Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Stephanie Crawford ""

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Stephanie Crawford

Stephanie is a Co-host on Screamcast, minion at Splathouse, and writes and does podcasts for places like F This Movie!Check out her favorite Blu-ray Releases of 2017 here:

One of my few saving graces of 2017 was the films I watched, so I’m just going to blindly dive into them again and wrap myself up in their comforting glow.

Many of us have bright memories of the great VHS covers of our youth, but what about the really stupid ones that kept us from ever renting that specific movie? “Quick Change” fell in that camp for me, but I was lucky enough to look at the wonderful cast through adult eyes and rent it from the last remaining movie rental place in Las Vegas. The chemistry between Bill Murray, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid is almost startling in how warming and adorable it is, it’s genuinely very funny, and it’s one of the more upbeat “everything humanly possible is going wrong for us during this very long day” movies.
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I grew up in both New Mexico and Nevada and am the daughter of a physicist, so even though it was well before my time, the ghost of the mushroom cloud seemed to hover over my formative years. (Baby boomer filmmakers making great movies like MATINEE sure helped with this, too.) All that primed me for “The Atomic City,” which, while slight, is a tight, fun little picture that threw a little kid in the middle of some espionage in the middle of the desert. It’s almost like a school play version of “Pickup On South Street” mixed with an adventure serial, and I can see myself revisiting this one every summer.
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Originally released as a TV movie, "The Ratings Game" hits on everything I love about 80s’ comedies. Hijinks, high-concept plot devices, boats, kidnappings and questionable outfits are all brought down to earth by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman and their obviously perfect rapport. I think this would make a wonderful double bill with “Ruthless People”, and both of them should be watched on Saturday morning after a couple of cartoons.
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This one knocked me flat on my ass. As much as I love noir, I’ve come to accept that there’s a segment of them that may simply strike me as “ok.” I went in with low expectations, and Road House soundly beat me around the ears to really make a point of how stupid I was. Richard Widmark is always wonderful, but here he’s so menacing that I kept seeing him as The Joker who got away. Ida Lupino and Cornel Wilde’s eyes never stop darting along with the impeccable pacing, and if you ever thought a brawl in a bowling alley wouldn’t be a thrill-a-minute, well, pal, you’re as foolish as I was going in. As dark and as tense as this got, I have to file this under one of the most fun noirs I’ve ever far.
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As a huge fan of “anthology” films, it’s a bit ridiculous that it took me this long to one centered around Edgar Allan Poe and featuring segments directed by Federico Fellini, Roger Vadim and Louis Malle. I loved how Fellini’s take captured the feverish, frantic and nearly-nonsensical fever pitch that Poe was the master of building to, and Terence Stamp’s Toby Dammit puts a lot of Klaus Kinski roles to shame. Vadim’s opening "Metzengerstein" segment is a sexy and unsettling slow burn, and he makes sure Jane Fonda and her outfits are as deliriously gorgeous and fetishistic to look at as they previously did in “Barbarella.” Malle’s "William Wilson" dragged the belly for me a bit, but it’s effectively mean-spirited, and Alain Delon’s perfect face is just right for both the cruelty and mysterious justice he doles out. It certainly stands out from the more traditional AIP Poe movies, and it's one of my favorite surprises of the year.
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Like “The Exorcist,” this one has a reputation that precedes it until you see it, realize that it wasn’t hype, and you quietly gather it to your heart to become a new favorite. Somewhat a haunted house film, somewhat a ghost story, somewhat a tortured family story and definitely a psychological horror, The Changeling somehow manages to juggle a lot of subgenres and tropes to create its own unique masterpiece. There are countless films you can pair this with and use to figure out if you should recommend it to someone, but absolutely nothing left me feeling the way I felt after watching this—not even the original "The Haunting."
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Speaking of films that would pair perfectly with “The Changeling,” this one was even released in the same year and also features Catholic medal! Based on a William Peter Blatty (Rest In Peace) book that isn’t “The Exorcist,” the uniquely gorgeous locations alone made me obsessively think of this film for at least a week afterward. As muscular as any film would be starring both Stacy Keach and Tom Atkins, this is a rare case of a movie throwing nearly everything at the wall and having all of it stick. Brains, brawn and heart all muscle their way into this relentlessly original film, and they somehow manage to have plenty of space for each other. For those who haven't seen this, I recommend taking a quick glance at the cast list and leaving as much of the plot a mystery as possible going in.
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