Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Austin Vashaw ""

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Austin Vashaw

Austin Vashaw is a KC-based reviewer and editor at Cinapse and reportedly the man behind the mask at Cult Of Blu-Ray Addicts (COBRA). He reviewed most of the films on this list throughout the year so links have been “thoughtfully” included.
We live in a pretty marvelous time in which once rare cult classics are constantly making their way to Blu-ray and high definition streaming, and new discoveries are always waiting for us.

Embarrassingly, I was able to catch up on some huge blind spots from some of my favorite directors – Sam Peckinpah’s Ride The High Country and The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Tenebre, and Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire. These are all pretty well known and regarded, as are other equally shameful first time watches like The Silence of the Lambs and Laura. All of which are great and you should watch, but don’t really merit the designation of “discoveries” – or anyway I’d rather talk about some other cool stuff.

Original Gangstas (1996)
20 years after blaxploitation’s peak, Larry Cohen returned to the genre uniting a legendary cast that starred genre stalwarts Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, and Jim Brown, supported by Paul Winfield, Richard Roundtree, and Ron O’Neal - plus cult alums Robert Forster, Wings Hauser, and Charles Napier. The 70s Legends – the original gangstas – regroup as adults to declare war on the murderous gang terrorizing their streets, the modern iteration of own old squad. Taking responsibility has never been so glorious.

The Unholy (1988)
Part thoughtful religious horror, part hard-R spookablast demon nuttery, The Unholy is a satisfying B-movie response to The Exorcist for the VHS generation.
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Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959)
On the surface a typical 50s sci-fi monster movie, Caltiki boasts some surprising cred. Mario Bava (who unofficially directed) lends his touch to deliver something truly unique. The story is an apparent knockoff of The Blob, but it’s got style in spades – sumptuous cinematography and elements of gore and body horror put this one ahead of its time.
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The Miracle Maker (2000)
As both a Christian and film lover I’m mortified by the awfulness of most “Christian” movies. Their flimsy bumper sticker theology and bizarre inward-facing market/message preach to a pocketed congregation instead of making great films for everyone to enjoy. (The aforementioned The Unholy offers far more honesty and spiritual truth than most of these).

I was so happy to find that this is not one of those films. The Miracle Maker is not just one of the most compelling films about the life of Christ, but a Biblically reverent, breathtakingly animated, and emotionally complex feast for the eyes, mind, and soul.
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Hour of the Gun (1967)
This terrific Wyatt Earp film from John Sturges starts where most versions climax, which is also the title of his other Earp film: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The story focuses on the aftermath of the events in Tombstone and the bitterness of seeking revenge, but the real reason you need to see it is Jason Robards turning in some of the most incredible work of his career as Doc Holliday.
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Destino (1946-2003)
No other discovery of the year mesmerized me more than the Salvador Dali/Walt Disney collaboration Destino, an incredible animated short that began production in the 1940s, was left unfinished, and eventually picked back up and completed by modern animators and released in 2003. As a huge fan of Dali, I was shocked to discover its existence nearly 15 years later, and even more astonished to realize I already owned it – as a special feature on theFantasia/Fantasia 2000 Blu-ray.

It’s an incredibly magnificent and surreal film (obviously), but achieved unofficial perfection when a Youtuber paired it with Pink Floyd’s “Time”, creating a true masterpiece of sight and sound.

Thanks to Brian for once again letting me share my film discoveries for another year!

Find me online:

Twitter: @VforVashaw / @COBRAcollector

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