‘Catacombs,’ directed by Gordon Hessler

Movie, 1965 Reasonably effective ghostly psychological thriller, in which some great ideas and scenes are set up, though the pay off isn’t always on the mark. A case, I guess, of a film nearly hitting heights, but not quite delivering. While the marriage at the centre of the story and the individual characters of husband and wife are wonderfully hammed up, the quickly developing relationship … Continue reading ‘Catacombs,’ directed by Gordon Hessler

“The Lady and the Little Fox Fur,” by Violette Leduc

Fiction, 1965 A wonderful piece of fiction, probably best described as a ‘novella’ – in which a starving, struggling middle-aged woman struggles around Paris, centring herself on routines and the tricky spins on he everyday goings-on, before she finds a fox fur and tries to sell it. That’s pretty much all there is, plot-wise, but the evocations of hunger, shame and pride could sustain a … Continue reading “The Lady and the Little Fox Fur,” by Violette Leduc

“The Curse of The Fly”, directed by Don Sharp

Movie, 1965 Cheap, schlocky addition to the black and white horror/sci-fi Fly movies of old. The mixture of mad science and the familial torment surrounding it, together with the teleportation and romantic, gothic motifs are well worn tropes, and the story plods with no hint of any major surprise up its sleeve. Still, the film’s gloominess – enhanced by a rock bottom budget and some … Continue reading “The Curse of The Fly”, directed by Don Sharp

"Die, Monster, Die!" directed by Daniel Haller

Movie, 1965 Curious mixture of horror tropes, from a spooky house, innocent virginal female lead, disabled and mad parents and mad scientist, to 60s’ surreal and at times psychedelic science fiction feel. Karloff hams but is possibly upstaged by his insane and damaged wife, while the dashing young male lead both looks old enough to have been the heroine’s father. Enjoyable hokum which never fully … Continue reading "Die, Monster, Die!" directed by Daniel Haller

"Stoner," by John Williams

Novel, 1965 A dreary, drearily-principled life story told in a conventional start to finish kind of way, about a solid but unremarkable University of Missouri academic. From such unpromising source material, Williams turns in an absolute page-turning gem, with which any disaffected ‘average man’ will surely empathise. A real achievement in which a tragic set of characters slide into old age and obscurity gain, if … Continue reading "Stoner," by John Williams

"A Suspension of Mercy", by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1965 Nail-biting suspense of little subtlety but huge impact, in which a net and circumstances draw ever tighter round a pretty unhinged, psychotic central protagonist. This is real page-turning stuff and a study in a few disintegrating personalities, where the readers’ view is continually shifted around by some deceptively read-a-long writing skirting over some pretty seismic motivations and actions. This is a novel which … Continue reading "A Suspension of Mercy", by Patricia Highsmith