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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Hidden horrors: Four spine-tingling DVDs

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Don't look now, little girl, but the children of rage (mummy's rage) are about to get you.

Los Dias de los Muertos begin today, October 31 (aka "Halloween Day") through November 2 (aka All Souls Day -- and Tara Mulan Sweeney's birthday). Time to recycle my appreciation of four critically undervalued horror movies from a few years back: David Cronenberg's "The Brood," Roman Polanski's "The Tenant," Neil Jordan's "In Dreams," and John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" ("The critics were horrified!!!!"):

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Critics can be particularly rough on horror pictures. It's so easy -- too easy, sometimes -- to make these spook-shows sound risible and preposterous in synopsis, especially once you remove them from the darkness of the theater and examine them them in the harsh light of black and white newsprint (or monitor pixels). But the horror films I like best are not the abundantly bloody shockers critics love to loathe (though George A. Romero's extravagantly gory Grand Guignol "Dawn of the Dead" is a treasured favorite), but the ones that are the most atmospheric and creepy -- that suggest far more than they depict.

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