Every once in a while a while a movie comes along that has the potential to change the world, make everyone laugh and/or cry or bust out in a sing-a-long. Geek Culture has its cult favorites, like The Evil Dead series or Donnie Darko. But even in the cult movie scene the best movies tend to get lost in the world of much loved Indie’s and B-movies. Here are 10 movies, in no particular order, you (statistically) probably haven’t seen and should.
1. Defendor- This was not the only super hero film of 2010 but it was the most believable. It follows Woody Harrelson through his quest to stifle Captain Industry and save a beautiful young prostitute (Kat Dennings) and take down the corrupt cop (Elias Koteas) who patronizes her services, which sounds like any number of super hero movies before it’s time. Defendor diverges from the norm in the fact that Woody’s Arthur Poppington/Defendor is a “slow” adult, never explicitly detailing it but he appears to be mildly mentally retarded. He hates guns and his quest to take down Captain Industry was implanted in his head as a child being raised by his grandfather who blames “the captains of industry” for his mother abandoning him. Defendor finds himself in the care of Sandra Oh as a psychiatrist after one of his crime fighting adventure. This movie never got a real theatrical release even though it features a well known cast and it is as funny as it is illuminating.
2. Monster Camp- Peek into the lives of a Live Action Role Players with this 2007 documentary. It gives a glimpse of the different kinds of people you will find at these events from a newbie to a seasoned pro and even delves into the business side of live game play. It also takes you into the players everyday lives including a single father and his daughter who is a willing participate in his gaming lifestyle. You will laugh and probably feel really guilty about it.
3. Idiocracy (non-tv version)- You have probably seen Idiocracy on Comedy Central as filler programming. This offering from Mike Judge is probably his most prolific work about the devolution of the human race. A completely average soldier and a prostitute are frozen for a military experiment which was supposed to last 1 year. The program is canceled due to corruption and the pair find themselves waking up 500 years later due to the great trash avalanche of 2505. We then learn about how the world devolved with an intricate flow chart of reproduction of intelligent people versus uneducated people. By the end of the movie you will want to go back to college and start slipping birth control into the water supply at your local trailer park. You will never be able to eat Carl’s JR again without thinking about this movie. Do yourself a favor and rent the DVD, watch the extras and see all the hilarity cut out for cable censorship reasons and greet your friends and neighbors with “Welcome to Costco, I love you”.
4. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night- The 2011 theatrical release was doomed from the start. The film had almost a complete lack of promotion, the marketing that did happen referenced the original comic book which no one had heard of and there was no critical buzz surrounding the film. Opening weekend was dismal and it did not gain any word of mouth buzz. So what went wrong? The source material is an Italian comic book not many American’s have read. The story was relocated from Europe to New Orleans and Dylan’s side kick was changed from a Groucho Marx impersonator to a bumbling best friend with no confidence. Still, the movie removed from the source material is worth a viewing. If you have any allegiance to horror-comedy, zombies, werewolves or vampires you should see it. Dylan Dog is a retired paranormal detective who is swayed by a beautiful girl to help investigate her father’s death. He opens the door to the underground horror scene in New Orleans to vet whoever is disturbing the very delicate balance between the paranormal factions in the region. It was nice to see post Superman Brandon Routh cut his teeth in the non-super hero comic book world.
5. Mysterious Skin- This was unofficially Joseph Gordon Levitt’s emergence into adult acting rolesand cemented his place as Indie Film Prince. It is the story about two Midwestern young men who crossed paths only briefly in boyhood as they reconnect to make sense of the horrific sexual abuse they both suffered at the hands of the same man. JGL’s character rationalizes it, seeing himself as a willing participant and going on to a lifestyle of prostitution. The other child, played as an adult by Brady Corbet, suppresses the memories until he uncovers his past while investigating what he believed to be a childhood alien abduction. It is hard to watch and a poignant look at the aftermath of childhood sex abuse and how the cycle continues.
6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)- Only zombie fanatics have seen this black and white classic. It is the first offering of “zombies”, then called ghouls, on film by George A. Romero. The world would be a different place without this film and it is important to pay respect to your roots.
7. Empire Records- This a cheese-fest of a movie but a must see for anyone who has ever been an awkward teenager, especially if you worked at a record store. It all takes place in one day at an independent record store. A washed up pop star has an in-store event scheduled and the staff are eagerly anticipating “Rex Manning Day”. A fresh faced Liv Tyler plays a brainy girl with a thing for Rex Manning and her slutty best friend, a very young Renee Zellweger. This was a showcase for future 90’s and early 2000’s stars like Robin Tunney and Ethan Embry. Toby McGuire was originally in the film but was cut out in a revamp of the plot. Sex, shoplifting, a suicide attempt and subsequent fake funeral and an overactive imagination give this motley crew of future stars a chance to make every teenager want to grow up to work at a record store.
8. SLC Punk- Most people associate Salt Lake City with either Sundance Film Festival or The Mormon Church. This movie takes us back to SLC in 1985 and the daily lives of two best friends, Mathew Lillard’s Stevo and Michael Goorjian’s Heroin Bob. They choose to live in shambles, embracing the punk rock lifestyle and taking us on a tour of the other “tribes” in Salt Lake during that era. Other than the punks there were the Mods, the Rednecks, the New Wavers, the Metal Guys and the Nazis’. The tribes socialize and battle but parties and drugs bring most of them together. This movie is not just a dizzying look into the lives of privileged white guys who want to gritty, it is also about best friends and the ULTIMATE betrayal.
9. Hard Candy- Before Ellen Page was Juno she was Hayley Stark, and before Patrick Wilson was Night Owl he was Jeff Kohlver. Page meets Wilson in a chat room where the story begins to unfold. There isn’t much more of the plot that can be revealed without giving it away. It is part torture porn, part revenge fantasy and you will wish you had the balls of a Hayley Stark when it is all over.
10. Daybreakers- We are all sick of vampires. Seriously. They are everywhere and most of the great vampire movies (like “Daybreakers”, “30 Days of Night” and” Let Me In”) are overshadowed by “The Twilight Saga”. Despite critical praise this movie did poorly domestically. The vulnerable lead of Ethan Hawke and the inverse-from-normal plot couldn’t get it past fourth place, behind “Alvin and The Chipmunks, the Squeakquel“ opening weekend. Hawke lives in a world where vampires are the normal and in the opening scene a beautiful sunrise in front of a country home is the background of a suicide. Hawke leads a team of scientist trying to find an artificial substitute for their only food source, human blood. Humans are farmed to the point of death and the clock is running out, and it is up people without means are already starving to the point of transformation. Hawke accidently finds a group of humans and protects them while learning that there may be a way to save humanity. Edward isn’t the only blood sucker with a hear t of gold.