Peter & The Wolf (2023)

“Beware. For Wolves come in many disguises.”

Sergei Prokofiev’s classic musical fairy tale “Peter and the Wolf” is a story that’s been adapted, and adapted, and re-interpreted, and remade, and rebooted, for sheer decades. My first introduction to “Peter and the Wolf” was the animated adaptation from an episode of “Tiny Toons Adventures,” and since then the story pops up every now and then for modern audiences. This one is written by musician Gavin Friday and the one and only Bono, both of whom originally collaborated on this story to produce a book to benefit the Irish Hospice Foundation. Their version is brought to screen thanks to Gavin Friday who offers up a minimalist but beautiful truncated take on the original story.

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Archaon: The Halloween Summoning (2020)

I’m all for more horror movies that are set on or around Halloween, but there should be more behind it. Despite the inclusion of Celtic folklore and Halloween mythology, Paul Ernest’s horror thriller is a bust. There’s a good concept behind “Archaon: The Halloween Summoning.” It’s just that the movie itself does absolutely nothing with it. It’s a horror movie that basks in its glacial pacing and paper thin, unlikable characters.

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Hellraiser (1987) [LA&M Film Fetish Forum]

“What is your pleasure, sir?”

Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” is a purely body horror tale about hedonism in its purest and most raw essence. Even today it’s a very erotic, but gruesome tale about the pursuit of pleasures of the flesh and how it links to a breed of entities that may or may not be pure evil. “Demons to some, Angels to others” Pinhead (technically named “Hellpriest”) proclaims is a representation of the how the cenobites reach deep down in to the pits of sexuality and kink. And no human can ever really be prepared to see what the practices of this otherworld army has in store for them.

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Dan Curtis’ Dracula (1974)


Also known as “Dracula,” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” Dan Curtis, the creator of “Dark Shadows” adapts (I use the term loosely) the bare essentials of Bram Stoker’s iconic novel. I say “the bare essentials” because for a movie written by Richard Matheson, there isn’t much that the movie strives for beside delivering a Dracula movie and nothing else. There’s no re-interpretation, or any kind of drastic changes to the narrative, save for Jonathan Harker’s fate, which is quite gruesome.

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Aporia (2023) [Fantasia Film Festival 2023]

Often times time travel movies can get bogged down in particulars and more complicated ideas but “Aporia” is one of the few where there’s not so much of the focus on how, but as to the fallout. Writer-Director Jared Moshé prides himself in making “Aporia” a film that’s mainly about the consequences about time travel more than anything. “Aporia” is a fascinating and touching mix of films like “Primer,” and “Sliding Doors,” to where this version of time travel doesn’t so much reverse time, but alters the reality with it. “Aporia” offers a time travel movie that isn’t so much about altering time but about the ideas of destiny and death.

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Oppenheimer (2023)

Christopher Nolan has an eye for spectacle and an eye for scale, and he evokes worlds that are massive and almost always on the brink of destruction. With “Oppenheimer” ambitiously ventures in to a more personal film that is a lot about power and a world almost always on the brink of destruction thanks to man delving deep in to the power that they are capable of. Nolan trades spectacle for a more personal albeit just as intense dramatic thriller about “Father of the Atomic Bomb” J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist that invariably opened up a Pandora’s Box with his hand in the Manhattan Project.

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Stay Online (2023) [Fantasia Film Festival 2023]

Director Yeva Strielnikova’s “Stay Online” is literally a digital thriller for the modern age, and it’s never been more relevant a commentary on the importance of the internet than before. The digital thriller has become something of a niche sub-genre, and “Stay Online” practices that formula, but rather than a horror movie, implements the device as a means of exploring a modern war unfolding before our eyes. America has managed to stay embroiled in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia through various social outlets. One of the most important facets has been Tik Tok, which has dispensed unfiltered information before our eyes.

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Lovely, Dark, and Deep (2023) [Fantasia Film Festival 2023]

According to David Paulides, the author of the Missing 411 books, he estimates that there are over 1,600 unexplained disappearances in North American National Parks. In “Lovely, Dark and Deep,” director Teresa Sutherland offers up one of the more complex and haunting supernatural thrillers of the year, all set within the confines of a national park. What makes “Lovely, Dark and Deep” so haunting is that director Sutherland sets the entirety of her film within a national forest, all of which seems so suffocating and all consuming from the moment character Lennon drives in to its threshold.

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