Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FAN GUEST POST: STEVEN FAHRHOLZ Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014

Steven Fahrholz has an associates degree in film & video that currently collects dust. He briefly did freelance writing for the Orlando Weekly. An avid film buff, Fahrholz keep a journal on all his theater visits each year. Each of the last three years, he has made over 100 visits to movie theaters. He anxiously awaits the moment he can watch a new John Carpenter film on the big screen.

Here is my list of top 5 favorite older film discoveries I made in 2014 (in order of release date).

STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (1940) I don't know how this eluded me during my annual November of watching Noir films,especially with it often being credited as “the first true noir”. (whether it is or not is not a debate I will touch) What I can attest to is that is a very strong entry for the genre. A reporter (John McQuire) is a key witness that helps put away a man for murder under circumstantial evidence. The problem being that this man may not be guilty and the reporter starts to have doubts. It has an outstanding dream sequence (which would appear to have inspired more than a few other movies) that is reason enough alone to check it out. Also,there's a great Peter Lorre supporting role (basically an extended cameo even though he receives top billing).

CRIME AGAINST JOE (1956) A Korean war veteran/aspiring artist (John Bromfield) is in heavy with the drink. One particular bender is particularly rough on him; he ends up with a murder rap to go along with his hangover. The fast-pacing and a commanding performance by Bromfield (which can work for or against you rooting for the character) are what makes this thriller stand out. Great ending as well.

NO BLADE OF GRASS (1970) This Cornel Wilde-directed apocalyptic movie involves an ecological crises that has spun civilization on a downward spiral. A family tries to escape turbulent London for a farm away from the madness. Our family makes uneasy alliance with other travelers along the way and runs afoul of the likes of a sadistic motorcycle gang. Unrelentingly grim,the line become “good” and “evil” becomes increasingly blurred as desperation takes hold. Wilde uses a flash-forward technique in scenes that is both jarring and highly effective.

TOURIST TRAP (1979) A quirky (PG rated !) slasher flick that is completely sold by a fun performance by Chuck Conners. A group of young friends end up stranded at a house filled with creepy mannequins. They start being stalked by a telekinetic psycho who manipulates these mannequins to aid him in his killings. This one has a successful combo of weird,funny,and scary. Also,a great Pino Donaggio music score backs the proceedings.

RAGEWAR (a.k.a. THE DUNGEONMASTER,1984) This pick might be baffling to some people. Whether or not you enjoy Charles Band projects of the '80s will probably be the best way to determine if this is your cup of tea. A demonic wizard challenges a computer programmer with the programmer's girlfriend being held as the prize. It is old-fashioned sorcery vs. '80s computer wizardry from that moment on. The plot has a very thin setup but that really doesn't matter. This is an excuse for several different directors to put our hero in different sci-fi/horror/action sequences versus various baddies. If you can just sit back and go along with the ride,it delivers a lot of fun. What kind of fun? Well,the following is just a small sampling: Richard Moll (Bull from television's Night Court) is the demonic wizard,there is some glorious full-on nudity that made it into a PG-13 movie and our hero faces off against the infamous heavy metal band W.A.S.P. !

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