What follows is a misfit coming-of-age story as Paul encounters all sorts of threats and oddball friends along the way, many of whom mirror those Odysseus met during his adventure, including Sophie Giannamore (TRANSPARENT) as a singer who loves water, executive producer John Turturro as a predatory carnival owner — Turturro should really play more villains — and Eve Hewson (TESLA, previously recommended) as an energetic eye-patched punk who loves to steal.

WOLFBOY’s penned by Olivia Dufault (a playwright who has also written for LEGION and PREACHER — the very definition of an epic misfit adventure) and while the unique folks Paul meets along the way are the focal point of the film, she inserts whimsical elements while keeping them grounded in the real-world. First-time feature director Martin Krejcí manages to instill artistic wonder and scale into traditionally humdrum urban locations. A soundtrack featuring the delightfully melancholy DeVotchKa and Timber Timbre also imbue WOLFBOY with swoony charm.

In my opinion the trailer shows too much but, with this film, it’s about the journey.

ROUTE 66 (1960-1964)

(hoopla/Prime/tubi/VOD/Vudu) While this show was always on this month’s slate, I wanted to recommend it on the day of SUPERNATURAL’s (WB/CW, 2005-2020) series finale. SUPERNATURAL is a show that’s been a bit of a lingering constant in my life since I glommed onto it around the third season. I haven’t watched every season, but I drop in from time to time — usually for any episode that Ben Edlund has penned, or any of the obviously meta eps — and I’m looking forward to seeing how everything ends.*

But I’m supposed to discuss ROUTE 66! Here’s what you need to know about ROUTE 66:

1) It’s one of the first road trip shows, and the creator of the show (Stirling Silliphant, who previously pioneered shot-on-location TV with THE NAKED CITY) insisted on shooting in every location detailed on the page. He wanted the show to explore America, hence the title.

2) ROUTE 66 is fundamentally about two drifters, one sensitive (Tod, played by Martin Milner), one more callous and randy (Buz, played by George Maharis), and they drive from town-to-town solving mysteries and soothing community wounds in a Chevrolet Corvette. Sound familiar? They often come to blows with how to deal with a situation, with one wanting to drive off while the other wanting to stay and help those in need. Each week ended up with everything neatly tied up, and they’d drive off to another town, slightly satisfied. Also, just take a look at ‘em! 60s versions of Sam and Dean if you ever saw ‘em.

It’s a fine case-of-the week strategy, which is exactly why SUPERNATURAL stole it. SUPERNATURAL creator Eric Kripke’s elevator pitch for the show was ‘X-FILES meets ROUTE 66’.** SUPERNATURAL became something completely different — and rarely ever shot on location — but you could still see the ROUTE 66 roots showing even in the final season.

By today’s eyes, ROUTE 66 is a fun, but mostly insubstantial show. It often feels like smaller scale version of the teen drifter/loner film dramas that were released around the late 50s/early 60s but, unlike those films, it showcased parts of the US that hadn’t previously been aired on TV. It boiled down to an entertainingly slightly dramatic tourist show, of which I think the only comparable show on the air right now is THE AMAZING RACE (also CBS, but a reality show).

Later on in the series, when the show started flagging a bit, they started having fun some fun with it, most notably with -Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing- which features Tod and Buz working at Chicago’s O’Hare Inn, where Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney Jr. just happen to be staying, and TV-safe horror antics ensue. (If you’d like to read more about the ep, see here: ) You don’t have to watch every episode of ROUTE 66, but that ep is a fine spooky treasure.

(Not a trailer, but the full first episode.)
  • For what it’s worth, my favorite SUPERNATURAL episode is probably the 200th ep. While it’s complete fan-service, it also cuts to the quick about all that works about the show, including the hows and whys it’s lasted fifteen years.
  • (Spoilers for the …prior 199 episodes? Really, apart from one specific reference that’s a running joke throughout the series, it’s mostly benign.)

** I honestly can’t believe that worked as an elevator pitch in the late 90s. I’d expect to hear back: “Route what-the-who? Like the dad song?”