Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Doug Tilley ""

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Doug Tilley

Doug Tilley is a frequent contributor to, co-host of the No-Budget Nightmares podcast(, and a burly, bearded Canadian. He loves kung-fu movies, ultra low-budget shot-on-video nonsense and long walks on (deserted) beaches. He spends most of his time battling ennui by detailing the minutia of his day-to-day life on Twitter(@doug_tilley).

Science Crazed (1989)
If you take nothing else away from this list, just remember.. you have to see SCIENCE CRAZED. You have to. This Canuxploitation classic is less a piece of cinema, and more a twisted psychological experiment in tolerance and forgiveness. You come out the other end a forever altered person, and you'll never, ever forget what you've been through. Let's get some theatrical screenings in 2013.

Election (2005)
I'm not as well versed in Chinese Triad films as I am in Japanese Yakuza films, but the fascinating rules, ceremony and traditions of the group takes center stage in Johnnie To's ELECTION. It's ostensibly about a gang war and the search for a totemic baton, but it's presented in a detailed, beautiful and - of course - brutally violent fashion. Simon Yam is great in the lead, and it's followed by a sequel (ELECTION 2/TRIAD ELECTION) that is almost as good.

Timecrimes (2007)
Yeah, I know. I was busy, ok? My first experience with Nacho Vigalondo was actually his disappointing short in THE ABC'S OF DEATH, so I was sort of left wondering what all the fuss was about. The intriguing circular plot of TIMECRIMES certainly answered that, and its sci-fi slasher premise was thoroughly gripping. I'm a sucker for time travel films and the various paradoxes they create, so this one was a whole lot of fun to unravel.

Buffalo Rider (1978)
Yeah, I came at this through Rifftrax - but it's just as strange and baffling without the occasionally witty commentary. The tale of Jake Jones (who looks surprisingly like coked out, mid 70s Dennis Hopper) and his attempt to awkwardly "break" Samson the buffalo doesn't actually deserve to be a film, made clear by the fact that it's padded interminably with bizarre nature footage and a climax involving the buffalo demolishing a saloon. I've found myself addicted to films where I have to consistently ask myself "Why does this EXIST?!", and you'll definitely have that question cross your mind a few times while watching BUFFALO RIDER.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
No excuse for this one. Despite my love for everyone involved - including Nicholas Roeg as cinematographer - I just never made this (or any of Corman's Poe adaptations) a priority. That changed this year, and despite generally high expectations I was thoroughly blown away. Despite cribbing from THE SEVENTH SEAL, Corman creates a visually lush and entertaining adaptation which features a restrained, indelible performance by Vincent Price in the lead. Beautiful, and with a great slimy Patrick Magee as Alfredo.

Robot Ninja (1989)
How did J.R. Bookwalter follow up the VHS classic THE DEAD NEXT DOOR? Well, with the supremely goofy and entertaining ROBOT NINJA which puts a Frank Miller-like comic book artist against a gang of rapist punks, and includes plenty of drug addiction, violence and self-surgery to sweeten the deal. Burt Ward, Linnea Quigley and a squeaky-voiced Scott Spiegel show up momentarily, but this is all about the titular Robot Ninja inadvertently causing the death of many, many people. I AM ROBOT NINJA! AND I KICK ASS!

Death Metal Zombies (1995)
Todd Jason (Falcon) Cook is a musician, actor and professional skateboarder. He's also the director of 1995's no-budget classic DEATH METAL ZOMBIES which features choreographed head-banging, gut-munching, UNFORTUNATE UNDERWEAR and lots and lots of DEATH METAL. It's incredibly silly, but it's also (intentionally) funny, with some really inspired, inventive moments. Even better, Todd followed it up in 2012 with his semi-sequel ZOMBIFIED.

Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980)
Those expecting non-stop kung-fu action might find themselves initially disappointed by ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND, which takes its time getting to the martial arts action. However, the film’s second half is a non-stop stream of incredible fighting and effective scares, and throws in plenty of great special effects. The truly original finale blows things into the stratosphere. Sammo is in rare form, and he assembled a familiar and talented supporting cast who are all working at the top of their game. A must-see for those interested in horror or kung-fu, and a crucial film in the development of the martial arts film in the 1980s.

Reanimator Academy (1992)
Move over Herbert West, EDGAR ALLAN LOVECRAFT (seriously) is here! Full of more panty-headed partiers than you can shake a syringe of “reanimating serum” at, REANIMATOR ACADEMY is an aquarium of laughs that features a smattering of gangsters, a gaggle of decapitations, and prostitutes by the bucketful! This piece of no-budget oddness has nothing to do with Stuart Gordon's RE-ANIMATOR (aside from some familiar looking serum), but contains plenty of threadbare fun in its hour running time.

Cut-Throats Nine (1972)
I sometimes sit in awe of how lucky we modern film fans are. When I was in my early twenties, I owned a copy of CUT-THROATS NINE on VHS. The quality was terrible - near unwatchable - and the print was full-screen and sliced to bits. Now I can see an uncut, beautiful looking widescreen print of JoaquĆ­n Luis Romero Marchent's horrifically violent Spanish western in the comfort of my own home. That's progress! It's an amazing film, with one of the best premises of any western: A group of bandits hold up a wagon containing seven vicious prisoners, as well as a sheriff and his daughter. The group escapes, and the sheriff leads the group - bound in chains - to their location by foot across the unforgiving terrain. What results is bloody, intense and always thrilling. And look at that tagline! "A nightmare on the loose." Perfect.

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