Here’s a little warm-up post to make sure my keyboard still works.
At work recently, a discussion came up about “guilty pleasure” movies.
Everyone has them, and everyone has different reasons for picking the films they do for that honor – I loosely define the category as “films I would watch if I were home sick with nobody else around” – the cinematic equivalent of comfort foods.
As I was thinking about which movies I put into this box, I was surprised to realize how little rhyme or reason there is to my choices – they’re all over the map.
I’m going to reveal a partial list – in no particular order – of my guilty pleasure movies, then invite readers to comment with their own. Some of mine have already been reviewed here, and I’ll link back to those posts where appropriate.
Nosferatu (1922) – This German film was an unauthorized version of Dracula, and was almost sued out of existence by Bram Stoker’s widow. It’s a silent film, so much of the story had to be told through body language. Even 90 years later, Nosferatu puts a creepy sadness to the vampire tale that modern films like Twilight can’t touch. Unfortunately, to a lot of people, it’s just a grainy old silent movie.
M (1931) – I reviewed this one a few years ago here. Another old German film. The parallel efforts of the police and the criminals in hunting down a killer is interesting, and the whole film has an uneasy tension to it. Something about it just makes me feel that it should be watched alone.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are awesome in this horror comedy. Pegg’s Shaun, totally oblivious to everything that’s going on around him in the first act of the film is perfect. I don’t re-watch many comedies, but I watch this one every few months. The catch is that you have to appreciate both British humor and zombies to really get this one.
Mr. Vampire (1985) – An entry from Hong Kong, this kung-fu horror comedy will leave you dizzy if you spend too much time trying to sort it out. There’s a lot of – peculiarities, let’s call them – to the story that sail right past American viewers. I have this one in the chute for a review, so I’m not going to say much about it.
Westworld (1973) – Cheesy ’70s Sci-Fi yarn (and the first American film here) about cowboy robots run amok at a futuristic theme park. The effects are nothing to get excited about, but Yul Brynner’s sinister Gunslinger was a pretty clear influence on the character of The Terminator in later films. Notable for raising the ethical question of robot prostitutes, then scampering away while the audience contemplates it.
Predator (1987) – This was Schwarzenegger at the top of his game. Enough of a plot to stitch together explosive set-pieces, memorable one-liners, and an alien monster that remains popular even now. I like the fact that the film didn’t feel the need to over-explain the Predator – it was here, it was deadly, and that was enough.
The Untouchables (1987) – A tale of Prohibition-era gangsterism. Forget Kevin Costner’s wooden Eliot Ness. Sean Connery’s Jim Malone and Robert De Niro’s Al Capone are the high points of this film. Never let Al Capone get behind you with a baseball bat.
The Muppet Movie (1979) – I love the Muppets, but in recent years they’ve drifted away from the simple charm they had when Jim Henson was running the show. The opening and closing musical numbers still make me smile.
And to make this a nice round number…
Ed Wood (1994) – Tim Burton and Johnny Depp put together a wonderful, if under-appreciated, biopic about Edward D. Wood, Jr., the director of such masterpieces as Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. The performances in this film are excellent, but the relative obscurity of the subject matter probably kept Ed Wood from reaching a wider audience.
Nothing coherent here. All over the place. That’s part of what makes them fun.
Let’s see what you guys have to put on the table.