Exquisites 2013: Annie’s Films Of The Year

I spent a lot of 2013 on a plane, which means I spent a lot of 2013 reading and watching movies and trying not to kill the guy poaching my armrest. Listen, buddy, we each get ONE armrest. I realize we have two arms, but that’s how it works, math is unfair, and while I have you here, please stop shaking your leg. I turn on my laptop and push play. I settle into my seat, tilting it back three inches until the person behind me sighs passive aggressively, as if I’m the only person on the plane tilting their seat back, oh the indignity! Then I relax with my little empty cup, which at one point had water in it, which I drained the second the flight attendant poured it. I turn on a movie and I enjoy life as it was meant to be, in the middle seat of a four-hour flight. Then at some point, the people sitting next to me glance at my screen in horror. And I just look at them and shrug, as if to say, look, they’re just boobs and a knife and a psychopath in a clown mask, don’t act like you’ve never seen this before. And when the rape-through-jeans goes down – and it always does — I realize the ten-year-old next to me will never look at jeans the same way again. There’s not much I can do about that, other than recommend wearing corduroy.

Of course, 2013 was the year of the Bleeding Skull book. It was also the year of my own book. The last 12 months have been packed with road trips, IKEA mattresses, pancakes, a cute cat not named Boris, and an indecent amount of snacks. But in the midst of it all, there were ten gems pulled from the trash-horror gutters. They range from the wholesome to the sleazy, and feature everything from karate-aerobics to bump-and-grind on a motorcycle. Plus, a poodle wearing sunglasses.

Please enjoy often.

10. Ninja: American Warrior (Tommy Cheng aka Godfrey Ho, 1987)
Imperial Entertainment VHS / Full Review
Ninja: American Warrior strikes an entertaining balance between classic ninja badassery and decidedly un-ninja horseshit. Some ninjas fight a lady wearing yellow sweats and red Converse (because when you’re fighting, comfort is king). One ninja uses a smoke bomb to disappear. This is a classic move we expect from a ninja. Another one rubs his hands together and suddenly his fists catch on fire. This is also classic ninja! But then there’s a fight that goes down in a disco to the tune of “In the City” by the Eagles. I can’t think of anything less ninja than the fucking Eagles.”

09. Deadly Trigger (Joe Oakes, 1985)
Marathon Video VHS / Full Review
“The movie unfolds as Ruth and Ann carry out their own Doublemint-flavored justice. They plan a complicated sting (meaning I have no idea what the fuck they’re doing) to catch DeRomeo. This involves a porch swing with too many stripes, a guy who punches through a roof, a near miss with a table saw, and a flashback to a disco performance with at least two key changes. Then there’s the fistfight in a car wash that is not run by half-naked women and a sex scene that’s like watching your dad make out with someone who is not your mother.”

08. Toys are Not for Children (Stanley H. Brassloff, 1972)
Something Weird DVD / Full Review
“This movie has a lot to say: Sex is bad. Sex is joyless. Whoring is not for the innocent, nor is lezzing out. Broken marriages cause broken people and frigid vaginas. If you can’t keep it in the pants, keep it in the family. When you unleash the power of vagina, you must get a short and sassy haircut. If you come across a couple having urgent sex in the woods, go home to your mother and cry.”

07. Dance or Die (Richard W. Munchkin, 1987)
City Lights VHS / Full Review
“If Lita Ford had a baby with Whitesnake’s jeggings, you’d get a song with a searing guitar solo and lyrics like this: “You’re reality is a nightmare, this is what it is, dance or die.” You’d also get people dancing sensually on a motorcycle and a kitchen scale filled with cocaine. In other words, you’d get Dance Or Die.

Warning: This movie contains stage fog. Also dancing.”

06. The Power (Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow, 1984)
Vestron VHS / Full Review
“There are many, many types of power—solar, wind, black, white, to name a few. There’s the power of you, the power of positive thinking, the power to make grown men cry, and the power of Castle Greyskull. There’s also simply, The Power, which is perhaps the most powerful power. It’s not like the soy-based garbage of flower power or the unreliable genius bullshit of brain power. No, The Power is beyond all of that. No other power comes close to The Power. And no other power looks like a Mexican saltshaker.”

05. The Executioner, Part II (James Bryan, 1984)
Continental Home Video VHS / Full Review
The Executioner, Part II has everything you want in a movie: grenades, white spandex, and scenes where two people are talking but clearly are not in the same room. There’s also Kitty, a high school student who hates ringing phones and hustles on the side because coke isn’t going to buy itself. The cast is what you’d call “star-studded”: Harmon, Aldo Ray, and Robert Mitchum’s Son, who does have a name but mostly goes by Robert Mitchum’s Son. This movie is a nonstop joyride. . . . Every time the Executioner shoves a grenade down someone’s pants, you will cheer.”

04. Young Warriors (Lawrence D. Foldes, 1983)
MGM Home Video VHS / Full Review
“The plunge into darkness and pandemonium is what makes Young Warriors a true pleasure to watch. As the movie progresses, each scene gets more and more violent and far-fetched. There are drug deals gone bad, a helicopter explosion, and a jukebox that dies in slow motion. Kevin gets busy with a hooker. This movie never stalls; it keeps getting better and better. And better. And at some point Scott shows up in army fatigues and a crop top.”

03. Out Of The Dark (Michael Schroeder, 1988)
RCA/Columbia VHS  / Full Review
“The movie unfolds with tons of sleaze, a few dead ‘call’ girls, and one killer clown. There’s vehicular manslaughter and prostitutes talking about stocks and dividends, you know, to break stereotypes. But when a Mexican woman is on screen, mariachi plays in the background. So much for breaking stereotypes. There’s also Bud Cort, who plays a creepy accountant, and Karen Black, who plays the nurturing matron of the phone fantasy operation. Plus, there’s Divine, America’s favorite poop-eating drag queen. He’s actually out of drag, and part of the fun of this movie is spotting him.”

02. High Kicks (Ruta K. Aras, 1993)
Tapeworm Video VHS / Full Review
“Every time I sit down to watch this movie, I say, OK, this is it, the last time. Never again. And then I see the movie’s final shot — a freeze-frame on an actual high kick — and I wonder if I can truly escape the magnetic pull. Put it this way: You know how you have that pair of shoes you shouldn’t be wearing? Maybe they smell like a dog’s mouth or are on the brink of disintegration. But they’re right there so you find yourself reaching for them. You literally have to throw them away to stop wearing them, and yet, you can’t. This sums up High Kicks. It’s a fetid pair of comfortable sneakers you love against your better judgment.”

01. Blood Games (Tanya Rosenberg, 1990)
RCA/Columbia VHS / Full Review
“This movie is fast and loose with two things: nudity and slow-motion. Clothes get torn off at half-speed, and girls dodge bullets and rapists very slowly. Everyone cocks their rifles in slow-motion, aims and shoots in slow-motion, and dies in slow-motion. It’s all very dramatic. There’s a sequence where one girl trips at a leisurely pace. It’s shot in silhouette against a majestic backdrop of towering sequoia trees. It’s a rather gorgeous scene and it’d probably be tasteful if she weren’t topless.”

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