When the weekend comes, some people grab a light domestic and watch a football game, and some grab a shot of rye and turn on grindhouse cinema until the clock reads 2:00 AM. Here are the Top 10 flicks we are digging right now on Netflix Instant. Hopefully you can find something here to punch your eyeballs with. Here’s to good watching this weekend, SALUTE!
10. GOLDEN NEEDLES (1974)
This is Robert Clause’s follow-up to ENTER THE DRAGON and it’s tough as nails. Joe Don Baker was just coming off a one-two punch of CHARLIE VARRICK and THE OUTFIT (which is probably his best role). Baker is an ex-pat living in Japan and if you know anything, you know ex-pats living anywhere in a kung-fu film are headed for trouble. Baker is one of several bastards fighting for control of an ancient Chinese statue containing seven golden acupuncture needles that make you forever hot to the ladies. Not a bad payoff for sticking yourself.
9. BLOODY MAMA (1970)
Roger Corman knew when to cash-in on a good thing. BONNIE & CLYDE was making gangsters cool again and nothing says cool like Shelly Winters as Ma Baker bellying up to a crime spree. This movie has moments that don’t really work but the pace of the film is fast enough that you are never stuck in one place long enough to really give a shit. Look for Robert De Niro in an early role as a glue-sniffing hood and Bruce Dern as an ex-con.
8. DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY (1974)
Peter Fonda just has a way of making a film cool. He got stuck in a particular style of film and I always thought he was more capable than the material, but this and a few others (RACE WITH THE DEVIL) represent some of his best post-EASY RIDER work. This will add a good 10lbs to your foot when it hits the gas pedal.
7. DEATH RIDES A HORSE (1968)
Full of the violence and gunfights one has come to expect from these flicks, DEATH RIDES A HORSE scores and is easily one of the best Italian westerns produced in the 60s. The plotline was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL epic.
6. HARDWARE (1990)
When I first saw HARDWARE in the theater, it was empty. Two days later, the theater was half full. The next week, it was gone. The production of HARDWARE and the problems the studio had with releasing the film are notorious. Richard Stanley’s stunning debut deserved better. This film is tough as nails. Though the plot is a bit of a mess, the performances, visual style, and intensity of the film take over. I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic films, but I am an even bigger fan of post-apocalyptic films with killer robots and boobs. Lots and lots of boobs.
5. STRAIGHT TIME (1978)
This is one of the missed films of 70’s cinema. Eddie Bunker was a career criminal and wrote a gritty book about living on the wrong side of the law and this is a pretty faithful adaptation. Having trouble placing Bunker’s mug? Check out RESERVOIR DOGS, he’s Mr. Blue. I am not a big fan of Dustin Hoffman but he fucking kills it in this flick as does the great Harry Dean Stanton.
4. ACROSS 110TH STREET (1972)
Yaphet Koto is Lieutenant William Pope who is partnered with racist Captain Frank Mattelli played by Anthony Quinn. The two are tracking down three suspects who killed seven people in the heist of $300,000 from a mafia owned bank. Gritty action and a smart plot plus, you get an early glimpse of the duo that would eventually have a 70’s variety show called KOTO & QUINN’S GIGGLE HOUR. This gets lumped into the blaxpoitation genre which isn’t a bad thing, it’s more of a crime film though.
3. ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA was going to be a western set in Chinatown. Jack Burton was going to be a cowboy that had his horse stolen, forcing him to go on a trek through a mysterious underworld. ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 had a similar origin. John Carpenter wanted to make a western and was always thrilled by the “last stand” finale. Each time though, the budget got the best of him and he had to re-write the script. You could make the argument that it forced him to get creative which in the end, produced a better result. It’s a modern day western that knows when to shut-up and shoot. One of Carpenter’s best.
2. CHARLEY VARRICK (1973)
Time for a Walter Matthau double-feature this weekend bastards! Matthau isn’t the first jerky who comes to mind when you think tough, unless you have seen CHARLEY VARRICK, dude could chew through a glass ashtray in this classic. The same guy who years later settled on safe comedies could be a smart, hard-nosed criminal, always playing one step ahead of the cops and two steps ahead of the mob. Charlie Varrick is a tough and smart film directed with near perfection by the great Don Siegel (DIRTY HARRY, THE KILLERS). The film follows Matthau as he and his hoods score more in a bank than they bargained for. This, like the next film on the list, is in my Top 20. Buckle up.
1. THE TAKING OF PELHAM
ONE, TWO, THREE (1974)
Director Joseph Sargent just finished WHITE LIGHTNING, Robert Shaw just finished THE STING and some T.V. roles, and Walter Matthau was coming off CHARLEY VARRICK and THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN (who oddly never laughs). Together, they teamed up to make a film that that punches you right in the mush with the perfect crime and a little urban paranoia. Every shot in this film is perfect, every actor is flawless. This is brilliant filmmaking. Fuck you Tony Scott.
SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE,
Thanks to Poe for the seven pick and write-up.
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