Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Kristina Dijan ""

Friday, January 4, 2019

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Kristina Dijan

Kristina loves movies, blogs about a few of them at Speakeasy ( ), writes about the noir and crime ones for The Dark Pages, and tweets at @HQofK (

Check out her other RPS lists here:

So many great movies seen and ‘found’ in 2018, yet so few spots on a list like this. So why narrow them down? Here are a dozen I loved, covering as wide a variety of genres and eras as I can:
A Stacy Keach double feature: Fat City (1972) has Keach so great as a boxer and hopeless optimist, dragged down by age, alcohol and bad decisions, while fellow fighter Jeff Bridges is on his way up. Beautiful, sad, and gritty, with excellent Susan Tyrell playing a perpetually drunk bar-fly.
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The Gravy Train aka The Dion Brothers (1974) has Keach and Fredric Forrest playing dumb, earnest, and lovable outlaw brothers doing a heist to finance their dream of opening a classy seafood restaurant. Those “last big heists” tend to go horribly wrong, and on their way down and out the brothers meet Margot Kidder and have a wild shootout in a condemned high-rise WHILE the wrecking ball is demolishing it.

A couple memorable monsters: The Monster that Challenged the World (1957) features giant slobbering sea snails that terrorize California, leaving behind vast trails of goo along with their gruesomely shrivelled victims. As a bonus there’s a nice romance subplot for a Navy officer (western star Tim Holt) and a widowed mother (Audrey Dalton).
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Q the Winged Serpent (1982) was my most fun discovery of the year, a gleefully satisfying monster movie with a monster method performance by Michael Moriarty, as a criminal (and wannabe bar pianist) who’s also the only one who knows where to find the giant feathered flying lizard terrorizing New York.
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Aging cowboys were a theme this year: The Gunfighter (1950) has Gregory Peck as a weary, decent gunman doomed by his reputation, stuck waiting among friends as revenge closes in. Memorable ending when he passes the gunfighter’s “curse” on to Skip Homeier, excellent as a brash wannabe.
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Lonely Are the Brave (1962) Kirk Douglas as a cowboy out of step with modern times. The comical and devastatingly sad take on disappearing lifestyles, the smart Sheriff Walter Matthau, and exciting fugitive chase into the mountains will appeal to fans of Hell or High Water (2016). Great roles also for Gena Rowlands and George Kennedy.
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Wake in Fright (1971), “Have a drink, mate?” never sounded so menacing. Gary Bond trapped with Donald Pleasence and others in a sunbaked, boozy nightmare of poor choices and self-destruction. The best of several good movies I saw this year on a theme that would convince anyone to stay home, never vacation, definitely never weekend with significant other or buddies—the others were: Calibre, The Ritual, Eden Lake, and Long Weekend.
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The Stranger’s Return (1933), Miriam Hopkins as the feisty prodigal granddaughter of Lionel Barrymore, and she’s back on the family farm where she stirs up a scandal by falling in love with married neighbour Franchot Tone, and pointing out the family’s greed and hypocrisy.
Mistress of Atlantis (1933) is G.W. Pabst’s atmospheric, stylish fantasy adventure with Brigitte Helm (Metropolis) as a mysterious She(who must be obeyed)-like goddess in a weird, hidden desert kingdom who lures and then mummifies men.
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The Land Unknown (1957) sort of the same plot as Kong Skull Island, with a semi-military expedition and a woman reporter stranded in a real Jurassic world, where they find a looney survivor who’s been stuck there for decades, waiting for some suckers to get him out.
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Undertow (1949), super-tight and fast crime thriller directed by William Castle, with Army vet Scott Brady struggling to clear his name in a frame-up while trying to win the approval of his girlfriend’s uncle, a mob boss. Fantastic use of Chicago locations, great action and a long dark hallway that Brady can’t forget but must find.
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Eyes of the Underworld (1942), another fast, gripping crime story, here Richard Dix plays a police chief with a criminal past, who gets framed when he tries to bust a big auto theft racket. Cast includes Lon Chaney Jr, and it’s directed by Roy William Neill (Black Angel, and many Sherlock Holmes movies).

more gems worth mentioning: Bullet for a Badman (1964), The Last Posse (1953), Alias Nick Beal (1949), A Perfect Getaway (2002), The Black Scorpion (1957), The Incident (1967), Cry Terror! (1958), Day of the Triffids (1963), The Crazies (1973), Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968), Five Bold Women (1960)


Jerry Entract said...

Hi Kristina!

Some nice and varied choices here of your 2018 'discoveries'. I also discovered "THE LAND UNKNOWN" in 2018 (thanks to you!).
The film of particular interest to me is "EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD" as it is one of Richard Dix's films I have never seen. Sounds like real fun too.

Happy New Year!

john k said...

Another varied and fascinating list,of which I have seen most,but not all.
Larry Cohen really let Moriarty go full tilt in Q no bad thing,their THE STUFF also great.
THE DION BROTHERS sadly still on the missing list as far as a DVD or Blu goes and the
same goes for THE KILLER INSIDE ME (Burt Kennedy) sensational supporting cast.
Did you ever catch up with THE SQUEEZE which I recommended over at your blog sometime back-
nasty, to be sure but Keach and a boffo supporting cast make it worthwhile.
I note that Kino Lorber have THE SILENT PARTNER on their release slate where Christopher
Plummer forever trashes his Sound Of Music legacy. Laura should not go within a thousand
miles of this one but you will love it.
I hope your round up's of the month are going to be more regular in 2019 such great reading.

Thanks,and have a lovely 2019.

Laura said...

Kristina, what a fun list! I love that you and I watched a couple of the same films, UNDERTOW and EYES OF THE fact I think it was you that tipped me off to EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD, which I really enjoyed.

And as it happens I just bought THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD in a Kino sale...sounds like my kind of sci-fi/monster movie, looking forward to it!

I have THE STRANGER'S RETURN, need to pull it out...THE GUNFIGHTER is the only other film on your list I've seen. Really nice cross-section of genres/years.

I'm working on a list this weekend! :)

Best wishes,

Kristina said...

Thanks all for taking time to comment, glad you enjoyed, I sure did, looking back on a great year of movies.

Jerry, The Dix one is just a really fun B, nice chemistry between Dix and Wendy Barrie

Thanks John, haven’t seen THE SQUEEZE yet and also adding THE SILENT PARTNER and THE STUFF to the ever-growing list of movie joy! I think I have you to thank for suggesting THE DION BROS too

Laura I think you’ll dig THE MONSTER, I know you’ll appreciate the Salton Sea setting and the sweet romance plot!

Walter S. said...

Kristina, a varied fun list, I think. I've either seen, or know about most of these. I've never seen WAKE IN FRIGHT(1971). It reads like quite a shocker for that time period, although times were changing. I've always liked Australian made movies.

MISTRESS OF ATLANTIS(1933) is another one that I haven't seen, but it reads to be interesting. I've always liked German movies of the 1919-33 time period.


Walter S. said...

Kristina, I remember seeing an Australian movie titled ROAD GAMES(1981) starring USA actors Stacy Keach and Jami Lee Curtis. The rest of the cast is Australian. This movie was produced/story/directed by Alfred Hitchcock influenced Richard Franklin. Also, Franklin directed PSYCHO II(1983).

ROAD GAMES is a rather good on the road thriller.

Kristina said...

Walter, thanks for commenting and for the recommendations! I've heard of Road Games and needed this reminder, seen so many good Keach movies in the last while so I'd love to keep that theme going. Always fun to share these finds with each other, best part of being a movie fan