Friday, December 31, 2010

What I Dug in 2010: Movie Edition

If you're looking for a "best" films list or even a list of flicks that came out in 2010 you may want to move along. It'd probably be tough to argue that anything I really enjoyed would make anybody's "best" list and other than THE SOCIAL NETWORK and PREDATORS, the only new theatrical releases I saw this year were all kid-oriented... ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS 2: The Squekuel, SHREK EVER AFTER and TOY STORY 3.

So what you have below is my list of the flicks I enjoyed watching the most in 2010. Doesn't matter when they came out, doesn't matter how I saw them... but first, a little accounting. Unless I watch 20 flicks to ring out 2010 my numbers are definitely down from 2009.

75 New + 30 Rewatches = 105 Total

67 New + 18 Rewatches = 85 Total

I did watch a higher percentage of films for the first time (79% this year to 71% last year) but the overall list is disappointingly light on Kinski flicks (only three for the year!) and my Eurotrash excursions took a surprising drop-off about midway through the year, never to recover. If I'm going to make any kind of cinematic resolutions for 2011, correcting those glaring errors will be at the top of the list.

Without further ado here's DT's 2010 Favorite Watches (in no particular order, only new watches eligible):

DANCE OF THE DEAD (2008): A late entry on the list thanks to a recommendation from good pal Bruce Holecheck of Cinema Arcana. Imagine a high school zombie comedy that's a little bit DAZED AND CONFUSED and a little bit NIGHT OF THE CREEPS with geeks, freaks, dweebs, cheerleaders, rockers and rednecks teaming up to battle an army of toxic zombies on prom night. Genuinely funny and packed with plenty of splatter.

TRIANGLE (2009): People seem to love or hate this Twilight Zone-esque tale of castaways who find themselves reliving the events on a seemingly-abandoned cruise ship after their boat capsizes. The ads featuring a weapon-wielding killer wearing a bag over their head might have led folks to believe this was more of a slasher than a head-scratcher but I loved every twist and turn.

KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005): It only took me five years to catch up with what may be my favorite flick of the last decade. A smashing love letter to the Gold Medal and pulp paperbacks I was obsessed with back in the 90s, Shane Black's triumphant return features Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer (aka The American Klaus Kinski) as a pair of mis-matched detectives in this somewhat screwball actioner. Downey, Kilmer and Co. need to re-team for another adventure from these characters... and soon!

DELIRIUM (1987): Oh DELIRIUM – and Serena Grandi – how did you escape my gaze for so long? Pretty sure this late 80s giallo from Baby Bava ended up in my Netflix queue at the urging of fellow HorrorDad(tm) and Tomb It May Concern scribe David Zuzelo – who apparently knows me very, very, very well. Grandi stars as Gloria, a former model who runs an adult mag called Pussycat. A deranged killer/stalker/fan is murdering models, posing them for the camera and then sending the pix back to her, boosting circulation but also making poor, busty Gloria wonder if the killer is one of her inner circle. Well, duh! An off-the-wall slice of 80s Eurotrash complete with familiar faces from Bava's DEMONS, sexy gals in various states of undress and a very oddball vibe that sets it apart from the norm.

GONE WITH THE POPE (2010): Duke Mitchell's "lost" 70s low-budget gangster epic finally saw its long overdue release thanks to the tireless efforts of Oscar winner Bob Murawski who shaped this bizzaro tale of mobsters (led by Duke Mitchell, the low-rent Dean Martin) who decide to kidnap the Pope. Certainly one of the most perplexing cinematic experiences I've ever had, with what seems like two shorter flicks jammed together to make one jaw-dropping, existential masterpiece. Along with BOARDING HOUSE (see below) this was the theatrical highlight of the year for me.

SLAUGHTER NIGHT (2006): Forget the slasher-esque title and headache-inducing aka of SL8N8. SLAUGHTER NIGHT is an entertaining dose of Euro-horror that dispenses with the recent penchant for torture-gore (FRONTIERS, etc.) and gets back to the stuffs I love... possessed beasties ripping out throats and wielding weapons! Though the set-up is pure horror trope and some of the stylistic flourishes gave me a slight headache, I enthusiastically recommend this Euro-mix of THE DESCENT, DEMONS and MY BLOODY VALENTINE.

ASSAULT OF THE SASQUATCH (2009): When this disc arrived in my PO Box I thought, "hmph, it looks like ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 with Bigfoot". And after watching this very fun, low-budget I can confirm that that's exactly what it is! More entertaining than it has any right to be, ASSAULT (like THEY BITE and MANSQUITO) finds just the right balance of no-budget exploitation inventiveness, gory effects and crazy humor. Don't be fooled by the no-name cast and improbably high-concept, um, concept. ASSAULT OF THE SASQUATCH delivers more than it promises.

DON'T WAKE THE DEAD (2008): I'd been anxiously awaiting this flick since seeing a trailer for it on YouTube a couple years ago – so when the aforementioned Mr. Zuzelo popped a copy into my hands this summer I had to temper my enthusiasm in order to fairly assess the flick. Ah, screw that, I couldn't wait to watch this nutzoid blend of undead Knights Templar, bimbo rock fans, Nazi zombies and pistol-packing monks who just happen to carry kung-fu weaponry with them. The first 30 minutes is so relentlessly paced and insane that it's hard to expect director Andreas Schnaas to keep it going... and he can't. But I give the pic a free pass and endorsement thanks to that first half-hour and one of the most gut-bustingly entertaining moments in whacked out horror history. Deserves to be seen with a crowd (ala THEY BITE, PIECES, RAW FORCE) for maximum enjoyment.

BOARDING HOUSE (1982): Speaking of RAW FORCE, that flick was the highlight of the 2009 Exhumed Marathon... an insanely great piece of largely-undiscovered trash cinema that literally rocked the house. For me, the highlight of 2010's marathon was easily BOARDING HOUSE (aka HOUSEGEIST), a shot-on-video-then-transferred-to-film masterpiece that will either make you fall in love with its amateurish brilliance or kick your TV in to make it stop for the love of God! There is no middle ground with this lovably inept blend of babes, telekinesis, monsters and mayhem.

FROZEN (2010): It's unfortunate that AMC's hasty pulling of Adam Green's HATCHET II got more ink than his blink-and-you-missed-its-theatricla-release thriller FROZEN, a flick that is rightly getting its due on more than one year end wrap-up. A 180-degree turn from the excellent HATCHET (I have yet to see the sequel), FROZEN tells the tale of two pals and one girlfriend stuck on a ski lift due to a mix of incompetence, indifference and that glazed-over minimum wage look. In other words, forget zombies, demons, devils, vampires, werewolves and whatever other supernatural beasties you're afraid of. It's the doped up dudes who run the ski lifts and carnival rides we probably have to fear the most! Itchy-skitchy and genuinely tense, Green's FROZEN simply confirmed my love of warmer climates and sandy beaches.

So there you have it. My "Favorite Watches for 2010" barring any last-minute contenders I might see tonight. Though there were a handful of completely worthless duds that I suffered through (DRAG ME TO HELL, MIRRORS [US], TERMINATOR: SALVATION, THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW [original], NECROSIS, CRUCIBLE OF TERROR, ANGELS & DEMONS, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, METAMORPHOSIS, BUG) I felt like this was a pretty solid viewing year.

In fact, you could do worse than check out any of these honorably mentioned slices of sinema that almost made my Top 10: REDNECK, BIG BAD WOLF, BLOOD GAMES, PLANET HULK, PSYCHOMANIA, BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD, BONE SICKNESS, LOVE & MONEY, THANKSKILLING and WILD BEASTS.

New Watches (67)
12 Rounds
The Alcove
American Drive-In
Angels & Demons
Assassination Bureau
Assault of the Sasquatch
Batman: Under the Red Hood
The Beast Must Die
Behind the Planet of The Apes
Big Bad Wolf
Blood Games
Boarding House
Bone Sickness
Bottle Shock
Cold Storage
Crucible of Terror
Dawn of the Dead (Extended Cut)
Dead Eyes Open
The Deadly Spawn
Don't Wake the Dead
Drag Me to Hell
Driven to Kill
Five Elements Ninjas
Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks
Going to Pieces: Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
Gone with the Pope
Grand Prix
Green Lantern: First Flight
The Green Monster
His Name Was Jason
The House on Sorority Row
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Justice League: The New Frontier
Kidnapping of the President
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Lights, Camera, Dead
Lisa & The Devil
Loose Screws: Screwballs 2
Love & Money
Mighty Peking Man
Night of the Demon
Planet Hulk
Slaughter Night
The Social Network
State of Play
Survival of the Dead
Tales from the Crypt II
Terminator: Salvation
Wild Beasts
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Rewatches (18)
Batman vs Dracula
Better Off Dead
Beyond the Darkness
Curse of Frankenstein
Elm Street 3
Forbidden World aka Mutant
Friday the 13th Part 2
The Funhouse
Galaxy of Terror
Grand Slam
House by the Cemetery
The Howling
It Lives Again!
Jason Goes to Hell
The Last Match
Masters of Horror: The Black Cat
Phantom of the Paradise

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