1. The Carrier (1988)
A small town goes insane when a carrier of a disease that infects inanimate objects with the power to kill when touched is running loose. It’s as crazy as it sounds and five times as fun. Saw this at our weekly Horror Movie Night back in January and it’s been a stand out in my mind ever since.
2. Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984)
This Gordon Liu martial arts flick features some of the most intense and complex fighting around. The version I saw wasn’t dubbed, but like a lot of kung-fu flicks it is easy enough to follow along and if you can’t, you’re still treated to some of the best ass kickery ever put on film.
3. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
I had seen all the classic car chase movies (Bullitt, Ronin, Blues Brothers, Vanishing Point, etc...) but hadn’t ever had a chance to really sit down with this 1974 H.B. Halicki flick until this year. It doesn’t disappoint. There’s nearly a hundred cars destroyed in 93 minutes and a chase scene that goes on for 40 of those. If you’ve put it off, like me, you owe it to yourself to sit down and be amazed.
4. Prison (1988)
Renny Harlin directs Viggo Mortensen in this 1988 horror flick about a prisoner who comes back to haunt the prison he was executed in. Full of gruesome, fun kills and a dirty, dark atmosphere, this movie is a thrill from start to finish.
5. Death Weekend (The House by the Lake) (1976)
This movie is unfairly lumped in with the extra rapey Last House on the Left, and it does have a similar aesthetic, but is a much better film. Brenda Vaccaro, who is especially outstanding
in this, and her boyfriend drive past some rednecks on the way to a vacation home and then end up terrorized. It’s violent, but justifiably so and is one of the most female empowered of the exploitation movies of the 70s I’ve seen.
6. Oddballs (1984)
This Canadian camp comedy made in 1984 is something else. Over the top absurdity and goofy gags that had me laughing the entire time. If you don’t like silly, you’ll hate this. If you want to see terribly parodies of other movies, listen to corny sound effects and see a summer camp with no filter, Oddballs is for you. I love, love this movie.
7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
I’ve actually held off watching a lot of old John Wayne and John Ford movies. And it’s not because I don’t like Westerns. Here you have not only Ford directing Wayne but also Lee Marvin and Jimmy Stewart. I was lucky enough to watch a beautiful 35mm print this summer and was blown away by the film. It’s quality through and through.
8. The Boys Next Door (1985)
I picked this movie for our biannual film festival we do in Austin called BTSNAT (Brian Trenchard-Smith Numb-A-Thon) because it was a Penelope Spheeris flick. I’m a giant fan of her documentary work and while she’s been hit or miss with comedies, anytime she addresses darker subjects I think she does outstanding work. Starring Maxwell Caufield (Grease 2)
and Charlie Sheen it’s the tale of two, young, psychopathic teenagers on a violent road trip. Spheeris really made something special here and this had me squirming and slack jawed at two fine performances from Sheen and Caufield. This is a very underseen and underrated gem.
9. Possession (1981)
Holy fuckballs is this movie crazy! Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani are a couple on the rocks when Adjani’s character seeks emotional and sexual solace in someone else. When it’s discovered who it is, his world and your psyche will never be the same. I can’t hardly even believe this movie exists. Between this and The Sentinel (which I almost put on my list), I saw two of the greatest and most flat out wacky films I’d put my eyes on in ages this year.
10. Fail-Safe (1964)
This Sidney Lumet film I hadn’t even heard of until a movie buddy, Neil, showed it for his birthday screening in 35mm. I left this movie floored. Not only is the subject matter deeply shocking, especially for someone who grew up in the Cold War, but everything from the performances, the cast, the editing and cinematography is another level. A nuclear attack goes beyond the fail safe setup to stop them from happening on accident and we’re stuck with the political machinations to try and stop the end of the world. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
11. The Devil’s Gift (1984)
Another Horror Movie Night winner, where a possessed monkey doll given to a little boy as a present wrecks evil havoc on a suburban family. I’m not going to claim this is a stunning piece of work. It’s not, but it sure is a lot of fun. It’s a film that has some hilarious logic jumps, the best neighbor ever, and a final act that had me rolling. That goddamn monkey!
12. Split Second (1992)
Let’s see, you got Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael J Pollard in a futuristic semi-submerged London where Hauer is a cop trying to hunt down a monster that killed his partner. Without Hauer this would be nothing but with him, it’s something special.
13. Smoke Em If You Got Em (1988)
A bunch of Australian punks survive a nuclear explosion but are dying from radiation exposure anyways. They stumble on an end of humanity party, fueled by drugs, drinking, music, sex and general obnoxiousness and rowdiness and spend the last few days of their lives living it up. This really has everything I love and at a quick 48 minutes runtime it never has time to get old.
14. Stigma (1972)
A movie who’s trailer plays like some kind of VD-ploitation flick and delivers more of a statement on racism in the early 70s. Philip Michael Thomas, pre-Miami Vice, plays an ex-con doctor who is invited to a remote island that, as it turns out, has an outbreak of syphilis and he’s the sole person looking for the source to help these crazy crackers. His performance is what really makes this movie shine and it can’t hurt that you also get a 5 minute short on VD and a plethora of scruffy rednecks.
15. The Art of Dying (1991)
Two words: Wings Hauser. He not only stars in this 1991 thriller but also directed it. He plays a rough and tumble cop who is on the hunt for a serial killer who is filming snuff films based on classic death scenes. While those are pretty amazing on their own, the true highlight of this movie is watching Wings seduce and make love to a mysterious woman in his life. You’ll never view jelly and milk the same way again. Just ignore the corny saxophone music and learn something about the art of seduction from my man Wings.