Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Programmed By Samuel B. Prime ""

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Programmed By Samuel B. Prime

Samuel B. Prime is a film programmer, lost cinema historian, and contributor to Slant Magazine / The House Next Door. His all-time favorite Sonny Chiba movie, WOLFGUY: ENRAGED LYCANTHROPE (1975), features Chiba as a werewolf detective tracking down a murderous, invisible ghost-tiger." 
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1. THE KEEP (Michael Mann, 1983) - Still unavailable on DVD or Blu-Ray, the primary way to watch this all-but-forgotten Mann jam is by way of out-of-print VHS or LaserDisc copies. However, while I was still at the Drafthouse, I negotiated with the BFI to borrow their rare 35mm print for a small U.S. tour between Drafthouse, Cinefamily, and Nitehawk. These are the kind of unique, unforgettable events that make me proud to work in film as a programmer. A mysterious creature, Molasar, haunts the titular keep and only Scott Glenn's glowing eyes can keep him at bay. With a signature Tangerine Dream soundtrack and a faint WWII sub-plot (there are nazis, you guys), THE KEEP is pure cinema and maybe my favorite by Mann.

2. TARGETS (Peter Bogdanovich, 1968) - Bogdanovich's TARGETS is one of the first films I ever programmed and I still think of it as Bogdanovich's very best, even considering PAPER MOON and THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. As part of a series for Northwestern University, The Roger Corman Film School, I played TARGETS to showcase how Roger Corman gave young directors an opportunity to make feature films with strange caveats as creative limitations. In this case, Bogdanovich could make any film so long as he used footage from an earlier Corman production, THE TERROR, and hired Boris Karloff for two days (based on a pre-existing contract between Corman/Karloff). Bogdanovich, with the uncredited help of Sam Fuller as script doctor, crafted a story around Karloff's indomitable persona, married with the story of a psychotic Vietnam vet. Very much of its place and time, as well as of its means and makers - everything about this production feels as if every ounce of its filmmaker's lives went into creating it.

3. SAINT (Dick Maas, 2010) - Back at UCLA, I played this horror-themed holiday tale as part of the Melnitz Movies screening series. It is not Dick Maas's best by any stretch, but Maas is a filmmaker that I have long admired for his earlier work in both comedy and horror. Maas directed the unforgettable THE LIFT (1983) and AMSTERDAMNED (1988), as well as a series of wacky pictures about a low-class Dutch family, the Flodders. They are a sort of Beverly Hillbillies for the Netherlands, you could say. Even though SAINT is sub-par Dick Maas at best, it was a great honor to showcase one of his films for the UCLA community (and we were the first to show the film in the LA area, as far as I can recall).

4. THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM (Ken Russell, 1988) - Immediately following Ken's regrettable passing in November 2011, I wanted to host a memorial screening at UCLA. I contacted Ken's widow, Lisi, received her blessing, and on short notice wrangled a print of THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM. We showed the print later that week to a thankful audience, in all its darkly comic glory. This is the only Hugh Grant film I actually like.

5. POSSESSION (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981) - Debatably underrated, I suppose. Because of the recent resurgence of interest in Zulawski's body of work thanks mostly to Cinefamily and BAMCinemathek, cinephiles all over the map have been discovering or rediscovering this title in particular as a masterpiece of horror cinema. I don't know if I have ever seen a more earth-shattering film or scene in all my twenty-five years, save for THE SHINING's bathroom demon. For anyone who has known real, deep-seated love, and the heartbreak that most inevitably comes with it (eventually), this film resonates down deep in your gut.

1 comment:

James said...

The Keep was, at least at one point, available on Netflix Instant (that's how I watched it, about two years ago). I don't know if it is now.