Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Todd Liebenow ""

Monday, December 10, 2012

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Todd Liebenow

Todd runs the Forgotten Films blog - which you should be reading. Follow him on twitter at @forgottenfilmz.
(P.S. I have added a link to Todd's reviews on Forgotten Films under each entry)

Doing a list of my favorite films that I saw for the first time in 2012 may be the most difficult post Brian has asked me to do yet. There’s just so many, so I’ll try to keep my descriptions short so I can include as many films as possible. Most of these films were reviewed in much greater detail at my blog...Forgotten Films.

Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Hands down my favorite discovery a 2012. One of the best attempts by another studio to copy the creepiness of Universal’s horror films. Charles Laughton is wonderfully bizarre, panther woman Kathleen Burke is hypnotic, and Bela Lugosi turns in a brief but haunting performance.

War of the Gargantuas (1966)
The director of the original “Gojira” (“Godzilla” to us westerners) brings us two giant ape-like creatures throwing each other into buildings with the ferocity of a couple of pro wrestlers. Who could ask for more?

Date with an Angel (1987)
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this little rom-com that basically pulls the fins off of “Splash” and replaces them with wings. A big factor was the great comedic performance of Phoebe Cates as the jilted girlfriend.

Across 110th Street (1972)
Not just the source of the tune that opens “Jackie Brown,” this is a gritty, hard-hitting crime drama in its own right. One of the high points of 70’s blaxploitation. Both Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn are fantastic!

The Sentinel (1977)
I don’t often seek out modern horror films, but this supernatural scare-fest that came in the wake of “The Exorcist” is truly scary. It’s got an intriguing premise (a New York apartment building that is really the gateway to hell) and is full of celebrities who would one day hit it big.

Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966)
If there was ever a recipe for success, it’s this...Hammer makes a film with Christopher Lee cast as Rasputin. It’s very much a work of fiction, but in those capable hands the mysterious figure from Russian history becomes a great big-screen monster.

Hot Rhythm (1944)
I was legitimately surprised by this fun little B-musical. It’s got some fun songs, a sexy leading lady (Donna Drake), and a hilarious supporting performance by future Granny Clampett Irene Ryan.

White Dog (1982)
The basic idea of “White Dog” sounds like pure exploitation. A girl rescues a dog who, it turns out, has been trained to attack and kill black people. But in the hands of director Samuel Fuller, this is a skillfully made and thought provoking film. Paul Winfield is great as the animal trainer driven too far by his obsession with curing the dog.

Smile (1975)
Before he made “The Bad News Bears,” Michael Ritchie made this interesting slice of southern California suburbia. Agent 99 herself, Barbara Feldon turns in a great performance as the director of a local beauty pageant, but it’s Bruce Dern who steals the show as everyone’s pal, Big Bob Freelander.

The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)
As if a giant floating telepathic alien brain weren’t enough...this film also has one of John Agar’s craziest performances. When possessed by the brain, he is completely unhinged, which makes for a cheezy, but really fun, movie.

Queen of Blood (1966)
This Roger Corman concoction takes footage from a couple of Russian sci-fi films and mixes it with new footage to give us a creepy little story of a shapely, green-skinned blood sucker which clearly provided some inspiration for the likes of “Alien.” Not to mention the fact that I’m down for anything that gives us John Dennis Basi Rathbone.

Period of Adjustment (1962)
I’ve never really been a big fan of Jane Fonda, but she turns in a skillful and funny performance in this adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. This also marks George Roy Hill’s directing debut.

New Year’s Evil (1980)
I admit it’s a little silly, but this story of a killer committing “muuuuuuurrrrrder at miiiiiidnight” is a lot of fun. Pinky Tuscadero herself, Roz Kelly, does a great job as the VJ being harassed by the killer and I liked that the bad guy wasn’t the typical mask-wearing, machete-wielding nutjob that became an 80’s staple.

The Party Crashers (1958)
This unique entry in the juvenile delinquent genre features Connie Stevens as a great good-girl-who’s-really-a-bad-girl.. It’s also got some of the most bizarre parent wonder their kids are so messed up.

Hell Night (1981)
Not so much an 80’s slasher flick as it is modern take on a old monster in a haunted house movie. Linda Blair is so much fun in this it on a double feature with “Roller Boogie.”

Blue Steel (1989)
Tense thriller with Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie cop who kills a crook on her first night on the job, and then attracts the attention of a psychopathic stockbroker. Ron Silver is wonderfully over-the top as the man obsessed with her, and Curtis turns in one of her best performances.

Four Sided Triangle (1953)
This early sci-fi offering from Hammer has an interesting story that raises many question about science and morality. It also has a fun semi-Frankenstein vibe to it that gives it a wonderfully creepy atmosphere.


Tom said...

Nice. Completely forgot about some of these movies. Will be giving them a try.

Robert M. Lindsey said...

I follow Forgotten Films also, but I'll comment here.

Across 110th Street is a fantastic, gritty 1970s New York movie.

I've got The Party Crashers and Island of Lost Souls in my queue.