Rupert Pupkin Speaks: The Lightning Bug's Favorite Older films seen 1st in 2010 ""

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Lightning Bug's Favorite Older films seen 1st in 2010

Hello everyone. It’s nice to be back here doing a guest post on Rupert Pupkin Speaks. The last time I was here Rupert asked me to talk about my Top 10 Underrated Horror films, and I enjoyed myself so much when he asked me to compile a list of the top older films that I saw for the firs time in 2010. So I dived into the archives of The Lightning Bug’s Lair and here’s what I came up with.

10. Apocalypse domini a.k.a Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) Here’s a film that’s got it all. For starters it’s got John “The Saxon” Saxon, Tony “Washington/Mohammad” King of Raiders of Atlantis fame, and Giovanni Lombardo Radice a.k.a Italy’s Whipping Boy. It’s got cannibalism, action, gore, explosions, a funky synth score, and best of all, it’s wrapped up in a bow by that Italian exploitation giant Antonio Margheriti. If you like a little of everything Italian film has to offer, here’s a film that’s got it.

9. Il cittandino si ribella a.k.a Street Law (1974) As you can probably already tell, I caught up with a lot of Italian films in 2010, and of all the Euro-crime selections that I perused, Franco Nero (his first of 2 appearances on this list) in Street Crime plays against type as a mild mannered man who get taken as a hostage during a bank robbery. After being left by the robbers to die, he’s had enough and decides to fight back. Street Law is a bit like a prehistoric version of Falling Down or a Death Wish clone that replaces Charles Bronson’s badassary with Nero’s nebbishness. In a genre that so often celebrates kick ass macho men, it’s interesting to see a film that casts the common man as the hero.

8. The Evictors (1979) Charles B. Pierce, the director of The Town that Dreaded Sundown, is not a name who inspires confidence in me, but when The Evictors showed up on Netflix Instant, I had to check it out. Starring the indomitable Michael Parks and the lovely Jessica Harper, Pierce’s film is a classic slow burn ‘70’s thriller and a period piece to boot. If that’s not your thing, you will probably not even make it through this film, but if it is then you will find a real hidden gem (which probably remains hidden because of its terrible title).

7. Pretty Poison (1968) Anthony Perkins plays against type as a patsy at the mercy of a high school tart with murder on the mind, and the winking nod to Perkins’ Hitchcock role is one of the main reasons I love this film. The other is the lovely Tuesday Weld as the devious cheerleader. I always thought of Weld as pretty face more than a great actress, but she takes some incredible dynamic turns in this flick. The film is a little like Lolita gone totally wrong or a ‘60’s version of Poison Ivy, but if you’re a Perkins fan you’ll want to see it for him, but if you’re like me you’ll leave feeling very impressed by Weld.

6. Keoma (1976) Here’s the other appearance of Franco Nero. While he made a ton of great Westerns (Django, etc.), I have lots of love for this Enzo Castellari film. Inspired by Bergman’s Seventh Seal, Castellari cast Nero as Keoma, a half Indian gunfighter just coming home from the Civil War in time to find a town ravaged by plague. He, along with his father (William Berger) and friend (Woody Strode) are soon pitted against an evil rancher and his three sons. Castellari gives the film a stunning ragged look that matches his hero while pumping up his always on point action sequences with Peckinpah-esque slow motion. This one is as highly, highly, highly recommended to fans of spaghetti westerns as I can get.

5. El Topo (1970) The only Western I enjoyed more than Keoma this year was El Topo. While certainly not your average Western, star/director Alejandro Jowderowky took the backdrop of the West and created something artistic, thought provoking, and sometimes even downright funny (an attribute often overlooked in Alejandro‘s films). Then for good measure he throws in some nudity and gunfights. Earlier I said a film had it all, well, maybe I spoke too soon because El Topo really does have it all. I’ve watched it two times since my first viewing, and it keeps getting better each time. The only reason I left this further down the list is that I think many folks have seen this one already, but if you haven’t and you love cult film, you must check out this original Midnight Movie classic.

4. The Stuff (1985) I loooooovvvveeeee me some Larry Cohen. So much so that I would have written that with a proper number of letters but I can’t cause I love this dude so much. From Bone to Q: The Winged Serpent, he’s got a ton of great films, but for my money it doesn’t get much better than The Stuff. While on the surface it seems like a pretty simple premise, recasting The Blob as snack food, but Cohen slyly slips in a message about nutrition, turning the “you are what you eat” argument into “you are what it eats”. Plus it’s got Garrett Morris as a cookie tycoon; does it get better than that? For what it’s worth this was also my personal favorite review I wrote all year.

3. La ragazza dal pigiama giallo a.k.a The Pajama Girl Case (1977) This moody, offbeat, and often overlooked giallo from little known director Flavio Mogherini stars American actor Ray Milland as a retired police detective drawn into the murder of a faceless girl and Dalila Di Lazzaro as married women keeping a number of lovers. Their two stories are propelled together in a compelling way that will leave the audience disturbed and satisfied. With stunning cinematography from Carlo Carlini and a perfect score by Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust), this mind bender not only keeps you guessing, but actually makes sense at the end. Well, it makes pretty good sense for a giallo. Either way it’s a twisty, tricky little film that more than delivers on its initial meager promise.

2. Blow Up (1966) Though I knew about Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow Up, I had avoided it for quite some time thinking it would be a thriller wrapped up in artsy pretension. The breaking point was my love for Deep Red star David Hemmings, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy with something I talked myself into. Hemmings stars as a photographer who accidentally discovers a murder in the frame of one of his pictures and becomes deeply involved in the crime to the point where he may become a victim. Antonioni’s film had so much swinging style, cinematic verve, and flawless red herrings, that there is no doubt in my mind that it should be listed alongside Bava’s 1964 film Blood and Black Lace as formative in the evolution of the gialli in Italy. However Blow Up is not just for fans of thrillers or rabid fans of David Hemmings, but rather a film that deserves to be ranked up there with the best of all time.

1. Roadgames (1981) I’m sure some will find it laughable that I would list Richard Franklin’s Roadgames over films like Blow Up or El Topo, but for my money I didn’t have a better time than watching this version of Rear Window in a big rig. Franklin, who also helmed such greats as Patrick and Psycho II, puts together an incredible thriller that rivals Hitchcock in the suspense category. Plus on top of that you get big rigs, Stacy Keatch, Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis, a dingo (which didn’t eat anyone’s baby), and stunning views of the Australian outback thanks to Long Weekend cinematographer Vincent Morton. Franklin also takes the time to delve into the isolation of long haul truck drivers and populates his movie with amusing subplots involving the other travelers on the road. Constantly entertaining, and completely reachable, Roadgames was an easy choice for my number one first watch in 2010.

Thanks everyone for checking out my list, and thanks again to Rupert for asking me to guest again. Hopefully I’ll be back in 2012 with another batch of great first watches to share with you folks again so stay tuned for that!


Ned Merrill said...

I still remember being simultaneously scared and fascinated by the ads for THE STUFF when I was a kid. Of course, I STILL haven't seen it 25+ years later. My interest in STREET LAW has been strongly piqued by your inclusion here. ROAD GAMES and BLOW-UP are old favorites that perhaps I will have to revisit this year.

deadlydolls said...

Damnit! As soon as I ever see the words "The Stuff" written together, I end up singing the product's jingle for the next two weeks. Curse you Buggggggggg!

Rupert Pupkin said...

I had the same reaction to the STUFF Ned, always freaked me out and fascinated me. Emily, I wish I could remember the jingle!