Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2016 - Patrick Bromley ""

Monday, January 16, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Patrick Bromley

Patrick Bromeley is Editor-in-chief at @fthismovie. Contributor at@dailydeadnews, Deadly Magazine and @aboutdotcom. Champion of the ambitious failure. Check him out on twitter at @PatrickBromley.

Also, Check out his other lists from last year:
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976; dir. Mark L. Lester)
What a fun little drive-in movie — trashier version of Badlands in which Lynda Carter takes up with two-bit criminal Marjoe Gortner, one of the least likely leading men to ever grace movie screens. As if that’s not enough, the movie also stars Belinda Balaski and Gerrit Graham, two of my favorite genre stars ever. I sometimes forget just how many terrific films Mark L. Lester made as a director, but then I’ll see something with as much energy and life as Bobbie Jo and remember what a talent he is.
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Tenebrae (1982; Dario Argento)
2016 will forever be the year I fell totally in love with the giallo film, and it’s all thanks to Tenebrae. Despite having seen most of Argento’s filmography, I had somehow missed this one and a good version was hard to come by — the old DVD was out of print and any streaming copy I could find (like the one on Amazon Prime video) was in terrible shape. It wasn’t until the gorgeous steel book Blu-ray that Synapse put out that I finally saw Tenebrae and immediately shot to my top two or three favorite Argento films. I became obsessed with seeing as many gialli as I could, and while I haven’t found many that I love as much as this one I’m having a ton of fun trying.
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The Verdict (1982; Sidney Lumet) 
Yes, I know, prior to this year this was one of those holes in my movie viewing that filled me with shame. Having finally seen it, I get what all the fuss was about. I get why people feel like Paul Newman was robbed of a well-deserved Oscar (his makeup award would come a few years later with The Color of Money). Watching The Verdict in 2016 was a reminder that there are so few movies made like this anymore: wide-release, A-list star vehicles that are carefully paced, pitched at adults and, above all else, quiet. I’m sorry that it took me so long to have seen it only because I wish I had this one in my life more.
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The Super Cops (1974; Gordon Parks) 
Based on a true story of two New York cops, Gordon Parks’ buddy cop movie is hard to classify: it’s part comedy, part action movie, part drama at times, all held together with a fantastic, twitchy performance by Ron Liebman. I’m a sucker for these ‘70s cop movies and this one is really underrated.
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Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973; Christoper Eric Speeth) 
For me, this was the gem of Arrow Video’s stellar American Horror Project Vol. 1 boxed set. It’s a horror movie I had never even heard of prior to its Blu-ray release, but which stood out to me more than the other two by sheer force of its nightmare weirdness. It’s the least traditionally well-made of the three movies included, but also the one that spoke most to my sensibilities. It’s weird and gory and colorful and feels like an influence on some of Tobe Hooper’s output in the ‘80s and some early Rob Zombie movies. I really hope Arrow does another American Horror Project set. It’s one of my favorite releases of the year.
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Blind Fury (1989; Phillip Noyce) 
Despite a lifetime of loving ‘80s action movies and having what I thought was a fairly extensive knowledge of the genre, this unofficial Zatoichi remake starring Rutger Hauer as a blind drifter who carries a mean sword slipped through the cracks for many years. I’m so glad to have rectified that, because this is a really fun, really cool little action movie with an amazing Rutger Hauer performance and a lot of graphic, ‘80s-style violence. It’s needs a Blu-ray release ASAP.
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Sharky’s Machine (1981; Burt Reynolds) 
Ok, there were two things I really fell in love with this year: giallo films and 1980s Burt Reynolds action movies. I know he was one of the biggest and best movie stars of the 1970s (a decade during which he made a number of his greatest films), but I’m just as big a fan — if not bigger — of his ‘80s period. He had fallen a little more out of favor and his movies were a little darker, a little nastier. His third feature is, for me, still his best work behind the camera. Adapting the Richard Diehl book, Sharky’s Machine has Burt kicking ass, a great cast of character actors like Bernie Casey, Charles Durning and Henry Silva, plus some cool stunt work and a real hard-edged cop movie vibe to it. This might be my favorite Burt movie of its decade.
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Kuroneko (1968; Kaneto Shindô) 
What a crazy, beautiful movie. Two Japanese women are raped and left for dead by a band of samurai are possessed by cat demons and take their revenge. I know what you’re thinking: “Another one of THOSE movies?” This is a great ghost story: haunting and gorgeously photographed and atmospheric and impossible to predict. It’s part of the Criterion Collection so I probably should have seen it by now, but I’m glad I caught up with it this year. It’s a movie I know I’m going to watch a bunch more times.
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Mystery of Chess Boxing (1979; Joseph Kuo) 
Ok, there were three things I really fell in love with this year: gallo films, 1980s Burt Reynolds action movies and kung-fu films. I had seen my share of martial arts movies prior to 2016, but really binged on them this past June during Junesploitation (a month-long celebration of exploitation and genre movies we celebrate every year at and completely fell in love. An extremely rare 35mm print supplied by Dan Halstead (programmer for Portland’s Hollywood Theater) played in Chicago and brought the house down. Yi-Min Li isn’t just a great fighter on screen, but also really funny and warm in a way totally reminiscent of Jackie Chan; he’s got a scene in which he’s trying to serve bowls of rice to an entire martial arts school that is worth the price of admission alone and not a single punch is thrown.
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The Chinese Boxer (1970; Jimmy Wang Yu) Once I really got turned on to kung fu movies in a real way, I started searching for the best movies I had not yet seen. This one showed up on a lot of lists and did not disappoint. The Chinese Boxer (aka Hammer of God) is an overload of kickassery and a clear direct influence on Quentin Tarantino’s work.
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Blastfighter (1984; Lamberto Bava) Really cool Italian action film — a variation on First Blood — with Michael Sopkiw as a former cop who gets out of jail and goes out to the woods to be left alone. Those plans fail when he’s confronted by his long lost daughter (the incomparable Valentina Forte) and some murderous poachers. Not only did I love this movie, but it also introduced me to one of my favorite scores of the year courtesy of the great Fabio Frizzi. Code Red is supposed to be putting this out on Blu-ray in 2017, so naturally I’m counting the days.
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Special Effects (1984; Larry Cohen) 
One of only two Larry Cohen movies I still had not seen got a Blu-ray release from Olive Films this year and turned out to be one of the best surprises of 2016. Cohen’s movies are a genre unto themselves, and the way he blends a traditional thriller and meta-commentary about the filmmaking business while making a movie that is constantly shifting tones and directions is a thing of beauty. This was also the first major movie role for Eric Bogosian, who plays a sleazy dick better than most. Lists like this are made for movies like Special Effects.
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Mirror Mirror (1990; Marina Sargenti) 
I discovered this one thanks to Shudder. It’s a really cool slice of early ‘90s horror in which a super goth girl (Rainbow Harvest in one of her few acting roles) gets hold of a magic mirror that allows her darkest wishes to come true. The premise may sound very familiar, but the way that director Marina Sargenti explores it and reveals new information without explicitly spelling things out is great. This is also a rare horror movie of its time that is not only about young women, but also directed by a woman and written by two women (Annette and Gina Cascone). Apparently a sequel was released in 1994, called Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance. I have to track it down.
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The Man from Hong Kong (1975; Brian Trenchard Smith) 
This has been on my radar since seeing clips of it in Not Quite Hollywood years ago, but it wasn’t until Umbrella Entertainment’s recent Blu-ray that I finally got to see it. The movie was worth the wait. Jimmy Wang Yu plays a variation on James Bond who travels to Australia to take down a drug ring that may nor may not be run by a mustachioed George Lazenby at his most entertainingly sleazy. There is a great deal of soft rock and hang gliding in the movie, too, plus Jimmy Wang Yu beating everyone up. I saw hundreds and hundreds of movies in 2016, but few were as endlessly entertaining as The Man from Hong Kong.
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