Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Zack Carlson ""

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Zack Carlson

Zack Carlson is part of Bleeding Skull and one of the schmos behind Fantastic Fest, the nation's largest genre film festival. He produces movies for filmmakers he likes, was one of the original programmers for the Alamo Drafthouse, has owned a punk record store, and has amassed a bone-crushing collection of over 4000 forgotten VHS treasures. He lives in Austin, TX, where he writes with Bryan Connolly under the banner King Originals. They wrote for a show called Suplex Duplex Complex, created with Todd Rohal for Adult Swim. Zack and Bryan also wrote the (now hard to get) book about punks on film -DESTROY ALL MOVIES!

See his Discoveries list from last year too!

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Hi! I'm an idiot! Here's the proof!:

10 - Direct Hit (1994; Dir. Joseph Merhi)
William Forsythe has enjoyed a decades-long career playing a broad array of bikers, convicts, and bloodthirsty rural sweatbags. He's waaaay less known for his leading role in Direct Hit, as an emotionally stunted LA hitman with a Shemp Howard haircut. This no-frills/no-plot barnburner squeaked out straight to video at the apex of the PM Entertainment empire, which partners Richard Pepin and Joseph Merhi built from shattered glass, smashed police cruisers and sheer force of (s)will.
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9 - My Fellow Americans (1996; Dir. Peter Segal)
The late, great Jack Lemmon and the more recently late, equally great James Garner play two former US presidents who hate each other's guts, but not as much as they despise current US president Dan Aykroyd. This raging republican retiree rivalry sets the stage for a zany and surprisingly profane road trip that culminates with Lemmon clutching a butch female biker's waist as they tear across the American highways. Imagine Planes, Trains and Automobiles mixed with the White House scenes from Superman II. That's not exactly what this film's like, but that movie could be pretty interesting too, don't you think?
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8 - Crocodile Fury (1988; Dir. Godfrey Ho as Ted Kingsbrook)
One of those movies where a black magic crocodile monster lady keeps eating swamp villagers so her heroic ex-boyfriend decides to go to war with an evil wizard. Along with Ninja Demon Massacre and Robo Vampire, this was among forty films directed by Godfrey Ho in 1988. That sounds like a cheap joke but it's actually true. Forty films. FORTY. Gosh!!!

7 - Domestic Disturbance (2001; Dir. Harold Becker)
I'm as disgusted as you are to find this title on this list. I'd never seen a Vince Vaughn movie before and I guess people were pretty excited about eyebags and receding hairlines in the early 2000s because I don't see what else he has going for him. But John Travolta is severely likable as a paunchy divorced doof in this refreshingly violent real-dad-vs-stepdad thriller. I don't have an excuse; I just liked it. Sue me.
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6 - The Jigsaw Murders (1989; Dir. Jag Mundhra)
A hardboiled slasher epic from the director of Hack-O-Lantern, the best heavy metal horror film of all time. Here, satanism and murder is replaced by receding hairlines and murder. The formula still works. Yaphet Kotto wanders through a few scenes, desperately searching for the exit door.
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5 - The Hunted (2003; Dir. William Friedkin)
The Pacific Northwest is drenched in middle-aged man-blood when dead-eyed killer Tommy Lee Jones must track and annihilate dead-eyed killer Benicio Del Toro. After a little unnecessarily poetic reflection on inhumanity, The Hunted descends into 70 minutes of irresponsible manic action, with Jones and Del Toro handling a shocking amount of their own anti-survival antics. Just please shut your eyes for the scene where a CGI Jones goes tumbling down a waterfall. Boy, does that part reek. Fuck you, computer technology.
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4 - Expect No Mercy (1995; Dir. Zale Dalen)
In a wilder fuck you to computer technology, Tae Bo master Billy Blanks stars in this anti-electronics blast-rager from Toronto, where he must viciously eliminate a virtual reality fighting academy poised to assassinate all world leaders. Cars EXPLODE! Helicopters EXPLODE!! Shacks EXPLODE!!! Colleges EXPLOOOOODE!!!!! To their credit, the filmmakers didn't know what the hell virtual reality was supposed to look like, so they just put people in clown make-up over hand-painted grids and told them to kick each other. Note: There's a video game based on this movie and that fact is the only evidence I've ever seen in support of the existence of God.
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3 - White Of The Eye (1987; Dir. Donald Cammell)
I reckon this was ostensibly supposed to be a Southwestern whodunnit thriller, but then Donald Cammell (Demon Seed; Performance) and his wife China sunk their meathooks into the screenplay and tore reality to smithereens. David Keith and Cathy Moriarty are a happily married couple who are mildly irritated by a spate of desert homicides. The plot and characters are all top-notch, but what really elevates White of the Eye is its surreal construction. Time and cinematography and emotions are fluid and inhuman. I haven't tried drugs, but I'm pretty sure this is the cinematic equivalent of smoking an unfiltered cigarette that was dipped in Timothy Leary's urine.
Also, someone please call Hollywood and make them explain why David Keith and Keith David haven't acted together in a movie yet. That's a much bigger crime than all of these dumb murders.
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2 - State of Grace (1990; Dir. Phil Joanou)
Ed Harris + Sean Penn + Robin Wright + Gary Oldman + John Turturro + John C. Reilly = a bunch of famous actors doing their jobs very very well. After the marginal success of his fistfight comedy Three O' Clock High, director Joanou was handed twenty million bucks to create a truly stunning drama of a New York crime family. Essentially, it was the Irish equivalent of Good Fellas, and I'm gonna come right out and say that it was equal to Scorsese's masterpiece at every level.
Unfortunately, it was released on exactly the same day as Good Fellas, so nobody watched it. Whoops.
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1 - Trackdown (1976; Richard T. Heffron)
Trackdown is on my list this year because it was on everyone else's goddamn list this year. And for good reason. Just watch it already.

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1 comment:

Roger said...

For what it's worth, I worked in a video store during the '90s and we believe "State of Grace" is the first instance of someone pointing a handgun with their hand sideways, an affectation 100s of action movies adopted for a decade.

Great list!