Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Drag Me to Hell (dir. Sam Raimi)

I don’t watch horror movies very often, but when I do, I make damn sure to spring for the good ones. Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell was a critical darling upon its release four years ago and earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating to rival most Oscar nominees, so I’ve been meaning to see it for awhile. For my first scary movie of October, I chose Drag Me to Hell, and I am so glad I did. I will not be the first to tell you that this movie is incredible: it’s pitch-black horror comedy that manages to be both completely disgusting and absurdly sophisticated. It’s silly and moralistic, but Raimi totally knows, and Drag Me to Hell excels precisely for this self-awareness. Despite its PG-13 rating, this is balls-out nightmare fuel that was too satisfying to make me dread going to sleep. I honestly turned out the lights with a smile on my face. — Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

Photo credit: Sean Ruch

Evil Sword at Cake Shop, 10.3.2013

I’ve been a fan of Philly-based musician Kate Ferencz‘s lo-fi pop weirdness for a few years now, so I was thrilled to learn that she’d put together a full band. But Evil Sword isn’t just any band — it’s a full-costume trip into the creepy fairy-tale woods of your nightmares, led by deranged elves who may or may not be on your side. They’ve still got a few dates left on their current tour of the Northeast; those who are in the mood for some DIY Halloween spookiness won’t be disappointed. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

“Bloodflows” by SOHN

I tend to pick songs, play them on repeat, and then unconsciously sing them aloud until my roommate tells me that I need to stop. Thankfully, for her sake, SOHN’s “Bloodflows” doesn’t follow a vocal flow that I can recognizably imitate. And that’s OK, because I’d rather listen than sing along. Hearing SOHN lament that “my love, my love, my love don’t love me” is absolutely haunting, especially set against the kind of electro-pop, synth-infused goodness that is totally my jam. — Brie Hiramine, Editorial Apprentice

J. Hilburn pop-up shop, 91 Grand St., New York

I stopped by the opening night party for the J. Hilburn popup shop in Soho last night. The old fashioneds they served were strong, but I remained sober enough to admire the assortment of suits, shirts, ties, and great-looking luggage that the brand produces. — Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

Roman Polanski: A Retrospective by James Greenberg

Roman Polanski has been and continues to be a problem that precious few film writers have solved: how do you tackle one of the most impressive and distinguished filmographies of our time, when it is forevermore attached to a horrifying and repugnant crime? But just as we can’t let Polanski off the hook, the work still stands, and those who can separate the man from the artist will find much of value in Roman Polankski: A Retrospective , in which DGA Quarterly editor James Greenberg takes an exhaustively thorough and admirably astute look at the entire Polanski filmography. This coffee-table volume is loaded with gorgeous stills and behind-the-scenes photos, but the real attraction is Greenberg’s analysis, which is thoughtful, sharp, and a pleasure to read. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

I started reading Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton’s (Battlepug) rural noir comic Revival last fall and just picked it up again. There’s something about the desolate Wisconsin setting that makes it perfect for this time of year — and the zombie-like characters known as “revivers” also set the mood. The recently deceased residents of a small town mysteriously rise from the gave and reenter society, leaving everyone else to cope with the conflict that ensues as the frightened citizens are quarantined from the rest of the world. There are elements of a crime drama, horror tale, and religious/political thriller, with poetic passages and haunting artwork. The fact that it’s a creator-owned work is a bonus. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

The Turin Horse (dir. Béla Tarr)

Sure, it took me four days to watch it, but Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse is a cinematic achievement and quite possibly the most beautiful black-and-white cinematography I’ve ever seen. It picks up in the moments after Friedrich Nietzsche suffers his mental breakdown in Turin, Italy — he spots an old farmer whipping his horse, and throws himself around the horse’s neck and sobs. The Turin Horse supposes what happened afterward: the farmer returns to the plain during a windstorm, where he and his adult daughter go about their daily lives. I won’t lie: nothing much happens in the course of these two-plus hours. But what you can get out of it is an appreciation for what Tarr calls “the heaviness of human existence.” One definitely feels weighted down by the end of the film, but it’s worth the patience required to get through it. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor