Archive for June, 2011

Top 10 movie dads

As it was father’s day yesterday, how about we have a look at that most elusive character, the movie dad. Sometimes, not much happens for these dads, they’re marginalised, pushed to the back whilst their sons or daughters steal the limelight. Every so often though, a movie dad makes a movie his own – he is the main dude, shuffling around complaining in his dressing gown, or even sometimes being a badass action hero. Here are my top ten movie dads and why. God bless these dadios!

 

#10: Lester Burnham from American Beauty (1999)

There’s something so infinitely pitiful about Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Lester Burnham – a man who is slap bang in the middle of a heady mid-life crisis. He is a magazine writer who hates his job, and is in love with one of his young daughter’s friends. Though absolutely strange and a bit creepy in his infatuation, Lester is generally a nice kind of guy who treats his family to whatever they want, he is also intelligent and thoughtful – perhaps a bit too much so, as the final scene proves.

 

#9: Bob Parr from The Incredibles (2004)

Bob Parr is a bored, middle aged man, stuck in a job he hates. A story we’re all too familiar with in the movies, yet unlike other movie dads, Bob is an ex-superhero, his powers and abilities having been forcibly silenced by the oppressive anti-hero stance of the state. As far as superheroes go though, he is an absolute legend – the strongest man to live who used his powers to fight evil for over 20 years, and a member of a world wide crime fighting team. He even has a family of superheroes, his genes obviously being completely full of crime-busting goodness.

 

#8: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Out of all the dads on this list – if you wanted to grow up a normal – even exceptionally moral citizen, you could do no better than having Atticus Finch. A genius lawyer, philanthropist, cool action hero (when needed), and loving father and honest and packed with integrity to a fault, Atticus is literally the go-to guy on how to be a dad. Indeed, his greatest qualities are probably those of teaching his children the values of honesty, integrity and the fact that no one can morally be proven guilty without a fair trial.

 

#7: Jack Torrance from The Shining (1980)

Anyone who’s seen even 5 minutes of ‘the top 20 scariest moments ever!’ will probably question why Jack Torrance is on this list. And if you read the intro, you’d realise I wasn’t celebrating wonderfully moral or even nice dads, and that is why he’s on here. Memorably performed by (equally manic) Jack Nicholson, Jack is genuinely an OK dad, bit wrapped up in his work maybe, and certainly a little crazy – but it’s all fine. Until the family goes to the Overlook hotel. Where Jack starts going majorly fucking crazy, in just about every way. Finally trying to kill his wife and only child.

 

#6: Darth Vader (aka Anakin Skywalker) from Star Wars (1977)

One of the most iconic dads ever, Darth reveals to Luke and Leia that he is their father. And what a revelation, imagine thinking your dad died a hero, when in actual fact he basically rose to the top of the evil food chain and constructed a tyrannical regime based on fear and hatred, all the while trying to crush every ounce of good from the world. That would be a major eye opener indeed.

 

#5: Mufasa from The Lion King (1994)

Mufasa must rank amongst the greatest leaders ever – well, in the animal kingdom anyway. His friendly and approachable style of leadership make him popular with everyone in the pride, apart from his evil younger brother – Scar. Scar has Mufasa killed and becomes king himself – letting his pride fall into disrepair. Armed with his dad’s words of encouragement and inspiration, Simba takes over Scar and becomes a Mufasa of his own. Still, the legend of that big maned beast lives on in everyone’s hearts.

 

#4: El Topo from El Topo (1970)

Another dad it would probably be shit to have, El Topo is the story of one man’s spiritual quest through the Mexican desert. Along the way we see Topo letting his son ride a horse nude, forcing him to bury pictures of his mother and his first teddy-bear, and then allowing his kid to mercy kill a dying man. Still, these are valuable life lessons, right? I literally don’t know anymore, though I know I would feel slightly uncomfortable if my dad forced me to shoot a man in the head when I was 5 in order to put him out of his misery. Topo abandons his son and catches up with him later on, to find that son of El Topo is just as badass as El Topo himself, obviously being a badass motherfucker runs in your (black leather) ‘jeans’.

 

#3: John Baxter from Don’t Look Now (1973)

Though we don’t explicitly see his parenting skills first hand, we can safely assume John (played by the always monstrously cool Donald Sutherland) really loved his kid who drowned. The grief consumes his and his wife’s life to such an extent that they up sticks and move to Venice, where they continue to be haunted by the tragedy. We can only imagine how cool John would be as a parent, probably running around, letting you play with guns, torturing animals – in fact, this is obviously while real life son Keifer is such a lunatic in 24.

 

#2: John McClane from Die Hard (1988)

In his now signature role as ‘shouting, wise cracking good guy who doesn’t go by the book but gets results’, Bruce Willis is John McClane. A man pushed to the edge by society and the square police force he works for, a man who also has basically lost the rights to see his kids, something he’s obviously not happy about. The whole Die Hard series works as a plea from John to prove his love to his estranged wife, and get his kids back. And it works, look at him, smart, powerful, and extremely good with any weapon of any sort, McClane could shoot his way out of a steel bag. Which is apparently the storyline for Die Hard 5.

#1: Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather (1972)

If you’ve ever felt worried or embarrassed about going to your dad to borrow money, or for advice, or for anything really, imagine the weight of anticipation on your shoulders if your papa was the head of a powerful Sicilian crime family. You have personally seen him order men to cut horse’s heads off, you have seen him order dozens of men’s executions, robberies, prostitution – you name it, and your dadio has been involved at some point. But you could rest assured, as Vito is not just a horrible man with a family, he’s a family man with a horrible business, and that’s fine. He will take care of you, and you will be able to wrap him around your little finger – he’s only your dad at the end of the day.

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8 traumatising kids films

It’s obvious to me that kids blatantly miss loads of stuff in films. Sometimes film makers deliberately put in references just for adults, but at times they will put stuff in for kids that adults simply don’t get. As a child I didn’t question really odd or disturbing shit happening in films – I just saw it all as a plot device that allowed the film to continue and progress. Now as somewhat of an adult I see these for what they are – shit to scare adults and amuse children. Here are eight films that have all o’ dat & much more.

 

#8: The Neverending Story (1984)

Now here was a film I constantly watched as a kid. Yet, as if to prove how stupid kids are, I could only give a very brief synopsis now as to what the film is even about. I know that it featured some weird massive animals that I sort of assumed were totally normal, and a trans-dimension trip for a young boy. As a kid I thought that was cool, not remotely weird and extremely enjoyable. Now just looking at that big fluffy flying bastard is enough to terrify me.

 

#7: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Unsurprisingly, ‘Roger Rabbit’s’ hammy mix of live action and real life didn’t really take off, and it’s that very distinctive mix that makes the film look really spooky today – cartoons interacting completely effortlessly with real people was, and still is terrifying. I thought that was ok at the time though, just Bob Hoskins driving a cartoon car, meeting with normal cartoon dudes. But no. Also, on 2nd rewatch, the film is terrifying because kindly old Dr. Emmett L. Brown (of ‘Back to the Future’) appears as a super villain. Fucking hell no, please.

 

#6: Labrynth (1986)

When I was a kid I obviously didn’t know who the hell David Bowie was, but now I do, and I know a little bit about his fiendish drug gobbling past. Like ‘Neverending Story’, Labrynth is escapism for kids. Bored and angsty, they disappear into a world made up of weird shit and a crazy soundtrack by the ‘chameleon of rock’ himself. All of which there is something basically very wrong about that. Also, need we mention Bowie’s absolutely gargantuan cod piece, which basically envelops the screen at any point he appears? Again, I missed that as a kid.

 

#5: Lion King (1994)

I’m not sure if Disney has ever admitted it, but the Lion King bears more than a passing resemblance to Shakespeare’s violent revenge tale ‘Hamlet’ – a story that anyone who has read will tell you, is not aimed at small children. Simba’s evil uncle Scar kills his dad, Mufasa. Now that is horrifying in itself, but it’s the bizarre hallucination sequences and terrifying graveyard scenes that imprint most. This film literally should not be rated U.

 

#4: Dumbo (1941)

You really have to be an oddball if you class animated films with self aware animals as strange. Indeed, suspending belief for situations like these is worthwhile when watching Disney films, but as if to highlight the fact that they have always been pretty odd, here is another Disney film from the 1940’s. Vivid hallucination scenes, possible racism, and obviously the socially outcast lead character all serve to make Dumbo a bit of an uncomfortable and slightly depressing film. It’s really good, but it also happens to be all those other things too.

 

#3: E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

ET is very obviously a film about acceptance, and in that respect, it is a massive success. But on the base of it all…Look at him. Look at fucking ET. He is a terrifying worm-humanoid splice, and he has an extremely odd and slowly drawling croak of a voice. The film is not scary at all, well, it wouldn’t be except for finding fucking ET in your fucking wardrobe.

 

#2: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

You literally must have been smoking crack if you thought the top 2 could be anything else. And yes, at times, the original Wonka film literally feels like smoking crack. It’s fast paced, very unclear, vivid as hell, and frightening too. The famous scenes of kids just disappearing, dying, being converted to a television signal or ballooning to hugely impossible sizes. The other famous scene of the tunnel of endless hallucination. Enjoy the ride, because it is a scary as shit film.

 

#1: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

If marketed and edited slightly differently, the story of the most successful kid’s film ever would more likely read as a very bizarre flick by Luis Buenel. But as luck had it, the makers made the film family friendly. And that is in the most basic sense of the word – you can watch it with your family, but you may not actually appreciate it. Kids have a marvellous talent for skipping over the big picture and focusing on the details, so maybe that’s why it’s never questioned in ‘Oz’ why there is murder, Dorothy hanging out with 3 utter freaks, a land full of flying monkeys, an unquestionable fascist overlord and well…fucking midgets just singing constantly. But no, kids love it. They think it’s quirky, fun and ultimately teaches a good moral lesson. No it fucking doesn’t, it’s terrifying, surreal, vivid, bizarre and very very weird.

13 films that really disturbed me

I have previously explored what makes other people tick, with my list of ‘banned films’, ‘psychopaths from films’ and more recently ‘fucked up & weird films’, and yet, I don’t think enough has been said as to what disturbs ME. I like to think I have a pretty high threshold when it comes to shock, violence and especially gore, so for me the tensions and situations of films are what really disturb me more than the actual graphic portrayal of violence and gore. Realistic violence is not something that upsets me, but the killing of a character I like or can sympathisete or identify with is.

It must be stated now, I have deliberately omitted a few films from this list, mainly because their inclusion would seem to suggest I was in some way ‘recommending’ that you watch them. I am not, and for the sake of clarity I will list them at the end of the article. Watch them if you really want to be disgusted, as some I watched and hated, some I watched and found interesting, and some I watched segments of and couldn’t even bare to carry on.

Here then, is 13 films that disturbed me. Make sure you have a clear exit to the door, and a copy of Finding Nemo on DVD to watch just in case it all gets a bit much for you.

#13: Don’t Look Now (1973)

A classic ‘intelligent’ horror flick, Don’t Look Now is still way ahead of it’s time. Seen as a horror picture, the film shows itself as being an unlucky couple stalked by misfortune that they can’t control, yet seen in it’s proper light as a drama, the film is a beautifully moving and absolutely believable piece about how grief and the death of a child can destroy a couple from the inside out. The classic ending in which our hero Donald Sutherland is killed by a deformed woman who wears a similar red raincoat to his dead daughter is symbolic of his obsession killing him, but really, it’s not the kind of horror film that provides big screams, just uncomfortable squirms and winces.

#12: Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Something about ‘Bad Lieutenant’ is so rotten at the core that watching it almost seems a pervasive act of flagellation. It’s not the gruesome acts of sexual deviancy, numerous scenes (as pictured) of hardcore drug abuse, the racism, horrific violence, or even Keitel’s extreme performance that makes it so hard to watch, it’s more the duality of it all; the lieutenant has two very separate lives. His public persona as super cop, family man, and occasional gambler blurs the line between his bad side, the one who ultimately finds an undeserved retribution for his sins. Film maker Abel Ferrara has made a name for himself in directing relentlessly hopeless and gritty flicks – this is his best.

#11:  Eraserhead (1977)

Eraserhead appears once again and that’s no real surprise. The film has all the elements to be a throwaway trashy art film, but it somehow manages to transcend it’s status of that and become much more. Characters who seem utterly disinterested in being alive, sentient dead animals, and a world of all encompassing black and white. Eraserhead may not be scary in the traditional sense of the word, but it more than makes up for it by showing  a world rocked by a nuclear explosion that is absolutely uninhabitable and inhospitable.

#10: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

For me, the best 60’s and 70’s horror films have stood the test of time and overcome their genre pigeonhole of ‘horror’, and became classic dramas. Witchfinder General, Don’t Look Now, the Exorcist and not least Rosemary’s Baby are all great examples of this. The truly terrifying thing about the film, is the pure inescapable nature of evil – Rosemary is a good moral woman, yet she is seemingly chosen at random to give birth to the son of the Devil. How can evil be escaped that can’t even be seen? The creepy dream sequence where Rosemary is raped is so powerful and symbolic that it sends shivers down my spine.

#9: Happiness (1998)

‘Happiness’ is on the surface, another stupid family drama about kids growing up. Yet beneath that, it reveals itself to be an extremely dark and disturbed film that is powerful as well as being intentionally funny. A man who has disgusting sexual fantasies about his son’s 10 year old friends and mass murder in the playground. The film is unflinching in it’s portrayal of the family as on some level ‘normal’, yet a lot of their actions go unnoticed and seem to beg the question – what is anyone you know and trust really up to? A disturbing thought.

#8: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Criticised at the time for being overly gory and excessively realistic, ‘Henry’ now shows itself to be a thoroughly modern and chillingly believable exercise in a psychotic character study. The fact that it is based on a real life serial killer (Henry Lee Lucas) makes it almost voyeuristic in it’s depiction of events, as Henry rapes, kills and smashes his way through life. As mentioned though, the film is nothing if not believable, Henry is a seemingly normal, if not quite bored individual with an extremely disturbing hobby: being a serial killer. I love the film for it’s violence, which is at all times completely realistic and not in any way glorified, the question is begs is: are Quentin Tarantino movies right in their portrayal of violence as being cool and funny more acceptable than the brutal reality presented in ‘Henry’ ? It’s a challenging question, and I believe that death is always ugly, especially when it’s committed by a disturbed freak. That is something that will never change, no matter how many cool Bible verses you memorise to give the situation a fun finality.

#7: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Couldn’t you just see it coming? The film that changed the way I see all films is still a classic, and as testament to that, has appeared in approximately 9,000 of my blog entries already. The quality the film somehow manages to have of being a living nightmare is something I have never seen captured on film before or since it, as the horrifying death of hippie culture is stamped out by a family of confederate cannibals. Yee-haw!

#6: Funny Games (1997)

You might think that foreign language films haven’t got the capabilities of disturbing you that much. But you’d be wrong, and stupid, and I’d hate you; because you obviously hadn’t seen ‘Funny Games’. An Austrian film about two psychotic young men who torture a trapped family on holiday and force them to play games and undertake bizarre challenges for their amusement. The film breaks the 4th wall on a few occasions, with Paul addressing the camera and asking the audience what they think the chances of the family’s survival is. The first time I saw that aforementioned scene I absolutely fucking shit myself, yet now I realise that this use of thematic ‘wall breaking’ serves up to show a clever little bit on silly gameshow audience participation (HIGHER! LOWER!), the implications of witnessing violent acts, and if nothing else – the fact that Paul and his chum believe that they are in a movie and that their acts are of little or no consequence.

#5: When the Wind Blows (1986)

From the same guy who did ‘The Snowman’ (aka, the most disturbing film of all, if you think about it too long) comes ‘When the Wind Blows’, a seemingly harmless and innocuous animation about an old married couple who are caught in the middle of a worldwide nuclear apocalypse. Oh shit.  If ever there was a reason parents shouldn’t just buy cartoons to shut their kids up – this is it, I can imagine a few mums buying the VHS (probably marketed as ‘From the creator of ‘The Snowman!’) and bunging it in the player – only to have on their hands a child so mixed up, depressed and utterly despondent as a result. As I previously stated, it’s my attachments to characters and their little quirks that does it for me, and there is no better example of this than ‘..Wind’. When the world basically starts to end, the old fuddy duddy couple start to pray, and Hilda and Jim start to slowly die of radiation poisoning, it is absolutely one of the most upsetting, memorable, disturbing and completely believable depictions of a couple who don’t understand the world around them. “Look dear, my hair’s coming out”. “Don’t worry dearest..Women don’t go bald”.

#4: I Stand Alone (1998)

Impressively, Gaspar Noe’s first film on the list is at number 4, and it most definitely isn’t his last one. Bit of a spoiler that, oh well. I Stand Alone is a relentlessly bleak and completely hopeless film that depicts the life of a butcher (known only as ‘The Butcher’ – a possible comment on his definition of himself being based on the only thing he has taken pleasure in – his job) in France, and is completely devoid of anything resembling hope. He stumbles around from shitty situation to shittier situation, discovering that life is a bunch of meaningless set pieces designed to keep you occupied while you slave away in a job you don’t really care about. It’s in this stark realisation the butcher experiences that we see the depraved lengths human beings will go to keep themselves occupied and unconcerned with morality or justice.

#3: Audition (2000) 

I did really have to laugh the first time I saw Audition. The film does it absolute best to play the flip reverse, and if you hadn’t read the synopsis, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a fairly aimless romantic-comedy cum chick-flick that has no ambitions other than to show you the pervasiveness of love and happiness. But no, the film rumbles through a fairly unpredictable plot at a snails pace, with our main character holding a false audition to find himself a new wife. He finds the girl of his dreams, and she ends up torturing him in a few absolutely fucking horrific ways. The most memorable scene is where she uses an extremely sharp piano wire to cut his foot entirely off, and lobs it at the window just as casually. Oh. My. God.

#2: Man Bites Dog (1992) 

Well known for it’s hand held camera, and the appearances throughout of it’s directors / producers / writers, etc, Man Bites Dog is a seriously fucked up film that has some of the sharpest, funniest, but most brutally dark humour I have ever heard in it. Benoit is a serial killer, but he’s also a really generous and intelligent one, and our film crew follow him round, occasionally witnessing his murders, yet remaining impassive. Some of the scenes of death are so utterly sadistic and warped that it’s really a wonder the film was able to fly under the radar of censorship in Britain and America. Benoit visits a kind old lady under the premise of interviewing her about loneliness, spotting heart medication on the table, he shouts unexpectedly down her ear, giving the woman a heart attack. He leaves her to die in her flat, explaining that he likes to try new methods of killing, and to save a bullet, for his sake, and the sake of the ladies neighbours. The film is essentially a load of set pieces, featuring Benoit’s opinions on architecture, music and films, then interspersed with his killing and dumping of bodies. As the film goes on, the directors become more and more implicated in Benoit’s world, eventually raping and possibly killing a woman and her partner. It is this sense of perverse flip sided morality, and utterly disgusting, yet undeniably funny undercurrent that makes Man Bites Dog so unbelievably awesome – I couldn’t seriously recommend it enough.

#1: Irreversible (2002)

In being ‘disturbing’, films don’t necessarily have to be shit as well. Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible proves this with absolute force, as it is a powerfully moving, believable, but extremely graphic and horribly brutal drama. Some have had trouble with it’s storyline, which is essentially, in the time honoured tradition, told in chronological reverse (ala ‘Memento’). After opening with a seemingly random act of unprovoked violence, we are lead on a simple story of a man and his friend getting revenge for the rape of his partner. As has been stated numerous times, the film’s use of jumbled chronological retelling really forces you to consider the act of vengeance before you can actually process it, and in a sense, before the explanation for it is given – is violence and wrath ever the answer? The film has been censored heavily, and is indeed an extremely tough one to watch – the scene of the rape itself is unflinchingly honest and disturbing insofar as the act of rape itself is a completely horrific and disgusting act – it’s nine minutes of film is captured unswervingly and impassively. Yet, somehow, it manages to have an uplifting ending, as the couple embrace and accept that ‘time destroys everything’. Though the viewer knows better, it does destroy everything, from the confidence of the female who was attacked, to the conscience and morality of the men who exacted their own violent retribution. If you can make it through Irreversible, you can make it through almost anything – it is well scripted, shot to perfection, acted brilliantly, and is a fresh take on the now tired ‘rape revenge’ story, but that’s not to say it isn’t an extremely disturbing and upsetting film.

[Films not included for previously stated reasons: Last House on the Left, Salo: Or the 120 Days of Sodom, A Serbian Film, Human Centipede, I Spit On Your Grave, The Idiots]

12 fucked up, bizarre and utterly insane movies

If you’re not wise to the ways of odd cinema, perhaps this blog, for once, could serve a function. I have always appreciated and loved the insane side to humanity that is often shunned and ignored, and what better medium than film to explore that insane side? My definition of ‘fucked up’, ‘bizarre’, and ‘utterly insane’, may differ to yours: gruesome acts (ala ‘Hostel’, ‘Saw’) in films are something I most definitely do not find ‘fucked up’, ‘bizarre’ films are not ones that contain characters who are wacky, zany or otherwise deliberately odd, and ‘utterly insane’ movies MUST always leave you feeling uncomfortable, worried, and sometimes amused as to their sheer lack of any grip of sanity. If you are looking to watch more and more weird films, this list then is probably a good place to start, I won’t order the films in terms of preference, rather in terms of how ‘weird’ I find them to be, thus you can dip your toe into the pool of excrement, human spit and Fanta Fruit Twist that is insane cinema.

 

#12: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Though it’s often mentioned in the same sentence as other Wes Anderson flicks (‘Rushmore’, ‘Life Aquatic’), The Royal Tenenbaums distances itself from outright comedy by being a moving and believable drama about a family of dysfunctional geniuses who are affected by their father’s absence from their lives.  It’s the sense of quite oddly tender but completely out of place sentiment that makes the film weird, and it’s not overtly so, more playful in it’s clever surrealism.  In all, Tenenbaums is about what life can be like if you are made to put up a front, and the personal demons and inner conflicts this cognitive disonnance can and inevitably does produce.

 

#11: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

What is probably the first use of surrealism influencing horror in film, ‘Caligari’ is a visually jarring and bizarrely filmed experience that flits from limitless dreamlike states to unnerving real life situations. It’s integration of surrealist and expressionist imagery into the film medium is not the first time such close links between cinema and art had appeared, but it’s use in order to jolt and frighten the viewer, as opposed to provoke and stimulate, certainly was very influential indeed. Even now, it’s a weird and oddly scary  film.

#10: The Wicker Man (1973)

Horse shit remakes aside, the Wicker Man still stands up today as a really terrifying and utterly compelling horror film. The tale of an island full of mental Pagan bastards who sacrifice virgins is well known, but the bizarre and very scary elements of the film are often more unsung: a town dressing as animals, the enigmatic and charming leader of the island, and more than anything else; THE FACT THAT THEY’RE ALL PRACTISING PAGANS AND IT’S 1973! Make what you will of it, the Wicker Man, and it’s notorious ending, are so impassively odd that they seem almost dreamlike in their severity.

#9: Being John Malcovich (1999)

The fact that ‘…Malcovich’ is constantly referred to as a surrealist film really pisses me off. The films various scattered metaphors are indeed surreal, but they belie a story which is a very simple and identifiable one; the pressures of fame, and the joys of empathy. Indeed, we would all like to be famous (or, at least rich) to some extent, and the characters of the movie explore this in a more literal sense – by getting inside of John Malcovich’s head. It’s brilliant, and the imagery is definitely completely nuts – but, like Royal Tenenbaums, the film is not surreal because of it’s visual content, it’s underlying messages are easy to understand, and it’s universal consciousness is most definitely odd.

#8: Videodrome (1983)

Though it reads like a Phillip K. Dick novel, Videodrome is in actual fact an original work by David Cronenberg, and as such, it is obviously completely insane. A seedy cable TV channel operator is entranced by an even seedier unbroadcast channel called ‘Videodrome’, which shows outrageous and brutally realistic torture, rape and murder of ‘realistic actors’. Little does he know it is real, and is being used to control his mind and induce hallucinations. He goes absolutely mental and starts killing people with a gun that has somehow been literally grafted onto his skin. The film is an obvious allegory for TV’s role in the cause and increase of violence in society, but ironically, it is an incredibly violent film, something which I have no doubt was tongue in cheek in itself.

#7: Pi (1998)

Few films use of black and white is more effective than that of Darren Aronofsky’s debut picture ‘Pi’, a story of  Max, a genius mathematician driven insane by his own vividly coherent theories on The Golden Ratio. The film’s use of B&W is symbolic in itself, as Max becomes more and more paranoid and suffers physical ailments due to his intense brainpower. The film is constantly playing around with his perception, and at the end it’s completely unclear as to whether half of the stuff that happened, actually did. Still, it’s a rollercoaster ride of a movie, that is also about maths. If my 15 year old self could hear me say I loved a film ABOUT maths, he’d probably call me ‘gay’ or ‘twat’ or something.

#6: Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion is a pretty heavy film, loaded with visual sexual innuendo, references to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical work, and a definite meditation on full blown Schizophrenia. While left alone, shy main character Carole begins indulging in vivid and shaky hallucinations of rape and sexual contact. The film is a classic example of the ‘unreliable narrator’ technique, insofar as Carole is herself a very unreliable, and possibly mentally ill character, her version of events don’t quite seem to be the truth – though she believes it herself. This forces us to question the reality of what is happening in front of us, something which when closer examined, is quite obviously false.

#5: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

‘Un Chien’ is a deliberately surreal film made by film maker Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. For me, extreme surrealism is quite unnerving and moving at times, and pure metaphor and imagery reign supreme in this film, which has little to no narrative structure whatsoever, and connects events in a way that can only be called to mind as being similar to dreams themselves. It’s the quality of the film being almost like a ‘living nightmare’ that makes it so creepy, bizarre images that you can’t wake up from, people chasing you and characters just coming out of absolutely nowhere – everything that makes dreams scary and odd experiences is contained within this film.

#4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

It’s hard to fathom what cinema as a whole (let alone, just Sci-Fi) would look like today were it not for Stanley Kubrick’s seminal work from the early 60’s up until his death just before the turn of the century. 2001 absolutely cements his place as visionary and genius, for me. It’s creepy and silent environment of space is shown as being a lonely and desolate experience, as opposed to the romantic views of ‘Forbidden Planet’ and others. Using visual metaphors throughout, Kubrick takes us on a journey that basically spans the existence of man as we know it, from savage proto-man apes, to demi-god and ‘Star Child’, the film is a heady mix of imagery, silence and triumph over nature. In scenes like ‘the star gate’ final sequence, the director came up against challenges to his work from critics, a lot of people didn’t understand it, and some were frightened by it’s intensity, surrealism and creative power. 2001 isn’t a surrealist film, and it certainly isn’t scary, but for nothing else it is breathtaking in it’s scale, scope and it’s towering achievements.

#4: El Topo (1970)

 

As previously mentioned, extremely unrelenting surreal films can be tough to watch, it’s hard to constantly analyse every bit of imagery and metaphor contained within the film – mainly because there are so many. El Topo is a classic example of that, at first a violent and deceptively dull witted Spaghetti Western with lower fidelity in sound and visual quality. Then shit starts to get absolutely insane, weird characters and fucked up happenings make El Topo a completely immersive and allegorical experience, which at times makes the viewer horrifically uneasy. The story is said to be an allegory for the life of Jesus Christ himself, with the second half taking up the redemption and love El Topo experiences, but whatever it means, it still remains unbeaten in terms of sheer visceral cinema with the power to shock.

#2: Begotten (1990)

Without reading any plot synopses, one could be forgiven for thinking Begotten was another post-Lynchian slice of black and white weirdness, but it most definitely isn’t, and in fact was so close to coming top of this list it’s ridiculous. The story (if you could call it that) is one of the birth of creation, the character seen above is ‘God’, and he basically creates the universe by disembowelling himself straight away. His sacrifice breathes life into the universe, and mother Earth is spawned from his wretched guts. The film follows along the same way, 70 minutes of unrelentingly gory imagery, violence, metaphor and conflict. There’s no doubt, fewer films are harder to watch, few as ambitious in their scale and scope, and even fewer that I can recall are harder to erase from your mind; every day since I watched Begotten I have been haunted by it’s surrealist imagery, violent undercurrent, and it’s revelling in squalid and necessary violence, it is absolutely brilliant.

#1: Eraserhead (1977)

There could surely be no doubt as to my number one choice, and although I did faulter for a few minutes in nearly choosing Begotten to be it, there was never really any possibility of any film coming ahead of Eraserhead. Over thirty years on and it’s bleak vision of the future gone completely topsy turvy is so engrossing, so scary, so enjoyable, and so plain weird that it seems it will always be number one. I’ve been asked why I think the film is so weird, and the most honest answer is that I really couldn’t tell you. It’s picturing of a world so corrupted with shit and radiation is juxtaposed by a world of 1950’s naivety, innocence and hope. The characters in Eraserhead are not just characters, they are people living it; even when you turn your copy of it off, you know that somewhere inside the disc, as inside Henry’s radiator, these people are still alive, trapped in a limbo of a world destroyed by nuclear weapons, of new born babies being so irradiated they look like wild fowl, of dinners made from synthetic chickens that feel the pain of being carved open. But what is so so shocking and downright disturbing about the film is the fact that somewhere, you KNOW that Henry’s world is black and white. David Lynch has filmed it in such a way that suggests everything is either black, white, or dark grey. The colour has been irradiated from everyone, from everything, there is no beauty, only complete shit for all, complete shit that everyone has to dine on for the rest of their prolonged and agonisingly depressing lives. The film doesn’t say anything, it remains impassive to the plight of it’s victims, and it’s that which is so utterly dark and disturbing that has made this film stay with me ever since I curiously watched it. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely glad I watched it; no film has changed me in such a way, but when I said no film has stuck with me as much as ‘Begotten’, I neglected to mention Eraserhead. It’s scenes of life being unable to be lived, yet somehow, being lived, shows either great courage and resilience of human spirit, or the desperate, last dregs of humanities legacy swirling around the hair infested plughole.

10 [in]famous banned films

With the recent senseless banning of ‘Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence’, the topic of banned films is inevitably about to pop up from ‘neath the carpet once again. And why not? Banning films is not a way to stop people seeing them, as I have previously mentioned with regard to Video Nasties in the 1980’s, directors love to flaunt ‘The film that was BANNED in ‘__’ Countries!’ or ‘The film THEY didn’t want YOU to see!!’ on the front of their DVD cover. So the only conclusion I can reach is, the BBFC is a bunch of perverts who loves egging people on to watch disturbing films. The stigma of ‘banned film’ has been a desirable one since the early 70’s, when banning and censoring films helped drive their popularity underground to a devoted cult following, ala ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Don’t Look Now’, or the (now) pathetically dated ‘Faces of Death!’ series. I am obviously very anti-censorship, as should anyone be who values freedom of expression and speech, and as  the banning of films doesn’t look to stop anytime soon in either the U.K., or the U.S., for now, let us celebrate 10 banned films that really pissed off the censorship boards.

[All of the films featured were either banned nationwide, or in a few districts or boroughs which didn’t want the film playing where they slept.]

 

#10: The Wild One (1953)

The earliest of the banned films in this list (but by no means, the earliest of all), ‘The Wild One’ stars Marlon Brando as a leather clad motorcycle riding youth, the very idea of which seemed to really get up the nose of the BBFC, who promptly banned it for 14 years. The film doesn’t seem as shocking today as it probably did in 1953, with it’s images of rebellious youths in gangs mounting huge motorbikes and tormenting and degrading a working class town in America seeming tame, it was no doubt a terrifying and very real experience nearly 60 years ago.

 

#9: Crash (1996)

‘Crash’ is a bizarre sadistic love story from bizarre sadist David Cronenberg, that details the enhancement of a couple’s sexuality by the danger of fatal car crashes and the raw adrenaline they produce. Based on a futuristic (and of itself, extremely controversial) novel (of the same name) by J.G. Ballard, Crash simultaneously manages to shock and discomfort the viewer with ease, as perverted characters are turned on by life threatening acts which make them feel alive. The film was banned for it’s obscene and graphic sexual content, but also just as likely for it’s unflinchingly weird and claustrophobic philosophy that in the face of death life is at it’s fullest and most erotic. The film was banned in Westminster council, which meant that it could not be seen in any cinema in Westminster.

 

#8: The Devils (1971) 

There is absolutely no surer way to get your film banned (or at least, heavily censored) than to have sexual defilement of religious iconography. That is a fact, and ‘The Devils’ is a film which has more than it’s fair share of that. Though not outright in it’s capacity to shock, visceral director Ken Russell’s film tells a tale of demonic possessions of Nuns, and their foul exploits while under Satan’s influence. The film was so harshly received, censored, banned and derived that it has remained unreleased in it’s uncensored form to this very day, with 17 councils in Britain alone banning the film on the grounds of it’s sexual perversions and blasphemy.

 

#7: Derek & Clive Get The Horn (1979)

Absolutely unbelievably, the BBFC rejected to even classify Derek & Clive (comedians, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, respectively, and pictured above) Get The Horn, a documentary on the making of their classic comedy album ‘…Ad Nauseum’, on the grounds that the film contained just about as much swearing as anybody had heard in any film up until that point. The film is indeed absolutely chocked full of foul language, but so are the albums the pair released, the banning of the film raised many questions about profanity and the negative effects it had on society. Watching today, in it’s unbanned form, the documentary is massively ground breaking, showing the nihilism and self deprecating black humour of the 90’s over a full decade before it was ushered in by Bill Hicks, et al,.

 

#6: Last House on the Left (1972)

Even by today’s standards, Last House on the Left is an unnecessary edition to the horror catalogue. A senselessly graphic, needlessly off colour and utterly nihilistic piece of film making. And it was made by ‘Horror Master: Wes Craven’. Just goes to show what bad publicity does for some directors, as this film is truly a piece of trash – have I made it clear enough how shitty this film is? Anyway, the plot is so excruciatingly predictable and simple it is almost patronising to explain it, a group of hairy brutish bikers kidnap, rape, torture and finally murder two young women, and break into their parent’s house to crash the night. The parents suspect the hairy dudes to be their daughter’s killers and proceed to exact their own, possibly more disgusting and inventive wrath on the bikers. The film was banned in it’s uncut form for 34 years, and is not really worth wasting the electricity that powers your laptop or DVD player to play it, in all honesty.

#5: Straw Dogs (1971)

The early 70’s (71, in particular!) were heady days for the BBFC, they went around chopping up, banning and outright rejecting a lot of films as cinema fell into the hands of the experimental independent auteur. Straw Dogs is a brilliant psychological thriller in the vein of Don’t Look Now, and has still retained a lot of it’s bite 40 years on. Dustin Hoffman plays a shy retiring professor from the U.S. who takes an idyllic vacation in the British countryside, only to find himself and his wife set upon by savage locals who lust for his and his wife’s blood. The film contains a fairly graphic rape scene, which was the source of much controversy upon it’s release; a scene that still hasn’t lost any of it’s impact to this day. Straw Dogs though, unlike a lot of the banned films from the UK, is an intelligent, well paced and ultimately enjoyable thriller that was well ahead of it’s time.

#4: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

And the award for “film that keeps constantly rearing it’s wonderful head in my blogs” goes to…Yes, it’s that time again, another blog post, and another entry on A Clockwork Orange! And yet ANOTHER film from 1971! What did I tell you?! A Clockwork Orange is a violent, sadistic and darkly humorous take on a future gone mad with compassion for the youth. Scenes of brutal violence are almost glorified and rape is viewed through an almost impassive and slightly wry eye. A film that still has the power to shock? Yes, most definitely. And a film that was banned, NOT by the BBFC, but by director Stanley Kubrick himself, who had been worried by reports of copycat violence linked to the film, and decided to pull it from circulation due to death threats made against him and his family. The film was made available uncut upon Kubrick’s death, and is still a fascinating, literary, clever and above all, unbelievably violent portrayal of a world gone utterly insane.

#3: The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Scorsese must have known that a near biopic of the human side of Christ would cause it’s share of controversy, but he couldn’t have imaging the extent to which it pissed pretty much everyone off. It’s obviously a fictional (no jokes, please!) account of the life of Jesus, which details his struggles as a man, his affairs and his downfalls. Christians presumably didn’t like to see the man they think of as infallible as having any weaknesses, but Scorsese’s version of events is unflinchingly honest, tragic, and more than anything, a lot more believable than the Bible’s, which tells Jesus as being a saintly figure with absolutely no bad qualities. I am not religious in the slightest, but it is easier to accept that having lived as a man, and therefore amongst men, Jesus would have undoubtedly took on qualities of his fellow mortals – be they good, or bad. It was banned  on account of some brutally violent scenes, but more for it’s supposedly extremely blasphemous views.

#2: The Exorcist (1973)

For me, The Exorcist ranks up with The Shining as one of the all time top horror films. It’s subtle blend of human psychology, religious paranoia and superstition, foul language, and at times graphic and completely gripping scenes of possession lend a completely timeless and brilliant feel to the whole picture. As could be expected, the thought of a teenage girl having to act like the devil (vomiting, spitting, swearing) was a concept that really unnerved some people, and it’s true, Linda Blair’s performance as a 13 year old posessed girl is so believable and terrifying that it has never been matched. The film was not banned officially, but officials at distribution company Warner decided to exempt it from rating with the ‘video nasties’ hysteria of the early 80’s. Anyone who has seen any video nasty and The Exorcist knows the comparison is a joke, it’s like comparing a kid’s drawing of a house to a Rembrandt original: the gulf of class, quality, plot and even acting between the two is so great that the idea it would be classed a ‘video nasty’ is literally laughable.

#1: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Hey-oh, if it isn’t another film that I have previously stated my undying love for! The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is about the most unforgiving, creepy and utterly hopeless  film of all time. A constant air of toxic shit hangs over the picture, a sense of something being completely twisted, a generally ‘not right’ feeling to every single wretched event in the film. It is for this reason the film is one of the most memorable of all time, with the final ‘dinner’ scene being one of the most excruciatingly terrifying and utterly mesmerising sequences ever filmed. Though the film is very real and utterly immersive in it’s own horribly visceral way, it does it’s absolute best to maintain a dreamlike nether-world throughout – a semi-conscious state of awareness and repulsion, whilst most definitely being real. The soundtrack of deranged pots and pans smashing together and atonal feedback and unnerving buzzing cement this in the film, and while it is most definitely a very very violent one, there are only a few scenes of actual violence, and there is little, to no ‘splatter’ or gore, which makes it all the more insanely brilliant – it’s not that ‘violent’ by content, but in context, it is so supremely horrific, so absolute and so crushingly realistic, that watching it becomes almost torturous in it’s voyeurism. The film was banned for all of the above reasons, and gained a cult status due to it’s banning. Nearly 40 years on and it’s pure gripping horror has never been matched, in it’s uncensored version, we see the true depths of human insanity and human fear.

10 classic movie monsters

Monsters in film can be an allegory for all kinds of stuff. Societal attitudes, prejudice, the questionable triumphs of man over nature, or just simply a huge ugly beasty monster that moves the plot along, destroying buildings and people at will. One thing is always the same though, the public never gets tired of a terrifying monster wreaking havoc on unsuspecting civilians, and seeing them try to come to terms with it. Here are 10 of my favourite movie monsters.

 

#10: ‘The Blob’ from The Blob (1958)

Is this about to attack US, or do we attack IT? With Mr. Muscle, amirite?!

The 1950’s were a lot of things; naive, homely, idyllic, but one thing they were not was massively creative, as a few entries in this list will address. First up is ‘The Blob’, not an understatement or a clever misleading name, the blob is just that – a big blob of indeterminate density and composition that bounces around a 1950’s town swallowing up it’s inhabitants. Of course it’s whole vague nature is an extremely obvious reference to the invisible and stealthy nature and threat of communism – but still, a huge blob of indestructible crap bouncing round and sucking people up is a little bit scary. If not a bit laughable. A better way to go than most, laughing as a huge blob sucks you up and deprives you of oxygen.

 

#9: ‘The Blood Parasite‘ from ‘Shivers’ (1976)

Shit BEFORE getting in the bath. Words to live by.

‘Shivers’ is legendary director David Cronenberg’s first feature film, and it includes everything people have come to expect from the man – violent deaths, disgusting bodily transformation scenes, and black as coal humour. It’s easy to laugh at the hugely dated ‘Shivers’ now, but the message is surprisingly durable, essentially an apartment block gets taken over by the deliberately questionable (and disgusting) ‘Blood Parasite’, which removes the tenants inhibitions and causes them to become maniac-sex-zombies, who groan orgasmically as opposed to the braindead zombie of yore. The story is about attitudes to sex and sexual freedom after the hippie era, while the parasite itself is an odd monster – it is small, quick and can travel through drains, making it perfect for entering orifices which may be using the toilet, or (as seen above), taking a bath. Look down the bog next time you use it – I do now, that is obviously why I’m not a sex-maniac.

 

#8: ‘The Giant Ants’ from ‘Them!’ (1954)

Not pictured: an absolutely gigantic kettle full of boiling water. FUCK you, you ant bastard.

As mentioned in ‘The Blob’, here is another classic badly named monster, ‘Them!’, taken from a little girl’s description of the massive ants (I would have stuttered…”..m..massive ants!”, not “…THEM!”, personally), gigantic ants with huge mandibles that can cut men in half. At first, giant ants seem a fairly dismissive monster, just pour some chemicals on them or set them on fire right? Well, no not really. As anyone who’s had ant problems in their garden or house knows, ants can get literally everywhere, they need just one individual to set up a new colony – the queen, and they protect her with their lives. Plus there are millions of them. Now think of a massive ant colony in the desert and pretend that the idea doesn’t scare you, if the ants spread, humans wouldn’t stand a chance.

 

#7: ‘Kong’ from ‘King Kong’ (1933)

Kong, liking what he sees.

It’s usually hard to sympathise with monsters, what with the ‘tearing people limb from limb’ and ‘destroying metropoles’ shit they usually do, but not Kong. Kong is a huge gorilla from a prehistoric island in the Indian Ocean that contains dinosaurs, and really, he should have been left there. Kong falls in love with a human woman, a relationship you could see going down the pan from the very start, but still, his courage and honour is admirable amongst a giant ape. Plus he is obviously strong as hell, somewhat of a standard feature of a genetically enormous ape.

 

#6: ‘The Predator’ from ‘Predator’ (1987)

Predator watches you masturbate. Then skins you alive.

The first ‘alien’ on the list proper (he has a spaceship – good enough for me) is also one of the most terrifying of all. An ugly warrior who travels the galaxy looking for the top predator of each planet, and hunts them for sport. It seems a horrifying idea but the film holds a mirror up to some of the main characters who see each human kill as another notch on their belt; is it really any different that predator uses superior weapons to hunt Arnie & co., when Arnie & co. had just burst into a poorly equipped rebel camp and blew all their head’s off with massive U.S. Army funded weapons? No it isn’t, not really.

 

#5: ‘Godzilla’ from ‘Godzilla’ (1954)

We've all been there though..Haven't we?

50’s Sci-fi with a cool name? What?! Well, Godzilla (Gojira, in Japanese) isn’t an American film, so maybe that’s why. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Godzilla was Japanese for ‘nuclear mutated dinosaur monster’, that would give it an apt shit name. Regardless, Godzilla is probably the most famous of all ‘monster movies’, mainly because of how many times it’s been remade, the original is still the best though. After nuclear radiation is leaked, a huge lizard monster starts appearing in Japan and wrecking stuff. That’s about it. Basically the message here is, “be wary of nuclear power and weapons. Or this shit might start to happen”. You literally never know though, do you?

 

#4: ‘The Thing’ from ‘The Thing’ (1982)

After a night of 'hand grenades'.

John Carpenter’s best film also happens to be a remake of a 1950’s sci-fi film (Seriously, you could have guessed, the Thing is another remarkably shit name), but where the remake succeeds is in it’s horror, it’s tone and it’s believable title monster. The Thing is essentially an alien monster that can take whatever shape it pleases, be it dog, spider with head of man, etc. It just so happens obviously that the monster decides to take the most disturbing forms it can – i.e. above. In the Antarctic, help seems millions of miles away, and an unbelievably manly Kurt Russell is forced to battle the Thing on his own. It really is one of the best horror films ever, and is genuinely very scary, down in part to the graphic and horribly weird ‘Thing’.

 

#3: ‘The Monster’ from ‘Frankenstein’ (1931)

Piercings these days.

The classic ‘don’t mess with God’s will and nature’ story sees archetypal mad scientist Henry Frankenstein gathering body parts from corpses and building himself a monster servant, played like a boss by king of the monsters Boris Karloff. The story is an interesting allegory for God himself, creating servants and entertainment on Earth, but accidentally giving them free will. After being injected with a dose of humanity, the Monster becomes entangled in a complicated existential woe and goes on the rampage. Who is to blame, Henry, or the monster? And who is the real monster? Henry, or the monster? No, that was too cliché, the real monster is the monster. Sorry for the spoiler.

 

#2:The Xenomorph’ from ‘Alien’ (1979)

Yeah yeah, you have loads of fucking teeth. Get over it.

Almost everything I found terrifying in films as a kid can be found in the above picture. The Xenomorph from the Alien series is a meta-predator, instead of killing in real life, it is basically that fucking terrifying that it can not only get you in your dreams, but it can get you in other people’s dreams as well. Probably, of course. But seriously, look at it, it’s silent, it’s got acid for blood, it grows to gigantic size in about 45 minutes, it has a razor sharp tail, and an insatiable taste for Human beings. Is there anything else I can say as to why this is one of the most terrifying beasts ever? No? Then I’ll just keep scrolling down because I don’t like that picture. Thanks.

 

#1: ‘The Sarlacc‘ from ‘Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi’

....BASTARD

There’s something so inherently terrifying about the Sarlacc pit. Of course, the fact that it’s completely layered, wall to wall with razor sharp teeth and tentacles is bad enough, you also can’t see the animal itself – scary, but the fact that it digests you for thousands of years, and you feel every second of the painful, drawn out death is absolutely absurdly disturbing in just about every way – you live an extended life, for no other reason than to feel the absolute hell on Earth of a death you are soon going to experience. Of course, it’s not as screwed as the Xenomorph, you would know about it if a Sarlacc was on your ship (As a desert, would also have to be on your ship, you see), but for a crime lord, there would be absolutely no better way to kill of a pesky James Bond type. Tie him up, don’t let him say a word, just throw him into the pit and return every fortnight to ask him ‘how’s the digestion going?’. Truly..Horrific.

9 amazing fight scenes from films

Ever since apes discovered that twatting eachother over the head could impose their own dominance and will on others; fighting has been a very important part of man’s culture. Some choose not to fight, citing moral reasons  for their lack of balls. It just so happens that some who do fight, fight hard. Here are 9 unforgettable pugilists, and their best bouts to boot.

#9: Narrator -vs- Narrator (Fight Club, 1999)

There’s always one friend who punches himself when drunk. It just so happens that the narrator of Fight Club takes this to the logical extreme – beating on himself repeatedly,  and convincingly too.  Fight Club is believable because Ed Norton plays the role as a true underdog and geek – at times coming across as a pathetic loser who is there for the taking, others as a raging beast who will fight anything. It’s the times when his true animal comes out that are the most memorable, and him beating himself up in front of his boss is the most brilliant and original of all.

(^Awful quality video, but you get the picture)

#8: Luke Skywalker -vs – Darth Vader (Star Wars Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back)

Star Wars

As a young movie fan, was there ever a more epic moment in film? Probably not, this symbolised the gutting realisation that we have the capability of massive evil in all of us, and only by consciously choosing good or bad can we hope to make a rational and worthwhile moral decision. Death is a more preferable end than the evil that has befallen his once proud father. Luke is not so much fighting his own dad at this point, but the rising possibility that he too could become as evil and twisted as Darth. But still, he is fighting Darth Vader, and it is bloody brilliant.

 

#7: The Warriors -vs- The Punks (The Warriors, 1979)

More than probably any film on the list, the Warriors could be accused of  glamorising and glorifying violence. Every character you are made to sympathise with is a violent thug, and the only thing that seems to separate ‘good thugs’ from the bad ones is a bizarrely double sided sense of honour (not stealing from shops, not using guns or weapons in fights). But still, the Warriors is an extremely entertaining and well shot film that details one gang’s (the Warriors) desperate struggle to get home, despite every rival gang’s efforts at stopping them, all set amidst a backdrop of 70’s disco and questionably homosexual leather outfits. I still love it though. The best fight scene is a Clockwork Orange style toilet brawl against mullet’d dudes in rollerskates. Ah the 70’s!

 

#6: Jake LaMotta -vs- Sugar Ray Robinso(Raging Bull, 1980)

In this much parodied scene, LaMotta takes an absolute pummelling from Sugar Ray, slow motion blows reign down on Jake’s head and spit and blood flies everywhere. Sugar Ray appears out of a fog like a possessed banshee and lands blow after blow on an awestruck LaMotta. If ever a fight scene in film were to denounce the supposed glory of pugilism, this is it, at it’s ugly, raw and unbelievably painful best.

 

#5: John Matrix -vs- ‘Bennett‘ (Commando, 1985)

In Arnie films there is an unspoken precedent. The hero must be muscly as hell, and the villain must be either wily, or slightly less muscly. In Commando, the main antagonist (Australian, Bennet)  is both. Harbouring an anger for Matrix (Arnie) from a former job gone wrong, Bennett will stop at nothing to bring John down. Literally attempting to take him on with a knife. You and I both know that to attempt to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger with a knife is a bad idea, but Bennett seems to assume everything will end up fine. Check out the manliest fight ever, they hit eachother with pipes and steel doors of furnaces and shit!

 

#4: George Nada -vs- Frank Armitage (They Live, 1988)

For anyone who’s seen it, They Live contains the single most ridiculous and most unforgettable fight scene ever, but what is in all honesty, probably a lot more realistic than any on this list. George Nada (played by wrestler, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) tries to convince his friend that the world they live in has been taken over by aliens posing as humans, Armitage doesn’t believe it, and thus a SIX MINUTE fight sequence occurs. It is brilliant, if not a bit over the top, and definitely enjoyable. It was recently paid homage in South Park’s ‘Cripple Fight’ episode.

#3: Lee -vs- Han (Enter the Dragon, 1973)

There’s no doubt that Enter The Dragon is somewhat of a cash in of the ‘kung-fu’ craze of the early 70’s, but it’s a very entertaining one, and probably Bruce Lee’s best performance in film – he is in peak condition and some of the stunts (which he did himself) are astoundingly complicated, and breathtaking. In it he travels to a (‘Tekken’ style) fighting tournament in China to investigate charges of corruption. He finds them – big time, and ends up having to beat on one of the most insanely determined martial arts villains ever in the shape of Han. In the final fight apparently Bruce Lee broke a few of Kien Shih (Han’s) ribs as well. Nice of him.

 

#2: Alex and his droogs -vs- Billy Boy and his droogs (A Clockwork Orange, 1971)

A Clockwork Orange is an extremely violent film, and this scene is one of the most violent of all – two gangs beating the shit out of eachother to Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie’.  It’s not only an extremely well choreographed fight, but it’s also intentionally very funny, juxtaposing brutal violence to the sounds of late era romantic piece. As in all of Kubrick’s films, there is something to be said about some people’s opinion of the beauty of violence. Alex especially likens the chaos of a symphony to the chaos and unpredictability of a fight. It is a perfectly shot and symmetrical bout, put to gloriously uplifting and slightly quirky classical music – but does that make it a beautiful act? As chairs are smashed over heads and bottles are constantly being thrown – the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

(^ You will have to watch the link in Youtube, embedding has been disabled for all the versions of this video)

 

#1: Oh-Dae Su -vs- 12 Men in one corridor (Oldboy, 2003)

As I have stated many, many times, Oldboy is one of my all time favourite films, something which is only strengthened due to the insane and memorable fight scene where protagonist Oh-Dae Su takes on a corridor of angry henchmen, armed literally with a hammer and his self-taught martial arts knowledge. Great fight scenes should be both believable, and wildly unrealistic – there is nothing worse than seeing a fighter take on a swarm of enemies that seem to go on for ever, and that is the beauty of the fight scene in Oldboy, there are the same antagonists, and the same main character, and they just brawl for four minutes straight. The fight itself is absolute carnage, and however ridiculous it may seem, in film it comes across as extremely believable. Dae-Su is stabbed between the shoulder blades at one point and visibly exhausted, he attempts to escape the scene, still throwing weakened punches at his visibly embarrassed foes. He does well though, and it is a credit to the actors involved, and the director, that it was  shot as one continuous piece of film. Astounding, breath taking, ugly, brutal but absolutely genius in it’s choreography, it’s performances, and it’s ability to stick right in your mind for months after watching it, Oldboy’s fight scene is the most memorable ever.