Sinister Urges

by MrCannon

Created 03/07/13

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Sinister desires, lies, frightening truths, and implulses. These films deal with the hidden dark natures in humanity and in ourselves.

  • Darkness lurks in this fractured fairly tale concerning a crooked tattooed knuckled southern preacher on the hunt for a fortune in the possession of a small house of an inmate he meets in the county lock up. The only problem is the inmates children are keeping it hidden. In Charles Laughton's first and only directed film, he plays a shadowy nocturnal take on greed, that it is no different than evil when money is all we see.

  • Desires and loneliness moves like a knife in Kaneto Shindo's dark medieval japanese folk tale of a woman and her daughter-in-law living in the fields of a war ravaged Japan murdering lost samurai in order to pawn the armor for food. When the friend of the daughters lover returns without him, erotic and erratic impulses boil to the surface, sexual repression, envy, and evil stands close in this barley lit tragedy on inner desire

  • Hiding on us all is the fear of what we might be capable of. In pontecorvo's realism vision of Edith, a Jewish concentration prisoner who moves up to the rank of a ruthless kapo. This is politicaly ironic and fearful look on universal dehumanization and survival of war in the most inescapable confinement, human nature

  • Truth is, guilt can be a living hell. Just ask Bob Ford, the right hand man of the great Jesse James. Fords love for Cynthia, a stunningly beautiful actress, and his confused greed for the promised amnesty by bringing Jesse in dead or alive, it brings him to betrayal as he guns Jesse down. With Fuller's signature emotional close-ups and underling political subversion is a cerebral western tragedy in a journalistic narrative about the nature of man's innocene given into damnation and it repercussions.

  • Cold graves, mistaken corpse, and macabre galore. Robert Day's gothic horror tale of James Rankin (intensely played my Boris Karloff) a detective on the case of the mistaken death of a man who was thought to be a serial killer, Rankin soon discovers he is closer to the answer than he has expected. Eerily expressionistic, Day's eerie pit of madness and eroticism is still a chilling cinematic stab.

  • Dealing with Death can be like walking through water, or through Lars Von Trier's dark pathway fable into the lives of a husband and wife attempting to come to grips with their deceased infant son while isolated in a remote cabin. It revolves around the wife who is going through her grief stages, her husband who is a psychiatrist try's to bring her back to reality by severing his roles as a husband to play psychiatrist. In one of Von Trier's most cinematic psychological nightmare of the cynical and insidious being that is rationality, stands as his most visually grim and hypnotic horror film about experiencing true fear and its demonic manifestations.

  • Beauty can be a hard bargain in Georges Franju's Hitchcockian terror drama of a troubled surgeon who kidnaps young women in order to removed their face, secretly determined to fix daughters after a car accident. Love and guilt go hand in hand with expressionistic and poetic horror in Franju's tourture of the human conscience.

  • Darkly impulsive is what to describe about George Sluizer's psychological excavation of a man in a desperate search for his girlfriend gone missing during vacation, and a parallel  story of loving husband and father who secretly is schizophrenic may harbor the chilling answers to her disappearance. A truly subjective edgy organism of entrapment and control is a claustrophobic experimental duel character study in cinematic fear. 

  • Curiosity kills, especially when a great secret is kept, knowledge then is a curse in director Robert Aldrich's and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides parallel universe adaptation of Mikey Spillane pulp novel is a vicious sci-noir decent into a cynical and sleazy divorce detective's incident involving a female hitchhiker he picks up who puts him in danger for his life. An Intensely brutal, sexually sadistic, and amorally bizarre realm of America turned upside down in Aldrich's most devious and parinoid vision of the atomic age thrown into absurdity.

  • Fate has never taken such ugly turns as two contract killers try to find the clients that hired them to kill a retired race car driver who refused to run from his own death. Don Siegel directs this flag shaking remake of Robert Siokmak's 40's noir of Ernest Hemingway's short story, is an off kilter vision seen through the perceptions of the hitman, and told with savage patriotic nihilism . Siegel's unsympathetic and ruthless neo-noir is a wicked cartridge unloaded onto Cold War America without a hint of empathy. To tie up the whole film, 'it's just business'.

  • Prepare for a cold night as Nagisa Oshima chills you to the bone with his ghostly adaptation of Itoko Nakamurah's novel of a early 19th century housewife who murders her husband to be with a younger man. A Erotic and internally tortured fable of guilt and desire is a truly frightening ghost story of the dark corners of the human condition.

  • Love is a true con in Leonard Kastle's deadly thorned rose tale of passion and murder when Martha, a lonely nurse decides to try her luck at a pen pal service and gets the man of her dreams, Ray, a smooth and slick bachelor who happens to also be a cold con artist. Unable to shake her love, she joins him on his plan to con other women for their money as Martha plays sister to Ray. Kastle's cynical and fiendish documentary take on a true story is a monstrous and bloody takedown of the American values and all it's fervid illusions.

  • Check your tickets for this one way train trip into dark territories as Leopold Kessler, an American in post-war germany hired to work as a sleeping car conductor becomes a vicious target of power and deception. Shoot in nightmarish lush colors with shadowy black and white expressionism sharing the frame. Dangers and temporal horrors are at every turn in Lars Von Trier's lurid and a quasi-science fiction cerebral corridor of a man's ideals standing on the nefarious edge of self-destruction

  • Stranded between animal nature and survival is a group of private school boys fending for their lives and sanity on a remote island after a horrific plane crash. Peter Brook's spear sharp adaptation of William Golding's novel is a ingenious political allegory of savagery and violence among innocents. A pointed stick at the negation of human nature.

  • If sexuality is power then Sternberg's expressionistic tale of 18th century Catherine the II and her fate to become a feared tyrant of the Russian empire is one his most terrifying and ironic displays of sadism and eroticism. The story seems to play from Catherine's point-of-view of the dark empire she is ruthlessly rejecting, as also being pulled into its clutches with gargoyles, and demonic statutes lurking in the shadows (and at the edge of the screen) to represent the desires underneath Catherine's innocent demeanor. Sternberg's created a macabre stylistic passage into the mind of a innocent discovering her personal weapons.

  • The juxtaposition between violence and love is a huge target in Sam Peckinpah's surreal and visually impaling shard of David, a American mathematician and his attractive British wife Amy, who move to a small town town in England that used to be Amy's childhood town. Seductive and violent intentions begins to enthrall four locals that forces David and Amy to transform thier home into a fortress of protection. Peckinpah turns the camera on a frightening image of humans succumbing to war to their most immoral desires

  • Never has sex and beauty been portrayed in such a calculating and questionable as it is in Catherine Breillat's provocative venture of sibling rivalry told from twelve year old Anais point of view, as her overweight shadows her skinny thirteen old sister who falls for a college student at their vacation home. Breillat's fascination and animosity with the conformity and modernism of sex stands as also a bold and non-ironic statement of female adolescence and it's turbulent sexual turmoil.


  • By Aleksi
    September 24, 2013
    06:03 PM

    Another good list... Also, depending on how much you extend the context, Straw Dogs, Clean Shaven, Fat Girl, Gomorrah, Under the Volcano, Hands Over the City, Insomnia, Fists in the Pocket, Dillinger is Dead, Coup de Torchon, Le Corbeau,.. I'm sure there are others that will occur to us.
    • By MrCannon
      September 24, 2013
      06:39 PM

      Wow! Nice, Aleksi, I considering a good amount of these
    • By MrCannon
      October 05, 2013
      02:27 AM

      Going to start adding so e of your suggestions this weekend, already put up Straw Dogs.
    • By MrCannon
      October 05, 2013
      02:28 AM

  • By MrCannon
    September 24, 2013
    06:39 PM

  • By Liam Molenda
    October 03, 2013
    05:05 PM

    M, Dr. Mabuse, any Roman Polanski.
  • By JonnyCat
    November 11, 2013
    03:41 PM

    Some of my absolute favorite films, Criterion or not. Great classification, very fitting.Seems something sinister is something I find enjoyment in. Honestly I think Haxan, Kwaidan, Phantom Carriage, Vampyre, (in Japanese ), The Raven, The Black Cat, Hell & many others mentioned above, may do better in a category made for them. Many names come to mind, I think Phantasmagorical has a nice ring. Agree spot on with Matt and Cinemacannon. Salo is the ultimate for sinister urges & does belong above, if only Marat/Sade was in the Criterion Collection, hint hint, ( I cannot be the first? ). It would fit well.
  • By Julian G.
    October 22, 2014
    06:40 PM

    I guess I'm late, but I'm surprised Jean Renoir's LA BETE HUMAINE isn't on here! That's a wonderful film as well.
  • By JDHMathews
    September 11, 2015
    10:11 AM

    I would put Do the Right Thing on this list despite that the movie isn't that dark compared to others on this list. The movie is a direct nose-dive from the beginning to the end of the day at the end of the movie and shows a colorful and friendly street in New York City that later ends in a riot. Still a great list.
  • By LyleG
    February 27, 2017
    10:40 PM

    Eraserhead would fit. A bleak, surreal horror film based on the consequences of sex and unplanned parenthood.