This is an idea I first saw on @bobfreelander‘s blog. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.
Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.
This is a movie that is an absolute blast and it’s certainly unexpected. This is a French horror/comedy, which stars Jean-Baptiste Maunier a few years after his breakthrough in The Chorus. It’s about a demonic cellphone with a mind of its own. From the inciting incident, which plays out kind of like the acquisition of the Gizmo in Gremlins, you know what you’re in for: a lot of laughs, great kills and creative cinematography.
House of Long Shadows (1983)
Here’s another assembly of horror legends and in this film you’d think there’s no way all these icons can have their moment, you fear it’ll fall victim to All-Star Cast syndrome but it doesn’t. Aside from the problematic lead, and a build-up you have to work your way through, this film really works.
The Thing from Another World (1951)
If you’ve seen either the Carpenter version or the new silly pre-make, you owe it to yourself to watch this one as well.
The Rape of the Vampire (1968)
I got on a little Jean Rollin roll at one point this past year and it lost some of its momentum. He’s typically more stylistically intriguing than narratively, but this has both.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Typically during 61 Days of Halloween I tackle at least one series to watch and occasionally write on. This year I got those cheap 4-in-1 sets to take in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. This was the late-series surprise. A tremendously reflexive work, that pre-dates Craven’s meta work in Scream, and is quite an effective close to his direct involvement in the series.
The White Shadow (1924)
This is the famous fragmental silent Hitchcock that was found in a family attic in New Zealand last year. In typical Hitchcock fashion the film stops at the height of suspense to that point, even fragmental Hitchcock is great – it would’ve been interesting to finish it though as the text indicates some wild plot twists from there. You can watch it here.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
There may be more classics taken in for the first time next year as I have a new outlook on long overdue screenings. This list remains mostly quirky and classics I don’t need to sell anyone on are few and far between – should there be a plethora of long overdue screenings I will make the semantical change to “Dicoveries,” which would preclude the need to mention obviously good titles.
World on a Wire (1973)
This past year, owing to my fascination with Berlin Alexanderplatz the year before, I took in two Fassbinder films and this one was the most fascinating. I will likely take in more next year and wouldn’t mind if his work became a staple on these lists.
The Birds (1963)
OK, so far as this goes I never considered this film viewed because I never saw it from start-to-finish straight through I had several fragmented viewings, thanks to TV before this. Here Hitch’s idea to use no score truly works.
Emil and the Detectives (1964)
When considering what to do with this final spot a lot of the candidates covered niches I had covered already: Shot/Produced in Brazil (Where the River Runs Black), Hitchcock (Frenzy), Horror (The Mummy) and Disney (Child of Glass), however, to be more specific a Disney Movie Club selection didn’t make it. Now, yes, it one of those clubs where you buy a bunch cheap then have a membership requirement, but if you’re vigilant and a Disney nut it can be worth it. Another perk is Club exclusive titles. This tale is German and translated, but with a solid cast, very well-composed cineamtography and an engaging storyline it works fairly well. Disney titles that aren’t available openly are a topic for another day, but the club is a way to get some unique titles, and this was the best of the lot to me thus far.
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