Two topics, all-too-often inseparable — politics and horror — course through the veins of the new issue of Bright Lights Film Journal, featuring "a whopping 40 articles, profiles, and reviews," as editor Gary Morris notes in his lively-as-always overview. Gregory Stephen's piece on King Corn and Fast Food Nation is "a tour de force that riffs mightily on eco- and economic exploitation, racism, and a host of other timely themes.... Maximilian Werner manages an entirely new approach to films like The Ring, The Shining, The Exorcist et al. in his discussion of the evolutionary basis of fear. Mark Chapman disinters the postmodern vampire through a persuasive discussion of Claire Denis's Trouble Every Day. He also sketches that depressingly prescient Michael Powell classic Peeping Tom. Jon Lanthier clarifies much about Scorsese's overrated Shutter Island through an inspired conceit: phrenology."
There are also fresh takes on classics, obscure (Cullen Gallagher on Preston Sturges's The French, They Are a Funny Race, for example) and not so obscure (Alan Vanneman on Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator), newish theatrical and DVD releases, festival reports and — the section my eye's always drawn to first — book reviews: Matt Kennedy on America's Film Legacy and Robert Altman: The Oral Biography; Ian Johnston on A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma; and Colm O'Shea on Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, the Religious Right and the Culture Wars.