I grew up in the Inwood neighborhood of upper Manhattan. Back then the neighborhood had a clear physical division: east of Broadway was primarily populated by Dominicans and other people of color, while the west of Broadway was primarily populated by whites. The neighborhood residents seemed to coexist and share public spaces such as Inwood Park without any strife I was cognizant of. I attended a catholic grade school where I had friends of varied ethnic backgrounds. I was fortunate in that my first encounter with bigotry was not until I was 12 years old (though as I got older, I certainly experienced it).
In the summer of 1979, I entered Inwood Park and saw this boldly spray-painted on a wall: “Disco Suxs!” For some reason, it rattled me. What was so bad about disco? I was a fan. It had ENERGY and you could dance to it. It made me happy. Back then, and to this day, I never understood people who severely went out of their way to slam something that was not of their taste. If you don’t like something, ignore it and move on—why deface a wall? Why troll online?
I asked my parents about it and that became our first talk about bigotry. Because they knew I loved music so much, they used the history of Motown Records as a way to explain it to me. They noted how Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music. After that talk, I never looked at or heard those records in the same way again.
Years later, on a VH1 Behind the Music episode on disco, virtuoso musician and producer, Niles Rodgers conveyed that the hate stemmed from the fact that it was the music of minorities that included people of color and the LGBTQ community. Music critic Robert Christgau noted that homophobia, and most likely racism, were the driving forces behind the anti-disco movement that resulted in a preposterous disco demolition night at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The way the 1960s counterculture ended at Altamont, disco ended at this event (by the way, those in attendance trashed the stadium). The haters were also likely intimated by the liberating physicality of disco dancing and hastily labeled the music as vacuous.
Concurrently forceful and sensual, disco was the resurgence of Dionysian pagan culture in the 20th century. Disco is not vacuous and is indeed complex.
First and foremost, disco took significant effort to produce than say the four-piece bands found in other genres. Disco often contained an ample band, with chordal instruments, drums, percussions, horns, a string orchestra, and various classical solo instruments like the flute. The recording of complex arrangements with a large number of instruments required a team that included a conductor and mixing engineers. Disco also had extraordinary vocalists that included powerhouses such as Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand as well as Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, Chic, France Joli, Michael Jackson, Cheryl Lynn, Sylvester, A Taste of Honey, and Barry White.
After the ridiculousness of disco demolition night, disco found a second life in early rap, notably “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang which sampled Chic’s brilliant song, “Good Times.” Disco still lives on under the sapped rubric of Dance Music. Dance music is not as beautifully produced as Disco but has had many remarkable moments over the last forty years.
If you hated Disco in the 1970s, let me encourage you to put aside your prejudices and put on a pair of headphones and embrace the genius. Let the music take you away.
DC Daily is a soon to be cancelled daily comic book news show available on DC Universe, a unique streaming service that includes original programming AND comic books.
My love affair with comic books began in the 1970s with the television series Wonder Woman: it was because of Lynda Carter that I picked up a comic book! I remember the first issue I ever read where Wonder Woman said things like, “Great Hera” and “Merciful Minerva.” This intrigued me because I was learning about Greek mythology in school. I read Wonder Woman to find the connections in the architecture of Paradise Island or the Greek Gods and Goddesses the Amazons worshiped. I remember once noting an inconsistency with regards to how she would sometimes use the Roman names for Greek Gods and vice-versa.
About one year after I started reading Wonder Woman, the now classic Superman: The Movie was released, and it cemented my bond with comic books. I then started to read other titles such as Action Comics, All Star Squadron, Justice League, and, without fail, The New Teen Titans. I read the first five years The New Teen Titans—stories that today’s generation appropriately lauds (and was discussed several times on DC Daily!)
When DC launched the streaming service in 2018, I enthusiastically signed up on the first day. Did I mention how much more fun it is to have ‘adult money’ to indulge in my comic book pleasures?
From day one, I was hooked on DC Daily. I loved the mix of interviews, comic book discussions, back lot tours, fan interaction, and artist showcases (they even once had a cooking show). I looked forward to seeing the articulate and thoughtful hosts. Their interaction with each other reminded me of being 15 years old and discussing comics with friends. I especially loved when John Barrowman appeared on the show—he was born the same year I was and is a fellow middle-aged fanboy (and quite hilarious, unlike the character he played on Arrow)! DC Daily was what I did every day when I got home from work: it was the thoughtful escapism I desperately needed after a long day at work and from the day’s news and events.
Most importantly, DC Daily was there for me when I needed it the most: during the pandemic. I am really angry and heartbroken that the streaming service cancelled the show while the pandemic is still raging. Every time I go to Midtown Comics or JHU Comic Books alone, I always get into conversations with a stranger or staff and they are always so thoughtful and engaging. I always feel a sense of community in comic book shops—they are spaces for creative minds. I got that same feeling watching DC Daily. True, I wasn’t speaking directly with them, but that same stimulation is there.
DC Daily is not the only comic book show I watch. Variant Comics on YouTube is probably the best after DC Daily, but they are not on every day and don’t have access to things like back lot tours or many interviews with people in the industry.
I hope that DC Universe reconsiders this cancellation. They are thoughtlessly losing a bright jewel in the crown.
P.S. Thank you to everyone on DC Daily for being a bright spot these last two very long years. I hope it not is good bye, but see you later.
A Brief History of Community Organizing in the 20th Century
Community organizing seeks better responsiveness of institutions to the needs of the community by addressing and restructuring decision-making processes. Community organizers recruit residents to take on powerful institutions in their community through direct, public confrontation and action. Respected figures such as Saul Alinsky and noted organizations such as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) have advanced community organizing.
Saul Alinsky founded the Industrial Areas Foundation in 1940. The IAF is a grassroots organizing network involving people in over sixty cities in the U.S. that draws together coalitions of poor and middle class people to address poverty, housing, education, public infrastructure and many other issues. However, the IAF is not necessarily about issues: its aim is to build a culture of vibrant participatory democratic practices that gradually transform political and economic power. The IAF is an organization of organizations, drawing upon religious congregations, neighborhood associations, community centers, and unions. Issues tend to be chosen and negotiated with an eye to how they might strengthen and broaden grassroots democratic relationships. The IAF has been successful at drawing people into long-term democratic practices and bridging relationships that cross lines of complex difference, creating new political relationships that concurrently work with traditional and the emerging.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), like the IAF, is also a grassroots community organization of low and moderate-income people. Started in 1970 by Wade Rathke and Gary Delgado, the early version of ACORN helped people obtain clothing and furniture; it campaigned for schools to provide healthy, affordable lunches and promoted Vietnam Veterans’ rights. The organization then branched out into housing and workers’ rights advocacy and has helped thousands of working-class and poor citizens obtain home loans, register to vote and fight for better wages. ACORN differed from IAF in that it engaged in electoral politics as a way of gaining power and ddi not rely on support from organizations and churches, but on door-to-door solicitation and dues paying members. ACORN did not limit itself to local issues and campaigns; and was very particular about picking winnable issues. ACORN found that it could win on issues that are not just about welfare and the poor.
As the IAF expanded, Alinsky felt that the most essential element of organizing was relational organizing. To make IAF organizations more cohesive and assertive, especially when dealing with municipal government, Alinsky encouraged face-to-face meetings. He also believed in establishing local power through individual local leaders who organized and mobilized the poor. One of ACORN’s strengths is its combination of insider and outsider tactics and strategies: activists and leaders often work both inside the system (organizing the poor) and outside the system (protests and confrontation). ACORN did not shy away from using the in-your-face confrontational protest tactics. ACORN was unapologetic about its tactics because it helped draw attention to neglected issues and built membership.
One criticism of the IAF was the lack of diversity among the organizing staff. ACORN’s organizing staff was 90% white in the 1970s and 1980s, but the organization has made considerable progress hiring and retaining organizers of color. Regarding matters of membership and possible racial issues, both organizations approached it in somewhat similar ways: they essentially ignored it. IAF’s practice of multiracial equality presupposes that common religious values creates a basis for cooperation that over time could overcome longstanding prejudices and create a mutual understanding. IAF emphasized the economic and ignored the racial fearing that raising the issue of race could disrupt and divide their organization. ACORN rarely framed issues racially; therefore, it had difficulty forming alliances or coalitions with Black organizations. ACORN also did not organize around single issues such as desegregation, police brutality or the loss of needed public services.
Interestingly, The IAF and ACORN had chapters in some of the same cities that often work on similar issues, but they never work together. Because the IAF uses religious values as a unifying force, their local chapters usually had more members than ACORN’s, but it never sought to build an amalgamated organization that could have waged national policy campaigns. Interestingly, IAF’s Baltimore affiliate, BUILD, coordinated the first successful living wage campaign, but was not able to translate that into a national movement. ACORN, on the other hand, had used its amalgamated structure to build a national living wage movement, with victories in several cities.
While organizations such as unions have historically played an effective role in representing everyday citizens, those organizations now have weaker organizing power. What we have left are community-based organizations. The IAF and ACORN both sought broad-based constituencies that spanned race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and geography. But in this political atmosphere, can they survive?
The Mid to Late 2000s
In 2007, ACORN had field offices in 100 cities and 260,000 members, mostly from minority communities. ACORN helped register more than 1.6 million voters nationally between 2004 and 2008. In 2004, it initiated a successful ballot measure raising Florida’s minimum wage. But by 2008, Republicans were accusing ACORN of voter fraud, even though prosecutors across the country failed to find any evidence. Let us be clear that ACORN was indeed contributory in getting Barack Obama elected.
In 2009, workers at ACORN were secretly recorded by conservative hacks Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe. The videos were heavily edited to create a misleading impression of their activities.
In September of 2009, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to ban the ACORN from receiving federal funding. Here’s how the Democratic leadership voted on the “De-fund ACORN” amendment (A “yes” is a vote to de-fund”):
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: did not vote.
Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen: Yes
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Yes
Majority Whip Jim Clyburn: No
Senior Chief Deputy Majority Whip John Lewis: No
Chief Deputy Majority Whip Maxine Waters: No
Chief Deputy Majority Whip John S. Tanner: did not vote
Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra: No
Steering/Policy Committee Co-Chair George Miller: Yes
Steering/Policy Committee Co-Chair Rosa DeLauro: Yes
Organization, Study, and Review Chairman Michael Capuano: No
In December of 2009, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on ACORN activities, commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee. It noted that ACORN has not been found to violate any federal regulations in the past five years. The report’s other findings included that there were no instances of voter fraud by people who were allegedly registered to vote improperly by ACORN or its employees, and no instances where ACORN violated terms of federal funding in the last 5 years. In fact, the CRS found that O’Keefe and Giles may have violated Maryland and California laws banning the recording of face-to-face conversations without consent of both parties.
I can’t help but wonder how could an organization that had become a force across the country, mobilizing low- wage minority workers and Democratic voters, be pushed to its downfall by its beneficiaries? Alinsky wrote, in the afterword of his Reveille for Radicals (on page 225), “A political idiot knows that most major issues are national, and in some areas international, in scope. They cannot be coped with on the local community level.” He also warned against jumping directly to a national organization while skipping “the organization of the parts” (page 226). Is this what happened to ACORN? Were they not firmly rooted in the communities they worked in? If they were, would politicians have been less inclined to throw them under the bus?
Speaking of politicians, I want to single out Debbie Wasserman Schultz as one glaring example of what is wrong with the Democratic Party.
In 2011, she missed 62 votes of Congress. In December 2015, Wasserman Schultz was one of 24 co-sponsors of H.R. 4018, authored by GOP Congressman Dennis A. Ross, which would delay the implementation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations. Wasserman Schultz was among a dozen Florida representatives who cosponsored the legislation that would delay the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s payday lending rules by two years. The fees for these loans, over the course of a year, can add up as high as the equivalent of a 300% APR.
The following year, during the 2016 presidential primary, Wasserman Schultz only scheduled six debates, significantly fewer than in previous election cycles (and half as many as the Republicans counterparts). Some of Wasserman Schultz’s actions that the media covered during the primaries included:
halting the Sanders’ campaign’s access to DNC databases;
defending the superdelegate system used in the Democratic primaries;
rescinding a prior ban on corporate donations;
and accusing Sanders supporters of violence at the Nevada Convention.
The right wing’s efforts to demonize ACORN had made the organization a discomfiture to Democratic leadership, and it was far easier to throw ACORN under the bus than it would be to stand up for fundamental fair play and justice, and actually investigate the charges before deciding what the appropriate response might be. After the debacle of the 2016 election, as well as later this year, Democrats like Wasserman Schultz will wish they hadn’t been so cavalier especially if the GOP continues to prevent those who put them into office from voting.
Last year I noted that 2018 was not a very productive year with regards to photography largely stemming from health issues. 2019 was not much better, but for different reasons. In the fall, I started a Master’s degree in Museum Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. And just before I started at CUNY SPS, I spent time working on the two photography books I self-published in November. The first book, 21st Century Coney Island, is a collection of photographs taken over the course of three years starting in the summer of 2016 and up to August 2019. Proceeds of this book will be donated to Habit for Humanity of Puerto Rico. The second book, A New Yorker in New Mexico, collects photographs from two trips, one in 2012 and another in 2018. Proceeds of this book will donated to the While they Wait fund.
The photographs I am sharing here have not been published anywhere online or in print. They were taken between February and August of 2019. I hope you enjoy this collection.
Sometimes living in New York City can be overwhelming. Believe it or not, there are oases in the concrete jungle. I rarely share them, but when I do it is when I bring a close friend to experience it. Many of them are near water. I remember once bringing a friend to one of my secret places near the water and he noted how amazing it was to find this peaceful place surrounded by such overwhelming noise.
I experienced great peace and inspiration on the days I took these photographs. I hope they make you feel the same way too.
Let me preface this blog entry by conveying that it is absolutely
acceptable to criticize ideas, politicians, and anyone you support. Similarly,
one should be open to criticism and should be constantly reexamining their own
beliefs. Without this, there is no growth.
Yesterday Freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), when
speaking to supporters at an event on the night of her swearing in, said:
“when your son
looks at you and says ‘mama, look you won, bullies don’t win.’ And I say ‘baby,
they don’t’ because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the
Dropping the motherfucker bomb was a colossal mistake.
I have been known to drop fuck bombs often, but I don’t do
that at work (unless I am in a
private conversation with a close colleague). I have two voices: my
professional voice and my personal / artistic voice, the one that has no
problem saying the word fuck. I also don’t have a problem with women dropping fuck
bombs. I have been a fan of Madonna for over thirty years and can’t think of any
other entertainer, male or female, who has dropped more fuck bombs. But note,
she is an entertainer, not a politician.
I have come to realize, in my middle age, that the overuse of
swear words is just a lazy way of expressing yourself or the individual simply
does not have a good command of the language—something Trump demonstrates
everyday whether in front of the camera or on Twitter. In essence, what Tlaib
did what stoop down to Trump’s level. She also gave him what he wanted.
Trump and other conservatives will now use Tlaib’s
motherfucker bomb as an endless talking point to steer the conversation away
from the real pressing issues. And of course, the bigots are going to endlessly
EMPHASIZE the fact that she is a
Muslim. The rules for a politician of color are not the same; Obama would never
have been elected if his credentials were as paper thin as Trump’s.
Earlier today, I commented on a Twitter posting that supported Tlaib that this was a mistake and people responded with comments that she conveyed what we were thinking. One person responded that intelligent people swear more and that I should Google the studies. How do you explain Trump? Also, some additional context is needed beyond that overshared article and meme. One ridiculous post actually said that no one should criticize Tlaib because Trump sat there smiling while Kanye dropped the fuck bomb in the Oval Office. Again, Kanye, like Trump, is an entertainer. The most vexing were the ones that tried to justify her behavior by saying that Trump does it. No. I agree with the line of thought that we cannot normalize Trump’s lack of decorum, which Tlaib did by acting like him.
Our politicians are not entertainers and should be held to a higher standard. Speaking eloquence is not required, but expletives are always inexcusable. The most scandalous thing I want the politicians I support to do is to wear a tan suit.
2018 was actually not a productive year for me in terms of photography. I don’t often go out on photo taking trips during the winter months because working the camera and changing and adjusting lenses is difficult while wearing gloves. My first trip out wasn’t until March. I did travel to New Mexico in July and took a lot of pictures, but the following month was hit with a crushing illness that kept me home bound for the rest of the summer and much of the fall. In spite of the illness, I still managed to produce some photographs with those from the New Mexico trip being among my favorites. I hope you enjoy these photographs, I absolutely loved taking them.
Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.
Red Sails in the Brooklyn Wind. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from Governors Island.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Sunset Under the Triborough. Edwin Roman 2018.
Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Speakeasy Sal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
Wards Island Foot Bridge in Black and White. Edwin Roman 2018.
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
The Sunbather. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Ward’s Island.
Bands. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
The Orange Parasol. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
Underneath with the Tides. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen under the boardwalk at Coney Island.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Juan Views the Atlantic. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Coney Island.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
A Rockefeller View. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the Rockefeller Overlook in New Jersey.
Bigotry is a consequence of ignorance. The less you know, the more you fear. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
On October 31, 2018, The Washington Post ran a story on Nazi and KKK memorabilia being sold at a Kentucky gun show. Joe Gerth, a columnist with the Louisville Courier-Journal, was at the show to do research for a piece he was working on, interviewing gun dealers to inquire if they feared that the guns they sold could end up being used by the wrong people. Earlier that week, a gunman had gone to a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and fatally shot two Black customers. Later that week, the Tree of Life synagogue was the scene of yet another mass shooting. Both shootings that week were racially motivated and executed by White domestic terrorists.
While at the gun show, Gerth tweeted the following:
A spontaneous face palm hit me when I saw the above picture. Why? Because the Nazi party actually worked to repress and oppress the Christian Church in Germany. In fact, many historians believed that the Nazis intended to completely eliminate Christianity in Germany after winning the war. 1
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, “by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting the Lord’s Work.” But Hitler’s early views towards Christianity were born purely out of political necessity, he knew that he needed the early Nazi Party to attract a majority of Christian voters. However, Nazi ideology could not come to terms with an independent establishment whose legitimacy was not founded and fostered by the Nazi government.2 From 1933 to 1945, more than 6,000 clergymen were charged with treasonable activities and were imprisoned or executed. 3
Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler, the second most powerful individual in the third Reich, became interested in Germanic myths, which reinforced the idea of the superiority of the German race as well as other occult ideas. He wanted Germany to be restored to its mythological roots, free of Christianity.4
I know that people like to cherry pick passages from the bible in order to find justification for their bigotry, but to combine your faith with a secular belief that are actually incongruent is ignorance at its worst.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” – Martin Niemöller
The modern playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right—and by right, I mean that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture that inspires me. What I love about digital versus tape is the great flexibility for experimentation (though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman). The playlist featured in this blog entry was easier to compile because it features one artist. I first created my “Best of Basia” playlist in 2005, and have updated it with each new album.
I have been a fan of Basia since 1990, when she released her second solo album, London Warsaw New York. I became aware of her because of her superb cover of “Until You Come Back to Me.” I remember using one of the listening stations in Tower Records to listen to the album, which I purchased on vinyl. London Warsaw New York had other remarkable songs such as “Cruising for Bruising,” “Brave New Hope,” and “Baby You’re Mine.” Four years later she followed up with the brilliant The Sweetest Illusion, which features, what I consider to be her masterwork, “Yearning.” Around this time, I finally picked up her first solo album, Time and Tide, which features the title track as well as “New Day for You.”
In 1995 Basia released a live album, Basia on Broadway— a vocal tour de force! Three years later, she released a greatest hits album with several new songs.
Basia would reunite with her Matt Bianco bandmates (her first band) in 2004 on Matt’s Mood and finally release another solo album in 2009 with the beautiful composed and arranged, It’s That Girl Again. Her latest release is Butterflies, which is nothing short of outstanding. I recently updated my Best of Basia playlist to include tracks from Butterflies. Let me know if you like this combination!
“If Not Now Then When” from It’s That Girl Again
“I Must” from It’s That Girl Again
“From Newport to London” from Newport to London
“Matteo” from Butterflies
“Just Another Day” from Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams
“From Now On (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
“Half a Minute (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
“Yearning” from The Sweetest Illusion
“There’s a Tear” from It’s That Girl Again
“It’s That Girl Again” from It’s That Girl Again
“Liang & Zhu” from Butterflies
“Butterfly” from Butterflies
“Waters of March” from Clear Horizon
“Go for You” from Clear Horizon
“Astrud” from Time and Tide
“Where’s Your Pride” from Butterflies
“Baby Your Mine” from London Warsaw New York
“The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” from The Sweetest Illusion
“An Olive Tree” from The Sweetest Illusion
“Reward (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
“Until You Come Back To Me” from Basia on Broadway
I love Halloween.Psychology Today interestingly noted that it best holiday because we don’t have to worry about it.
“Nobody frets about being lonely, abandoned, heartbroken, alienated, or bereft on Halloween.”
When I am not donning a costume, one of my favorite things to do is to load up on the horror and thriller films. Below are my 2018 recommendations currently available on various streaming services (I cut the cord three years ago).
Let me know if you have seen any of these. Let me know if see any based on my recommendations. I would love to hear your thoughts. And be sure to explore my recommendations from the previous two years: 2017 and 2016.
The below film titles are linked to their respective trailers.
47 Meters Down: Two young women are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean with less than an hour of oxygen and sharks circling. Claustrophobic with hungry sharks!
Gerald’s Game: While trying to spice up their marriage in a remote house, a woman must fight to survive when her husband unexpectedly dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed. You can’t help but think of what you do in that situation. Also, you may actually think twice about letting someone tie you up for fun.
As Above So Below: When a team of treasure hunters venture into the Paris catacombs and discover more than they bargained for. Seriously claustrophobic and the scenes where they emphasize that are the best.
Classics you may have missed that are available on Netflix: The Shining (my go to film during a snowstorm); Hellbound(Horror S & M); Interview with The Vampire (Brad Pitt as Louie and Tom Cruise, who gave an unexpectedly superb performance, as Lestat in the film based on the classic Anne Rice book of the same name).
The Skeleton Key: A young nurse cares for a mute senior citizen in an old, remote and really creepy Louisiana plantation. She discovers the family’s dark and dangerous past.
The Stepford Wives (1975): An aspiring photographer and full time housewife has come to the little town of Stepford, Connecticut with her family, from New York City and discovers a sinister secret in the flawless demeanor of the other wives. This film has aged really well.
The Strangers: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. After seeing this film, soft knocks on the door will scare you for months to come.
Stir of Echoes: After being hypnotized a man begins seeing a girl’s ghost in his home and works to solve her murder.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist: I was not sure about including this because it is one of those films that has an excellent concept, but is not executed well. Interestingly, there are two versions of this film (the other being called, Exorcist: The Beginning) and the other also has an excellent concept, but is poorly executed. The film takes place about 20 years before Father Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil’s soul in The Exorcist. The film details his first encounters with the demon Pazuzu in post-World War II Africa.
The Cell: I actually reviewed this film 18 years ago when I worked at the now defunct, on-line magazine Latiknow. I recently saw it and was impressed with how well it has aged. It is a masterwork of surrealism that stars Jennifer Lopez at the height of her powers. She plays a social worker who is experienced with technology that allows here to enter the mind of a serial killer who is in a coma.
The Satanic Rights of Dracula: I have always loved Christopher Lee’s Dracula films. They have this wonderful texture and excellent gothic horror.
Horror Express: Speaking of Christopher Lee, he stars as a British anthropologist who discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train. But is the creature frozen?
The Woman in Black: A young clerk travels to a remote village where he encounters the vengeful ghost who is terrorizing the locals. The direction on this film is nothing short of brilliant.
Daybreakers: A plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a blood shortage, the vampires plot their survival, while a researcher works on a way to save humankind. Sleek and modern stainless steel horror.
The Others: A woman who lives in her darkened family mansion with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that the home is haunted. But is it?
Blow Out: John Travolta stars as a movie sound recordist who accidentally records a car accident which turns out to be a murder and eventually finds himself in danger. Terrific 1970s horror.
Insomnia: Brilliant performances from Robin Williams and Al Pacino. Pacino stars as a detective dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the murder of a local teen.
I am actually still exploring some other films listed on Hulu’s Huluween and may have an addendum to this blog entry. If I do, it will be before Halloween.
Firghtpix, which is a completely free, but loaded with commercials, streaming service, has the following worth watching:
You’re Next: A family is attacked but the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims has an unknown talent for fighting back.