Monday, January 3, 2022

My 13 Favorite First Time Watches Of 2021

2021 was yet another amazing year where everything in the world seemed to settle into place peacefully and everyone was happy. Of course, I'm talking about a multiverse far from our own. But in this 2021 and on this version of Earth, my family and I didn't have it easy or anything, but we were certainly hashtag blessed compared to a lot of folks. So, if your year sucked butt-like objects, I hope that this here thing called 2022 treats you much better.

When it came to what I watched movie-wise in 2021, I had one clear goal and it was to watch 500 films. I got really close in 2020 and it irked me that had I known how close I was going to get, I would've put the pedal to the metal in the last couple of months and rocked that funky joint. You hear that slapping sound? Thank goodness I was born with all those extra limbs so that I can pat myself on the back, because I freakin' did it! I managed to watch 504 films this year! I'm even more proud to say that 256 of those were first time watches, so my wife LeEtta and I didn't just rewatch movies from the MCU (like we are prone to do).

It certainly helps, that I've been writing Giallo Meltdown Part 2 and that meant that I managed to pull off several moviethons this year, which were key for reaching that goal of 500. My goal for 2022 is to have this wacky book project written (and heck, hopefully edited) before December pops up. Even though I'm working fast, I'm really trying to make Part 2 better than the original Giallo Meltdown in every way. I'm very proud of GM, but sometimes I read passages in it and go "Wow, I actually released this into the public for people to read, huh?"

Anyway, I know there are some of you radical movie peeps out there who probably watched way, waaaay more than 500 films this year. That's awesome! And there are those of you who struggled to get even half of the number you wanted to get to. That's awesome as well, because you got to watch some! Everyone knows that life and TV and video games and croquet championships get in the way of us accomplishing our eyeball goals. Measuring how long our movie watching peepee sticks are is dumb and my goal is to watch a whole lot less films next year.

One last thing before I get to my list of favorite watches from 2021... I've been tracking my film watching on this blog for 5 years in a row now. I'm totally sick of it! If I have to type that I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) one more friggin' time, I'm going to scream. (In case you're wondering, I've watched that movie 10 times in the last 5 years.) So yes, next year, I won't be doing any counting of films I've watched or anything. That crapola is for the birds. However, I will be tracking all my first time watches and posting about them here. So keep on the lookout for those posts!

Total Films Watched: 504
First Time Watches: 256

Enough of this preamble! Let's get to the list. As usual, the deciding factor for what makes my top favorites is the question, "How badly do I want to watch this film again right now?" If the answer is "Not right now (or maybe not for several years)", then the film will go directly into the runners-up pile at the end. Let's get this partly started!

My 13 Favorite First Time Watches of 2021 (in random order)

He Lives by Night (1982) - During my Asian giallo moviethon, I fell in love with this comedic Hong Kong slasher that is as garish as it is silly. Some of the jokes don't land but the slashy and trashy delights certainly do. Gigantic recommendation from me if you can track it down somewhere.

Graveyard Disturbance (1987) - That old funster, Lamberto Bava (AKA LamBava), does it again! This film had been eluding me for YEARS. When I finally tracked it down, I was not disappointed. It's your typical late 80s Italian good time garbage. Love it.

The Monster Club (1981) - I had seen the tail end of this wonderful anthology film when I was a kid. Little did I know that this is some stodgy old horror camp combined with punk rock, and it all works! Well, it worked for me anyway.

The Devil's Carnival (2012) - My wife LeEtta and I are shameless Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) fans and when I heard that the dude behind it had made not just one but two horror musical follow-ups, I was very intrigued. This short (only 55 minutes) explosion of color, music, and attitude hit me like a ton of bricks. The longer sequel to this is decent but I think the ideas  from it should've been incorporated into just one big crazy film.

Mark of the Witch (1970) - Sometimes these little regional horror films don't always agree with me and yet, I never stop trying. I used to confuse Mark of the Witch with Death by Invitation (1971), because they came out within a year of each other and they have very similar plots. But this film is a very charming and utterly kitschy dream with a really fun performance by the lead actor.

Don't Panic (1987) - I was worried that Don't Panic wasn't going to live up to the hype from my buds who love it so much. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. This wacko Mexican horror film is just as weird and wonderful as I was lead to believe. If you're sitting on this one like I was, stop that right now and give it a look.

Schizoid (1980) - Klaus Kinski delivers a line of dialogue in this movie that had me on the floor with equal parts laughter and existential dread. I'd been saving this American giallo for YEARS because I wanted to save the first time for a moviethon and boy oh boy, it was well worth the wait. It's good stuff.

The Wraith (1986) - Fate was against me ever seeing this film which apparently played on cable all the time. But I chose to defy fate and buy this dirt cheap Blu-ray. This gem is the perfect balance of action movie, sci-fi, and horror; plus it has a great cast and a kickass score AND soundtrack loaded with 80s cheese.

Death Screams (1982) - I was waiting on a watchable copy of this film for so long that I forgot all about it. Then Arrow Video unleashed this beast onto my eyes. I'm always on the lookout for another 80s slasher to add to my pile and Death Screams is just grand. I'm looking forward to sharing this with friends on movie nights someday.

Ninja III: The Domination (1984) - Luckily, I went into this craziness as cold as humanly possible. I knew the ninjas meets leotards premise was strange and that folks were into it, but it wasn't until I watched that Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Canon Films (2014) documentary that I got a hankerin' to see it finally. Yep, it's great.

Jack-O (1995) - The cover art for this Fred Olen Ray-produced clunker pretty much guaranteed that I when I was desperate for some Halloween-themed horror films, I would still avoid it. Thankfully, I got VERY desperate and checked it out. Nothing says "Richard loves this" quite like bargain basement poopoo filmed in Florida with Linnea Quigley playing a metal chick/babysitter and unconnected posthumous John Carradine footage. Jack-O is all this and more. Or less.

La Venere d'Ille (1981) - I finally watched Mario Bava's final directorial effort and it is so damn good. He made this excellent little made-for-TV tale (co-directed with LamBava) that stars Daria Niccolodi and Marc Porel, and I'm happy to report that it's a fitting last hurrah from a master. Track this one down if you can. I should probably investigate the other films in this series, all directed by different Italians.

The Girl on a Broomstick (1972) - LeEtta was on the hunt for witch movies and she stumbled upon this Czechoslovakian kids fantasy/comedy. When we finally got around to it, I was like "Dude, is this my favorite film of the year?" I'm still not sure but it's definitely way up there. This is certainly one of the most unusual things I've ever seen with a sense of humor and visual style that are very, very unique. At the time of this writing, there's a decent copy on YouTube with English subtitles. Highly recommended.

My 2021 First Time Favez Runners-Up Bro

Devo: The Men Who Make the Music (1981)
Candyman (2021)
Hellmaster (1992)
Cool World (1992)
Basket Case 2 (1990)
Altered States (1980)
Black Roses (1988)
Frankenstein '80 (1972)
Body Count (1986)
Censor (2021)
Midare karakuri AKA Murder in the Dollhouse (1979)
Nightbooks (2021)
Ghostwatch (1992)
Vampire in Venice AKA Nosferatu in Venice (1988)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Bad Dreams (1988)
Deadly Manor (1990)

The Worst Film I Watched In 2021

Scream (1981) - I never do "Worst of the Year" lists just because I know that some films that I strongly disliked upon first viewing will end up being favorites of mine one day. It's happened before! That will NOT be the case with Scream (1981). I love me some slashers and many of them are titles that folks consider boring or bad. That's a fact. But for my money, this is the single worst slasher of the 80s just for its wasted potential alone. Silly performances and cool locations aren't enough to save this snoozer. This film has almost nothing to it other than long stretches of blah. Watching Scream without fast-forwarding was agony. Fudge this gosh darn dang movie to the heck place.


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