Short Takes: X

X (2022)

Producers: Ti West and Jacob Jaffke and Kevin Turen & Harrison Kreiss
Director/Screenwriter: Ti West

In 1979, a small group of people rent a cabin on a farm to shoot a porn film. Conflict arises and then people start dying one by one.

This film is beautifully produced in the tradition of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But it’s pretty slow-moving and is usually more heartbreaking than horrific. It features some of the best gore I’ve ever seen. So it isn’t really the film you may think it is, which is fine — but be aware.

Starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi, Martin Henderson (The Ring), Owen Campbell, and Stephen Ure.

X is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with minor extras.

3 February 2024

The X from Outer Space (1967)

Director: Kazui Nihonmatsu
Screenwriters: Eibi Motomochi, Moriyoshi Ishida, and Kazui Nihonmatsu

A trip to Mars brings back spores that grow into a giant chicken-lizard monster that destroys much of Tokyo before it is defeated and sent back into space.

History shows again and again how Japan created some of the most fun films of the 1960s. But you build a tolerance. One day, a giant turtle is enough, the next day, you need a chicken. Regardless, this one holds up really well.

Strangely, Toshiyuki Watanabe gets top billing in this film. I assume he played the monster. It’s the only film he was ever in. Starting about a decade later, he would go on to be a notable film composer. Sharing credit is Mississippi native Peggy Neal as the blond scientist (her part is dubbed). Shin’ichi Yanagisawa provides comic relief. Eiji Okada (Hiroshima Mon Amour) plays Dr Kato.

The X From Outer Space is in the public domain and available via in English. It is also available in the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku along with Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell, The Living Skeleton, and Genocide.

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