July 22, 2014

Cinema by the Letter: A

Lists, lists, lists. Everybody loves lists. People make lists for everything. Best of something, worst of something, forgotten somethings, and overlooked somethings. Why should I be any different? I already do best and worst movies lists twice a year (halfway point and the end of the year), so why not do some other types of lists? This list based column will see me pick a letter and then list ten movies I like that begin with said letter. They may not be my favorite, they may not be the best, but they will always be movies I like starting with that letter. Use it as a jumping off point and add other movies you like with that letter. Keep it positive, this is not a time to judge, just share the love.

This column's theme is the letter A.

1. Anthropophagus. This is a movie that I really have a love/hate relationship with. I think it is a must see for horror movie fans, but it rally amounts to an hour of boredom followed by a climax that makes you wonder what the hell you just watched. It is one of the BBFC's Video Nasties and does feature a sequence that should make you cringe in disgust. The movie was directed by Joe D'Amato and was written by George Eastman, who also plays the killer. The movie feels a bit like an American slasher blended with an Italian cannibal film. Follow a group who travel to an island to find it deserted, then watch as they find out why.

2. The Abandoned. This will never go down as one of the greats, heck, most of you probably don't even know what it is. It was originally supposed to be a part of the After Dark: 8 Films to Die For, but for some reason it was released on its own, separate from the film festival. It is a well made and genuinely creepy movie that tells the story of a woman who travels to Russia in search of her roots. Adopted as a baby, she never knew her mother. This is the story of what happened to her at such a young age and takes us right into an atmospheric haunted house.

3. The Abominable Dr. Phibes. If you haven't seen this one, you are really missing out. This is one of those classic Vincent Price roles that delivers all the goods. It is atmospheric, creepy, and darkly humorous. Price plays the titular Phibes, a genius disfigured in an accident, driven mad after the death of his wife at the hands of who Phibes believes to be incompetent doctors. He sets out to have his revenge, styled on the ten plagues of Egypt. Price is a singular genius and this is a wonderful performance.

4. Alien. I am not sure the world was ready for the horror that Ridley Scott and Dan O'Bannon would unleash upon the masses back in 1979. This science fiction/horror hybrid spawned a cottage industry of homages and rip offs. This movie takes us into deep space on a ship manned by blue collar workers, who respond to a distress call and find themselves confronted with one nasty alien critter. It is truly horrific, genuinely frightening, and downright fantastic. This is one that should be on everyone's list of A movies.

5. Alligator. This entertaining Jaws rip off is immensely entertaining and perhaps a little bit silly. The first time I saw this was just a couple of years ago when I got to see a 35mm print projected in a theater. It was an amazing experience watching this with a sold out crowd of like minded individuals. This film, from the minds of Lewis Teague and John Sayles, tells the tale of what may happen if a baby alligator is flushed down a toilet and makes its home in the sewers. It will inevitably eat something is shouldn't, resulting in giant growth and a taste for human flesh. Robert Forster is game as the lead sheriff hunting the sewer-bound beast.

6. American Psycho. Now here is a twisted gem from way back before anyone had ever heard Christian Bale's Batman voice, he was there talking about the finer points of business cards and Huey Lewis while doing just a little bit of murdering. Co-writer/director Mary Harron brought Bret Easton Ellis's tale to the big screen in style. It is a wonderfully dark send up of 80's era excess.

7. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. This may be my favorite of the Abbott and Costello Meet series. This one has all the classic monsters, some big names in the horror game, and is just downright hilarious! Watching the classic comedy team on screen with Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Glenn Strange is great. If you like to laugh and classic Universal Monsters, this is an absolute must see.

8. Assault on Precinct 13. The original (of course) is a must see. Sure, I kind of enjoyed the remake, but it holds no candle to John Carpenters original. Conceived as a low budget exploitation film inspired by Rio Bravo and Night of the Living Dead, the movie tells of a siege on an undermanned police station by unseen assailants, forcing good guys and bad guys to team up in order to try to assure their mutual survival.

9. Alien Contamination. Now, this is usually just called Contamination, but I could not resist having this Alien rip off on the same list as the movie it ripped off. This movie is just a lot of fun and features and amazing score by my beloved Goblin. Watch this movie as an abandoned ship floats in with mysterious egg things that explode and cause people to then explode in gooey, gory glory. The investigation is like part Alien, part James Bond, and all Italian. This is one fun movie from director Luigi Cozzi.

10. Across the Universe. This is a flat out incredible experience. There are a variety of ways you can enjoy it. It is a musical travelogue of the 60's era, it is a romance, it is an adventure, a war film, a comment on the current war effort, the list goes on. It is not going to be a movie for everyone, though everyone should take a shot at it. Plus, there are some fantastic interpretations of classic Beatles tunes.

That about wraps up this edition. So what A movies do you like?

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Dell said...

Cool idea for a list. I love Alien, American Psycho, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Some others I like:

April Fool's Day (original)
American Mary
The Amityville Horror

criticaloutcast said...

Nice list, although I have never cared for the Amityville movies, I kinda groaned last night when i saw a trailer for a new one..

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