This list was a little easier than the one about movies that should die. The only tough part here was trimming it down to ten. One major difference between the two lists is that I am going to step up and list my favorites in order of preference. Any time I am writing something like this I use a simple “would I rather” system; as in, “Would I rather watch Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie or Citizen Kane?” Obviously, GPK moves further up the list.
These are all movies that I can watch again and again. If I come across them while channel surfing – or guide surfing or whatever – I will almost always get up and put the DVD in to watch it. These all came from a larger list that was generated off the top of my head – not from staring at my library.
I am not including multiple entries from one series or creator. This kept the other article from devolving into an all-out assault on Doctor Uwe Boll (not that that would be uncalled for, it just wasn’t my goal) and will prevent this one from being all movies from John Carpenter and Lucas and Spielberg.
10 – American Pie (1999)
Is it wrong that my favorite teen comedy came out a few years after I was done being a teenager? Yeah, all the John Hughes stuff is great, but that was mostly before my generation was old enough to appreciate it. They stayed with us through the years, but I think we all knew that they weren’t really “our” movies. We weren’t in high school in the eighties, so things were just different enough that it was more like watching a story than watching your life. The nineties really didn’t produce a whole lot of teen comedy (I can’t even think of a high school movie that came out while I was in high school). But then along came American Pie. It was much closer to my sensibilities than the eighties stuff, despite being as far after my graduation from high school as most of the lauded Hughes movies were before my arrival. Not that I ever fucked a pie. If anybody can think of any teen comedies that came out between ’91 and ’94 feel free to post ‘em. Dazed and Confused doesn’t count. I’m pretty sure none of us were in high school in the seventies.
9 – RoboCop (1987)
The first time I saw Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi gorefest my head almost exploded like Murphy’s right hand. It premiered on HBO on a Saturday night (remember when that was a big deal?); and it was on early enough that I had to be careful about my parents hearing it – twelve-year-olds don’t need to be watching that shit, right? The second time I watched RoboCop, I was recording it on VHS. I watched that tape every single day when I got home from school for at least a couple of weeks. That was the only copy I had until Criterion released their edition several years ago, and that is still the best version in my opinion. This was a major gateway movie for me. Verhoeven led to Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man. Peter Weller was already a favorite because of Buckaroo Banzai, but went on to star in Leviathan and Naked Lunch. Not to mention the freakin’ awesome Kurtwood Smith as dickhead Clarence Boddicker and Ronny Cox as mega-asshole supreme Dick Jones (Cox would go on to work with Verhoeven again on Total Recall and even played the President of the United States of America in 1990’s unbelievable Captain America!). I follow both of those guys careers to this day. Go Robo!
8 – Star Trek (2009)
I almost hesitated to put something so recent on here, but if I’m being honest this is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I literally cannot find a single flaw in it. I have watched it more times in the short time since its release than anything else in the past few years. I really just can’t get enough of it.
7 – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
I wasn’t too excited about this movie when I first heard about the concept. How the hell could Will Ferrell as a seventies anchorman really be all that good? Once I saw the trailer I was a little more on board, but nothing could have prepared me for the ridiculous madness that I would behold when me and the guys went to see this one on opening night. One of my buddies was insisting that Anchorman was going to be one of the funniest movies ever, so we were there to see it. I still don’t know how he came to that conclusion based on the information available beforehand, but he was right. I also don’t know what it is that is so entertaining about characters that are just barely functional, but Anchorman is full of them. There is nothing predictable about this movie – from jazz flute to news team gang warfare to Sex Panther; you really just don’t see any of it coming. This is probably the funniest cast ever assembled and I honestly don’t see a funnier movie happening any time soon.
6 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
It was no problem at all to put the fourth Indy movie on the shit list, but it was extremely difficult to decide which of the first three to put on this one. I have long maintained that Temple of Doom is my favorite, but when it comes right down to it, I think I’d rather watch Last Crusade. Temple is awesome, but Crusade has all the old characters plus Connery, a boat chase, a tank chase and a hot actress whose last name is “Doody”. Heh. All of that, and it is awesome, too. As entertaining as it was too see Indy beating up Thugee cultists, if Inlgorious Basterds taught us anything it’s that things really just don’t get any better than some good old-fashioned Nazi abuse. Crusade also just feels like an epic fucking movie. It takes place all over the world and really feels like it, unlike some other Indy movies I could name that rhyme with Flingdom of the Pistol Null. Doody.
5 – The Big Lebowski (1998)
I love the Coen brothers. From Crimewave on, there is not a movie they have made that I have not liked. I think that The Ladykillers is their worst and it is still pretty good. Most of the Coen movies are at the least awesome, but The Big Lebowski is the cream of the crop. Every second of the movie is important and interesting and full of detail. Every time I watch it, I find something new to love about it. I honestly can’t imagine the sort of person who wouldn’t like this movie.
4 – The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Rob Zombie is probably my favorite creative-type person in the world. I love his music, I love his movies and he has made comic books. I followed along through the whole agonizing process of House of 1000 Corpses being made and released. I bought the White Zombie collection, even though it is a poor excuse for a box set and consists of two albums I already had and an awful lot of near unlistenable sludge rock (there is a decent amount of good stuff I didn’t have, as well). I follow Zombie’s current projects as closely as a casual internet user can, and was appropriately shocked by his decision to leave Geffen and go to – of all places – Roadrunner. I wanted to get all of that out so that I could say this: I honestly believe, to the depths of my soul, that I would love this movie even if Zombie hadn’t made it. I also believe that it might have been taken more seriously by a lot of people if his name wasn’t on it. But you know what? Fuck those people. Those are exactly the kind of dismissive snobs that I think are ruining happy, good-time media. Granted, The Devil’s Rejects is anything but happy good times, but you know what I mean. This film is a sick masterpiece. The psychology of the Firefly family is so much more interesting than any standard slasher fare, and witnessing the horrible things they are capable of is a difficult experience, particularly when they are so compelling and, well, cool. Everybody cheers for the killers in movies now without even thinking about it. Generally, the rest of the cast is an assortment of annoying throwaway stereotypes just asking to be brutally murdered. The Devil’s Rejects takes its’ cool, rock-star killers and makes you question whether you really want to like them or not. I didn’t realize just how fucked up this movie was until I showed it to my buddies Angry Matt and Carlos. Sometimes you need the reactions of other people to sort of gauge things. Angry Matt is a hardcore horror guy and Carlos has seen a thing or two, but they were both kind of bothered by it. Nice one, Rob. We even named our boxer after Otis. Thankfully he is much more even-tempered than his namesake.
3 – Army of Darkness (1993)
When I started making this list I was positive Army of Darkness would be my number one. It was the very first title I wrote down. I have the movie poster tattooed on my leg. I have spent years claiming that it is my favorite movie and – who knows? – on a different day it might be. But today it is number three. If you are reading this, there is a better than middling chance you’ve seen the movie. Honestly, this should be the standard of a place called For The Retarded (a site that kindly posts my stuff) because this movie is, without a doubt, retarded. But it is the most face-suckingly, chainsaw-handingly, flying-demony, tiny-little-person-stabbing-your-foot-with-a-forkingly awesomely retarded movie ever made. Army of Darkness is pure madness from beginning to end. There is no way anything that happens in this movie should be acceptable to the human brain, but that endearing jackass with the giant chin is just so fucking charming you can’t help but go along for the ride.
2 – Star Wars Episode V: Return of the Jedi (1983)
I actually saw the Original Trilogy in the theaters as they came out. I don’t remember the first two because I was one and four, but I vividly remember my dad taking me to see Jedi. That’s why it is my favorite. A New Hope may be more exciting and Empire may be the best of all of them, but I didn’t get a ton of time with just me and Dad when I was young; so the few movies we went to see together really stand out. That’s why I frequently have trouble making fun of Top Gun for being so gay. Okay, well; not that much trouble. That movie is really fucking gay. Really, Jedi is nothing to sneeze at. There is all kinds of awesome stuff we got from Jedi – as a matter of fact, I’m going to do a whole other post about it.
1 – Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
This one was not even in the first ten movies that I wrote down, but once I thought about it I couldn’t believe it wasn’t. Sometimes I get this weird mental block about John Carpenter. I blame Ghosts of Mars. If Army of Darkness is pure madness from beginning to end, then Big Trouble in Little China is clurverburruptilla. I’m sorry. There just aren’t words to convey how crazy this movie is and how it shouldn’t work but does. I’ve seen Japanese flicks that aren’t this ballsy and cartoons that aren’t this outlandish. I don’t understand how Big Trouble in Little China never got a sequel. Speaking of cartoons, how awesome would The Mighty Conquests of Jack Burton be (I just made that up off the top of my head)? I don’t think you could come up with a situation that Jack Burton couldn’t be thrown into (apparently Top Cow is doing a comic book - I hope it isn’t just an adaptation). Kurt Russell is awesome and the supporting cast of mostly Chinese actors is tremendous. Also, you get Kim Cattrall from before she was a dried-up old skag on a show about talking vaginas. This is a spectacular adventure movie from when movies didn’t need to make a social commentary or “mean something”. They could just be fun. I’m really fucking pissed at myself for not buying the action figures that came out a few years ago.
And there you go. I’m really proud of myself for being correct about the release year of every movie up there before verifying it. This list actually ended up being just as much of a pain in the ass as the “Movies I Hate” one. It is exceedingly difficult to write about something you love and feel strongly about without just saying how awesome everything is. Which I kind of did anyway. If you’re interested, here’s the original list of twenty-five movies that I pared down to ten, in the order that they occurred to me:
Army of Darkness
Evil Dead 2
Big Trouble in Little China
Batman – ‘89
Creature From the Black Lagoon
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
Until next time, stay creepy