Search this blog and The Mike's favorite blogs!

September 8, 2011

FMWL's Best of Summer 2011 (Part Two)

Last night we covered my favorite theatrical and blu-ray finds, which was a blasty, but tonight FMWL's Best of Summer wrap-up digs just a little bit deeper.  It's time to talk about the movies you won't find in your multiplex and wouldn't spot on the shelves at your local megastores.  It's time to look back at my favorite "finds" of the summer...which always leaves me giddy. :)

(See that? I used a damn tootin' emoticon in a post....THAT's how giddy these finds make me!)

Best of: The Indie Horror Scene
Absentia: And we're starting off day two of our adventure with the one film I saw this summer that really scared me.  I'm not talking "guy behind you screaming boo" scares either, I'm talkin' real, effective emotional and physical "I don't want to go to sleep tonight" scares.  Mike Flanagan's tale of two sisters haunted by different demons is a truly original horror film, and his slick direction kept me on my toes throughout.  With a couple of effective twists and some fantastic acting, this might just be the best horror movie of the year.  (Read The Mike's Review)

Ghost From The Machine: A more subdued horror tale, Ghost From The Machine offers plenty of family drama while leading the viewer into an intriguing paranormal plot.  The few images of the film's more haunting spirits sent some good chills down my spine, but I'll remember this one more for its Frankensteinian look at the dangers of playing with things man can't understand.  It's the rare ghost tale that builds tension using human emotion instead of sound effects or moody lighting or editing tricks.  A Hollywood remake of this one is on the way, but you can find the DVD of this one out now. (Read The Mike's Review)

Best of: Everything Else I've Randomly Loved
Bitter Feast (2010, Dir. by Joe Maggio): The Food Network meets Theatre of Blood in Bitter Feast, a fun offering from Glass Eye Pix that combines plenty of comedy and drama.  James Le Gros gives a fantastic performance in the lead, which outweighs a lot of the film's flaws.  Some good gore, but the drama and the characters were what kept me involved with this one.

Blue Thunder (1983, Dir. by John Badham): Roy Scheider goes rogue in a super helicopter in this 1983 actioner, and he's joined by a fantastic cast that includes Warren Oates, Malcolm McDowell, Candy Clark, and everyone's favorite Wet Bandit Daniel Stern.  This is one of those flicks I'd read about for years and always wanted to see, and it didn't disappoint.  The final scene is one of the most badass things ever put on screen.

The Boys From Brazil (1978, Dir. by Franklin J. Schaffner): Gregory Peck and a slew of child Hitlers is pretty much all you need to know about this one.  It's a little long and a little silly and I've just never been that fond of Laurence Olivier when he was old and extraordinarily hammy....but it's got Peck going berserk and the creepy children played by Jeremy Black.  Like other classics based on Ira Levin novels (including Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives) there's also a lot of fun in watching the plot unfold around the actors. 

Bucktown (1975, Dir. by Arthur Marks): Fred "The Hammer" Williamson shows off his iconic persona in this simple story of a man who takes justice into his own hands.  The simple story of corruption in a small town reminds of films like Walking Tall, but the presence of The Hammer, Pam Grier and Carl Weathers (in a supporting role) give it it's own life.  Blaxploitation that works well.

The Centerfold Girls (1974, Dir. by John Peyser):  As brutal, foul, and distasteful as can be, The Centerfold Girls is a chore to watch.  I also found it endlessly fascinating as a unique twist on the giallo and slasher genres, and Andrew Prine's weird killer is very memorable.  The three segments of the film vary in quality, but I couldn't turn away from the film's odd and violent images.

Demon Seed (1977, Dir. by Donald Cammell): I had seen Demon Seed once upon a time, but I wasn't ready for its "possessed computer vs. Oscar winning actress" plot at that time.  Revisiting the film made me really appreciate this Hollywood oddball gem, which takes itself really seriously despite the plot.  Though it's terribly dated - a film about a sentient computer controlling a house might just work these days - it's still a fascinating horror attempt. (Read The Mike's Review)

The Initiation (1984, Dir. by Larry Stewart): Ambitious slasher that combines mommy/daddy issues and nightmare research, plus sorority pledging hijinks and late night in a closed shopping mall.  Clu Gulager and Vera Miles get top billing as the parents with a secret, but it's a young Daphne Zuniga - well before Spaceballs or Melrose Place that carries the film to its twist ending.  Suffers from a lot of the normal slasher problems, but still manages to feel unique.

Red White & Blue (2010, Dir. by Simon Rumley): I called The Centerfold Girls words like "brutal" and "violent" a bit ago, but compared to Red White & Blue, that movie is a cake walk. (What exactly is a cake walk, anyway?)  This tale of sex, revenge, disease, love, and everything else in life takes a while to pull us in, but once it has our attention it never relents.  Amazing performances by Amanda Fuller and Noah Taylor lead to a mind-blowing conclusion.

Rituals (1977, Dir. by Peter Carter): The always awesome Hal Holbrook and the also cool Lawrence Dane carry this low budget Deliverance clone, which sends a group of doctors into the woods, where they soon find they're being tracked by someone who knows all about them and their profession.  The in-fighting between the characters adds to the drama, primarily when Holbrook and Dane throw down against each other.  A fine film that's never gotten its proper due.
And, there you have it.  I wouldn't say I've found the best movies ever this summer, but these unique treats are more than enough to keep me going.

What say you, Midnight Warriors? Got opinions on these? Favorites you've found of late that you want to recommend?  Bring it in the comments below!


Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Bitter Feast was great! I meant to do a review but never got around to it but I really liked it and like you said the performances were great for such an odd story.

Still must see Red White & Blue. I've only heard good things about it so it must be worth seeing.

And Absentia..... I remember your review of that - thanks for the reminder, will see that one too!

The Mike said...

Thanks Michele. RW&B and Absentia might be my two biggest recommendations out of this lot, so I look forward to your takes on them! And glad you dug Bitter Feast, I heard mixed things on it early and was couldn't figure out why when I saw it. It was a fun flick.