Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Mitch Lovell ""

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012 - Mitch Lovell

Mitch can be found and read at The Video Vacuum:
also on twitter @TheVideoVacuum.

His 2011 discoveries are here:
Honorable Mentions: Fighting Mad (1976) & Eye of the Tiger (1986)

I’m a sucker for a good revenge movie. Here are two of the best I saw this year in that particular genre. Fighting Mad stars Peter Fonda taking out corporate slimeballs with a bow and arrow. Eye of the Tiger has Gary Busey beating the snot out of bikers and burying their heads into big piles of cocaine. I bet you probably want to watch both of them now, don’t you?

10.) The Addiction (1995)
Lili Taylor stars as a philosophy student in New York who goes out walking one night and gets bitten by vampire Annabella Sciorra. Pretty soon she goes around at night sticking homeless people with a syringe and shooting it into her veins. Later, she runs into another immortal vampire (Christopher Walken) who teaches her a painful lesson about her ever-growing addiction. I think your enjoyment of The Addiction will hinge on your ability to buy director Abel Ferrara’s vampire-as-junkie symbolism. His vision of bloodsuckers is more Keith Richards than Bram Stoker and it makes for a totally creepy and absorbing vampire movie.

9.) The End (1978)
Burt Reynolds finds out he’s terminally ill and only has months to live, so he makes up his mind to save himself a lot of pain and commit suicide. Oh yeah, and did I mention, it’s a comedy? The End is alternately funny, touching, insightful, and depressing… just like life (and death, I suppose) itself. The first hour of the film strikes a perfect balance of laughs and depression. There’s an especially hilarious moment where Burt goes to church for his final confession, only to find that the priest (played by Robby Benson) is a wet behind the ears teenager who’s dying to hear a juicy confession. This scene is terrific. The way Reynolds and Benson call each other “Father” and “my son” is priceless.

8.) The Mummies of Guanajuato (1972)
This year, I spent a whole month watching El Santo movies; three of which wound up finding spots on my list. The Mummies of Guanajuato is notable for being El Santo’s highest grossing film; which is a bit ironic because he’s hardly in it. Instead, Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras do most of the heavy lifting in this one. (They even get top billing over El Santo.) That’s fine by me though because three Mexican wrestlers fighting mummies is better than one! Normally, I would complain about the lack of El Santo. However, since the final reel features some of the finest Mexican Mummy Mashing ever committed to celluloid, it really doesn’t matter that El Santo has a diminished role here. Seriously folks, the final ten minutes of this film is nothing but straight-up mummy marauding. And when our heroes’ wrestling moves have no effect on the mummies, the boys bust out some flamethrower pistols to turn the mummies into flaming marshmallows!

7.) Strike Commando (1987)
Strike Commando was directed by Bruno Mattei, the man who gave the world Night of the Zombies. It was written by none other than Claudio Fragasso, the hombre who directed the granddaddy of them all, Troll 2. All I have to say is that these men know a thing or two about a thing or two. Reb Brown, the “Move, move, move” guy from Space Mutiny plays a soldier named Ransom, a name that does not in any way sound like “Rambo”. The scene where Ransom squares off against the villain is immortal. They start fighting each other, trading punches and grappling. Then they do this thing which can only be described as “Human Chicken” where they both run at each other as fast as they can. Of course, neither of them moves out of the way and they wind up butting heads at full speed! Amazing.
Viewable on YouTube HERE: 

6.) Santo vs. the Zombies (1962)
Santo vs. the Zombies is packed to the gills with awesomeness. There are a bunch of Mexican wrestling scenes, cool monsters, plenty of scenes of El Santo wrestling said cool monsters, extended bellydancing sequences, mad scientists, excellent sets that look like they came out of a serial from the 40’s, and a plot you can follow without the benefit of subtitles. And the always hot Lorena (Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy) Velasquez is in it too, which is always a plus.

5.) In the Realm of the Senses (1977)
Criterion is world renown for releasing arty movies. Every now and then they put out some good first rate smut. Forget 50 Shades of Grey, this is like 147 Shades of Grey. It’s so kinky that I probably can’t print all the stuff the main characters do to each other in this flick. You know this movie is going to be good because it starts out with some kids throwing snowballs at a drunken bum’s exposed genitals. That’s the kind of shit you don’t see in movies nowadays.

4.) The Lady from Shanghai (1948)
If I was to describe the flick in a word, that word would be “effortless”. Orson Welles oozes charm and charisma here and he does so without breaking a sweat. I don’t think he’s looked handsomer on film. And the way he constructed his shots seems so natural; and even the most complicated shots never feel showy. There are some shots in a darkened aquarium that are pretty damned sweet and the “Hall of Mirrors” sequence is justifiably famous. Of course, Rita Hayworth looks effortlessly beautiful. Just the shots of her silently smoldering in front of the camera are a joy to watch.

3.) Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Dustin Hoffman is hilarious in his movie. He goes pretty over the top and his performance is perhaps too showy, but I’m totally cool with that. This kind of fearlessness (or recklessness, depending on your point of view) can pay off when it’s done just right (Nicolas Cage has made an entire career off of it). In a lesser actor’s hands, Ratso Rizzo would’ve become an annoying little bastard. Hoffman however turned him into one of the most memorable characters in screen history. I don’t know why it took me so long to see this movie. Sometimes shit just happens. I wouldn’t call it the best movie that came out that year (uh… that would be Easy Rider by a landslide), but I liked it a lot and I’d definitely say it’s worthy of all the praise heaped upon it.

2.) Bronco Billy (1980)
Bronco Billy is a genuine treasure of a movie. Like Midnight Cowboy, I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to seeing it because it happens to be one of Clint Eastwood’s best non-Dollars or Dirty Harry films. It’s a quiet character driven movie filled with a cast of loveable oddballs and losers. It’s also a heartwarming (and as much as I hate that term “heartwarming”, it certainly applies here) tale about a misfit that always stays true to himself, no matter how crazy he winds up looking. If you’re a Clint fan, you really owe it to yourself to check Bronco Billy out. I’ll admit I got a little choked up during his extremely moving speech before attempting a last ditch attempt to rob a train. (“You only live once… you might as well give it your best shot!”) I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I got choked up on a movie. If that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

1.) Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters (1970)
Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters is 82 minutes of pure delirium. It takes everything you love about the films of Al Adamson, Ed Wood, and Rene Cardona and blends it all together in a wonderfully WTF way. If you haven’t seen an El Santo movie, you should probably start off with this one. It’s a classic. It has everything you could possible want in a movie. Mexican wrestlers, The Mummy, a Cyclops, Frankenstein (or “Franquestain” as he’s called in Spanish), The Wolf Man, and vampires. It has everything except for maybe for subtitles. But that’s okay, because even if you don’t speak Spanish, this movie is a trip and a half. Oh and did I mention Franquestain sports a hilarious Van Dyke goatee? A classic not to be missed that will make you doubt your sanity on more than one occasion.

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