Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sleazy and Demure: My Top Fifteen favorite films of the year
The last two or three years my movie watching has increased by leaps and bounds. A few years ago I watched only a few films in a weeks time. A handful a month. Now a it's a rare day I don't pop in a film after work. The amount of films I watch in a month is probably too many. The three main culprits in my film watching growth spurt I'd say are DVDS, Amazon and my huge addiction Cult/Trash/Grindhouse films.
With the end of 2010 looming and a ton of movies under my belt, I figured why not make a list of my favorites of the year. Taking a page from Bleeding Skulls book I decide it would be a list that didn't encompass all the films I saw for the first time this year. Stuff like The Runaways, Miller's Crossing and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre are out. Whilst I loved both films, they're too "normal" for this list. No, this list would bring the crazy and the weird, along with balls out grindhouse thrills. So here's my top fifteen films I saw for the first time in 2010. Why fifteen? To be different I guess and there were just so many good films that I wanted to include.
Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989)
So damn bad and weird. You'll be laughing about Daytime whores as a faux Nic Cage goes on a bloody but low key murder spree in Sin City. One that involves women oil wrestling, daytime whores (Why does he hate them so?) and lots, lots of knots. Just when you've had about enough, it ends with a freeze frame and a theme song.
The Amazing Mr. X (1948)
An original and quirky B-movie, whose many charms make up for it's faults. The story of a phony spiritualist (Turhan Bey) out to scam a wealthy widow out of her money is a well-worn plot. But amazing cinematography by film noir master John Alton and a bravura performance by Bey compensate for the convoluted story. A cool mix of noir style and old dark house melodrama.
The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse (1977)
If it wasn't for the ending and confusion over the film's genre I think more people would dig this film. That said, if you can get past the "surprise" ending and the fact that it's not a horror film (It's a dark comedy) there's much to love here. The performances are solid. The set-up of Campus Corpse is quite original and innovative. Approach it with an open mind and you may enjoy it for it's quirkiness.
15. I Drink Your Blood (1970)
A quintessential drive-in flick. I consider myself quite jaded when it comes to watching horror films. Few things shock me anymore. Well, there was Cannibal Holocaust, but that's a story for another time. This film can shock you, it did me anyway. I Drink Your Blood is the first film in America to receive an X rating for violence and content. There's sex but nothing explicit. There's sleazy ass grind fun happing and then the film hits you with depictions of animal violence. I'm not a fan of that. But that said, the commentary track informed me that all the animal's said violence was perpetrated on were all dead animals purchased from a lab. If your looking for a ass kicking night of grindhouse thrills, well baby, I Drink Your Blood delivers.
14. Blood Harvest (1987)
Ever been creeped out by a clown? Have you ever wanted to see the late Tiny Tim as a clown? Extra creepy right? Right. Bill Rebane's slasher is a ridiculously strange and sleazy affair. For the price of admission, We get Tiny Tim in full singing weirdo mode. A bunch and I mean a bunch of nudity, most of it the uncomfortable sort. None from Tim though...Whew! There's an unconscious photo shoot, an unconscious humping session and a bad touch bubble bath. None of it involving Tiny Tim, again whew! Blood Harvest will have you laughing at it one moment and then cringing at it's depravity the next.
13. Sweet 16 (1983)
Vintage '80's cheese in a beautiful wrapper. I enjoyed Sweet 16 so much I watched it three times in a weeks time. It plays like Nancy Drew with some slasher goodness mixed in. I loved every minute of this sucker. Between Dana Kimmell's ridiculous reaction to finding the first body to Melissa’s awesome theme almost every moment of the film is filled with goofy slasher movie fun.
12. Shaolin Drunkard (1983) and Taoism Drunkard (1984)
I have these two together because the two films feature many of the same actors and crew. And Taoism Drunkard is almost a remake of Shaolin Drunkard. The Yuen Clan (Including the infamous Yuen Wo Ping) team up for two insane Kung Fu epics. Both are filled with breathtaking and often funny battles. Think Three Stooges and Evil Dead mixed with Kung Fu Hustle and you have a good idea of what these two films throw at you. The only thing left out is the kitchen sink. But there's a killer demon frog, a dude with actual burning hands and an F'n watermelon monster.
11. Horror House on Highway 5 (1985)
If your not careful a trip to Horror House On Highway 5 could lead to Lovecraftian madness. This film is plain nuts! Once in awhile you come across a film that not only makes you question the filmmakers sanity but yours as well. There's a killer wearing a Richard Nixon mask who's played Ronald Reagan. A black magic Boob ironing ritual that ends with Three Stooges style antics and sound effects. And did I mention the brain maggots?!
10. The Mack (1973)
One of the coolest films I've ever seen! And the quintessential Pimp movie! Goldie is one of the greatest anti-heroes. He goes from being a bad boy with a heart at the start of The Mack to being a stone cold badass by films end. It gets harder and harder to justify his choices as the film progresses. The music used in The Mack is is phenomenal as well. One of the best blaxploitation films out there.
9. Buio Omega (Beyond the Darkness) (1979)
A film about necrophilia! And I almost puked during that soup scene. I love it! Maybe I'm not okay. This sucker is so damn sleazy but beautiful at the same time. Good old Aristide Massaccesi (Joe D'Amato) hit this sucker out of the park. He mixes full on Fulci gore with Gothic trappings for a wonderful stew. And that Goblin score is perfection. Beyond the Darkness has a job to do, make you feel sicking revulsion and horror. And it does that job very well indeed.
8. Bad Girls Dormitory (1986)
And speaking of sleazy! Oh brother do I have a film for you. Every once in awhile I like a "good" WIP (Women in Prison) film. This one delivers all you could want in one. Directed by Tim Kincaid who brought us the epic Breeders! The women in this film look like they may well have done some jail time, maybe for all that frizzy '80's hair. There's an amazing disco scene and a scene lifted directly from White Heat, what's not to love here?
7. The Zodiac Killer (1971)
Part docudrama, part insane community theater drug trip. Zodiac Killer is a trip into another state of being. It's a blitz of low budget weirdness, strange characters and stranger humor and sometimes shocking violence. An alternate universe were David Fincher's Zodiac got made by Rob Zombie. Featuring one of the worst toupee, polyester suit combos to ever grace the screen.
6. Malibu High (1979)
Atrocious in every way possible, Malibu High is amazing. It's got a plot that could have only been concocted for '70's drive-ins. I won't spoil it for you but believe me it goes from a stranded rebellious teen flick to something that would be more at home in a Vertigo comic. There's the odd choice made by the filmmakers to use canned "Muzak" constantly and The People's Court theme for an extended chase scene.
5. Final Exam (1981)
I know I'm in the minority here, but I love this movie! Sure there's only two killing that happen at the beginning and then no more till the last half. I admire the balls they had for doing it like that. The collage kid antics of the first half may put off many horror fans. For me though it gave us time to care about these characters before they fall to the knife of the killer. And the fact that the killer is just some random psycho with no agenda and no identity? That makes it more real. He's not there to kill a long lost sister or punish horny party animals. He's just some dude who's wiring is bad. He woke up one morning and something made him decide to kill.
4. Spider Baby (1968)
Certainly a weird little film with lots of great shots and unique characters. Always had a soft spot for Lon Chaney Jr. and this is one of his best performances. His unconditional love for the three "children" is truly touching. I challenge you not to fall in love with the winsome Jill Banner as Virginia.
3. Boardinghouse (1982)
Life stinks. And then Boardinghouse happens to you. Boardinghouse. There's nothing else like it. Trust me if you haven't seen it that's a good thing. There can be only one film like this, otherwise the earth might stop spinning. How can something this bizarre, this random exist. The only film I know of that's filmed in “HorrorVision.” HorrorVision tries to warn you when something bad is about to happen. But sadly the old Vision is asleep on the job. Often chiming in to late to be of any use. Watch John Wintergate's (He also stars in it.) SOV epic once and you'll never be the same.
2. Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Quiet and creepy. This and my number one pick have that in common. Other then the title the film doesn't try to hit you over the head with it's horrors. I read a review online that said you should know as little as possible going into the film. I agree. If you haven't seen it seek it out. If you have, watch it again. She's waiting for you.
1. Sole Survivor (1983)
Number one was a hard one to pick. The top five are all so close together as far as how I feel about them. Not only have I watched this film an ungodly amount of times this year, but I've become obsessed with it. To the point were I think I may be in love with it's main character Denise (Please call her Dee-Dee). It's prime example of early '80's low budget horror. Dee-Dee survives a plane crash were everyone else bites it. Death isn't too pleased with that. Soon she's being stalked by death via the recently dead. There's a creepy tone throughout that's occasionally lighted by a strip-poker game and a horny comic relief cabbie. This one somber and spooky mood will stay with you long after the film.
There you have it my friends, my favorite films of 2010. Nineteen films that I saw for the first time this year. Nineteen that I'll be watching for years to come. Be seeing you in 2011.