"We have a truck on fire ... we can't stop the dancing chicken..."In Werner Herzog's steady but bleak 1977 gaze at American badlands, Bruno S plays a Berlin street musician who goes in search of a better life in the US with hooker girlfriend (Eva Mattes) and mad old friend (Clemens Scheitz), but finds only the despairingly drab dead-end of rural Wisconsin. The movie lan Curtis watched the night he died.
Impressive British witchcraft yarn set in the 17th century. After a ploughman unearths a bizarre-looking skull, the local villagers all start growing fur and claws and conducting saucy rites out in the woods with teen temptress Linda Hayden. Murder and madness abound as the victims' body parts are used to bring an ancient demon back to life. A notch above Hammer.
Quirky variant on the Frankenstein riff. Klaus Kinski is a scientist working on a space station with his android assistant Max404 (Don Opper, who co-wrote). Max is going through android adolescence—he's restless, sulky, curious about sex. Then a trio of escaped convicts invade, and one of them's a girl. Funny and compelling, and worth catching for Opper's geeky performance alone.
John Carpenter was 24 when he shot one of the most influential films in movie history in just 20 days, on a budget of just over $300,000, for the apparently meagre salary of $10,000, a cut of the profits and his name above the title. Looking back, a quarter of a century on, it was probably the best deal he ever made. After a faltering opening run, Halloween quickly became a critically acclaimed box-office smash that went on to gross over $50 million and spawned a raft of sequels and an entire industry of mostly inferior slasher movies.
George Romero's ecological thriller from 1973 combines the social awareness of his zombie trilogy with horror that's much more effective because it's much more believable: when a biochemical weapon is accidentally released in a small Pennsylvania town, it sends the inhabitants insane, so the military are sent in to mop up. Genuinely unforgettable.
Thirty-one years after its initial US release, Wes Craven's debut retains its power to shock, detailing the worst night in the (short) lives of two teenage girls and the bizarre comeuppance of their tormentors. Dated (and overrated) but worth a look.
TV mini series from 1988 directed by David (The Sweeney) Wickes and starring Michael Caine as the police inspector investigating 'orrible murders in Whitechapel, with Lewis Collins as his sidekick. Hack melodrama with red herrings galore, but still quite watchable.
"If God could do the tricks that we can do, he'd be a happy man," declares megalomaniacal film director Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole, on epic form), who's just hired a wanted fugitive (Steve Railsback) to be a stunt man in his anti-war movie. Richard Rush's decidedly offbeat comedy thriller from 1980 lies somewhere between genuinely unsettling and extremely likeable.
Brilliant comedy about snobbery and class, set in 1947: with food rationing (and the black market) still in operation, chiropodist Michael Palin and his piano teacher wife Maggie Smith discover the only way to climb the social ladder is to steal a pig. Great cast, but Alan Bennett's screenplay's the real star.