THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Will the Thrill's Best Movies of 2009

Here are my choices for the Top 10 Movies of 2009. Don't try cross-referencing this list with those of esteemed film critics with more refined tastes - I only include Thrillville-sanctioned flicks. Explore or ignore at your own peril:

1. BLACK DYNAMITE - I was honored to host the East Bay premiere of this all-new blaxploitation masterpiece, starring Michael Jai White (who co-wrote the pitch perfect screenplay with director Scott Sanders) as the titular badass mofo. 2. THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO - direct to DVD mini-masterpiece, this animated pop culture potpourri from the demented mind of Rob Zombie (based on his comic book) combines pretty much all of my favorite preoccupations - Space Age style, Mexican masked wrestlers, tits, monsters, tits, zombies, and more tits!3. WATCHMEN - I don't care what Alan Moore says, Zach Snyder's adaptation is a dead-on cinematic recreation of the comic book, from the casting to the costumes to the effects to the tone. I didn't care much for Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead or the homo-erotic fantasy epic 300, though both have their merits, but this time, he nailed it.4. DISTRICT 9 - like the best science fiction, this South African surprise combines righteous socio-political commentary with kickass effects and supercool aliens.5. STAR TREK - no one was more skeptical than I was when this was announced, since nobody is a bigger fan of TOS than I am - but by casting actors who embodied the most cherished characteristics of the original, magical ensemble, without mimicking the actors who portrayed them, director JJ Abrams pulled off a mini-miracle.6. PUBLIC ENEMIES - a stylish re-re-re-telling of the Dillinger legend starring my favorite contemporary actor, Johnny Depp, elegantly envisioned by one of my favorite directors, Michael Mann.7. DARK COUNTRY - originally conceived and shot as a 3-D film noir, director/star Thomas "The Punisher" Jane's uneven but entertaining B movie homage is like an EC Comics version of Edgar Ulmer's Detour, a pulpy drive-in delight, even viewed "flat" on DVD.8. DEAD SNOW - far more entertaining and original than the fun but over-rated mainstream hit Zombieland, this Norwegian entry in the long-dormant Nazi Zombie genre isn't perfect, with hit and miss humor, but the offbeat mix of gore and goofiness makes it satisfying enough.9. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS- speaking of Nazis...this is not my favorite Tarantino flick, since I'm just not a fan of the war film genre, but it's still a wild, compelling revenge-minded rewrite of history, and any new Tarantino flick would make this list automatically.10. ALIEN TRESPASS - hands down, the best 50s sci-fi flick since The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. It's not as funny, but the look and feel of it are winningly authentic.
RUNNERS UP: Sam Raimi's disappointing return to horror, DRAG ME TO HELL, still had its moments, even if it mostly played like an overblown episode of Tales From the Crypt; now this is more like it: Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is a perfectly realized old school (70s/80s) grindhouse Satanic horror flick that you'd swear came out circa 1981 if you didn't know any better - genuinely unnerving and completely surprising; Chan-wook Park's erotic vampire saga THIRST, from Korea, is a first class freak show, hypnotic, hallucinatory and horrific; the aforementioned ZOMBIELAND just didn't live up to its own comedic potential, but again, with Woody Harrelson as a Natural Born Zombie Killer, it had to hit the mark a few times; Jennifer Lynch's SURVEILLANCE is every bit as disturbing and deranged as any movie made by her father, though technically, it's a 2008 release; TRICK 'R' TREAT is the best direct to DVD Halloween anthology flick I've ever seen; THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS, Werner Herzog's non-sequel to the Abel Ferrara flick, sports one of the worst titles of all time, but it also features Nic Cage doing what he does best: Crazy; and James Cameron's AVATAR is a surprisingly moving allegory, almost as impressive emotionally as it is visually, and it almost redeems him for making Titanic. Already a worldwide phenom, it doesn't need my props, though. I'd rather root for the underdogs. Cheers, Will the Thrill