Saturday, June 21, 2014

1979: The Best

A great top ten for a great year of film.

10. The Muppet Movie

Gotta love the Muppets and the first movie is just fantastic.  Clever and hilarious script, some brilliant puppet work and a stack of great cameos make this one just an awesome ride... Even if you're an adult.

9. Tourist Trap

This might be the only time a Charles Band film (an actual one, Re-Animator doesn't really count), would make one of my top ten lists.  Chuck Connors is pretty damn good as a demented owner of a tourist trap with some of the freakiest mannequins you will ever see.  Some good scares, nice tension and some genuinely creepy moments  make this an underrated gem of a slasher movie.

8. Escape From Alcatraz

One of Clint's best, this is based on an actual case of three guys who possibly made it out of Alcatraz.  Don Siegel does a fine job of directing and performances are great across the board.  Clint is fine as Frank Morris and of course, Patrick McGoohan is fun as the warden.  Granted, it does cover pretty much every prison movie cliche there is but it's done so well you don't give a damn.

7. Monty Python's Life of Brian

It's no the best thing Monty Python has ever done (the first three seasons of the show are still my favorite) but this one is stunningly hilarious with some great lines, some hysterical scenes and an actually pretty decent performance from Graham Chapman in the lead role.

6. Apocalypse Now

Outside of the first two Godfather films, this is probably the best thing Francis Ford Coppola has ever done.  A fascinating reworking of Heart of Darkness, this features great work from pretty much every body in the cast from Martin Sheen to Marlon Brando who shows that even when he doesn't really give a crap, he can still deliver a memorable performance.  Far too often war movies that try to make a "statement" come off as preachy and annoying but here, Coppola simply shows you just how intrinsically screwed up the whole idea of war is by showing pure and simple madness.  It's not perfect by any means but it's still a very effective piece of filmmaking.

5. Zombie

Lucio Fulci's zombie gore fest might not be the best, most logical movie ever made... But damn is it a fun ride!  Ian McCulloch and Tisa Farrow are fun as is Richard Johnson (though you do get the sense that all three sort of wish they were doing something just a wee bit better) and the special effects are top notch.  Zombie is just 90 minutes of pure fun.

4. Mad Max

The sequel that came out a few years later might be a slightly better movie but Mad Max is still one of the most amazing car chase films of all time.  George Miller does a fine job at the type of lean, efficient storytelling I love and the stunts are so incredible you have to be both awestruck at how insane the Australian stunt team used is, and also a little dumbfounded that they even had the balls to try some of it.  Mel Gibson is fine as Max, the rest of the cast is good and the end result is one hell of an action movie.

3. Moonraker

Moonraker isn't the best Bond film ever but it gets on the list, and this high at that, simply by being one hell of a fun ride.  Roger Moore is solid as 007, the villains are good and the action is awesome.  It's not exactly a smart movie and there are some really dumb bits here and there but the overall product is quite good.  I can forgive a lot of flaws in a movie if its good natured enough and this one certainly fits the bill.

2. Phantasm

An easy favorite of mine is this wonderfully twisted, hallucinatory nightmare of a movie.  The cast is good, there are some nice scares here and there and the film makes excellent use of its limited budget but what really makes it work for me is the script.  Underneath all the blood and screaming and awesome glares from Angus Scrimm as the bad guy, you get a rather thoughtfully constructed tale of brotherly love that is quietly effective as a background motif for the film.  The second movie might be a little better but the first is still a masterpiece.

1. Alien

Ridley Scott's breakout movie is also the best movie of the year.  Alien is a beautifully crafted horror movie with an awesome cast (Sigourney Weaver and Yaphet Kotto are my favorite characters and Ian Holm is just great), a wonderful attention to detail that Scott applies to all his movies and a wonderfully scary monster that even today is still pretty damn effective.

And that's 1979.  Terrific films, a few duds here and there but for the most part this was just an awesome year.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.