Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top 10 Intense Films (Anniversary of Eraserhead Premiere)

Not necessarily the best nor even my favourite intense movies. Just the first ten I could think of.

Eraserhead: premiered this day in 1977. My favourite film and the only one I know that Kubrick wished he'd made.

Irreversible: One that doesn't get a lot of viewings because it only really needs the first. The point to the reversed timeline is the eradication of moral identification. It works. It's tough because that works. It's extraordinary.

Martyrs: Starts as a very icky revenge tale but suddenly gets bigger and unblinkingly scary ... as the violence lessens.

Solaris: Intended to be the Sovyeet answer to Vest's decadent running dog 2001 Tarkovsky's exploration of the Lem novel took off into its own universe, entered a haunted house of loss and desire. The ending punches guts.

Two or Three Things I Know About Her: Godard's essay on prostitution for consumption began with a newspaper article but he goes beyond it into a city crammed with fashion colours seared by a nagging whisper of dissent, climaxing not in the supermarket items in a row up like a skyline but in the cosmos he finds in the bubbles and swirls of a cup of coffee.

Apocalypse Now: How a long and slow film with very little of the warfare it promised on screen can have held my attention like a real life situation for more than twenty times over as many years is puzzling but true. Martin Sheen occupies the screen for most of the film's two plus hours and doesn't smile once.

Night of the Living Dead: Made for $5 in 4X3  black and white when the mainstream was scope in technicolour this still beats all its descendants in grip and economy.

Arsenic and Old Lace: Yep, a comedy, a screwball comedy at that, but one blacker than the hobs of hell as two old spinster aunts find that their career of mercy murders is about to be exposed and don't seem to mind a bit. Moves faster than the human heart until its owner is a few minutes into it.

The Exorcist: Friedkin approached the genre piece as though it was a true story. All the generic traits were discarded, recalling that empathetic pain and fear are most effectively related by making them look real. They do. THEN you get the mystique and dry ice horror because then the alienness of it also feels real.

Repulsion: Catherine Deneuve is driven insane from fear and we're in the back seat. Polanski still had a few gems to make but he never topped this for intensity.


  1. I like all these movies but Eraserhead tops for me. This is one of my favorite classic body horror film. I'm always a fan of David Lynch works but I think this film is one of his best and the most well known among all of his film. I admire how Lynch put so much effort to finish this film. In fact, the year of the duration of this film was about 5 years which also made the film become one of the Hollywood Movies that Took Too Long to Make. Anyway, I'm glad that you also like this movie. This is indeed a great film and a very intense one!

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Mary. You're spot on about Lynch's determination to finish it the way he wanted and cut it down to just under 90 minutes. A singular vision. Wish there was more of it about.