Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Ten Best in 2013

Year 5 of A Wasted Life's "Ten Best Films in XXXX" list... the rules, as they have crystallized over the past five years:
1. The films need not be made in the year in question (2013), they need only to have been viewed for the first time and reviewed that given year.
2. They need not even be good films, they need only to have left an exceptional impression or been in some way memorable enough while watching that they achieved a level of "unforgettableness" that makes them, in our non-humble opinion, worth watching — if only one time.
3. Short Films of the Month are as a rule excluded from the list, one: because simply by dent of the fact that their being chosen as a Short Film of the Month already makes them recommended, and two: the "Ten Best" list is for feature-length films only.
4. The order in which the films are presented is immaterial. This is not a countdown list, going from "tenth best" to "best". As far as we are concerned, all films presented are equally deserving of their placement.
This year, there were a total of 60 blog entries here at A Wasted Life, of which one was the Ten Best Films in 2012 list, 12 were short films and five were R.I.P. Career Reviews of notable folks who have gone on permanent vacation — Harry Reems (six instalments and counting), Ray Harryhausen (3) Jim Kelly (2), Haji (1) and José Ramon Larraz (3) — with a total of 15 instalments. Thus, in grand total there were only 31 feature films reviewed this year, the lowest amount since this ego-stroking blog first went online. And with such a low amount of movies, it is perhaps not surprising that for the first time we weren't able to come up with a full ten movies for the list. This year, we only have an "official" nine — and a forced nine at that.
That said, we must admit that there are two feature-length films that probably would have made the list, but don't due to rule Number 1: in the case of the two old German flicks directly below, we not only didn't watch them in 2013, but the reviews were actually written almost a decade ago and we've seen both movies a couple of time since then. Thus neither makes the final cut, though we like them both and can only say watch them if you have the chance — no German Edgar Wallace or Brian Edgar Wallace krimi is ever a total waste of time. Of the two below, Der Rote Kreis is probably the better one, while Der Frosch mit der Maske, being the first of the historical Rialto Wallace series, is more historically relevant. Both make for worthwhile viewing, no matter whatever flaws they might have. But, in any event, they are not an official part of The Ten Best in 2013 list and are presented here only because, well, because we want to present them here.

Der Frosch mit der Maske
(Germany / Denmark, 1959)
Aka: The Fellowship of the Frog

German Trailer:

Der Rote Kreis
(Denmark / Germany, 1960)
Aka: The Crimson Circle

German Trailer:

The Sadist
(USA, 1963)
Aka Sweet Baby Charlie and Profile of Terror. OK, we break a rule here. Here at A Wasted Life, we are listing The Sadist in the first position on this list because, well, it was truly the best movie we saw this year and deserves a First Place rating. Almost unknown, this film seriously needs to be rediscovered and shared and finally given the credit it deserves. Searing black and white for a nasty, hard-boiled story told in real time. We would list this movie up there with Detour (1945 / fan-made trailer / full film), The Honeymoon Killers (1969 / trailer) and Night of the Living Dead (1968 / trailer / full film) as one of the best low budget B&W genre movies we've ever seen. Watch it. Now. Or go die.
Full movie:

Wheels / Tockovi
(Republic of Yugoslavia / Serbia, 1999)
A well made, East Bloc wanna-be Tarentino movie that saves itself by displaying a lot of personality — Wheels is low budget, bloody, nihilistic and funny as hell. Good luck finding it, but it's worth the search...

 (French, 1975)
Jess Franco (12 May 1930—2 April 2013) at his artsy-fartsy, decadent best. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but we found the amalgamation of ugly people, sex and violence amazingly intriguing. Without a doubt, one of our favorite Franco films to date, full everything you might expect from the infamous auteur, god rest his soul. Also, we really must say that Franco's longtime muse Lina Romay (25 June 1954—15 February 2012), who gets naked a lot in this movie, never looked better than she does here... The blogspot Ninja Dixon has a nice plot description, which we'll use again here: "Bored upper class is enjoying a simulated black mass including a human sacrifice. Something for the rich and famous to tickle their boring lives and hopefully tickle their sex-lives even more. But in the background the defrocked priest and now adult author Mathis Vogel (Uncle Jess himself) is slithering around taking detailed notes about the masses. He's still a strong believer and wants to save these poor women from Satan and the only way to do it is to slaughter them as a sacrifice to God!"

Dirty War
 (Spain, 1984)
Hitman vs Hitman scene:
Aka Guerra Sucia. Regrettably enough, we've been unable to locate a trailer from this movie anywhere online, but the outtakes here give you a good idea of what to expect. Is Dirty War a good movie? No fucking way — it's a fucking Juan Piquer Simón movie, for Christ's sake, so it's a mess. But, as is often the case with his movies — his real masterpiece Slugs (1988) being the best example — Dirty War takes on that special otherworldliness that only true craptastic movies have. As we say in our review, Dirty War [...] is "a crappy, trashy piece of shit, actually. But [...] it is also a wonderfully entertaining piece of flotsam that occasionally verges on surrealism." We loved it, and can only say: watch it, you'll hate it.
Chase scene:

Piranha 3DD
 (USA, 2012)
This movie makes it onto our list only by the tip of a nipple. The original Piranha (1978) is one of our favorite idiosyncratic exploiters from the Golden Age of Exploitation, so we were very prepared to totally hate Alexandre Aja's 2010 remake Piranha 3-D... but we didn't. We really enjoyed it. Still, despite all the T&A and gore, there was an undercurrent of Puritanism in the movie that we could have done without, and which costs that film its place on this list. This Puritanism, however, is totally lacking from the direct-to-DVD sequel that followed two years later, Piranha 3DD. Piranha 3DD is a totally infantile T&A-heavy piece of unapologetic trash; the story is dumbed down, but the amount of silicon and blood and guts remain more or less the same — and all that graced with a totally meta self-referential performance by one of our most-hated performers, David Hasselhof, that works so well that we almost became a fan. (Almost.) Perhaps if we had a broader selection of movies to choose from, Piranha 3DD wouldn't make the cut of this list, but beggers can't be choosers and besides, who can truly hate a movie about killer prehistoric piranhas that invade a pool park full of buxom babes?
Red-band Trailer:

From the makers of that Nippon masterpiece Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009), yet another tasteless, P.I. and blood-drenched masterpiece. The influences of Hieronymus Bosch and Sigmund Freud are a lot more obvious this time around than the Pop Art extremes found in VGvsFG, but this year-older movie is nevertheless just as bat-shit crazy. You like fountains of gore? Hot Asian babes? Nightmarish imagery? Racially incorrect characterizations? This film is for you...

(USA, 1974)
Opening scene:
Aka Horror Whore and Sadoasylum. The first hardcore fuck film to ever make its way onto one of our "Best Films" lists. Hardgore is an unbelievable piece of flotsam from the early Golden Age of Porn that defies categorization and believability. What were they thinking when they made this movie? But for one scene, Hardgore totally fails as a visual aid to your greased palm — in fact, despite genital detail and constant exchange of body fluids, this body-hair heavy porno movie is sure to keep you limp or dry — if not, you can rest assured that you are probably not normal. Hardgore is definitely not a good movie; in fact, it is not a movie that probably deserves any form of recommendation... but it is an indescribably jaw-dropper; a unique oddity that hits 100 on the bizarre scale. And as such, we might not recommend it but we do have to say it was one of the most "memorable" movies we saw in 2013, and thus rightfully earns it place on this list. Watch it — if you dare.
Naked woman (Dianne Galke) running down the hall:

(USA, 1934)
An early non-masterpiece of exploitation displaying truly Ed Woodian directorial and narrative finesse, Maniac is one of the great Guilty Pleasure of filmdom. Read our review to learn about this great movie and its equally notable filmmaker...
Full movie:

5 Minutes to Live
(USA, 1961)
Another movie that probably wouldn't make the cut had we a greater selection to choose from. 5 Minutes to Live is hardly a masterpiece, and it suffers from a very weak female lead (Cay Forrester) and a terrible framing structure; but, for that, it is relatively well shot and edited, moves at quick enough pace, has one or two decent shocks and stars the great Johnny Cash as a violent psycho. The last alone makes the movie worth watching on a rainy day. Of course, you can just wait until the Jan de Bont remake is released, but then you won't have the pleasure of watching a drugged-out Cash making his feature-film acting debut.
Full movie:

Movie of Special Mention
With 5 Minutes to Live, our list of The Ten Best Films in 2013 thus ends — one film short of a full ten fingers. And since we are one short, we've decided to bend the rules a bit (again) and add this "Movie of Special Mention". It is one of the many films we saw this year that we didn't get around to writing about... but even if we had, we couldn't put it on the list 'cause we've seen it two or three times before. Nevertheless, we feel this movie deserves more attention than it ever gets, and thus we present it as our unofficial tenth movie.
(USA, 1953)
Daughter of Horror aka Dementia is an under-seen surreal, semi-feature-length expressionistic noir nightmare that has, amongst those who have watched it, as many detractors as fans. We are definitely fans. Made in 1953 and released in 1955, Dementia is the only known movie from the unknown filmmaker John Parker and, until Re/Search wrote about it in their influential volume Incredibly Strange Films, it was best known (if at all) as the movie being watched in the original version of The Blob (1958) when the blob invades the cinema. Long in the public domain, it is easy to get a hold of nowadays, though usually in the re-release version with an added narration by Ed McMahon. Watch it. Now. Or go die.
Full movie:

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...