Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Brandon Smith ""

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has been a film junkie since the yesteryears of VHS and Laserdisc, also a hardcore advocate of physical media. @bsmith8168 is dedicated to seeking out any under seen and underrated film from around the globe. In his spare time he helps out the good people at AGFA to help in the preservation and distribution of many of oft talked of titles that many thought lost in the malaise of the grindhouse era.
Check out his list from Last year:

Serpent’s Lair (1995)
This was a random pick during my annual personal horror marathon during the month of October, but wow so much more than I expected. Jeff Fahey has never been given his due to really shine as a lead, he has plenty of films under his belt. However Serpent’s Lair you get more Fahey than you ever dreamed. The film starts off with a scene of an anguished man offing himself over some sort of evil being that is some how controlling him. Then Fahey and his wife decide to move into the same flat that is marked down due to the fact there is a room full of stuff left from the previous tenant and writing all over the walls in the room he killed himself. Upon moving in a random cat decides that it is also planning on living there as well and a stunning woman also shows up claiming to be the deceased’s sister. The woman’s name is Lilith and has some sort of power over Fahey, before he can even blink he is completely taken by this woman while his wife is in the hospital due to a freak accident involving the cat. The film seems pretty basic with a run of the mill possession theme and Lilith being some sort of Succubus, but the scenes of Fahey and Lilith rival the steamiest things you’d run across on late night Cinemax. The rest of the film is highly stylized and looks great and makes all of the components of this film come together. With a 3.7 currently on IMDb, it’s sort of shocking. The film was released on a brand new Blu-ray this year from Code Red and looks great and ready for re-evaluation.
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Day of the Beast (1995)
When I was young I used to discover a director and become completely obsessed and would rush to the video stores in my area and try to track down their entire filmography. Luckily I found out about Alex de la Igelsia quite a bit later. As always Igelsia’s films always take me by surprise and Day of the Beast is a gem that still doesn’t have a release past VHS in America. The story is about three individuals that all have nothing in common, a priest that must sin as much as possible to conjure up Satan, a heavy metal enthusiast that is also a hardcore druggie, and a television psychic. The interactions among the three is what makes the film work so well, it’s the classic squad building exercise of epic world saving proportions. Iglesia never misses a beat the film is loud, out of control, violent, with a pitch black sense of humor, but still masterfully made.
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Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore (1996)
During Fantastic Fest this year I changed one of my time slots at the last minute for a repertory screening of Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore. It was being put on by AGFA and they were debuting their brand new transfer of the film. This was the best decision I made during the festival. MJNAVA was my favorite film that I saw there this year and I can’t wait for a potential BluRay release from AGFA next year. The film is about a high school aged girl that works in a run down old theatre, where she meets boys and befriends her coworkers. The focus of this coming of age film not like any other films from this era, there is a certain amount of realism that you don’t get out of the others that this film does wonderfully with. Sarah Jacobson has a unique and raw vision that seems to be completely uncompromising to anything else that makes this a masterpiece.
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Scalpel (1977)
Whew Scalpel is like a strange Southern deep fried version of Eyes Without a Face with a heaping dose of incest that makes for a unsettling although unforgettable film. Robert Lansing plays the surgeon father that was passed over on a will that made his missing daughter the sole beneficiary. So as any crazed surgeon would do he decides to adopt a recently brutalized stripper on the recreate her into an exact image of his daughter. Once the operation is complete the creepiness begins. Lansing becomes intimate with the girl almost immediately and the two get the money and everyone is left wondering WTF is going on. That’s when the real daughter shows up and things rapidly go downhill for Lansing. The look and the feel of the film are what really pushes this one into a different echelon of filmdom. The film has a certain yellow hue that not only makes it feel older, but makes everything look dirtier than it is. The stripper beat down scene also adds a certain amount of danger to the film that seems to be around every corner.
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Uptight (1968)
In 1968 who would of thought that Jules Dassin would make a remake of The Informer with an all black cast set to the civil rights movement and randomly at the same time also form a blueprint for what would become blaxploitation. This was a random find for me on the once amazing FilmStruck RIP, and was totally floored by it. The tension is always high, the cast is amazing, and the topper is having Booker T and The MGs do the complete score. Brilliant! Since the end of FilmStruck has happened I’ve already bought the Olive BluRay.
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The Wayward Bus (1957)
Awhile back during one of the many Screen Archives Twilight Time sales I picked up a copy of The Wayward Bus. I purchased it as being a fan of Mansfield and Steinbeck I thought that this was a decent blind buy. Wow, I was shocked at how right I was. The film is about a bus driver that is unhappily married to a woman that owns a rest stop that doubles as his station, but is a drunk. There is an incoming storm on the horizon, a station full of passengers, and after a martial dispute the driver leaves with his bus. The bus has quite a series of unfortunate events on its way to Mexico and the lives of the passengers unravel at the same rate the bus does due to the storm and the rough terrain. There is one sequence that is eerily reminiscent of one from The Wages of Fear that will keep you on the edge of your seat in this action drama film that has a Lifeboat type feel that works well for it.
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Righting Wrongs (1986)
I watched this film in January this year and as soon as the credits started to roll I knew it was meant to be on this list. A young prosecutor witnesses the assassination of his mentor and goes berserk and kills all three assassins in a balls to the walls car chase. This all happens in the first five minutes. The film is set at warp speed, characters are introduced as fast as they are bumped off and the action seems to never end. Feels kind of like the film The Raid, only this has an amazing story that is pretty intricate through multiple characters and a lead that enters Charles Bronson like revenge and retribution territory.
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Prey (1977)
Strange is a low end way to describe Prey. Prey is about some strange alien beast that takes the form of a young human man, but when enraged he turns into this weird looking dog faced human with fangs and goes around murdering and eating anything or one in sight. The alien happens to run into a lesbian couple that takes him on to stay with them since he seems to be lost. Once he is in the company of the ladies things start to get awkward between the couple when the younger girl seems to haven kind of fallen for the alien. Tempers flair and the alien becomes enraged! This was put out this year in an exceptional BluRay release from Vinegar Syndrome that knows what’s up when it comes to weird.
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Into the Night (1985)
I’m pretty sure heard about this film on an episode of Pure Cinema Podcast, and it was described as a type of After Hours film and I knew instantly that I had to acquire this. I picked up the Shout Select BluRay and it was game on. Directed by John Landis and starring Jeff Goldblum as an insomniac that decides to randomly come home early one day and discovers that his wife is cheating on him. Instead of confronting the situation he just leaves and heads to the airport to take a night flight to Las Vegas to party his troubles away. Instead he decides against it, but before he leaves the airport he meets a woman in trouble played by Michelle Pfeiffer. As any man would be Goldblum is taken aback by the sight of Pfeiffer and is thrust into a strange world of jewel thieves, middle eastern thugs, and Pfeiffer’s personal life. Into the Night is like a LA cousin to the NY After Hours and is lots and lots of fun that has possibly David Bowie’s greatest performance. I watched this film back to back to back, upon my initial viewing.
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Mad Foxes (1981)
Now for my most bonkers pick of this entire list is a little Spanish film titled Mad Foxes. One of the most insane films out there. Kind of a rip-off of Mad Max, but instead of a young eager cop the protagonist is a middle aged douche bag that retaliates against a Nazi biker gang that insults him at a traffic light. He then runs down the bikers which results in one of their deaths, which is revenged when the bikers track our hero to a night club where they beat him up and rape his girlfriend, which results in the hero getting his kickboxing buddies to attack the gang and the biker leader gets his penis chopped off and shoved down his throat. This is just the first twenty minutes and things even get more out of control. The film is like the ultimate of Eurotrash and drops the bar of taste through the basement, which is a good thing if you are into exploitation films. The ending is quite possibly the best way to end this. Lastly the band Korkus that performs the opening and ending song matches the film perfectly. There is a random BluRay release of this film that looks really good and is definitely worth be sought out!
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