The Hitcher (1986)
Rutger Hauer is John Ryder a Psychopathic hitchhiker on the desert highway who gets picked up by the young Jim Halsey played by C Thomas Howell. The shit then hit the fan for the rest of this horrific thriller. Chuck in guns, knives, blown up gas stations, severed finger fries, a dog eating a dead cop and a bad arse Jennifer Jason Leigh as Nash and 'voila!' you've got yourself an 80s horror road movie classic. All round impeccable performances and film making.
I'm looking forward to Kier-La Janisse's monograph on Cockfighter because as many times as I've seen it I'm not sure I fully understand it. On the one hand it's about the brutal bloodsport of cockfighting and on the other it's a love story apparently(?). Of course Monte Hellman directs legends Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Laurie Bird, Patricia Pearcy and Richard B Shull in this strange film. He captures with masterful skill the social intricacies of an underground subculture, where the backwoods hustlers and deadbeats roam in nowheresville USA.
The Conjuring (2013)
Mr Wan has been quite prolific hasn't he? This was the first of the Conjuring/Annabelle franchise and the second time I've watched it. I wish it had more of the Annabelle doll, as the scene with the ghostbuster's little daughter and Annabelle was my favourite bit. It tips its hat to several horror classics like The Exorcist and Amityville Horror. The Mrs loved it saying 'Very scary but the very limits of good scary'.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2012)
Another day another rock doc. You either love Big Star or you've never heard of 'em. So you're either gonna hate these whinny depressives, discover a great new band for yourself or remember why you love Big Star in the first place. Kim Salmon, Rowland S Howard, This Mortal Coil and The Replacements all alerted me to Big Star in the 80s but I guess it was Teenage Fanclub's fans who were djs on Melbourne's 3PBS and 3RRR who eventually made me buy their albums in the early 90s. Rock docs have a habit of ruining your mythological imaginings of your favourite stars. Chris Bell remains enigmatic.
I've watched these all out of order but it doesn't really matter I don't think. Scary Annabelle doll causes destruction once again, this time on a young couple and their new baby plus their priest and a friendly neighbour. Throw in some maniacal satanic cult members on a killing spree, paranormal events, demons and you've got yourself an el cheapo horror mega-blockbuster. Don't go looking for impeccable historical detail in the set design, hairdos, speech, timeline etc. but I guess you're not watching this for the period detail are you? It's not exactly The Crown.
The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Fascinating Errol Morris true crime documentary from the 80s. A cop gets shot and drifter Randall Harris is convicted of the crime. I don't know the full history of true crime documentaries, so forgive my ignorance, but is this the first film to help overturn a sentence? If this wasn't real you might think some kooky director has assembled this bizarre cast of characters (detectives, witnesses, lawyers etc.) for a mockumentary. Director Errol Morris was previously a detective and he goes through a bunch of different scenarios of how this crime may have been committed. Interesting fact: Due to use of re-enactments The Thin Blue Line wasn't eligible for Oscar nominations in the best documentary category.
Gripping rural horror from go to woah. This is set in the highlands of Scotland and it goes from dark to darker to darkest. It's astonishing film-making. The tension created is visceral, I felt the torment of protagonist Vaughn. Suffice to say I had to watch two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm immediately afterward. Best movie of 2018?
Fantastic Canadian rural horror. A bunch of grumpy middle aged Doctors go bush for a bit of boys only camping in the isolated Canadian wilderness. These five doctors are dropped off by plane into an eerie unforgiving terrain. Their boots go missing and the mystery and terror spin out of control from there. Top horrifying story skilfully captured on film with actoring of the high quality.
Skip Tracer (1977)
More gold from Canada in the 70s here. I'm pretty sure this a a masterpiece of filmmaking from the great pacing, the tone, the terrific acting that encapsulates the sociopathic and desperate nature of the characters, the cinematography that captures the gritty urban atmosphere and the soundtrack. A gifted repo man takes on an underachieving newcomer as his helper. Nastiness leads to violence which leads to indignity that leads to remorse...er...it's also kinda funny.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Way too long. The Conjuring 2 should have been cut down by at least 40 minutes. Some very cool funny supernatural scares. It's worth a look if you've enjoyed the other movies in The Conjuring/Annabelle series.
More James Wan. The first in The Insidious series of which there are four now. Some prefer this franchise to the The Conjuring/Annabelle/The Nun continuum. Insidious is a horror movie pastiche mega mix. Too much going on in this one, I reckon. Some excellent jump scares though plus great performances from Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey and particularly Lin Shaye.
Amanda Knox (2016)
Pretty poor documentary on this sensational case. We've been spoilt with great true crime documentaries recently ie. The Staircase, Making A Murderer, Evil Genius etc. but this film doesn't come close to those . Despite having interviews with a lot of the main players in this case they don't go deep into the details of the trials. They hardly examine what they think may have even occurred. Don't bother with this, it's bullshit.
Body Melt (1993)
I thought I'd never seen this but hang on I have. Legendary Australian writer/thinker/artist/musician Philip Brophy directs his one and only feature film. Dare I say early David Cronenberg, Larry Cohen or pre-Hollywood Peter Jackson? Body Melt is a satire that indulges the highbrow with the low. Body Melt's got plenty of gross exploding body parts to make you feel queasy. Hey, it's got Gerard Kennedy, Lisa McCune plus Harold from Neighbours. This one's for the horror fanatics looking for the deep cuts/future cult movies.
Fantastic premise. A teenage girl gets caught up in glitz and glamour of a social media dare game. I was gripped to me seat as Nerve goes along perfectly right up until the end really. This is a story that's new and deserves your attention despite what you may think of the ending.
Four British dudes go hiking in the wilderness of northern Sweden. What could go wrong? Well quite a lot plus monster.
Surprisingly Nighthawks is a really enjoyable OTT 80s terrorist thriller starring Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer. NYC captured once again in that great cesspool era. Muggings, disguises, knife wielding hoods, department store bombings, Subway chases, machine guns, ariel tram catastrophes, helicopters, busses driving into rivers all culminate in a movie that scoots along at a frantic pace with no chance of you ever getting bored. Great soundtrack too.
First Blood (1982)
Ted Koetcheff sets an incredible tone right from the start of this film. A mentally fucked up Vietnam veteran loses the plot and wreaks havoc on a small town and it's police force. First Blood is more heavy handed than I remember and just really fucking depressing. You've all seen it, you don't need me to tell you whether it's a masterpiece or not.
Epic opening scene of a fun park that culminates in a spectacular rollercoaster crash. Fabulous performances from George Segal and the incomparable Timothy Bottoms. The brilliant arty glitter rockers Sparks make a live appearance doing Big Boy. Bottoms is a terrorist who is holding a bunch of Theme Parks at ransom. Slow but suspenseful movie that features beautiful cinematography of amusement parks. Perhaps with half an hour of fat removed it may have become a classic instead of a curio.
The Real Manchurian Candidate (????)
For those of you who are obsessed with the girl in the polka dot dress and the RFK assassination this one is for you and you only. If you're into this case you know it's way cooler than his big brother's. There's been a bunch of stuff lately on the RFK conspiracy theory ie. The RFK Tapes podcast, episode 4 of the not so great docuseries Bobby Kennedy For President on Netflix and a couple of months ago film maker/true crime historian Shane O'Sullivan uploaded this jewel of a video to youtube. It's basically Dr. Daniel Brown and Sirhan Sirhan's lawyer Laurie Dusek talking for over an hour on what they have recently gleaned from talking to RFK's convicted killer. Very inter-esting!
Birdemic: Shock And Terror (2010)
This event has been waiting in the wings (sorry actually meant that pun) for years and I finally did it. I sat through the entire Birdemic. My back being out and being off me lil head on painkillers helped. Hey, it was rather entertaining, especially once the Birds arrived. This is a 'WTF? Movie' or a 'Batshit Crazy film' or whatever other term you may use for this type of movie. I guess it's a porno quality disaster/horror movie that was made in earnest but is unintentionally funny, so the theory goes. The only way I'm going to able to portray what this show is all about is to show one of the more exciting scenes from the film.