Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Part Four! Honorable Mentions ""

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Part Four! Honorable Mentions

I know, I know. He's still talking about films he saw in 2013? We're well into 2014 now! I apologize, but there were just so many enjoyable films that I saw for the first time in 2013 that I have to spotlight a few more. Don't let their Honorable Mention status fool you, these films are quite worthy of your time!
PS- here are parts 1-3 of my list!

THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER (1932; George Archainbaud)
The first and best of the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries. If ever a woman was born to play a role, Edna May Oliver was born to play Hildegarde Withers. She reminds me an indignant Carol Burnett on some level. Seeing she and James Gleason Play off each other makes it easy to see why this series of films was so popular(if perhaps too short lived). Oliver as the titular spinster school teacher/detective is a no-nonsense gal with little time or patience to suffer fools. Gleason's Inspector Piper is equally ill-equipped to deal with idiots so they shuffle them aside as they take in clues and motives to analyze on their way to crime solving. Available from Warner Archive in their Hildegarde Withers Mystery Movies collection.

RUSTLER'S RHAPSODY (1985; Hugh Wilson)
POLICE ACADEMY director Hugh Wilson helms this affectionate tribute/satire of the B westerns of the 30s & 40s.In this case, our hero Rex O'Herlihan, finds himself ripped from the black & white pleasantness of his former glory and dropped into a more contemporary western film. The film's voice over and good natured genre reflexivity would suggest that it may have been a potential influence on THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Seems like a film the Coens would be fans of. Tonally, it seems to exist in a universe between BLAZING SADDLES & LEBOWSKI, whilst leaning towards the Mel Brooks side. It's also part of an enjoyable little group of other parody-type westersn like THE VILLAIN(aka CACTUS JACK) and EVIL ROY SLADE (both of which are worth tracking down).

HIPS HIPS HOORAY (1934; Mark Sandrich)
From the director of one of my favorite Fred and Ginger films (TOP HAT) comes this wacky slapstickery about Wheeler and Woolsey trying to sell flavored lipstick. Available in the Wheeler and Woolsey RKO Comedy Classics collection from Warner Archive.

THE GIRL-GETTERS (1964; Michael Winner)
Great little early Michael Winner film. Kind of his version of I VITELLONI. Among Oliver Reed's best performances. 

BLACK MOON RISING (1986; Harley Cokeliss)
A John Carpenter script, an amazing cast (Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Richard Jaekel, Robert Vaughn, Dan Shor, Lee Ving, Bubba Smith & Keenan Wynn!), and a super-car. What more could one want in an 80s movie?
Feels like it'd make a nice double with LOOKER.

THE FALCON'S ALIBI (1946; Ray McCarey)
Part of the series where Tom Conway has taken over from George Sanders as the Falcon's brother Tom Lawrence. Elisha Cook Jr. in a great supporting role as a late night radio DJ = this being my favorite of the Falcon films I've seen. Jane Greer is in it too and smokin' hot.

MOON ZERO TWO(1970; Roy Ward Baker) DANGER DIABOLIK on the moon?
Hopefully you're hooked by the animated credit sequence complete with a groovy(& catchy) theme song but if not, the moon base and costumes have a wonderfully futuristic by-way-of-the-1960s feel. I personally love that aesthetic. I also loved all the cheesy sci-fi lingo they came up with.
"..and don't take anything less than 12,000 moon dollars for it."
"...they won't touch you with a radar beam.."
Additionally, it's kind of a "Moon Western" which is very interesting. And star James Olson looks a bit like a young James Rebhorn and sounds a bit like Adam West. Cool Combo. 

MAD MUTILATOR aka OGROFF (1983; N.G. Mount)
Astonishingly bizarre & mesmerizing film that feels like an 80s slasher by way of Ed Wood, David Lynch & Herschell Gordon Lewis. Quite surreal.

THE SHADOW (1994; Russell Mulcahy)
One of several nearly forgotten superhero movies that were lost in the wake of (and surely inspired by) the success of Burton's BATMAN. Could easily be part of a triple bill with THE ROCKETEER and DICK TRACY(this film is an interesting second-fiddle to those two). Ripe for rediscovery especially now. Very interesting to see the Alec Baldwin of 20 years ago through the lens of Jack Donaghy. The film's release on Blu-ray in June is quite welcome. Extra points from me for 90s nostalgia(even though I missed seeing the film until now).
It's also a nice way to celebrate Jonathan Winters(and that small window in the 90s when Penelope Ann Miller was the hot, sexy leading lady). Further, it's neat to see Peter Boyle as a taxi driver again.

THE BLACK SCORPION (1957; Edward Ludwig)
Perfectly enjoyable 50s Monster movie with some great Willis O'Brien special effects. Had been meaning to see it since Joe Dante covered it over at Trailers From Hell:

THE MAD MAGICIAN (1954; John Brahm)
An enjoyably unhinged Vincent Price performance propels this HOUSE OF WAX-y story and makes it worth seeing. The above mask was used as a promotional item.

What initially starts as a slightly higher-budgeted & more sophisticated PLAN 9-y/THIS ISLAND EARTH-y film for the 1970s, becomes more interesting as it progresses. With Robert Vaughn as a scientist and Christopher Lee as an evil alien overlord.

ENTER LAUGHING (1967; Carl Reiner)
Quite delightful. Neil Simon-ish, but I actually prefer it to most Simon film adaptations.
Neil Simon meets THE PRODUCERS...sort of.

DIE LAUGHING (1980; Jeff Werner)
2nd tier Hitchcock meets screwball. Linda Grovenor is pretty adorable here(complete with Kristy McNichol "LITTLE DARLINGS hair") and I wish she'd made a lot more films. Had some dopey moments, but overall it charmed me. I'm a longtime Robby Benson fan. Supporting cast includes Charles Durning, Bud Cort, Peter Coyote, Charles Fleischer & Elsa Lanchester.

TEEN LUST (1979; James Hong)
Freewheelin' 70s sexploitation fun, directed by Lo-Pan.

THE MOTHER LODE (1982; Charlton Heston) Heston directs himself here and teaches us a valuable lesson: Don't Mess With His Gold! I've heard it said that this is basically a Heston slasher film and I kind of agree. It's certainly the closes thing he ever did to one. He plays this kind of half-crazed, grizzled mountain man pretty well for sure. This film also features Nick Mancuso, who is awesome in TICKET TO HEAVEN if you've not seen that. This is the movie I hoped GOLD ( would be. Plus, Kim Basinger in a sweater circa 1982. Rowwrr. 

CODE TWO (1953; Fred M. Wilcox)
DRAGNET meets POLICE ACADEMY meets CHiPS. Ralph Meeker is pretty slick here in this cop flick from the director of FORBIDDEN PLANET. Warner Archive put this out on dvd.

80s Hitchcock-type based in Los Angeles - has a pretty great cast that helps carry the film.
Surprisingly dark for a Clayton Rohner movie.

DISCONNECTED (1983; Gorman Bechard)
Utterly fascinating Bizarro World slasher film.

REMOTE (1993; Ted Nicolaou) 
A HOME ALONE Knockoff from Charles Band in which the main kid is obsessed with remote control toys.
Added to my "Whiz Kid Movies" List:

MISTER BUDDWING (1966; Delbert Mann)
Fractured narrative akin to stuff like PETULIA or POINT BLANK. Twilight Zone-y. Interesting film that wouldn't be made these days.

ZIG ZAG (1970; Richard A. Colla)
In an odd Noir twist on JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO and SHORT TIME, George Kennedy plays an insurance man who discovers that he has a brain tumor who has to attempt to frame himself for the murder of a wealthy man who has a reward associated with solving the crime.

TALES FROM THE FAR SIDE I and II (1994/1997)
Interesting oddity featuring Gary Larson's classic creations being brought to life in animated form. Part 1 is better than part 2 if I recall, but both can be found online with a minimum of searching.

A few additional favorites:


KC said...

Die Laughing was one of my favorites last year too. I would have written more about it in my list, but I had too much to say. I watched it for the dopey stuff, but ended up being touched as well. It took me a while to realize I was watching the guy from "Jeremy"! I loved how goofy it could be--like when he made the guitar string sounds to get the monkey to come to him. Bud Cort was so fabulously over-the-top too. I wish more movies were as weird and wild as this one.

SteveQ said...

Saw "The Mad Magician" projected in 3D last summer, along with "Gorilla At Large." See the latter, if you get the chance.