19. Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963, Ishirō Honda)
There’s not much to say about Matango, really. From the director of most of Toho studios classic monster pics, Godzilla, Mothra etc, it’s neither the craptacular spectacle that MST3K claim it is, nor is it the misunderstood masterpiece that people on IMDB seem to think.
A yacht carrying some real irritating jerks is damaged in a storm, washing the crew up on a deserted island. There, they discover – oh my god –
A monster mushroom.
It’s atmospheric, occasionally creepy and very, very slow.The first 70 minutes or so are taken up with crew members bickering and fighting. By the time the mushroom people do show up, it’s too little too late.
Most entertainingly, my research on this film (looking up mushroom puns) brought me to a website that explains why jokes are funny and how they work.
So, in case you didn’t get it, FUNGI sounds like FUN GUY.
20. 8mm (1999, Joel Schumacher)
Who could have predicted that the grandmaster of camp blockbusters, Joel Schumacher, would direct one of the sleaziest, darkest mainstream movies of the 90s?
Granted, in other less reputable hands, this tale of Nicolas Cage tracking down the origins of a snuff movie could have been a lot grubbier, but for a movie that played multiplexes it goes to some pretty dark places.
But boy, Nicolas Cage fans rejoice, because he goes full Cage in this one. Coming off the back of Con-Air, Face/Off and Snake Eyes (what a run!) he starts off restrained and his performance builds in intensity.
Look at those crazy eyes! In a neat bit of costuming, that is no doubt unintentional, the crazier Cage gets, the wilder his hair gets.
See? I’m not making this up.
Unfortunately, the film ends at the 90 minute mark and then trundles along for another 30 minutes. By this point I was suffering from Cage-fatigue, a very real illness that affects 1 in 10 people. Are you one of them?
Watch this film and find out!
21. Blood Simple (1984, Joel Coen)
I have a pretty loose definition of what is horror.
Jurassic Park? Horror.
Taxi Driver? Horror.
I’m not saying that these are exclusively horror films, but they all have enough in common with that most disreputable of genres for me to regard them as such.
Which brings us to Blood Simple, the debut movie from the Coen Brothers. Horror? Well, yeah, in parts.
It’s more of a gritty film noir than anything. In a film about people’s inability to communicate, a series of very blackly comic misunderstandings lead to a string of murders in a small Texan town.
Like I say, it’s more film noir than anything. But there are two lengthy sequences, both almost entirely wordless, that tip the film way over into horror territory. One is a Hitchcockian corpse disposal, the other the slow-burn ultra-violence of the climax.
For me, this is easily the best movie the Coens ever made. They had a great run up until Fargo, and then I had no interest in anything they’ve done since. Even their return to the violent Tex-noir of this film, No Country For Old Men, left me cold.
Ah fuck it, let’s just watch Blood Simple again.