The Top 10 Greatest Movies I Watched in 2010
1. Aerobicide (1986, David A. Prior)
Members of a gym are being killed off by someone with a giant safety pin, and it may have something to do with a girl who was burned up in a tanning bed incident. Normally, I don’t like it when movies are repetitive, and throwing things in excessively just to pad out the running time, but when the thing that the movie goes to every other scene is girls in spandex aerobisizing and humping the ground to 80s-tastic jams (I’d say there’s at least 40 minutes of this), I can’t help but be charmed and entertained. Then there’s blood, and nudity, and amazing acting and macho posturing, and burn victim nudity, and an attempt at mystery, and seriously fucking incredible music. Every second of this movie is perfect. I’ll definitely be watching it again, and I believe it’s a competitor for one of my Favorite Movies of ALL TIME.
2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Philip Kaufman)
Some people in San Francisco are starting to act odd and different, and it’s freaking out Brooke Adams and eventually Donald Sutherland. Leonard Nimoy dismisses it, but it’s soon apparent that alien pods are cloning and replacing everyone for a takeover. Thrilling, incredible science fiction, with an amazing cast and a story that drew me in like almost nothing else, even though I had essentially seen it before with the ’56 version (loved Kevin McCarthy’s cameo, by the way). Every moment feels powerful, and the ending is haunting and wonderful. A masterpiece.
3. The Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985, Philippe Mora)
The original The Howling is a pretty good movie with an incredible transformation scene (and by incredible, I mean it goes on for like 10 minutes). But it’s hindered by pacing that is a bit too slow for me. The Howling II takes a much different approach. The approach of unrelenting awesomeness. At the funeral for Dee Wallace’s character from the first film, her brother is approached by Christopher Lee, who tells him the bad news about why his sister was killed. Together with a news reporter (Annie McEnroe from True Stories), they travel to Transylvania to battle the werewolf queen, Stirba (played by Sybil Danning who, while not naked and covered in hair, wears some amazing outfits). From the midget head explosion to the werewolf threesome, every second of this movie is fucking incredible. The quality of the gore and effects are all over the place. The werewolves generally look like cheap Bigfoot costumes, and all you see is a hairy arm reaching up and grabbing someone from behind, but every so often, there are some quick cuts of decent transformations or effective masks and makeup. The blood as well tends to spray at random, but they make exception where it counts, like when someone gets their face torn up by werewolf claws, or the aforementioned scene of a midget’s eyes shooting out of his face. And it’s campy and self-aware enough that it’s enjoyable either way. Even the closing credits are amazing. As a band plays the theme song, the movie’s greatest hits are cut in to the beat of the music, with one particular shot of Sybil Danning ripping off her top repeating about a hundred times. This is truly a phenomenal piece of work that entertained and impressed me every step of the way.
4. The Beguiled (1971, Clint Eastwood)
Clint Eastwood is a soldier during the Civil War, and while hobbling around wounded, he’s found by a young girl, and she takes him back to her girls’ school even though he fights for the other side. All the girls (who are of various ages) fawn over him in their own way, and he pretty much encourages it, and it causes all sorts of problems. It’s never really clear who the protagonist(s) is/are, it seems to change from scene to scene. And there are all these other weird touches like an incest subplot that doesn’t really serve any purpose and a bloody turtle during an excessively harsh scene, both of which really stood out to me and made me fall in love with it. It’s a very similar story to Pasolini’s Teorema and Miike’s Visitor Q. All three are about a stranger invading a family’s home, and seducing every member, and kind of fucking things up, but also bringing them together by the end. Of the three, I’d say this one is definitely my favorite besides Visitor Q. It’s really fucking amazing.
5. A Star Is Born (1954, George Cukor)
A movie star (James Mason) discovers a singer (Judy Garland), and makes her a star herself and also marries her. But as her career takes off, alcoholism brings down his own. Garland is fucking beautiful and I could watch her forever, and her musical numbers are phenomenal. I loved the shit out of this movie.
6. Nighthawks (1981, Bruce Malmuth)
Sylvester Stallone is fucking sizzling as a New York City cop who, along with his partner Billy Dee Williams, is assigned to bring down a terrorist (Rutger Hauer). I think I’ve said all that’s necessary. If that alone doesn’t convince you it’s an incredible movie, something is wrong with you. Stallone chases down criminals in drag within the first five minutes. You are seriously missing out if you haven’t seen this.
7. The Karate Kid (1984, John G. Avildsen)
Go ahead and cross me off that list of the 3 or so people in the entire universe over the age of 20 who have not seen this movie, because I finally fucking have! And it was glorious. It’s about Ralph Macchio being big-eyed and adorable, and moving to California, where he smooths his way into dating the equally attractive Elisabeth Shue, and makes a rival out of the Cobra Kai karate gang, who constantly beat him up. But then he meets maintenance man Mr. Miyagi, who teaches him karate by making him do chores around the house, and he gets the Cobra Kai’s sensei to get his students to agree to not pick on Macchio until the karate tournament. I loved the way the story unfolded, and how it was kind of serious with light humor, and the soundtrack is amazing, and there are villains but it’s still basically realistic. But what’s most important is that this movie is so. fucking. cute! Macchio is amazing, and his relationship with Mr. Miyagi is amazing, and his eagerness to learn is amazing, and he and Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue and the way they interact is just overwhelmingly fucking adorable. I love nothing more than adorableness, and so even without the slightest bit of nostalgia, I fucking loved this movie. You’re the best, Karate Kid.
8. Hard Target (1993, John Woo)
Lance Henriksen has a business where rich people pay him for the opportunity to hunt down and kill homeless people, but when some girl gets a mulleted Jean-Claude Van Damme involved, there’s a whole lot of slow motion hell to pay. This is a perfect action movie, with plenty of violent ass-kicking, way-over-the-top style, and Wilford Brimley with a Cajun accent. Henriksen is unbelievable. He understands what it means to be a talented actor in a John Woo movie, and he plays it fucking perfectly, and even does his own fire stunt. He is set on fire, and continues to act, while appearing to be sopping wet due to the protective gel (a fine example of the kind of choices action directors are sometimes faced with. The entire audience will recognize the fact that he is covered in protective fire gel, but is it worth it to get a close shot of a lead actor actually on fire? Fuck fucking yes it is! That is what makes John Woo a genius.) My absolute favorite part about the movie, though, besides all of it, is when Henriksen needs Van Damme killed, he calls a bunch of guys he knows, and due to the type of business he’s in, the guys pay him to do all his dirty work. That’s fucking brilliant. This movie is amazing.
9. Nail Gun Massacre (1985, Terry Lofton & Bill Leslie)
After a woman is gang-raped, someone goes “plum loco with a hammer and a box of nails,” donning black jeans, a black motorcycle jacket, and a black helmet, and quips one-liners through a voice distortion box after pumping them full of nails (which is actually done with a nail gun, as opposed to killing someone by individually hammering each nail into people’s bodies as the quoted sheriff theorizes above). Do the people being murdered have anything to do with the rape scene the movie starts us off with? Probably, I guess. She was raped by construction workers, and it seems to be mostly construction workers who the killer is targeting, but it’s also anyone who just happens to be near a construction site, or pretty much anyone who lives in that town. The kills are pretty amazing, and basically every single thing that happens in this movie is hilarious, especially the one-liners, on the rare occasion they can actually be understood through all that distortion. This film is superb.
10. Tango & Cash (1989, Andrei Konchalovsky)
Tango (Sylvester Stallone) and Cash (Kurt Russell) are two L.A. cops with completely different personal styles, but an identical affinity for witty one-liners. When a crime boss (Jack Palance) gets frustrated with them fucking up his business, he sets them up for murder, getting them sent to prison. And then they have to work together to break out and nail down some evidence to clear their names. The action scenes are kind of crazy, often intense, and always unpredictable. The chemisty between the leads is amazing, and they’re both hilarious. I think this might actually be one of the best movies ever made.
40 More Movies I Saw in 2010 That I Also Loved
The Accused (1988, Jonathan Kaplan)
Jodie Foster is gang-raped on a pinball machine as a crowd of people cheer it on. Her attorney (Kelly McGillis) feels she doesn’t have a strong case, so she cuts a deal to get the rapists a reduced sentence. When Foster gets upset about this, they decide to prosecute the guys who were cheering it on, and helping to instigate the rape. I love these kinds of tv movie style courtroom dramas. Jodie Foster overdoes it a bit in some scenes, with some Oscar-pandering moments (effectively, as she apparently actually won that year), but she’s mostly really great, as always.
Baby Face (1933, Alfred E. Green)
Barbara Stanwyck, prostituted by her father since she was a teenager, moves to New York after her German friend delivers an awesomely inspirational speech about using her womanly charms to manipulate men into getting whatever she wants. She goes to a bank office and fucks her way to the top, causing scandal along the way. It’s really great, and Stanwyck is gorgeous, and as powerful a presence as ever.
Basket Case 3 (1992, Frank Henenlotter)
The deformed Belial’s deformed girlfriend gives birth to a bunch of deformed babies. The babies are stolen by a couple corrupt cops, and so Granny Ruth (caretaker to a large group of freaks) gathers up the freak-gang to take revenge. Still lacks the gore and squalor of the original, but this one really makes up for it in insanity. A bewildering great time, with an amazing scene on a bus with all the freaks singing about Personality.
The Blob (1988, Chuck Russell)
Kevin Dillon and a young Shawnee Smith are on the run from an alien blob that consumes people in surprisingly gory ways and some scientists who show up with ambiguous intentions. Lots of great kill scenes, including someone being sucked down a sink-drain, and people being attacked after talking during a movie in the movie theater. Great!
Bloodsport (1988, Newt Arnold)
Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to fight in a Supreme Martial Arts Master Competition thing in Hong Kong, but the army tries to stop him. He eludes them, though, and works his way to the top of the tournament, preparing for a final showdown with the extremely intimidating Chong Li, who occasionally beats people to death. Van Damme is great, the fighting is great, and everyone makes amazing facial expressions.
Blue Collar (1978, Paul Schrader)
Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto are Union factory workers who are fed up with unfair treatment and wages, so they stage a robbery (involving hilarious disguises). It doesn’t go as planned, but things may still work out in their favor. The story is distressing and involving, but what really makes the movie are the lead performances, which are all fucking phenomenal. Particularly Pryor.
Bullies (1986, Paul Lynch)
A mom, step-dad, and teenaged son move to a small town to take over a convenience store, and learn that the town is ruled by a family of hillbilly bullies, who get away with whatever they want because everyone is afraid of them. The new family is not especially comfortable with this, and they are made more uncomfortable after the mom gets raped by one of them in front of the son, so the son and the step-dad (but mostly the son) go to their house to get vengeance. Olivia D’Abo plays the innocent, and equally victimized, sister/daughter of the bully family, who the son naturally falls for because she looks amazing. Harsh scenes, menacing villains, a satisfying ending, and Olivia D’Abo is in it. It’s fucking great.
Chopping Mall (1986, Jim Wynorski)
Some teenagers stay the night in a mall that has recently put in “killbots” for their overnight security, and the killbots waste no time before going crazy and killing everyone in sight. It’s really funny and cute. The low budget was likely put entirely into the incredibly-designed robots, and one incredible head explosion, and so it’s a little low on gore, but it still does the best it can, and the death scenes are fairly satisfying. Kelli Maroney, Barbara Crampton, and a guy named John Terlesky who hasn’t done much else I’m familiar with, were all amazing. Also, I should probably note that there’s no actual chopping in the movie, but I was ok with that, I guess.
The Company of Wolves (1984, Neil Jordan)
A young girl falls asleep and enters a fairy tale dream-world where her sister has recently been killed by a wolf, and her grandmother Angela Lansbury tells her all these stories about dudes you gotta watch out for because they might be more than they seem. It’s gorgeous and creepy, with two transformation sequences that are fucking crazy. The framing device of the girl in a modern time sleeping in bed seemed pointless, but whatever. I really liked this one a lot.
Dead Snow (2009, Tommy Wirkola)
A group of people go to a cabin in the snowy mountains, and there turns out to be Nazi zombies there. It starts really slow, and the first couple of kills are offscreen, so I wasn’t into it. But about halfway in, the movie goes fucking nuts, and the gore and blood is graphic and continuous, and it’s amazing.
Deep Blue Sea (1999, Renny Harlin)
Some scientists are working on a cure for Alzheimer’s by taking samples from shark brains, but their brains aren’t big enough, so the scientists figure out a way to enlarge them, but this makes the sharks too smart for humanity’s good, and they flood the facility and eat everyone. Thrilling and fun.
Dressed to Kill (1980, Brian De Palma)
Angie Dickinson is having sexual issues with her husband, which she talks to her psychiatrist Michael Caine about, and then has a bizzare, sweeping, incredibly long seduction sequence with some guy in a museum, and they sleep with each other, but then she finds out he has VD, but it doesn’t matter because she’s killed a few minutes later. Dennis Franz is a detective who doesn’t do a good enough job investigating, so Dickinson’s son (Keith Gordon) and a prostitute who witnessed the murder (Nancy Allen) team up to figure out who the killer is. A very unique and strange thriller. De Palma is fucking crazy.
Frankenhooker (1990, Frank Henenlotter)
An experimental scientist loses his fiance in a lawnmower accident. He keeps some of her parts, and rebuilds her with extra parts from hookers who explode after smoking super-crack. But when she’s brought back to life, she doesn’t have quite the same personality. James Lorinz as the lead is great, and Patty Mullen as the titular Frankenhooker is adorable and hilarious. This movie is amazingly fun and perfect. My favorite Henenlotter.
Gone with the Pope (1976, Duke Mitchell)
Undiscovered (or I guess barely discovered) exploitation auteur Duke Mitchell plays a mob guy who gets out of prison and hatches a plan to kidnap the pope, demanding a ransom of one dollar from every Catholic in the world (later reduced to 50 cents). Some slow moments (especially in the first 30 minutes) and a meandering plot, but more than enough funny and amazing shit to make up for it. Most of the acting is terrible, but Mitchell is decent, and very endearing, and his heartfelt monologue about the shortcomings of Catholicism is quite inspiring. Great, bizarre ending, too, capping off a great film.
Gutterballs (2008, Ryan Nicholson)
Two groups of friends compete in after-hours bowling all the time, and one night after everyone has supposedly left, all the members of one group brutally gang-rape a girl from the other group. The next night, they’re all back at the bowling alley, and they start getting killed in various incredible ways by someone with a bowling bag over their head. Confusingly, the killer seems to target everyone except the rapists, but eventually, they get it, too. The characters are intolerably obnoxious, and the dialogue is pretty much identical to Rob Zombie’s movies, but if possible, even worse. Here’s a sample: “Where’d my fucking bitches go with my fucking beer, my fucking fucking foot is fucking injured, and this fucking cunt is gonna get fucked in her fucking fuck if she doesn’t fucking get here right fucking now!” Technically, I’m paraphrasing, but that may as well be a real line of dialogue. This makes the movie incredibly hard to like, or even to get through, but what is much easier to watch are the phenomenal kill scenes, which creatively implement all sorts of things related to bowling, occasionally involve actual pornography, and are executed with insanely gory and impressive special effects. It also included something I always want to see in rape-revenge movies, but never do. I always want the rapist to not just get killed, or even castrated, but get raped themselves, specifically with something horrible and sharp that tears his ass apart. And Gutterballs had exactly that. The last third or fourth of the movie is blissfully short on people being annoying at each other and more focused on killings and a decent plot twist, so it left me feeling good. And if you also love gore enough to tolerate a terrible movie, then it will leave you feeling good, too.
Hausu (1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi)
A group of girls with distinct character traits (one knows kung fu, one eats a lot, one plays music, etc.) all go to one of the girl’s Aunt’s house, but the house is haunted and starts killing the girls in various bizarre ways (like being eaten by a piano, or crushed by bedding). I had seen this previously under shitty circumstances, and was underwhelmed, but this time I saw it the right way (on 35mm, rather than ugly, poor digital projection) and I was able to get wrapped up in the delirious, hilarious, adorable, fun absurdity of this completely nuts horror ride. This movie should be an attraction at Disneyland.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987, Bruce Pittman)
Prom Queen Mary Lou is killed by a jealous boyfriend, and 30 years later, her spirit is unleashed into a good girl, who starts hallucinating and acting up. Really funny and enjoyable, with good death scenes, and there’s a lot of just fucking crazy shit.
High Noon (1952, Fred Zinnemann)
A marshal is married, and about to give up his marshal-dom when he finds out an old adversary is arriving in town at noon, and along with three friends, is going to kill him. The marshal tries to rally up a posse of temporary deputies, but no one is willing to help him. It’s told in real-time, just like greatest television show ever 24, but instead of the digital time stamp that occasionally appears on the bottom of the screen in that show, they instead cut occasionally to a clock, which was useless to me because I can’t read time. But it doesn’t matter that much, because it’s easy enough to get the gist of how much time is left, and I love any movie that sets it up so you always know how much of the movie has passed and how much is left before it ends because I’m obsessed with the length of things and time in general (which I suppose makes it kind of absurd that I can’t fucking figure out clocks). It’s also just an intriguing way to tell a story, and the movie pulls it off extremely well. It also creates some great tension, and I had no idea how things would turn out at the end. Good fucking movie.
The Howling III: The Marsupials (1987, Philippe Mora)
A scientist begins to suspect that werewolves exist, so he seeks some out, and after finding a couple, he experiments with them a bit, but then lets them go after falling in love with one of them. Meanwhile, there’s a werewolf girl from a town called Flow (clever, right? keep in mind this predates Troll 2 by three years) who falls for a production assistant on a horror movie, and they have a baby together. It’s really more of a were-kangaroo movie, hence the title, but I guess the creatures here are descended from this guy, who is both a marsupial and a wolf. Anyway, it’s awesome. It’s very goofy and absurd, and it should be said, in a very deliberate way. I tend to define “bad” a lot differently than other people, but I do know the difference between intentionally and unintentionally funny, and there is no fucking way there is a single laugh in The Howling III that was not intentional, or a single second that went by on set where the filmmakers were taking themselves seriously or trying to make anything other than a silly, fun movie. The movie does have some flaws, I guess, that other reviewers have every right to bring up. But what’s more important to me is that this movie is original. There are no other movies where humans have kangaroo pouches, or give birth to adorable kangaroo babies. And even if it did, would it end with an extended epilogue of two of the main characters growing old together, and one day reuniting with the son of the other main characters, a sequence I found oddly soothing? In conclusion, this movie is charming and unique. If you liked District 9, you will love The Howling III: The Marsupials.
Innocent Blood (1992, John Landis)
A vampire (Anne Parillaud) tries to kill a mob boss (Robert Loggia), but is interrupted, so he ends up becoming a vampire and then he bites some of his crew to create a vampire mafia, and the girl vampire and a cop have to stop them. Pretty funny at times, and some good bloody stuff. Don Rickles’ death scene is pretty amazing.
I Spit On Your Grave (1978, Meir Zachi)
A girl is extensively gang-raped in the woods by four shitty dudes. The scene stretches on forever by having one guy rape her, then they all leave, and she scrambles to a new location, where it turns out they’re waiting for her, and then another guy rapes her, and they take off again in a speedboat, so she crawls home, but they’re there again, and then the other two guys (one of whom is mentally challenged and peer-pressured into the task) rape her, so every time it seems she’s escaped, she actually hasn’t. They finally leave her for good, thinking the retarded guy has killed her, but after taking some time to recuperate, the girl seeks them all out and kills them. Harsh revenge story that’s still a bit campy. I liked it much.
The Karate Kid, Part III (1989, John G. Avildsen)
The Cobra Kai sensei from Part 1 wants revenge on Daniel and Miyagi for embarassing him, so he enlists the help of a rich friend who is also a karate master, who pretends to help Daniel, but is actually setting him up to be badly beaten in a tournament. This part is played by Thomas Ian Griffith in one of the most over-the-top and incredible villain roles ever. I’m pretty sure there’s not a single scene he’s in that doesn’t end with a self-satisfied, evil smirk. Meanwhile, Daniel befriends Robyn Lively, and helps Miyagi open a bonsai tree shop, and the bad karate guys go to ridiculous, frightening lengths to force Daniel into signing up for the tournament. It’s unbelievably tense, and I have literally never seen my girlfriend Erin as stressed out as she was while watching this. We saw 127 Hours a few days later, and it didn’t quite compare.
Man with a Movie Camera (1929, Dziga Vertov)
A man films a bunch of shit in the Soviet Union. The imagery is always compelling, with editing that is innovative and way ahead of its time. There was one really clever device it used where there would be stop-motion animation (once with a magician and once with a movie camera setting itself up on a tripod), which is already impressive enough as it is, but it would then cut to an audience reacting, as if this were happening live in front of them, and it was a brilliant way to add a sense of reality to animation. I also have to give some credit to the live score. All the live scores at 2010’s Silent Film Festival were uniformly great (and often enjoyable even when the movie wasn’t), but this one in particular, by the Alloy Orchestra, was fucking phenomenal. The sound was perfectly married to the image, keeping up with every fast cut, and building on occasion to overwhelming levels. The movie was great either way, but they definitely contributed to my appreciation of the film.
Massacre Mafia Style (1974, Duke Mitchell)
Watch the trailer to this movie! It’s an amazing trailer, but what makes it even more amazing is if you think of it as a short film. No story, no context for anything, just a couple minutes worth of two guys going through an office building killing people. More short films should be exactly like this. I liked this trailer so much that I didn’t want to watch the movie. How could it ever compare? Would it be a full 80 minutes of two guys going to various locations killing people without a stated purpose? I don’t even know if that would be good or bad (ok, maybe I do; it would be good). But after watching the newly restored Gone with the Pope (which also has an amazing trailer) from the same director (Duke Mitchell, who again stars as well), and really liking it, I knew I had to see it. Sadly, it is not a full 80 minutes of non-stop, motive-less violence. The trailer is the first scene, and there are plenty more scenes of killing in the movie, and often, I wasn’t at all clear on why it was happening. So that’s, uh, good news. It’s all good news. This movie’s great. The plot is even more incoherent than Gone with the Pope, so I couldn’t really tell you what’s it about, except that it’s some kind of mafia story, with the focus being on Mitchell’s character, who likes to stir up trouble and kill people. There’s something about funding a porno movie called Deep Fuck, and a whole thing about getting back at a black pimp named Super Spook, who they end up crucifying on Easter. Mitchell is sincere with what he’s put together, and apparently many of the events in the film are based on real mafia stories, but his background in comedy shines through, too, and he clearly knows he’s making a different brand of movie than The Godfather. The end result may not come close to living up to it’s trailer, but it’s still very good, and worth seeking out.
Mr. Mom (1983, Stan Dragoti)
Michael Keaton loses his job, and so his wife Teri Garr goes to work and he stays home with the kids, and there are all kinds of new struggles for them both to deal with. It’s essentially 90 minutes of Keaton and Garr being insanely likable, with some funny shit thrown in, and I really loved it.
Ninja Cheerleaders (2008, David Presley)
After their sensei (George Takei) is taken by a mob boss recently released from prison (Michael Paré) who wants the deed from his strip club back, three girls have to use their martial arts skills to track him down and save him, all while balancing cheerleading, go-go dancing, dodging the police, dealing with perverts, and studying for finals in order to get accepted into an Ivy League college they’ve apparently already gotten accepted to. The girls are cute and tough and awesome, and this was a ton of fun, if a bit too wholesome (the only thing separating it from a PG kids movie was completely random flashes of nudity during the transitions between scenes). Since I know you will all be taking this recommendation deadly seriously, be sure not to mix this up with the abysmal Cheerleader Ninjas, because that movie is fucking horrible.
On Deadly Ground (1994, Steven Seagal)
Michael Caine is a corrupt CEO of an oil company in Alaska, who is trying to build an unsteady rig, despite the risks of oil spilling into the ocean, but Steven Seagal finds out what he’s up to, and kicks a lot of ass to stop it from happening. The movie opens strong with some weird dialogue about Seagal being a whore, and Seagal standing still smoking a cigarette as something explodes behind him, and this leads into an incredible, genital-attacking bar fight scene that ends in the fight’s asshole instigator questioning the essence of what it means to be a man. It slows down a bit in the middle when Seagal goes through his eskimo transformation into a bear, and he’s being chased by mercenaries. I mean, that stuff was really good, but not amazing. It picks up again, though, once Seagal is killing everyone working on the oil rig, trying to make his way to Caine, and then the movie ends with a speech about environmental concerns and alternative options to oil consumption, that goes on for about 10 minutes, and is a clear inspiration to Al Gore. I still haven’t seen very many Seagal movies, and I was told that this was a crucial one to check out as it was sure to blow my mind. I can’t say that my mind was blown, but it was perhaps stroked. Seagal definitely gave my mind a handjob with this movie.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986, Francis Ford Coppola)
Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) passes out at her high school reunion, and wakes up back in time where she’s actually in high school, and has the option of making different choices (mainly, getting together with a different boy) to give herself a happier future, but learns that ultimately may not be for the best. Nicolas Cage as the boyfriend/future ex-husband takes what could’ve been a fairly standard role, and makes it amazing by giving his character the voice of Pokey from the Gumby cartoons. Very funny and sweet, and plus, there’s time travel!
Pet Sematary (1989, Mary Lambert)
I’d seen this before, but holy shit, this fucking movie! A family moves into a new house near a dangerous road where trucks speed by a lot, and the young daughter’s pet cat gets killed, and the dad is worried about breaking the news to her, so the kindly neighbor (a phenomenal Fred Gwynne) helps him bury it beyond the pet cemetery, and the cat comes back to life, but is not entirely normal, and after that, the dad is confronted with a choice on whether or not to bring back a person. This movie is fucking perfect, and just so entertaining and creepy and amazing for the entire running time. The story involves killings and zombies, but the way the story unfolds is so unique, and it really doesn’t fit into any particular subgenre. It throws in all kinds of great shit, like a super creepy sister with spinal meningitis, and a ghost with a gaping head wound, and it all fits together in such a complete way. The effects and the makeup are flawless, too. It’s seriously perfect. My favorite Stephen King adaptation, and possibly one of my Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies Ever.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974, Brian De Palma)
A musician’s music is stolen by a record producer, and on top of that, he gets his face burned up and disfigured in a record-pressing machine, and he tries to get back at Swan the record producer, but makes a deal with him instead to insure that a particular girl (Jessica Harper) is the singer of his songs. Swan betrays him again, though, and so the Phantom musician has to figure out what to do. The music is amazing, the performances are amazing, the story is amazing, and the look of the Phantom is fucking amazing. This movie is incredible.
Psycho II (1983, Richard Franklin)
It’s been more than 20 years, and Norman Bates is deemed sane enough to return to life on the outside, back at the motel. But once he’s there, he starts receiving notes and phone calls from his mother, and people start getting murdered. But is it Norman, or is someone trying to set him up and make him feel like a psycho again? It’s a fucking awesome thriller, that continues the story of the original in a respectful and intriguing way. Anthony Perkins returns as Norman, and is excellent, as is Meg Tilly as the young waitress he befriends. Dennis Franz shines as the sleazy motel manager. The story unravels really well and kept me guessing on who the real killer was throughout, and the resolution is amazing. It also had some great gore moments that were a bit more graphic than the original could be. The original is great, and I wouldn’t say I prefer this one, but I definitely felt it to be worthy.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987, Howard Deutch)
Eric Stoltz has a crush on a popular girl (Lea Thompson), who is having problems with her jockish shitty boyfriend, and Stoltz’s best friend has a crush on him, but he doesn’t know and forces her to give advice on how to handle things with Thompson. In many ways, it’s the same movie as the better-known Pretty in Pink, but this one has the ending Pretty in Pink should’ve had (and that writer John Hughes initially intended), and Lea Thompson is about a billion times more awesome than that shithead Andrew McCarthy. Great, relatable characters, and great teen drama/comedy. And I have to give some particular acclaim to Elias Koteas’ hilarious skinhead character.
The Sweet House of Horrors (1989, Lucio Fulci)
A couple comes home and finds a masked robber there. The husband attacks the robber, but the robber overpowers him and repeatedly smashes his head into the wall, leaving chunks of brain, hair, and blood. He then chases the woman into the kitchen, holds her down, and with some kind of weight or something, hits her in the face, knocking her eyeball out. He then hits the other side of her face, and her other eye kind of explodes. Then he smashes her forehead open. He goes back into the living room, where it turns out the husband is still alive, so the robber grabs a fire poker, and hits him repeatedly in the face with that. And then he drives their bodies off a cliff to look like a car accident. After that, it’s a haunted house story about the couple returning as ghosts to get back at their murderer, prevent their house from being sold, and hang out with their kids. The opening ten minutes are fucking extraordinary, and the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to that, but it’s very funny (fairly sure it’s intentionally so) and very sweet.
Too Much (1987, Éric Rochat)
An adorable young girl (Bridgette Andersen) goes to Japan with her parents, and one of their friends who works in electronics builds her a robot she cutely names Too Much. Her and the robot become best friends, and when she learns that she’s supposed to go back to America and leave Too Much behind, they run away together. They adventure through Japan, meeting up with a helpful young boy, and avoiding her family and a rival robot-builder who wants to steal the ideas of Too Much’s creation. It all ends with a robot revolution. This shit was Too Charming and Too Fucking Cute. Truly amazing. Jesse Ficks, host of the five-film robot-fest this was programmed with, was kind enough to tell us ahead of time that Andersen died young of a drug overdose, which added a horrible sense of tragedy to the movie while watching, because she was a terrific child actress.
True Grit (1969, Henry Hathaway)
Kim Darby’s father is shot and killed by some asshole, so she seeks out the help of U.S. Marshal John Wayne to help her out because she’s heard he’s got “true grit”, and then some Texas Ranger who is after the same guy tags along with them, too. Darby is really fucking good in it, and despite being third billed, is clearly the centerpiece, and I took the movie to be about her own display of the truest of grit. John Wayne, whose career I’m largely unfamiliar with, was also very likable and awesome. Really good Western.
Twister (1996, Jan de Bont)
Bill Paxton is trying to divorce Helen Hunt, and goes to see her at a site where she’s chasing tornadoes, and gets sucked in to working with her, and realizes he still loves her and he definitely loves tornadoes. Really fucking fun, with excellent action. Loved it. And I also love that it is “Rated PG-13 for intense depiction of very bad weather.”
Werewolf Woman (1976, Rino Di Silvestro)
Do you really like werewolf movies, but hate not seeing throats getting ripped out by a naked woman every five minutes? Congratulations, me, because it turns out that decision to google “Italian werewolf exploitation” totally paid off. Mostly, anyway. Werewolf Woman may start out with a (completely nude, dancing) woman who turns into a (nude) werewolf, but the rest of the movie is about a woman still traumatized after being raped at 13, who just thinks she’s a werewolf and rips out some throats as a result. At least until she’s cured by the love of a stuntman. Eventually, she gets raped again, though, and suddenly it turns into a revenge picture, and by the end of the movie, it’s hard to remember why the word “Werewolf” is included in the title. But it’s great! I may have been disappointed it didn’t turn out to be an actual werewolf movie, but instead I was pleased by how much it reminded me of the brilliant Vampire’s Kiss. It trades humor and focus for gore and tits, but those things are about equal, so I’ll take it. This is a very good movie.
We Wish You a Turtle Christmas (1995, Larry Osborne)
A live-action Christmas musical from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with incredibly bad costumes and production quality. It’s about the Turtles realizing they need to get Splinter something for Christmas. Occasionally, there are kids around for no reason. The songs, which are pretty much non-stop, are amazing. It’s all fucking amazing.
Windy City Heat (2003, Bobcat Goldthwait)
Two guys play an elaborate prank on a possibly brain-damaged friend of theirs by convincing him he’s been cast in a gritty cop film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, and basically, everybody fucks with him for 90 minutes, and he never catches on, no matter how absurdly far they take things. It’s a little sad and uncomfortable, especially by the end when they go to the premiere of the movie they made and give him a giant trophy for being a great actor, and he looks like it’s probably the best day of his entire life. But it’s also thoroughly hilarious. It’s kind of amazing.
Wolf (1994, Mike Nichols)
Jack Nicholson is a publishing executive who gets bitten by a wolf, and all his senses heighten during the day, and at night, he develops some physical wolf features, and he hunts down deer and people who try to mug him. After finding out his wife has been cheating on him with James Spader, he forms a relationship with Michelle Pfeiffer, and she helps him sort his shit out. It takes a fairly straightforward, realistic approach to what would happen to Jack Nicholson if he were to become a werewolf, and it’s fucking awesome. Very clever and intriguing, with subtle touches of humor, and excellent performances all around. Fucking loved it.
To read more of Austin’s writings, almost always about movies, visit his website at http://wolfsothern.blogspot.com/.