Monday, August 18, 2014

A Thousand Times Good Night

Well, folks. As time goes by and the reviews rack up, my "Movies I've Seen" list grows mightier and mightier. And with my most recent film, I have reached a major milestone. Not counting repeats (Friday the 13th alone would give me triple digits) and give or take a couple movies I saw as a child and forgot ever existed, I can definitively say that I have seen 1,000 movies in my lifetime. At least 200 of those were since I started my blog, so you're welcome guys.

I of course am eager for the chance to expand that list even more (I'm getting the ball rolling on the 1981 phase of Census Bloodbath ASAP), but I'd like to take a minute to reflect on the films that made up my first movie millennium. (For those keeping track at home, out of the 1,000 films I've seen, 304 have been horror. Of those, 140 have been slashers.)

In honor of the occasion, I decided to look back into my catalogues and pull out some of the less well-known movies that I love so I can hopefully share them with a broader audience. If you're from the generations before mine, you may actually have seen some of them, because, you know, they were in theaters at some point. And I apologize, but I tried to frontload those as much as possible in the hopes that I can share something new with everyone.

Ten Great Movies You Probably Haven't Seen

10. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner, 1982)

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is a black-and-white Steve Martin comedy that splices his Detective Rigby Rearden in with footage from old noir films. The combination of classic crime movies like The Big Sleep or The Postman Always Rings Twice with Martin's zany antics (back when they were still fresh) makes for a consistently delightful and clever film.

9. Sliding Doors (Peter Howitt, 1998)

Sliding Doors is a wonderfully-crafted butterfly effect drama about how one woman - Gwyneth Paltrow - has her entire life effected by one small event, namely whether or not she makes it onto a train. It's visually stunning and tells a unique story about the wonder of life and the power of coincidence.

8. Dead Again (Kenneth Branagh, 1991)

I watched this movie as a kid (on VHS even - pour one out) but its every detail still sticks in my mind. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson would appear in many movies together throughout their marriage, but nothing could ever top the strange yet electric reincarnation murder drama that is Dead Again. An eclectic mix of different storytelling tropes comes together in an endlessly interesting mystery and one of the best films of the 1990's.

7. Hedwig & The Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)

Idiosyncratically designed, energetically performed, and transcendently fabulous, Hedwig & The Angry Inch is a rock musical about the travails of a trans woman from East Berlin after a botched operation. Many may know it from Neil Patrick Harris' recent rocking of "Sugar Daddy" at the Tonys, but I urge you to check out this film, directed and performed by the original writer and his magnum opus of performance, direction, and style.

6. Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984)

After a comet disintegrates everyone who isn't in a lead-lined room and creates marauding mutant monsters, two valley girls must find a way to survive in the empty streets of Los Angeles. I think it's safe to say there aren't too many post-apocalyptic high school movies, but even if there were, this one would take the cake for sheer camp value and the tightly-wound intelligence spinning at its core. And those impossibly-achieved shots of the empty city never cease to be eerie.

5. Zerophilia (Martin Curland, 2005)

I wouldn't go so far as to call Zerophilia a well-crafted film, but it's one of the most fascinating romances I've ever seen. When a guy discovers that he switches genders every time he has a sexual experience, he must struggle with his conflicting urges and come to terms with his identity. A great allegory for all types of sexual development (LGBT especially, but there's something for everyone) swathed in a pink and blue color palette, this is one bizarre, but fascinating trip.

4. TiMER (Jac Schaeffer, 2009)

One of the only starring roles for the underratedly fantastic Emma Caulfield (who rocked the genre world as Anya on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), TiMER is a science fiction romance about a company that installs timers on people's wrists counting down to the exact second when they will meet their soul mate. However, when Caulfield's Oona gets one installed, it's resolutely blank.It's a fascinating and heartfelt exploration of taking the mystery out of love and the validity of human emotion.

3. The Wizard of Gore (Jeremy Kasten, 2007)

The original Wizard of Gore was a schlocky Herschell Gordon Lewis mess, but the remake brought much more to the table, far exceeding the original's potential by creating a twisted steampunk nightmare world. Impeccably stylish and featuring a great performance from Crispin Glover, WoG is one of those rare remakes that actually improves upon the original. And vastly so, at that.

You can read my review here.

2. Shock Treatment (Jim Sharman, 1981)

I've been a fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for about as long as I've known about the birds and the bees. But its followup, Shock Treatment, although less glitzy and sadly Tim Curry-less, sticks in the mind as an extravagantly strange musical with a river of material pulsating beneath the surface of its decades ahead of its time satire. And don't raise a fuss, but I like the soundtrack even better than Rocky.

You can read my review here.

1. Were the World Mine (Tom Gustafson, 2008)

Speaking of extravagantly strange musicals... Were the World Mine tells the story of a closeted gay teen who stars in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream and discovers a flower that can turn anyone gay. Also, the lyrics to every song are lines from Shakespeare plays. It sounds inaccessibly campy, but it finds a warm, human story sandwiched between impossibly beautiful design & staging and and elegantly evocative soundscape. It's absolutely one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. Check it out!

So, thanks for reading along! Have you seen any of these movies before? Have you seen all of them and think I'm full of crap? Let me know in the comments!
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  1. Dead Again is truly something, at least so far as my memories go, as it's been so long since I've seen it, I could be wrong. But it's Ken Branagh and even if I routinely forget how many n's there are in his name, I don't think I've ever seen a bad movie by him or even with him. (Oh, poor Road to El Dorado, forgotten by all.) I admit I haven't tasked myself with Shadow Recruit yet.

    Oddly, I almost watched Were the World Mine this past weekend (along with, fittingly enough, Haigh's Weekend, partly due to an offhand comment I made here or somewhere about Weekend sucking without clarifying that I meant Godard's). I guess I should've, and shall do so... this weekend.

    1. I was wondering about that comment! Because I actually quite enjoyed Haigh's Weekend. And I'd love to know what you think about WTWM. I'm aware it's not for everyone, but tome it's simply captivating.