Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Scott Drebit ""

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Scott Drebit

Scott Drebit is Senior Columnist at Daily Dead, where he writes weekly about movies with Drive-In Dust Offs, and bi-weekly about TV with It Came from the Tube. Tri-weekly he gets his hair cut. He can also be heard yammering on Daily Dead’s Corpse Club podcast, where he will definitely pronounce your name wrong if given the chance.You can find him on Twitter @phantasm2.

Being asked to do Brian’s Film Discoveries is about the biggest honour there is around these parts, so without further ado I’ll dive right in and offer up some films that were delightfully surprising (or is that surprisingly delightful?) finds for me. They may be old favourites to many of you, but for me they’re fresh and future regular rotations.

MADHOUSE (1981; Ovidio G. Assonitis)
Here’s one I hadn’t even heard of until the hosts of the Shock Waves podcast extolled its virtues. Director Assonitis, however, I knew; his Beyond the Door (1974) being my favourite The Exorcist knockoff. Madhouse is not in quite the same league as that one, but neither is it telling the same story; instead it relays a gentle tale of two sisters, one malformed and mentally disturbed, her vicious Doberman, their unusual priest uncle, and a school full of deaf children. You know, that old yarn. Extremely well shot and decently acted, the story is played straighter than may seem required; but have no fear, the weirdness of Assonitis is too powerful to keep at bay.
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HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973; Javier Aguirre)
A big blind spot for me has been Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy; I’ve just never gotten around to his oeuvre until this past year and the rerelease of several of his films through Scream Factory. So here we are then with my first Naschy, Hunchback offering up a lurid, fun, soapy variation on Frankenstein shot through with an unexpected sense of pathos provided by Naschy himself. It is candy-colored insanity, and I can hardly wait to dive deeper into his catalogue.
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POINT BREAK (1991; Kathryn Bigelow)
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat; I first saw it when it was released on home video many years ago, and to be completely honest action was not my bag at the time. I had known Bigelow from her now-classic neo vampire western Near Dark (’87), but this was just not my thing. After frequent assertions from Daily Dead’s own Heather Wixson that Point Break is a classic actioner, I purchased the Blu and settled in. Oh, how wrong I had been. Sometimes a discovery is learning the true value of something, which was my experience upon this second viewing; filled with kinetic movement, thrilling moments, and great work from Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves as two free spirits on opposite sides of the law, Point Break is a deserved classic that I shall ignore no longer. Oh, and for the record, my wife has been telling me of its virtues forever. So, the score remains Women: 658,742, Scott: 0.
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HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940; Howard Hawks)
Based on the play The Front Page, Howard Hawks’ screwball comedy classic His Girl Friday has always been on my radar as long as I’ve watched movies, yet slipped by as fast as the characters speak. This is where rat-a-tat dialogue was perfected and entombed; it’s a marvel to watch Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell (and an orbit of great character actors) work as mercurial marksmen to breathlessly haul Charles Lederer’s witty and quippy dialogue across the finish line in this newsroom classic. Filmmakers, if you wish to emulate this wonder, you need to be able to catch it first.
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A director with a discernible knack for I-don’t-give-a-fuckery, Italy’s own Joe D’Amato’s work was unseen by me other than the fetus-eating Anthropophagous (’80), and other than baby-munching, is pretty dire. So imagine my surprise when Severin Films’ reissue of ‘79s Beyond the Darkness invaded my eyeballs with sights much more perverse, yet presented with such style that I can’t help but admire his commitment to the bit. The legendary whispered cries of necrophilia are mostly legend (it’s more like necrophilia adjacent); however if five fingered tickles from a disturbed au pair, dismemberments, a bit of cannibalism, vanishing hitchhikers, eye gouging, and beheadings are your bag, you’re in for a gooey treat. I’m afraid to watch another D’Amato not out of fear of what he may show me, but rather fear of disappointment. How could he possibly top this delightful grime?
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Thanks again to Brian for allowing me to share some of my favorite discoveries this year, no matter how sordid some of them may seem. I mean, this is a safe space, right?

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