Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Zack Carlson ""

Friday, January 22, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Zack Carlson

Zack Carlson has owned a punk record store, taught college courses on disreputable film history, toured internationally in various bands, and has amassed a bone-crushing collection of over 3000 forgotten VHS treasures. He lives in Austin, TX with his one wife and no children. Zack currently writes soon-to-be-award-winning screenplays with Bryan Connolly under the banner King Originals. He and Bryan also wrote the amazing (but now hard to get) book about punks on film - DESTROY ALL MOVIES!

(Dir. Nico Mastorakis, 1988)

A fearless Bo Hopkins, a gutless Wings Hauser, and a chinless Brion James square off in this mid-budget paranoia epic from Greek filmmaker/maniac Mastorakis (The Zero Boys). An RV full of tourists enters a small desert town just as a mute albino scientist contaminates the local water supply with neon blecchh. This toxic sludge makes the townsfolk go instantly full-tilt nutzoid and turns their blood into green paint, leading to a citywide homicidal meltdown. Local sheriff George Kennedy (still alive!) joins the shotgun battle against the citizens who voted him into office.
(Dir. Ivan Passer, 1981)

If you can get past that we're expected to believe two best friends have the last names "Cutter" and "Bone," this is a rewarding, welfare-flavored whodunnit shot in the wizz-stained gutters of Santa Barbara. As usual, Jeff Bridges is shirtless, tiny-eyed and exasperated. But the film's real star is John Heard as nightmarishly drunk multiple amputee/Vietnam veteran Cutter. Every second that he's on screen, the character teeters between emotional breakdown, bladder failure and suicide. What a total party boy!
8 - AIRPORT '77
(Dir. Jerry Jameson, 1977)

Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Christopher Lee, Darren McGavin and a bunch of Hollywood buddies are trapped in a submerged airplane! Jimmy Stewart, George Kennedy (STILL ALIVE!!) and a bunch of other Hollywood buddies want to rescue them! That's pretty much it. Pressured to one-up the first two installments of their blockbuster Airport franchise, Universal took a mighty leap by plunging their next jumbo jet to the bottom of the sea. The tension builds as the water level rises and the cast attempts to out-ham each other before each character meets their grisly end. Totally valueless and totally entertaining.
(Dir. Mike Nichols, 1983)

Yes, I only watched this award-winning drama because Kurt Russell was in it. SO WHAT. I watched Stargate, 3000 Miles to Gracelandand The Hateful Eight for the same reason. But unlike those room-temperature sewage geysers, Silkwood is a real movie. Unfortunately, well-regarded contemporary works like this are the cinematic equivalents of a John Steinbeck novel; we all accept that they're considered classics, but very few of us take the time to personally find out why. Between Russell, Fred Ward, a surprisingly glamor-free Cher role and — needless to say — Meryl Streep's career-making performance, this is one that I'm ashamed I didn't see sooner. But at least I've read a bunch of Steinbeck. So shut up.
6 - NINJA ZOMBIE(Dir. Mark Bessenger, 1992)
We live in a cultural era that will be historically defined by three things: bacon, ironic mustaches, and zombies. It's a tragic truth, and one that proves that we deserve the imminent collapse of our planet. BUT!... back in 1992, it was still possible to incorporate any and all of these things into your work without being a vomit bag in a v-neck t-shirt and scarf. While director Mark Bessenger does not include bacon in his feature-length Super-8 action/horror opus, he is able to squeeze in a massive amount of rage, supernatural venom and undying sincerity, creating a metal-infused vengeance tale that shook the very foundations of Illinois. Sadly, no one noticed.

(Dir. William Fruet, 1979)

Probably the best Vietnam vet homicide action epic shot in Niagara Falls in the entire year of 1979, Search and Destroy features Class of 1984's Perry King as a former soldier being stalked by an enemy thought long dead. Having returned from "The Shit" years earlier, King and his platoon partner (the great Don Stroud) assumed the horrors of war were behind them, but a renegade soldier is picking off the members of their regiment one by one, and they're his final remaining targets. Shot in the late summer of '78, the filmmakers seem to have imported multiple barrels of sweat to the shooting locations. Bullets fly through tourists, veins bulge, teeth grit, chest hair screams and hatred explodes.

(Dir. Peter Hyams, 1995)

Powers Boothe is an incredible actor. Always. Everything he does displays absolute skill, composure, and control. What a guy. Here, he's a white-collar terrorist who vows to detonate a packed sports arena if his demands aren't met. As far as Powers Boothe films go, this is way up there. Top notch stuff. That Powers Boothe, I tell ya. What a man. What a movie.

...Hm? What? Jean-Claude Van Damme is in this too? Oh. Okay. Yeah, that's fine.
(Dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 1988)

After an 11-year absence from the screen, for reasons known only to himself, living legend Sidney Poitier returned to star alongside Tom Berenger in this largely forgotten action rumpus. Here, Poitier somehow plays the comic relief to Berenger's grim survivalist character, as the two of them set out to rescue Kirstie Alley from a kill-crazy maniac (whose identity is revealed in a memorable, deeply disturbing hiking scene). It's a mountainous, international death-trek, featuring impressive stuntwork — much of which is performed by the film's leads themselves — and a total disregard for human life.

(Dir. Philip D'Antoni, 1973)

The best car chase in the history of movies. Or cars. Or chases. Sure, the rest of this French Connection spin-off feature is compelling and powerful, and Roy Scheider is fantastic in reprising his role as Buddy, but if you can make it through his chase scene without tearing the stuffing out of your couch and/or palms, you have no pulse. Also starring always-amazing self-mutilator and master actor Richard Lynch.
(Dir. Richard Fleischer, 1972)

Based on the quasi-autobiographical work of former-cop-turned-novelist Joseph Wambaugh, this wildly authentic portrayal of police life stunned audiences upon its release, and is every bit as much of an elbow to the throat today. Stacey Keach, Scott Wilson and 
G E O R G E C. S C O T T are among the hard-luck schmos tasked with keeping order as Los Angeles slays itself. It's a non-stop assault of painful truths and fatal errors as each member of the cast finds himself sliding down his own emotional sewer pipe. Also, George C. Scott's confrontation of a corrupt landlord is one of the single finest moments of acting that has ever been captured on film. Maybe number one. Seriously. I mean you'll be all like gosh, George C. Scott, you hate that landlord!


The Movie Waffler said...

The New Centurions is fantastic and very overlooked. Seven owes it a debt.

MikeGibbonz said...

I'm proud to have seen 4 of these and I'm amped for Zombie Ninjas!