Exquisites 2011: Dan’s Films Of The Year

2011 ends. I really surprised myself when I saw the list of things I’d reviewed in the past 12 months. How do we forget so soon? Rescue Force was this year? Remember those Damn Bloopers? Every year, we wander in thinking “Well, this is the year we end up finding nothing new and reviewing all the Friday The 13th films” and, every year, people lead us to (or just plain send us) new things to see. Thanks, everyone!

This year, apart from watching a lot of He-Man and Danger Mouse, I saw a slew of action movies and, yes, some of them will be on here. I watched the best at-home double feature I’ve seen in ages and, you bet your life, they’re both on here. I saw three of the most mind-bogglingly weird films ever and that’s saying something. Joe and I went to a superb screening of Planes, Trains & Automobiles on the night before Thanksgiving. And, I watched a lot of baseball from the 70s. (OK, I went on a tangent near the end there. If I could have, I would have included Game 6 of the 1978 World Series.)

What else happened this year in the realm of the Skull? Well, there was that commentary on the Sledgehammer DVD. We still have another commentary track out there, unreleased. Will it appear on DVD soon? Here’s hoping. I’ve got my fingers crossed. And, I would ask for a Collective Finger Cross, please, for the BS Book. Soon, soon…

10. Appointment With Fear (Alan Smithee, 1985)
I.V.E. VHS
Yes, this one is on the list. Nobody likes it. Nobody cares about it. Nobody can figure out what the hell the point of the whole enterprise was. But, overwhelming indifference can lead some reviewers into a sort of protective state. Appointment is vigorously up to so many things that someone, somewhere, must have great things to say about it. I put it on the list because, one day, that might be me.

09. The Varrow Mission (Peter Semelka, 1978)
Substance DVD / Full Review
Weird and weird. The setting, the storytelling and the zaniness of the plot really made this one a joy. This was the 70s. This was the kind of thing they used to make a lot of. In Search Of meets an Afterschool Special meets Kenny & Company meets something else that’s tougher to pin down makes for a slow-moving but oddly compelling film.

08. The Terrorists (Nick Millard, 19??)
World Video VHS / Full Review
Millard. What more can we say? We unearthed a treasure-trove of his films this year. For me, there is no specific one that stands out, which is why this isn’t higher on the list. The more Millard you watch, the better it all gets. So, watch this one. It contains all the madness and beauty found in the others. And then, when you finish this, find some more. Consider this Chapter [Whatever] of the Millard saga.

07. Kill Squad (Patrick G. Donahue, 1982)
Edde VHS / Full Review
When I was a kid, I always wished that Action Films had more action. “Enough with the talk! Fight or chase!” Mr. Donahue heard my childhood/ childish plea. This movie is almost constant fighting broken up by a car chase and random bits of Trash Talk. It’s a combination that seems like it may be monotonous but the Very Obvious plot mechanics that keep all the fighting going, somehow, becomes charming and the film becomes crazier as it goes.

06. Science Crazed (Ron Switzer, 1991)
TriWorld Films VHS / Full Review
For the casual Bleeding Skull fan, this is probably the most essential. It does all the things that we love to extremes that become almost unwatchable. It almost tops Night of Horror as the ultimate in Sheer Audacity cinema. Re-watching it for this list, I had forgotten the ladies doing aerobics and the people swimming and so, so many things. But, with this film, it’s a good thing. Those things should stay dormant in your mind until you are ready to release them with a repeat viewing.

05. Have A Nice Weekend (Michael Walters, 1974)
Mogul VHS / Full Review
I really thought this film was superb. The settings, the characters, the structure. This is the most Normal film on here but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful. I get the feeling that the film was supposed to be like Woody Allen’s Interiors or September, but then one of the characters started killing people. There is no reason for this film to be as obscure as it is, as far as I know. Maybe someone has a list that delineates why? I can’t imagine it’s a very convincing list, though.

04. Rescue Force (Charles Nizet, 1989)
Raedon VHS / Full Review
Kiki and Angel can be enjoyed forever by simply watching this film again. If I was at the point in my life were I needed the thrill of Action Movies to be reaffirmed in my soul, this would have done it. And, the fact that the whole thing is so oddly hazy makes for extra viewing wonderment. It’s the Desperation Rising of 2011 but with a hell of a lot more action. Thanks for going all out with this one, Mr. N.

03. Ax ‘Em (Michael Mfume, 1992)
York Entertainment DVD / Full Review
This was such a good year that I was very surprised when two films beat out this one. Crazy filmmaking at its most entertaining. A film that makes you sigh and bless the day that no one involved stopped and had a look at what they were doing because there may have been time to correct it, some way. This loopiness is genuine, even if some of the cast seem to be goofing a bit. Don’t let that put you off, though. They’re still in it, regardless of their attitude.

02. Corpse Eaters (Donald R. Passmore/Klaus Vetter, 1974)
Encore Entertainment, Inc. VHS / Full Review
A film with everything you could want. Weird characters, gore, nudity, carnival-style showmanship, over-complicated story structure and lots of synths. And, it’s an hour long. If you want to watch just one film to see the kind of thing we love, this is that film. The added advantage is that it looks like a regular horror film so you may be able to get others to join you.

01. Savage Water (Paul Kener, 1979)
DVD-R / Full Review
And, on the other side of the world of film, this has everything I love from a Bleeding Skull film. The willingness to go nowhere fast. The feeling that no one had control over a rather simple story. Too many characters that are never defined. Completely ignoring what the advertising implied the film would be. And, moments that are utterly unique abutting scenes that make me shake my head for ages. In the end, the film has an exploitation bonhomie hidden under layers of gunge and ramble. It’s definitely worth hunting for.