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Hidden Gems That Will Rock Your World
By: Mickael
Some cheesy classics get rediscovered and re-released on Blu-Ray for a certain segment of the population to "ironically admire”. Among the films that have gotten this treatment the last few years are Kung Fu Cannibals (as Raw Force), The Miami Connection Samurai Cop, and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Some are more deserving of this treatment than others, for sure, like when Clive Barker's Nightbreed (1990) got a huge director’s cut release on Blu-Ray last October.
 
What is it that makes one film a “classic” while others are forgotten? Marketing and publicity certainly play a role. A dove, after all, is just a pigeon with a better publicist. Some movies suffer from lack of distribution, or being caught in copyright hell between battling corporate empires. Some are just too risqué for their own good, and as such are lost to institutionalized censorship. Others require regionalization to attain popularity here in the West, as so many movie-goers in the US are hesitant to watch foreign films with bad dubbing, or even worse—subtitles. Just because no one stands to profit from a film, or because there are themes that your Aunt Judy finds offensive, is no reason to lose a great piece of art.
 
In that spirit, here are 8 more wild and ridiculously over-the-top cult classics that deserve to be rediscovered by a new generation of film fanatics. Some are already fondly remembered by certain groups of internet movie freaks, but some seem to be needlessly hard to get a hold of, except used through Amazon or EBay. *coughbittorrentcough* However you choose to do it, though, I thoroughly recommend you make all of these films your top priority to add to your collection. These are the 8 hidden gems you need to find:
This British exploitation film tries to tick all the boxes: Sex? Check. Violence? Check. Blood? Check. Guts? Check. It’s attempting to capitalize on the popularity of Alien (1979) and E.T. (1982), but it manages to combine elements of other films in a way that makes it feel completely new. Certain directors, like Tarantino, don’t actually make new and unique films. They just hijack good ideas from a variety of older films, duct tape them together and refine the script and end up with a Franken-flick that’s fun and exciting on it’s own. This is the same trick Xtro pulls off, but negative reviews hampered its viability early on. “’Xtro’ is an ugly, mean-spirited and despairing thriller that left me thoroughly depressed. Why was this movie made?” – Roger Ebert
Frank Henenlotter’s 3rd film, after Basket Case (1982) and Brain Damage (1988), this one goes to campy extremes like few other films. It’s funny, it’s odd, and it’s delightfully tongue-in-cheek. It is, in a word: awesome. This is by far the most widely recognized and reviewed film on this list, but I still count it as a hidden gem simply for its relative obscurity. Some “cult classics” are still financially viable enough that they end up sold in major retailers, like The Toxic Avenger (1984) and Army of Darkness (1992) but for the life of me, I can never recall seeing Frankenhooker for sale anywhere.
Some gems are buried simply because they fit a specific niche so small that audiences feel there’s no need for more than one film to fill it. Case in point, if someone asks you whether you’ve seen a Sci Fi film from the 80’s with cheesy special effects, an interesting plot concept, AND wrestling superstar “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, you’d think they were talking about the John Carpenter classic They Live (1988). But that same year, Mr. Piper starred as Sam Hell in a different awesome cult classic, this time as the last fertile male in a post-apocalyptic world run by females. His manhood is needed for the good of all humankind, so in a few ways the movie actually strikes a realistic chord. “I’ll fuck for freedom, but I ain’t meetin’ my maker in Frogtown. THAT’S not in my contract.” – Sam Hell
If you’ve never seen an Indonesian martial arts movie starring Barry Prima, then you had better etch this day upon your memory because THIS is the start of the new you. The better you. The you that experiences life to its fullest and appreciates the finer things. A combination of fantasy sword-and-sorcery film with hardcore kung fu murder battles, The Devil’s Sword walks a genre line few films have dared tread.
The Italians are known for making some pretty awesome films already, with horror auteurs like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci filling many of our VHS shelves over the years, while Sergio Leone tackled westerns in a new and inventive way. They also have a habit, though, of making low budget knock-offs of big time American blockbusters. This film is meant to capitalize on the popularity of The Terminator (1984), but it actually creates is own odd fiction with cyborg soldiers battling roughneck arm wrestling truck drivers (a year before Over The Top!). It’s exciting, action-packed, and hilarious.
This is a seriously underrated noir thriller starring Peter Gallagher, John Lithgow, and Jack Black. It’s at times funny, unsettling, and interesting. There are some heavy-handed thematic elements that may have you rolling your eyes, but ultimately it’s a well-acted film with style, comedy, and action. There aren’t enough films like this, but it came out 6 months after L.A. Confidential (1997), and so it was lost in the shuffle.
The world-renowned Shaw Brothers film studio decided to branch out from period pieces and kung fu films to get a piece of that sweet superhero pie. They wanted to compete with the popular Japanese Ultraman and Kamen Rider tokusatsu series’ and establish their own franchise, so they created The Super Infra-Man. Watch as he fiercely battles Princess Dragon Mom and her army of vile monsters! Who can succeed? Infra-Man Can!
You know how Far Cry 3 had an expansion called Blood Dragon, which was paying homage to cheez-laden VHS action films? Then this year, a 30-minute ode to 80’s Sci Fi/action came out called Kung Fury? Those types of projects are always great, over-the-top, and hilarious. But, they always seem to be a little better and crazier than their source material. I was convinced that there never really WAS any film released as ridiculous as these until they exaggerated to make it here in the modern era. Well, it turns out I was wrong… Robotrix IS the actual, original; ridiculously over-the-top violence-and-sex-laden hilarious Sci Fi action comedy that you never thought really existed. Next year is Robotrix’s 25th anniversary, and I truly hope that it gets a big re-mastered release with plenty of interviews with Amy Yip, Billy Chow, David Wu, Mark King, and Donal Logue.
Which is your favorite hidden gem?
Xtro
Frankenhooker
Hell Comes To Frogtown
The Devil's Sword
Atomic Cyborg
Johnny Skidmarks
The Super Infra-Man
Robotrix
Poll Maker
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