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Religion, Cults & Sorcery Challenge (Official, May 2022)

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Melvelet
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Religion, Cults & Sorcery Challenge (Official, May 2022)

#1

Post by Melvelet »

Religion, Cults & Sorcery


Goal:
Watch as many films that fit this challenge's theme as you can.
It's the first time we're having this challenge and in comparison with other challenges it allows for a high degree of freedom. The theme should feature in the film as a central element. This includes faith, religion & clerics (like The Passion of Joan of Arc or Winter Light), sects (like Stations of the Cross), cults (like The Master), (accusations of) witchcraft & sorcery (like Witchhammer or Yeelen) and Folk Horror movies (like The Wicker Man). Participants are asked to critically question whether an entry actually fits the spirit of the challenge - a monk character or a scene in a church by itself is not sufficient.


Rules
- Each feature film (over 40 minutes) counts as one entry.
- A total of 80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes count as one entry.
- Rewatches are allowed and good for the soul.
- English Title (year, Country) or English title/Original Title (year, Country) is the preferred format.
- Do not edit your posts to add new watches, just create a new one.
- Try to give an indication of how much you liked/disliked your watchings (reviews, comments, ratings,...)
- Providing IMDb links would be great as I intend to create Stats for the challenge (and also we will come up with a neat reference list for the next time)

Challenge runs from May 1st, 2022 - May 31st, 2022 in your local time zone


Lists (gladly taking more suggestions):
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/wood ... flavo5000/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/folk ... /dan+bull/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/cree ... ults/sol-/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/crit ... yormovies/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/witc ... rberry697/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/reli ... ertdeboer/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/film ... /gershwin/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/reli ... armoreska/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/cath ... lms/ower6/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/insp ... /joachimt/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/myfa ... ms/nopros/
https://letterboxd.com/calvincoolidge/l ... -buddhism/
https://letterboxd.com/sheepsteep/list/ ... -religion/
https://letterboxd.com/calvincoolidge/l ... etellings/
https://letterboxd.com/lobo_lopez/list/cine-biblico/
https://letterboxd.com/valuska/list/saints/
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/luci ... ing/rveno/

Some movies on these lists might not fit the challenge.


Rank Participant Count Minutes
1 jdidaco 28 2989 (avg: 106.75)
2 sortile9io 14 1450 (avg: 103.57)
3 peeptoad 8 904 (avg: 113.0)
4 flavo5000 4 460 (avg: 115.0)
4 twodeadmagpies 4 284 (avg: 71.0)
6 3eyes 3 270 (avg: 90.0)
6 45MinuteZoom 3 341 (avg: 113.67)
6 hurluberlu 3 316 (avg: 105.33)
6 Minkin 3 245 (avg: 81.67)
6 Opio 3 335 (avg: 111.67)
6 sol 3 309 (avg: 103.0)
12 blocho 2 235 (avg: 117.5)
12 Melvelet 2 206 (avg: 103.0)
12 vortexsurfer 2 202 (avg: 101.0)
15 AB537 1 168 (avg: 168.0)
15 Onderhond 1 108 (avg: 108.0)
15 zzzorf 1 131 (avg: 131.0)
- overall 85 8953 (avg: 105.33)


Decade breakdown:
Decade Count
1900s 1
1910s 2
1920s 2
1940s 1
1950s 11
1960s 21
1970s 16
1980s 9
1990s 7
2000s 3
2010s 17
2020s 5

Country breakdown
Country Count
United States 27
United Kingdom 12
Italy 11
France 9
Spain 4
Canada 3
Iceland 3
India 2
Japan 2
Romania 2
UK 2
USA 2
West Germany 2
Australia 1
Belgium 1
China 1
Germany 1
Mexico 1
Morocco 1
Poland 1
Russia 1
Senegal 1
Soviet Union 1
Sweden 1
Tunisia 1
Yugoslavia 1
Director breakdown (n >= 2)
Director Count
Cristian Mungiu 2
Nietzchka Keene 2
Paul Wendkos 2
Sam Raimi 2
Genre breakdown
Genre Count
Drama 64
Horror 24
History 14
Biography 13
Comedy 12
Fantasy 12
Short 8
Mystery 7
Romance 7
Adventure 6
Thriller 6
Action 4
Animation 4
Crime 4
Documentary 3
Family 3
Western 2
Movies that have been challenged at least twice
Times challenged Name Year IMDBICM
2 Beyond the Hills 2012 :imdb: :ICM:
2 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 2022 :imdb: :ICM:
2 The Juniper Tree 1990 :imdb: :ICM:
Last edited by Melvelet on May 20th, 2022, 9:59 am, edited 12 times in total.
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#2

Post by sol »

Hooray. Thanks, Mel. :party:

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Happy May Day everyone!

It starts! First in. :shifty:

1.The Wicker Man (1973) REVISION https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070917/reference/

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Viewed for a fifth time, this is still as powerful as ever, largely carried by its taunting bouncing music and Edward Woodward's solid performance, full of shock and disbelief. He is much like the beetle on the string that we see, tragically failing to see how he is being led around in circles. And yet while firstly a tragedy and horror movie, there are delightful black comedy vibes too with Woodward's constant baffled reactions to the "bloody heathens" on the island.
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Long live the new flesh!
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#4

Post by Melvelet »

Thanks a lot! One of these links doesn't work (some list about witches).

I'm not sure about including the Arts & Faith list as a film does not have to explicitly feature religion in it to meet their criteria of being spiritually significant (for example I wouldn't really see A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner as fitting the challnge). Any thoughts on this?
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#5

Post by twodeadmagpies »

hello! i'm definitely participating in this once my internet speed starts cooperating.

regarding things like blade runner...i'm not considering anything like that for this challenge...but the edges are blurry...i'm more on the hunt for some decent non-christian faith films....anyone have any suggestions? can't believe there's not some semi-experimental iranian dream-piece from the 70s on sufi mysticism. (also for some reason i imagined there were more films about witches that weren't totally misogynistic or exploitative....oh well)

in the meantime please allow me to celebrate the opening of the challenge with the most obscene biblical screenshot i've ever taken, from henry king's (that wag!) 1951 david and bathsheba. it makes me laugh every time...

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#6

Post by sortile9io »

The scope of the Arts & Faith list is by definition too vague and subjective:
In this list “spiritually significant” is meant to convey at least one of two qualities: a film that evokes spiritual contemplation, or a film that has been particularly significant in the moral and spiritual development of one of the voters.
Sure, religion is still an important source of moral and spirituality but not the only one; and too many films on that list have clearly little or nothing to do with the themes of this challenge. As a matter of fact, I bet we could find more eligible titles on the TSZDT list. So I would rule it out or place it in a different category than the other suggested lists which are much more specific.
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#7

Post by flavo5000 »

sortile9io wrote: May 1st, 2022, 6:20 pm The scope of the Arts & Faith list is by definition too vague and subjective:
In this list “spiritually significant” is meant to convey at least one of two qualities: a film that evokes spiritual contemplation, or a film that has been particularly significant in the moral and spiritual development of one of the voters.
Sure, religion is still an important source of moral and spirituality but not the only one; and too many films on that list have clearly little or nothing to do with the themes of this challenge. As a matter of fact, I bet we could find more eligible titles on the TSZDT list. So I would rule it out or place it in a different category than the other suggested lists which are much more specific.
I would say there are certain titles on several of the lists in general I wouldn't include. For instance the folk horror lists include things like Ned Kelly, Deliverance and I Start Counting that allude to or make reference to folk legends but don't contain any overt spiritualism, cults or black magic of any kind that would make them eligible.

I would just have some reference above the lists that say to use them as suggestions but not everything on them necessarily applies to the challenge.
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#8

Post by Onderhond »

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01. 3.5* - You Won't Be Alone by Goran Stolevski

Folk horror and arthouse seem to have found each other. You Won't Be Alone is the latest in a series of (often) Euro-centric folk horror films that stand out with more distinct direction styles, an aversion of straightforward narratives and familiar arthouse clichés. It's a pretty successful combination, but not quite as original as it pretends to be. A mother makes a deal with a witch to come fetch her daughter when she is 16. The witch honors the deal. The girl is clueless about the world, but soon learns that she can take on the identities of the people she kills. She uses her powers to infiltrate the villages, learning what it is to be human. You know you're watching arthouse when someone messed with the image ratio and the soundtrack has Arvo Pärt on it. I wish directors would try to be a bit more original, but when it comes down to it, they're just as predictable as their genre counterparts. The horror elements and lore are pretty cool, the atmosphere is on point and there are some memorable scenes, it's just a bit too cheesy at times to be a true personal favorite.
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#9

Post by 3eyes »

mel, I wrote you a long answer but it seems to have got lost.
But what others have written since makes me think that among us we have a pretty good feel for what really fits. (No one signs up for this one to watch Blade Runner.)
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#10

Post by AssonFire »

I'm up for this, I hope documentaries are okay as I've got a bunch I'd like to see.
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#11

Post by 3eyes »

1. The sword in the stone (US 1963)
Awful. 95% Bambi.

2. Le Miracle du Saint Inconnu / The unknown saint (Morocco 2019)
Slow and strange. Billed as a comedy - I had to sleep on it to see why. not a lot of yuks, but the ironic central plot thread illuminates the quirks of life in this small Moroccan village'
Last edited by 3eyes on May 2nd, 2022, 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#12

Post by vortexsurfer »

1. Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011) - 9/10 (rewatch) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1788391/
2. The Devil's Playground (Fred Schepisi, 1976) - 8/10 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074404/
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#13

Post by Melvelet »

AssonFire wrote: May 2nd, 2022, 12:39 am I'm up for this, I hope documentaries are okay as I've got a bunch I'd like to see.
Yes, documentaries are fine ;)
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#14

Post by Melvelet »

Regarding bonus challenge:
cinephage wrote:One bonus point each time one of these events occur in a film watched for the challenge : Change of Faith, persecution for one's belief, exorcism, a blessing, miracle, wondering about god's plans, kneeling in a holy place.
One bonus point each time one of these events occur in a film watched for the challenge : a spell is cast, a potion is made, a woman lives outside the village, in the woods, a burning by an angry crowd, a magical animal (whether a smart companion or one that behaves in an unnatural manner), a Witches' Sabbath.
Would people be joining that bonus challenge or is it unnecessary to have one?
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#15

Post by 3eyes »

doesn't interest me, at any rate.
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#16

Post by sortile9io »

Melvelet wrote: May 2nd, 2022, 2:17 pm Regarding bonus challenge:
cinephage wrote:One bonus point each time one of these events occur in a film watched for the challenge : Change of Faith, persecution for one's belief, exorcism, a blessing, miracle, wondering about god's plans, kneeling in a holy place.
One bonus point each time one of these events occur in a film watched for the challenge : a spell is cast, a potion is made, a woman lives outside the village, in the woods, a burning by an angry crowd, a magical animal (whether a smart companion or one that behaves in an unnatural manner), a Witches' Sabbath.
Would people be joining that bonus challenge or is it unnecessary to have one?
I can live without it. Besides, with so many commonplaces in religion, cults and sorcery, that particular set seems a bit arbitrary to me (where are the nuns?). I'd rather have you focused on our watching stats. Do you plan to keep a ranking of the most watched films, countries, years or directors?
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#17

Post by AB537 »

1. King of Kings (Nicholas Ray, 1961) 6/10
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#18

Post by twodeadmagpies »

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1. the dark night of the soul (carlos saura, 1989) - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097998/ (is that right, you want imdb links?)

story of san juan de la cruz, his imprisonment & tortures. my first film of the challenge and realising my 'oh that sounds cool' attitude might have been slightly inadequate. i suspect there are vast theological implications to the materiality and technique of filming faith that i've never really thought about, so i'm at a bit of a loss as to what to make of saura's film at the minute. to be honest unless someone points me in the direction of some articles, i don't think i'm gonna figure it out on my own, unless it's by drudging accumulation, so on to the next movie!

(also, not bothered about bonus challenges, my own brain is challenge enough)
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#19

Post by Melvelet »

sortile9io wrote: May 2nd, 2022, 6:27 pm I can live without it. Besides, with so many commonplaces in religion, cults and sorcery, that particular set seems a bit arbitrary to me (where are the nuns?). I'd rather have you focused on our watching stats. Do you plan to keep a ranking of the most watched films, countries, years or directors?
Alright, no bonus challenge then. And yes, I want to supply extensive stats (that's what the IMDb links are helpful) :)
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#20

Post by flavo5000 »

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1. Dupa dealuri a.k.a. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)
Incredibly bleak but very well made with excellent performances, it's the story of two childhood friends, one of whom is now a nun at a monastery. When the other comes to visit her to convince her to return to Germany with her, the combination of her worldly ways and health issues cause the convent to believe she is possessed and to attempt an exorcism. It's an incredibly painful film to watch and not the sort of thing I'd care to revisit, but I admire the craft in making it.
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1. Dupa dealuri a.k.a. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)
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#21

Post by hurluberlu »

1. Outsiders / Ceddo (Ousmane Sembene, 1977) 7
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#23

Post by twodeadmagpies »

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2. loneliness of the couple (stanisław różewicz, 1969) - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064925/

we've been spoiled by bergman because all through this priest-crisis movie i was crying 'not enough suffering! more crisis!' to the point where i could hardly believe it was about faith at all...

i've seen two różewicz movies now and 100% of them were about priests in trouble. fortunately he'd got the agony together by the time he got to torturing jerzy radziwiłowicz in the lynx.
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#24

Post by 3eyes »

3. The most hated woman in America (2017) - Madeleine Murray O'Hair, whom I remember but I bet you don't.
seen
1. The sword in the stone (1963)
2. Le Miracle du Saint Inconnu / The unknown saint (Morocco 2019)
3. The most hated woman in America (2017)
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#25

Post by sortile9io »

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El canto del gallo
1. Rafael Gil, 1955, Spain, 94 min
A noirish drama inspired by the denial of Jesus by Apostle Peter, with clear political (anti-communist) overtones, an oppressive atmosphere and great dark photography that reflects the tribulations of a Catholic priest that chooses to renounce his faith in order to save his life after an anarchist revolt, only to find that remorse is worse than fear. 6/10
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#26

Post by jdidaco »

Thank you for hosting, Melvelet!

(Screenshots from 'Les sorcières de Salem', the absurdly underrated 'Erode il grande' and one of the most controversial film posters of all time, designed by Bettina Rheims),

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1. Les sorcières de Salem (The Witches of Salem, Raymond Rouleau, 1957) 8.5/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050997/reference/
2. Erode il grande (Herod the Great, Viktor Tourjansky, 1959) 8/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051587/reference/

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3. Un'ombra nell'ombra (Ring of Darkness, Pier Carpi, 1979) 5/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131510/reference/
4. Ave Maria (Jacques Richard, 1984) 8/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086924/reference/
5. Mamma Ebe (Carlo Lizzani, 1985) 7.5/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089542/reference/
6. Le moine et la sorcière (Sorceress, Suzanne Schiffman & Pamela Berger, 1987) 8/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093556/reference/

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#27

Post by flavo5000 »

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2. Leptirica (Djordje Kadijevic, 1973)
This interesting Yugoslavian folk horror film from Severin's epic All the Haunts Be Ours box set is a nice and eerie take on very old Slavic folk legends that vampires sprang from and is recommended if you can look past the admittedly rudimentary effects and make-up work.
From the Depths
1. Dupa dealuri a.k.a. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)
2. Leptirica (Djordje Kadijevic, 1973)
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#28

Post by sortile9io »

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Le dialogue des Carmélites
2. Philippe Agostini, Raymond L. Bruckberger, 1960, France, 110 min
A fine account (that deserves a proper remaster/restoration to fully appreciate the original wide field of view) based on an historical episode involving a community of cloistered Carmelite nuns victims of the anticlerical frenzy brought by the French Revolution, I can’t help to support its speech in defence of freedom of worship but it also makes me wonder, after a moving ending, about the relation between sanity and devotion. 7/10
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Also...
1. EL CANTO DEL GALLO (Gil, 1955)
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#29

Post by zzzorf »

1. Midnight Mass (2021) [eps 6 & 7] {total: 131mins} - 5/10 - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10574558/
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I originally started this mini-series last month and finally my wife and myself watched the last two episodes. I loved the way that vampirism was justified by religion, a very unique aspect but I was pretty much over the show by the time the horror actually kicked in in the later episodes.
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#31

Post by sortile9io »

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Un angelo per Satana
3. Camilo Mastrocinque, 1966, Italy, 93 min
A bit disappointing ending, twisted yet unsurprising and unconvincing, for an otherwise somewhat appealing story of reincarnation and old curses cast by resented witches where Barbara Steele shines (again) as a possessed pure/wicked young lady and the dark figures in the pale mist (beautifully photographed) replace the pitch-black settings of many other Italian Gothic films. 6/10
iCM | IMDb
Also...
1. EL CANTO DEL GALLO (Gil, 1955)
2. LE DIALOGUE DES CARMÉLITES (Agostini, Bruckberger, 1960)
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#32

Post by twodeadmagpies »

3. der galiläer (dimitri buchowetzki, 1921) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424106/

one of the most unmoving christ films i've seen probably because jesus looks like he spends most of his time making sure that his hair is nice, but it gave a good chunk of screen time to judas which is always something i want to see more of. but i'm going to forget everything about this by tomorrow...

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#33

Post by sortile9io »

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Solomon and Sheba
4. King Vidor, 1959, USA, 142 min
Hollywood’s epic take on the Hebrew Bible (Kings, Chronicles), a very loose interpretation, of course, with plenty of room for political conspiracy, romance, funerals and trials, battles in the desert, orgiastic rituals, even Gina Lollobrigida whipping George Sanders (!), and, naturally, the “anger and revenge” of Yahveh, all quite inviting on paper yet in the end mostly boring and uninteresting because of the pompous writing and acting plus an improbable cast. 4/10
iCM | IMDb
Also...
1. EL CANTO DEL GALLO (Gil, 1955)
2. LE DIALOGUE DES CARMÉLITES (Agostini, Bruckberger, 1960)
3. UN ANGELO PER SATANA (Mastrocinque, 1966)
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#34

Post by Melvelet »

After having to reinstall my Windows I finally have all my software setup again so the leaderboard is finally up now :)

As always, please tell me if there are additional stats that would interest you. Usually I also have a breakdown for various lists in the leaderboard. Do you have any specific wishes for lists?
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#35

Post by hurluberlu »

2. Louis Theroux: Surviving America's Most Hated Family (Geoffrey O'Connor, 2019) 6+
Amen
1. Outsiders / Ceddo (Ousmane Sembene, 1977) 7
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#36

Post by zzzorf »

Melvelet wrote: May 8th, 2022, 9:23 am After having to reinstall my Windows I finally have all my software setup again so the leaderboard is finally up now :)

As always, please tell me if there are additional stats that would interest you. Usually I also have a breakdown for various lists in the leaderboard. Do you have any specific wishes for lists?
Just wondering shouldn't my minutes be either the 80 I needed for the point or 131 which is both episodes counted together, you currently have me at 40?
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#37

Post by sortile9io »

Melvelet wrote: May 8th, 2022, 9:23 am As always, please tell me if there are additional stats that would interest you. Usually I also have a breakdown for various lists in the leaderboard. Do you have any specific wishes for lists?
Not me. But, if it is easy to do, I wouldn't mind to have an avg. runtime per participant next to the minutes column; and the typo in the challenge title fixed, please.
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#38

Post by sortile9io »

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El espejo de la bruja
5. Chano Urueta, 1962, Mexico, 76 min
The invocation of evil spirits to prevent/avenge a murder by an unfaithful husband leads to a mad doctor/body snatcher case in the second half of this classic Mexican horror film that is neither too bad nor too spooky, it has some charm and visual merit but its plot is too familiar to surprise, the approach to witchcraft sounds too simplistic and the cast seldom gives the creeps. 5/10
iCM | IMDb
Also...
1. EL CANTO DEL GALLO (Gil, 1955)
2. LE DIALOGUE DES CARMÉLITES (Agostini, Bruckberger, 1960)
3. UN ANGELO PER SATANA (Mastrocinque, 1966)
4. SOLOMON AND SHEBA (Vidor, 1959)
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Minkin
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#39

Post by Minkin »

01. The Dead Talk Back (1994, USA, IMDB) – Rating: 4/10
A model is murdered by a crossbow, and someone in a boarding house is responsible. This is a dry 50’s police procedural movie, with a lot of interviewing of suspects, and tracing people’s whereabouts. Then out of nowhere this turns into sci-fi “metaphysics” in the last five minutes as this scientist private investigator dude might have a way to communicate with the dead and discover the murderer… using a glowing rock. Its not much more than a really hokey séance that’s meant to be oh-so terrifying – I guess hearing disembodied voices is meant to be scary to normal people, huh (to be fair, you never get used to them). The suspects are mostly uninteresting (mashers, nervous cheesecake photographers, etc), except the sidewalk preacher – Christy. He’s a boisterous fellow who is deluded into believing he’s God’s judgmental prophet and that everyone else is evil and doing the work of the devil. Nobody takes this guy seriously though: the land lady calls him harmless, and a kid jokingly says “hallelujah” after one of his remarks – but he’s as close as this movie comes to an unsteady character with a mysterious backstory. I’d say he has the potential to be schizophrenic, given all of his delusions, but there’s not enough here to diagnose him other than to say he has some unresolved mental health problems. That said, I find it weird that people are able to excuse religious paranoia and hallucinations as just “convictions of faith,” instead of seeing them as symptoms of their illness. Anyway, aside from an unimpressive séance, there’s not a whole lot of depth here. I’m not sure why this was shelved for 37 years, but I find it charming that they thought they could just throw the word “metaphysics” around, add some dopey science-y explanation and that would be enough to fool audience members.

I can go on about the religious themes in the film if desired - as it's a good mix of magic and religion, just as any good movie should.

Astute observers will note I also counted this for the April 1990s challenge, as I rewatched it on May 1st for this challenge / for my review.
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