Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Honorable Mentions ""

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Honorable Mentions

OK, so here is the last part of my favorite film discoveries of 2012 list - my Honorable Mentions. Don't let their HM status deter you, as many of these could have just as much or more appeal than anything on my other lists. It's an odd eclectic mix of movies too. Oh and if you haven't read Parts 1 & 2, please have a look here:
Part 1:
Part 2:

Certainly not flawless by any means, but for fans of the band it serves as a very interesting document illustrating the rise and fall of the Beach Boys(as a two-part TV movie special). A lot more sadness here than I would have imagined, which made it resonate with me quite a bit. It's a little overwrought in the 2nd half, but I'll forgive it that.

BEN & ARTHUR(2002; Sam Mraovich)
Simply stunning...One of the worst yet most entertaining things I've ever witnessed. Could be called a gay version of THE ROOM. Auteur writer/director/star Mraovich must be seen. In fact, see below:

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY(1944; Robert Siodmak)
Beautiful, bleak film noir. This one was recommended by both Joe Dante and Alonso Duralde. Dark role for Gene Kelly. Import dvd available.

DEATH PROMISE(1977; Robert Warmflash)
Tagline: "Filthy rich landlords get away with murder. It's time they pay for it." A low budget revenge flick that's pretty fun.

FAST WORKERS(1933; Tod Browning)
Breezy, comedy/drama from Browning, the story of some fast-living high rise riveters. Warner Archive put this out.

THE 5-MAN ARMY(1970; Don Taylor/ Italo Zingarelli)
Another Warner Archive Podcast favorite. Guys on a mission to rob a train carrying $500,000 in gold. Great stuff from Peter Graves and Bud Spencer.

Charmingly dopey, yet oddly infectious for me and sort of WTF at times. Some good 60s lingo here.

THE GUY FROM HARLEM(1977; Rene Martinez Jr.)
If Ed Wood had directed BLACK BELT JONES, the result might look something like THE GUY FROM HARLEM. Theme song is mind blowing.

HANNIBAL BROOKS(1969; Michael Winner)
For fans of Oliver Reed, Michael J. Pollard, Michael Winner, WWII Era stories and LARGER THAN LIFE. I am all of the above.

HOT RHYTHM(1944; William Beaudine)
Very affable little B-musical. Dona Drake is wonderful and easy on the eyes. Nice songs too. On Netflix Instant. Read about it at Forgotten Films:

Quite excellent, as I'd been told.

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN(1981; Noel Nessick)
Interesting slice of life drama dealing with the L.A. scene(recording, street racing) in the early 80s. Meanders a bit, but overall pretty worthwhile. Good cast.  

LADY IN CEMENT(1968; Gordon Douglas)
"C'mon, let's hoist a martini flag" says Sinatra, chain smoking his way through this second outing as private detective Tony Rome. I had heard this one was more fun so I skipped the first film and started here. Enjoyable stuff. From the director of THEM!(1954), IN LIKE FLINT & SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP-OFF.

MERRILY WE GO TO HELL(1932; Dorothy Arzner)
Stumbled onto this one via a recommend from Kim Morgan.

MOVIE MOVIE(1978; Stanley Donen)
Interesting late career effort from Donen. Would love to see a Blu-ray release of this film.

MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE(1996; Terry Jones)
Quite a wonderful envisioning of the classic Wind in the Willows tale by Mr. Jones. Unjustly overlooked. Alonso Duralde mentioned this movie on Linoleum Knife at one point, which is what made me go hunting for it.

NEW YEARS EVIL(1980; Emmett Alston)
If you're a fan of 80s slashers(and I very much am) this one nestles in nicely and is quite pleasant comfort food.

NO MORE EXCUSES(1968; Robert Downey Sr.)
This one was singled out in Zack Carlson's Discoveries list from last year and was at that time, very hard to see. Thankfully, the eclipse Downey Sr. Boxset arrived in 2012 and I quickly snapped it up to see this film and the others featured there. An odd and hilarious portait of the NYC singles scene in the late 60s. Brilliantly bizarre.

PETE 'N' TILLIE(1972; Martin Ritt)
Offbeat romantic drama from director Ritt, with fine acting from Matthau and Burnett. A little downbeat, but moving.

QUINTET(1979; Robert Altman)
Dense and uninviting, but oddly compelling for me. This, the most bleak Altman film, plays out like some post-apocalyptic Shakespeare play. Many will(and do) hate this movie and it's glacial pace.

RECORD CITY(1978; Dennis Steinmetz) / SWAP MEET(1979; David Schweitzer)
Two cheapies that both only aspire to be as fun as VAN NUYS BLVD, but that supremely entertained me nonetheless. Interesting casts in both, especially RECORD CITY.

SKY RIDERS(1976; Douglas Hickox)
Takes a little while to get to any actual sky ridin', but is nonetheless an enjoyable guys-on-a-mission flick. Nice Schifrin score. From the director of SITTING TARGET(which you should absolutely see if you haven't).

SNAKE EATER(1989; George Erschbamer)
Waaaay more enjoyable than it should be. A campier, sleazier version of DELIVERANCE meets FIRST BLOOD. Nutty as a Payday bar. I need to see parts 2 and 3.
On YouTube:

I started a personal retrospective of Jim Wynorski films after seeing the POPATOPOLIS doc on Netflix. This is pretty classic Wynorski I must say.

SUBURBAN SASQUATCH(2004; Dave Wascavage)
BIRDEMIC meet Bigfoot.
(obviously this movie preceded James Nguyen's masterpiece)

Ken Wahl plays an ex-football star hero/John McClane type and Max Headroom backs him up against some baddies looking to loot all of Beverly Hills. I recall my friend Phil Blankenship programming this film at some point and had meant to see it since then. Relegated to a VHS only release thusfar, this film has been lost in the shuffle a bit, which is a shame. 

I really kinda hoped for a little more Phantom. He is a great, iconic boogeyman. This is still a haunting, creepy movie.

TRANSYLVANIA TWIST(1989; Jim Wynorski)
Chuckled more than I expected to at this. Decent spoof. One of my favorite Wynorski efforts.

WARNING SIGN(1985;  Hal Barwood)
a la CHINA SYNDROME, ANDROMEDA STRAIN, THE SATAN BUG...this classic contagion scenario headlines its cast with Sam Watertson, Kathleen Quinlan & Yaphet Kotto. Supportings include Richard Dysart, G.W. Bailey, Rick Rossovich, Jerry Hardin & Jeffrey DeMunn. The amazing Dean Cundey running the photography.


Dr. Freex said...

Amazing list, as always - and I had been looking for Terry Jones' WIND IN THE WILLOWS for some time - never realizing it was hiding in plain sight under an assumed name! Thanks ever so much!

Ned Merrill said...

I think we agree on KING OF THE MOUNTAIN:

HANNIBAL BROOKS definitely goes on my "curious about" list, as does SKY RIDERS. Watched MERRILY WE GO TO HELL when I got that pre-Code set a few years back...Fredric March, one of Wisconsin's greatest native sons.

Stephen Langlois said...

Great list! The Guy From Harlem really is the best bad blaxploitation flick out there, though Blackenstein might be a close second.

I'm a diehard Altman fan (I dug Ready To Wear), but even I can't stomach Quintet. "Dense and uninviting" is a perfect description. For a director capable of tackling pretty much any genre with wit and subversion, I find his take on sci-fi disappointing. But that's just me.