Compared to some of the more serious film buffs around, I don’t actually watch that many films. I’m hoping to break the 200 mark before the end of the year and I think that’s still a pretty good number. A film every other day, that’s enough, for me anyway. And even though 2012 (well, the last couple of months anyway) will go down in my own personal history book as fucking horrendously awful, it has been a pretty great year for discovering awesome films.
Here goes…the best ten films I saw for the first time this year.
1. Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key (1972)
The first Italian 70s thriller that I genuinely loved, this just blew me away when I saw it. I always wanted to like Italian giallos/horrors, but for some reason I just never really connected with that particular genre. Until this. Starring the incredibly beautiful Edwige Fenech, Your Vice is a stunningly made film, with a complex plot and neverending twists that are almost impossible to second-guess. Bursting with colour, action, gore and nudity it’s just a fucking awesome experience. (blog entry from earlier in year)
2. Fair Game (1986)
I love a good chase and I love a good revenge. This is basically a 90-minute cat and mouse chase scene, that for some reason manages to stay completely engrossing all the way through. And there’s some awesome revenging as well of course. It’s pretty damn nasty at times and makes for some rather exhausting viewing, but it is the best Ozploitation films I have ever seen. (blog entry from earlier in the year)
3. The Devils (1971)
4. The Naked Cage (1986)
This is one of the best women-in-prison films I have seen. Cheesy in the best possible 80s way, full of one-liners and just completely insane. A blast from start to finish. (blog entry from earlier in the year)
5. The Doberman Gang (1972)
6. Chopping Mall (1986)
Robot mall security guards malfunction and start hunting down a bunch of randy teenagers. Of course it’s awesome! How could it possibly not be? (blog entry from earlier in the year)
7. Another State Of Mind (1984)
Documentary following two young punk bands, Youth Brigade and Social Distortion, as they embark on their first national tour in a beat-up school bus. Raw, passionate and honest. A must-see for punk fans.
8. Never Too Young To Die (1986)
One of the few films I’ve watched twice this year, Never Too Young To Die is completely bonkers and just so much fun. Gene Simmons from Kiss is the baddie and Uncle Jessie from Full House is our hero…and his character’s name is Lance Stargrove. LANCE STARGROVE! What a name! Plus he’s a gymnast! There’s a shitload of close-ups of digital watches, weird 80s computers and a hideously complicated plot involving a mysterious floppy disk that can enable our baddie to poison the entire water supply of Los Angeles. Lance Stargrove must stop him! Go Lance, go!
9. Jackson County Jail (1976)
I didn’t know anything about this film when I saw it. A young(ish) Tommy Lee Jones puts in a good performance, but Mimi Mimieux really steals the show with her intense performance. It’s a pretty grim portrayal of the American South, with an abundance of psychotic hicks and rapist cops all conspiring to make Mimi’s life miserable. A gritty and suspenseful hicksploitation revenge drama.
10. Big Doll House (1971)
Jack Hill is the KING of this kind of movie, the kind that would never be made today. Full of gorgeous female prisoners who take their clothes off at any opportunity, it’s easy to dismiss it as simplistic, sexist exploitation fare. And sure, it’s extremely exploitative…but sexist, no way…it’s a violently feminist movie. There are no weak or dumb female characters here. They are all strong and extremely clever women, who just happen to be stuck in a shitty situation, where dumb men happen to be in control…for a while anyway. When they finally figure out a way to get out of it…wowzers!
That’s it. If 2011 was my year of horror, 2012 has definitely been the year I properly got into exploitation cinema. I can’t see this fascination waning any time soon and with an ever-increasing ‘to watch’ list I imagine next year’s list will feature similar titles. But, who knows…we’ll just have to wait and see.