Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Listomania!: De Rigueur Recap 2011

Man, and it came to pass, I was sore ashamed. My list doesn’t quite measure up to my usual intake. I blame my job and my wife and kids. Oh wait… I don’t have a wife and kids. Dammit. I blame Bethesda Softworks. I was a productive writer once, until I took an arrow in the knee.

My viewing total was 177 movies this year.  So, yeah, I pretty much suck.  Unlike Will, I have been all-over the revisits this year. While a majority of the movies were new, I revisited lots of movies that I hadn’t seen since they originally hit video back in the ‘80s. From crap that didn’t really get better with age like BERSERKER (1987) to stuff that has become even more gobsmacking, like SHE (1983).

The theater was definitely not my refuge this year. I went from seeing everything that even flirted with a B-movie premise to the all time low of one. Yep, one solitary, single film actually dragged me into the theater. A sad, sad state of affairs...

Video Junkie Moment of the Year:
I have to agree with Will’s pick. Seeing the "never got made" blog series on the IMDb's Hit List was definitely this year’s highlight and it’ll be a tough one to beat in 2012. Not even our exhaustive coverage of CONAN knock-offs, Clonin’ the Barbarian, topped this.

Video Junkie "What were we thinking" Moment of the Year:
Our desperate attempt to do justice to all of the noteworthy (for one reason or another) sword n’ sorcery flicks that attempted to cash in on the mountain of gold pillaged by CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982). We finally reached a burn-out point before finishing up, but hey, that can only mean one thing… Sequel! Crom help us.

First film seen in 2011:
CHANDLER (1971): Also one of the year’s big disappointments for me personally, as you’d think a movie starring Warren Oates a noir-era gumshoe drawing inspiration from Ramond Chandler would be nothing short of awesome. Sadly, this incomprehensible mess was apparently the fault of then MGM studio chief James T. Aubrey, who was so displeased with the allegedly convoluted story-line of director Paul Magwood’s finished film, that he personally drastically re-edited the film and inserted deleted scenes in place of removed content, in the process bringing down the running time of a mere 85 minutes. I’m not sure if Aubrey was completely insane or just shockingly inept, but the film, as it stands now, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I challenge anyone to sit through the film and give me a detailed plot synopsis at the end.

Last film seen in 2011:
DEADLY INTRUDER (1985): This is one that I always passed up in the video store. Back in ’85, the poster art with the silhouette just didn’t do it for me. Hell, you can forgive me for passing on it, since in that same year, you had RE-ANIMATOR, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, EVILD DEAD 2 and dozens of other classics beating down your door, demanding attention. To be honest, it can’t compare with those classics, but on its own, isolated from its context, it is well worth the watch. Farting dogs, lazy cops, dogshit coffee, the lamest dinner party ever, the lamest department store ever, the biggest red herring ever and a nice little twist at the end that you will probably see coming a mile off, but will forgive because it shows that they were really trying.

Best Re-Visit in 2011:
SKY PIRATES (1986) blew me away… the second time. Back in the day I was completely underwhelmed by this Aussie adventure yarn. In hindsight I’d say it was because it lacked RAIDERS’ grit and viscera. I mean, can you seriously have a WWII-era adventure without fascist cranial combustion? I think not. There are better movies that I revisited this year (MAN ON THE ROOF being one), but revisiting this in widescreen completely changed my opinion of the film. A masterpiece? Not so much. Tons of fun? Hell yeah. This was actually a tie with BEASTMASTER (1982). Yeah, I know, I know, everybody loves the first one, but I didn't dig it the first time around. I was so very wrong.

Biggest disappointment in 2011:
THE VALDEMAR INHERITANCE (2010)and THE VALDEMAR INHERITANCE II (2011). One movie, two parts, a whole mess of disappointment.

Oldest film seen in 2011:
THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN (1966): Beware of the old Simmons place, indeed! Arguably one of Don Knotts’ best movies, this chestnut was one that amused my family (I’ll let you guess why) when I was a kid. Remember when they ran movies on TV instead of infomercials? This used to be one of KTLA’s favorites, but I hadn’t seen it in 30 years, easy. Knotts plays a printing press operator for the local paper who desperately wants to be an investigative journalist (clearly made before the days where journalists were the people you see on Fox and Friends). After witnessing a murder in front of The Old Simmons Place… well, witnessing an almost murder… well, more like a loud accident, events lead up to his investigation of the haunting of the aforementioned house and quite possibly, a real “moider”.

Films seen in theaters: 1 (one *tenth* of Will’s all-time low)

Best and Worst Film Seen Theatrically:
Damn, Ric Mayall looks great for his age!
TRON: LEGACY (2011) wins and loses by default. Man, those Recognizers look (and sound) uh-maaaaaazing! Too bad they are only in the movie for a few seconds. Too bad director Joseph Kosinski and the four credited writers don’t really bother to make much use of the incredible groundwork of a full-realized world complete with countless references to then-cutting edge computer programming, and instead use the, admittedly impressive, light-cycles as a climactic action scene to a laborious, breathy, neon-lit cyber soap opera. In addition to a tedious script cheesy characters (which Tekken sequel is Zues from?), and the obligatory STAR WARS dogfight sequence, we are given some really bland performances as well. Granted Bruce Boxleitner has never been an award-winning actor, but Garrett Hedlund? Headlining the most anticipated sequel in modern memory? Really? Well, I guess we should be grateful it wasn’t Shia LaBeouf. The best thing to come out of T:L was the release of the original on blu-ray… oh, and this video:


Most movies watched in one month:
August: 25

Least movies watched in one month:
April: 7 (ouch!)

My favorite movies viewed in 2011:
-HARD KNUCKLE (1987): The CITIZEN CANE of dystopian-future movies.

-DEAD MOUTAINEER’S HOTEL (1979): Stylish, atmospheric and fascinating future-noir.

-THE NINJA STRIKES BACK (1982): Just when I thought it could get no better than Bruce Le and Dick Randall’s CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (1980) along came Bruce Le and Dick Randall’s THE NINJA STRIKES BACK! Priceless trash that left me speechless in awe.

-MIAMI CONNECTION (1987): Starting off with a gory ninja attack on a mob drug deal, and careening straight through to an amazingly silly, upbeat finale that sports old age make-up that would make a middle school production of Blithe Spirit look professional, this movie is an absolute masterpiece of fromage from the amazing Richard Park.

Worst films that I saw for the first time in 2011:
RESIDENT EVIL AFTERLIFE (2010): Granted, not the greatest series of films by any standard, but this redefines the adjective “sucks”. Boring, uneventful, been-done, terribly written and not much in the way of zombies, this film decides that the best way to take the series after Russell Mulcahey’s marginally entertaining third entry, is to stick a few people in a room and let them fucking argue for the next 90 minutes. Yes, a monster (from Resident Evil 5) does barge in at one point, and is quickly dispatched in the longest slow-motion action scene in the history of cinema. In a movie starved for action sequences, it really says something when you finally introduce some action and have the ability to make said action boring.
For my money, the only way to go for an R:E movie is actually the CG animated feature, RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION (2008). Crazy, I know, but it's actually surprisingly good.



Moments of Clarity:

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