TOP 10 BEST FILMS OF 1988

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

Honorable Mentions:
-Above the Law
-The Accused
-The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
-Alien Nation
-Amsterdamned
-Beetlejuice
-Cocktail
-Coming to America
-Crocodile Dundee 2
-THE BFG
-Big
-The Blob
-Dead Heat
-A Fish Called Wanda
-Gorillas in the Mist
-The Great Outdoors
-Killer Klowns from Outer Space
-The Land Before Time
-Midnight Run
-Monkey Shines
-Oliver and Company
-Powaqqatsi
-The Presidio
-Rain Man
-Twins
-Willow

10. NIGHTBREED
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The second films Clive Barker ever directed (after Hellraiser) was both a fantasy horror film and a pro-Gay/LGBTQ culture film. NightBreed pretty has a guy get convinced he’s an evil murderer by a psychopathic therapist (played by horror director David Cronenberg) and finds out he actually belongs to a group of monstrous creatures who are actually quite welcoming. And eventually the film becomes a fight between this seemingly monstrous community and organised, religiously motivated cops and rednecks…get it? While the film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and it’s initial release didn’t 100% work (The Director’s Cut is much better) the film still carries an air of passion and cultural exploration that most films wouldn’t. I can pretty much recommend this (even the initial cut) to anyone as a fun “outsider becomes savior narrative” (Because it’s not exactly a White Savior Narrative like Avatar) thanks to some great direction, performances, scares and some truly inspired monster designs with the final battle being fun and cathartic as all hell-but if you are someone who identifies within the LGBTQ community, this might carry a spell-binding effect.

9. THE THIN BLUE LINE
The Thin Blue Line poster.jpg
Directed by documentary titan Errol Morris, The Thin Blue Line is kind of like Netflix’s Making of a Murderer…but more objective. See this film examines a potentially false conviction of a murderer by going over various testimonies and shooting recreations tailored to each specific version of events to show discrepancies. Sometimes a car or placement of a person is different from each account and suggests ultimately that the imprisoned murderer…wasn’t the murderer. Now, just like Making of a Murderer-you can believe that this films leaves out information, but considering the number of people examined and the information given-it really doesn’t seem like that. The documentary is a post-modern classic wherein the film is challenging the establishment of crime (I mean American Police still have a not so bright track record) and it deserves to stand as that classic. If you need a great example of an engaging documentary-watching this.

8. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
An early version of Satsuki is near a bus stop on a rainy day holding her umbrella. Standing next to her is Totoro. Text above them reveals the film's title and below them is the film's credits.
I’ll be honest, I don’t get why this is so often considered an unquestioned anime classic. Same reason I don’t get why ET is a classic: both are well made, cute and slightly nuanced films that would be the foundational template for many films. Totoro certainly has its great animation and was one of the reasons Hayao Miyazaki became extremely popular and was able to make his more nuanced work. I feel the story is kind of unimportant to allow instead for cute antics, inventive creature designs and enough deviations from this kind of basic template of “Child gets Big Monster Friend” that it works. Totoro’s simplistic design is as iconic as other animated icons like Pikachu, Minions, Shrek and Mickey Mouse. Its Disney dub actually has a very good cast including the Fanning Twins (Dakota-Man on Fire, Elle-Maleficent), Pat Carrol (The Little Mermaid), Tim Daly (Justice League The Animated Series) and Frank Welker (Transformers, Aladdin) as the title monster. While it lacks deeper themes I prefer in his later work, this film certainly is higher tier animation of the time.

7. THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
Black thorns against a blood red background.
This controversial masterwork by Martin Scorsese that tells an alternative story of Jesus Christ is still an engaging, visual and emotional tale of this Christian Messiah. It was so controversial at the time because of its dark, post-modern revisionist take that Evangelical Christian boycotted and burned what they could of it, attacked patrons of the film in small ways and bigger ways like the crashing of a bus and a Molotov cocktail. Like…way to show everyone how positive your faith is idiots by attacking people who wanted to see it. Now I can get why people might get mad over this considering it takes the story of Jesus and makes it feel more akin to Scorsese’s filmography of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull (having been written by the writer of those films Paul Schrader) as a dark examination of masculinity, sin and choices (The ultimatum Catholic Guilt story). it also feels odd that this mostly positive story got attacked by Christians…but the ultra violent and more questionable Passion of the Christ was riotously defended by the same group…like…wow.

Because I think this is genuinely a beautiful, emotional, nuanced, humanist and inspiring tale of how Jesus was still human and could make mistakes and sin. It shows his wife Mary was a prostitute without shying away from it and gives Judas a very nuanced role instead of the usual traitor. Its performances, especially by Willem Defoe (Spider-Man) as Jesus are wonderful, with not a single weak lead performance. It’s also a beautiful looking film thanks long time cinematographer of Scorsese Michael Ballhaus, its score is astounding thanks to musician Peter Gabriel (Sledgehammer) and tis editing by the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker is fantastic. This is a testament to faith based films trying to say something and not just be blind religious propaganda based on anger and ignorance to make money off the faith based audience.

6. THEY LIVE
A skull-like alien's face is reflected in a man's sunglasses
One of John Carpenter’s greatest films, a sci fi film that exposes the toxic and corrupting nature of 80’s capitalism. This is one of the best sci fi films of the 80’s in general, standing alongside Aliens, Blade Runner and The Terminator-a smart, entertaining and pop-culture institution piece of cinematic art. Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster in a story wherein Piper plays a man who discovers that advertising is a subliminal brain washing tool and the 1% of America are really aliens controlling you. A great paranoia thriller that actually has more to say than “they’re out to get YOU” and shows that controlling systems are more passive and target EVERYONE. Besides its strong message; its performances are great (because Keith David is always great), the action sequences (especially the six minute brawl) are fantastic, its narrative is naturalistic and not a cliché ‘Chosen One’ story, and it has iconic imagery and lines. Whoever told you the line “It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gun” comes from Duke Nukem is wrong-it came from this. Its direction is great, especially considering the low budget and it’s mostly thanks to cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe (Robocop 3, In the Mouth of Madness). And its low key, jazzy score from Carpenter and collaborator Alan Howarth is unique for their career, but certainly great. This is an absolute must watch, especially for genre junkies.

5. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Theatrical release poster depicting filmstrips shaped like Roger Rabbit. The title "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and a text "It's the story of a man, a woman, and a rabbit in a triangle of trouble." are shown at the left top of the image.
Organising the top 5 of this year was difficult because it’s basically 5 amazing films I have to order begrudgingly. Roger Rabbit is one of those films that films buffs know of, but I feel more modern young film/animation fans should see. Before you could just CGI a character into the film, this was one of those films wherein they had to have actors acting to nothing, hide whatever they could and draw over 82’000 individual frames of art. Realized by Disney and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg under director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away), from a screenplay by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (Wild Wild West, How the Grinch Stole Christmas), based off the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf. Starring greats like Bob Hoskins (Brazil, Hook), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Anastasia) and Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone, Monster House), shot by Dean Cundey (Halloween, Jurassic Park) and scored by Alan Silvestri (Predator, Avengers Infinity War) the movie just rocks. Its direction, acting, animation, score, narrative, themes, humor, action and mild dose of horror works as a great film that anyone can enjoy at any age. Mostly I love the character arc, the play back between Private Eye Eddie (Hoskins) and the titular Roger Rabbit. It’s a neo noir film with animated characters from all over the place, serving as a metaphor for racial discrimination. Yeah, Bright didn’t do it first…or anywhere near as good guys.

4. GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
A young boy is carrying a girl on her back in a field with a plane flying overhead at night. Above them is the film's title and text below reveals the film's credits.
This was the great Studio Ghibli film of 1988. From anime director Isao Takahata (Only yesterday, Pom Poko, The Tale of Princess Kaguya) and based off the novel by the last Akiyuki Nosaka-the film is a start emotional anti-war film that pretty much works as Japan’s answer to Schindler’s List. While many films set in World War 2 era Japan (Especially American films) deal with the famous battles, the warships and the planes-this one focuses on how war affects the smallest people in it. It’s about a brother a little sister forced to deal with this war they have no stakes or capability of affecting. You mostly just see them trying to survive and see the effects of this war. Yes, this movie is a kind of tear jerker masterpiece and I’ve seen it have flank thrown at it for that. Movies that falsely make you cry are one thing, but movies where we see what happened to real people and children is another. This movie was critical of the co-current generation (a spoiled generations from Japan’s prosperous Post War economy that had no concept of war, skipped school and often made gangs) and it did try to make them understand what their parents and grandparents went through. I feel the non-diegetic moments made only for the audience are designed to talk to the audience in its beauty and show who these characters were. It’s a relationship with the Japanese audiences to ask them to consider with more heart. Haunting, beautiful and ever-lasting in its effect, I can’t recommend this more.

3. DIE HARD
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If Die Hard wasn’t high on this list-I’d be beaten to death by action fans with Steven Seagal’s bad filmography. Die Hard is a classic for a reason: it’s a perfectly made, perfectly shot, perfectly cast, perfectly written and perfectly realised action film. It doesn’t have the biggest set pieces, the most revolutionary effects or some genre re-defining theme: it’s simply the best possible version of an enclosed character based action thriller. Bruce Willis made himself the everyman star as the true John McClane, with Predator director John McTiernan pulling perfect direction for a thrilling story and punctuating a story based off the detective thriller novel Nothing Lasts Forever. It also has the late Alan Rickman as one of the greatest villains ever leading a great cast, a subtle 80’s power fantasy and at the end of the day: it’s an entertaining, well excited action film that doubles as a post-modern Christmas movie. If you want a better summary of this, watch Moviebob’s video on it:

Also in terms of the other movies: 2 and 3 are fine with memorable moments, 4 is largely mediocre and A Good Day to Die Hard is straight up garbage. Also that final that’s some how supposed to have Bruce Willis also in it and has Len Wiseman from the 4th film returning to direct worries me.

2. DEAD RINGERS
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David Cronenberg is more than simply one of the greatest horror directors or body horror directors ever-he’s just one of THE greatest directors ever. Although he’s a cult director with many great and controversial films not many people went to see: Shivers, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Naked Lunch, Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Bodies, Cosmopolis (The Fly being his most successful)-his film stand the test of time. And I’d rank Dead Ringers as his best: a stomach turning film with great performances, a wonderfully realized theme and horror that’s more exposing than any 80’s slasher. Jeremy Irons plays the double role of twin gynecologists that share women (one clearly dominant and the other submissive) and it becomes and intricate body horror tale of sexuality, sex and questioning the body. It doesn’t need to explodes like in Cronenberg’s other films to be powerful, by the end it’s reach an emotional peak many films would fail at attempting. Bolstered by composer Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings) and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky (The Empire Stakes Back) the film is hauntingly beautiful in more ways than one. Miss it for Halloween? Check it out now.

1. AKIRA
AKIRA (1988 poster).jpg
Full Disclosure: I think this is the great film ever made (3rd favorite of all time). A technical achievement in animation that not only speaks to ideas and themes that remain despite their dated origins, but also just one of the great untouchable films in my opinion. Granted you’ve probably heard this from any film/anime snob, but I’m still going to say my piece. And for the record I’m going by the 2001 dub that outshine the original English dub (but the Japanese dub is still great).

So the story of a Neo Tokyo dystopian city dealing with youth biker gangs, civil unrest and a secret experiment that might’ve caused the original disaster to make this world is one of the best stories ever told. Adapted by Katsuhiro Otomo (from his own, unfinished manga at the time) the film’s story I wonderful structured, paced and avoids cliché. The characters and their respective voice actors are wonderful, in fact the original Japanese dub was recorded before any of the animation was drawn-to remove the anime “lip flap”. Another special thing about the audio is that Akira’s astounding score (which I’d place as one of the best underrated scores alongside Tron Legacy, Batman V Superman and Alien Covenant) because it’d not only great but might potentially have hypersonic frequencies that your ears don’t register, but your brain does to add to the effect and I’d believe that. The film also invented 50 new colours due to the film being mostly done at night and needing special attention to lighting. It’s one of the best looking, best sounding, most viscerally charged films ever made. The movie isn’t just a great film because of its place in popular culture, it redefined animation cinema the same way Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey and recently Blade Runner 2049 did. Speaking of which, Blade Runner 2049 might be the only post 1988 releases that achieves anything like this film. While Akira stands as a sci-fi masterpiece like Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell or The Matrix-it’s not been a film anyone could really replicate. I think the only other modern film that’s somewhat close to this movie is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but Akira is far superior. There’s a reason this film’s remake has languished in production hell for about 30 years: no one can one up this. The manga’s storyline continues after the end of this film (because again, the film was made before it was finished) and I’m not sure who could adapt this for the American Hollywood system. Directors from Stephen Norrington (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Ruairi Robinson (The Last Days on Mars), Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road), Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Taika Waititi (Thor Ragnarok) have potentially been able to make it, but none have accepted (even though I would in a heartbeat). I that either Akira should never be remand or be told by a visionary director with a master of action, horror and themes (James Cameron, Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Denis Villenueve and Zack Snyder would probably be the best for this).

Now onto the themes. Akira was made at a time where youth crime was on the rise, students were skipping school and Japan was enjoying its post war financial boom (similarly made works in response to this included Grave of the Fireflies and Battle Royale). And the theme played up here is the fear of a commonly known, yet older threat returning to change the world. Considering the film opens with a nuke type explosion and the name of the film is Akira (a very common name in Japan) so the idea that a revolutionary, dangerous element is by this seemingly simple name is like if everyone in the Western was fearful of someone named Michael, Sam or John. And the film shows this fear through realistic riot scenes, the youth gangs in rebellion, shadowy government agents and in the end…the literal smallest things imaginable being the greatest threat. And let me be clear, the ending act of this film is one of the best you’ll ever see and it’s the director that pulls this scene off that will define the live action adaptation.

In short, Akira still remains one of the greatest films of all time in animation, science fiction and in general. If you’ve NEVER seen this movie, it’s required viewing.

 

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Why I Don’t Like The Exorcist

A man with a hat on his head, holding a suitcase, arrives in a house building in วthe night, with the film's slogan above him while the film's title, credits and billing underneath him.

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

My darkest, most controversial horror film buff truth is that not only do I not like the Exorcist…but I kind of hate it outright. I know this might not make sense considering my love of the horror genre…but then again I also hate horror “greats” like Scream, Hostel, Cabin Fever, Final Destination, Signs, The Babadook, Piranha 3D or even It Comes at Night and people are all subjective so it’s ok to not like a popular thing.

I think what permeates The Exorcist is its controversial status. This 1973 pop culture icon has long been considered on of the scariest, grossest and most controversial films of all time-to the point people believe the film was a cursed production and a demon lives in the celluloid of the film. And MANY people have stories about how they were forbidden to see it or didn’t have the courage to see it until they were an adult, telling others to see it. Here’s the opinion of someone who saw the film at age 16 for the first time, knowing of these and has now seen both the theatrical and director’s cut twice…it’s weak sauce by today’s standards. I know that sounds like saying we’ve become more nihilistic and desensitised as a culture than a film not holding up but…some things aren’t so scary or controversial anymore. Remember, the old school black and white Universal Monster movies terrified audiences…when they’re more gothic mood pieces and unintentional comedies nowadays. In looking at genuinely creepy/scary horror films of the past 20 years that I’d consider more terrifying/distributing than this: Ring, The Blair Witch Project, Antichrist, A Quiet Place, The Descent, Martyrs, Mother! and Hereditary. The Exorcist is now just kind of tame.

Lots of “controversial films” lose their staying power. I doubt many modern audiences would find A Clockwork Orange, The Last Temptation of Christ, Evil Dead, Natural Born Killers or 50 other films that upset crybabies of the prior decade. It’s like how currently “Goblin Slayer” is getting touted as a disturbing anime…despite it being basically 1940’s pulp fantasy book material. The Exorcist just didn’t scare me: the gore and nasty imagery was childish to me, Regan swearing and bodily actions was more hilarious than scary (like people who thought Toni Collette was more funny than crazy in Hereditary) and I just felt more bored than anything during this film. I know that’s the product of a lot of older films: slow creeping tension…but Alien, The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jaws did these better in the same time frame.

And I’m sure I’m gonna get told “I’m missing the point”…no I’m not. The Exorcist is not The Shining levels of subtle, it’s about as broad as it can be, but it’s kind of a stupid broad in modern context. The narrative here is that a modern (for then) progressive mother’s daughter gets possessed by a demon and only 2 Catholic Priests can save her. The basic message is “women can’t save their own daughters, it’s probably their fault anyway-it’s only the men of faith who can save her” (Considering the mother virtually disappears for the 3rd act). To be honest…that sounds like a message 70’s audiences would take…but it sounds ultra preachy in modern context doesn’t it? And that’s without getting into the uncomfortable narrative tropes of possession affecting women more than men (especially in narratives-I can’t speak on actual possessions) and how it seems more like families unable (or not wanting) to deal with women during moments of stress. It’s kind of like how the modern hatred of witchcraft stems from an ancient stupid push of sexism hidden as propaganda by the male controlled church. I know this might sound like I’m an SJW and hating on a classic to be a hipster, but I’ve tried 4 times to like it and it always loses me as an older film.

Older films can suck: Gone with the Wind is a pity story for the American Confederacy (while also having inconsistent performances and some dumb action), The Red Shoes is sexist in saying women need a man to be happy in any aspect of life and even The Crying Game makes gender more of a “plot twist for shock value” than a character important moment.  The Exorcist I think not only has an outdated story along with lacking scares, but it also has some truly bizarre editing that helped me recognize bad editing. The best example I can think of is a scene where Regan’s tests are intercut with a scene of Father Damien and it comes off like how Baz Luhrman had Moulin Rouge edited. it also has an ending that feels right out of The Babadook wherein nothing seems to have happened or been gained, making me feel like I wasted my time. I also feel its opening barely explains mood or atmosphere and is just there to set up a character who doesn’t really need a backstory (another example of more emphasis given to a male character). So yeah, there’s multiple reasons I dislike this film.

Some of the performances are good, the effects were nice and it’s not shot horribly-with some shots lasting in people’s minds forever. However I do have to call into question the director William Friedkin. While I don’t believe the film itself was cursed, Friedkin’s career was. Despite having back to back successes with the critically acclaimed and award winning The French Connection, and the box office smash turned pop culture institution The Exorcist…Friedkin never had another success.
-Sorcerer was a re-evaluated film that failed due to releasing against Star Wars.
-Deal of the Century was a poorly received box office dud that feels in bad taste, Rampage made no impact
-The Guardian was underwhelming.
-Jade was a critical and box office failure that helped kill the erotica genre.
-Rules of Engagement was a huge bomb and critical disaster.
-The Hunted was a box office disappointment that’s…descent I guess?
-Bug was ok, but didn’t really do it.
-Killer Joe was well received, but not a box office hit.
His only other notable works were the well received and descent hit To Live and Die in LA…and the absolutely homophobic failure of a film Cruising that incited a double homicide at a gay bar. So forgive me if I don’t think Friedkin is some brilliantly forgotten director suffering from a film curse…I just think he might’ve lost his way REALLY hard. Considering he doesn’t like horror films and made The Exorcist, it’s not wonder it comes off like a supernatural drama. I also think his methods were questionable on-set (I even think sometimes Kubrick and Hitchcock went too far) especially hitting an actor…like that’s just uncalled for and I couldn’t tell you which scene it happened in.

I’m not here to tell you that you can’t like this movie or that you shouldn’t watch it (Free will is your right) I’m just expressing how I feel. It’s just one of those films I don’t really like despite the critical acclaim and it’s ok for anyone to like or dislike anything (unless it’s a dumb reason like sexism/racism/homophobia). I’m sure there’s a classic film or film you “should” like, but just don’t. And I’m sure there’s “bad” films that most people dislike and you really do. Subjectivity is fine. I just wanted to say how I felt.

 

 

Movie Review: HALLOWEEN (2018)

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

Halloween (2018) poster.jpg
…why do I have to keep educating older film fans? This feels embarrassing to have to do.

The original Halloween by John Carpenter from 1978 was the original “Classic” slasher. While Psycho, Peeping Tom, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and early Giallo films technically did many similar things-Halloween was the modern template. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and pretty much every other slasher film primarily takes influence from it. It wasn’t a tour de force masterpiece like The Shining, Suspiria or John Carpenter’s The Thing, it was a lean and scary experience that did its job perfectly akin to The Blair Witch Project or Alien. Halloween still stands as a great slasher thanks to its minimalist design, brilliant execution and subtle theme. And this was strong enough for (now) 10 more films…even if the track record is pretty bad. Halloween 2 is disposable (with a twist that doesn’t really work), Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is the most interesting (but doesn’t really work 100%)  and 4 through to Resurrection (8) were interchangeable attempts at making another one (none really working). Aside from Carpenter, none of the other directors really built the franchise or themselves in any way. Rick Rosenthal of 2 and Resurrection never went on to do much else, Tommy Lee Wallace is only really know for the It miniseries and Halloween 3, Dwight H Little of the 4th film (for me at least) only really went on to make the second/best Anaconda film, Dominique Othenin Girard of the 5th film went nowhere, Joe Chappelle of the 6th film also went nowhere and Steve Miner who did H20 while having the 2nd and 3rd Friday the 13th film under his belt at least made the entertaining Lake Placid. Plus there were the 2 Rob Zombie remake universes that…pretty much started strong and died fast. Doing a retcon sequel so that only the 1st and last film count in this continuity is fine, and this movie is pretty damn great.

Halloween 2018 is probably the best Halloween film since the original and the most interesting since Season of the Witch. No, it doesn’t outclass the original because it’s completely indebted to it: but it’s certainly the most worth sequel considering how bad they’ve been and the 40 year gap. The premise of Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) waiting 40 years for Michael’s return, and she’s pretty much been a PTSD survivalist this whole time is awesome. Curtis in the lead is great as this grandmother Laurie-badass, determined and still human. Michael Myers in here is great (performed by the original and a new actor) having the menace he always had. Other performances by Judy Greer, Andi Matichak and Will Patton do a great job supporting as well. The plot works really well (by a screenplay co-written by actor Danny McBride) and its directing of actors, visuals and tension is wonderful thanks to David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Joe). Special mention to cinematographer Michael Simmonds (Cell, Nerve) who gives the best shot film in the franchise since the original thanks to a wonderful use of lighting, angles and some spectacular long takes. Also is score and sound design are BEYOND AMAZING!

But you’re here for a slasher to see cool kills, get scared and get some catharsis. And this film does a great job with building its horror, being as believable as possible with Michael’s mild teleporting powers (great use of negative space) and having some AWESOME kills. Most of the kills are down with great practical effects and character acting. Some of the best kills are off screen and done in the kind of “Build Up, Aftermath) execution Japanese horror often does. Its ending climax is actually really well executed, even if my favorite part is that ultra cool long take at the mid-point.

Now, I’ve been hearing two different opinions “Good Enough” or “Not Good Enough” and some of the negative reviews feel…like “film buffs” a generation above mine don’t get Halloween. I’m not going spoil anything, but I am going to discuss the themes of this and the original film so watch this video by Ryan Hollinger for a great analysis of the original film.

Ok, so one of the often taken away parts of Halloween is the idea that it’s a metaphor for sexual puberty in a woman. That Michael Myers is the embodiment of male predation and him trying to stab her with the knife is a rape metaphor. This interpretation…is completely different from Carpenter’s original intent and has always denied it as that. I like gender theory analysis in films as much as the next person, but I think it’s a very Freudian take and Sigmund Freud…doesn’t really belong in serious discussion anymore (here’s a man who thought all homosexuality stemmed from lacking a father). Instead, John Carpenter simply had Michael Myers viewed as the Boogeyman and the embodiment of evil. It’s why any of the attempts to make Michael more interesting in the sequels and especially Zombie’s remake-utterly fail. Michael isn’t special or motivated by human nature or anything like that. Michael’s not semi-tragic like Jason Voorhees, witty/creepy like Freddy Kruger or even just a man like Leatherface…Michael is pure evil, the darkness in the world. Anyone can think anything of any film and if your takeaway is the gender dynamic…then please embrace Death of the Author by what you see. As someone who embraces Auteur Theory (because I am one) and looking at more accurate analysis documentations of the film…I’m inclined to believe Michael is pure evil and it stemming from a VERY soft Lovecraftian influence. I know that’s a stretch considering Lovecraftian horror is either about madness, body horror or giant unspeakable horrors form beyond this world…but I truly believe Michael is the human embodiment of that. Friedrich Nietzsche once stated “…if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back at you” and I truly believe in watching the film and reflecting on the original…Michael is The Abyss. Michael’s evil is felt pretty much by everyone and there’s a twist later on that pretty much confirms my theory on that. Michael is the dark abyss, of infinite horror and a reminder of humanity’s worthless state. Not an undead human (Re-Animator), mangled body of tentacles (From Beyond) or giant space god (Hellboy)…just a man in a mask. Also considering John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian fueled Apocalypse Trilogy…it’s not out of the question.

Unfortunately, most critics have missed this because they seem to hold the prior films with some strange affection (even though most are just bad) and I didn’t really know what they wanted? I feel like this was something they wanted…but either in the fan script they have in their head, or they don’t actually know what they want. Missing this really great theme and being confused (despite it being explained) about an act 3 turn and hating the film for it feels…like missing the point and it’s disappointing that otherwise smart film fans have missed a really basic idea. But if you are also into the gender theory dynamic, the 3rd act will satisfy in its themes and horror-meta narrative.

Overall, I really liked this film and found it surprised me, entertained me and had more going on. I think Blumhouse keeps making enough good films (Insidious, Sinister, Get Out, Split) to outweigh the bad (Unfriended, Truth or Dare, Happy Death Day) and I’d like it if Blumhouse got Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw and Nightmare on Elm Street. They’d give them to passionate and talented directors to make and wouldn’t micromanage the hell out of it.

So I highly recommend this movie, hope a potential sequel can be made. HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

TOP 10 BEST FILMS OF 1989

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

Honorable Mentions:
-976-Evil
-The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
-Back to the Future 2
-Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
-Black Rain
-Born on the Fourth of July
-The Brave Little Toaster
-Casualties of War
-Dead Poets Society
-Drugstore Cowboy
-Glory
-Henry V
-Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
-L.A. Takedown
-Leviathan
-Puppet Master
-Roadhouse
-Tetsuo The Ironman
-Weekend at Burnie’s

10. TANGO AND CASH
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Despite being a rather simplistic film that somehow got technically four directors though out its troubled production: Tango and Cash is still an incredibly fun, ridiculously enjoyable action film. With directorial hands changing from Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train), to Peter Macdonald (Rambo 3), to Albert Magnoli (Purple Rain) and finally Stuart Baird (Executive Decision) coming in to salvage the film. The film is basically a parody action film of the Buddy Cop formula that had been ruling the 80’s, and while it didn’t surpass those films-it’s still fun. Sly and Kurt gives great performances and their chemistry is story, even if I love the crazy villain of this film more. From the entire prison section, to the ridiculous chase and shoot-out at the end, this film is just too much fun and too well made enough to pass up.

9. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
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Often considered the best Vacation film due to its immense heart and comedic gold, this movie is pretty much true to that. The 3rd Vacation film as the classic “Christmas Gone Wrong” set up that has some genuinely warm moments where comedy doesn’t wear it down, and some inspired scenes of comedy that are a staple of John Hughes best work. It’s performances by the always great (for that time) Chevy Chase and the talented supporting cast still hold up almost 30 years later and the film is just part of that pure 80’s entertainment canon. Not seen it? Well go watch it when Christmas rolls around.

8. SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL
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This one’s one of my personal OG comedy favourites of the 80’s. It sounds like a really silly plot wherein a deaf man and blind man are the key witnesses to a murder and somewhat unwillingly set out to solve it. Despite kind of getting mauled by critics at the time, I think the film still holds up on just its crazy comedy. If critics back then thought this script was ridiculous…then they’d be loathing Kevin Hart movies right now. This is designed to be a silly movie wherein two great and dearly departed comedians Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and Richard Pryor (Stir Crazy) go on a kind of buddy crime caper. It’s cast does a really good job in performances and comedic executions, its plot is silly but reasonable enough and I think it’s a film that does derive humor from the main characters deafness and blindness-but it’s usually done to tear down everyone else and not themselves and I think that works really well. Plus there are some scenes of comedy that just have me wheezing and rolling on the floor laughing because this is one of those films with excessive swearing but down at the right time. Likely unseen by modern audiences, check this one out.

7. LETHAL WEAPON 2
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While Shane Black didn’t return to complete this screenplay considering the direction everybody wanted to go, Lethal Weapon 2 is just as great as its original film. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return for their great chemistry that’s evolved since the first, Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman) returns to direct and does an amazing job from the action scenes to the quieter scenes and its story is deliberately stronger than the first. One thing I love about this film is how its leads into the subject of Apartheid (which was a thing in South Africa at the time) because in the original, Donner received death threats over minor references to ending Apartheid…so he made it more prominent in the sequel as a big middle finger. It’s a funny film, a spectacular action film, a great character/actor showcase and actually brings Gibson’s character to a strong conclusion considering how damaged he was in the 1st film and the sequel adapted it beautifully. While I can’t confirm if it’s better than the first Lethal Weapon, I can say it’s just as good so watch this and the first one (3 and 4 not really).

6. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE
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The first Indiana Jones is an action adventure classic, Temple of Doom is…memorable but doesn’t really hold up and was Spielberg’s “Divorce Film”, but The Last Crusade is a genuinely inspired take on the character as a brief prequel and great sequel. I kind of wish this was the first sequel we got, but hey-it’s still great. The story of Indiana Jones going after the Holy Grail to stop the Nazis from getting it, and his father having to get involved is a simple story for some grant character beats. Indiana has to deal with his father issues (That old Spielberg chestnut) and grow further as an archaeologist (because in the original film he was pretty much a colonialist grave robber, but changed by the end). The plot is strong with a really great opening prequel before we jump into a boat chase, airplane battle and one of the truly great car chases of action cinema. It’s performances are great, with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery having spectacular chemistry as father and son, the late cinematographer Douglas Slocombe (The Italian Job) does some of his best work here even after doing the prior Indiana Jones films and John Williams as always makes a perfect score. Spielberg’s energy and direction was on point as ever and this film is one of the reasons the 80’s is considered the golden age of action films. You probably haven’t seen it in a while so go watch it again…or you’re one of the people who watches it almost every week so…keep it up.

5. THE ABYSS
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James Cameron’s visual and technical achievement that might’ve been an insane piece of filmmaking (and Cameron wouldn’t stop doing that) but still holds up as a smart science fiction film. It’s near perfect on a technical level where even the visual effects hold up, it’s cinematography by Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers, Arachnophobia) is fantastic considering the underwater shooting and its score by Alan Silvestri (Predator) is wonderful. Its cast includes Ed Harris (The Rock), Michael Beihn (The Terminator) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Scarface) and every single one brings out great performances thanks to Cameron’s direction and screenplay. Really, it’s the films technical feat and narrative that I love most (hence why I prefer the director’s cut). This film’s full story is a possible Cold War heat up thanks to possible alien contact and everything being prevented thanks to our most human nature. It feels a lot like if Contact or Sphere were better, with the most modern reference point being Arrival set underwater. I also do love how it’s a piece of hard science fiction which would’ve been a horror or action film and instead going the more thoughtful route-so 100% check this out if you’ve not (and I mean the 170 minute version).

4. THE LITTLE MERMAID
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This Disney classic that jumpstarted the Renaissance (from the directors of Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, Princess and the Frog, and Moana) still entirely holds up. It’s story of a…well…Little Mermaid wanting more than her expected life is a story that still works even if the romance is incredibly short. It’s visuals and animation are nigh brilliant, its designs are fantastic-especially Ursula, its music and songs are magic to the ears and its voice acting from the likes of Jodi Benson (Toy Story 3), Christopher Daniel Barnes (1994 Spiderman Series), Pat Carroll (Superman) and Samuel E. Wright (Dinosaur) is spectacular. Look, we all love this film for a reason and this hasn’t diminished…I mean “Part of Your World” still stands as one of Disney’s best songs and make most of this film.

3. DO THE RIGHT THING
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Spike Lee’s best film, a mix between a Theatre style narrative (as in influences from Romeo and Juliet and Bertolt Brecht) and a modern politically charged drama. The film shows how one hot day raises the hatred, tension and anger between people and obviously across racial lines. This movie is directed, acted, shot, written and executed marvelously. Its cast includes Spike himself, John Turturro, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Bill Nunn and Samuel L Jackson and every single cast member does a great job. It’s music is pulsating and it’s racially charged themes are just as powerful as BlacKkKlansman is today. This is a must watch for any lover of good film.

2. KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
Kiki, accompanied with Jiji the Cat is flying on her broomstick over a city with seagulls surrounding her. To the right is the film's title and credits.
This is one of my absolute favourite Anime and Studio Ghibli films. The story of a young witch growing up isn’t a high stakes drama or terrifying horror film, but it’s still an engaging, sweet and poignant tale about growing up as a girl. I’d say it’s a nice Eastern companion piece to The Little Mermaid (even though Ponyo is the more explicit Little Mermaid anime film) in that it’s a young girl growing up, but it’s done in a subtle way that’s not exploitive and not simplified. It’s a very nuanced children’s film for girls about girls (granted not by a woman as it’s by Anime master Hayao Miyazaki adapted female author Eiko Kadano’s book by the same name). It’s voice acted wonderfully, its Disney dub having Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Tress MacNeille (Animaniacs) and the late Simpsons actor who played Tory McClure-Phil Hartman. Its animation, music, story, characters, themes and eventual exciting climax are all wonderful. You can enjoy this as a child or adult in equal measure.

Also I give my middle finger to the Concerned Women for America who boycotted this because “Disney promotes Witchcraft” and “Has a Darker Agenda” (The same idiots who promoted hate and idiocy around Charmed and Harry Potter) even though Christians hate Witchcraft because Middle Age Christians created propaganda against the Pagan religion because sexism and labeled them Witches, Satanists and Devil Worshipers by co-opting Pagan images and Deities as Satanic imagery…It’s fun knowing history and laughing at idiocy of women bashing women because men from the Middle Ages told them to and it carries to this day.

1. BATMAN
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This movie is still awesome. It’s a movie I grew up with and even looking outside of nostalgia: it’s still awesome. While mostly considered an influential staple in the blockbuster/superhero genre-it’s had some of its praise removed in regards to character portrayals and it’s somewhat unusual structure, but those are part of the appeal to me. This was only Tim Burton’s 3rd film as the director after Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice (kind of like Batman Begins being Nolan’s 3rd major film) and his talent for crafting scenes, visuals and directing the cast was palpable. While in recent years Burton has gotten kind of lazy in his visual creativity, narrative and direction-his younger years show the most promise.

The visuals of this film are astounding thanks to great artists, costumer designers, production crew and cinematographer Roger Pratt (Brazil, Troy, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). Its music by Danny Elfman is not only iconic, it’s one of the best score in cinematic history-especially considering the Superhero genre today often lacks memorable music. Michael Keaton is magnificent as Batman (Though Ben Affleck is still my favourite) and while the costume was a bit immobile-it added to the nature of his movement. It’s other cast including the amazing Jack Nicolson as The Joke, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth and the underused Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent are all magnificent in this great cast. Its visual effects, use of lighting and aesthetics match between hyper realism and surrealism wonderfully.

It’s cast has great chemistry, its themes of freaks and monsters is perfect Burton material and I love every action scene from the opening brawl, the factory fight, the art gallery rescue turned car chase and then alley brawl, and the final extended aerial battle to clocktower fight. This movie was just great and I used to jump around as a kid doing the fight scenes and can remember them all (along with this movie today). In terms of its relationship to Batman Returns, this one is more solid, but the sequel is less restrained. It just depends if you like a hot auteur mess, or a more solid restrained film-but both are great.

While can understand the dislike in terms of its structure, I think it still works and holds up fine as its own narrative that doesn’t follow tradition means. As for the revealing twist in regards to Batman’s origin connected with another character, yes it’s coincidental (although not as coincidental as Venom’s origin in the comics) but I like it in terms of its themes and characters.

So you’re either someone who’s seen it 100 times and still going (like me) or have only been exposed to the Dark Knight Trilogy and Worlds of DC series-you MUST see this.

THE WORST FILM OF 1990

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

TROLL 2
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Yes. Yes, this “So Bad It’s Good” classic film is the worst thing 1990 produced. Compared to (if you looked to places like the Razzies) films like Rocky 5, The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 and Ghosts Can’t Do It-those are either still well made enough or have more intended entertainment value. Troll 2…well everyone knows Troll 2.

For those who’ve not heard of this film, it’s a “horror” film (because they wanted it to be scary) produced by Italian exploitation filmmakers as a sequel to the American film Troll (where the main character’s name is Harry Potter Jr-11 years before JK Rowling’s first book) and follows a family going to Nilbog (it’s Goblin spelled backwards because there’s no ACTUAL Trolls-just Goblins) after some kind of weird…house swap I guess? The main problem with the film is its acting delivery and random plot elements. Like how there’s a magic dead grandpa and again-that whole house swap thing feels so awkward. But it’s the famous lines like:
“Who wants to eat you little brother”
“You can’t piss on hospitality”
and of course “They’re eating her, and then they’re going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”

The plot is just “characters wait around to be killed while being unrealistically dumb” with other random elements like the dead ghost grandpa having magic powers…but not always. Or this witch lady who randomly appears. Or that random popcorn thing.

Of course one thing I think shows how close this could’ve been to actually scary is some of the goblin masks are pretty creepy, and how the goblins don’t just want to eat you-they want to turn you into plant material to eat you. I think that plan this is pretty creepy imagery and conceptually wise…but it undercuts this with the dialogue and performances that should show terror and instead create laughter.

The movie is SOOOOOO close to being like prior Italian exploitation film of the 80’s (most of which claimed to be Evil Dead sequels in their home country) but this shows why that trend ended. It feels like it’s trying to intentionally be bad, but everyone involved claimed they were taking this serious.

You know, I weirdly want to see a studio like Sony try and remake this. Because it’s either going to be an ultra dark version of this or one that intentionally apes the film’s comedy and I feel that’d be quite the spectacle to watch.

TOP 10 BEST FILMS OF 1990

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

Honorable Mentions:
-Air America
-Back to the Future 3
-Dick Tracy
-Die Hard 2
-Ghost
-Gremlins 2: The New Batch
-Hard to Kill
-Home Alone
-It
-Jacob’s Ladder
-Miller’s Crossing
-Misery
-Predator 2
-Puppet Master 2
-The Rescuers Down Under
-The Witches

10. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
An image of Edward (the main protagonist) and his love interest
Tim Burton’s take on a Frankenstein story is both a darkly fantastical tale, as well as a genuinely sweet and personal story. Before Johnny Depp became a colossal liability for a production and Tim Burton lost his magic, this film was a magical story that either would’ve been a pure horror tale lacking nuance or a fluffy piece lacking creative vision-but in Burton’s hands has the edge and heart it needed. All the actors are great with Johnny Depp perfectly playing the Frankenstein-esque monster with a heart, along with Winona Ryder, Diane West, Vincent Price, Alan Arkin and the rest of the cast following suit. Its production design and effects are marvelous, with cinematographer Stefan Czapsky (Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Matilda) displaying is perfectly and Danny Elfman (Batman, Men in Black, Spider-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron) constructing a score that fully creates the whimsy of this tale. Plus its script by Caroline Thompson (The Addams Family, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, City of Ember) perfectly captures what this story should be.

9. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
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While I don’t hate the more modern incarnations of this franchise, the original still holds up nicely and captures the true spirit of TMNT. Directed by Steve Barron, who has had an interesting career with lesser films like Coneheads and The Adventures of Pinocchio (Like I think this film is his best work) and more interesting projects like the Arabian Nights miniseries and music videos including: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, Toto’s “Africa” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me”-this film looks really good and is executed incredibly well. The film mostly stands up thanks to its characters (creating the truly distinct versions we love) and magnificent effects by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (Creator of The Muppets). The film is just a blast, a complete joyride with enough emotionally impactful moments to restate the film’s theme about family and brotherhood. Its cast, crew, post production team and everyone else committed to this awesome film, so please go check it out.

8. NIKITA
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Before Valerian, Lucy, The Fifth Element and Leon-Luc Besson made the wonderful Nikita. This arthouse action film plays like the concept for a video game: a girl is sentenced to death, but is instead given the chance to be an assassin and becomes one of the deadliest around until she complicates her life. It sounds like a female Hitman game (or a film version there of) and it ultimately works. This film did set Luc Besson’s precedent for a distinct visual style and execution-which makes this film work exceptionally better than if they tried to make a grim and gritty aesthetic. Compared to modern day “feminist” action films like Peppermint (which promotes feminism through racism) this film explores the actual story and relationships of this character, but doesn’t delve into cliché and avoids it. It kind of feels like if The Red Shoes was an action film, but didn’t have a problematic end. And its action sequences are marvelous, even from the opening stand off. There’s a reason this film remained popular with film buffs enough to warrant 2 tv series: its action scenes are just as spectacular as the likes of Leon The Professional (Jean Reno having a cameo as another assassin in this film before Leon). Mostly I just love the visuals of this film, so much credit to cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (Leon The Professional, The Fifth Element, Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets). Go check this one out, you will not be disappointed.

7. ARACHNOPHOBIA
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The directorial debut of legendary producer Frank Marshal (then again his only other great film was Alive) comes in the form of the best killer spider movie ever. I mean…it’s been almost 30 years and NOTHING has come close to topping this little film about a town overrun with some nasty cross-bred spiders. Starring Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber, The Martian) as the lead with the titular phobia, the film plays kind of like Gremlins, but with spiders. The film is scary and creepy (especially if you’re afraid of the arachnids) but it has really great dark comedy that shines through, thanks to performances by the always lovely John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, Monsters Inc). The film also looks incredibly great thanks to Band of Brothers and The Abyss cinematographer Mikael Salomon, plus that poster still holds up great. This film has a really strong and gorgeous opening with the South American setting and I wish more films would try to capture an opening that builds its time and sells the audience. The story is simple yet solidly structured-especially to the hero’s arc, it looks great, the use of real and practical effects spiders works wonders, the scares and comedy are in sync and it’s just a really fun time for Halloween.

6. TOTAL RECALL
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Either the last great 80’s action film or the first great action film of the 90’s, Total Recall is both an action classic and subversive action classic: akin to the likes of Predator and Hardcore Henry. The story of a man who desires the memory of being a spy on a mission to Mars possibly being repressed memories (the film never says because that’s part of the fun) is a masterclass in visual, action and softly thematic storytelling. Based on the Philip K Dick story “We Can Remember If For You Wholesale”, adapted into a screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (Alien), Gary L Goldman (Big Trouble in Little China) and Ronald Shusett (Above the Law), and directed by action/subversive director Paul Verhoeven-this is just fantastic. Schwarzenegger is perfect as the lead, full of the charm and presence that made him an action star. But the rest of the cast including Michael Ironside (Scanners, Splinter Cell), Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct, Casino) and Rachel Ticotin (Gargoyles, Man on Fire) do excellent work. Its effects, visuals, humor, music, action scenes and narrative nuances make this a truly awesome film and if you’ve only seen the bad remake or never seen this in general-PLEASE WATCH IT!

5. PARIS IS BURNING
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This astounding documentary that explores homosexuality, drag-queens and transgenderism amongst the Black and Latino community in New York City during the 1980’s-along with the culture they built. This is kind of a time/culture capsule to the degree that many of the people shown on film aren’t alive anymore. The film simply examines these people, their lives, their struggles and their culture. Some people claim it’s culturally appropriative for a white-queer woman to examine these peoples’ live and culture through a documentary…but won’t say it about Western filmmakers depicting other cultures in a more cliché way in a narrative film-so double standards you know. The people displayed here and their lives would’ve been interesting as a film, but considering these are the real people-it makes it more profound. Jennie Livingston should be commended for her efforts and if you’ve been wanted to see an unbiased view of LGBTQ themes that smashes through culture and race-check this one out.

4. TREMORS
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I wish monster movies were more like this (even though with films like Rampage and The Meg-they still are). Tremors is not the scariest monster movie ever, or the most thematically complex or even the one with the ground breaking effects-but it is one of the best executed version of itself with enough humor, tension and monster action to stand on its own. While Kevin Bacon would be the only lasting star, its director fading into Tv land and the once great producer Gale Anne Hurd (producer of The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Armageddon) would only go on to make The Walking Dead series-the film still works. It’s extremely entertaining, even with the somewhat dark concept of “Killer Worms” as it bounces between humorous banter and tense monster scenes that work in the films relatively high concept, low budget aesthetic. The “Graboids” of the film are one of the more unique monsters alongside the Kathoga from The Relic and the monsters from A Quiet Place, wherein they move through sand, using vibrations to hunt and having creepy little tendrils to grab. The film manages to up the stakes as the killer worms get smarter. I also like how there’s no real explanation of where these things come from (and I don’t acknowledge the sequels) and you don’t know if they’re mutants, aliens, prehistoric animals or just new evolutions. This is like Arachnophobia, ultra entertaining monster fair for this Halloween.

3. THE HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER
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Take the creative heads from Die Hard, have them adapt the classic debut Tom Clancy novel with Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, James Earl Jones, Sam Neil and Tim Curry cast and you’ve got a thriller classic that becomes the best submarine film ever. Despite very few action scenes and no real violence, the film is a nail biting tension piece where you don’t fully know characters and genuinely fear the Cold War is about to heat up. It’s also got incredibly memorable visuals, dialogue and moments that last in the mind long after you’ve seen it. Its filmmaking is brilliant (what do you expect from the director of Predator and Die Hard), it performances and writing pitch perfect and as I said-it’s a tension masterwork. Just go see this now people.

2. DANCES WITH WOLVES
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No, I don’t agree that this is super overrated or that it’s like really bad. I can understand the issues Native Americans have with the somewhat lacking nuances of tribal depictions and the framing of a White Savior narrative being problematic but I think Dances with Wolves gets more right than it does wrong. It’s a western that doesn’t demonise Native Americans like many classic westerns and shows the destruction of The Great Plains. It’s a film that looks gorgeous thank the Mad Max 2 cinematographer Dean Semler, scored majestically by John Barry (Creator of the 007 Theme) and perfectly realised thanks to Kevin Costner as director and actor, along with the Native cast. This film is actually, now an archival piece of footage that depicts the authentic Lakota language (along with many authentic Native American depictions in costumes and sets) thanks to the late and wonderful Doris Leader Charge. What I feel this movie got unfairly treated because “It’s a Hollywood movie and therefore it’s all wrong” (even though Hollywood sometimes cares deeply and Native Americans in the modern era will leave films that are inaccurate) and because it took Best Picture from Goodfellas (which yes, is a little off). But I think this movie deserves credit for what it gets right more than it does wrong. this movie is a testament to technical filmmaking and is cultural time capsule of a film. Considering Native Americans are still poorly treated (Look up the sexual abuse Native American women receive and how many people still use the wrong terms Indians), films like these that display Native American tribes in a fairer light and try to honestly display the culture are much better than say Johnny Depp’s Tonto in The Lone Ranger. Please give this movie a shot, and if you need added proof of its qualities, watch this video by History Buffs.

1. GOODFELLAS
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Yes, this movie should’ve won ALL the Oscars that year because it’s a classic. Goodfellas deserves to stand as one of the truly great films alongside Citizen Kane, The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Schindler’s List, Blade Runner, Psycho, Chinatown, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Lawrence of Arabia or Ben-Hur. It also stands as part of Martin Scorsese’s A+ catalogue including Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Wolf of Wall Street, with Goodfellas being the overall best-even if I find The Wolf of Wall Street more entertaining and Taxi Driver better thematically.

So yes, as a Martin Scorsese film: its direction, cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (Air Force One, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Departed), music, editing by Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorsese’s main editor) and script by Scorsese and Nicolas Pileggi (writer of the Wiseguy novel that the film is based) are all pitch perfect. But it’s of course it’s amazing cast that holds this film to its standard. Joe Pesci (who also played Harry in Home Alone that same year) won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that year, but Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, Lorraine Bracco and even Samuel L Jackson in a small role do fantastic work here.

I feel a bit cheap doing this as I already used one of his videos here already, but History Buffs did a great episode on this film that explores how its authenticity creates the quote “Life is Stranger Than Fiction”. But while I think the accurate portrayal is amazing, the film’s creative execution is the reason we remember it. It’s violence, classic scenes (Funny How, Pistol Whipping, Cocaine Montage), examination on the gangster lifestyle and its connection to violence and every other near perfectly executed piece of this film are why we love it. this film shows that you can make history work and make it genuinely engaging and entertaining.

It’s a brilliant piece of cinema that you have to love so if you haven’t: watch it immediately.

 

THE WORST FILM OF 1991

Written by Tyrone Bruinsma

ROVER DANGERFIELD
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I’m sorry Rodney. Much respect to the man, he was a great comedian and from what I read-a genuinely good guy. He was great in Caddyshack, his Natural Born Killers role was genuinely cutting and he even made an excellent character in the Simpsons as Mr Burns’s son Larry. I feel most modern audiences will know his impersonators (primarily Robin Williams’s Genie from Aladdin “I can’t believe it, I’m losing to a rug”), but his comedic act was what you mostly paid for.

However, his 80’s career peak slowly spiralled and this would be the pinnacle of his bad choices. Rodney was a very adult and vulgar act, so giving him this kids cartoon (not even a Fritz the Cat type cartoon) renders his adult humor null and void, leaving us with only his joke execution that comes to be annoying after only 30 minutes-let alone 70.

The plot is cliché even by 1991 standards and it has very little going for it. If you didn’t like Rodney’s style of humor-this was the worst example. I’m never always sure of adult comics doing kids media unless they have more than their humor. It’s like how Louis CK was cast for the lead role in The Secret Life of Pets and I’m just wondering who thought his talent would be useful there (embarrassing in hindsight for kids who look up that movies). Comedians like Jenny Slate, Sarah Silverman and Justin Roiland have more to them than just their original raunchy jokes and are genuinely gifted voice talents.

Rodney, he was kind of a one trick pony and it’s a shame a movie like this kind of exposed that. The animation is mostly fine, it’s just Rodney was never animated like Robin Williams so it feels like this should’ve just been a Babe or Napoleon scenario as opposed to an animation process (kind of like Eight Crazy Nights).

In terms of what else could’ve been on this list…Hudson Hawk was alright, Cool As Ice was a non-entity and I’ve not seen Return to the Blue Lagoon. Sorry Rodney, rest in peace you loveable bastard.