#30: “Victory is the same as defeat. It’s giving in to destructive competitive urges.”



#30: Shallow Grave — dir. Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is the Ween of cinema.  You could line up five of his films and be stunned that these were all by the same artist, and yet still, inherently know that of course these are by the same artist.  He seems to flout genre.  So it is his first that is my favorite.  But that’s to say, I just need to mostly sh0ut Danny Boyle as my answer.  Trainspotting is outstanding, but I don’t want to watch it again.  Slumdog Millionaire was a fantastic film.  Sunshine and Millions I still can’t believe are Danny Boyle films and yet.

Shallow Grave.  It introduced us twenty years ago to three relatively huge stars: Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccelston, and Ewan McGregor.  But aside from that, again, snappy poppy dialogue and snark, coupled with a staggering mystery plot.  This is the film that will teach you — you can take your characters and put them through any situation as long as you stay true to those characters.  And it does.  The conflict and stakes are ridiculously high.  And yet, it’s about watching David unravel.  Then it’s about watching Juliet unravel.  Then its about Alex’s paranoia. We get into the shredding minds of these — honestly, wretched — individuals.  They are terrible bastards.  They are really awful people, and not in the obvious sense of puppy-kicking, moustache twirling train-track-tiers.  If cyberbullying existed in that world, all three of them would have had a fatality or two under their belts.

But this was the emergence of greatness.  A simple film, done well, and heralding the coming of some outstanding talent.


#31: ” Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage!”

clue beetlejuice

#31: (tie) Clue — dir. Jonathan Lynn / Beetlejuice — dir. Tim Burton

Yeah, I know, I’m cheating.  Look, the thing is, in doing something like this, you’re gonna forget stuff.  It’s just, it’s like, oh son of a bitch, I meant to include… I mean, my favorite horror movie, Candyman, didn’t even make the cut.  And as I was going along, I would suddenly recall something and think, oh fuck, that needs to go on here, and it needs to go up to…  And it’s not like I could retroactively go back and drop what I already posted.  So, there’s gonna be three double ups.  Truth be told, there should probably be more.  But fuck it.  On with the whys.

If I have to explain why I love Clue, I’m sorry for you.  It’s perhaps the most quotable of the quotables.  It’s got a monster cast, and it’s proven that yes, you can take a board game and make it filmmable if you do it correctly.  You can do something crass and commercial and fucking nail it if you actually write a film.  And goddamn, this film.  Clue bounced from #4, to #40, to #14, to here.  And I still regret it, because it should truthfully be higher.  It’s not a great film.  But goddamn is it eminently watchable.  And re-watchable.  And then rewatchable again.

As for Beetlejuice.  Yes, it’s my favorite Tim Burton movie.  Though, I love Edward Scissorhands, and Sweeney Todd (kinda).  And his Batman.  I dig Tim Burton.  I too shopped at Hot Topic a lot.  It’s okay.  We like him because he’s good.  And thankfully, he didn’t direct Nightmare Before Christmas, otherwise, yeah, this is out.  But it’s got the magical combination of his original muse, Winona Ryder, along with who I wish was still his muse, Michael Keaton — who is still the best Batman.  I WILL ACCEPT NO ARGUMENT ON THIS POINT.  Again, the cast is what does it for me.  It’s a creepy as fuck concept, and dark…so goddamn dark.  It’s still a goofy lighthearted film, but at it’s core, it’s got some horrific, horrific messages.  Keaton’s Beetlejuice is epic.  Freddy Krueger epic.  Just a terrorizing, disgusting, meanspirited bastard.  And this was Tim Burton before he became a brand name.  And while I love Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, c’mon, man.

#32: “I’m gonna make Gretzky’s head bleed for Superfan 99 over here.”


#32: Swingers — dir. Doug Liman

Look, I know.  And I’m sorry for you.  I’m sorry that dudebros couldn’t stop calling each other “money” and “baby” for years following the release of this film.  I’m sorry that everyone got bowling shirts and wallet chains and that we resurrected the swing music movement.  I’m sorry that I personally did all of those things.

But this fucking movie, man.  I cannot understate how much this movie meant to me.  Aside from the infinite quotability, aside from the becoming a cult movie, aside from the slang and the attitude and all of that.  It was Jon Favreau.  Jon Favreau wrote this, and then starred in it, and boosted himself from background/bit time to big time.  Motherfucker’s directing the Avengers now.  And this was Vince Vaughn when Vince Vaughn was the man behind Vince Vaughn.  If Kevin Smith gave us Ben Affleck, Favreau gave us Vaughn.  And we welcomed him.

But it’s not even that.  It’s that this — THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP.  I mean, this film is fucking Rob’s speech to Mikey.  This film is Ron Livingston.  This film is an inside out love story, and it’s so beautiful.  This film is Guy Loses Girl. Guy Pines for Girl.  Guy Fucking Gets Over It.  Sure, he ends up with Consolation Prize Heather Graham.  But that’s so not the point.  The point is that he’s over her.  This film encapsulates the terrible bullshit of dating and having a stupid friend give you shit, and how friends will get your back.  Yeah, you’re money, baby, and VEGAS, but it’s more Ron Livingston bringing him salami and orange juice while he’s holed up in his house like a train wreck.  That’s the part of this film.

And now I have to fucking listen to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy again.

#33: “Well, ‘ere, lads, you’ve discovered a species hitherto unknown to science, quite possibly non-terrestrial in origin, and you kicked its fuckin’ head in!”



#33: Attack the Block — dir. Joe Cornish

I remember watching this at SXSW and just being blown the hell away.  The stylistic mannerisms of the character’s speech, the humor mixed effortlessly with the horror, and of course, the fucking character design.  Those fucking alien wolf gorilla looking motherfuckers.  They really are phenomenal on the big screen.

Joe Cornish is getting there.  I mean, he also happened to pen a film I thought I would fucking loathe, and turned out to be one of my favorite Spielberg films in a while: The Adventures of Tintin.  I watched the entire four minute fleeing sequence, and I literally screamed out, “WHY CAN’T YOU INDIANA JONES 4 THAT SPIELBERG!!!11!”  It filled me with a complex nougat of rage and bliss.  Like candy coated fury.

And if you want to know why everyone is clapping about John Boyega being in the next Star Wars, watch this film.  In fact, just watch this goddamn film.  It’s one of the best damn alien films to come out in this decade, if not this century (so far).  It’s such a simple premise and yet devastatingly well put together.  And it’s a hell of a romp.

#34: “When you’re in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That’s a real revenge. A real complete revenge.”


#34: Akmareul boatda (I Saw The Devil) — dir. Kim Jee-Woon

I thought Park Chan-Woon would make this list, with Oldboy or Thirst or even my first introduction to him which would have been a lovely cheat, Three…Extremes.  Instead, I ended up with a director from the second set: 3 Extremes II.  I first discovered Kim Jee-Woon when I saw The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, a neo-western like Django where it’s hyperstylized.  I’m kind of weirdly a sucker for that genre.  Anyway, I thought he was a pretty interesting filmmaker and one to watch out for.

Then he released I Saw The Devil.

Holy shit.  Holy, holy shit.  It’s this insane revenge film, where a serial killer murders a cop’s wife.  So the cop decides to take his vengeance out by stalking the serial killer and beating the shit out of him every time he tries to commit another crime.  Killing him would be easy.  Instead, he tortures him.  It’s hellacious, it’s nasty and funny, and it’s brutal.   And the cop tells him that’s what he’s doing.  That’s what’s so much worse.  I will never let you commit a crime.  The thing you love to do, that you so callously do, I will stop you forever.  And I will fuck you up if you try to break the rules.

I fear the day Americans remake it, because OF COURSE THEY WILL.  But it’s so perfect and dark as it stands.  If you’ve never ventured into Asian horror — do so.  Most of the horror movies of the past decade have been foreign remakes.

#35: “Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.”


#35: Heathers — dir. Michael Lehmann

I love this black comedy as much as I love my dead gay son.  I can’t possibly overplay the amount of influence this film has had on my own writing.  I love black comedy, where you take a mirror and laugh at the ugliest parts of society.  Holy Christ, does this film have it in spades.  And when you rewatch it, you remember how eminently quotable it is.

Since society’s gotta more horrific — with school shootings and Slenderman stabbings — you won’t get to see something this dark and cruel anymore.  Mean Girls was Heathers sans the homicide.  And that’s a shame.  There’s a commentary to be made about how wretched and deplorable our culture has become.  This movie would be found footage nowadays — shot entirely in selfies and Vines featuring bitchy bullies cyber crushing hearts.


#36: ” I can pick anyone I choose. And I choose… Ben Richards. That boy is one mean motherfucker.”

running man

#36: The Running Man — dir. Paul Michael Glaser

“Who loves you and who do you love?!”  There’s so many reasons to love this film, beyond just the groan-out-loud one-liners and epic script by Steven de Souza — my spiritual beast of guidance through screenwriter land.

1. It’s a Stephen King story.  I always laugh when people say, “Oh, I don’t like Stephen King.  I’ve never watched any of his stuff.”  And I said, “Did you like Stand by Me?  Did you like Shawshank Redemption?  Then, you, my friend, have embraced Stephen King.”  And that’s from his actual works — both from Different Seasons — which is the book I give highly recommend to anyone who is looking to get into Stephen King but doesn’t know where to start.  But Running Man comes from his oeuvre as Richard Bachman.  The Running Man is probably the least of his Bachman books, and yet, made for a great film (we’ll touch on that in a sec).  And I long for the days if/when Rage, The Long Walk or any of his others make it to screen.  Though, Rage will never happen, and you’ll be hard pressed to find it available anymore.  It’s an astonishingly well done school shooting story.

2. It’s an adaptation that’s nowhere near the source material.  I’m usually the first to bitch and moan when they leave things out of the film version of books.  I understand, different medium, blah blah.  But if they have the blueprints in front and they choose to build a shitty addition instead of what’s right in fucking front of them, I’m angry.  I’ve appreciated the changes they’ve made to The Walking Dead while keeping the spirit of the story.  Dexter is another example where they pretty much kept one bit and threw out everything else.  But with The Running Man it could not be more different.  The book is basically same concept — a game show where a prisoner runs for his life while being hunted.  Only there are no gladiators.  He runs through the city, and people can call in sightings for prizes.  The book ends very drastically different, and if they aren’t going to do Rage because of school shootings, well, they’d never do the original version because of 9/11.  Also, Killian is black.  Which really changes the story.

3. Killian.  All the performances are great in this film.  But particularly, Richard Dawson.  Knowing him mostly from his Family Feud days, it’s super hard to remember that he started out as an accomplished actor.  And his version of Killian is his Dawson host brought to sinister scales.  It’d be like Alex Trebek becoming a Bond villain.  It’s awesome on several levels.

I really could watch this every time it’s on, kind of like From Dusk til Dawn.  It’s just popcorn nostalgia terribleness, and I love every moment of it.