2018 was a much better year then 2017 by a long shot. Not that it didn't have it's share of crap. There was also a ton of good films that I watched for the first time in 2018. So many that making this list was a bit of a pain in the ass. Plus I actually watched films that came out this year. Not to mention I watched so much Game of Thrones. 2018 also marked the tenth anniversary of this here blog! Well, without me babbling more, here’s the list for 2018.
Nerve (2016)- I enjoyed this teen techno thriller way more then I thought I would. The story involves an online site where kids attempt crazy dares for money. Filming them with their phones as they complete them. Each dare getting more dangerous. Emma Roberts stars as a shy high school girl who decides to try it out. I’m always down for some Emma Roberts action. I could watch Miss Roberts read a phone book while paint dried behind her for two hours. And the synth score for Nerve is top notch. There some surprisingly tense sequences here. The best evolves a ladder laid out between two buildings.
The Boy Who Came Back (1958)- It's the tale of a young man straight out of reform school who struggles to adapt to a life of non-delinquency. He’s also a bit of a hard-ass. Trying to help him is a young woman, who’s sort of a social worker. While helping him to fit back into society she struggles with her growing feelings for him. While the ghosts from his past come back to haunt his new life. The film has likable characters, strong drama, and a great noir look.
The Man with a Shotgun (1961)- A wandering hunter, arrives at a remote mountain mill town. There’s something shady going on with the mill's owner, and soon our wander is drawn into some dirty dealings. The lead is a total bad ass, and not only that, but the western feel here is fantastic. There’s no cowboys or horses, but it feels like there could be…
Day of the Panther (1988)- This crazy Ozploitation martial arts film comes from the man that brought us BMX Bandits and Stunt Rock! This is a nutso film. Lots of big 80’s hair, aerobics outfits and some damn good fights. The hero is named Jason Blade! Trained by a Panther cult that’s sort of like the Shaolin Monks from any Shaw Brothers film. My favorite scene in the film involved a female agent vs. A group of masked bad guys, a cross between video game henchmen crossed with Purgers. A Kung Fu Purge film? There’s an idea.
Black Angel Vol. 1 (1998) and Black Angel Vol. 2 (1999)- The Black Angel films are gritty action films with a surprising amount of depth to go along with all the shooting. There’s an overwhelming bleakness to both films that can be a bit challenging. The films are only loosely connected. Both concerning a hitwoman, gangsters and vengeance. It’s a shame there was never a third. Both are directed by Takashi Ishii with stylish flair.
10) Jane Eyre (2011)- Another year, another Mia Wasikowska flick makes the list. You’d think I was in love with her or something. This is an incredible, gorgeous adaptation by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the director of the first season of True Detective. There are times the film feels more Gothic Horror then romance.. Not a problem for me. Michael Fassbender and Judi Dench are both fantastic, but it’s Wasikowska who steals the show. Her Jane is strong, heroic and quiet. She’s never too glamorous as Jane. Perfect casting.
9) Red Barry (1938)- I watched a lot of movie serials this year. Of all of them, this was the stand out. Based on the comic strip by Will Gould. Red Barry is filled with plenty of action, crazy twists and great cliffhangers. Buster Crabbe plays the title character, a detective as good with his brain as with his fists. Plucky reporter Mississippi was a stand out. A wise cracking Girl Friday. The story follows various groups on the trail of stolen bonds needed for Chinese War Relief. There’s cops, gangsters, Chinese Tongs and even a exiled Russian Countess all after the bonds. Fun stuff.
8) Ju-On: The Grudge 2 (2003)- Throughout February I watched nothing but Asian horror films. I watched both the Ju-On films for the first time. Having only seen the American remakes before. While I liked the first Ju-On, oh man was this one was so much better. That birth scene has to be seen to be believed.
7) The Outlaw Brothers (1990)- While the story of two good-natured car thief brothers who get in over their and the female cop on their trail is standard. The fight scenes in Outlaw Brothers are anything but standard. Hard hitting and fast, they grab your attention. Yukari Oshima as Tequila the undercover cop is the main reason to see Outlaw Brothers. She is amazing.
6) Inside (2007)- Holy crap this movie. Inside starts off very grim and bleak. By the end everything and everyone is covered in blood. The climax is like Sam Peckinpah's 'Salad Days'" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. And that final moment. It’s been a weird year for birth in movies.
5) The Apartment (1960)- What a treat this movie was. The dialogue is witty and fast. Jack Lemmon is charming as ever. I’ve never been what you’d call a Shirley MacLaine fan. But man was she on fire here. It was easy to fall in love with her character. The whole cast is top notch. There’s a refreshing honesty to The Apartment. The characters aren’t perfect and romance isn’t the cure for all your problems like you see in so many films.
4) Vital (2004)- Knowing this was from the director of the Tetsuo films, I went in expecting something other then what I got. I expected something graphic, extreme and strange. What I got was an gentle, sad tale of a man coping with loss. It’s not to say Vital doesn't have it’s strange moments, it does. Reality, memories and dreams blend. There are times where your not sure which your seeing. Though you could find the film depressing, I found it bizarrely uplifting.
3) Another Son of Sam (1977)- Not really. Has nothing to do with him. What it does have is amazing. Namely many poor filmmaking choices and a lounge singer named Johnny Charro. It’s like they knew what films were, tried to make one, but couldn’t understand how to fit the footage together in a logical manner. Like a blind chimp trying to assemble a model of KITT. There’s so much crazy in this film. I want to know what they were thinking. Scratch that, I don’t. Some things man is not meant to know.
2) The Living Skeleton (1968)- Did John Carpnter see this film? Living Skeleton feels like a precursuer to Carpnter’s Fog. Both feature maritime ghostly vengence. So much creepy atmosherpe in this baby. So many great shots. The use of shadow here is amazing. And the music is moody and memorible. Living Skeleton is what would happnen if Mario Bava made Black Sunday in Japan. A Gothic, haunting film that’ll imprint it’s images on your mind’s eye.
1) The Host (2006)- I’m a big fan of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. So I was eager to check The Host out. Part monster movie. Part comedy. Part family drama. It’s amazing how all three elements come together without derailing the film. There’s some tense monster attack scenes. And some really funny moments of comedy with this dysfunctional family who serve as the film’s main characters. My favorite being Bae Doo-na as the sister who’s an medal winning archer. She has an excellent face-off with the monster. I wasn’t expecting how tragic parts would be. The Host is a monster movie that brings a human element that never detracts from the creature feature goings on.
Special mention: Films that came out this year I actually watched.
The First Purge (2018)- Another entertaining Purge film.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)- Loved the Gothic horror filled 2nd half.
The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)- Better then the first. Amazing soundtrack
A Quiet Place (2018)- Oh man this movie. Right in the feels.
More Honorable Mentions
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Hell or High Water (2016)
The Gift (2015)
Don't Breathe (2016)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The Nice Guys (2016)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Frozen Scream (1975)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Eko Eko Azarak II: Birth of the Wizard (1996)
Vacations of Terror 2 (1989)
The Petrified Forest (1936)
Chandu the Magician (1932)
Erik the Conqueror (1961)
The Spirit (2008)
Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)
Here's to the new year! Hopefully better then 2019! And filled with more great films!