The Year 2018: The Discoveries

Every year I try to find films that I have not seen before so that I can knock them off the incredibly long list of films that I have yet to see. I did an article like this last year and people seemed to love it, so here are the Discoveries of 2018.

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You have not lived until you have seen Basket Case. That actually can be said about any film from writer/director Frank Henenlotter. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a film like Basket Case. To describe the film would be a disservice to the film. That being said, what I will say about the film is that it can be viewed as a horror/comedy, but also as a travelogue of sorts. Times Square and 42nd Street in New York City were not the family-friendly destination that it is today and Basket Case is a showcase of what it used to be like. Not to mention that this was shot on 16mm film so there is a different feel here than what you get from more mainstream films. If nothing else, I can assure you that Basket Case is unlike any other film you have ever seen.

Read my full review here.

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BMX Bandits harkens back to a time when you could put kids in adult situations and they would be able to find a solution to stopping the bad guys and getting out of whatever kind of trouble they got into in the first place. Back in the 80’s kids in the film would do this all the time. Look at The Goonies, The Monster Squad, and Rad to see what I am talking about. Anyway, the film was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith who is one of the best Ozploitation directors of all time. He knows how to shoot an action scene and make it look way more dangerous than it actually is. The BMX stunts in the film are very impressive and the film has a slapstick nature to it. It is the perfect film for the kids, hell even the entire family.

boardinghouse VHS cover

I have seen quite a few SOV (shot on video) movies this year, but I had never seen the first one, Boardinghouse. I knew that I needed to put this to an end after I listened to a The Hysteria Continues podcast episode where they talked about this movie. I ordered it from Amazon and when it showed up I knew that I was in for something truly special. The film is a masterpiece is bad acting, terrible script writing, and baffling direction and I ate up every minute of it. The movie makes no sense whatsoever and doesn’t care. This is a movie that is best watched with friends.

Read my full review here

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The Changeling was a film that I had always meant to watch, but never really got around to it. I had heard so many good things about the film, but there was always something else to watch. Severin Films released the film on blu-ray for the first time so I knew that it was time to watch it. All I can say is “WOW”. How, in hindsight, did I keep pushing this film away. Everything here is damn near perfect, from George C. Scott’s performance (which isn’t over the top like I feared it would be) to the score, to the very precise direction. This is a film that knows how to lure you into it’s arms and then scares the crap out of you when you aren’t looking.

Read my full review here.

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Deadbeat at Dawn is the film you would find in the cool video store back in the day. This is a film that is made by a man who is clearly in love with film and the making of them. This is a film that takes no prisoners and gives you a whole lot that you were not expecting. In fact, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I watched this. I will say that it is brutal, gory, unflinching, and one of the craziest films I have ever seen.

Read my full review here.

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When I was a kid, monster movies were the thing that me and my cousins could talk about more than anything else. I was the movie kid and they were sports nuts, but for some reason, monster movies were the thing that united us. Godzilla, Fantastic Voyage, Sinbad. These were all films that we knew by heart and could talk about for days. One film that we never watched was The Incredible Shrinking Man. Don’t know why, but it just never came up. I picked the Arrow Video blu-ray up during one of their flash sales and was so glad that I did. This is a film that was made by people who really wanted to tell this story right. The acting, direction, and writing are all great, but it is the effects that really seal the deal here. They may seem dated to some, but seeing this normal man shrink down to the size of something that a spider could easily kill was one of the biggest delights for me this year.

Read my full review here

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I am a huge Monty Python fan. I have been for a long time. I use to watch them before I went to bed every night when I was in high school. Everyone I knew watched Benny Hill. I never really saw the appeal with him, but Python made me laugh every time. Jabberwocky is a film that was made by one of the Pythons, starring one of the Pythons, that feels like a Python film. The film is funny while being one of the dirtiest films I have ever seen. The direction by Terry Gilliam is precise while being loose and the film doesn’t skimp on anything that it promises. I think that it is one of Gilliam’s best films.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is one of the most baffling of all of the horror series’. The first film in the series is one of the best and scariest films ever made. The second film is almost the exact opposite of the first film. The third film in the series is one of the better entries in the series. Removing much of the comedy found in the second film, this entry brings the series back to where it started and I really liked that. I don’t really like the second film and was happy to see where this film went. The film does still have comedy in it, but it is pitch black. The film also has some really great characters to it and doesn’t turn Leatherface into a joke like the film that came after this one.

Read my full review here.

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Slasher films are like comfort food to me. Whenever I am having a bad day I can pop in a film like Madman and everything gets better. Madman is a slasher film that seems ridiculous when you really think about it (how many people have to go looking for someone before they realize that something is wrong?). The film is well made and has some very effective scares and one of the better slasher villains out there. The film is, above anything else, fun, and that is something that we don’t see in too many of the horror films that come out today.

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Nemesis is a futuristic throwback. The film takes place in the future but has the feeling of an old west film. The palette is colorful and sunny and there is a lot of sweat on display. The film is also a blast to watch even if the film is confusing to watch at times. I really like what director Albert Pyun does with the film and his cast, man is his cast really strong here. Anyone who grew up during the video store days will recognize the box art as it was a mainstay in every video I ever visited.

the phantom empire VHS

Fred Olen Ray was huge in the 80’s, at least to people like me who devoured anything they could up at the video store. I spent a lot of times at the video store and, when I wasn’t at the video store, I was watching films like The Phantom Empire. The film was shot in a very brief amount of time and while it shows, that doesn’t make the film any lesser than any other film. The film is a lot of fun and is light and fluffy in the way that it can be watched and enjoyed without having to learn any lore or anything like that. There are the Fred Olen Ray mainstays like violence, nudity, and tough-talking heroes, which made us video store kids very happy.

Read my full review here

phantom of the paradise title

I am making my way through the Brian De Palma library and trying to catch up on the films of his that I have not seen and that brought me to Phantom of the Paradise, a film that is very heavily 70’s in almost every way, but still feel like it is fresh and new. The music here is fantastic and very catchy, the hero and the villain are great, and there are many of the De Palma mainstays like his brilliant use of split screen, something that filmmakers don’t use anymore these days. Phantom of the Paradise is one of the best movie musicals out there and more people need to see it.

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Runaway Train is a superb thriller that will remind a lot of people of the Tony Scott film Unstoppable. In fact, that film owes a lot to Runaway Train. Both films are about an unstoppable train, but this film has the added prison break to it. Also, this film came out 25 years before Unstoppable, but the comparisons are apt. The film is thrilling and exciting and beautifully filmed. This is one to seek out as it will make you very happy.

schlock vhs

When I reviewed Schlock when it was released on blu-ray in 2018, I said that I wasn’t sure that I liked the film and rated it as such. I also said that I will go back to the film in the future and judge it again. I did and I liked the film a lot more than when I watched it the first time. This is a very funny film that is a little film that most have not seen, but really need to.

Read my full review here

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Another Brian De Palma film that is new to me and this is a riot. The film borrows from a bunch of different films including a lot from Psycho. Margot Kidder is a powerhouse here and it reminds you that she was a great actress. De Palma brings his A-game to this film and throws all of his techniques at us and they all work. The film takes a lot of twists and turns, especially during the third act and you just go for the ride even if the film isn’t that believable. This is a film that you should seek out to see how real thriller/horror films are made.

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Before becoming one of the kings of the video store during the 90’s, Charles Band owned and operated Empire Pictures, a production company that focused on genre films while being completely independent. The company stayed around for the majority of the 80’s, producing classics like Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Ghoulies. One of the first hits that Empire would have was Trancers, a film that would spawn 5 sequels after Band took the film over to Full Moon Pictures. The film is a mix of sci-fi and film noir which finds our hero Jack Deth being transferred back in time to find the film’s villain. There Deth meets and falls in love with, Leena and he must protect her while trying to eliminate the villain. The film is filled with tough guys, sexy women, and a truly badass hero. The trancers themselves don’t make too much sense but the rest of the film is a blast to watch.

Read my full review here

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Brian Trenchard-Smith is a director who knows what he wants and how to get it. He has been making action flicks for the past 40-plus years with some of the best coming out of Australia baring his name. In fact, there was a point during the making of the first Mad Max where the producers thought that they were going to have to replace director George Miller and the first person they thought of to replace him was Trenchard-Smith. Turkey Shoot is Trenchard-Smith’s version of The Most Dangerous Game only with a lot more graphic violence and nudity. The film is an underrated classic that deserves more attention.

So, here we are. The end of the list. These were the films that I watched for the first time in 2018. There were a ton more, but these are the ones that stood out to me. Here’s to hoping that 2019 is, even more, kinder with the new discoveries.

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