New month, new recommendations from Deep Cuts Rising. The second installment of 2024 features selections reflecting holidays, events or traditions of February.
Regardless of how they came to be here, or what they’re about, these past movies can generally be considered overlooked, forgotten or unknown.
This month’s horror offerings include reincarnation, vampires and more.
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)
Directed by J. Lee Thompson.
Author Max Ehrlich handled the screenplay for his own novel’s adaptation. Despite its quirky title, though, this movie is a rather surreal and sad, not to mention unpredictable viewing experience. The obsession with metaphysical matters seeped into ’70s cinema, and this trippy psycho-horror gem, one directed by J. Lee Thompson (Happy Birthday to Me, 10 to Midnight), is a valid reflection of that bygone trend.
The namesake of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin) is having what he first thought were intense recurring dreams, but as it turns out, he’s experiencing memories of a past life. A past murder, even. And as he digs deeper into a mystery he really should have left alone, he is swallowed up by fate. The movie also stars Margot Kidder and Jennifer O’Neill.
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud is currently available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
I Like Bats (1986)
Directed by Grzegorz Warchoł.
Looking for something offbeat to watch this Pączki Day (February 8) or Valentine’s Day (February 14)? Then direct your eyes to the Polish vampire movie I Like Bats (original title: Lubię nietoperze). This kooky but sometimes sexy and dark comedy is all around weird. Grzegorz Warchoł’s eccentric movie can never settle on a single tone, but that’s what makes it so charming. The lovely production values are also undeniable.
Katarzyna Walter plays the troubled shopkeeper whose nocturnal activities lead her to seek psychiatric treatment. As the protagonist develops romantic feelings for her therapist, the town continues to fear a local killer who only strikes at night. Just who could it be?
Deep in the Woods (2000)
Directed by Lionel Delplanque.
For Tell a Fairy Tale Day (February 26), fans of the New Extreme Films might be interested in Deep in the Woods (original title: Promenons-nous dans les bois). This French obscurity has an intense fairy tale theme — particularly Little Red Riding Hood — as well as elements from both giallo and slasher movies. It’s nowhere as transgressive as the New Extreme movies that followed, yet the beginnings of that cinematic movement can be seen here. Reviews back then criticized the style over substance, although audiences today might be more receptive to the emphasis on visuals.
This dreamlike story starts with five young actors visiting a remote castle in the woods so they can perform Little Red Riding Hood for the owner and his son. As they stay overnight, the visitors are then killed, one by one, by an assailant wearing a wolf mask.
Strangely, Deep in the Woods has not been re-released in high definition; it’s also only streaming in some regions. However, copies of Artisan’s DVD, which offers an English dub as well as the French track, are still in circulation.
Double Vision (2002)
Directed by Chen Kuo-fu.
Double Vision is a “buddy cop” thriller with aspects of horror sprinkled throughout. This Taiwanese actioner respectively stars Tony Leung Ka-fai (“Little Tony” to his fans) and David Morse as the mismatched cop and FBI agent in charge of finding the culprit behind a series of bizarre and ritualistic murders.
Director and producer Chen Kuo-fu, the head of Columbia Pictures’ Asian branch at the time, was intentionally emulating the aesthetic and visual effects of big-budget Hollywood movies. The end result is a singular multi-genre story that True Detective fans may appreciate. Those looking for more East Asian movies for Chinese/Lunar New Year (February 10) are also encouraged to watch.
Double Vision is available at most digital retailers as well as on DVD (Sony Pictures) and Blu-ray (Nameless Media).
Directed by Eiichirō Hasumi.
Admittedly, the manga-based Re/Member (original title: Karada Sagashi) isn’t exactly the deepest of deep cuts; it was originally distributed by Warner Bros Japan back home and later acquired by Netflix. Even so, this time-loop and coming-of-age tale got lost in the shuffle in spite of its few yet notable merits. The story could certainly use some refining here and there, but the willingness to use extensive practical effects — in combination with VFX — should be applauded. The increasingly terrifying monster here is amazing, simply put. Add Re/Member to your déjà vu horror watchlist on Groundhog Day (February 2).
In the movie, a loner and several classmates of hers all become trapped in a neverending scenario where they are forced to play a life-or-death game. Escaping the nightmare at hand requires finding the scattered body parts of a past victim’s corpse inside the characters’ school. The task proves more and more difficult because every time they play the “body search” game, they are pursued by a vicious and everchanging entity called the Red Person.
Re/Member is currently streaming on Netflix.
No genre is as prolific as horror, so it’s understandable that movies fall through the cracks all the time. That is where this recurring column, Deep Cuts Rising, comes in. Each installment of this series will spotlight several unsung or obscure movies from the past — some from way back when, and others from not so long ago — that could use more attention.