IN THE UPSTAIRS BEDROOM of an opulent East Coast beach house, a group of children wrap a corpse in a blanket and head out with it toward the stairs. They slide it over the steps; it thumps its way down, then crumples unceremoniously at the bottom. If this scene were played for grimness, it could be an excerpt from a horror movie. Or perhaps it could be a dark farce, of the Arsenic and Old Lace variety. And it certainly does have its elements of black humor, but tempered with another, quite different quality: a blend of objectivity and tenderness. For the sequence was scripted by Amos Poe, and its concerns are complex.

Poe is perhaps best known for the “punk” films he wrote, directed, and produced in the mid-to-late ’70s, with all the freshness and sense of pure freedom that often embodies new movements at their inception. Films like Blank Generation, 1975, Unmade Beds, 1976, The Foreigner

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