Tag Archives: Gothic

Thinking Aloud About Film: The Witch’s Mirror (Chano Urueta, Mexico,1962)

The Witch’s Mirror/ El Espejo de la bruja (Chano Urueta, Mexico, 1962) is an immensely entertaining film that is being screened on MUBI as part of their ‘Spectacle Every Day: The Many Seasons of Mexican Cinema’ series. There are claims that it is a ‘uniquely Mexican Gothic’ but we don’t quite agree. Indeed, in the podcast we relate it to Rebecca, Frankenstein, Eyes Without a Face, The Skin I Live In, The Beast With Five Fingers and other well-known films it was clearly influenced by or itself influenced. It is a derivative if visually inventive film, with a director who has an eye for composition, who keeps the camera moving, tells the story at a clip, and who knows how to make the most out of roughly a cast of four performers doing their outmost in about three sets. It’s a considerable achievement in its own terms and great fun to see though those looking for depth will be disappointed.

The podcast may be listened to here:


The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546


Here’s the American dubbed version https://cors.archive.org/details/the-witchs-mirror-1962
They removed the Goya etchings and the introductory voiceover.
This is the review Richard found which comments on the dubbed US release: 
José Arroyo

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 400 – The Nun II and The Exorcist: Believer

Listen on the players above, Apple PodcastsAudible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

You can also hear our discussion of 2018’s The Nun, and our podcast on The Exorcist, part of our exploration of the oeuvre of William Friedkin.

For our 400th episode we indulge in a pair of horror sequels, both heavy on faith, possession, and Christianity. One is part of a modern universe of interconnected stories, characters, and demons, the other represents the reignition of a series whose sequels have been produced intermittently for fifty years without receiving anything like the acclaim of the film that spawned them. The Nun II is the eighth film in the ten-year-old Conjuring Universe; The Exorcist: Believer is only the sixth Exorcist film in half a century. Truly, they don’t make them like they used to.

Neither film in this double bill is very good in totality, but The Nun II contains imaginative and effective set pieces and visual ideas, while The Exorcist: Believer is content to discard a reasonably interesting first act in favour of useless and charmless reference to, and pathetic reenactment of, William Friedkin’s 1973 original. We discuss what we think the films are about, wittingly or otherwise – horror is commonly understood to often allegorise and express the ills and worries of the societies that produce them, and we consider the ways in which these films might be doing so. And there’s much to compare and contrast between them, including their characters’ attitudes to the supernatural; the ways in which religion, be it Catholicism specifically or Christianity more generally, plays into their stories and atmospheres; and the kinds of imagery through which they attempt to instil fear in their audiences. And we take time to criticise many, many examples of the weakness of the storytelling in Believer.

The Nun II, like its 2018 predecessor, is not very good, but it is fun. The Exorcist: Believer is neither good nor fun. Happy 400th episode!

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

My Name is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis,

my name is

A Columbia quickie, on the Gothic end of the noir spectrum, directed with great flair by Joseph H. Lewis, director of Gun Crazy (1950) and The Big Combo (1955), and thus one of the most significant figures in noir. Nina Foch, pre An American in Paris is Julia Ross,  a middle-class working girl on her uppers and desperate for a job. George Macready, pre-Gilda, is Ralph, quick to temper and overly interested in knives. His mother, Mrs. Hughes (Dame May Whitty) is the only who can control her son and is overly protective. She has set up a whole personnel agency just to  find the right live-in personal secretary. There’s a great point made about no family and no attachments and we’ll soon learn why.

Julia goes to work one night and wakes up a prisoner in a rand cliff-side house in Cornwall, with the staff told she’s Ralph’s wife and so nuts they must ignore what she says. Why are they doing this to her? How will she escape? The film bears a loose resemblance to Rebecca and is worth seeing today for the ingenious ways Lewis figures a woman imprisoned in a world of shadows (see images below).

my name is 2.jpg

The Arrow Academy release features a very good introductory essay by Adrian Martin and an intriguing discussion by Nora Fiore, of Nitrate Diva Fame, on the relationship between the film and the social context it was made and released in.


José Arroyo

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 101 – The Little Stranger

You find us in contemplative mood, picking apart a film described by José as “genuinely puzzling” and Mike as “The House with a Doc in Its Walls”. The Little Stranger builds light gothic horror around class and ambition in 1940s Warwickshire, a stately home providing the setting of the action and focus of Domhnall Gleeson’s town doctor.

With some difficulty, we attempt to grasp the film’s themes and intentions, never quite feeling we get the full measure of it. It doesn’t help that it basks, to some extent, in ambiguity, and also that half the lines are mumbled so as to be rendered truly unintelligible. There are things we like, particularly its sure sense of era and class, and its rich production design, but we can’t overall say we recommend it.

What we can recommend, though, is a visit to Evesham’s Regal Cinema, where we saw the film. A multipurpose venue that hosts live shows as well as regular cinema screenings, it oozes charm and style. A leisurely Sunday drive amongst sunny A roads took us there, and what a lovely day was had by all. Even if the film was a bit disappointing.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 69 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom



Jurassic World returns. J.A. Bayona, the director of The Orphanage and A Monster Calls, is in charge, transforming the colourful knockabout thrills of the previous instalment into a volcano disaster-cum-Gothic horror film. We both love the heightened drama of the mansion half of the film and how Bayona finds new life in what has, over the last 25 years, somehow become somewhat stale imagery of reanimated dinosaurs. José adores the casting of Geraldine Chaplin and Mike finds the reduced importance of love stories a positive thing. And seeing businessmen get killed is always fun. Cracking movie. Hugely enjoyable.


The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

fallen kingdom