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Jan 3, 2012

Welcome...to 2012. No, not the Roland Emmerich disaster movie, the real 2012. Perhaps we'll live to see 2013...who knows, who cares.

So with an old year gone and a new year starting, it can mean only one thing - END OF YEAR MOVIE LISTS. Of course I will post my top movies released in 2011 soon (still have about 3 that I need to see before making it official. In fact, I don't even think I posted one last year - FOR SHAME). But my good friend over at RUPERT PUPKIN SPEAKS, who is the king of coming up with topics for movie lists has this idea for "top older films seen for the first time during 2011". This makes sense to me as watching all new movies would just be...boring.

Thanks to Netflix and TCM (although I cut down my cable to basic and no longer have TCM - which I may change back soon) and a myriad of catalog Blu-Ray made this a decent year for seeing movies. I feel 2012 is going to be even better.

I also am hoping to find the time to post a top movies re-visited list in 2011, and a year in soundtracks, but in the meantime, here is my list of top older films that I was introduced to in 2011.




CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA (1961)

TCM had this great month of Z-Grade drive-in monster movie programming, and many of those titles made this list. This one in particular though really caught my attention. It was just so bad it was great! Directed by none other than legendary B-filmmaker Roger Corman, this movie had a dry wit about it and never attempted to hide the fact that it is just bad bad bad. The narration alone is worth the price of admission. It just has to be seen to be believed. And check out the monster itself in this delightful still from the film.




Ok now I KNOW I have you hooked. Plot is that a gangster plans to take advantage of a revolution to steal some gold, kill off his inept (understatement) crew and blame it on a made-up sea monster. Trouble is, the sea monster is real. Oh and there is an undercover government agent on board trying to sort the whole mess out - and that agent is played by Robert Towne. YES, that Robert Towne, the one who wrote CHINATOWN among others. If that doesn't sell you, I don't know what will.




VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS (1965)

Ok this one is just priceless. Also part of the TCM programming, this is a blatant "raging teenage hormone" movie to the extreme.

A VERY young Ron Howard creates a potion that makes things grow large. A bunch of delinquent teens - led by Beau Bridges - ends up digesting it, they grow to be giants and pretty much hold the town hostage. Imagine giant, horny teenagers running rampant. So it's up to good boy Tommy Kirk to liberate the town from these nasty giant teens.



Best part of the movie is when the Giants first appear at a teen beach party, start dancing, and one of the giant girls picks up a boy and essentially shoves him into her breasts as she dances. If you don't believe me take a look at the still just above this paragraph.

This was pure 60s corn all the way - with a great musical score.



IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958)

So there's the space mission to Mars (takes place in the "future" year of 1973) and a rescue team comes across the ship to find all the crew members murdered but one. He gets the blame for the deaths, but states a monster killed the crew.

They don't believe him, at first, that is until that same monster starts killing their crew making it obvious the survivor is telling the truth.

This could have been a very cheesy movie, but instead had some tense moments and the monster was pretty scary instead of looking cheap and unbelievable.



THE H-MAN (1958)

Tokyo never really gets much of a break. If it isn't Godzilla attacking, it's radioactive creatures created from Atomic bomb testing that turn dissolve people upon touching them. As usual, takes a while for the police to figure it out and when they do, they hunt the creatures down in - where else - the city sewer system.

For the outlandish plot, this was also a fairly decently made movie, that while it never takes itself seriously, comes off as being much better than it should be.



QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958)

Great thing about this movie is that right after reading this write up, you can go to the awesome disc-on-demand WARNER ARCHIVE service and order a copy..right...now.

Typical male fantasy sci-fi movie. Male astronauts end up on Venus to find it inhabited only by angry (and beautiful) females who take them captive. The planet is run by an evil Queen who has designs on the captain of the mission (although he falls for Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is on their side) who wants to destroy earth. It seems all the men on Venus died in a recent revolt which left the Queen's face scarred (which she hides under a beautiful mask) which even our hero yet very shallow captain can't accept.




The astronauts and Venusian beauties start to hook up and make out, and in between smooching, overthrow the evil queen. Oh and funny how on a planet of amazon women, they all wear sexy mini-skirts. Who knew!



CABIN IN THE SKY (1943)

Eddie Rochester is a gambler who gets shot over a debt, and on his death bed is made an offer by both heaven and hell to either atone for his past sins and go to heaven, or end up in hell.

He has this wife who is the most honest and clean-living woman imaginable - with the name Petunia, and Eddie's conscience is torn between her and falling back into his old bad habits of gambling and loose women.

The all-African American cast in a movie from the 40s, great musical numbers and very edgy story with some interesting and very surreal moments make this a great watch.




NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940)

Great WWII thriller has a scientist and his daughter being rescued by a British officer (Rex Harrison) from the Nazi's who want him working on their side.

Great nail-biter with a fun ending involving a mountain cable car was directed by Carol Reed who had a great list of credits during his very prolific career including THE FALLEN IDOL, ODD MAN OUT, Academy Award winner OLIVER, OUR MAN IN HAVANA and of course the legendary THE THIRD MAN.




PERSONAL PROPERTY (1937)

I have this habit of reading Hollywood bios, then watching as many films from the individual's career as I possibly can before moving onto the next bio. 2011 saw me read a Jean Harlow bio which led me to this gem of a comedy.

Robert Taylor returns to his stuffy upper-class family after a scrape with the law, and they throw him out on his own. His brother in particular really dislikes him. He comes across Jean Harlow who has her own problems (main one being she is deep in debt) and Taylor is asked by a sheriff to watch her until the debt is paid off.

Harlow of course wants nothing to do with him (and he is of course making an extreme play for her) but ends up having him impersonate her butler for a dinner party for her fiance's family which is - you guessed it - his family and his jerk of a brother is the fiance. Comedy ensues.

Harlow may have looked like a dumb blonde (with a body to die for), but most of her movies revealed a clever wit and spark that made her a better than average actress. This is one of those movies where she really shines beyond the whole "sexpot" or "bimbo" persona.
REPULSION (1965)

Very atmospheric and economical Roman Polanski movie which has a young woman alone in her apartment basically going nuts. Polanski at his finest!



THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973)

Peter Yates directed this down and dirty 1970s noir about a con (Robert Mitchum) on the verge of going back to jail, informing on the mob to the police to keep himself from ending up back in the slammer.

A clever thriller that is worth repeat viewings and should be a part of any serious movie-lover's collection.




Z (1969)

This is one of those movies that I have been meaning to watch for ages, and I FINALLY got around to it in 2011.

Great dramatic thriller directed by Costa-Gavras filled with political corruption and plenty of twists and turns. Intriguing enough to inspire me to watch it twice within a period of 3 days. Why it took me so long, I have no idea.

Ok, that's it. Bring on 2012!