My Re-makes, Ripoffs, Re-adaptations, & Riffs Questby McBiscuit | created - 06 Feb 2013 | updated - 21 Apr 2015 | Public
This is a quest I embarked on in 2012 (and will continue at a more leisurely pace). The groups of movies watched should be a bit obvious and are ordered as they were watched. Read my comments at your own risk as there will be spoilers!
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3. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Not Rated | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband. Once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.
Votes: 15,616 | Gross: $8.33M
Notable primarily because of the breath-taking introduction of Lana Turner, the best moment of this group as you could feel the heat between Garfield and Turner (and the attraction to Turner is understandable as she was a knockout). The sexual chemistry between the two leads builds slowly but is never in doubt, two desperate souls looking to escape their current lives (Cora more so that Nick, who succeeds in convincing him that love without money does not work), looking to remove Cora’s older husband from the equation. The film began lose my interest after the murder--my disinterest in court room scenes these days is likely the reason--not quite living up to its reputation in my eyes.
4. Jerichow (2008)
Unrated | 93 min | Drama
The dishonorably discharged Afghanistan veteran Thomas returns to his home village of Jerichow. Ali, a local Turkish-German businessman, owner of a snack-bar chain, hires him as a driver. ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,821 | Gross: $0.05M
I liked quite a bit, due mostly to the interesting look into social class. Instead of a drifter we get an army vet returning home from Afghanistan. Forced to pay back debts, he's left penniless and looking for work, able only to secure a job picking cucumbers. After a chance encounter with Ali, a Turkish born German businessman who owns a chain of snack bars, he is hired to be his driver. Of course, Ali is married to the younger Laura, and the love triangle is complete. The interaction between Laura and Thomas is quite superficial, their attraction never given much thought, something you have to accept, seeming to lust after each other rather than fall into anything that resembles ‘love’. In any event, the personal politics that occur to each character is what is most interesting here, with Laura getting most of my sympathy—literally bought by Ali, holding her debts over her (they are his debts now, but if she leaves, he can always place them back on her). Ali is a brute, a German citizen regarded as an outsider—when circumstances make his murder moot, he still gains no sympathy. Of course, Ali finds out about the infidelities, and no murder is actually committed, ultimately getting the last laugh by killing himself and leaving the two conspirators with nothing.
5. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
The sensuous wife of a lunch wagon proprietor and a rootless drifter begin a sordidly steamy affair and conspire to murder her Greek husband.
Votes: 18,614 | Gross: $12.38M
A rather pointless re-make, doing well to provide good atmosphere but ultimately feeling like an exercise to show the sex left out in the '46 version. That said, the sex is surprisingly graphic, but is never erotic, as Frank practically forces himself on Cora who finally gives in. Jessica was quite attractive back in the day, but pretty much screams her way through the entire film.
6. Ossessione (1943)
TV-14 | 140 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
Gino, a drifter, begins an affair with inn-owner Giovanna as they plan to get rid of her older husband.
My favorite version of Postman, dropping the post-murder trial (while raising police suspicions, they seemingly get away with it) and focusing on the two lovers through and through. While not coming close to the intro of Laura in the ’46 Postman, the attraction between Giovana and Gina is felt immediately and never subsides, leaving no doubt that they long for each other. After doing away with Giovana’s husband, Gino has a difficult time dealing with the magnitude of his actions, becoming more withdrawn from Gina and subsequently pursuing someone else before coming back to Laura. That the events of this film focus entirely on the lovers and their range of emotions, made this more hard hitting than the other versions. Additionally, the portrayal of their dire realities adds a layer to desperation to their existence.
7. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery
A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit".
A perfect example of the cynicism of noir, summarizing the paranoia that must have existed during the nuclear arms race. The name Mike Hammer is apt here, as the ‘hero’ is every bit as nasty and opportunistic as everyone seeking ‘the great whatsit’.
8. Lost Highway (1997)
R | 134 min | Mystery, Thriller
After a bizarre encounter at a party, a jazz saxophonist is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to prison, where he inexplicably morphs into a young mechanic and begins leading a new life.
Votes: 110,759 | Gross: $3.80M
Riffs on Deadly, immediately apparent with the opening ‘moving highway’ that mimics the intro of Deadly. Additionally, there is the burning house on stilts, the strange mechanic, and other obvious nods. That said, this is a riff in the most superficial sense, as other than these bits, the rest of the movie exists on its own terms, without much context given as to the nature of these references. The imagery of LH is exquisite, dark and, at times, exceptionally creepy. Typical of Lynch, there are many details that shouldn’t be missed, seemingly required to put all the pieces together, with me, at the end, convinced that I may have missed several.
9. Rear Window (1954)
PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Votes: 364,822 | Gross: $36.76M
Initially a romance, with the laid up Jeff (Stewart) bemoaning his relationship with Lisa, with whom he doesn’t see a long-term future, unable to imagine her accepting the difficult, non-luxurious life of an itinerant photographer. Of course, there is great chemistry between them, and throughout the film they’ll become closer, as Jeff slowly pulls Lisa (and Stella) into his belief that his neighbor has murdered his wife and disposed of her body. It really is quite charming to see Jeff’s eyes marvel at the unexpected actions of his gal, as she becomes fully immersed in their attempts to uncover evidence of a neighbors misdeed.
10. Vertigo (1958)
PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.
Votes: 291,799 | Gross: $3.20M
My first ever watch of Vertigo was grand, and it became immediately clear that De Palma would latch onto the ideas here for both Obsession and especially Body Double. Stewart here is excellent, one of his few non-westerns that I like a great deal (I just have this irrational dislike of him), almost willfully falling into the conspirators plot, the perfect sucker for the job. Aside from Scottie, the sad thing about the film is that Kim Novak (twice!) allows men to transform her for their own means, breaking one man while being used by the other. I didn’t quite expect the ending here, or suspect that Scottie had it figured out, waiting for the transformation of Novak to be complete.
11. Obsession (1976)
PG | 98 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A wealthy New Orleans businessman becomes obsessed with a young woman who resembles his wife.
Obsession asks, “what if Kim Novak were (literally) young enough to be Stewarts daughter” and moves into some disgusting territory from there, in what can only be called a rather silly and implausible homage to Hitch. That said, I like it a great deal.
12. Body Double (1984)
R | 114 min | Mystery, Thriller
A young actor's obsession with spying on a beautiful woman who lives nearby leads to a baffling series of events with drastic consequences.
Votes: 23,288 | Gross: $8.80M
My favorite of this group of films--a great film--and on that owes an obvious debt to both Rear Window and Vertigo. De Palma utilizes the voyeuristic aspect of the former, and the unknowing-sap-who-aides-in-a-murder plotline of the later. Instead of the romance subplot of Vertigo, De Palma channels this Hitch-inspired thriller through a low budget horror/sleazy exploitation filter giving way to many delights: the almost too well cast Craig Wasson, the numerous film within films, the fact that this *is* really Vertigo dragged through the cinematic gutter—giving us some beautiful trash that oozes sleaze and bad taste but is all the more better for it.
13. Rear Window (1954)
PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Votes: 364,822 | Gross: $36.76M
One great attribute of Rear Window is its deliberate pacing, allowing us to become acquainted with the cast of characters: we observe Jeff’s relationship with his love (dis)interest Lisa, his friend Stella, witness their initial reaction to Jeff’s theory of his neighbors murderousness (he’s nuts!), and finally their conversion into willing participants in Jeff’s attempt at determining the fate of said neighbors supposed missing wife. Later, we are treated to a delightful romance between Jeff and Lisa, whom Jeff seems indifferent to initially, thinking her unable to meet the tough demands his life as an itinerant photographer entails. But, as each character becomes more convinced that the neighbor has murdered his wife, something happens that makes Jeff rethink his stance on Lisa: she begins to take a larger role in their detecting, taking on greater risks, things that would have seemed out of character early on but now show her more adventurous side; this adventurous side is an obvious turn on for Jeff who now sees Lisa in a new light.
14. Disturbia (2007)
PG-13 | 105 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer.
Votes: 199,635 | Gross: $80.21M
Disturbia takes another approach to this story, not bothering to develop any of the characters and asking the audience to accept great leaps in logic. After an intro where we witness an accidental involving a father and teenage son, the surviving son, Kale, goes thru the obvious bout of remorse and depression, before slugging a teaching and promptly being put under house arrest. Kale begins spending his time peeing on his neighbors, taking particular interest in the teenage girl next door and, of course, thinking he had witnessed a murder perpetrated by a neighbor and we are set up in short time.
Superficial characterization aside, the biggest problems begin with the previously mentioned leaps in logic and head scratching character motivations. The girl next door catches Kale and a friend spying on her while swimming, figures that this spying has been going on for some time, and then decides that hey, we should all hang out! After some internet browsing, Kale finds stories of a serial killer on the loose and deducts that hey, this must be the guy! Kales friend, with no supporting evidence decides okay, I’ll help you out by doing some breaking and entering…and so on and so forth. Half-assed romance and catching of killer ensue. Disturbia is neither homage nor good imitation, falling into the pointless rip-off category, content to tell the story in a connect-the-dots fashion, piecing together a weak story and hoping that the cheap thrills of the finale mask the ineptness of all involved.
15. I Am Legend (2007)
PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.
Votes: 597,550 | Gross: $256.39M
Three years after scientists find a cure for cancer using bioengineered viruses we are shown the consequences: a vacant city infested with zombie-like vampires (we did it to ourselves!). Things only go downhill from here, due mostly to the atrocious vampire special effects. The vampires, while cartoonish, are nasty beasts: fast and possessing supernatural strength that gives them some ridiculous abilities (like scaling tall buildings). When he is not out shooting up vampires, good ‘ol Neville--being a scientist and all--is searching for a cure for said vampire-ism.
The biggest difference between the 'I Am Legend' adaptations is the portrayal of the vampires. Here, the creatures appear almost mindless, always in search of a meal to quell their insatiable appetite. So animal-like that it’s difficult to think of Dr. Neville as ‘Legend’ since these zombies hardly resemble humans, at least not socially (hence having the creatures think of Neville as a legend hard to believe). This is somewhat remedied in the end, as Neville does find a cure, fights off the hordes of attacking zombies, and gets the cure into the hands of those who could use it (hence becoming a legend). Bleh.
16. The Omega Man (1971)
GP | 98 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Army doctor Robert Neville struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race.
Votes: 25,212 | Gross: $8.72M
Here, humanity has been wiped out due to the spread of a biological weapon used in the China-USSR war (figures). The vampires here are of the more typical variety, having become albino and susceptible to sunlight (and bright light in general). These creatures are much more interesting than those of Legend due mostly to their acceptance of the plague, attributing it to an act of God, and seeking to start anew. To do so, they must forsake old humanity and all their creations (technology mostly, as they have no problem utilizing the existing infrastructure). This, of course, involves killing Neville, who is interested in finding a cure for the plague.
17. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Not Rated | 86 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
When a disease turns all of humanity into the living dead, the last man on earth becomes a reluctant vampire hunter.
Easily the best of the three films. Dr. Robert Morgan is the sole survivor of a plague of unknown origins. Morgan is also a scientist (in fact, he was working on a cure to the plague when it became apparent that they were in the midst of a pandemic) whose days are filled with killing vampires and nights are best described as ignoring the vampires taunts. The creatures in Last Man are the most vampire-like of these films: averse to garlic, unable to stand sunlight, and repelled by their mirror image. That, and they’re easily killed by driving a wooden steak through their hearts (but their movements are zombie-like, much like Romero’s zombies).
Again we find a subset of the infected who themselves have developed a means to suppress the effects of the virus. This group seeks to find a cure for those who have yet to fully become a vampire, kill the remaining vampires, and begin civilization anew. However, when Morgan meets up with one of them, he finds that transfusing their blood with his cures them of the virus completely. Unfortunately, it seems as Morgan has killed a number of their kind before they were completely ‘dead’ (or turned), becoming a target of their vengeance and is killed before they know of his cure.
18. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.
Considered by many to be superior to Frankenstein, I find both to be pretty much equal—both great—but for differing reasons. While I find Frankenstein to be genuinely frightening, in Bride I found myself more sympathetic toward the monster than previously. The monster is lonely and confused, wanting companionship and to encounter a human who *isn’t* frightened of him and wanting him dead. The monster is ultimately used as a means of coercion by Pretorius to aid in the creation of the bride, whose reanimation crushes the beast, as she too recoils at the mere sight of him (“she hates me!”).
19. Weird Science (1985)
PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi
Two high school nerds attempt to create the perfect woman, but she turns out to be more than that.
Votes: 67,259 | Gross: $23.83M
A combination of teen boy-type fantasies: the ridiculed nerd who gets the last laugh, and a typical sex fantasy that have been around for as long as I can remember. So, what are two boys with no friends and no chance at scoring with the female peers of their longing to do? Use their computer smarts to make a woman, obviously! Using select pieces of centerfolds from girly mags to outline the bulk of a female being (because her physical nature really is the most important thing), with some extras tossed in for her intelligence (in the form of and Einstein pic and Beethoven). Their scheme works, and we are introduced to Lisa, a beautifully slender sight who, over the course of a weekend, teaches the boys the confidence they need to stand tall, deal with the bullies, and get the girls. Lisa herself should be insulting, proudly proclaiming that she “belongs” to the boys and must do “whatever they say”, as they own her, but Kelly LeBrock plays Lisa with such confidence that she rises above merely being a mechanism for the boys wish fulfillment, making the film a bit easier to swallow. That said, many Hughes’ films seem intent on showing that the kids on the margins of high school society have within them traits to suggest they are being greatly undervalued by their peers. Then why do such film’s happy ending typically involve these kids being ‘accepted’ by those very groups that have caused them so much unhappiness?
20. Frankenhooker (1990)
R | 85 min | Comedy, Horror
A medical student sets out to recreate his decapitated fiancée by building her a new body made of Manhattan street prostitutes.
Votes: 7,141 | Gross: $0.21M
Frankenhooker plays Frankenstein as dark comedy, hilariously using gender (and societal) stereotypes to comment on the ideas of female creation (although to be honest, I am not so sure this was Henenlotter’s intention). Jeffrey Franken is a strange character that prefers his ‘experiments’ to socializing. Opening with the birthday party of his fiancée's father—Elizabeth, played by an actress in a fat suit—a lawnmower accident kills the poor girl, with Jeffrey left to scoop up what remains of her in hopes of piecing her back together. Unfortunately, only her head and other small parts were saved, making it necessary to find replacements. But where to find such parts? Being near NYC, it hits him, “across the river there are a lot of girls willing to sell their parts!” Jeffrey decides that he’ll make Elizabeth better than ever, giving her the body that *she* always wanted, using parts from prostitutes to do so, making the physically perfect girl. Coming to the realization of what he intends, Franken tries to back out only to be overpowered by the hookers who discover the ‘supercrack’ he intends to kill them with (they’re going to slowly kill themselves anyway as hookers and crack go hand in hand you see), showing these women to be beyond hope and subsequently giving Franken the parts he needs. Once Elizabeth is recreated (losing the fat suit to show her centerfold body), she is tainted by the parts of the hookers, wandering the streets in search of a date, before the films rather interesting ending.
21. Frankenstein (1931)
Not Rated | 70 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.
Votes: 54,618 | Gross: $12.00M
Frankenstein, while a movie monster icon, had never really registered with me as a great horror film. This viewing changed that, as it really is a spectacular film—creepy and absolutely frightening. Beginning with Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz diligently collecting body parts for the purpose of creating life, these scenes of grave and gallows robbing are rather eerie, setting the tone for the movies gloomy atmosphere. Eerie in that the couple are not just taking bodies, but body parts—doing so in a nonchalant fashion, immediately suggesting that Henry Frankenstein is a bit on the crazy side. All seems to go according to plan until Fritz accidently grabs the brain of a criminal to put the finishing touches onto their creation.
The use of the criminal brain is key, as it is used to imply that the monster will only know evil once the pieced together corpse is re-animated. This doesn’t quite jibe with the portrayal of the beast by Boris Karloff, who plays the monster as childlike—confused and innocent, albeit with great strength. This is something that has always made me sympathetic towards the monster (a feeling I also had when I read the novel), taking his actions as either unknowingly brutal or as a means of self-preservation. From his ‘birth’, the monster is tormented by just about everyone, so his reliance on his strength to subdue these threats isn't surprising.
The death of the girl triggers what is both a terrifying ending and one of the more amazing set pieces of the film. Once the townsfolk are made aware of her death, they unite to hunt down the creature, providing nighttime scenes of angry torch carriers led by barking hounds. These scenes of the lynch mob I found very disturbing, mostly due to the my imagining of how terrifying it must be to be pursued by such a mob, still not able to think of a worse way to spend the last minutes of life and becoming saddened by the plight of the creature. Retreating to a windmill, the mob realizes that he is trapped, setting fire to the structure, in the process creating an elegant shot of the mill aflame, and the monsters seeming demise.
22. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
Not Rated | 98 min | Drama, Fantasy
In 1940, after watching and being traumatized by the movie Frankenstein (1931), a sensitive seven year-old girl living in a small Spanish village drifts into her own fantasy world.
The Spirit of the Beehive was an exceptional double feature with Frankenstein, mostly due to the film being told through the viewpoint of a child, Ana, who’s innocence makes the world a place of confusion she attempts to understand. Taking place in 1940, after the ending of the Spanish civil war, in an isolated village, Ana spends most of her time playing with her sister Isabel in their mansion. The family—the sisters, the beekeeping father, and longing mother—are never shown together in one shot, with the servants having the most interactions with the children. In this isolated and lonely backdrop, the film Frankenstein is shown in their village, an event that Ana and Isabel (and most of the village) don’t miss. After the accidental drowning of the little girl, Ana has difficulty understanding the motivation of the monster—“why did he kill the girl” she asks her sister. Isabel, being only slightly older (and probably not understanding herself), promptly dodges the question, promising to tell her later.
Later, as Ana continues to ask this question, Isabel tells Ana that the events of the film were not real, although the monster itself is a spirit who she can speak to. Isabel continues to manipulate her naïve little sister, taking Ana to an abandoned building where she claims the monster lives. These scenes reminded me a lot of my older sister, who took great pleasure in my belief of her lies when we were growing up. Ana takes these things to heart and returns to the building alone in search of the monster, instead finding a soldier in hiding. In short time, Ana and the soldier develop a relationship, she bringing him food and clothing and dressing his wounds—sharing a moment where they listen to the tune emitted from a pocket watch. When she returns later, Ana finds the soldier gone, noticing fresh blood on the ground.
I didn’t think the child had put two and two together, but while dining later, her father produces the pocket watch—the fright displayed by Ana’s face not only tips off the father as to who abetted the soldier, but more so showing Ana’s belief that her father was responsible for the soldiers fate. This must have been absolutely frightening for the child, not understanding the context of any of these events, deciding that she must flee. Spending a night on the run, Ana comes face to face with Frankenstein’s monster, in a scene that recreates the events of that film. Two innocent souls trying desperately to understand the world around them—the actions of the ‘adults’ a mystery to them—seeming to signal danger, but something they cannot escape. While the monster is merely a figment of her imagination, Ana is left to experience the world—the audience being told that eventually, Ana will forget the trauma that she experienced. Somehow, I doubt it will be that easy.
24. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
R | 123 min | Drama, Horror, Romance
When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.
Votes: 45,900 | Gross: $22.01M
25. The Maltese Falcon (1931)
80 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon.
An interesting movie, overt in its suggestion of the sexual prowess of Sam Spade, a character with a constant arrogant smirk. I assumed that this layer of sleaze was acceptable being a pre-code film, but this theme was quite funny, giving his character the veneer of an opportunist, allowing Spade to easily maneuver between the law and the cast of characters each attempting to possess the fabled falcon. Of these characters, the small part of Wilmer was of note (especially when comparing the ’31 and ’41 versions), there seemingly a relationship (of the intimate variety) between him and Casper, or am I reading too much into Casper’s reluctance to give him up as the fall guy (that, and the unspoken communication between them during that scene)? Also, Spade’s strip-searching of Ruth Wonderly (to determine the thief of $100) was kinda shocking and yet hilarious, another scene to showcase Spade’s willingness to go that extra yard to come out ahead.
26. Satan Met a Lady (1936)
Approved | 74 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery
Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the ... See full summary »
Disappointing. I thought that a comedy version of Falcon might work out. Nope. Not funny. No chemistry between Bette Davis and Warren William, and William is a terrible Spade (oh sorry...Shane). I don’t want y’all to get the idea that I hated Satan, but it really is decidedly mediocre and the worst of the adaptations.
27. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.
Bogart is perfect in the role of Spade, needing nothing more than his calm demeanor, his tailored suit, and the ever present cigarette (yes, I agree with the masses - Bogie is the epitome of cool). More so than the ’31 Falcon, Bogart really does seem like a force to be reckoned with, ever suave in his handling of the law and falcon hunters alike, with the required physical demeanor needed to telegraph potential enemies to think twice before they act against him. A word should be said about Peter Lorre, a favorite of mine, and great as Cairo (I especially love the scene where they discover the falcon to be a fake, with Lorre stealing the scene with his outrage that yields to despair). Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer was excellent, losing the perceived ineffectiveness of the ’31 Wilmer, coming off as dangerously close to snapping, his anger towards Spade easily felt, and threatening at that. My only real issue with this version of Falcon is the attempted romantic aspect between Spade and Miss Wanderly which felt very fake to me, having spent so little time together (and I don’t easily buy into ‘the first time I saw you’ line). That, or Spade was just an @sshole who used this notion to get Miss Wanderly to more readily accept that she was caught, it all being a ruse. While I don’t think this was the intention, it is certainly something that would endear me more to (Bogart as) Spade.
28. The Invisible Man (1933)
Not Rated | 71 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.
From the moment we see Dr. Jack Griffin, wandering into a country inn—face wrapped in bandages and wearing some serious goggles—we are intrigued, as the abrupt entrance of the stranger immediately jolts the inns patrons, with his overall appearance prompting their suspicions (who the hell is this freak?). We learn that Griffin has discovered the secret of invisibility and has come to the inn in order to hide out and, hopefully, figure out a way to make himself visible again. We also are told that the potion that Griffin consumed will also slowly drive him mad (!).
The wife of the inn keeper soon tires of Griffin’s mysterious experiments and overt rudeness and orders her husband to give him the boot. Once the police get involved, Griffin finds no choice but to flee, removing his bandages and ‘exposing’ himself. This, of course, freaks everyone out including the inns keepers wife who runs around screaming hysterically for what seems like minutes, in a scene that I found absolutely hilarious (think silent film type emoting), one of the high points of this campy affair. The voice work of Claude Rains is excellent, ranging from a reassuring calm to a high pitched raving, the later increasing as the Dr. succumbs to the madness induced by the drug—becoming drunk on the power and money that his drug will surely bring. The story plays out as you expect, as Griffin is finally caught, but not before causing serious damage and finally meeting his end, allowing us the first look at Griffin in the whole film, his sole appearance before ‘The End’.
29. The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
Approved | 58 min | Sci-Fi
A crazed scientist invents an invisibility formula. He plans to use the formula to create an army of invisible zombies.
The Amazing Transparent Man is seemingly a rip-off of the The Invisible Man, but the films bad reputation I found to be undeserved. Now, it certainly doesn’t touch the greatness of the former film, but it is rather an interesting look into the anxieties of the era. The film opens with the prison escape of Joey Faust, a notorious safecracker who can break into (and apparently out of) anything. Faust is brought to Paul Krenner, a man who intends to build an invisible army to conquer the world (!). To do so, he coerces one Dr. Peter Ulof to continue his work on his invisibility machine (who requires Faust to get him the nuclear materials he needs to do so). What is interesting here is the guilt of the holocaust—Dr. Ulof is a survivor of the concentration camps where we learn he was forced to do experiments on other inmates, experiments that lead to the death of his wife. Additionally, the power of the invisibility machine is suggested to be akin to the nuclear bomb, with the film suggesting that such power should never have been developed in the first place (and that the fear of such power in the wrong hands is a development we have brought on ourselves).
30. Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
PG-13 | 99 min | Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi
After a freak accident, a yuppie turns invisible and runs from a treacherous CIA official, while trying to cope with his new life.
Votes: 19,153 | Gross: $14.36M
Memoirs of an Invisible Man kinda sucked, trying to be both comedic and thrilling but failing at both. Chevy Chase as the invisible man doesn’t quite work, although to be honest the screenplay has too many contrivances to list, so there wasn’t much he could do. Also, I didn’t quite like our ‘seeing’ this invisible man—the film alternating between the audience able to see him and only able to see his actions, usually to illicit laughs—preferring the invisible man to actually be invisible.
31. The Invisible Woman (1940)
Approved | 72 min | Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi
An attractive model with an ulterior motive volunteers as guinea pig for an invisibility machine.
In The Invisible Woman, we get a first stab at exploiting the power of invisibility for comedic purpose, riffing on the original and providing the first dose of femininity to partake in what appears to be an intoxicating ability. A rich lawyer provides funding for a scientist (Professor Gibbs) working on an invisibility machine. The problem, it seems, is that the rich lawyer is in financial distress, resulting in his cutting off funding for this research (right when Gibbs is looking for volunteers to test his device, d’oh!). Enter Kitty Carroll, a department store model that answers an ad calling for volunteers willing to become invisible (for free!). She does so in hopes of getting back at her mean spirited boss. Once Kitty is rendered transparent, the laughs are supposed to ensue, but there is not much laughs to be had I’m afraid. Eventually thugs attempt to steal the invisible device and Kitty, whose invisibility wears off unless she drinks alcohol (yep, a drunken naked invisible woman!), must get them out their predicament. The story wears thin quickly with the gags all pretty obvious (and lame). Kind of a yawner.
Passed | 82 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Two bumbling private eyes help a man wrongly accused of murder who has become invisible to help clear his name.
Having a bit more laughs than the tepid Invisible Woman, this entry is a bit dull as the same jokes again and again grows tiresome after awhile; not a fan.
33. Hollow Man (2000)
R | 112 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
When the leader of a team of scientists volunteers to be the test subject for their experiment in human invisibility, he slowly unravels and turns against them, with horrific consequences.
Votes: 109,755 | Gross: $73.21M
Hollow Man certainly changed things up, leaving comedy behind and diving into some tasteless territory. At this point in the game, the military is trying to gain the invisibility formula directly, a good excuse to have some hot shot scientist have access to all the materials he’ll need as well as a huge underground laboratory to conduct his experiments. As in the original Invisible Man, the lead scientist in Hollow Man, Sebastian Caine, has found the way to render animals invisible but bringing them back has remained elusive. We get a brief glimpse into Sebastian by way of his peeping on an unsuspecting neighbor, and then later his megalomania, making it unsurprising that when finally ‘bringing his invisible specimens back’, he decides to try out the formula himself before notifying his superiors. Things quickly go awry when his lab mates are unable to bring him back, making Sebastian a bit antsy with boredom until he finally realizes the potential of his being unseen—using the power to sexually violate women. Hollow Man could have been a really good movie, but once the sexual assaults occur things quickly go toward slasher-like territory, as Sebastian must knock off his fellow scientists who have ratted him out to the higher ups. Let me back up a bit...what I mean is that it would have been interesting to further explore how easily one might slip into doing wrong when given such power, but the film instead shows this only momentarily, quickly moving on to the slaughter. Verhoeven, as unsubtle as ever, while providing his usual tastelessness, seems to be uninterested here, making a surprisingly typical horror/thriller. At this point, I was invisible-manned-out.
Final conclusion: the power of invisibility seems to be greatly overrated (especially in those storylines where the consumer of the serum flirts with madness), as one needs to be naked to truly be unseen; apparently only living flesh can be made transparent, with nary a scientist able to make invisible clothes. And there is the problem—invisibilities biggest drawback is that one must be barefoot at all times. Forget the fact that it would get cold being naked (especially true in the original, taking place in the winter), but having to be constantly barefoot would certainly kill your feet. How much could a person take walking on city streets, through the woods, alongside dirt roads? I was always thinking of Bruce Willis in Die Hard who is almost defeated by broken glass simply due to the lack of footwear. This would be the downfall of anyone hoping to exploit invisibility—their feet would only get them so far.
34. La Jetée (1962)
Not Rated | 28 min | Short, Drama, Romance
The story of a man forced to explore his memories in the wake of World War III's devastation, told through still images.
A phenomenal film, relaying in a series of still photographs the tale of WWIII’s aftermath. An amazing amount of ideas are contained in this tidy 28-minute short but the presentation is what makes the film a wonderful experience. The stills, accompanied with the narration, become exceedingly interesting once the details of the story are laid out; the tale is almost dream-like. Now, much has been said about the single moment of movement, which, once I was engrossed in the film, is an absolute marvel, giving the film a moment that really brings out an emotional response and elevates the film to the realm of greatness (obviously, I’d agree with those who have described the moment as ‘transcendent’). Is there another film, short or otherwise, where a single moment is so exhilarating that it completely changes our feelings of the whole?
35. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
R | 129 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
Votes: 515,954 | Gross: $57.14M
Twelve Monkeys essentially takes the ideas presented in La Jetée and crafts an interesting tale of its own, using the ground work laid by the former film to follow James Cole, a prisoner chosen to travel back in time to collect info on a man-made virus that wiped out most of humanity and those believed responsible for its creation. The movie, while told in a straight forward fashion (as straight forward as a tale involving a man zipping back and forth through time can be), still takes on a surreal veneer, due mostly to its vision of the future and those seemingly in charge—I have always found it humorous that the scientists seemingly do not understand the rigors associated with time travel while choosing men they think can handle the rigors (why else do they make the post-travel interrogation confusing in itself, having trouble understanding James version of his ordeal?).
I am of the opinion that Bruce Willis turns in the best performance here, even as Pitt gets most of the accolades (I felt as if the experience of Cole was exhausting, both mentally and physically, with Willis convincing me of such). In my younger days I was of the opinion that Pitt was brilliant. Now I think Pitt over does it quite a bit (I’ll probably get some flack for this), giving us fake crazy instead of real crazy. Now, his actions certainly fit well in the context of the film, but it is what it is, a young actor giving us a superficial cartoon type of performance (most of the people in the ward do this as well). Of course this performance may well be what gives Willis’ performance a more genuine feel. Or maybe I just don’t know nuts when I see it.
36. Gremlins (1984)
PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Votes: 163,904 | Gross: $148.17M
Looking for a gift for his son, inept inventor Randall Peltzer stops into an antique store in Chinatown in hopes of finding that unique gift. After perusing the merchandise, and attempting to hock his wares, he decides that he must have the cute and cuddly (and oh so adorable) creature whimpering in the corner—a mogwai. But said creature is not for sale, being too much responsibility, or so says the shopkeeper. The shopkeepers grandson, however, secretly sells the creature (hey, they need the money), giving Randall 3 simple rules to follow: avoid bright light, don’t get them wet, and (whatever you do) don’t feed them after midnight. Is there anything you can’t find in an antique store in Chinatown? Brushing aside the shop keepers warning regarding the creature requiring great responsibility, Randall gifts the mogwai to his teenage son (teenagers being the paradigm of responsibility after all).
Now, once these rules are spoken we know that it’s only a matter of time before we see the consequences of their being broken. They are sensitive to bright light; water initiates a reproductive event; late night feeding induces a metamorphosis—the adorable critters transforming into nasty mischievous imps, intent on causing mayhem in the small town to which they’ve been brought. Gremlins is a fun little movie (and the rare ‘Christmas’ movie I dig), particularly once the vile creatures run amok, trashing the stereotypical quaint town with their reign of destruction and using the gremlins to riff on a number of films and film cliché’s. A frenetic string of gags, gross-outs, and riffs, the little beasties give the whole affair the feel of a live action cartoon with Dante, a better director than most have given him credit for, keeping the zaniness in-check until the two teenage protagonists can rid the town of their destructors (with the aide of the angelic Gizmo).
37. Ghoulies (1984)
PG-13 | 81 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
A young man and his girlfriend move into an old mansion home, where he becomes possessed by a desire to control ancient demons.
Votes: 6,663 | Gross: $35.00M
Ghoulies…isn’t very good. The film makes little sense, an excuse for little creatures to be summoned via black magic and stand around looking menacing (and by menacing I mean drooling and growling) for most of the films runtime. But, there is a bit of fun to be had. A nearing 40 college ‘kid’, Jonathan Graves (with fantastic feathered hair), decides to drop out so he can fix up his house, the house formerly used by his long departed father and his cult (for what? Dunno) who attempted to kill him shortly after his birth—being saved by a benevolent cult member who is now the current groundskeeper of the manse, and who disappears for most of the film only to show up in the end to save his ass yet again (didn’t see that coming!). Falling under the spell of the house, he conjures up the ghoulies, and some medieval midgets (because, you know, who doesn’t like midgets?), to do his bidding (although it isn’t at all that clear what he wants from). Finally, he throws a party (so that his college peers can be terrorized by the creatures) where the well-intact corpse of his dad is re-animated, hoping to retake…uh...retake what exactly isn't known. Okay, so not that much fun. But, the film was the first role for the amazonian (and very attractive) Mariska Hargitay who, it turns out, is not much of a screamer but hey, a detective Benson appearance is all right by me.
38. Critters (1986)
PG-13 | 86 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
A group of small, furry aliens makes lunch out of the locals in a farming town.
Votes: 26,274 | Gross: $13.17M
So after we had little creatures from the creepy old Chinese antique dealer and more little creatures from hell, we are brought creatures from…where else? Space! After escaping an intergalactic prison in a fully equipped spacecraft, the minute ‘krites’ flee a death sentence with a pair of bounty hunters hot on their tails—eventually forced to land on the only habitable nearby planet, Earth, to feed on the local wild life, touching down in a small rural town where set upon an unsuspecting family. These critters are especially nasty, ravenous and armed with sharp teeth and the ability to shoot steel-like ‘quills’ into their prey, quickly feeding on cattle and Billy Zane, before turning their teeth toward the rest of the isolated family, who luckily have a father willing to take the brunt of their voraciousness to save his family, and a brave young son (whose knowledge of explosives comes in handy) to save them. The females of this clan seemingly can only scream, serving as ‘critter alarms’ for most of the movie (however, the particularly inept character is saved for the town sheriff, who cowers in fear at every turn of the critters and their pursuers). Aside from the critters the two bounty hunters, able to morph into any human at will, do most of the damage, destroying the town buildings they come to in their search (with no provocation or evidence of krite hiding needed). Eventually, with a combo of the young sons intuitiveness and the bounty hunters weaponry, they successfully destroy the terrorizing critters, but not before the seeds of a sequel are left behind. So, more fun than Ghoulies, not nearly as good as Gremlins.
39. Bedazzled (1967)
Approved | 103 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
A hapless loser sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for seven wishes, but has trouble winning over the girl of his dreams.
The original Bedazzled (1967) is one funny movie. Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore) is a cook at a Wimpy’s restaurant who becomes enamored with the waitress Margaret (Eleanor Bron). Realizing he’ll never have her and dissatisfied with life, Stanley attempts suicide…and can’t even get that right. Luckily, George Spiggot (Peter Cook)—The Devil Himself—intervenes, and offers Stanley a deal. You see, God and Satan have a wager going to see who can accumulate 100 billion souls first (did God really think he had a chance at this one?). For Stanley’s soul, Spiggot offers 7 wishes. Now, the guy trying to woo the girl usually lacks confidence, as seems to be the case with Stanley, so naturally he asks Spiggot for things that, he hopes, will impress Margaret. What follows is, for the most part, hilarious as each wish frustrates Stanley in their ability to bring him Margaret yet keep her as distant as he already knows.
Stanley can remove himself from each scenario by blowing a raspberry, brought back to Spiggot and his aides—the personification of the seven deadly sins (my fav being Vanity). After the abortion of each wish, Stanley is brought to Spiggot who is always in the middle of generating mayhem, mostly of the minor variety. What I found most amusing about Bedazzled was the witty dialog between Stanley and Spiggot, the satire somewhat dry yet pointed and funny. Additionally, this version does not suffer from the annoying contrivance of the sequel—Spiggot wins his bet with God, and Stanley, making a most detailed final wish (but forgetting to specify his sex in said wish), is stuck as a lesbian nun when Satan decides to be magnanimous, sparing him eternal damnation. Yet, because he did so for selfish reasons, God won’t allow him into heaven (God being a sore loser and all), with Spiggot vowing revenge:
All right, you great git, you've asked for it. I'll cover the world in Tastee-Freez and Wimpy Burgers. I'll fill it with concrete runways, motorways, aircraft, television, automobiles, advertising, plastic flowers, frozen food and supersonic bangs. I'll make it so noisy and disgusting that even you'll be ashamed of yourself! No wonder you've so few friends; you're unbelievable!
I think Satan may have gotten the last laugh.
40. Bedazzled (2000)
PG-13 | 93 min | Comedy, Fantasy
Hopeless dweeb Elliot Richards is granted seven wishes by the Devil to snare Allison, the girl of his dreams, in exchange for his soul.
Votes: 87,669 | Gross: $37.88M
Brenden Fraser is Elliot Richards, a lonely computer programmer who comes across as desperate to connect with someone, anyone, in his futile search for companionship. The problem is that Elliot is a bit of a douchebag, first detected when tries to chummy up to a fellow employee—who is black—attempting to relate to him by speaking in an awkward, stereotypical ‘black’ vernacular. Next we are introduced to his other co-workers, each of whom does their best to avoid him due to his unbearable poseur-ism (because who want to hang out with *that* guy?). When he spots the object of his affection—Alison, a fellow employee he’s too shy to talk to—Satan (Elizabeth Hurley) comes to his aid with 7 wishes in exchange for his soul. At this point, the film becomes a string of (occasionally funny) gags as Satan does her best to spoil the outcome Elliot is hoping for (him and Alison falling in love in various contexts of his choosing): when Elliot wishes to be rich and powerful, he is made a Colombian drug lord…when he asks to be a star athlete, his low IQ and a small package negate any benefit to him…and so on. In each of these scenarios, Alison is also not what he expects, as Allison’s feelings never sync with his own.
The main failing of this movie is that Allison, the point of the wishes to begin with, is pushed aside; most of the sketches revolve around making Fraser look ridiculous with Allison almost an afterthought. Elliot finally realizes that he’ll not succeed in fulfilling his desires no matter how many wishes he’s granted (and I’m not sure why anyone would think that The Devil is trustworthy), managing to have his contract voided with a convenient contrivance—what is it with insisting that everything work out happily, even to the point where the final outcome makes little sense (why would Satan include such a clause?).
41. All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Not Rated | 89 min | Drama, Romance
An upper-class widow falls in love with a much younger, down-to-earth nurseryman, much to the disapproval of her children and criticism of her country club peers.
Showcasing the weight of appearance and social acceptance, All that Heaven Allows is at once a soapy melodrama and a critique of superficial values of the 1950’s middle-class—a powerful force that tend to influence our decisions so as to not upset the social order.
A lonely, middle-aged widow, Cary Scott, upsets both her two grown children and her small town peers when, after her romantic flame is rekindled, she opts for her (much younger) gardener instead of a socially preferable elder gentleman. Of course, staying the course of continued loneliness would also be acceptable. The source of this rekindling is the handsome Ron Kirby who, aside from his stereotypically handsome features, is also a rigid non-conformist, choosing a path of his own design—the acceptance of his peers nothing more than a trivial afterthought.
Once the romantic aspect of the film is kicked into gear, the pressure placed onto Cary is immediately felt, most notably by the razor tongued Mona, who delights in spreading the gossip that works to undermine any happiness that awaits Cary. Then, there is Cary’s children who praise individuality and intellect until confronted with the reality of their mothers dating habits, quickly succumbing to their fears of what flaunting of convention will bring to *their* reputation, pushing their mother to forget Ron and, as a consequence, asking that she ignore her feelings and sacrifice her happiness.
The heart of the struggle is Cary’s own fear of upsetting convention and Ron’s unwillingness to accept that such a force is a real concern and not something easily be dismissed. Above all else is the hypocrisy seen when Cary initially chooses Ron, as the scenario would be barely noticed if Cary were an older man. As Cary struggles with the situation, Sirk lavishes the viewer with vivid color schemes and subversive visual choices—things not quite subtle but easily missed, when he isn’t blatantly being over-the-top.
42. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Romance
An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.
Ali is a decidedly Sirkian film, and one that uses race as the societal “tsk tsk” factor. A much older widow, Emmi, stops into the local pub to escape the rain and meets the subdued El Hedi ben Salem, an Arab immigrant who goes by the generic Ali. Two marginalized figures in German society, both lead lonely and empty lives. Their meeting, and subsequent intimacy, revitalizes the pair, as both are initially elated in each other’s presence. Unfortunately, Emmi’s peers and children have issues with the pairing not so much because of Emmi’s age but rather that the object of her affection is an Arab.
We are soon shown how society reacts to their relationship: Emmi is shunned both by her neighbors and co-workers, with their public appearances eliciting stares and whispers from complete strangers. At home, Emmi’s children react violently when told of their mothers marriage to Ali. This doesn’t sit well with Emmi, who becomes more upset with each act of denigration.
Eventually, everyone cools to the idea of Emmi and Ali, and here is where Fassbinder is much more damning: once Emmi’s friends and co-workers accept Ali, Emmi accepts Ali’s treatment as a subject of novelty, as having Ali help the neighbors move furniture or basking in the accolades she receives after letting a neighbor feel his muscles, as if legitimatizing Ali’s earlier assessment: "German master, Arab dog". Moreover, Emmi willfully shuns a new immigrant co-worker, easily forgetting how such treatment made her feel.
43. Far from Heaven (2002)
PG-13 | 107 min | Drama
In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.
Votes: 39,227 | Gross: $15.85M
Todd Haynes introduces sexuality to this tale in Far From Heaven, introducing us to Cathy, a housewife whose life is thrown into turmoil after 1) discovering her husbands homosexuality and 2) subsequently finding herself attracted to her black gardener, Raymond Deagan (aside: has Julianne Moore ever been more lovely than she is here?). Raymond, much like Ron Kirby, is more than a handsome man, appealing to Cathy’s intellect during an art show, the two conversing about art and inciting the ire of the crowd—Raymond see’s Cathy as more than a housewife, with this scene showcasing them as equals. Later scenes of these two suggest that Raymond may be the first man in quite some time to actually listen to her, certainly a trait a women like Cathy (one dependent on men) would find appealing, it being no wonder she falls for hard for him.
Moore is given a lot to chew in this film and handles the role exquisitely, at once strong and compassionate, forgiving of her husbands transgression and violence, navigating through the expected pushback from both her peers, and Raymond’s, once the relationship begins to take. Of course, there is no happy ending here as in All that Heaven Allows and Ali, as Cathy loses both men—time and circumstance trumping ones desires.
At first glance, Haynes version, unlike Fassbinder’s, does seem to be a mere replication. That said, Heaven does stand on its own and is a superb addition to the previous two films.
44. Straw Dogs (2011)
R | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both.
Votes: 29,336 | Gross: $10.32M
The opening scene of Straw Dogs is telling, relaying the films intention of relying heavily on stereotypes (i.e. lazy storytelling) in its portrayal of the characters. We are witness to a beer-bellied southerner hunting for deer, rifle in one hand, Budweiser in the other.
David Sumner is a screenwriter who moves to the small Mississippi town where his current wife (and television actress), Amy, grew up. David is also a complete wimp. Stopping over at the local dive on their way into town, they promptly meet the rest of the cast: the town drunk, the town idiot, their future terrorizers, the lone black citizen (the sheriff) and Charlie, the former high school flame of Amy who immediately gets up close and personal with her, all within eye shot of David, who inexplicably decides that Charlie and his gang should be hired to patch the roof on their adjacent barn. Immediately the gang begins to lust after Amy and taunt David, both escalating as the film progresses.
The ambiguity of the original film is completely gone, as Lurie appears intent on recreating the intensity of the original, taking things up a notch by making the actions of the characters more explicit, but managing to create only a cheap imitation—a film where the actions of all involved make little sense, with nary the perversion of moral certainties that clouded the original. This version is incredibly black and white: the gang is bad, the town drunk is bad, the town idiot is used merely to trigger the films violent ending. David, while spineless, is good. Amy is a victim. Even as these things are generally the same as the original, the entire setup comes off as astoundingly different. There are attempts at explaining the animosity of David and Amy displayed by the town (again using stereotypes—big city/rural town, religion/atheist, etc.) but none are satisfying or even relevant, the end playing out like a typical home invasion flick.
All in all, the film left a bad taste in my mouth, making the US South seem like nothing more than a backward hate-filled place. While there are most certainly these types, the magnitude on display here is somewhat infuriating.
45. Straw Dogs (1971)
R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A young American and his English wife come to rural England and face increasingly vicious local harassment.
Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs challenges the viewers sense of morality at nearly every turn, creating a complex film that can endlessly be discussed.
Here, David is an American mathematician who moves to the childhood home of his wife, the English village of Cornwall. The tension between the couple is immediately felt, as they fight and bicker over the actions (and inaction) of the other, each differing in their interpretation of marital tasks and expectations. After being continually antagonized by the gang, their fighting takes on more heat. In terms of the division of marital tasks, it would appear that a man’s job would be to take care of the threat, easily done by firing the gang. But even this can’t seem to take, as David—played well by the increasingly timid Hoffman—opts instead to continually dodge the issue, raising the ire of his wife and successfully painting David as a coward.
The infamous rape scene is the most talked about aspect of this film (and understandably so), as audience expectation of victim reaction is completely thwarted (which I won’t address here). What I found fascinating was the final home invasion, triggered by an accidental shooting, and precipitating the violent ending (as opposed to the doings of an ignorant, malicious redneck of the remake). David is adamant about keeping the village idiot (Henry Niles) safe, ignorant to the accidental murder. Amy’s pleads with David to give him up to the gang. David, ignorant of his wife’s rape, ignores her pleas. But we know all of this, and this is what makes the finale so great, the sheer numbers of ways that each characters motivations can be read.
46. Rio Bravo (1959)
Not Rated | 141 min | Action, Drama, Western
A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.
Votes: 47,639 | Gross: $12.54M
Rio Bravo’s basic plot goes as such: sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests one Joe Burdette for brazenly killing a man in plain sight. Chance must hold Joe, the brother of ruthless outlaw Nathan Burdette, in the town jail until a U.S. marshal arrives in 6 days time. Nathan, for his part, schemes to have Joe broken out of jail before said marshal arrives.
The plots simplicity is misleading, as what makes Bravo interesting are the characters and their interactions with each other (actually, this applies to all three films). Chance knows that Nathan will do what it takes to free Joe but has only two other men to fend off Nathan’s henchmen—Dude, a drunk, and Stumpy, a gimpy old man. Chance must work which each of these (less than desirable) men if he wants to hold Joe and keep his life. Wayne plays Chance with a (small) bit of charisma, coming off as loyal to both men as well as exceptionally forgiving and empathetic towards Dude, a man who physically assaults him, gets drunk, and quits before coming around after each incident. In addition, a romantic subplot involving a bar girl, Feathers (Angie Dickinson), and Chance has Wayne simultaneously awkward and charming when interacting with her, a stroke of good luck for Hawks who seems to use Wayne’s awkwardness to further develop his character.
In the end, the three men with the eventual help of Feathers and a young gunslinger, both of whom force their help onto Chance, fend off their attackers. The cooperation of these individuals, each with differing personalities and bringing their respective attributes to the table is used similarly in both Night of the Living Dead and Assault on Precinct 13. The plot moves along slowly with the siege taking a back seat to Chances mustering a response to his immediate threat the best way he can and without allowing the town folk to put themselves in harms way.
47. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
Votes: 98,250 | Gross: $0.09M
Night of the Living Dead jumps right into the action, after the recently deceased become reanimated and attack the living without provocation. A group of strangers find themselves (for the most part) cooperating to fend off the attack in Unlike Rio, there is no confirmed leader, but eventually emerges: the strong black man Ben (Duane Jones), who the others fall in line with as their siege escalates. Here, there is no end in site, and the survivors must contend with their own confusion.
I had forgotten how creepy this movie is, minimally showcasing of the zombies and the requisite gore the genre would become associated with. The sheer number of zombies and the fear and panic of the trapped living I found completely believable.
48. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
R | 91 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.
Assault on Precinct 13 successfully mashes the basic aspects of these two films and is one of Carpenter’s best movies. Again, a simple plot masks the more complex issues of people’s reactions when pressed with a much larger foe, here invoking sex and race.
Assault opens with the recently promoted Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) being assigned to precinct 13, located in a crime-riddled neighborhood, in its last remaining hours of operation. The night before, police viciously ambush and murder members of a street gang who subsequently vow revenge on both the police and local citizens. After a father avenges the death of his daughter at the hands of the gang, he seeks refuge inside the precinct only to find that he brings on the gangs wrath, their attacking the precinct in an all out assault (the “Cholo”…”nobody said nothin’ about a Cholo!”). On top of this, a prison bus transporting violent offenders stops over to tend to a sick inmate. All these events converge to generate one kick ass action film.
Like the previous two films, the characters (not quite as built up as they are in Bravo) are the essence of the film, coming together under duress and overcoming their preconceptions about each other to fend off their attackers. These attackers are gang members who, aside from their initial kill spree, are faceless and zombie-like, eventually attacking in great numbers. The gang as zombies works to great effect as they go to work on the precinct with great efficiency.
The film takes on the form of a morality play, with each person (white, black, cop, inmate, man, woman) taking their respective roles and subverting them. Bishop and top inmate Napoleon Wilson both come from rough beginnings, but one becomes a murderer and the other a cop, secretary Leigh becomes a valuable asset, shown to be as tough as any man, etc. I suspect that the film was more provocative when released 30+ years ago, but Carpenter shows both his disdain for the misguided ways of authority and his attraction to revolution. Even if I may be over reaching, the film is a solid, highly entertaining piece.
49. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.
Votes: 98,250 | Gross: $0.09M
50. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
R | 92 min | Horror
The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims.
Votes: 33,965 | Gross: $5.84M
The original NOTLD really benefited from its low budget limitations, being a trapped with strangers and fighting for survival type movie as much as a zombie flick. The zombies themselves are never the focus. Sure they are seen, mostly at a distance, sometimes up close, typically only as a limb flailing in a window or a quick appearance before being shot dead. Eventually they really amass and make things difficult, but by this time things on the inside have gone wrong or have been worked out. In NOTLD, the atmosphere is also key, with an ever present sense that things probably wont work out for these folks, being only a matter of time before they succumb to the zombie threat.
My only real criticism of the film, which is minor, is the time given to the explanation for the zombies, that of a space probe introducing some kind of radiation that correlates with the zombie uprising. Okay, but the mystery behind the cause could have easily remained so, not requiring any kind of explanation, particularly one that will never be developed in the subsequent films (let me know if I am wrong here). Being a scientist myself, I was amused by the government scientist basically ignoring “correlation does not equal causation”, since, you know, there was really no physical evidence that this was true, but okay. But as noted, this is only a minor gripe, as I think the film is truly great.
So, why would want to remake the film? Maybe to update it by putting in new ideas? A new spin? A new anything? Nope, apparently the reason for doing so would be to a) make it in color (and, as such, losing much of the great atmosphere of the original), and b) to make it more gory by using modern (at the time) make-up techniques. Because the remake does not stray far from the original, opening similarly and sticking pretty close to the original storyline. I guess I could throw in c) to remake the original with worse acting (and in this regard…success!). And once again, we have a really pointless movie that is just plain bad.
Okay, but what of the changes? The woman chased from the cemetery is now more able to step up and aid those trapped (by adeptly handling firearms) instead of constantly cowering and being the sole survivor (and escaping). That really is about all I can muster at the moment. Outside this, there is even more annoying bickering and fighting and a woman whose only purpose is to scream hysterically at all times even as she is helping fend off the zombie threat (I was wishing for a stray bullet to shut her up). The new zombie effects are also not that great and even if more graphic, add nothing.
51. Invaders from Mars (1953)
Approved | 78 min | Sci-Fi
A young boy learns that space aliens are taking over the minds of earthlings.
Invaders from Mars (1953) is quite simply a silly wooden alien invasion flick whose short 78 minute run time seemed to go on and on. Now, I have no problem with the stiffness of the film, but the great leaps in logic and lengthy expository dialog is rather hard to get over.
A young boy witnesses a UFO landing and tells his father who promptly checks it out, only to see him come home with a different personality--exceedingly stoic and short tempered. Eventually, more and more people come under the aliens spell, easily noted by a puncture wound at the back of the neck.
Now, little boy runs to the police and finds one officer who will listen and is concerned, who in turn calls a doctor who at least believes the boys conviction and protects him from possessed his parents, and eventually end up at an observatory where an astronomer explains what is known about UFOs, concludes that there is enough evidence to suggest that aliens are invading, who calls in the military, and soon a battle ensues. Whew! In no amount of time the boy has gotten the military involved, all with little to no evidence! Talk about convincing.
Note: at the time of this viewing I was unaware that two versions existed, a British and American version with different endings. I watched the (apparently attempting to be a more) ‘realistic’ British version, which contained added scenes intended describe the existing knowledge of alien life.
52. Invaders from Mars (1986)
PG | 100 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A boy tries to stop aliens who have taken over his town and are attempting to brainwash its inhabitants.
Votes: 6,158 | Gross: $4.88M
The 1984 remake is better, if only slightly so, following the original version closely. The boy in question gets help from a teacher before getting the local marines involved before all hell breaks loose. In this case, the whole series of events are apparently a dream (how the original American version ends).
Aside from minor details of the storyline, the biggest difference between the two films are in the special effects, with the 1953 version being very corny, with a small bubble-headed creature running the show and having men in felt overalls and bug eyes do his bidding. The 1984 version goes for monstrous, with the leader a rather small creature who exists on the end of a large appendage (?). His minions are large and grotesque (and not very versatile) able to eat people whole.
In all, a sorry set of films not even worth it for the nostalgia factor (and with not much more that needs to be said) as both are straight forward alien invasion flicks that contribute little to the genre.
53. Hanyo (1960)
Not Rated | 109 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A composer and his wife are thrown into turmoil when a housemaid becomes more than they bargained for.
In a tale that warns of the dangers a seductive woman can have on weak willed men, the original Housemaid is somehow both extraordinary and repulsive, charting the misery and ultimate destruction of a family when a femme fatale is introduced into the mix. The film is played as a melodrama/thriller, with the drama that fills the household wildly over-the-top, the family seemingly motivated by keeping the events portrayed a secret—even as things get exponentially worse for them. This is something that either one has to take at face value, or comments on the nature of family honor (or something). That said, the fact that all the events can be attributed by a conniving woman speaks more to how easily men can be manipulated than it does to the evil nature of women—even as the movie ends with the message that “these things can happen to you”.
54. Hanyo (2010)
Not Rated | 106 min | Drama, Thriller
A man's affair with his family's housemaid leads to dark consequences.
Votes: 7,738 | Gross: $0.15M
The remake has none of the compelling characterizations of the original, throwing in some explicit sex and pretty (but pointless) camera work in hopes of generating an adult oriented sexual thriller. But, the whole thing is one drawn out bore—exceedingly superficial and using tired archetypes before ushering in one of the more ridiculous endings in recent memory.
55. The Lady and the Monster (1944)
Approved | 86 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A millionaire's brain is preserved after his death, and telepathically begins to take control of those around him.
The story is simplistic: a scientist (for reasons that are never really made clear), with aid of some assistants, is obsessed in keeping a brain alive once the body has expired. As the story begins we witness the experimental use of a monkey brain and are told that several animals have been sacrificed to date, but the ability to keep a brain alive indefinitely has remained elusive. Upon learning of a nearby plane crash, the body of the millionaire Donovan is found to have perished. Naturally one should try to save the brain, yes? Yes, and it’s a success! The brain is placed in some saline and attached to a power source and voilà! Now the immediate applications are not that obvious but hey, we have a living brain here! Now, even as said brain lacks all modes of receiving sensory input, it somehow knows the deal and telepathically communicates with the Dr., before ultimately exerting control over the good doctor who begins to take on Donovan’s persona (his handwriting, personality, etc.) and continues his elicit financial schemes.
The first film adaptation, Lady and the Monster, stars Erich von Stroheim as Prof. Franz Mueller, a man aided by his wife and a young male assistant, Dr. Cory. Instead of sticking to the sci-fi aspect of the story, Lady also weaves in a melodrama as, due to professors all-consuming desire to conduct his experiments, his wife is left neglected and is naturally drawn to his young and handsome assistant, Dr. Cory, with whom she is having an affair. In this version, it is the assistant who is taken over by Donovan’s brain, with Franz’s wife left to do something about it as the Professor seems oblivious to anything and everything as long as the experiment can continue. Sadly, the dramatic aspects really pull down the film as the romantic subplot is pointless and only detracts from an otherwise fun (if overly silly) tale.
56. Donovan's Brain (1953)
Approved | 84 min | Sci-Fi, Horror
Dr. Patrick "Pat" J. Cory is researching brains with his assistant and friend Dr. Frank Schratt and his wife Janice Cory through experiments with monkeys in a laboratory in his house. When ... See full summary »
Donovan’s Brain is a better movie overall, losing the romance of the previous film and sticking directly to the sci-fi aspects. Here, Lew Ayres is well cast (as Dr. Cory), particularly when he becomes Donovan, whose personality comes across as a conniving jerk used to getting what he wants. Once Donovan starts to completely take over Dr. Cory, his assistants recognize that he is losing his sanity and begin to wrestle him back from Donovan, destroying Donovan’s brain and returning Dr. Cory to his own mind.
57. The Brain (1962)
83 min | Crime, Horror, Drama
A millionaire businessman's brain is kept alive after a fatal accident, and communicates clues to a doctor on the trail of the killer.
The Brain does what every good remake should do, put a unique spin on an old tale— once the brain starts to communicate with Dr. Corrie, instead of continuing his elicit financial schemes the brain wants justice, intent on using the good doctor to pursue his murderers. Another big difference is the way the film was shot (maybe due to its low budget?), dark and shadows with many close-ups getting right into the faces of the actors.
58. Jaws (1975)
PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.
Votes: 472,861 | Gross: $260.00M
I don't have much appreciation for Spielberg as a film maker but even I cannot deny that Jaws is about as good as a movie gets: great direction, iconic score, great characters, but the generation of suspense is what really sets this film apart—Spielberg (intentional or not) takes his time in actually showing us what we want to see, making the animals first appearance absolutely thrilling. What make the movie more than a when-animals-attack story is that we are given much context into the islands affairs—the political pressure placed on the rookie police chief to *not* perturb the islands main source of income, inexperienced shark hunters worked into a frenzy after a bounty is placed on the shark, and how no one ever seems to listen to the smart-ass scientist (I would like to think that this is just a movie-ism but it is probably true). This, along with the exciting final showdown with the beast, is what really sets the film apart from its many imitators, none of which sniffs the greatness of Jaws.
59. Grizzly (1976)
PG | 91 min | Adventure, Horror, Thriller
An eighteen-foot-tall grizzly bear terrorizes a state park, leaving it up to a Park Ranger to save the day.
Grizzly…is not a very good movie but surprisingly is not the worst of the Jaws rip-offs seen for this quest. Substituting the ocean for a national park, an 18-foot grizzly decides that not only are humans tasty, but they are also remarkably easy prey. The beast itself is merely close-up footage of a grizzly shown standing and roaring (again and again), intercut with (presumably) someone in a fur costume swinging fake bear claws wildly, and with enough force to take off a limb with one swing! Now, with the bear attacks piling up, it would seem pertinent to close the campgrounds but nah, those campers are needed (not sure for what?). The whole thing started out somewhat comical but got stale pretty quickly. Surprisingly, I made it through and reconsidered this leg of the quest, but I pushed on.
60. Orca (1977)
PG | 92 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror
A hunter squares off against a killer whale seeking vengeance for the death of its mate.
Votes: 8,803 | Gross: $14.72M
Orca was a clear step up from Grizzly and featured a score by Ennio Morricone (don’t you love it when you are surprised during the credits of a film you had low expectations for?). Hunting for a great white (for the large fee a local aquarium will invariably pay), Captain Nolan comes across a great white that targets a member of his crew for lunch, only to see said crewman saved from this fate by an Orca that runs off the beast. Once the shark gets away, why not catch that Orca instead? The crews bags the pregnant female who promptly miscarries right there on the ship (yes, we are treated to the rare sight of an Orca fetus). This angers her male companion who vows revenge of the Captain (no, seriously). Now, this is one crafty whale, as he begins a reign of terror on the fishing town—scaring away all the fish (and thus threatening the towns livelihood), sinking boats in the harbor, noshing on Bo Dereks leg, and blowing up the towns fuel reserves. What he wants is showdown with the Captain and, faced with the wrath of the town people, the Captain is forced to accept the challenge. In the end, the whale proves victorious.
61. Tentacles (1977)
PG | 102 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A mutated giant octopus wreaks havoc on a California seaside community.
Tentacles, for a creature feature, is one booooooring movie. The film features John Huston, Shelley Winters (who doesn’t mind being called fat by her son and his friend), and Henry Fonda—an interesting cast for a cheap imitation. Here, the predatory creature is a large rubber octopus, that opts to feed on the tourists of Ocean Beach due to being pissed off about the construction of an underwater tunnel (and the radio waves being emitted by the project). Not much happens here, but how the animal is defeated is one of the more ridiculous things I have ever seen: the local aquarium has two orca whales with the ability to understand their trainers speech (literally). Said trainer sits them down and explains the threat of the octopus and asks for their help to kill the animal. So, as good little orca’s, the whales do their part for the community and both attack the beast, ultimately killing it and gaining their freedom in the process (this might have brought on laughter if I wasn’t so bored).
62. Piranha (1978)
R | 94 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.
Votes: 15,686 | Gross: $6.00M
Piranha was the one good rip-off of this quest, bringing much needed comedy to the tale and acknowledging its intent early (as lead actress Heather Menzies is introduced playing a video game version of Jaws). The Vietnam war era U.S. government decided that creation and subsequent introduction of killer piranha into the Vietnamese river system was a good idea to swing the war into their favor. Sadly the war ended and the plan was never put into place, but the killer fish remained, left in a government compound under the care of crazed scientist Robert Hoak. Hoak continued his experiments (and I must confess did a decent job of explaining a selection experiment), before an insurance investigator and her guide (looking for some lost hikers) inadvertently release the little beasties—this is my favorite part of the movie as these two trespass into the compound, realize that it is some sort of laboratory, nose about, and purposely drain a pool containing the piranha hoping to find the remains of the hikers, yet when they discover what was in the pool, they blame the crazy scientist unleashing the fish. In any event, the fish go to work on the local population as the military try (and fail) to contain the fish.
63. Chawu (2009)
R | 121 min | Action, Comedy, Horror
A black comedy about the events that are set into motion in a town after a man-eating boar goes on a rampage.
Even as Piranha brought comedic elements to the tale, I wanted a movie that was an outright comedy. Chawz is a Korean riff on Jaws, a horror-comedy involving a giant boar that preys upon eco-tourists in the countryside. I’ll admit to finding it amusing at first (notably the two graduate students, having been one myself) but it quickly wore thin as once the rampaging boar is seen, things quickly move to your standard connect-the-dots type tale, with nothing new being added.
64. City on Fire (1987)
R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Drama
An undercover cop infiltrates a gang of thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store.
City on Fire is far from the action classic that it has been built up to be (from a vocal minority), although it's a decent flick. Chow Yun-Fat as Ko Chow is particularly good as the undercover cop who penetrates a group of jewel thieves, also playing the hapless Romeo who must juggle his attempts to win the affections of his girl (who is *this* close to running away with a married rival) and succeed in his work as an undercover operative, with these moments offering several comedic moments as well as showing us how his police work is complicating his (already complicated) life.
The action, when it occurs, is quick and violent, with the thieves taking things up a notch by killing several police officers in a heist gone wrong, a heist that places more pressure on the police to find the culprits and bringing into the film the tried and true cliché of intra-departmental politics that threaten to undermine Ko Chow’s efforts to infiltrate the gang. Now, once he does gain the trust of the gang, he is enlisted to aide in new heist. Of course, the cops are onto the gang thanks to Ko Chow and lay in wait to nab all the members but, and here is the Tarantino rip, one member goes nuts and shoots up the place, and the gang must shoot their way out with Ko Chow getting shot in the process and the rest plays out very similarly to Dogs (they make it go back to the designated meeting place, the boss accusing Ko Chow of being cop, Mexican standoff, etc). Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the finale lasts ~10 minutes or so, and if QT had acknowledged City as an influence we probably wouldn’t be playing the rip-off game now.
65. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
Votes: 762,490 | Gross: $2.83M
Dogs is awesome, providing a nice little spin to the heist genre. The intro has what irks many of those who dislike QT: ample amounts of superfluous dialog, but it does a great job of introducing the characters and generating mystery as to who they are (and why are they all dressed in suits?). The film does away with not only the heist, but also the requisite scenes showcasing each members specialty (think The Professionals and Ocean’s 11), leaving the us with only the aftermath of a botched heist with the occasional flashback of their escape.
Now, nit pickers could have a field day with the many illogical aspects of the films (and they have) but that denies the many interesting scenarios that can occur in the world that Tarantino creates, one that is excruciatingly violent yet delightfully humorous (I know, quite the feat).
I was surprised that the movie, which I had seen many many times before, but hadn’t viewed in years when I sat down for it, was still able to make me laugh, cringe, and recite lines of dialog. The Dogs themselves are well cast, with my favorite turn by Steve Buschemi. Dogs, even if we acknowledge that it rips the finale of City (and it does seem rather undeniable to me), is its own film and certainly an original work—a great addition to the multitude of heist films.
66. The Lodger (1927)
Not Rated | 68 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A landlady suspects her new lodger is the madman killing women in London.
This Hitchcock silent was never a favorite of mine, but I think I appreciated it more during this viewing (if only there was a better transfer out there), as Hitchcock manages to weave in both the story of the serial killer and an interesting love triangle as well. Daisy, who is dating a police officer (Joe, assigned to the Avenger case), begins to develop a close attachment to the lodger, even as the murders pile up and the landlady begins to suspect him of being the Avenger, due to his strange behavior: unable to stand the sight of her portraits of young blonde actresses and going out late at night, typically when a new murder occurs. The lodger eventually becomes the prime suspect and looks pretty damn guilty but Daisy does not lose her affection for him, choosing to believe that he is innocent even after he is arrested.
The first time I saw this I found the whole thing ridiculous, how dumb can one woman be. But Hitch certainly showed me, inserting a nice twist into the film (is this his first “wrong man” scenario?) and commenting on lynch mob justice in the process all while providing an excitement filled (and tense) ending.
67. The Lodger (1944)
Approved | 84 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery
A landlady suspects her new lodger is Jack the Ripper.
The killer in The Lodger (1944) is Jack the Ripper. This adaptation is a pretty good movie that loses the twist ending, keeping an outcome that seems pretty damn obvious, particularly with this lodger—Mr. Slade, a man who is so outwardly awkward (personality wise) that he is uncomfortable to be around. That, and the fact that after each murder he acts in an extremely suspicious manner—burning his bag and bloody clothes inside the house. As in the previous version, Mr. Slade becomes fixated on his landlords niece Kitty while his landlady becomes suspicious of his late night activities. I loved Mr. Bonting here, excusing away all of Mr. Slades suspicious actions as if they were obviously *not* suspicious, doing his best to disprove his wife’s crazy notions before finally coming around himself and aiding in the investigation. By this time, however, Mr. Slade is intent on taking Kitties life but alas, he is killed before he is able to finish her off.
While this version was good and featured some creepy moments in the London fog, the explanation for Mr. Slade’s murderousness (this is a word right?) is very thin (based on the actual evidence) but, of course, turns out to be absolutely correct. Why must everything be explained, can’t Mr. Slade just be crazy?
68. Man in the Attic (1953)
Unrated | 82 min | Mystery, Thriller
After an enigmatic, self-described pathologist rents the attic room of a Victorian house, his landlady begins to suspect her lodger is Jack the Ripper.
Man in the Attic is just about the exact same movie with the exception of the lodger, played here by Jack Palance. Now, unlike the previous version, Palance tones down the Lodger making him much less awkward than in the previous film. In fact, it’s almost as if someone wanted the same movie but with a different lodger. Well, they succeeded. That said, even as I like Palance better here, this version adds nothing to the story whatsoever. If you have seen the ’44 version, you have seen this.
69. The Lodger (2009)
R | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Horror
A couple rents out a room to a mysterious young man, who may or may not be guilty of a series of grisly neighborhood murders.
The Lodger (2009) moves the action to West Hollywood, with a serial killer mimicking Jack the Ripper in his slaying of prostitutes. The lodger here rents out the back house (not sure what these are called) in a quaint little neighborhood of a couple who are obviously having issues (personally and financially). The film is split into two storylines, that of the lodgers relationship with the nutty landlady, and one involving a detective’s attempt to track down the killer. Now, there is a lot going on in this movie—an attempt show the psychological illness of the landlady, the police who have arrested (and executed) the wrong man for the murders, and their suspicions of one of their own in the murders—but none of it is handled very well, it all congealing together into a big blob of mediocrity, with a “who-didn't-see-that-coming” twist of an ending which, while supposed to make the viewer second guess the outcome, comes off as silly and ultimately trivial. Easily the worst of the bunch and a waste of a decent cast.
70. The Thing from Another World (1951)
Not Rated | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
The Thing from Another World sets up the template that we will see in the re-make/prequel: the military is summoned to an outpost on the North Pole to investigate the crash of an unknown airship. Upon realization that the ship is unlike anything they’ve seen before, they set about blowing the putative flying saucer out of the ice. That only works to destroy the ship but the discovery of an alien frozen in the ice allows them to salvage the necessary evidence that should prove the existence of life outside of Earth. So, they cut it out of the ice and haul it back to their base. Alien thaws out, chaos ensues.
Aside from the horror elicited by the presence of the monster itself, this version ties in other subplots—notably a romantic subplot between the military Captain and a secretary that goes nowhere and ultimately seems pointless, and a more poignant clash between said Captain and the head scientist of the station. Once the monster escapes, it becomes apparent that 1) the monster can not be easily killed, 2) the creature is more plant-like than humanoid, 3) it feeds on animal blood, and 4) it can spread seeds which invariably means more creatures. Now, the reasonable thing to do is to kill the creature before it can spread right? This is the side the Captain falls on. Of course, the contrarian view (coming from the smart-assed scientist) is that we need to understand this newly discovered alien life and *not* kill it, even if this brings the most risk to humanity.
This simplistic scenario works quite well as those at the station must choose sides even as the monster consumes all life it comes across—a great way to imply post WWII communist paranoia. In addition, the creature itself is scary, with the scene where the men douse it with kerosene particularly exciting. All in all, a good little 50’s monster flick even if a bit on the silly side (it being an "intellectual carrot" and all).
71. The Thing (1982)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A crew in Antarctica finds a neighboring camp destroyed and its crew dead. Whatever killed them is nowhere to be found, unless it's hidden in plain sight.
Votes: 302,512 | Gross: $13.78M
Carpenter’s ’82 Thing loses the subplots of the ’53 version, instead focusing on the Thing itself, a gnarly shape-shifting creature that can take the form of any animal, ensuring a different paranoia—not quite knowing who is man, and who is alien. This version has excellent atmosphere and much tension. That, and the effects are awesome, with the Thing itself taking on a number of crazy forms, things oozing and dripping, and just generally being disgusting. That, and even as not much time is given to develop the characters, we still get a good idea about them, particularly those who survive closer to the end. This version is the rare re-make that is just betters its predecessor. I am not sure there is much more I can add to what already seems like a FG (and IMDb) favorite.
72. The Thing (I) (2011)
R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson.
Votes: 104,951 | Gross: $16.93M
The 2011 Thing while certainly being a prequel to the ’82 version, is very similar to the previous version and feels more like the re-make of the ‘50s Thing due mostly to the fact that the creature is originally discovered, brought back, escapes, and wreaks havoc. But, this version is not quite ready to be the sausage-fest that defines the ’82 version, having a female lead and take control as the Thing makes its rounds. I wasn’t all that sold on the female lead, who just goes through the motions, never really selling the chaos and fear. And how is it that the ’82 version has the men create a test that leads to one of the more memorable scenes in that film while this prequel asks to look into peoples mouths all while acknowledging the weakness of this test (really, this is what we waited 30 years for?).
Finally, for a prequel made 30 later, how is it possible that the Thing effects are actually worse. Yes, this newer Thing has decent effects but it is not nearly as frightening as that of the ’82 version, looking too much on the artificial side (where’s the ooze?). While this prequel is more or less a competent film, it seems rather pointless and doesn’t add much to The Thing’s story.
73. The Front Page (1931)
TV-PG | 101 min | Comedy
An investigative reporter sees an opportunity for the story of a lifetime when an accused murderer escapes hanging.
All the current hemming and hawing about re-makes ignores a couple of inconvenient points: 1) re-makes have been a part of the movies since…well, since the industry began, and 2) sometimes a re-make not only outshines its predecessor, but also makes us forget that it even existed at all, while making new adaptations incapable of living up to its greatness (at least, this is how it seems).
Okay, so maybe I am guilty of overstating things, but His Girl Friday is one of the best movies I have seen, and this leg of the quest was done mostly out of curiosity. I have heard from many that it may be one of the best re-makes ever, but did it really elevate the material to a higher level? And how would the original adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's Broadway play of the same name stand up to its more lauded successor? Finally, we have three heavy weights—Milestone, Hawks, and Wilder—taking on the material, what’s not to like?
First, let me say that the “other” adaptations were very good. Milestone’s ’31 version and Wilder’s ’74 are very similar works, closely following the 1928 play: the cocksure Hildy Johnson has had it with the newspaper business, getting hitched and leaving town for a new job. He stops in one last time to inform his editor of this, the day before Earl Williams, a supposed commie and cop killer, is to be executed. One jail break later and the press room of the Chicago court house comes alive with snappy dialog that skewers the press, politicians, the red scare…not much is left untouched.
Sadly, the state of the ’31 version is bad and in need of some work (I am of the opinion that this film really should be re-mastered). That said, the film is still impressive, especially for an early sound film. But, most likely due to the limitations of the medium, it is a bit on the choppy side, not flowing well. But, due to the strength of the source material, is very funny (this is a point that I don't hear much, but all the versions owe plenty to the hilarious dialog—a hat tip to both Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur).
74. The Front Page (1974)
PG | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence.
Votes: 10,226 | Gross: $17.30M
The ’74 version is likeable, and owes much to the outstanding chemistry of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Even as I never hear much about the pairing in this particular film, the film certainly shows why they were such a successful comedic duo, which had me laughing long after I had initially written off the film as a pointless re-make (probably my “why re-make a great” bias coming through). Matthau as Mr. Burns is delightfully corrupt in his efforts to keep his best reporter from skipping town. I have to wonder, however, if the communist banter still held the sting it did in ’31.
75. His Girl Friday (1940)
Not Rated | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.
His Girl Friday! Wow. The first time I saw this I clapped when the credits rolled, the kind of film that leaves me giddy with elation (you know, one reason why I got into film in the first place). Would it still hold that place in my heart with a fresh viewing after two Front Page’s? Short answer: yes. I think I may hold it I higher regard after this leg of the quest as I didn’t realize before now Hawk’s and Charles Lederer’s genius in making Hildy female, simultaneously generating sexual tension making room for two actors to shine: Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant, both exuding confidence and certain to get their way, as the latent romance eventually rises to the surface giving the story a uniqueness that make it stand apart from the other version. Don’t get me wrong, what worked for the other version still work here, but the added romantic angle are what set this film apart.
That, and the seemingly impossible pace (exquisitely pulled off in the editing room) and rapid-fire dialog (hey, sometimes the cliché is apt!). Coupled with the already awesome script and what we have here is cinematic gold: end credits roll & blissful smile on my face.
76. The Virgin Spring (1960)
Not Rated | 89 min | Drama
An innocent yet pampered young virgin and her family's pregnant and jealous servant set out to deliver candles to church, but only one returns from events that transpire in the woods along the way.
Dealing with morality, religion and vengeance, The Virgin Spring had more moments that elicited discomfort in me than the rips that would follow, due mostly to the ease with which I was drawn into the tale and how loving and innocent Karin appeared—the youthful energy the members of her parents farm basked in.
At the outset, we are shown two dueling religions at this point in Sweden’s timeline, Christianity—practiced by Karin’s parents—and Paganism—practiced by the pregnant farmhand Ingeri (and undoubtedly others). Ingeri, sent along with Karin to deliver candles to church, is jealous of Karin’s youth and wishes harm upon her. After they separate, Karin happens upon three goat herders (two men and a young boy) in the forest. Seeing that they are hungry, she offers them her lunch. The men insist that they at least share her meal, convincing her to eat with them. Here things turn dark, as the men attack Karin, raping her and finally killing her.
Karin’s rape and subsequent murder were, to say the least, difficult to take, but when she is stripped of her clothes—this scene I found awful, as it showed how the men to be completely unremorseful for their actions, her lifeless body tossed around as if she were nothing. After the men move on, they happen upon the farm of Karin’s parents, who offer them shelter for the night. When they try to sell the matron Karin’s clothes, she knows that Karin has met a terrible fate. Karin’s father takes his revenge upon the herders, killing them all (even the small boy, a moment equal in brutality as Karin’s murder).
Virgin touches on numerous themes, but those of justice and faith struck me hardest, as Karin’s father questions how such an event could happen, and how he could have succumbed to murder himself—questions that are universal and never ending. Regarding justice, I have a difficult time thinking his vengeance was justified, particularly the killing of the boy, an innocent victim (as was Karin).
77. The Last House on the Left (1972)
R | 84 min | Horror, Thriller
Two teenage girls head to a rock concert for one's birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, they are kidnapped and brutalized by a gang of psychotic convicts.
Votes: 27,774 | Gross: $3.10M
The Last House on the Left (1972) is a nasty little film that loses the thematic layers of Virgin, focusing instead on the rape/revenge aspect. Now, it took me two watches to fully appreciate that Last House is quite the good film, more fully giving us a look at the young girl, Mari, a typical teenager looking to have some fun with her friend on her 17th birthday. Looking to score some weed before attending a concert, Mari and her friend are abducted by a gang of four (including a teenager substituting for the boy), with a woman among the nastiest female characters in recent memory.
Last House prolongs the our witnessing the rape/humiliation/murder of the girls before moving right into the parents revenge. While made by an inexperienced Craven (and pretty amateur), the film packs a mean punch when it focuses on those nasty bits. It also manages to weave in humor, mostly provided by some inept cops, but also the over-the-top nature of Mari’s parents (and yes, the interesting soundtrack), making on of the best rip-offs I have seen to date.
78. The Last House on the Left (2009)
R | 110 min | Horror, Thriller
After kidnapping and brutally assaulting two young women, a gang unknowingly finds refuge at a vacation home belonging to the parents of one of the victims: a mother and father who devise an increasingly gruesome series of revenge tactics.
Votes: 74,904 | Gross: $32.72M
The recent Last House on the Left (2009), a remake of a rip-off, attempts to ratchet up the violence while painting Mari as more naïve than the previous version, placing the blame on their predicament on the peer pressuring friend (she never wanted to get high!). The film follows that up with a stronger Mari, who (instead of whimpering) fights her attackers and escapes. However, even with the increased violence, the movie really pusses out by not having Mari die, leaving the revenge of the parents not actually revenge, but more of a fight for survival (in this case, fighting off the gang to get Mari to a hospital). This really takes the wind out of the film IMO, as the remake completely loses any hint of the questioning of morality.
I remember people calling the remake superior to the original. Did we see the same film? While competently made, utterly pointless and superficial.
79. Sadie Thompson (1928)
Unrated | 97 min | Drama
A prostitute seeking a fresh start becomes the obsession of a religious extremist.
Votes: 2,243 | Gross: $1.00M
Overall, Sadie Thompson is a simplistic tale: a former prostitute running from he past, breezes through the tropical island of Pago Pago—where lonely military men trail after the drinking, parting good time gal who generates an instant party in her wake—only to be stopped by the moralizing missionary who takes it upon himself to reform her.
Sadie Thompson (1928) belongs to Gloria Swanson, whose classic beauty make her presence loom larger than the other players. Intending to just pass through, she becomes stranded on the island after her ship is quarantined due to a possible cholera outbreak. She quickly becomes the object of the stationed men’s affections (and desires) as well as the scourge of the missionary Mr. Davidson, who not only hates all things he deems the young woman to represent, but also has an uncanny ability to sway those in power on the island. After planning to run off with one Tim O’Hara (a man who is forgiving of her past), Davidson uses his pull to block her passage through the islands and force her back to her point of origin, where she has run afoul with the law.
Sadie is a decent little flick, mostly due to the tug-of-war that occurs between Swanson and Lionel Barrymore (as Mr. Davidson), with a whole load of moralizing in between. I’d like to say most of the ideas of what a woman should be (and the evil of prostitution) have changed in the 80+ years since this film was released, but I am not so sure. But, the (sometime) hypocrisy of the overly religious (and supposedly moral) is still valid IMO.
80. Miss Sadie Thompson (1953)
Approved | 91 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
A self-righteous missionary man seeks to save the soul of a former prostitute.
Rain is nearly the same movie (except, of course, not a silent) with Joan Crawford taking on the role of Sadie. While I preferred Swanson, Crawford is quite good here and also quite the looker (I was told elsewhere that she did not like her performance here, which seems odd to me). That said, I think this story worked slightly better as a silent, where emoting is fine and not followed by long stretches of unnecessary dialog (since we get it).
81. Rain (1932)
Passed | 94 min | Drama
A prostitute finds redemption in Pago Pago thanks to a hard missionary man.
Miss Sadie Thompson was a bit of a slog to get through. Rita Hayworth, while stunning herself, is not up to creating the sparring match with Mr. Davidson as the previous actresses in this role. That, and she and Aldo Ray (playing O’Hara) have no chemistry. More frightening, is the fact that the over-the top nature of the island’s service men panting after her makes her seem like a huge whore, which really takes away from the intended sympathy we are supposed to have for her. And I haven’t even mentioned the obnoxious musical numbers by Hayworth.
82. The Big Clock (1948)
Approved | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
After murdering someone, a magazine tycoon tries to frame an unknown, innocent man of the murder instead, while the innocent man tries to solve the murder himself.
Imagine you are a wildly successful editor at a crime magazine but are exploited by your slave-driving boss (a high profile publishing magnate)—a man who continually manipulates you, so much so that it’s taking its toll on your marriage, until you are finally fed up, refuse his wishes, and are unceremoniously fired.
On the night of your canning you spend time with the boss’s mistress, who proposes a blackmail scheme (which you really don't take seriously), carry on, drink too many beverages of the alcoholic variety, and end up at her place (strictly platonic now, you are merely hitting the couch), only to be rushed out the back when your boss—who catches a glimpse of you leaving—shows up.
Now imagine this boss phones you up the next day and asks one last favor, to aide him in identifying the man who has murdered this woman. What? Murdered! What to do, what to do?
This is George Stroud’s predicament, assigned the task of identifying himself in an obvious set-up to take the fall for a murder committed by the boss (played with much delight by Charles Laughton). An intriguing premise that should be, at the least, the basis of an interesting thriller. The Big Clock is interesting, as Stroud must find evidence of his innocence (by rummaging up evidence of his boss’s guilt) before he is inevitably ID’d as the man who spent the final night with Pauline (the mistress). The film works best when its race-against-time set-up begins to tighten the noose on Stroud, who must simultaneously cover his tracks while getting what he needs to prove his innocence.
83. No Way Out (1987)
R | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A coverup and witchhunt occur after a politician accidentally kills his mistress.
Votes: 29,580 | Gross: $35.51M
No Way Out strips the platonic nature of the relationship in Clock and inserts sex, and plenty of it (accompanied by awful music), into the story. Additionally, it attempts to ramp up the suspense by making the boss a man with real power—the U.S. secretary of defense (SoD). Insert Kevin Costner as the fall guy, and you have the makings of a bad movie. Okay, so I wouldn't say downright bad, but certainly mediocre, getting points for laughs with some of its more ridiculous moments.
The mistress in question comes off, as my grandmother would say, as a loose woman, cared for the SoD (Gene Hackman) but falling for Kevin, killed when she tries to break off her affair with Gene (sorry, I can't be bothered to remember/look up the characters names).
Some of the more hilarious moments: when the couple shows up at a girlfriend of the mistress, unannounced, “for use of her bed”. There are also some hired assassins that hang out at The Pentagon waiting for the order to kill (we'll just be over here 'til you're ready for us). Also, the resolution of a blurry photograph negative that acts as a literal ticking clock—the best thing about this is that no one notices the thing until the screen on which t is prominently displayed reads "completed" (oh, look, it's Kevin Costner!).
But these are minor annoyances when one considers the “twist” thrown onto the film—the SoD and staff attempt to cover up the murder by finding the man seen leaving her apartment and outing him as a Russian spy (yeah right, who's gonna buy that?). The joke was on me, however, when the biggest coincidence of all time was announced: Kev is a Russian Spy. Gasp!
84. Gloria (1980)
PG | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York.
After a mob accountant is outed as an FBI informant, Jack Dawn—knowing that his (and his families) execution is imminent—places his 7-year old son Phil in the care of his middle-aged neighbor Gloria. Phil is also given a book containing his fathers snitch info, ensuring that the mob will be on their tail. Further, Gloria is wanted by authorities for the kidnapping of Phil, giving Gloria the appearance of a typical flight form the mob type film.
But there is nothing typical about Gloria (1980), being nothing like the previous Cassavetes features I have seen (admittedly only a handful of films). Gloria is played as melodrama, giving the movie a blatantly artificial surface that works to either make the film wildly uneven (given the violent content of the story), one sprinkled with comedic elements, or both. I’d lean towards the later choices, as the film itself I found striking in its non-serious, almost parody-like qualities—played straight—making it one of those wonderful, against your expectation mind of film that I thought worked well.
Much of the criticism of the film lies in the acting ability of Phil and dialog he is given, criticisms I fail to understand. The back-and-forth between Phil and Gloria is fantastic, humorous at times and uncomfortable at others, Phil was perfectly cast—the precocious little twerp who pushes all the right buttons of the child-hating Gloria, working against each other until the realization that they are in too deep to abandon the other (although Phil, being a kid and all, does try). While this could have easily veered toward sentimentality (particularly given its melodrama exterior), it does not, one of the great attributes of the film (that, and the awesomeness of the gun-toting Gena Rowlands).
85. Gloria (1999)
R | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A street-wise, middle-aged moll named Gloria stands up against the mobs, which is complicated by a six-year-old urchin with a will of his own who she reluctantly takes under her wing after ... See full summary »
Votes: 4,795 | Gross: $4.16M
Gloria, with all its superficialities, seems like an intriguing film to remake, as long as those attempting to do so don’t play it as a straightforward drama, which is exactly what happens in Gloria (1999). Gloria (Sharon Stone), upon her prison release, finds Nicky in the hands of her ex-lover. Fearing for his life (and wanting some revenge), she snatches him up and goes on the run. The interplay between Gloria and Nicky elicits none of the humor/discomfort/etc. of the previous film and comes off as hollow (and the duo have little chemistry). That the melodrama has been excised, the straight-faced Nicky after exposure to gun fights, dramatic car chases—things that would impact anyone—seems silly (the kid has no emotion). There is also the fake accent that Stone employs throughout which becomes a tad annoying.
But what really kills the film is the fact that this version does veer toward sentimentality, which is how you turn what was just a pointless and mediocre remake into something much worse: utter *beep* Seemingly intended to show the bond made between the two (which gradually happens in the ’80 version with no need to point it out), this Gloria only puts an exclamation on the “why did I even bother” uttered when the credits rolled.
86. Julia (2008)
R | 144 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A woman tries to extort money, using a young boy as bait.
Votes: 5,313 | Gross: $0.00M
I have oft heard this film is labeled as an 'unofficial remake' so I included it here.
Julia is a fine film, notably for the amazing performance of Tilda Swinton, initially is somewhat repulsive, then utterly vile, before somehow becoming sympathetic, making her redemption seem believable (an amazing feat that is successfully pulled off IMO). I literally found Julia’s treatment of Tom disgusting and hard top watch, but Swinton really embraces the role and all the ugliness it entails, being the glue that holds everything together. What might have been an eye-rolling affair (or yawn inducing bore-fest), due to all the twists and turns of the narrative, I found mesmerizing due to the slow change we see in Julia who overcomes her kidnapping ineptitude and shocking treatment of Tom to portray a woman who cares for the kid and does what it takes to get him back to his family (yes yes, even though she is solely responsible for her situation)
In the end Julia may have just have fooled me, as her actions can still be read as selfish and calculated, but this is a question that lingered with me for awhile and one that I still cannot shake. I’d be interested in hearing others opinions of Julia.
87. 42nd Street (1933)
Unrated | 89 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance
A director puts on what may be his last Broadway show and, at the last moment, a naive newcomer has to replace the star.
Votes: 8,911 | Gross: $2.30M
If one is interested in the production of an old big Broadway show—from initial casting to that first performance—then 42nd Street is your movie. Run by men who unabashedly exploit the young females of the show (and why not, as the ladies don’t mind it so much, a girl’s gotta work…and you need to use what you got!). In Depression era NYC, the about-to-keel-over-any-minute-now Julian Marsh (sick with stress after losing nearly everything in the stock market crash) is intent on developing a hit with “Pretty Lady”, headlined by financial backer Abner Dillon’s gal pal and given a cast of 200 to support her. A slew of opposing sexual shenanigans fill out the rest of the story, which is propped high with its incisive dialog (where sexual innuendo’s run rampant) and great characters.
Two things surprised me here, 1) the ribald nature of it all—particularly the nonchalant sexual power plays (of both sexes) that pepper most of the interactions between the cast, and 2) the awesomeness of the finale—after 80 minutes of the group practicing what appeared to be the same musical number, the dress rehearsal really puts the show together, from the numerous musical numbers to the dazzling sets, it can easily be described as spectacular.
88. All About Eve (1950)
Not Rated | 138 min | Drama
An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.
Votes: 97,731 | Gross: $0.01M
All about Eve is one of my favorite films, a tale of that younger person who does what it takes to snake her way into a good situation and displace the person at the top (hey, it’s easier than the trek that defines the typical route to success). Here, it’s the titular Eve who schemes and connives her way to stardom, using the aged Broadway star Margo Channing as her path to the stage, and her charm, seduction, and skill of manipulation to ensure that her journey is ultimately successful. Interestingly, Eve is also the victim of manipulative actions, as she too is threatened with the exposing of her truths, something that keeps her in line and at the will of another man.
The two stars are what make Eve great, as Ann Baxter and Bette Davis sell the transition of Eve, from ready to answer to you servant, before finally seeing her for what she truly is, a snake. But it is a too late, as Eve has ingrained herself to the powers that rule the theater and is now the “it” girl.
89. Showgirls (1995)
NC-17 | 128 min | Drama
Nomi, a young drifter, arrives in Las Vegas to become a dancer and soon sets about clawing and pushing her way to become the top of the Vegas showgirls.
Votes: 54,648 | Gross: $20.30M
It’s the frank nature of sexual politics (and exploitation) of both films, along with the backstage drama of 42nd Street, that’s lifted to make Showgirls, a seemingly a perfect combination to mash-up for Verhoeven’s typical doing-what-you-gotta-do-to-survive theme, here tackling the both the American Dream cliché and Hollywood convention to create a startling portrait of American sensibility and over indulgence.
Nomi Malone arrives in Las Vegas with dreams of stardom on the stage. As a stand in for America, you can’t do much better than Las Vegas, with it’s gaudy superficiality and outrageous excess (something used as a selling point in tourism ads), where all one really needs to accepted is cash. Nomi, having no money, uses her most valuable commodity to great effect, eventually auditioned for, and landing, a part in the Las Vegas show (something they take *really* seriously in Vegas!) before clawing, sleazing, and pushing her way to the lead role where she’ll become a star.
Now, I know this is a minority opinion, but I find Showgirls utterly superb. It’s awful and tasteless script is used to great effect by Verhoeven to subvert standard Hollywood convention; Verhoeven delights in rubbing it in our faces and force-feeding what he perceives to be American obsession (sex, money, fame). It really is difficult to take, being almost repulsive in its contempt. That said, it dazzles with style, a mad colorful rush of a film that goes all out in its technical aspects (sublime cinematography, flawless editing) all while telling this most ridiculous and offensive tale with the straightest of faces—never relaying its intentions and forcing us to view it as a serious work.
Nomi is pretty much a rip-off of Eve’s Eve, with the nature of Eve’s actions made explicit and using her body to gain sway with those in power (i.e. men), who she knows exploit her (taken straight from 42nd Street), ultimately getting what she wants before allowing her conscious to get the better of her (but hey, there’s an even bigger stage to be on!).
90. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
Approved | 69 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.
91. Jane Eyre (1943)
Approved | 97 min | Drama, Romance
After a harsh childhood, orphan Jane Eyre is hired by Edward Rochester, the brooding lord of a mysterious manor house, to care for his young daughter.
Votes: 6,771 | Gross: $3.82M
92. Alien (1979)
R | 116 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
Votes: 658,993 | Gross: $78.90M
Alien, much like Jaws, is a film that almost begs to be ripped-off due to the simplicity of it. Here, we have a slasher in space, that’s it. That said, Alien really rises above a typical slasher due to the amazing atmosphere it exudes. The atmosphere, along with the great cast of characters, really heighten the tension to create what are some genuine scares and thrilling fun. And I haven’t even mentioned the icon the film introduces: the alien itself, a foe that is immediately recognized as an unstoppable adversary. How will they defeat it?
Alien is a film that still hold my attention, still thrills…hell, still amazes even after my umpteenth viewing, that rare film that never gets old. Needless to say, it would not be matched by it may imitators but that is a bit too high a standard.
93. Forbidden World (1982)
R | 77 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
In the distant future, a federation marshal arrives at a research lab on a remote planet where a genetic experiment has gotten loose and begins feeding on the dwindling scientific group.
Forbidden World does provide in the fun department, making it one of the enjoyable rips of this quest, even if it does indeed come off as a rip-off. This is mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all and knows its limitations (reading through some of the comments here at IMDb, I am amazed by those who complain about the special effects). Hence, we know why we are here and it certainly provides what we want: cheap thrills sprinkled with some nudity (speaking of the nudity, I never realized how hot David St. Hubbins girlfriend was!).
94. Galaxy of Terror (1981)
R | 81 min | Action, Adventure, Horror
Science fiction suspense thriller, in which a rescue space ship crew meets up with horrors projected by their own imaginations.
Galaxy of Terror was not so much fun, attempting to be a bit too clever for its own good—I speak mostly of the story that is the basis for this rip-off which is needlessly confusing (or not, I did have bouts of “faze outs” the movie induced, possibly contributing this). Corman certainly did better in the previous effort, but my guess is that Alien was still present in the mind of moviegoers, enough to be milked one more time.
95. Creature (1985)
R | 97 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A expedition to Titan uncovers an alien being, that goes on a rampage.
Votes: 2,701 | Gross: $4.78M
Which led to one of the worst films of the quest (I know, I have said this a lot!) in Creature which, while not striving to be anything more than a cheap imitation, was exhausting in its ineptitude. The weird thing about it all was the fact that there were many recognizable characters, from Ferris Bueller's dad, to a fleeting Pee Wee Herman love interest. But this was nothing compared to the fact that Klaus Kinski shows up about halfway through the picture! If I am skirting any commentary on the film it is because I cannot willfully make myself remember it.
96. The Fly (1958)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device.
Votes: 17,571 | Gross: $3.00M
The Fly (1958, Kurt Neumann) is a fine film—vivid and dramatic—even as I knew what the big reveal would be (still finding it quite exciting). What was great about this version was how it was told through the eyes of the scientist’s wife—in flashback—after the seeming murder of her husband, Andre Delambre, at her hand. In this way we become acquainted with her scientist husband who was working on a method of teleportation and one who foolishly uses himself as a test subject upon realizing his goal, subsequently suffering from a hideous dipteran disfigurement.
Curiosity to the nature of this disfigurement builds, leaving us to wonder what exactly is beneath his head covering. While the film would make us wait, the scenes involving the silent Delambre, using his wife as his mechanism of action, are nicely done and add to the tension, while the big reveal is still exciting, rightly used as an example of a classic film ‘shocking moment’. Vincent Price, playing the brother of the deceased, works to uncover the reason for his brothers death and moves the narrative along, discovering the unsuccessful attempts at ‘fixing’ his brothers disfigurement.
97. The Fly (1986)
R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.
Votes: 134,310 | Gross: $40.46M
It is easy to see why the original Fly was appealing to Cronenberg, an obvious story in which to further push the body-horror themes of his 70’s-80’s output. That said, I can’t imagine watching a better re-make than the ‘86 Fly, which not only uses the general storyline of the original, but also manages to spin a demented romance out of it—it is the romance, and not the transformation, that takes center stage in the re-make.
Seth Brundle meets one Veronica Quaife, a journalist for a scientific magazine, and lures her back to his place with promises of showing her something that will “change the world, and human life as we know it”. This was no gross exaggeration but the plain truth, as Seth has made teleportation feasible. The portrayal of Seth as a kind of freelance scientist is much more realistic than previously shown (the basement scientist—the legal variety anyway—no longer flies).
After a lovers spat, and after finally being successful at teleporting live objects, Seth foolishly uses himself as a subject and man and fly are assimilated, leading to the slow transformation of Seth into a fly—the transformation itself becomes more and more disgusting. I can’t help but think of Seth’s worsening condition as a reflection of his and Veronica’s relationship (and lost relationships in general), slowing becoming more and more unrecognizable from the bliss of the beginning and, in this case, particularly nasty.
There many wonderful things about this movie, one of the best of the 80’s IMO, I’d recommend it to all (but, a strong stomach is required at times).
98. The Bad News Bears (1976)
PG | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Family
An aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an ultra-competitive California little league.
Votes: 17,718 | Gross: $42.35M