“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” That quote sums up 2016 pretty well for me. What a fucking year. Terrible crap everywhere. But I don’t want to go into a list of downers. What made the year good for me though was a new found creativity. I’ve had a chance to write some guest reviews for some great friends. And I’ve been going full on author this year as well. Check out my writing at Penned in Blood. Another positive this year has been the movies. This year more then any others in recent memory I watched a ton of great films for the first time. There are a bunch of great companies out there releasing rare stuff to Blu and DVD. So let’s get on with the list. Here's hoping 2017 is better!
Axe (1974) Art house meets drive in film.
Kiss of the Damned (2012) Cool vampire film with a bit of a Euro Horror vibe.
Maggie (2015) Arnold does a zombie movie. Incredible little film.
Melancholia (2011) Not sure if I loved it or hated it. But it stuck with me.
The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) Haunting and weird. Loved it.
10) Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)
Take Apocalypse Now mix in some The Raid style action and the mind fuckery of Irreversible. Plus musings on identity similar to Lost Highway. Add a liberal dose of JCVD and Dolph Lundgren. Shake that sucker up and there you go. You get this crazy action movie acid trip. Who’d think the Universal Soldier films would get so arty?
9) America's Deadliest Home Video (1993)
Kind of a groundbreaking found-footage film that very few have heard of. This SOV Natural Born Killers looks at America’s need for quick fame at any cost. A nerdy camera obsessed dude (Danny Bonaduce!) gets kidnapped by some punks and is forced to tape their crimes. The head punk actually wants to gain fame with the footage of his crimes. He’d love the Youtube.
8) Maps to the Stars (2014)
A dark satire of Hollywood by David Cronenberg. I went in not expecting much and was nicely surprised. Julianne Moore gives a brave and unhinged performance as an actress clinging to fame. Speaking of brave performances, Mia Wasikowska plays a weird mousy burn victim who sees dead people. Maps is a sharp look at narcissism in Hollywood that’s just a bit off kilter like it’s characters.
7) Voice Without a Shadow (1958)
I was lucky enough to watch both of Arrow’s Nikkatsu Diamond Guys sets this year. This was the first one in the sets I watched and still my favorite of the films. A Noir whodunit with a strong Hitchcock vibe. This is a pure old-fashioned murder mystery.
6) Eugenie (1970)
Had an excellent Jess Franco marathon this year. You can read every sleazy detail of it here. Eugenie was one of the standouts of the marathon. Perhaps one of Franco’s most beautifully shot films. The story involves an innocent young woman who gets drawn into a world of trippy sex games and Eyes Wide Shut antics. Chris Lee shows up looking like he didn’t read the script. There’s a fantastic Bruno Nicolai score to groove to as one does.
5) The Final Girls (2015)
A fun and surprisingly heartfelt homage to '80's slasher films. I liked how they used the idea of being trapped in a film to an almost Groundhog Day effect. There were a couple very emotional scenes that really surprised me. This one had a fantastic cast. The final battle was really nicely done.
4) Fallen Angel (1945)
Loved this under-appreciated film noir. Otto Preminger directs a splendid noir. I dig this one more then Laura. The cinematography is just plain amazing. The acting on display is marvelous, especially Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell. The mystery zips along nicely to a neat twist ending.
3) Dark Water (2002)
2016 found my interest in J-horror returning. I'd seen the remake years ago and wasn't really impressed. But I'd never seen the original. With Ringu I actually like the remake more. So I was curious how this film would stack up to the remake. Well as usual the original is the way to go. Wow. The story of a single mom and daughter caught up in ghostly goings on is incredibly relatable. It's a sad ghost story dealing with abandonment and loss. A bit of a slow burn but incredibly worth it.
2) Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
This is where it started, my year long obsession with Jennifer Lawrence. While I found the main character of Pat a bit of a ass, it was Lawrence’s Tiffany that I became invested in. Pat’s character has an arc to be sure. But it was Tiffany’s that I found more compelling. I’ve found most of DeNiro’s performances in the last few years cringe inducing. But I really enjoyed him here.
1) It Follows (2014)
Hesitated to watch this one for the longest time. Heard so much hype about it. I was worried there was no way it would live up. Well it was fantastic. Loved the feel of the film. That ‘70’s and ‘80’s vibe so many horror films try to recreate. It Follows did it perfect. The monster and it's nature, just dug it. A unique boogeyman to be sure. And holy crap that score, makes me all tingly in my parts.