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House by the River, Fritz Lang (1950)

Deliciously poisonous little melodrama featuring eros/thanatos mixups, dark shadows, fratricide, billowing curtains, animal carcasses that wash out to sea with the low tide and back in from the sea with the high (“Back and forth, back and forth!” as one wild-eyed character puts it), physical deformities, contempt for procreation, and — best of all — the villain justifies his evil deeds as necessary to his work, because he’s a . . . writer! Yum. Brings to mind The Spiral Staircase, Rebecca, and, sure, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This is the kind of movie Lang made when a studio gave him a free hand but not much money: Elegant and sick.

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