CK’s Top 10 Films of 2013 – pt. 2

#5: The Place Beyond the Pines

This movie almost looks as gorgeous as I do...

This movie almost looks as gorgeous as I do…

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Genre: Drama

The Place Beyond the Pines is a sweeping crime drama told from both sides of the law across two generations. Pretty boy Gosling plays a stunt motorcyclist who turns to bank robbery so that he can provide for his son. Bradley Cooper plays the “heroic” cop who rises through the ranks whilst struggling with his own demons and proves that he too is an actor we can take seriously. So far the story probably sounds pretty familiar but to elaborate any further would “spoil” your experience.
The Place Beyond the Pines takes you on a thrilling emotional journey and is arguably the sexiest looking film of the year. If you enjoy crime dramas like The Town (2010), The Departed (2006), and/or Heat (1995) then you should most defs check this shit – even if you don’t find Ryan Gosling attractive.

#4: You’re Next

I killed your family, like a fox!

I killed your family, like a fox!

Director: Adam Wingard
Genre: Horror

The horror of the year is a comic one, much like last year’s Cabin in the Woods but not as experimental or ambitious. You’re Next sees a wealthy family reuniting at some vacation house. The festivities are spoiled when a bunch of strangers disguised in animal masks crash the party with crossbows and the intent to kill! This is one of those movies you clap and cheer in. You know those films that keep surprising you WHILST giving you exactly what you’re expecting? You’re Next is a ballsy, gruesome horror with a sharp sense of humour and a massive adrenaline shot.
And to chuck a massive cherry on top of an already decadent cake, our very own Sharni Vinson kicks absolute fuckin’ arse in this movie! Seeing a female Aussie steal the limelight in an awesome American film really gets me going… 

#3: Star Trek – Into Darkness

"Live long and suffer!"

“Live long and suffer!”

Director: J.J. Abrams
Genre:
Sci-Fi

Man that J.J. Abrams knows how to make a blockbuster! Star Trek: Into Darkness may have a shitty title and isn’t quite as amazing as its predecessor, Star Trek (2009)but when sequels are this good my faith in the Hollywood system is momentarily restored.
If you didn’t like the previous film don’t bother with this one. PS. What’s wrong with you?
Otherwise, how can anyone resist such a loveable ensemble cast, exciting story, mouth watering special effects, and emotionally manipulative music? I’ll tell you how. If you’re a massive cynic with a heart of stone. Shame on you!

#2: Upstream Color

I'm no scientist but that shit looks cray!

I’m no scientist but that shit looks cray!


Director: Shane Carruth
Genre:
Sci-FI

Some folks are enchanted by this film, others are confused by it, but many are both! Upstream Color may be the most challenging and unique film of the year and it really is a thing of beauty.
So, what is this…thing? Upstream Color can be described as a sci-fi drama about two people who start to mirror each other’s behaviour after being infected by a strange parasite. To be honest, any attempt to describe the plot does it a disservice.
This film doesn’t have a complex plot like director Shane Carruth’s previous effort, Primer, which was an extremely technical and mind-bending story about time travel. What makes Upstream Color so disorientating, and fascinating, is the peculiar way in which the film is directed and the story is told. There aren’t any characters who conveniently deliver us all the exposition we need to fully grasp the story, the camera often focuses on strange or unrelated subjects during dialogue driven scenes, and there’s lots of extreme close ups of shit growing. I’ve probably put a lot of people to sleep already! Upstream Color obviously isn’t for everyone but if you open your mind and stop worrying about plot you just might discover a new experience in cinema.

#1: The World’s End

Drink your beer and don't look so suspicious!

Alright, we can have our beers but let’s try not to look like fuckin’ weirdos while we’re at it!

Director: Edgar Wright
Genre:
Comedy

The team that brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz finish off their Cornetto Trilogy with a bang. 20 years ago a group of teenagers attempted an epic 12 pub crawl but didn’t manage to make it to the end. In the present day these friends reunite to try again but this time their attempt coincides with an alien invasion!
The World’s End may not be the best of the trilogy but it’s certainly the most ambitious. A lot of fans may be put off by how different The World’s End is from its predecessors but I reckon Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made some bold decisions with this one. Their ability to mix hilarity with familiar yet moving storytelling has always been spot on and they explore darker and richer territory in The World’s End.
I’m such a fan of this team’s work that I deemed The World’s End the film of the year after my initial viewing of it. Upon second viewing, however, I was amazed, but not surprised, by the meticulousness of each shot and line of dialogue. Every scene is so thematically and comically rich it gives me nerdgasms just thinking about it.
Genre comedies, funny films with stories you can take seriously, are my most beloved type of film and Wright and Pegg have been the true masters of the genre for the last ten years. Thank God for The World’s End!

Fitting that the end of this Top 10 should be The World’s End but as much as this year hasn’t been a great film year, there are still lots of other films I liked a lot. Here are 3 such films…

Django Unchained, This is the End, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

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CK’s Top 10 Films of 2013 – pt. 1

2013 was a pretty shitty time for cinema but every year has its gems and, of course, I didn’t get round to seeing every film I should have.
For that reason I can’t rate films such as Captain Phillips, Mud, Blue Jasmine, or Francis Ha.
Also, I’m Australian which means some of my most anticipated films of 2013 have not yet been released here. Due to such international intrigue, the following films will have to compete in my 2014 lineup…
Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue is the Warmest Colour, 12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Taking into consideration all of the above bullshit, here are my Top 10 Films of 2013 (well, at least films #10-#6 for now)…

#10: John Dies at the End

Damn, I really wanted to "meat" her...

Damn, I really wanted to “meat” her…


Director:
Don Coscarelli
Genre: Comedy/Horror

There’s no easy way to describe this riot of a film. Writer/Director, Coscarelli, of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep fame, adapts the surreal, dark comic novel of the same name and presents us with the stoner film of the year.
The story can be vaguely described as a twisted tale about a young man who recounts a series of bizarre and unbelievable events to a reporter, played by Paul Giamatti, and there’s a monster made of pieces of frozen meat!
Bear in mind that John Dies at the End is a small film and with that you won’t be getting Guillermo Del Toro quality CGI, but this is a perfect example of ambitious story-telling and inventive filmmaking triumphing over big budgets.
Watch this film if you wanna see some crazy shit and have a good time!

 #9: Magic Magic

I speak Chilean now, bitch!

I speak Chilean now, bitch!

Director: Sebastián Silva
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Another limited release of 2013, Magic Magic is a beautifully shot Chilean-American indie psychological thriller. We follow Alicia, a young, timid woman played mesmerisingly by Juno Temple, into the South of Chile for what is meant to be a holiday but what begins as an awkward fish-out-of-water drama slowly but magically evolves into a demented psychological trip. A remarkably unique and challenging indie-drama filled with seamlessly naturalistic dialogue and plenty of “WTF” moments; Magic Magic is essential viewing for those who desire a break from the mainstream. Hell, it’s even worth the watch just to see Michael Cera speak Chilean! The film also showcases how well Cera can perform in a drama, and now I shall watch what the future holds for him with great interest.

#8: Only God Forgives

"I don't need no mirror to tell me how good I look."

“I don’t need no mirror to tell me how good I look.”

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Genre:
Thriller

Most people hated this film, but I hate most people. Nah, Only God Forgives is a trying film and I can certainly see how it turned people off. If you’re looking for a dense story with twists and turns then this film isn’t for you, in fact, what are you doing watching a Refn film at all? Remember Drive? That was one of my favourite films of 2011 but it wasn’t on account of its plot. Refn’s films, at least his later works, tend to be all about atmosphere and Only God Forgives is dripping with it. Refn’s directorial flare and Gosling’s stoic performance and boyish good looks were a dynamite combination in Drive and this time round Refn jacks the atmosphere up to 11 and builds Gosling’s character up only to be broken, therefore shitting on our expectations. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue in Only God Forgives and for that reason people shrug it off as having no story, but if you allow yourself to be consumed by the film’s deliciously nightmarish atmosphere you just might find yourself on the dark, surreal journey that I didn’t want to return from once the film was over. If you think you could be seduced by sexy cinematography, hyper-stylised lighting and sublime soundscapes then dive into the macabre wonderland of Refn’s latest effort, otherwise watch Captain Phillips or something else that’ll probably get an Oscar or two.

#7: Prisoners

Can I come too?

Can I come too?

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Genre: Thriller

Phwoar! There’s nothing quite like a well executed mainstream procedural thriller. Hugh Jackman’s kids get kidnapped and Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective assigned to crack the case. A clear suspect, creepy Paul Dano, is identified but there’s no substantial evidence to keep him in custody. Enraged by all this bureaucracy, Hugh Jackman goes rogue and starts doing questionable shit to find his daughters. If I haven’t sold you on the premise already it’s probably ‘cos you’re sick of mainstream thrillers being shit. Well, this one isn’t, it’s actually great. The script is tight, the film is beautifully directed and the cast are electric, particularly Hugh Jackman in his most serious role to date. Like I said, there’s nothing like a good thriller, and Prisoners is the undisputed mainstream thriller of the year, probably even the last 3 years!

#6: Pain & Gain

Let's get a protein shake.

Let’s get a protein shake.

Director: Michael Bay
Genre:
Black Comedy

If Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is the morally questionable yet musically irresistible song of the year, then Pain & Gain is the same for the films of 2013.
Pain & Gain hilariously depicts the outrageous, real life, exploits of 3 body builders who kidnap a corrupt franchise owner to benefit from his wealth.
You really have to be in on the joke, or at least open to appreciating the film’s superficial irony, to enjoy this movie. Despite being based on a true story, the film’s bubble-gum-pop visuals and dark sense of humour would make one think otherwise. I guess that’s where the controversy comes into play. Is it morally insensitive to indulge in the hilarity of these strange and brutal circumstances if they are, in fact, real life events? That’s for you to ponder and not for me to answer.
To exacerbate matters, Pain & Gain is directed by none other than Michael Bay! If you’re a Bay hater, never fear, this film stands out from the rest of his work as being “the arty one”. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan then it’s time to get excited about what is definitely the best Michael Bay film since The Rock (1996)!

#76: The Wicker Man

Absolutely terrifying.

Absolutely terrifying.

Director: Robin Hardy
Year: 1973
Genre: Horror

The Wicker Man is a strange addition to the horror genre and is perhaps one of the most unique films ever made. It just may be due to the film’s strangeness that it’s so critically acclaimed yet so unfamiliar to the public.

To most of today’s youngsters The Wicker Man is known as that shitty 2006 movie where Nicolas Cage gave his worst and most hilarious performance. Now, I love “bad” Nicolas Cage almost as much as I love “good” Nicolas Cage, but it’s a shame that the story of The Wicker Man was introduced to contemporary audiences with an awful film because the original 1973 picture is a masterpiece.

What is this movie? The story follows a police officer, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), to a remote Scottish island in search of a missing girl. Howie, being a devout and celibate Christian, is shocked to find that the islanders all follow a peculiar pagan religion. What’s worse is that no one seems to know anything about the missing girl and Howie must plunge himself deeper into the island’s strange and haunting society in order to uncover this conspiracy.

There is nothing supernatural about this film. The horror comes from the surreal and elaborate rituals the islanders take part in, and the alienation we feel being thrown into this incredibly cliquey society. Welcome to the land of public fornication, chanting children and enchanting hippy song numbers. Unless you’re a devout Christian, like our protagonist, you’ll find that there’s nothing inherently wrong with these people’s habits, but the fear comes from what they’re not telling us. Mystery is equally fascinating and threatening and that’s exactly how I would describe The Wicker Man.

One of the most intriguing elements of The Wicker Man is its religious content. There’s this battle between Christianity and paganism and, as a non-religious viewer, you’re constantly at war with yourself deciding who you should be rooting for. Howie is such a Christian extremist that you find yourself hoping the pagans get the better of him. Conversely, Howie is so morally pure that you’re hoping he shakes up the pagans and comes home with the truth.

You also get the pleasure of seeing Christopher Lee, in arguably his best role, as the community leader, Lord Summerisle. His two dimensional, yet captivating, camp, villainous antics take on a third dimension in this more restrained performance. Edward Woodward, however, has the most difficult role as the film’s Christian protagonist. His ability to physically express his devotion and spiritual struggle under pressure and temptation is spellbinding and adds to the horror of the film.

If you’re looking for a truly different experience in cinema that’s easy to follow and thematically challenging seek out The Wicker Man: The Director’s Cut. Whether you like it or not, you won’t be able to turn away till the credits roll and you’ll be talking about it for a while longer.

CK’s Top 10 Films of 2012 – pt. 2

#5: Moonrise Kingdom

Film lives!

Film lives!

Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy

Wes Anderson’s back with arguably his best film since The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). Moonrise Kingdom takes place in 1965 on an island in New England where our protagonist, 12 year-old orphan Sam, attends a scout camp. Sam reunites with his year-long pen pal, Suzy, who also lives on the island, and together they decide to run away and build a life of their own. Hilarity, drama and excitement ensue when Suzy’s parents, the scoutmaster and the police join forces in search of the two young lovers.
Shot primarily on Super 16mm film and featuring Anderson’s trademark hand-made style sets, props and costumes, Moonrise Kingdom looks and plays out like a 60’s cartoon adventure, or a children’s book by Roald Dahl, a logical evolution from his last effort The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). Anderson’s hyper-real vision is turned up to 11 here, which may be off putting to some viewers but I go nuts for overly-stylised stuff, and the result is a revelation, a live-action cartoon – something Anderson may have been trying to achieve in previous films and here it is finally, fully realised.
If you want to feel like a kid again, if you want to view the world like a picture-story book, and if you want to see inventive film-making with “light” content for a change, set camp for Moonrise Kingdom.

 

#4: Beasts of the Southern Wild

beasts-of-the-southern-wild

‘scuse me, can you show me the way to ‘Toys “R” Us’?

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Genre: Drama

This striking effort from first-time American director, Benh Zeitlin, is a ‘ballad’ about the under-privileged fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Beasts of the Southern Wild is in many ways the best film of the year, it certainly is the most emotionally gripping, because it doesn’t rely on any post-modern, genre-conscious stylistic flourishes or multimillion dollar special effects to tell its story. Zeitlin made a bold decision in casting non-actors for his debut feature but it was this decision that ultimately made the film standout.
8 year-old Quvenzhané Wallis plays the lead character, Hushpuppy (6 years old), and she gives perhaps the most convincing, naturalistic child performance I’ve seen on the big screen in a long time. It’s fascinating watching a post-apocalyptic story through the eyes of a 6 year-old girl, it makes the plot all the more easy to follow which is another one of the film’s saving graces. Zeitlin utilised the bare essentials to weave this moving story; heart-breaking performances, a simple and solid script, a beautiful and effective film score, sexy cinematography, breathtaking scenery, and NO CGI.
Grab a box of tissues (for your eyes), lock yourself away from the world and get carried away by Beasts of the Southern Wild.

 

#3: The Dark Knight Rises

Guess who's back?

Guess who’s back?

Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action

The blockbuster movie event of the year may have disappointed many but it rocked my bloody socks off! The Dark Knight Rises should probably be further down the list, behind Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom, but I’m such a fan-boy I couldn’t help myself! It’s my preferred film of Nolan’s trilogy, I do love both predecessors, each one better than the last, but I think this one has the most moving and exhilarating story. Whilst The Dark Knight is the less flawed film, it’s lack of story surrounding the caped crusader himself was a problem for me. The Dark Knight Rises ties all three films together, enhancing the resonance of the previous two stories, and ends the series with the bitter-sweet finality it deserves. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would’ve been to end a Batman franchise but Nolan did it so masterfully my arms keep extending to offer him a cuddle despite the man’s absence from my life.
There are some unfortunate plot holes/details which stop the film from being the masterpiece it should have been but that wasn’t a big enough problem to ruin the experience for me.
I saw the film twice at IMAX, the way it was meant to be seen, and that probably helped somewhat elevate my experience. It’s a BIG fuckin’ movie! There’s nothing like expecting a spectacle and getting it.
If you’re not really into Batman, or aren’t a fan of Nolan’s trilogy in particular, there is at least one very important reason to see The Dark Knight Rises

Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

 

#2: Sightseers

Anyone seen my eBay?

Anyone seen my eBay?

Director: Ben Wheatley
Genre: Comedy (Thriller)

Directed by British underdog, Ben Wheatley (Kill List 2011), and written by the cast, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, Sightseers is a fresh comedy/thriller to behold. When I first heard about this genre-comedy produced by Edgar Wright, I was expecting something akin to Attack the Block (2011), or Shaun of the Dead (2004), a typical horror or sci-fi yarn with a comic spin, which I would have been more than happy with. Instead I’m served up a surprising concoction of Wright’s fusion of genre and comedy, Lowe and Oram’s unique sense of humour, and Wheatley’s eerie, Wicker Man-esque atmosphere. Sightseers is a prime example of the kind of layered brilliance you can end up with from a team of creatives as opposed to a more one-note effort you may get from a single auteur.
I won’t bother touching on any plot details. Sightseers is a film to be surprised by. Anyone looking for a challenging British comedy with some juicy murders will walk away with more than a smile.

 

#1: Cabin in the Woods

My, what big...teeth you have!

My, what big…teeth you have!

Director: Drew Goddard
Genre: Horror/Comedy

THE

UNDISPUTED

FILM

OF

THE

YEAR

Why? Drew Goddard (writer/director) and Joss Whedon (writer/producer) bring us a horror/comedy that explores the avenues most standard horrors fear to tread. The result is a wild deconstruction of horror, surpassing even the achievements of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996). Calm down, it’s not the better film, it simply breaks down the formulas of the genre to greater avail. The screenplay is a tour de force. The writers are merciless with their characters and limitless with their plot developments.
Cabin in the Woods is like an episode of Buffy gone mad. It certainly is not for everyone, it’s even a divider amongst Whedon fans, as its relentless plot can drive people crazy.

The bottom line is…

Cabin in the Woods has everything you lust for in a horror – it’s exciting, brutal and bloody as hell.
It has everything you expect from a comedy – it’s wild and hilarious.
It has everything you hope to get out of a new film – it’s different.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, but I strongly suggest you take a punt and decide for yourself.

#82: Jaws

I don’t think we can eat that…

Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 1975
Genre: Horror

Steven Spielberg takes a b-movie concept, a shark attack movie, and coats it with sophisticated film production values to create the world’s first blockbuster movie.

What can one say about Jaws that hasn’t already been said? It’s an obvious choice for any Top Film list and a necessary one.

For those of you who’ve not seen this classic Adventure/Horror film, I suppose you may feel inundated with pop-culture references, John Williams’ famous film score and various shark movies that followed, and fear that Jaws may be boring and predictable.
I must admit that had I never seen it I would be a bit “CBF’d” about seeing a film featuring a killer shark mainly set on water but I can assure you that there is nothing boring about Jaws.

Jaws has all the ingredients for an exhilarating yarn. It set the ground rules for what a blockbuster should be; an exciting genre story with top notch production values, loveable characters, sexy special effects, and a fistful of emotions!

The film is exceptionally paced with the first half exploring the hysteria of a small town as it’s threatened by a man-eating great white shark. In its second half the film evolves into more of an adventure where the three lead characters set out on a great hunt for the great white.

Whilst Jaws is masterfully effective with its scares and suspense, don’t be expecting a celebration of guts and limbs; there is ample bloodshed but this ain’t no gore-fest.
On the other side of the spectrum, you’ll be gravely disappointed if you’re looking for mind-blowing plot-twists, existential moments or deep touches of profundity. Jaws is, after all, a blockbuster, but its elegant craft, memorable characters and sharp dialogue turn light entertainment into first-class escapism.

#85: Suspiria

The Rainbow Connection…of fear!

Director: Dario Argento
Year: 1977
Genre: Horror

Strange that our next stop after Dancer in the Dark should be a psychedelic horror, or giallo, film about a dancer in a very dark environment. Let’s just pretend that I’ve wanked on about the similarities between these two wonderful movies, joked about how Suspiria could perhaps be one of Selma’s musical dream sequences in Dancer in the Dark, and move right on to exploring Suspiria as a film in its own right.

Suspiria is, Italian horror master, Dario Argento’s undisputed masterpiece. Though I’ve not seen his previous classic, Deep Red (1975), I doubt it will compete against Suspiria‘s dream-like qualities, which I find particularly appealing. The narrative follows an American dance student, Suzy, who arrives at a prestigious dance academy on a stormy night in Germany. Stormy nights and foreign surroundings help set the tone for this psychedelic nightmare. Our American protagonist is very much the outcast from the get-go, and we watch her become more and more alienated as each student mysteriously disappears, the death count rises, and circumstances get stranger and stranger.

Suspiria is one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen with its highly saturated colour palette, elaborate set designs and stylised camera work. The acting style is quite odd, as it is in most giallo films, which may be due to the mix of English speaking and non-English speaking cast members. Many may shrug it off as bad acting, but I think it adds to the film’ s surreal atmosphere. Watching Suspiria is like letting a nightmare play out in front of you. Mesmerising and terrifying.

If you aren’t already down with the antics of Dario Argento and the Giallo film genre then do some fucking homework! Alright, settle down. I’m no giallo expert myself, and I’ve only seen about four Argento films, which means that you don’t have to be an Italian Cinema enthusiast to enjoy Suspiria. You should probably be partial to a bit of blood and gore before you delve into this nightmare however, ‘cos IT. IS. VIOLENT. Start drooling, gore-hounds. There is bloodshed by the bucket load and internal organ extractions a plenty! One thing to note about giallo films, and Italian cinema in general, is that most of the violence is shot gracefully with death scenes being framed as visual art as opposed to gritty, disgusting visions of reality. The blood is bright red providing a more striking contrast to the imagery. The placement of the subjects within the frame is often composed symmetrically and/or melodramatically distancing the viewer from the reality of the scene. The finished corpse is then exhibited in all its bloody glory as one of the director’s killer’s works of art. Such sensibilities, the art of finding beauty in the revolting, reflect the desires of those who enjoy on screen violence. It’s a form of escapism, for those of us who aren’t already sickos. I’m not saying that I’m rooting for the killers in these movies but one certainly relishes in the danger and the fear. The ability to enjoy fear in a simulated environment is an interesting one.

If you’re looking for a new experience in horror…

I recommend Suspiria,

after midnight,

alone.

#87: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

“Keanu tastes good!”

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Year: 1992
Genre: Horror

In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola brought us the definitive Dracula film in his luscious adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Bram Stoker’s Dracula truly captures, and even goes beyond, the horror and sensuality of the novel which previous adaptations barely touched on. The film exudes orgasmic production values, the best I’ve seen in a Gothic period film, earning Academy Awards for Costume Design, Make Up and Sound Effects Editing. In light of the current trend of new films celebrating old cinema with the likes of Hugo (2011) and The Artist (2011), it is interesting to note that Bram Stoker’s Dracula does the same thing, only better. Coppola reached deep into the ‘heart of darkness’ to realise this film as creatively as possible and what he found was a beautiful adaptation of a story, written and set in 1897, using only the film techniques of that period. There were no green screens or computer generated effects, all effects were achieved on set and in camera, the results will make your heart leap.

In this adaptation you will find the most interesting portrayal of the Count, both visually and characteristically. The chameleon himself, Gary Oldman, plays Dracula in one of his best performances of his career, and he wasn’t even NOMINATED for Best Actor at the Oscars that year. Oldman’s Dracula, whilst terrifying, is a tragic hero and much more sympathetic than his previous incarnations. Coppola added to Bram Stoker’s tale by weaving in a back story of the Count before he became undead. The back story sees Dracula as ‘Vlad the Impaler’, real-life ruler of Wallachia in the mid 1400’s from which the myth of Dracula was born, allowing us to identify with the character first as a man and providing us with the most engrossing Dracula origin story ever.
We all know that Dracula can appear in many forms and in Coppola’s film, thanks to the award winning make up and costume design and Oldman’s chameleon like features, we get the privilege of seeing such forms in all their horrifying glory. Shudder in the presence of the old Count, be seduced by young Dracula, bow before the notorious Vlad the Impaler, run from the ruthless man-wolf and die at the sight of the bat-like demon. Some of these descriptions may sound ridiculous, but Bram Stoker’s Dracula turns camp-horror into Gothic-art; it has to be seen to be believed.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is extremely erotic, as a vampire film should be. Aside from the lurid sexual imagery (i.e. naked vampire brides and wolf rape), the sexual tension brewing amongst the cast’s ensemble will put you on edge, in particular the chemistry between Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) and Mina Murray (Winona Ryder) is dynamite. Sex and Death have always gone together like Jack and Jill and this film ensures that they are kept together; beware, you may be excited by things you once thought repulsive.

While we’re talking ‘sexy’, I must acknowledge that in Bram Stoker’s Dracula you will be graced with the company of the hottest ensemble cast of the early 90’s…

As Dracula – Gary Oldman: Oldman enthusiasts would be fools to neglect one of his most iconic performances.
As Mina Murray/Harker – The beloved Winona Ryder: This is Winona in her prime. Here, she gets the opportunity to embark on a confronting and sensual character journey.
As the legendary Professor Van Helsing – Sir Anthony Hopkins: Hopkins uses his charisma and genius to make this character both loveable and ferocious.
As Jonathan Harker – Keanu Reeves: Reeves gets a fair bit of shit for his performance as an Englishman in this film. Keanu is one of the few actors who makes poor acting appealing and I believe that it is this quality that makes Keanu’s Harker one of the better portrayals of the character. Jonathan Harker is the naive, perfect and boring young hero and Keanu’s naive performance gives the character the cuteness and vulnerability we need to root for him.

Joining the four leads we have the spicy supporting cast of Richard E. Grant as the bumbling Dr. John Seward, Carey Elwes as Sir Arthur Holmwood, with Sadie Frost as the delicious Lucy Westenra and Tom fuckin’ Waits as Renfield!

I hope I’ve given you enough reasons to watch Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The only reasons one may not want to see this film are you don’t like horror, you hate Gothic period films, and/or you hate movies…

I love this movie so much, it should be higher on this list! Well, it’s ON it; I hope that counts for something.

#93: Eraserhead

Baby’s got a fever…

Director: David Lynch
Year: 1977
Genre: Horror

Dare to delve into the unknown. Your whole life you’ve been wishing that life could be a dream and now you’re in one but you can’t control it. The unexplainable events that keep occurring are unsettling, this is not what you expected but that’s what makes the experience so fascinating. Open your mind and become…Eraserhead.

Eraserhead is probably the weirdest narrative feature film I have ever seen thus marking a landmark in my cinema viewing history. I first discovered the world of director David Lynch when I was 16 (in 2002) when I hired his breathtaking Mulholland Drive (2001) on VHS. That experience alone will be addressed in further detail later down the track but it lead to me hunting down and watching every Lynch film. I think I just about saw all of them, to date, that year and whilst Eraserhead is not my favourite of his films it’s certainly his most bizarre. At the ripe age of 16 I’m sure watching this film had some sort of marvelous effect on the development of my own mind.

What’s so weird about it? As hinted at in the beginning of this entry Eraserhead plays out like a dream starting with our beloved protagonist Henry Spencer, played by the late Jack Nance, floating in space. We soon jump from this surreal imagery to a bizarre domestic narrative about Henry and his girlfriend’s struggle to raise their new born baby – THAT FUCKING THING IN THE PICTURE ABOVE! I’m not going to proceed listing all the weird shit that occurs in the film, nor am I even going to bother giving you a plot summary as this is the sort film, like most Lynch films, that is best watched with little or no prior knowledge so as not to let your mind get distracted by unnecessary details when trying to consume what the film has to offer. The film is fucking weird both in terms of its content, it has strange characters and strange shit happens, and its form. The way in which the film is constructed is surreal. We jump from scene to scene without fully understanding the resolution of the previous scene(s) and it may not be clear how far into the future we have jumped from one scene to another, if we’ve even jumped “forward” at all.

Basically, I love this film because it’s fucking weird? Yes. Of course it has its technical brilliance, the sound design is mind-meltingly mesmerising and the black and white cinematography is lusciously nightmarish but what makes Eraserhead stand out is literally how fucking odd it is. I mentioned in my previous post that what I love most about movies is that they allow us to escape into other worlds. Dreams offer us that service too, only we can’t choose our genre, and this film is like a dream. Also, for similar reasons I love mystery, I love thinking about the unknown, you may notice a lot of mystery/thriller films cropping up on this journey through my Top 100. Whilst it is admittedly a difficult film to watch, depending on your mood, Eraserhead is a surreal dream like experience with plenty of mystery to keep you wondering for an age, which is why I am glad to dub it my 93rd favourite film of all time.

If you wake up one day and realise that you’re sick of watching the same old shit and you have enough curiosity to “kill the cat” WATCH ERASERHEAD. You better watch it on a decent sized screen with the volume turned way up and the lights turned all the way off, otherwise, you’re daft!