Laird worked in video stores and film archives and is now a video editor for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas.Follow him on Twitter at @Pobrecito and Letterboxd:
Check out his Discoveries from the last few years here:
EURIDICE BA 2037 (1975)
Freely mixing Greek myth with dystopic sci-fi and REPULSION-like psychodrama, this one really caught me by surprise. Pulls the viewer into the paranoid headspace of the protagonist as she hallucinates (?), endlessly rearranges her apartment, reverse vomits milk into a toilet and fellates a baby doll. Big time late night art house fare for the heads.
KIDNAPPED CO-ED (1976)
Frederick Friedel's Euro-fried BADLANDS is an endlessly pleasing torrent of artful sleaze dancing a tango with prankish humor. It's anything but predictable, save for the idea that if anything can go wrong, it will.
(Severin's 2016 restoration is a thing of beauty.)
DIRTY PICTURES (1971)
I love these Umberto Lenzi thrillers from the late 60s/early 70s. They all have a similar structure: single location sexual triangles between shady characters that inevitably go haywire when true motives are revealed. This one benefits greatly from the intensity of Irene Papas, spider to flies in the form of two smut-peddling hippies from abroad. Lenzi's hatred for the love generation is palpable.
Andy Sidaris' feature film directorial debut: the start of a long career of filming swimsuit models in exotic sports cars with large weapons. The equal fixations with mammary and machinery feels like a secret collaboration between Russ Meyer and Michael Mann. Not that it looks as good as that sounds, but it's a fun whodunnit with a great titular character. When she's not solving crimes or dominating her boyfriend, Stacey races cars for fun.
TEMPTRESS OF A THOUSAND FACES (1969)
A total lark from Shaw Brothers! This Fantomas-esque super criminal yarn follows a female face swapper and her gang of tough ladies as they wreak havoc around Hong Kong. The fight scenes are a bit more rough and tumble than the 60s Eurospy action-comedies this seems to be modeled after, harkening back more to the in through a door, out through a window punch-ups of a William Whitney serial with a cheesecake factor thrown in for the lonely husbands in the audience.
GANDAHAR (aka LIGHT YEARS) (1988)
I managed to snag a copy of the Masters of Cinema DVD release of Rene Laloux's GANDAHAR when visiting Seattle's Scarecrow Video. The movie is incredible, mindbending sci-fi fantasy gorgeously rendered and full of images that range from psychedelic sexy to fascist nightmarish. Scarecrow Video is also incredible and mindbending but not as sexy or fascist. May it live forever yesterday.
SWEET SUGAR (1972)
Fits neatly into the Women-in-Prison genre if you add "-run-by-a-mad-scientist-who-is-obsessed-with-the-female-orgasm" after "-Prison." This detail plus the central performance by Phyllis Davis and a bit of voodoo-hoodoo nonsense and torture involving domestic felines make this one stand out as more fun than the average WIP schlock. When it does get nasty it's almost genuinely unsettling by dint of being so shockingly out of step with how light hearted and camp humorous most of the rest of the movie is (if that makes sense?).
MOST BEAUTIFUL WIFE (1970)
A bizarre, mouth harp centric Morricone score carries through this based-on-a-true-story gangster drama about a Sicilian feminist icon: the teenage farm girl who took on the mafia. The battle of the sexes has rarely been such a literal battle. Damiano Damiani (BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, etc) hits some familiar genre checkpoints while taking a leftist chisel to the macho Italian patriarchy. Fiery!
Three by Jess Franco
Trying to convince non-believers of Jess Franco's virtues is like performing magic tricks to a dog, so I won't waste much time here. I'm on board, and I try to take in at least a handful of Francos every year in a futile attempt to summit his 200+ film high filmography (massive thanks to Stephen Thrower's new book on Franco). Three that really stood out to me this year are the wonderfully titled EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (a doped up trip into the crypts where zombies, ghouls and other monsters watch Sadean rituals, featuring a squawking bird-woman, color gels, Dutch angles, wall eyed lenses and other effects and affectations that will keep your head spinning), and two spy-themed efforts, ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS and LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE. The former is pure pulp Bond mimicry, while the latter is a wild DIABOLIK-like comedy full of flashy costumes and cartoon bubbles. Recommended for patient, adventurous viewers only!