Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2016 - Joseph A. Ziemba ""

Monday, January 23, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Joseph A. Ziemba

Joseph A. Ziemba is the director of the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and genre programming at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. He is also the creator of, the co-creator of BLEEDING SKULL! VIDEO (, and the co-author of BLEEDING SKULL! A 1980s TRASH-HORROR ODYSSEY (Headpress, 2013). Joe has also made music as a member of the bands Wolfie, The Like Young, Beaujolais, and Taken By Savages.
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FLESH AND BULLETS (Carlos Tobalina, 1985)
Sebastian del Castillo, my partner-in-grime at the American Genre Film Archive, handed me this DVD and said, “You’ve gotta watch this, it’s so awesome.” I did. And it was! If Doris Wishman remade Alfred Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, it would have felt something like FLESH AND BULLETS. Filled with gross sex, insane gaps in logic, and non-PC mayhem, this movie is a ridiculously sexist middle-aged male fantasy that almost feels like a burlesque of sexist middle-aged male fantasies. Oliver Hardy once said, “There’s nothing as funny as a dumb guy who thinks he’s smart.” That pretty much sums up this movie.
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FOLIES MEURTRIERES (Antoine Pellissier, 1984)
This movie feels like a life-changing mixtape from the coolest goth sister you never had. Shot on Super 8 in the suburbs of France, FOLIES MEURTRIERES is an exercise in no-fi, trash-horror mood. The blown-out photography is inventive and suggestive, there's tons of cheap gore, and the warbled synth-pop soundtrack channels a pillow fight between Goblin, Depeche Mode, and Trio’s Casio collection. This movie is an audio-visual steamroller, pushing scenes that are already bizarre to a new level of madness because of the overall aesthetic. Then the twist ending happens.

HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (Andy Sidaris, 1987)
Laird Jimenez, my colleague and pal at the Alamo Drafthouse, screened this for Weird Wednesday in Austin. I’d never seen an Andy Sidaris movie. I probably won’t try to watch more of his stuff. Because in this action movie called HARD TICKET TO HAWAII, a giant snake explodes out of a toilet, knocks a shitload of nail polish on the ground, and eats someone’s face. After that, there’s nowhere else to go.
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THE SAPHEAD (Herbert Blaché and Winchell Smith, 1920)
THE SAPHEAD features Buster Keaton’s first leading role in a full-length movie. But rather than manic stunts and chaos, we get a simple and charming love story. And it’s perfect. There’s a scene where Buster professes his love for his crush, Agnes, by himself in a room. At least, he thinks that he’s by himself. Agnes is standing behind him. She feels the same about Buster. Then he turns around and discovers that Agnes heard everything. The look on both of their faces is the most beautiful moment that I saw in a movie all year.
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WITHIN OUR GATES (Oscar Micheaux, 1920)
This is the oldest known surviving movie directed by an African-American filmmaker, and it was made to educate audiences in America about racism, women's rights, and black identity. WITHIN OUR GATES is a powerful, shocking, and ultimately uplifting melodrama that's presented with a frank and barebones aesthetic. Sadly, this movie is just as important and relevant to 2017 America as it was almost 100 years ago. And that's why it should be appreciated more than ever.
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