15 Unnecessary Sequels That Are Better Than You Think | Sidnaz Blog

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Val Lewton was a producer who, in a sense, made a bargain unheard of in the history of Hollywood ego, trading prestige for freedom. He took a job as head of the horror department at RKO, and was given only three restrictions: The movies had to be cheap, relatively short, and the studio would provide titles (so, for example, we have a revisionist take on Jane Eyre and scathing critique of colonialism titled…I Walked with a Zombie). Other than that, he had free rein. The apex of this period was 1942’s Cat People, a stylish psychosexual noir directed by Jacques Tourneur that was much more about repressed trauma and existential dread than monsters…but there were enough horror movie trappings to make it a hit.

The 1944 follow-up is a direct sequel, focusing on two of the original’s main characters and their daughter, but in tone, it’s wildly divergent. A ghost story of sorts, the young girl is haunted, literally, by her parents’ past, but the threat is more emotional than physical. It’s a wonderful, and wonderfully humane, treatment of deeply damaged characters, all of whom are worthy of empathy (living or dead). Director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Haunting, etc., etc., etc.) and company also build some stunning set-pieces, making the most of the film’s barely existent budget. I can only imagine the reaction of 1944 audiences who paid to see a horror movie about curses and cat people only to get a dark but big-hearted, fantasy. Surely the greatest trick Val Lewton ever played.

Where to stream: Digital rental

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25 of the Best Fictional Dads in Movie History | Sidnaz Blog

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Neither dad in 1978’s Superman gets a ton of screen time, but Jonathan (Glenn Ford) raises Clark and, with Martha, helps instill in him the values that he’ll need in order to use his incredible powers for the benefit of others. Marlon Brando’s Jor-El gets credit as well, not only for creating and building the oddly tiny rocket that sent his son to Earth but also for showing up to offer advice from beyond the grave. Kal-El was the sole survivor* of that doomed planet, and that’s almost entirely thanks to his dad, who sent along an interactive virtual dad for Kal to talk to when the young Superman needed a morale boost, or just a Kryptonian history lesson. I’m saying it took two dads (and a couple of great moms, as well) working together from across the universe to shape Clark.

(Between salary and profit points, Marlon Brando earned around $20 million in 1978 dollars for fewer than 20 minutes onscreen, making him not just one of the best, but also one of the best-paid dads on the list.)

*Or one of dozens, including at least one dog, depending on which version of the story we’re talking about.

Where to stream: HBO Max

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