THE ZODIAC KILLER
1971, American Genre Film Archive, 87 min, USA, Dir: Tom Hanson

"Who is he? What is he? When is he going to strike again?” This ripped-from-the-headlines exploitation flick inspired by the infamous Bay Area serial killings beat DIRTY HARRY into theaters by eight months. Hal Reed plays the title role, a mail carrier (and Satanist) who mocks authorities as he carries on his bloody work.


GATES OF THE NIGHT
PORTES DE LA NUIT
1946, Janus Films, 100 min, France, Dir: Marcel Carné

Director Marcel Carné and collaborator Jacques Prévèrt, the toast of French cinema in 1945 with the release of the epic CHILDREN OF PARADISE, found themselves in the doghouse with critics and audiences alike when they released their follow-up, GATES OF THE NIGHT. A troubled production history (original stars Jean Gabin and Marlene Dietrich bailed out), a contentious storyline (no one was happy with the pointed references to the black market that had sprung up after the Liberation) and the film’s unremitting darkness raised eyebrows and hackles when it was released in 1946. Seventy years later, however, the film can be seen as a singular, masterful work, filled with colorful and mysterious performances - including a young and highly appealing Yves Montand. With Pierre Brasseur, Serge Reggiani, Jean Vilar and Nathalie Nattier.


LE MONTE-CHARGE
1962, Gaumont, 90 min, France/Italy, Dir: Marcel Bluwal

A highly fruitful collaboration between actor-director Robert Hossein and hard-boiled novelist Frédéric Dard (THE WICKED GO TO HELL, BLONDE IN A WHITE CAR) comes to an end with this spooky sendup of ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS, where ex-con Hossein returns to his old criminal haunts on Christmas Eve only to hook up with a mysterious, alluring woman (Lea Massari) whose circumstances become more complicated and bizarre as the evening progresses. In the midst of the “elevating” terror, one senses director Bluwal’s tongue subtly in cheek.


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