TTT – Top Ten George A Romero Movies

ge

Greetings, Glancers! It’s been an age since I’ve done one of these, so I decided to fall back on what I know best – horror movies. You can’t talk about the history of Horror movies without talking about George A Romero. Few film-makers can truly be said to have changed the game, especially within the horror genre, but Romero was one of those few. Taking the zombie sub-genre out of its voodoo/mind control past and turning it into something completely different, making the living dead mindless pastiches of whatever was going on in society at the time and making their main desire to chomp upon living flesh. Romero created the modern zombie and almost all of its rules and tropes, and his original trilogy is still the high-bar against which everything else is measured.

Romero wasn’t just a zombie guy but his films were always about something once you smeared away the surface. He retained an indie ethos from day one until the end and embodies the true spirit of story-telling and film-making – to pick up a camera and tell a story while ignoring the pressures of money making and business. Typically always based in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Romero’s films didn’t shy away from showing the lives and struggles of real people – the blue-collar types he knew so well, nor was he afraid of revealing their dark side. He wasn’t one for sugar-coating or creating an ensemble of working class heroes – he was clued in enough to know that, given the right or wrong situation, the young, old, rich, poor, were equally capable of making heroic or monstrous decisions.

Watching any interview with Romero or with those who worked with him, it’s clear the guy had a love for stories, for life, and for making people squirm in the face of gore or uncomfortable truths. His passing marked the end of a generation and we may never see his like again.

10. Bruiser

A movie I came to quite late because most of Romero’s non-Dead movies can be a pain to find. This is a lot of fun, and a different type of movie you might expect – the humour more overt and darker than a gallon of gore. A sort-of attack on Corporations and the empty, faceless lives of the executive class, it’s the tale of a man reduced to a blank slate allowing him to live out his murderous fantasies.

9. Knightriders

There aren’t enough movies about jousting, especially ones which replaces the horses with motorcycles. That’s…. that’s pretty much all the recommendation you should need. It reunites some of the guys from Dawn Of The Dead, stars Ed Harris, and features a little seen Stephen King cameo.

8. Monkey Shines

This is another one of those movies which was/is quite difficult to get your hands on, at least over here. Twenty years into his career, this was Romero’s first major Studio film and if anything he can be guilty of over-reaching and trying to pack in as much ‘stuff’ as possible. While the rest of the horror world in the late 80s were ironically pulling Romero-esque gore fests and comedies, Romero instead opted for a thriller with a bizarre premise – that of a wheelchair bound former athlete who gets a helper monkey (pray…for… Mojo) which in turn becomes psychotically attached to the man. They don’t make them like that anymore. For such a silly idea, there are creepy moments and Jason Beghe heads up the little known cast with a convincing performance. Stanley Tucci appears in a minor role – you wonder if Romero had got some bigger names (though I can’t see many A-Listers jumping on board with a screenplay such as this) maybe the film would have been more successful and opened a few more doors.

George_romero_and_stephen_king

7. The Dark Half

Romero and King always seemed like two peas in a pod – socially and politically conscious blood and guts shovellers with a keen sense of dark and often zany humour. It makes sense then that they would conspire to work together, on multiple occasions. This time, Romero helms a straight adaptation of one of King’s more outlandish novels – the tale of a writer (of course) whose pen-name alter-ego seemingly comes to life with murderous intent, not happy being retired as the writer pursues a more literary career. It’s a great premise and King pulls it off in the novel while Romero gives it a decent stab for the big screen. He is ably helped by several against type performances – Timothy Hutton as both Thad Beaumont and George Stark and Michael Rooker as the heroic Alan Pangborn. Veterans such as Royal Dano and Julie Harris also show up. It’s a pleasingly dark and grimy film, though it rarely racks up any real scares or tension even as it produces some effective gore. My King mega friend from school and I used to pass this around in VHS form to each other and frequently scrawl ‘the sparrows are flying again’ on the classroom walls.

6. Land Of The Dead

In 2005 the impossible happened – Romero returned with another entry in the Dead series. Enough time had passed that the people who grew up with his movies now had a more influential voice – a voice loud enough to rightfully proclaim Romero as the legend he was. I remember the hype surrounding this when it approached release – heightened by a couple of factors; first, that zombies were suddenly cool again thanks to 28 Days Later and the Dawn Of The Dead remake, and secondly that Romero was actually making another movie. It had been five years since Bruiser – which no-one really saw, and that had come seven years after The Dark Half. He had only made two movies in fourteen years and now he was back to show the youngsters how the zombie genre should be done, this time with a big budget to play with. With all of that hype, Land Of The Dead was maybe a disappointment to some when it dropped – I saw it at release and loved it, though I admittedly knew it wasn’t as strong as the first three. Still, it was a lot of fun and had some great performances and cameos – Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, and the opportunity to see Romero’s work getting the love on the big screen was enough for me. There’s enough juicy satire to gnaw on – issues of class, wealth, and power are all touched upon, and of course there is a tonne of gore and action to enjoy.

5. Martin

I’d loved Romero films (namely those below) for a while before I really understood what a director was and how to find their body of work. Once I did, Martin was one of the first movies I tracked down thinking ‘first he did zombies, I wonder what he can do with vampires’. I was a little bewildered by Martin at first, though savvy enough to still enjoy it. Martin is a strange, powerful, and thought-provoking low budget film about a young man who believes he is the reincarnated spirit of a vampire. Or maybe not even reincarnated, that he has been a vampire for many many years, beyond what his body would lead you to believe. The film opens with a bleak and downbeat scene as Martin stalks and kills a woman on a train – he has no fangs and no apparent supernatural abilities and so resorts to drugging his victims and cutting them with a razor blade. At first it looks like he is a deluded psychopath, until we meet his grand-uncle whose fears seem to give validity to the claims. The old man is forced to look after Martin after Martin’s parents die, yet he clearly believes Martin to be a vampire as he hangs garlic and crucifixes around the house – to no avail.

There’s enough there to make for an interesting, grimy horror flick in itself but Romero adds further layers – Martin is obviously sexually frustrated and lonely, finding solace through calls to a local DJ, and Martin becomes a cult favourite to the audience of this radio show. We get to see romanticized flashbacks or dreams of Martin’s past exploits as a vampire, and it is never clear what the truth is. All we know is that he is clearly dangerous, and probably deranged. The longer cut of the movie gives even more detail about Martin and his relationships. It’s a shame the film is so low-budget – John Amplas is about as recognisable a name as you’ll get here, though he’s only recognisable from his small role in Day Of The Dead. It’s a film which is now heralded as one of the most unique vampire movies and is one which deserves a wider audience.

4. Creepshow

There’s something comforting about Creepshow for horror fans. It could be that you grew up with the movie and it has a certain nostalgia, or it could be that you grew up with the EC Comics and the film is a love-letter to those. It could simply be that the film is a lot of fun and was made by two of the greatest contributors, fans, and masters of the genre that there has ever been and that their adoration for horror shines through. King and Romero teamed up to craft an anthology – maybe the strongest anthology there is – inspired by the creepy and gruesome comics and stories they grew up with. They tell the stories through the eyes of a child, fascinated with the macabre and gory, and shunned by those who don’t understand. It’s probably a position all horror fans have been in at some point – being shamed for loving what we love, being kept away from it against our will, and being punished for being different. It’s a clever ploy which helps to make Creepshow an ideal gateway movie for kids just getting into the genre.

None of that would matter if the stories themselves weren’t great. None of the stories are weak – some are clearly better than others, some are more reliant on laughs (although all have some element of humour, dark as it may be), but all have something memorable. It gets off to a strong start with a story written by King specifically for the film – Father’s Day – in which the zombie of a miserly old man comes back to take bloody revenge on the daughter who killed him and the various descendants who want his money. It features a terrific zombie crawling out of the grave scene and some nifty effects and make-up courtesy of Tom Savini (who else?). It’s the same sort of revenge story who tend to see a lot in horror anthologies, but it’s a lot of fun.

The next segment is my least favourite, as King himself stars as a backwater hick who slowly becomes infected by some alien plant organism. King’s antics are both funny and cringe-worthy and the story is an amusing filler, even if it does feature a shotgun-based suicide. Something To Tide You Over is my second favourite and maybe the one which stood out most to me when I first saw it as a kid, thanks to the twist and cynical tone. I couldn’t remember the name of the movie, but I always remembered this and the next story. It’s about a man, played by Leslie Nielsen of all people, who subjects his wife and her lover to a terrifying demise; after finding out about their infidelity, he buries them up to their necks on the beach outside his home, then watches and gloats as the tide gets every closer. This being Creepshow, the dead soon return with their own plan for revenge. Ted Danson and Dawn Of The Dead’s Gaylen Ross star as the couple – great stuff from Savini again.

The Crate is the best segment here, genuinely creepy and – again – a lot of fun. It’s about a professor who finds a long-lost crate from an Arctic expedition. Naturally, the crate houses some sort of creature which begins killing and eating anyone who comes near. Another professor sees this as the ideal solution to the problem of his drunk, abusive wife – the great Adrienne Barbeau. Finally, They’re Creeping Up On You isn’t the best story but it has a strange atmosphere and something sickly which has always freaked me out a little. I don’t care about bugs or cleanliness or any of the other paranoia which goes on in the story, but still there’s something about the story which gets to me. E.G Marshall hams it up as businessman who lives in a hermetically sealed apartment – he only contact with the outside world to shout orders to his staff and receive calls from disgruntled people saying how much he is hated. Then the cockroaches come. It’s the atmosphere – maybe it’s the fact that we don’t really know if the time is future, present, past – it could be some apocalyptic time and place, or it could be modern day. Mad Max is the only film to play a similar trick on me.

3. Day Of The Dead

For a long time this was seen as the black sheep of Romero’s Dead trilogy. In truth, it isn’t as culturally important or revolutionary as the first two, but show me a trilogy where each individual film changes the game. I’d say the original trilogy comes closest. While Day Of The Dead may not be as important, it’s still better than almost any other zombie movie and it ranks as having some of the best gore effects you’ll ever see. There’s no excuse for this to have not won an Oscar. Moreover, the claustrophobic setting and cast of characters are just as interesting as the previous two movies and if anything both are taken to extremes. As it’s Romero, there are themes upon themes, the most front and centre being the the war between military and science, war and understanding, thought and action, science and superstition. Taking that to its extreme, it’s a film about the dangers of two opposing sides unwilling to consider the position of the other, the fallout, and those caught in the middle. There just happens to be millions of zombies lurking around to pile on the pressure. Two underground factions struggling for control while the mindless masses just want the whole thing to end? No, that’s not politically or culturally relevant at all.

The sad thing is, the end product, which everyone involved in should be immensely proud of, was not Romero’s original vision. His original was meant to be an epic – the zombie film to end them all. Various earlier scripts tell a vastly different story and his original script has yet to be found. What we do have is perhaps cluttered by too many characters, but the surviving ambition and various themes and elements of the original idea are present – the Zombies potentially learning, remembering, or getting smarter, and the idea of a police/military State. Lori Cardille is great as the lead, the intro is incredibly unnerving, and Joseph Pilato is fantastic as Capt. Rhodes. As much as the story and the warring factions are interesting, it’s the setting and the effects which are the star here – sloppy innards dropping off tables, legs being choked on, and my personal favourite – the quickfire dispatch of Rickles and Torrez – screaming, laughing faces being ripped apart and heads removed. I don’t think The Walking Dead has topped that one yet.

2. Night Of The Living Dead

It’s generally agreed that modern horror cinema started with 1960’s Psycho. Night Of The Living Dead took it to the next level, returning horror to it’s fantastical roots but blending it with the realism and suburban fears which Hitchcock’s masterpiece first portrayed. No longer could was it safe to trust the person next door, your friends, or even your family – and the less said about strangers, the government, and the military the better. Taking the traditionally mystical lore of zombies out of the textbooks and into the US heartland, these creatures were no longer slaves to some ritualistic high priest – instead they were mindless feeding machines, bent on a single course; to kill and eat the living. Our indecision, our inability to focus as a whole, or to follow a leader would be our downfall. Romero instills the blackest, and bleakest of humour in reminding us, or forewarning us, that this story absolutely will not have a happy ending – this is not a story where the hero wins.

If you haven’t seen the movie, then I’m not sure how you have stumbled upon this post. In any event, the film opens with a dreary, ominous uphill drive towards a ceremony as a modern-may-as-well-be-you brother and sister bicker and pay their respects. Within moments we have ‘they’re coming to get you, Barbara’, and the sudden ghoulish attack by a well dressed man. Barbara flees to an empty house, pursued by her attacker, where she meets Ben. Ben tells us that he too was attacked and we soon learn, thanks to docu-style news footage that the dead have come back to life and appear to be attacking the living. In other words – we’re fucked.

With an all amateur cast and crew, Romero deftly crafts one of the most claustrophobic and clever horror movies of all time, allowing the cast of recognizable characters and archetypes to show us their flaws in all their tragic glory, and in doing so single-handedly creates a sub-genre which still rules world-wide media today.

dawn-of-the-dead-cast

  1. Dawn Of The Dead

After Night comes Dawn. The success of Night allowed George to go make a variety of other movies in different genres and styles, but none had the same critical or commercial joy. Dawn was always supposed to be bigger – showing the wider devastation of the dead coming back. Romero wisely begins the movie by showing just how far the country has fallen since the events of Night. Even though we don’t know exactly how much time has passed, we get the impression that it isn’t very long – I think a few weeks is mentioned. Politicians, scientists, talking heads, ordinary people, the military, journalists – everyone has been focused on this one issue but still an agreed consensus cannot be reached. Mirroring the frustration and ineptitude at that global level is the unrest at a civil level. We meet a SWAT team tasked with investigating a social housing building where residents have refused to give up their dead. Of course, chaos and insanity is the order of the day, with gung-ho types, zombies, those who cannot deal with the fact that their loved ones are now monsters, and others who simply cannot deal with this new world. It’s claustrophobic, heated, exhausting, confusing, and brilliant. Two such soldiers team up – Roger and Peter and decide that it would be best to get out of the city while they still can. Luckily, Roger knows Stephen, a journalist and pilot who plans to steal a helicopter and get out with his girlfriend Francine. The four flee together.

The bulk of the movie takes place in a shopping mall, where the four survivors clear the place of the dead and enjoy the fruits of their labour – safety, food, and more shops and stuff than you could ever want. The satire on consumerism is well-documented, but the weird thing is that it still kind of makes you want to hide out in a mall if the world does go to shit. At least you’d be safe and entertained and fed for a while.The increased budget allows for a more talented cast and crew, more ideas, bigger scope – it’s an epic in every sense. Beyond the terrific, now dated, gore and make-up effects, the film still packs a punch with its scares – up front and subtle. It’s almost perfect in every way and even at well over 2 hours long it’s a film which I never want to end. I enjoy every second with these characters, I want to spend as long as possible with them, and it’s always depressing when the end comes. Romero doesn’t give us the all out bleak ending he originally devised, at least allowing for a chance that our survivors may live to fight another day. It’s one of the most influential and powerful horror movies ever made, it’s the best zombie movie of all time, and it’s one of a small number of films which has truly had a profound and lasting impact on me.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite George A Romero movies are!

Ranking The Manics Songs – The Holy Bible

20090329_jenny_saville_the_holy_bible

Well now, what the balls am I meant to do with this. It would be like trying to rank the songs of… no, there is no comparison – this is the greatest album of all time, ranking is futile. There’s really only one song I don’t think is on par with the rest, but it has the quintessential sound and tone of the album so it’s not one I can really drop. I’m going to do that in my own version of how the album should look, but I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. Here is the album ranked in terms of my personal favourites – at least 7 of these could be my number 1 on a different day, three others aren’t far behind, and the last three are still better than anything most bands could dream up:

  1. Faster
  2. PCP
  3. 4st 7lbs
  4. This Is Yesterday
  5. Archives Of Pain
  6. Mausoleum
  7. Yes
  8. Die In The Summertime
  9. Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart
  10. The Intense Humming Of Evil
  11. Of Walking Abortion
  12. Revol
  13. She Is Suffering

As I said above replacing any of these is pointless, and no other songs from the era really fit musically. However, I think they could replace She Is Suffering with Too Cold Here – a version specifically recorded for the album (I don’t believe any such version exists) as it is a much stronger song. Judge Yrself could work better musically, though it’s not great lyrically, some might opt for Sculpture Of Man. I’d nominate Love Torn Us Under over those two, but under Too Cold Here. In any case, it’s perfect as it is.

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs: Gold Against The Soul

81HD+Dun3ZL._SX355_

Did you enjoy my first post? No? Go read it again. You did? Excellent, now we can proceed. Gold Against The Soul is unfairly maligned in my mind – fans, critics, and the band themselves aren’t the biggest fans. But what to do they know, it’s not like they had a hand in making the thing. Here’s my ranking of the songs from the second album:

  1. Life Becoming A Landslide
  2. Roses In The Hospital
  3. Sleepflower
  4. From Despair To Where
  5. La Tristesse Durera
  6. Drug Drug Druggy
  7. Yourself
  8. Symphony Of Tourette
  9. Nostalgic Pushead
  10. Gold Against The Soul

Those last five tracks are fairly interchangeable. Now, here’s how the album could, nay, should have turned out:

  1. Sleepflower
  2. From Despair To Where
  3. Hibernation
  4. La Tristesse Durera
  5. Are Mothers Saints
  6. Us Against You
  7. Comfort Comes (replace this with Donkeys if you so desire – I’d be more inclined to have neither and keep an even ten tracks)
  8. Life Becoming A Landslide
  9. Roses In The Hospital
  10. Are Mothers Saints
  11. Patrick Bateman

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Generation Terrorists!

terror

Here we go again. You’ve read me harp on about the band long enough on the blog. But it’s still. Not. Sinking. In. My beautiful subscribers – it’s down to you to make the band big – bigger. Click the links. Buy the albums. Tell your friends. Lets Make Music Great Again! The more attention bands like this get, then the more bands like this will surface and the charts with be changed forever! Or more likely, none of that will happen. Still, give them a shot – you might like them. Probably not.

I’ve listed my favourite songs by them. I’ve reviewed their albums. I’ve been going through every effing song they’ve ever made and dedicating individual posts to those. I post my favourite lyrics by them most Mondays. As I look out the window at the uncharacteristically blue Belfast sky on the 15th of July 2019, I wonder what other scrapings are left at the bottom of the barrel. And it comes to me – ranking each song from each album. It’s just pointless and clickable enough to make for a five minute read on the shitter, and a frothy response in the comments. Please do both.

Below I present my ranking of the songs of Generation Terrorists. It’s not definitive, but shows my general feelings about the thing. There’s only one song here I don’t like – Repeat USA – and it’s barely a song anyway. I’m going to do the same for each album, at least until I get bored. Make sure to scroll to the bottom for a bonus list! Blisstus!

  1. Condemned To Rock And Roll
  2. Motorcycle Emptiness
  3. Little Baby Nothing
  4. You Love Us
  5. Crucifix Kiss
  6. So Dead
  7. Repeat UK
  8. Stay Beautiful
  9. Spectators Of Suicide
  10. Another Invented Disease
  11. Slash N Burn
  12. Damn Dog
  13. Born To End
  14. Methadone Pretty
  15. Natwest Barclays Midlands Lloyds
  16. Tennessee
  17. Love’s Sweet Exile
  18. Repeat (Stars And Stripes)

Next, my list of how album as a single rather than a double:

  1. Slash N Burn
  2. Motorcycle Emptiness
  3. Motown Junk
  4. You Love Us
  5. Little Baby Nothing
  6. Stay Beautiful
  7. So Dead
  8. Repeat
  9. Spectators Of Suicide
  10. Suicide Is Painless
  11. Crucifix Kiss
  12. Condemned To Rock n Roll

And finally, my list of how the album really should have looked in all its 18 track glory:

  1. Slash N Burn
  2. New Art Riot
  3. Motorcycle Emptiness
  4. Motown Junk
  5. You Love Us
  6. Little Baby Nothing
  7. Never Want Again
  8. Stay Beautiful
  9. Democracy Coma
  10. So Dead
  11. Repeat
  12. Spectators Of Suicide
  13. Suicide Is Painless
  14. Starlover
  15. Crucifix Kiss
  16. Sorrow 16
  17. Dead Yankee Drawl
  18. Condemned To Rock n Roll

Let us know your rankings and extras in the comments!

The Highest Rated Movies I Don’t Like – IMDb Edition!

cool_3_orig

Greetings, Glancers! It’s me again, back with another rambling ramble about movies. In previous posts I visited famous film graveyard Rotten Tomatoes and harped on about the fact that too many modern (last 5 years) movies occupy their most highly rated spots, and how some of my favourite films ever were slapped with a rating less than 50%, 40%, or in some cases 1%. That’s fine – everyone knows scoring is a nonsense, as subjective as the movies themselves. Everyone knows that my scoring system (click the link, you know you wanna) is better and will become the gold standard once I’m dead and no-one can pay me for it.

There’s me rambling again. It’s a problem. And a charm. A Charmblem? There you go, a new word which describes an action or behaviour which is at once charming and problematic. I bet I don’t get credit for creating that either. On to the much more reputable Internet Movie Database, a site I have been using and abusing since 2000. Remember the forums? Those were great. One of the IMDb’s most popular pages has always been its Top 250. There used to be wonderfully pointless fights in the forums over keeping either The Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption on the number one spot. It’s hilarious that people would spend so much time on such trivial matters (he says while furiously typing yet another post on the subject) and it’s all so silly – it should be Terminator 2 at Number 1. People would argue over scoring campaigns, people giving deliberately bad scores to great movies just to see it drop down some arbitrary ranking. People get so defensive over these products which don’t care about them. It’s the same way with videogames – Nintendo versus Sega, Sony vs Microsoft, Spectrum vs Commodore. My response has always been the same – what brand of toaster/microwave do you have? Do you care if mine is better/faster/cleaner than your one? No, so why should you care about this? You’re a consumer, nothing more. The Product and the Business and the Owners don’t give a shit about you.

Having said that, I did always enjoy pissing off the Fight Club and The Usual Suspects fans. They were so easy to troll and they were so precious and defensive about their films that they would threaten with death anyone who dared to give a score less than 9. Kevin Spacey fans were the worst… well who’s laughing now? Certainly not Mr Spacey – he of See No Evil, Hear No Evil fame. It has been a while since I checked the IMDb Top 250. I can only imagine there are a lot more Christopher Nolan and Marvel movies there now, but I imagine there will still be more older, more foreign movies. I don’t think the frothing rabid geek army cares enough about the IMdb to ruin it – they only like their ‘new toys’, and ‘new’ the IMDb ain’t. So in this post I’m going to look at the movies in the IMDb Top 250 which I don’t like. Then I’ll do the same (opposite?) for their lowest scoring movies. Why? Why do you think – I’m drunk.

I had a moment there where I wondered if they even had a Top 250 anymore, but phew, they do. Maybe they don’t have a low rating list anymore? Lets worry about that later. What immediately strikes me at first glance is that there is a whole host of movies I haven’t seen and probably never will. There seems to have been an influx of Indian movies onto the list. Gangs Of Wassypur is at 250 and I’ve never heard of it. Bollywood or Indian movies in general I know almost nothing about, beyond the fact that the few I’ve seen I haven’t liked. 247 is another Indian entry I know nothing of, while another – Rang De Basanti is in at 218 – above the likes of The Terminator, The Wizard Of Oz, Jaws, and The Exorcist. Interesting.

Okay, at number 189, one place above Stand By Me, is the overrated and underrated Into The Wild – the true story of a privileged bin-lid who decided to decided to go ‘On The Road’ into the wilderness in search of… himself? Something? Either way, he gets eaten by a bear, so it’s all good.  Or maybe he ate a leaf and got poisoned? All the same. I say it’s overrated because this gets a lot of critical and cult acclaim, but it’s just not very good. Good performances and soundtrack, nice scenery, but man what a knob the central character is. It’s underrated in that I don’t think many people know it exists and it should be seen so more people can form an opinion of it, but it’s just not for me. It annoyed me too much and I see the central story as little different from those click-bait articles about people taking a selfie while hanging over the edge of The Grand Canyon before falling to their deaths.

At 181 is David Fincher’s comedy Gone Girl. Yes, I think it’s a comedy. That’s the only way I can take it seriously. For a director as brilliant as Fincher, it takes all of my favourite hallmarks of his and flushes them down the drain and replaces them with monotone visuals, insipid characters, and bland drama wrapped up in a mystery less engaging than me wondering where my other sock is (spoiler alert – it was in the drawer ALL ALONG). I get why people like it – it’s mainstream. But to the extent that it’s included among the best movies ever? Nope.

In an incredibly similar vein are my feelings towards Shutter Island. I was excited when I saw Scorsese was making a horror film and after watching Shutter Island I’m still waiting for him to make a horror film. This was nothing more than an extended Tales From The Darkside episode, with added blandness and an ending I’d already predicted before I’d pushed the play button. I could ‘go there’ with Gone With The Wind but I think that would be pointless – it’s undoubtedly a great achievement and a significant moment in history which I respect – it’s just not a favourite. I could go into No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood – both films I think are impressively overrated but I can probably wait until I get around to their Oscar posts in the future.

At 152 is Room, a film I believe I reviewed here, the basic summary of which being that it’s good, but a little meh, and I don’t believe in any way it needs to be considered as one of the best 200 movies ever. At 151 is V For Vendetta – a film which I consider to be more or less a complete mess. Beyond some select visuals, there’s nothing here of interest. At 142 is Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, another film I can’t stand but then I’m biased against all that Cockney Gangster wank. A Beautiful Mind at 141 I didn’t care for, same goes for Some Like It Hot at 117. I really don’t like that one, in fact. Snatch is at 104 – more Cockney gangster wank. At 87 is Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind – a film by all accounts I should have enjoyed, but again think it is an overrated heap. American Beauty is at 69, a film I liked, but not nearly enough to consider it within even my top twenty movies of that year. The Dark Knight Rises is at 67 – seriously? It’s clearly the weakest of the trilogy and nowhere near on a par with Burton’s first film – did I enjoy it? Hell yeah, but no chance this is one of the best films ever – and it’s one spot higher than Aliens? Da phuk outta here.

Django Unchained didn’t do much for me – it’s at 61 for some reason. Then we get a pile of other Indian movies and recent movies I haven’t seen yet, but can only assume they are not ‘better’ than Alien, Vertigo, or Full Metal Jacket. Into the top thirty and there’s nothing I don’t like. There’s plenty I don’t agree with – Inception is not the 14th best movie ever, Fight Club is not the 10th best movie ever, City Of God should not be above A New Hope, but that’s not why we’re here. Hopefully a few of my outbursts have made you angry. Or surprised you. I don’t know. Like I said before, feel free to like what you like. Even share what you like and encourage others to check those films out. But don’t force your opinion upon others and expect them to feel the same way. There is no Best Movie Ever, only what made a lot of money, what was liked by a bunch of people, what is still talked about years after the fact, what had an influence on something or someone else.

Let us know in the comments what popular or critically acclaimed movies you don’t like. Next time, I check out the lowest rated movies. It’ll be fun.

2019 In Film – A Preview – October

Note -written in January 2019 and I wasn’t arsed updating it since.

Joaquin-Phoenix-Joker

Gemini Man

Will Smith aims to return to the big time with what seems to be a big budget sci-fi actioner. From the plot synopsis there could be some cool age techniques and effects going on, and the cast also features Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead – all good. To top it off, Ang Lee directs so we know there will be a certain flair and class.

Joker

I wish they would just stick with one actor for all these films with The Joker. I know they’re going for their own style, but personally this would work best if it had been the same actor all the way through. I don’t know anything about this beyond Joaquin Phoenix is playing the loon this time.

The Woman In The Window

It’s based on a book which I don’t know anything about, but the film blurb makes it sound like Rear Window and The Girl On The Train. Joe Wright is on familiar ground then, adapting yet another successful novel. In truth, I haven’t cared for anything Wright has made, but it’s Amy Adams and Gary Oldman and the idea seems interesting enough, but with Wright’s track record it’ll go for class over sleaze. I like sleaze.

The Addams Family

They’re going animation this time around, fair enough. When is someone going to make The Munsters?

Zombieland Too

I held off on seeing Zombieland until long after people had stopped talking about it. Being a big zombie fan, I always knew I would see it so I’m not sure why I didn’t for so long. The sequel seems like a miracle, given how so much time has passed and how the star rating of most of the cast has risen, yet they’re getting the band together again. Should be fun.

The Goldfinch

I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s been on my list since release. The film seems like a straight re-telling, but the cast is great – young and old – Finn Wolfhard, Ansel Elgort, Sarah Paulson, Nicole Kidman, Willa Fitzgerald. John Crowley follows up Brooklyn with this.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Yay! I’ve no idea how they’re going to do this and what level of scares they’ll have. Both this and Goosebumps were for kids but AYAOTD always had more of an edge. It’s not going to be scary, but honest horror aimed at a younger audience is always good. I’ve no idea if they’ll take the campfire approach. My kids loved Goosebumps so I’ll rope them into this.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Seems like Oscar bait – and already now I can see this winning a bunch due to the backlash at the Mr Rogers documentary not making it to this year’s Awards (baring in mind I’m updating this post at time of writing 20th February 2019). Let it just be clear – I don’t give a shit about Mr Rogers. It seems like he was this amazing person and did a load for kids through TV? Growing up in Northern Ireland I had no idea who he was – whatever shows he did never made it over here whatsoever – so I have no connection to the material whatsoever. Beyond this being a Tom Hanks vehicle, I’m not getting the impetus to see this.

What are your picks?

The Lowest Rated Movies I Like – Rotten Tomatoes Edition

digitiser-screenshot-archive-1994-12-10-475-9
Spicing Up My Post With A Completely Inappropriate Picture

Greetings, Glancers! If you missed it last time, I walked through the Top 100 Highest Rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes and found a few films I either disliked or disagreed with their inclusion. It wasn’t very exciting, and this is going to be the even less interesting follow up. I’m looking at the dregs now, the films that are so bad they’re baaad, but wondering if among these there are films I love, or at the very least, enjoy. I’m using Rotten Tomatoes again, and if their Top Rated films are anything to go by, I can only assume that their Low Rated list will be mostly populist fare, not films which are little known or so low-budget and Indie and bad that only twelve people will ever see them. I rambled on a bit too much last time, so lets just jump straight in now.

There is a list of films rated with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. I assume that means that out of all the critic and audience reviews there isn’t a single positive one. I’m probably assuming incorrectly, but if you think I’m going to spend time and effort actually looking into this you are sorely mistaken. Oh. Oh dear. Going by year, the first entry I see comes in at 1987, and it’s a film I enjoy. In fact, it’s a film I love. In fact, it’s a film I include on my Top 150 favoutite films of all time. It’s Police Academy 4. This is strange, not because I think it’s an amazing film (I don’t, but I love it thiiiiiiissss muuuuuuucccch) but because it is far from the worst film in the series. Part 5 is a watchable rehash of ideas, Part 6 falls too far from the formula and loses more favourite characters, while Part 7 is genuinely awful – that’s coming from me as a huge fan of the series. But Part 4 has some great stuff – most of the original cast is there, we get some new and recurring fan favourites, and it has some of my favourite moments from the franchise. I can’t believe that not a single person gave a favourable review on this, but did on later entries.

1988 sees the next entry, and it’s Mac And Me! I mentioned this last time as a film I enjoyed more than ET. It’s true. I know, okay, I know that ET is the vastly, vastly better film, but I like Mac And Me more. He’s such a little freak. 1991 takes me to another surprise – Highlander Part 2. I’m genuinely surprised this is rated as 0%. I know it’s not a patch on the first, but do people actually hate this and consider it one of the worst movies ever? I mean, I’m not such a huge fan of it to keep up with audience reviews of it, but a quick Google search tells me that apparently it is frequently called one of the worse films ever. I must go back and watch it now to see why. I remember it being messy, and trying to be too clever for its own good to the point that it became stupid, but I also remember liking it. There are other films here I saw and didn’t dislike – Redline, Derailed, One Missed Call, but I don’t remember them in as much detail so can’t comment further.

Lets see what else we have slightly further up the scale. With a score of under 60%, The Mummy by Stephen Sommers is seen in RT terms as an average movie. I assumed most critics were more positive and I would go so far as calling it the definitive version of the story. Sure, it’s just an Indiana Jones movie without Harrison Ford, but it’s good family fun, fast moving, and with a decent balance between thrills, laughs, action, and scares. Similarly, Die Hard With A Vengeance is a rip-roaring time, bypassing the droll sequel and getting it right with a blend of action and comedy which no recent action movies have emulated – it has a meagre 52% rating. Return To Oz is one of my favourite movies of all time, yet it sits with an inexplicable 53%. I can only assume this is due to a critical bias towards The Wizard Of Oz rather than seeing the film on its own merits – as a twisted, dark, fantasy which teaches kids that the world actually isn’t all that nice of a place. With great make-up, effects, and some fantastic performances, it deserves better than 53%.

Super, at 49%, is a film which was dismissed upon release and has since faded into oblivion. For me, it’s better than any MCU or DCU movie I’ve seen (yet), and more inventive, funny, and interesting than almost any recent comic book blockbuster you can name. Hot Rod has 39%… it’s not great, but I enjoyed it. High Tension has… wtf… only 40%, reminding us that most critics just don’t get horror and are idiots. Equally mysterious is Equilibrium’s 38% – sure most people see it as a Matrix knock-off, but it’s vastly superior in my eyes than whatever the hell The Matrix sequels were supposed to be. Drop Dead Fred has a painful 9% rating…. I get it’s not high art, and while I don’t know the countries of origin of the critics who gave such bad scores, I would take a stab at guessing most were American and therefore ‘didn’t get it’. Any time Rik Mayall appears in a film it is a blessing from the Gods, and this is probably his best movie role. Show this to any kid – they’ll love it.

Lets go through some of my favourite movies by year lists and see how some of those fare – I’m only picking those movies which I imagine critics didn’t love. The Watcher In The Woods is my 7th favourite movie of 1980, but RT gives it a 45%. The further into the 80s we go and the more Arnie movies we’ll see – traditionally Arnie movies got hammered by critics upon release only to be reevaluated as classics decades later. We already know that the Police Academy series never did well with critics – even the generally agreed upon best of the bunch (Part 1) gets only 54%. Brewster’s Millions is one of my favourites of 1985 but has a poor 36%, while The Hitcher from 1986 barely scrapes a Fresh Rating with 60%. Going further a field, my beloved Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, which is long overdue for a critical reevaluation, has a miserly 33%.

Once again, feel free to draw your own conclusions from any of this and check how your favourite movies stack up against the almighty critical consensus. Chances are they won’t, but that’s okay. Just keep liking what you like, because if you don’t the people in power will just keep rolling out the same five films each year with ever more beautiful effects, performers, and movies will become pointless. What a time to be alive.

The Highest Rated Movies I Don’t Like – Rotten Tomatoes Edition

md991108j[1]

Greetings, Glancers! If you follow any dedicated movie blog or fan page or podcast, forum, or website regularly, you’ve probably seen various posts and comments discussing the variance between what critics say is good (or bad) and what fans say is good (or bad). This is a time honoured disparity – critics and the general public have been disagreeing about what they should consume since time began – the general consensus being that critics are snobbish and elite and only like a film if it’s old/foreign/arty/low-budget, while the general public are a bunch of ignorant sheep who only enjoy whatever the largest corporations feed to them, generally new/Hollywood only/formulaic/high-budget films. It’s a load of balls of course, with a few pubes of truth pricking out. As I’ve pointed out before, each individual viewer can be broadly categorized, but we all have our own baggage of likes, dislikes, preferences which mean that – surprise surprise – movies, music, TV, books etc are subjective.

There are key differences between the critic and the general viewer, regardless of how voracious the general viewer is. Firstly, it is historically true that critics have had greater access to a wider array of films than anyone else. With the advent of the internet and streaming you would expect that distinction to disintegrate. I assumed it would have faded more by now, but it remains true that the general public is less adventurous than the critic and sticks to what they know, or what they like. Secondly, critics get paid to watch and critique movies – the general audience pays to watch and in most cases don’t get paid to talk about them. That relates to point 1 – the general public have to part with their hard earned cash to watch a movie, so why take the risk of forking over a handful of money if there’s a risky unknown quantity? We are more likely to spend our money on something there is a high likelihood we’ll enjoy.

Thirdly, film criticism is a discipline you are taught and learn. It isn’t the case that you can simply watch a bunch of movies and call yourself a critic – no, you’re a fan. A critic begins with watching movies, with the love of doing so, but takes it multiple steps further to learn about every aspect of film-making, but also film history, and criticism itself. You can’t be a critic without gaining the relevant knowledge and experience, whether that is through a University course or some other path of education. Even then, simply completing a BA in Film Studies may not be enough – you have to be good, you have to follow the rules, or be a master of the rules so that you know how and when to bend or break them. I admit I don’t know much about Rotten Tomatoes so I can’t say for sure how good, or how accurate the actual critics whose scores are used for the site are, but I can only assume they have the skills, knowledge, and experience which the general audience does not have.

I don’t consider myself a critic, in any way shape or form. I have a degree in English Literature, and within that degree I covered multiple film modules, multiple criticism modules, read endless texts on both subjects, but that doesn’t mean I’m anything more than a fan. A knowledgeable one, sure. Most of the movie blogs I follow, some of which are claimed to be run by critics, are not run by critics – they are fans like me. Some much more knowledgeable about films and about criticism than I am, others much less so. In each case the common denominator is that we all like what we like. That’s the way it should be. Don’t think that just because a film has a super high critical or audience score that you’ll automatically like it, or that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. Likewise, we should never feel guilty about enjoying something which is critically and/or commercially panned – like what you like. Some of the highest rated movies of all time are musicals – generally speaking I can’t stand musicals. The critical part of me can detach personal preference and speak from a technical perspective, from a perspective of cultural significance, but that’s abandoning the most important part of consuming art and entertainment – how does it make you feel? How much do you enjoy it. It’s part of the reason I don’t do scores – scores are basically meaningless – and it’s part of the reason I came up with the Nightman Scoring System (c), as an attempt to replace personal bias with a more generic critical eye while not necessary having critical skills.

All of that leads to the purpose of this post – I’m going to look at some of the most popular websites and publications of the modern age, look at their mostly highly and lowly rated films, and select a few of the ones I disagree with. Namely, those in the top 100 which I didn’t enjoy, and those at the bottom which I did. As people we like to both bitch and moan when we encounter something we disagree with, and we like to indulge in confirmation bias by seeking our and finding those lists and people who pick the same movies we would pick. That proves you’re right, right!? No, it just proves that someone somewhere likes something you do. The purpose of these posts is neither to bitch and moan nor a search for affinity in this endless void we call home. It’s scratching an itch, it’s because I’m curious to see what others think and if I’m aligned to the zeitgeist. It’s allowing me to see that zeitgeist, because usually I don’t care about what is popular or what is not and I rarely if ever look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes. They are the subject of today’s post, and I’ll be looking at their Top 100 Highest Rated Movies – all Genres – as of April 8th 2019.

At first glance the list does seem a little silly – definitely catered towards the general public rather than the critic. In over 100 years of Cinema, 47 of ‘the most highly rated films of all time’ were released in the last nine years (seven of the top ten released in the last four years). Yes, 47 of the best 100 movies of all time came out since 2010. It’s objectively false and it says more about the people who use the site than the films themselves. If you’re a regular here, you likely know my viewing habits aren’t usual – I typically only catch up to most new movies when they’re 3, 4, 5 years old. What that means is that a large chunk of those 47 movies I haven’t seen – maybe they are some of the best movies of all time, as unlikely as that seems.

Remember, if I have my critical hat on then I am dividing up a film’s score into roughly 20 categories, ranging from commercial power to cultural influence to technical skill so it is difficult to gauge how ‘good’ a film is until a certain amount of time has passed. We’re not doing that today though, so lets just take the numbers and films as they are. There are movies here I enjoyed, or even loved, but I wouldn’t consider them to be the best or most highly rated movies of all time but lets start working my way through the list to find films I didn’t like. If I genuinely find none, then it’ll be films I found average.

At number 87, we have Finding Nemo. Did I like Finding Nemo? Sure – but I didn’t enjoy it any more than any number of straight to DVD animated fare. It looks fine, I imagine when it was first released the visuals had more of an impact, but the story, the characters, the voices – none of these things captured me in the same way as my favourite Disney movies. I understand I’m not the target audience for this film and by the time all of these CG animated movies were being made I had all but stepped away from watching any animation. Once my kids were of an age where they could actually watch a movie, I was excited as I had more than 10 years worth of apparently great animated movies to catch up on, from Disney, Dreamworks, Illumination, Pixar etc. Yet many of the most highly rated ones haven’t done anything for me, beyond being a simple, happy diversion. Finding Nemo is one of those – it’s little more than just okay. For me.

12 Years A Slave is a movie I did like, but wasn’t in any way wowed by. I think most of that is down to how much I love Roots and this seemed like Roots-lite. Strong performances, great direction, but again it didn’t knock me over like a film considered the 45th highest rated film of all time should. I’m mainly picking it because I’m over the halfway mark and haven’t found any others I don’t like – plenty I haven’t seen and assume I won’t like, but I can’t count those. Argo jumps in at number 44, and this one I really didn’t get. It’s not an overly interesting story, it’s embellished for dramatic purposes within an inch of its life without ever becoming dramatic or tense, and it feels like ‘one of those Oscar movies’ designed for no purpose beyond winning the Oscar. It’s not bad – it’s just boring, predictable, and hits every ‘seen it all before’ box I can think of.

Singin’ In The Rain. The first musical. One of the most famous and successful musicals of all time, from the Golden Age of Cinema. But it’s balls. It’s so iconic that no-one actually remembers what the film is about – just Gene Kelly splashing about in the gutter with an umbrella. It’s actually about the film business itself, and we know Hollywood loves movies about itself. But it’s a romantic comedy, it’s a musical, and those two things almost never work for me unless there’s something unique or personal to me. I understand why so many people love it of course, I’m not that obtuse, but there’s nothing here for me beyond saying I’ve seen it.

Casablanca is heralded as one of the best movies of all time. I’m the one idiot who goes against the grain. I just don’t like it very much. I like most of the cast, but I like their other films more. I don’t like the music, I don’t think much of the story, and I can’t stand the dialogue. ‘Here’s looking at you, kid?’ What the balls does that even mean? Why does Rick say it roughly four hundred times during the film? Shots fired, eh?

Dunkirk… I really should like it, right? I do, but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be. In the end it feels more like an experiment than a movie. I’ve seen it once, and unlike most of Nolan’s other work, it’s not one I feel the need to ever watch again. The performances, in most cases, don’t get room to breathe and while I understand that it’s an ensemble about soldiers and ordinary people being forced into extraordinary acts, it strangely didn’t move me. I liked it, but more as a critic than a fan, and I value fan preference more highly.

ET strangely endures over time. It’s the sentimentality and the music and the creature design all combined with that timeless 80s quality made at a time when Spielberg was at his best. Yet, I enjoy the pretty terrible Mac And Me more. Mac And Me is not a good film, ET is, but that doesn’t change how I feel. I don’t have anything bad to say about ET – it’s just one I feel was overrated at the time and has continued to be unnecessarily successful over time.

Get Out is the sixth most highly rated movie of all time. I liked Get Out, a lot actually, but not to this extent. That’s saying it’s better than The Exorcist, The Shining, Halloween, Dawn Of The Dead, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and that’s just within the horror genre. It’s not better than any of those films, and it’s still too recent to truly gauge how good it is. Then, bizarrely at number 2, is Lady Bird. The second best movie of all time? For me it probably wasn’t even the second best movie released that month. It’s one of the few movies on the list I have reviewed on the blog and while I think it is a nice, sweet, modern coming of age story, I don’t think it comes close to films like Stand By Me or Lucas, or The Kings Of Summer. 

There we go, quite a few surprises I would assume, especially for regular visitors to my blog who may assume I love all the classics. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate any of these – life’s too short to hate movies, but neither is there any I strongly dislike. Singin In The Rain is probably the closest to a strong dislike, mainly because of my misgivings about musicals, but as I mentioned above I understand why it is so beloved, versus something like Lady Bird which I liked, but don’t understand why it has so much love. What does any of this mean? Not a lot really – it tells me that most users and reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are overly invested in new movies, which I kind of knew anyway, while reinforcing my belief that you should stretch your viewing net as far and wide as possible – backwards in time and across the globe – to find movies to enjoy.

Next time up, I’ll take a look at some of the lowest rated movies and find out if I enjoy any of those. For now, let us know in the comments which highly rated movies (according to RT or otherwise) you disagree with or don’t like!

TTT – Top 10 Wes Craven Movies

Greetings, Glancers! It’s been a minute (do the kidz still say that?) since I’ve squeezed out one of these, but luckily I’ve had a lot of fibre recently and things are moving again, if you take my meaning. Wes Craven is one of my favourite directors of all time but I’ll be the first to admit he’s made a lot of rubbish over the years. He’s one of my favourites because when his films are good, they are second to none. There’s basically three tiers to Craven movies – Iconic, okay, and crap. Most people agree on what’s iconic, everyone disagrees on what’s crap/okay. No matter where you stand, there’s no doubting his place in horror, inventing or reinventing pieces of the genre at least three times, and providing us with some of the best scares, best villains, best heroes, and best movies in horror history.

10. The People Under The Stairs

It’s true to say that most people love this more than I do. I like it, but I don’t have the nostalgic connection to it which most fans have. My favourite thing about it is the Twin Peaks connection – Wendy Robie and Everett McGill star again as another unusual pairing. The story and the film, are fairly unique, but then again we’re talking late 80s, early 90s horror – a time when anything goes, so when we’re talking about a ghetto kid trying to save his family from being evicted by a pair of murderous landlords and their cannibal children, you know you’re on safe enough territory. It’s certainly funny, it’s borders on outright weird, you’d never see anything like it getting made today, and there’s plenty of gore.

9. Swamp Thing

This little seen action/comedy/horror hybrid is well worth a watch for anyone bored with today’s superhero stories and want something a little different. This is certainly a little different, Craven this time dealing with more established stars and a bigger budget than his earlier 70s work. While campy and not going for the jugular as he had been known for, this still has plenty of violence and sexy times and features genre favourites Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise.

8. Red Eye

A late in the game box office and critical success for Craven, this is a surprisingly straight, taut, and effective thriller which holds up well today. Featuring reliable performers Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Cox it is another entry in the ‘bad shit happens on a plane’ sub-genre. It has the twists of Scream without the meta stuff and plays out like a modern Hitchcock film, cranking up the tension until the climax. This gets straight to the point, plays its game with no chaff, and remains gripping throughout.

7. The Hills Have Eyes

Here’s an interesting one – I much prefer the remake of this. Craven’s ideas are solid and the story and characters all in place, but it lacks the budget and power to be executed fully. The remake has the money and conviction and it is wonderfully brutal in all the most delightful ways. Still, this is the original and therefore worth giving due attention and respect. Like his previous film, this works as a nightmare scenario of US family values, of how simply and quickly the perfect family can devolve into gruesome violence. The film follows the extended Carter family on a road trip who take a wrong turn and end up being picked off by another family – albeit deformed cannibals. The invention and wit and energy here tends to surpass most modern horror but is only defeated by the lack of money to fully pull off everything required to make it perfect.

6. Scream 3

Often seen as the weakest in the series, while that may be true it always holds a special place in my heart. It was the first in the series I saw in the Cinema and brought along my girlfriend at the time who was also a series fan. The ideas were wearing thin at this point, but there are enough trilogy smarts and in jokes to still make it a fun ride. With Neve, Courtney, David and co all returning, that affinity with the characters is still present and I enjoy the callbacks to the previous entries. The series remains one of the best written and fun in horror, and it’ll always be dear to me, even if it isn’t a patch on Part 1.

5. Music Of The Heart

I imagine I’ll get a lot of heat for this one, but for some reason I’ve always enjoyed the ‘tough kids get won over by teacher’ movies. I don’t know why, but they give me a kick. To see Wes Craven making one, to see Wes Craven directing a Meryl Streep movie, is still hilarious to me, and I think he pulls it off. Sure, there isn’t an original bone in its body, but it proves that Craven can work completely outside horror and make an effective light-hearted drama. Streep even got nominated for an Oscar, as did the title track, but it was a box office flop. It’s a little overlong and probably came out a few years too late, but it’s still one of my under the radar favourites.

4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Craven’s first experiment with meta or post modern horror or whatever the hell you want to call it, sees him returning to his most famous franchise and ostensibly releasing his most feared creation upon the real world. New Nightmare’s set up is that Heather Langenkamp – Nancy from the original movie – is married and has a son, and that the boy’s nightmares about Freddy are somehow bringing the clawed killer into the real world. This means we have various actors, writers, and directors playing themselves while being stalked by Kruger. It’s clever, and it’s violent, with Robert Englund playing himself, playing traditional Freddy, and playing the all new, more vicious Freddy.

3. The Last House On The Left

Englund’s first impact on the horror scene was this low budget exploitation movie about a family resorting to revenge and torture upon the rapists and killers who did the same to their daughters. It’s a film of two halves, each half complementing the other while advancing the plot and showing how violence begets violence. The first half follows a couple of teenage girls heading to a concert but who are attacked by a group of killers, the second finds the killers accidentally stopping off at the parent’s house and seeing the tables turned. It’s not an easy watch and Craven doesn’t hold back in his depictions of torture, rape, and murder. The remake ups the budget and gore and makes for an interesting companion piece, but for me it lacks the gut punch and shock of the original.

2. Scream

My top two picks aren’t going to surprise anyone. Scream is a perfect film in my eyes. I understand why others will disagree with me and I’m not so blind to agreeing with its criticism, but that doesn’t change how I feel about it. It’s my generation’s horror movie and even though I was 13 or 14 when it released it still felt like it was made for me. I understood most of the references, I loved the twists, I recognised most of the characters in myself and people I knew, the dialogue was sharp, and the cast was peppered with people I either already loved or would come to. It gave us two new horror icons in killer Ghostface and heroine Sydney, played by my other world wife Neve Campbell. It’s funny, stylish, and has some great scares and kills, and it’s a movie I’ll never tire of.

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

The only film which could beat Scream is my favourite horror movie of all time. This is the one which got me into horror, even before I’d watched it. I knew Kruger, I knew the plot, and I’d seen bits of it when I was a child, and the artwork in the video stores always intrigued me. It’s one of Craven’s most successful movies, it’s his best work, his most inventive, and it is even critically acclaimed to a certain degree – not always unusual for horror, but definitely rate for one so visceral. The film and its villain gained iconic status leading to a long series of spin-offs and sequels, none of which have matched the skill and precision of the original. Langenkamp and Englund are terrific, the effects are nightmarish, and the idea of someone stalking your dreams (for the sins of your parents no less) remains potent. Horror often bleeds into fantasy, but I don’t think it was ever worked so successfully than with this undoubted masterpiece.

Let us know in the comments which movies you would include in your Top Ten Wes Craven list!

2019 In Film – A Preview – September

It: Chapter 2

One of my favourite books, I enjoyed Chapter 1, and this sequel will focus on the adult version of the kids from Chapter 1, thirty years later. The first one was quite funny, though lighter on scares than most wanted, it’ll be interesting to see how that balance works out this time around.

Downton Abbey

I don’t watch the show, I don’t do period costume dramas, I can’t stand monarchy or titled stuff, and Maggie Smith pisses me off. I’ll never see this.

Spies In Disguise

Another Blue Sky Studios animation – they’ve been successful but I cant say I’ve ever been interested in any of them. This one has Will Smith as a Man In Black or Inspector Gadget or something.

The Kitchen

If it’s not Banana Yoshimoto, I’m not interested. It’s another Melissa McCarthy movie, but wait! It’s a serious one this time, also starring Elizabeth Moss and Tiffany Hadish. Seems similar to Widows – wives of criminals take over from where the husbands left off. I’d be more keen with a different cast and I’m not a big fan of Irish crime movies anyway.

Abominable

I’m always concerned when you give your movie or book or album a name like that. It’s just begging for lazy critics to use it in a damning review, right?

The Hunt

I’ve no idea, there seems to be a tonne of different movies and shows called The Hunt coming out this year.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

I enjoyed the book when it was released and always wondered how it could be translated to film given that it’s through the eyes of a dog. Decent cast, not a director I’m interested in.

Judy

If it ain’t a Twin Peaks spin off, I ain’t interested. It’s not, but it is a Judy Garland, one of the first stories of a child star’s torrid transition to adulthood. Plus she’s one of the most famous movie stars of all time. I’m not a massive Garland fan and these types of films tend to hit the same notes, pander to the Awards too much, but do offer good performances. On the casting side, Renee Zellweger would have been one of my last picks for this, but the more I think about it there definitely is a visual similarity. Recent Biopics really go all in on making the actor look as close to the real life counterpart as possible, so Renee’s resemblance will help. I like Rufus Sewell, but overall it doesn’t look like the sort of cast to make a huge splash. The Director is used to exactly this sort of thing – it just so happens that it’s not my sort of thing.

Which films are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!