Exquisites 2011: Films Of The Year

Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, I went to a party in Hollywood. I was introduced to a guy who “made movies” because “you like movies too, and it would be good to meet people like him.” We shook hands. I introduced myself. In one fell swoop, he said:

“Hey, what’s up? I’m David. Did anyone tell you about my film? It might be airing on IFC this month. It’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

I thanked him, escaped into the bathroom, and realized that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time for more reasons than one.

A few months later, I took in a screening of Playtime with some friends. After the film, we went out for dinner and drinks with some other friends. I started talking to someone. She said:

“You’ve got a movie website? What is it? What’s it called?”

“Bleeding Skull. We write about really weird, obscure trash films, and, you know, people sometimes get the wrong idea. So I don’t talk about it much.”

“What? Why?! What kind of films? You mean like Burial Ground?”

“Yeah. That’s exactly right.”

We kept talking. When I got home that night, I realized that I was in the right place at the right time for more reasons than one.

2011 marked the second year that we devoted to working on the Bleeding Skull book. It also marked the second year that I accepted Bleeding Skull for what it is — a source of joy in my life. Sometimes, it gets tough. Sometimes, we get burned out. Sometimes, life kicks the shit out of us. But at the end of the day, we stick together and always return to what makes us happy. And right now, at this moment, I’m happy. I thought I’d let you know. Because the following ten films, the most enjoyable that I watched for the first time this year, had a lot to do with that.

10. Outlaw Motorcycles (Titus Moede, 1966)
Moede Productions, Inc. VHS / Full Review
“Outwardly, Moede’s 30 minute observation on California biker culture feels empty — there’s little emotion to glean. It’s simply a series of narrated montages documenting several biker clubs over the course of a weekend. Until you watch it again. This is personal filmmaking with no intimation of loftier goals.”

09. Killer’s Moon (Alan Birkinshaw, 1978)
Redemption DVD / Full Review
“Viddy I-wasn’t-sure-at-first-but-now-that-I-think-about-it-I’m-feeling-kinda-well, my brothers. If we apply great concentration, we can imagine that Killer’s Moon is a dumber, cheaper, and frumpier UK slasher variant on 1971’s finest aboveground, subversive-art icon. And then, someone says: ‘Look. You were only raped. As long as you don’t tell anyone about, you’ll be alright…'”

08. Thigh Spy (Willam K. Hennigar, 1966)
Something Weird VHS / Full Review
“‘Slice of life’ is an ubiquitous term. My life is not your life. And your life is not my life. And neither one of our lives remotely resembles anything crafted by Carl Reiner or Jean-Luc Godard or H.G. Lewis. We can only go by what we see and hear on the screen, what the movies are telling us, and accept it as a defined sliver of someone else’s reality, however absurd. By the way, when you have sex, do you do it through your underwear?”

07. Murder In A Blue World (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1973)
Pagan Films VHS / Full Review
“Murder would be an unexceptional Spanish exploitation film, if not for the meta-enhanced pilfering of A Clockwork Orange. And that’s the whole point. As a conversation piece, it’s a bizarre pop-culture paradox that incites you to watch…a symphony on the theme of apery. And I think that’s great.”

06. The Grapes Of Death (Jean Rollin, 1978)
Synapse DVD / Full Review
“Per usual, Rollin’s concern with social relevance and emotional dry-heaves is transitory. Like most indelible puns, the film’s title secures its worthiness. Rollin’s bid remains the same. We must trust him. Even when it seems we shouldn’t, we must. Implicitly. Or insipidly. If you understand that, you understand this movie. And the fruits of mutual trust await.”

05. Henry’s Night In (???, 1969)
Something Weird DVD / Full Review
“The Invisible Man and sex. You don’t need much more than that to engage an audience. Job one is to get naked people on the screen. Easy enough. But job two? I’d define it as: ‘Make sure that Casper The Friendly Ghost music plays at all times, especially if it’s decided that the most successful shots are composed from under a steering wheel.’ Invisible sex can be so beautiful.”

04. The Immoral Three (Doris Wishman, 1975)
Something Weird DVD-R / Full Review
“The Immoral Three is the culmination of a dream that I’ve never had, but wish I’d had a thousand times — a Doris Wishman film that also happens to be a direct sequel to a Doris Wishman film, complete with recreated mythology, topical tangents, and a dick-flopping fistfight. Chesty Morgan is dead. Long live Chesty Morgan.”

03. Gunblast (Nick Millard, 19??)
Mogul Video VHS / Full Review
“The most sequential film in a triune most notable for its strange accents, shoot-out absurdities, and FOB (face-on-boobs) super-sexx. In other words, this one has an ending and a character explains the plot to us. Millard oversees a lovely netherworld. It never changes. It just spreads, organically, in 60 minute increments.”

02. Day Of The Reaper (Tim Ritter, 1984)
Sub Rosa VHS / Full Review
“We don’t know why we’re watching this film, or why we’d even want to, but the cumulative dreamlike state that results is undeniably remarkable. It’s the kind of illusory experience that can only be realized by people who don’t know what they’re doing. Or teenagers. Or Andy Warhol. And it’s the type of illusory experience that I could wade through all night.”

01. Stick It In Your Ear (Charles Morgan, 1970)
Something Weird VHS / Full Review
“No matter who you are, there are moments in life when all sense of direction disappears. These moments may originate with tragedy, or simply materialize without rationale. When it hits, you don’t know where to go or what comes next. You don’t care. You just…exist. Until the feeling ends. Or begins. Or ends to begin again. Welcome to the Nouvelle Gauche. Welcome to Stick It In Your Ear.”

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