So I just did a thing on Twitter where I listed my top seven films. Since a simple list isn’t very insightful – let’s actually take a quick look at why these are my top seven.
This list is in no particular order.
The Warriors (1979)
The Warriors is the prime example of how sometimes, the simplest stories can be the most effective ones. This film tells the story of eight gang members fighting their way home, after being framed for the murder of the most powerful gang leader in New York.
Everything about this film oozes style – from the myriad of colourful and inventive gangs (which are the reason I am still disappointed that real gangs don’t have themes), to the excellent portrayal of a run-down New York City, to the film’s amazing score.
This film is tense, it’s fun, it’s creative in its vision, and it really puts you on the side of the titular Warriors – even if they aren’t the nicest people.
Road House (1989)
Okay, I know I mentioned that this list is in no particular order but… fuck it, this is my favourite movie ever. It’s just so unbelievably awesome! This film is endlessly quotable, unintentionally gay (despite an abundance of boobs), gloriously cheesy, and filled to the brim with pure, unadulterated violence. Add to that Jeff Healey’s shit-hot blues guitar licks, and you’ve got just about the most rock n’ roll movie in existence.
This film isn’t a masterpiece of cinema, it doesn’t make you think, and it does nothing to push the boundaries of cinema… but it’s so much fucking fun, and I think that’s worth a lot.
Well, I guess it’s time for something a little more intelligent. I gushed pretty hard about how great the original Robocop was, in my Robocop 3 review – so I suggest you check that out, here.
In short, this movie perfectly blended action, black comedy, political satire, extreme violence, and the best example of world building I’ve ever seen in a movie – and wrapped it all up in a sci-fi adaptation of the classic Western movie formula.
Smart, stylish, and unpretentious – a rare combination, and one I’m glad I saw so young.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Hellraiser 2 is, straight up, my favourite horror movie of all time. While the first movie was certainly a very strong film, it only gave us a glancing look at what were clearly the more interesting villains – the Cenobites.
Hellraiser II not only focuses on the Cenobites, it actually brings us right into hell. Not the tired and overused “everything is basically just on fire” vision of hell, but a stark, cold and labyrinthine environment, in which pleasure and pain are indistinguishable from one another.
I think that any honest critic could admit that this film does have its flaws (namely the silliness of some of the special effects, and the rushed third act) – but, for my money, those flaws don’t detract from the overall feeling of loneliness and dread, and the daring psychological exploration about the true nature of pleasure and pain, and the blurred line between them.
Not many directors would think to merge gory body horror, with the 1980’s fascination with snuff films, and post-modernist philosophy. But not many directors are David Cronenberg.
Videodrome is my obligatory poncy art film for the list and, considering this is a film in which James Woods has a gun hand, it’s not really that poncy.
This film explores the mind of a man who is exploited by everyone around him. Pretty much anything I say about the film will be a spoiler so I’ll just say that this is one of the few films that slips into the avant garde that I can still watch, regardless of my mindset at the time.
The gruesome practical effects, haunting synth score, and the stellar performances really do help make this film very palatable.
Escape from New York (1981)
This one is very similar to The Warriors, in that the story is incredibly simple – but the style really elevates it from what could have been a run-of-the-mill B-movie. They’re also both set in New York, feature flamboyant gangs, and feature people with mullets in fist fights… Roadhouse also has that last one.
This film’s atmosphere is truly breathtaking. It manages to take a concept as silly as the entire island of Manhattan being turned into one huge maximum security prison, and makes it totally believable.
A substantial chunk of the film is just Snake Plissken wandering around the streets of Manhattan and it just… works. The film is glorious. It also boasts one of the most impressive casts ever, both in terms of acting chops and how appropriate the casting was.
Also, John Carpenter’s scores are phenomenal – and this may be his best. Appropriate, since it’s also Carpenter’s best movie (in my opinion).
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino, as a writer, may be my biggest influence. His films, starting with this one, showed me how interesting it can be for characters’ conversations to not be at all related to the actual plot of the movie.
While I do genuinely think Tarantino has made better movies on a technical level, this film left such a mark on me, and in a far more profound way than someone like Kevin Smith – who has greatly informed the style of irrelevant dialogue that I tend to write.
This film has a lot going for it. Aside from the brilliant dialogue, it is filled with Tarantino’s trademark coolness, and has an interesting non-linear style. It also might be a very subtle re-telling of Arthurian legends but… I dunno, I just like the movie.
For all the ways that the Warriors and Escape from New York informed my visual sensibilities, Pulp Fiction informed me as a writer.
So that’s the list. Really have nothing more to add.
If you like the sound of any of those films and haven’t seen them.. I dunno, have a look if they’re on Netflix or something.
Here are a few photos of some of the hand-assembled tech that the characters of Wasted Youth have to work with, in this post apocalyptic wasteland.
The graffiti’d laptop and hand-assembled receiver were created by Ryanna-Mae Lloyd, using various pieces of scrap we had collected for the piece.
One thing I really wanted from the tech is that it looked functional and believable, which I believe this succeeds at. The laptop is graffiti’d in the same style as some of the costumes, and the pre-production poster for the film – and is the crude art style of the Scum Chum gang the film centres on.
Keep an eye on this blog for more updates about Wasted Youth, which begins filming this September.
This is the pre-production poster, created by Ryanna-Mae Lloyd, for our upcoming release: Wasted Youth.
We begin filming Wasted Youth in September of this year. The film is a post-apocalyptic, punk rock, exploitation horror film.
Keep checking up on this blog for updates on production.