I don’t know how many years now I’ve put together these lists, but I always feel the need to establish a couple of ground rules. Despite what the banner above says, one rule is that I never call this a “best of” list. I never see everything released in…
Whether it’s on a TV network, through a streaming service, on blu-ray or DVD, at a film festival, or a repertory screening…chances are you discovered a film made before 2019 that you watched for the first time last year. Thanks to Scream Factory, Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow Films, Severin, Criterion, MVD, and more — blu rays are constantly coming out of either beloved classics or lost gems. Similarly Shudder, Disney+, MUBI, Criterion Channel, and Amazon Prime and a few other streaming services are resurrecting otherwise forgotten fare or stuff that simply missed you by the first time. So, what was your personal throwback discovery in 2019 of a film that came out years before? Could be a golden oldie, could be some obscure title, or anything in between. Let us know!
Freddy. Jason. Michael. Leatherface. Names that instill fear—or at least nostalgic fondness—in the hearts of horror fans the world over, figures of horror that have become comforting icons for those who grew up on the genre. From the Universal Monsters of the ‘30s through the slasher villains of the ‘80s, every generation has its own monstrous modern myths to follow through film after film, appearance after appearance and, well, merchandising opportunity after merchandising opportunity. But who are the icons of the next generation? Who are the villains (and heroes too) of the most recent decade? Who would one want to cosplay as, own toys of them, or watch their further adventures? With the 2010s over, here’s who I think are the newest icons that horror has to offer…
Three games from 2019 that produced indelible, immersive, and incredibly engaging cinematic experiences that can be enjoyed by many.
There is no place in the cinematic universe where the absurd is more celebrated more than in genre cinema. The best way to describe these films, while paying them the utmost respect, is to simply refer to them as irreverent. Beyond explanation, and sometimes beyond comprehension, a brilliant irreverent film will make you laugh, gross you out, leave you feeling disturb—or all of the above. Personally, these are my favorite type of movies to enjoy. This got me thinking what would I consider to be the top 10 irreverent films created during the past decade. Without dwelling on it too long, here are my thoughts on this topic.
When Sony’s Blu-ray format defeated HD-DVD in the High Definition Disc War of 2005-2007, the major studios and small upstart labels jumped aboard. Streaming technology improved by the end of that decade, promptly killing off nearly all the video stores (thanks a lot, Netflix), separating the physical-media posers from the cinephiles. The past decade has seen a proliferation of boutique labels from all over the world putting out fantastic Blu-ray releases, so it’s a great time to go region free.
There have been many notable genre Blu-ray releases from the studios and boutiques alike and here are some releases from the previous decade that deserve attention. I remain ever hopeful that as streaming becomes increasingly dominant, younger generations will turn to Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray the way that vinyl has been re-invigorated!
In 2019 I watched over a thousand movies, more than half of those were crime films and I watched as many new and recent ones as I could, but I still feel entirely unqualified to declare these the best because there are so many blind spots still. But, off the top of my head, I still have not seen: ADORATION, ASH IS PUREST WHITE, BIRDS OF PASSAGE, A BLUEBIRD IN MY HEART, COME TO DADDY, CROWN & ANCHOR, CROWN VIC, DOGMAN, FIRST LOVE, THE GANGSTER THE COP THE DEVIL, INTO ASHES, KNIFE + HEART, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, THE NIGHTINGALE, TALL TALES, THEM THAT FOLLOW, VILLAINS, WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE, and WILD GOOSE LAKE—all of which I’d give a sporting chance to have made this list.
Some of the flicks listed are not official 2019 releases, but they are very recent and I only got to them in 2019. Also worth noting that I’m not ranking them, only listing my ten favorites in alphabetical order.
At this point in cinema’s history, the Score (as opposed to the Soundtrack) is more or less taken for granted. The average moviegoer doesn’t necessarily notice a movie’s score, but if that score were to be removed, they’d realize right away something was amiss. Thanks to the last few decades of film score preservation and presentation, however, the score has begun to receive its due as a piece of work both part of the larger film it was written for as well as one all by itself. Below are some of the scores that not only accompanied some great films of 2019, but managed to transcend them as well.
Genre films have really made a mark in the cinematic scene in 2019. Some of the greatest had a wide release and deserve all the praise they are getting. JOJO RABBIT, PARASITE, and US are my top three movies of 2019, but most cinephiles have seen those, as they rightfully should. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about my favorite lesser known indie genre films of 2019.
The past decade produced so many terrific, underappreciated horror movies that one list couldn’t contain them all. Here’s the second round of overlooked or unsung films whose reputations should flourish in the coming years.
(Click here for Part 1)
Despite a looping structure supplied by a plot that sends its protagonist on a drug trip that involves hallucinogenic freak-outs and time travel, THE WAVE is really a simple morality tale with a basic lesson about the consequences of our decisions. While I normally tend to bristle at films that…
As near as I can tell, the events depicted in GG’s new book, Constantly (her last for Koyama Press and officially the first great comic bearing a 2020 copyright date) all take place within the confines of the apartment or house occupied by its nameless protagonist, but in a less literal…
Horror is the most indominable of genres. Save for a brief post-war stretch in the ’40s, it’s been a constant force in film since the medium’s inception. During that time, it’s contorted and shifted with audiences’ whims and socio-political anxieties, and has yielded scores of genuine masterpieces for over 100 years. However, that prodigious output has also produced plenty of films that lurk just below that threshold, just waiting to be reevaluated in later years and ascend to that level. The past decade was no different, turning out many movies that rightfully garnered sustained praise: THE BABADOOK, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, THE CONJURING, GET OUT, HEREDITARY, IT FOLLOWS, THE INVITATION, THE WITCH, YOU’RE NEXT, etc. You get the picture because it’s been painted with plenty of effusive praise for those films. We’re not here to talk about them.
But what about those titles that were caught in this long shadow and somewhat lost in the shuffle? I’m hesitant to use the word “underrated” to describe these efforts, especially since many of them were critically praised upon release (with some even playing in competition at Cannes). However, it still feels like even those movies have somewhat receded in our cultural memory and deserve some more love.
I use the term “Top” instead of “Best” or “Favorites” for very specific reasons. I don’t use “Favorites” because there are plenty of wholly unpleasant films that make me feel awful that are artistically incredible, but I would never say they are my favorite as that word has a pleasant connotation of something that brings me joy. And while I am happy and grateful those types of films exist, I would never say sitting through them is a joyful experience. With “Best,” that suggests being able to see a wide swath of possible movies (more than I ever could), and being able to discern which have technical innovations and intelligent thematic approaches that will resonate for decades to come.
2019 was one of the best years for horror in recent memory. There was so much experimentation in medium, form, and content that I could go on for hours discussing it. Alas, It’s time to move into the new year of 2020 and all the spooky content it will hold. But first, here is my top ten releases in horror media for 2019 (in no particular order).
Vampires have earned themselves a bad reputation in recent years. No, it’s not because of the bloodsucking and murder. It’s because people don’t think their movies are any good. While there are quite a few subpar vampire films out there—I mean what genre doesn’t have some duds—the last decade was a vampire renaissance. Vampires became more than just scary or sexy, but a beautiful combination of the two. They became more complicated, funny, strange, and endearing. The last decade even showed that adaptations and reboots of vampire stories can be just as impactful, fun, and beautiful as the original films. These are the eight best vampire movies of 2010-2019.
For a very brief moment in time—as in about two years—the incredibly popular sub-genres of aquatic horror and exploitation based off 1979’s ALIEN collided. 1989 saw the release of THE ABYSS, DEEPSTAR SIX, and LEVIATHAN—with THE RIFT (aka ENDLESS DESCENT) coming out in 1990—and all featured an isolated crew in the unforgiving depths of the ocean encountering creatures and various personnel disasters. It was an extremely confusing time at the video store when they all came out, but it did lead to two out-and-out great popcorn movies and two lesser titles that have some fun monster stuff in them. UNDERWATER is less a descendant of those films than it is a repurposing of the same premise that directly channels (and visually references) ALIEN as much as possible. Directed by William Eubank and written by Brian Duffield & Adam Cozad, UNDERWATER has multiple impressive assets and strong sequences, but is so inconsistent with decisions around style and execution that it waters down a lot of its promise.
Nicolas Cage appeared in two massive action epics in 1997. One of them was helmed by one of the greatest action directors who has ever lived, and the other was directed by Simon West. CON AIR has many champions and I am one of them, but it isn’t exactly…
As 2020 begins, do you have any resolutions that are related to any topics we cover here on Daily Grindhouse? Maybe watch more films from a certain country or time period. Or learn more about a particular filmmaker. Perhaps study certain technical aspects of filmmaking or F/X. Or dive into a TV show, read a specific book series, log in to Letterboxd more, track down some VHS or poster, etc. Do you have any genre/film/pop culture related New Year’s Resolutions for 2020? And if so, what are they?
I’ve been a musical theatre geek for a very long time and, in meeting my wife, found someone who appreciate actors treading the boards and belting out some of the greatest tunes penned by songsmiths. During our marriage we’ve seen some of the greatest hits that 42nd Street and its accompanying district has to offer (albeit mostly in Texas as we live in the Lone Star State). Still, we’ve run the gamut from shows like The Book of Mormon, Once (which is probably my favorite musical – and one of my favorite movies), Rent, and Dear Evan Hansen – all shows we consumed hungrily with a twinkle in our eyes. And once we had children (Millie and Orin), we naturally shared our love of musicals with them and they’ve fallen madly in love with the spirited singing of some of the biggest shows out there. I finally got to see my first musical on Broadway, Hamilton, with them at the Richard Rogers Theatre during my first sojourn to the Big Apple (because our kids can recite it chapter and verse). A little while later, once the Beetlejuice: The Musical, The Musical, The Musical’s soundtrack released digitally, we devoured it. Listened to it non-stop, to the point where my daughter, Millie, can joyfully sing “Dead Mom” right along with original cast member Sophia Anne Caruso and have a blast on the back and forth bantering that accompanies the thunderous crooning in one of the best songs in the show, “Say My Name.”
Must be a Broadway kind of day. That line will make sense in a few hours when something else posts. Is it great? No. But does it work? Mostly. And that’s the vibe of January 2!
Technically a new year, but still part of the same work week; a weird mix of some people having the day off, some people having to work; no longer attached to the thrill of New Year’s Eve, nor the dreaded hangover of New Year’s Day…but both will remain the majority of small talk you’ll endure. January 2nd is a liminal state, where the name of the game is just getting through it without messing up too badly.
I’m not a theater guy, so I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “The Designated Mourner,” which I have been seeing a lot lately. I just saw it used as a headline for a political article at the New York Review Of Books, but which was most famously…
In this series, we’re covering plenty of movies where New Year’s Eve marks the time where a lot of drama happens and, often, a bunch of people die. This is all fine and dandy, but how about a New Year’s Eve movie with maximum drama, where everybody dies? Like, not just the people in the movie, but literally everybody on the planet, at least potentially? NEW YEAR’S EVIL may cross a few time zones in order to get to the killing, but ONE NIGHT STAND basically ends time completely.
From December 26th through December 31st, Daily Grindhouse is celebrating the rapid approach of 2020 with a look at films taking place during New Year’s Eve. So read on about some of our favorite movies that ring in January 1st with… Pinky Tuscadero never quite had to deal with a…