Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Steve Sandberg ""

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Steve Sandberg

Steve is a part-time student, and writes film reviews on his blog at Movie Marathoning ( 
On twitter here: 
Dreamscape (1984)
Does Dreamscape have a cult following? If not, it really ought to. It's a fun, distinctly '80s thriller that takes full advantage of the surreal possibilities of dreams. The plot revolves around various scientists, researchers, and Dennis Quaids inserting themselves into test subjects' subconscious while they sleep. Until the third act political thriller kicks in, the film has a fairly loose structure, just kinda hopping from dream to awkward dream and running from imaginary but deadly snake monsters. Even if it is a little silly, Dreamscape features performances by Christopher Plummer AND Max Von Sydow AND David Patrick Kelly, making it required viewing.

The Black Klansman (1966)
This movie amazed me with its premise alone. A light-skinned African American man attempts to avenge the murder of his daughter at the hands of the KKK by infiltrating the organization and destroying it from within. A concept like that is highly provacative, especially having been made during the Civil Rights Movement. The execution of this racially charged story isn't completely successful, but its admirable attempts at exploring racism and violent morality are effective, and the low budget and rickety production provide some completely contrasting charm.

Attack of the Puppet People (1958)
First things first, Attack of the Puppet People is a very misleading title. There is no attack, and these "puppet people" are actually the victims of a pleasantly delusional mad scientist slash doll manufacturer who has kidnapped and shrunken multiple people and encased them in plastic, like dolls. After his normal doll shop closes for the day, he lets his other "dolls" out, and basically throws little parties for them, complete with snacks and music. There's plenty of awesome '50s social commentary in how complacent most of the "dolls" are in their lavish, miniature lifestyle until they're forcefully encouraged to escape, and the odd, tragic characterization of the doll maker provides some surprising emotional depth. But most importantly, this a very fun vintage B-movie.

House of Exorcism (1974)
This is actually an alternate cut of Mario Bava's Lisa and the Devil that I saw at the tail-end of my local drive-in theater's horror movie quadruple-feature in October. The film is essentially chunks of Bava's film spliced together with an exorcism storyline of questionable relation. This odd combination, an obvious attempt to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, results in a movie that really doesn't make any sense at all, but in a fascinating and intoxicating way. At the very least, the exorcism scenes offer some exceedingly memorable, over-the-top vulgarities. 

Zelig (1983)
2013 was the year I "discovered" the films of Woody Allen, and while I've now seen plenty of his high-profile movies like Annie HallManhattan, and The Purple Rose of Cairo, one that isn't as well-known or at least isn't discussed as often is Zelig. It's a very peculiar movie and a meticulously-detailed fake documentary. The "mockumentary" wasn't totally new in 1983, but Allen did everything possible to make his absurd story of a chameleonic man who physically transforms himself to meet social standards look and feel like an authentic documentary. Real and phony archival footage and interviews with real-life intellectuals help to blur the line between fact and fiction in unprecedented ways. BONUS: it's really funny.

1 comment:

KC said...

Nice list. You may have convinced me to finally see Zelig. I like how you write--very natural. It has a nice flow.