8/19/10

Top 10 Best Films of The Lair's Last 2 Years

Yesterday, I sorted thought the heap and dredged up the worst of the worst films that I’ve sat though in the last two years. Today, I want to look at the bests. Now there’s going to be a bunch of films that might seem absent if you went though my archives, but I’ve put a lot of the perennial favorites (i.e. Dracula, Psycho.) and acknowledged genre classics (i.e. The Descent, Hard Boiled) out of bounds for this list. I guess in a way it might be more my top ten recommendations, but ‘best’ sure sounds so much snappier so let’s just stick with that. So here goes for better or worse the Top 10 Best So Far.

10.  Frenzy (1972) I had seen some Hitchcock films when I started the site, but not nearly as many as I would have liked. That was the inspiration for the on again off again segment Hitch on the Hump that covered twenty two of Hitch’s films. Of all of his films that I’ve seen, Frenzy always intrigues me the most. It was Hitchcock’s attempt to modernize his form and bring his film to the same artistic and confrontational level that the new young breed of directors was striving for in the early ‘70’s. Some say he missed the mark, but I like the blend of suspense and pitch black humor that the film employs.I recently stumbled across the book, Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square, which was the basis for Frenzy, and after reading it and seeing what Hitchcock and taken and left from his source material only enriched the experience of the film for me. If you’re like I was (and still am to some extent) and have holes in your Hitchcock watching, I truly recommend Frenzy for a view into the darkest side of Hitchcock.

9. And Soon the Darkness (1970) I had never heard of this stylish little thriller (or the leading lady, Pamela Franklin) until I started the Lair, and it was only through a comment of a reader that I caught this one. Taking place in the open air of the French countryside in broad daylight, And Soon the Darkness kept me guessing, and with delicate use of silence heightened the tension to epic proportions. There is supposed to be a remake of this film due to be released, but I’ve been hearing that the film, starring Karl Urban *and not Keith like I said on Conversations in the Dark*, has been long finished but shelved due to one reason or another. I would be interested to see what they do with the film (the action in transplanted to Argentina), but I don’t imagine a modern telling would have the chilling stillness that the original captured.

8. Cat in the Brain (1990) I knew Lucio Fulci when I started the site, but I won’t try and put up a front and act like I had a handle on vast amounts of his catalog. Cat in the Brain is one that was released by Blue Underground to a fancy new DVD just last year, and I picked it up especially to review. I didn’t hold out much hope from what I had seen of late era Fulci, but instead I was greeted with a film that was to Lucio Fulci what 8 ½ was to Fellini. Though with Fulci the problem was not all the dames he had running around, but the grotesque images, the murders, the things he put on film. Not to mention that Fulci does Fredrico one better by starring as himself in this meta meditation on Italian horror. This is a must see for fans of Fulci, but I would recommend it especially to the skeptics. Sure there are problems with the film, but once you get a look inside of Fulci’s mind you may find that you’re the one with a feline in your noggin.

7. Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971) Over the last few years as I’ve looked at more kinds of films from all over the map, I always seem to come back to Italian film. While I love the zombies and the cannibals as much as the next guy, what I can always get down with is a giallo. I’ve reviewed several great ones on the site like What Have You Done to Solonge? and The Girl in the Yellow Pajamas, but one that really ways stands out to me is Black Belly of the Tarantula. Apart from the typically evocative title, Black Belly boasts a score by Morricone, great performances by Gincarlo Giannini (who also headlined the original Swept Away) and the beautiful Barbara Bach, a traditionally black gloved killer, and just enough sleaze to make it all go down with a smile.

6. Pickup On South Street (1953) I was watching TCM one night, and I saw this documentary about a crazy, wild-man director who smoked two foot cigars and wore white Tom Wolfe suits, but he looked like he would probably bust an Ivy League lad like Wolfe across the chops just for fun. The director was Sam Fuller, and before the week was over I had seen Pickup on South Street for the first time. I’ve gone through several times in my life when I watched film noir or boned up on classics, but I had never crossed paths with Fuller before. South Street seemed like some perfect imaginary noir film that could only exist in one of Quentin Tarantino’s made up worlds. The first two minutes of the film knocked my socks off when I saw it, and it continues to do the same today even after I’ve seen the film dozens of times.

5. Hide and Creep (2004) Long ago, I got ordained as a Reverend by mail thanks to the Universal Life Church of America folks, but I’ve never done anything with it. If I was going to take up the cloth again, it would be to preach the gospel of what is still the best low budget, Southern, zombie comedy ever made. That’s right I’m talking about Hide and Creep again, and I’m not going to stop talking about it until people check out Chance Shirley’s flick. I realize that I’ve brought this flick up time and time again, but Hide and Creep is really that damn good. (And it’s still on Netflix Watch Instantly so do that!) What Chance did that other Southern horror comedies fail to do is actually portray the people as they are and not as a caricature. I'm sure there are some who would say that the characters are still too broad, but I have my doubts as to if those folks ever lived in the South. These are the people I see every day when I go to work. It's just them fighting zombies.

4. The Stuff (1985) Right off the bat, and it goes without saying, but Larry Cohen is the man. That’s all there is to it. While I had seen several of his films, The Stuff had slipped by me. The review I did for it, entitled You Are What It Eats, opened up a great debate about the film with people stacking up on both sides. I have a lot of fun watching The Stuff, but Cohen was often mindful of his social message. Watching the film and seeing the titular Stuff ooze out of people, I can’t help but be a little reminded of Morgan Spurlock’s reaction to an o.d. of Mc Donald’s in Super Size Me. That’s what makes The Stuff such a great film. You can throw it on at a party with a group of people and have a blast or you can deconstruct it and wax poetic about it asI am prone to do. Whichever way you take The Stuff, you always seem to leave with a little on you.

3. Wild Zero (2000) I love movies about music. I love movies about crazy science fiction crap. I sometimes love the weird ass stuff that comes out of Asian cinema. Let’s face it I love any film where someone throws exploding guitar picks to take out zombies. Wild Zero and Guitar Wolf, the real life band that the plot revolves around, are one in the same, and like Nigel’s amp, they both definitely go to 11. Guitar Wolf play a loud, cranked up version of rockabilly, and their movie moves at the same speed careening between zombies, aliens, lady boys, “ROCK AND ROLL”, and even a spot of undead romance. Until I recently saw Golden Queen Commandos (a film that I promise will have a review of its own shortly) I thought this was the movie that simply had everything I would ever want in one film. I gave it a five almost two years ago when I saw it, and I would still do the same thing today.

2. Triangle (2009) I think since I reviewed Triangle three months ago I have watched it at least five more times. Each time, even though I know all its secrets by now, I still pick up something about the film making or the form of the film or how neatly the pieces fit together. I know this will probably cause some degree of disagreement (as it did when I first posted about it), but this shifty little film deserves much more acclaim than it gets. I nearly put another film on this spot, one that doesn’t even appear on this list at all, and that was Martyrs (2008). While I consider Martyrs to be a great film, it’s not something I will ever be in a rush to watch again. I bought the DVD, but I will more than likely grow dust in my collection as films like Triangle, The Stuff, and Hide and Creep get played again and again.

1. The Sentinel (1977) Apart from watching Beverly D’Angelo getting herself off, there are still plenty more interesting things at work in The Sentinel. I love me a supernatural tale, and the creepy atmospherics of Michael Winner’s film always gives me the creeps. Burgess Meredith doesn’t help either. The only thing that could make it creepier would be if it had been directed by Lucio Fulci. From John Carradine’s milky eyed priest to the heroine’s outlandish nightmares, The Sentinel delivers an experience that puts me on the edge of my seat. I’ve seen it a good number of times now, but it never ceases to make the little hairs on my arm come to attention every time Cristina Raines is confronted with her nightmarish visions. Plus you get an all-star cast including Jerry Orbach (Who does not try or arrest anyone or put anyone in a corner.), Christopher Walken (who has about three lines in the whole film but got to hang around Eli Wallach a lot), Chris Sarandon (pre-Fright Night and doing magic tricks), and Ava Gardner (looking old and kind of creepy as well.) So what’s not to love about The Sentinel? Since I’m naming it the number 1 film of the past two years, I don’t think I can think of a thing.

So there you have it, the Best 10 films of the last two years. With over five hundred reviews to choose from, there’s so many more I would like to talk about, but I couldn’t figure out how to do Top 10 Average films. So you’ll have to look for them yourselves, but I promise there’s tons more goodies hanging in out in the archives. I also promise to fill the next two years up with 500 more. Thanks everyone you stopped by to check out this list, and I hope one of your favorites, perhaps a new favorite, is on this list somewhere.

4 comments:

  1. I've only seen two of them...

    I guess I now need to add the eight others to my ever-growing list of "to watch"...

    Thanks buggyman!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great list and one I'll take a few notes from. Funny, as you'll see, I JUST commented on your Triangle post earlier this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I only skimmed this list, but it LOOKS amazing! Can't wait to sink my teeth in!

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  4. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 28, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Its a shame that "The Sentinal" was slightly spoilt by the fact that it was made by that British filth Michael Winner.

    ReplyDelete

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