Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Peter A. Martin's Favorite Films Seen 1st in 2011! ""

Monday, January 16, 2012

Peter A. Martin's Favorite Films Seen 1st in 2011!

Peter A. Martin is managing editor at Twitch Film, founder of Dallas Film Now and a writer for among others. A man worthy of your readership!


Best older films I saw for the 1st time in 2011:

THE BABY (1973; d. Ted Post)
A truly bizarre, dysfunctional family that, for the most part, doesn’t know it’s dysfunctional. A social worker investigates, to her regret.

THE BETSY (1978; d. Daniel Petrie)
Tommy Lee Jones as a dynamic leading man; Robert Duvall wondering why he’s there; elegant Lesley-Anne Downe nakedly romancing Tommy Lee; plucky, smiling Kathleen Beller skinny-dipping, and Laurice Olivier doing a bad “Kansas” accent and spitting out embarassing one-liners. A trashy studio car-wreck.

BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981, d. Ed Hunt)
Serial killer kids, naked Julie Brown, seriously twisted. Somehow, the sum adds up to more than its tasty parts.

Oh boy, I’ve been wanting to explore Italian crime films for so long, and I have much to learn, but Di Leo’s films in this box set, especially the first two, are sensational adrenaline-pumpers. (All currently on Netflix)

COPS VS. THUGS (1975; d. Kinji Fukasaku)
As with 70s Italian crime films, I’m still catching up with Japanese pictures from that era; I’ve loved everything that I’ve seen by Fukasaku, and this battle for dominance is no exception. As a point of comparison, it’s more character-based than Di Leo, but no less exciting.

A DAY WITHOUT POLICEMAN (1991; d. Lee Gwing-Lai)
A legendarily sleazy Hong Kong “Cat III” flick, and thanks to Grady Hendrix and Fantastic Fest, I got to see it on a big screen with an enthusiastic crowd. This is my stand-out discovery of 2011, in that it actually exceeded my expectations. Simon Yam stars as a cop who never got over a breakdown, and, as a result, we’re treated to ceaseless craziness and senseless actions galore, with drugs, rape, murder, glass, blood and other bodily fluids splattering the screen in the most exhilarating display of bad taste I’ve ever seen.

DILLINGER / BIG WEDNESDAY (1973 / 1978; d. John Milius)
Now that I’ve finally seen the two films that bookend THE WIND AND THE LION, I’m convinced that Milius is the forgotten director in 70s Hollywood. DILLINGER crackles and pops in faux-realistic territory, while BIG WEDNESDAY says everything that can possibly be said about youth and surfing in Southern California in mythological terms. (DILLINGER is currently on Netflix)

THE INTRUDER (1962; d. Roger Corman)
William Shatner, Roger Corman, and Charles Beaumont combined for a powerful film that is, sadly, no less relevant today than when it was pushing buttons and boundaries in the early 60s. It shows how good Corman and Shatner could be.

MANDINGO (1975; d. Richard Fleischer)
Slavery, man: what a bummer! Filled with salacious elements, which makes it highly entertaining -- including equal-opportunity nudity -- and a sincere lead performance by Perry King, who rarely gets the due he deserves for this and TV mini-series CAPTAINS AND THE KING. With James Mason as master of the house and an overheated Susan George.

NIGHTMARES (A.K.A. STAGE FRIGHT) (1980; d. John D. Lemond)
Australian slasher flick that delivers all the bloody violence and generous nudity that horror fans deserve, while adding a nicely-weird layer of dream / nightmare sequences.

THE ODESSA FILE (1974; d. Ronald Neame)
The underrated Ronald Neame helms a superior drama with Jon Voight as the hero / reporter searching for a Nazi who is embedded in modern Germany. Very, very well-done.

RAPE SQUAD (A.K.A. ACT OF VENGEANCE) (1974; d. Bob Kelljean)
Jo Ann Harris is one of my all-time crushes, so the opportunity to see (all of) her in a sleaze-fest that rises above its material to make a cogent statement on the war between men and women is, in a word, outstanding. (On Netflix)

SHAFT IN AFRICA (1973; d. John Guillermin)
Better than expected for the third in the series, with Richard Roundtree relishing his role, the nasty Frank Finlay providing the opposition, and the gorgeous (and complementary) Vonetta McGee and Neda Arneric providing romantic and sexual sparks.

THE SILENT SCREAM (1980; d. Denny Harris)
Rebecca Balding is another of my all-time crushes, so I may be prejudiced, but I think she’s great in what is otherwise a thriller, not a horror film, about a killer in a seaside boarding house. With the great Barbara Steele and Cameron Mitchell.

SURVIVAL QUEST (1988; d. Don Coscarelli)
The great Lance Henriksen gets a rare, straight dramatic / action man lead, and scores a big win for himself and the film, directed by Don Coscarelli with the energy and imagination that is rarely seen in big-budget blockbusters. Clean, pure storytelling, and epic wilderness landscapes are well-used. (On Netflix)

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976; d. Peter Sykes)
The final Hammer horror film of the 20th Century is much better than I’d been led to believe. Richard Widmark and Christopher Lee face off, separately until very late in the picture, but each dominates their scenes and provide great counterpoint to each other. Young Nastassja Kinski proves to be a willowy creature with a degree of screen presence that belies her years, and capable support is provided by Honor Blackman and Denholm Elliott. Too bad about the ending, which is, frankly, terrible and dispiriting. (On Netflix)


Indiephantom said...

That "Mandigo" poster is gorgeous. I still need to see that and "To the Devil, A Daughter". I've seen so little Hammer Horror. Such a blind spot for me.

Ned Merrill said...

Also saw THE ITALIAN CONNECTION for the first time in '11. Mario Adorf is amazing in this one. Need to see the others in that Di Leo set and plan to as soon as Raro's Blu-ray edition hits my doorstep.

Read THE ODESSA FILE when I was a kid and, IIRC, also saw the film at the same time. Have to get me some more Frederick Forsyth. THE DOGS OF WAR is another strong film adapted from a Forsyth novel.