Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2018 - Paul Farrell ""

Friday, February 15, 2019

Film Discoveries of 2018 - Paul Farrell

Paul Farrell loves everything and anything genre cinema— and he has the late-night tweets to prove it. He is a co-host on the Dead Ringers Podcast and has contributed to their website, HorrorHound Magazine, The ScreamCast and the Splathouse podcast. He also writes a bi-weekly column for scriptophobic.ca called ‘Written in Blood’, providing script-to-screen analysis for famous practical effects sequences in genre cinema. Follow along with his horror movie Twitter ramblings @paulisgreat2000.

10) The Golden Bat (1966)
One of the things I love about online film culture is that it offers a great many avenues toward movies that I couldn’t possibly discover on my own. Enter writer/podcaster Jason “Jinx” Jenkins and 1966’s The Golden Bat.

A Japanese superhero story regarding a 10,000 year old skeleton-like figure with a golden skull-shaped head, the titular character flies around wielding a magical staff and cackling uproariously. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The movie is infectiously oddball, engrossing in the strange, unpredictable way the narrative continuously throws out impossible to nail down conceits. It has everything from men in felt monster suits to death rays to a lovable child sidekick and, frankly, I can’t recommend this idiosyncratic wonderment enough.

9) The Last Detail (1973)
Elric Kane and Brian Saur’s Pure Cinema Podcast has been a fountain of discovery for me since the moment it first began to air. Many on this list derive from their fantastic recommendations and The Last Detail was one of my favorites.

Hal Ashby’s movies always tend to be so distinctly… human. This one offers Jack Nicholson in one of his more bombastic yet vulnerable performances as he and a cohort escort a man to prison on the government’s dime. The film is an affectionate one, almost in spite of the protagonist’s forceful, masculine posturing, exploring the meaning of justice as it relates to one’s time on this earth.

A lovable buddy comedy mixed with a sobering shot of crushing reality, this is a film that will always stay with me.
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8) Of Unknown Origin (1983)
I’m a sucker for “Animal Attack” movies. I’m the one who used to pick up those DTV “MANEATER SERIES” movies in the mid-2000s (and, yes, I own a copy of Yeti). So, when I finally saw Scream Factory’s blu-ray release of George P. Cosmatos’ giant killer rat movie, my initial reaction was that it was tailor made for me.

Peter Weller is perfect as a mild-mannered company man, driven mad by the entity he can neither defeat nor understand. By employing the beast as a metaphor for the everyday grind which the protagonist will ultimately succumb to, the skillfully executed scares provide an even grander meaning to the words “rat race”.

Still, the allegorical nature of the events in the film do nothing but amplify the blunt force of the tension, creating an edge-of-your-seat experience that is unforgettable.
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7) The Brides of Dracula (1960)
Being somewhat of a newcomer to the Hammer Horror archive, when I first learned that the sequel to Christopher Lee’s initial Dracula outing did not include Christopher Lee, I was, admittedly, skeptical. Oh how wrong I was…

Constructed with thick fog and a creeping atmospheric sense of beneath-the-surface tension brought about by everything from the gothic set design to the reserved way in which the townspeople interact, the film offers an inventive way to continue the legacy of Dracula without the need of the title character.

It also helps that Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing is as note perfect as a performance gets.
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6) Peeping Tom (1960)
I love movies about people who love movies. Whether that love manifests positively or negatively, I find it such an interesting subject worth exploring.

Peeping Tom ventures into that intimacy which exists between life and the projected image, attempting to draw lines between what is observed and what is real. Sexuality and social expectations permeate society’s rules regarding what is and is not allowed to be seen, bleeding into the protagonist’s own repressions and deep-seated desires to have his true self be seen.

A perfectly haunting descent into voyeurism.
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5) Night Moves (1975)
Another discovery by way of the Cinema Purists, Gene Hackman’s performance coupled with the intricate nature of the character’s self-realizing narrative made this one of the stand out movies of the year for me.

A movie about a private detective with a true passion for his calling, ironically as confounded by life’s emotional capacities as he is clear regarding his fellow man’s. The protagonist is so lost that he must take solace in retrieving others in similar positions; the film is beautiful, honest and heartbreaking.
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4) Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
The trend of thanking Elric and Brian for their recommendations continues here with Peter Weir’s masterful film.

Regarding an all girl’s school in Australia and a fateful trip to the titular Hanging Rock, this movie is as much about our desire to understand the unfathomable as it is about our fascination with that lack of understanding. Beneath the surface of what is seen is the repressed truth we all conceal, hidden but apparent.

What does it all mean? Well, in my estimation, if we hide well enough, we’ll simply disappear.
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3) Diabolique (1955)
Sadly, as a collector, many Criterion blu-rays sit atop my shelves unopened and waiting to be watched. Every year I attempt to make a dent in them and every year those I manage to get to are amongst my favorite discoveries. In 2018, that honor went to Diabolique.

The impact of this film on the horror genre is immeasurable. Progressive in its ideologies and effortless in its ability to mount a squeezing web of dread, the film explores the dichotomy which exists between obligation and desire, studying the effects of the selfish and corrupt on the sordid and broken.

Containing one of the most frightening scenes ever put to celluloid, this is an essential film.
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2) Night of the Demon (1957)
Once again, I attribute this discovery to Pure Cinema, with the help of a gorgeous blu-ray release from Indicator.

A movie that essentially plays as a more careful, 50’s iteration of 2009’s Drag me to Hell, the movie offers thrilling visuals which kick off from frame one, exploring doubt in the face of faith and truth in the wake of fable. Fascinating and unsettling, the events onscreen will grip until its final, shocking moments and remain in your mind for long after.

One of the genre’s great outings— and the demon’s pretty cool too.
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1) Miracle Mile (1988)
My favorite discovery of 2018 came from, you guessed it, Pure Cinema Podcast.

Comedy. Horror. Romance. Disaster. Mystery. Drama. Satire. Action. Science Fiction. There isn’t a genre Miracle Mile doesn’t occupy for a least a scene or two during its runtime, flying through the gamut of emotions and tropes which comprise the 80’s cinematic experience. It subverts, reinvents, pays homage and yet complies, brilliantly creating an experience that’s familiar, comforting, challenging and, ultimately, like no other.

In the words of the two who inspired me to watch this and, indeed, so many others over the course of the past year:

PURE CINEMA.
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