Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2008 by Hunter Stephenson
Here at Slashfilm, if a holiday doesn’t go well with movies we just ignore it. Sometimes we’ll remain totally oblivious to a holiday. For others, we won’t even get out of bed, or we’ll just sip on a beer and pretend it’s Slashfilm Day, and it always is. You can’t make a movie party around a holiday for friggin’ trees, or Abraham Lincoln or the [cough] Irish (Far and Away party at your house! I’m Scottish). If a holiday is up to snuff, take Halloween and Christmas for instance, it will go well with a gang of great movies, friends, laffs and drinks. Ladies and Gentlemen, today, March 10th is the International Day of Awesomeness and we here at Slashfilm wholeheartedly endorse the f**ker!
IDA or, NAD (National Awesomeness Day) to jingos, obviously goes great with awesome movies, so we suggest you call up your awesome friends and celebrate awesomeness in film today (or any day. This piece is a little late. My Audi just exploded. Not awesome.) Don’t plan on going to work tomorrow, because you will be radiating awesome and other suspect smells. We’ve compiled a group of movies that are indeed very awesome, but we’ve made sure to take our well-versed awesome readership into account (hey there Sex Man and Billy Mitchell! See ya, Jerry Butler) and include some awesome films that you may have overlooked, as well as a few diehards (hello John Carpenter!).
So, what is awesomeness? The answer to that is awesome. And “awesome” is what so many philosophers, historians, scientists and even Buddha have overlooked in their vast search for the meaning of life. What makes a movie awesome is more complicated.
An awesome movie usually has an intense, direct and quite populist connection between the director and the audience. This connection is comparable to urging a friend on in a pie-eating contest and basking in the glory when s/he wins the contest by 20 pies; except you’re essentially urging your friend (the director and stars) on after they have already succeeded. Make sense? If not, sense isn’t a qualifier for awesome anyhow. There is usually a certain madness and playful (but rarely ironic) awareness present in an awesome film. There is also usually a gung-ho spirit in an awesome film that can be mistaken for the elusive spirit of the geek-jock. Awesome movies are not “movies for guys who like movies” but the latter type of movies can be awesome (Predator, Dirty Harry, Joysticks).
Like porn and Rip Taylor, you know an awesome movie when you see it. What are we telling you for anyhow? Here are some awesome movies in no particular order. Feel free to expose your awesome Slashfilm peers, including Peter and me, to more awesome films in the comments below. Happy IDA/NAD everyone!
Update (2:30 a.m. EST): I will be updating this article with awesome movies for the rest of the day/night/ummm week!
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Why It’s So Damn Awesome: So quiet and assured is this Robert Altman (R.I.P.) detective mystery that it’s almost downright too cool to be awesome. The awesomeness comes in the small details. For example, loner private detective Philip Marlowe, slyly owned by awesome actor Elliot Gould, lives a foot print-less life with his cat, even as he resides across from an apartment of perma-naked cheeba-toking hippie foxes. Marlowe, and Gould even, is the textbook definition of class in a self-absorbed time totally lacking it.
This is one of the only films I can remember that is both sleepy and exciting for the entire running time, and even the way Gould says “Coury-brand catfood” has such smart charm and is so awesome you want to make sure your neighbors can’t see that you’re watching it. For once those noobs may think too highly of you and they are not awesome enough to be privy to this movie. While it’s unfortunate for Altman, and moreover for Gould, that the film flopped back in ’73, it remains timeless like Chet Baker’s jazz or a good Polo shirt, and with so many faux-awesome movies going out with the tide in the decades since, The Long Goodbye forever gives awesome a good name. Bonus points for making guys who loathe cats secretly consider getting one, if just for a couple hours. Worth noting: the film is an impossibly snazzy update of a Raymond Chandler novel and his Marlowe character. There’s a word for this.
Awesome catchphrase: “That’s okay with me.”
Awesome oddity: Arnold Schwarzenegger has his first dialogue-free role as a goon here, and he just sort of just stands there naked and doesn’t do anything. And he’s, like, grinning to himself. Weird and…
D.C. Cab (1983)
Why It’s So Damn Awesome: If bumps of cocaine were automobiles, then D.C. Cab is a busy city intersection with malfunctioning stoplights. Director Joel Schumacher, whose awesome and telling inconsistency is fascinating (Falling Down, The Lost Boys > Batman & Robin, The Number 23) put politically correct teeth onto the curb, allowing a totally-batshit-for-Busey Gary Busey to run wild in a world where Mr. T and Bill Maher exchange quips, racial epithets and IQ points.
The title is all you need to know about this R-rated comedy’s plot; it’s Crazy Taxi: The Movie. Throw this fucker in the DVD player without telling a bunch of awesome friends, and watch as the room explodes like that concluding Claymore in Rambo. Coke reference aside, Schumacher’s film never comes down or gets limp, and I’m not even sure Joel knew what these actors were going to do from scene to scene. This type of awesome comedy could never be made today, a pity, and if you ever thought Busey was faking it, just watch the walking neurosis in his prime. Total manimal. How was this guy ever insured? Race, class, intelligence and sanity are all bitch-slapped and somewhere in heaven Al Bundy puts his hands in his pants, watches D.C. Cab and gets a little relief. Dear Seth Rogen, remake this.
Awesome Catchphrases: No way, not going there. Late actor Charlie Barnett lets it rip.
Awesome Oddity: Mr. T had no effing clue what kind of movie has was in. It’s great.
Why It’s So Damn Awesome: In a perfect world, all monster movies and creature features would be this amazing. Alligator is not simply schlock to get your B-movie rocks off to, it’s just an awesome movie with great winking performances by a badass cast of old dudes that includes Robert Forester (Jackie Brown) and the late Michael V. Gazzo (The Godfather, best eyebrows in the biz). This is one of those movies where you’re thinking ahead of time what should happen but won’t and then it does, but better, again and again.
The titular star, named Ramon by a dumb girl in Florida, would eat Jaws and C.H.U.D. for brunch (no offense, Quint, Devin and Co.), and when he decides to surface from the sewers of Chicago, be careful not to salute your shorts. Forester, who plays an average Joe cop like nobody’s business, macks on a hot broad at her mom’s house (what a champ!) and the guy deserves a star for allowing so many cracks about his strange frontal bald patch to get final cut. Besides Jack Nicholson, no other actor has conquered hair loss better and made it more awesome. Eccentric gangster actor Henry Silva plays the cockiest big game hunter in history, and if you ever wondered what Silva’s ridiculously random calls of the wild were about in Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, look no further. This movie is about grown men having fun and living it up, with a high body count, lots of smart pokes at society and an alligator that can kill a car.
Awesome quote: What do you think chief, believe me now?
They Live (1988)
Why It’s So Damn Crazy Awesome: Like DUH! Godfather of Awesome John Carpenter drills a whole through our modern society with one of the most original and daring sci-fi outings of all time while utilizing the most awesome accessory of all time: sunglasses. I am ashamed that my generation, in this dire age, has not attempted to match this ballsy masterpiece, but hey, so is the times. We just rock the sunglasses and buy (consume!) Obey posters and T-shirts (that are overly inspired by this film). There is so much awesomeness in casting a wrestler, Roddy Piper, as a lead character, a construction worker named Nada (No One) no less, in a film that is essentially about destroying the Illuminati. Carpenter has basically adapted Kurt Vonnegut for TNT, and it’s no wonder that critics don’t give him his proper due. Media whores meet corrupt government meet global power.
Conspiracies are awesome but outside of Three Days of the Condor, they are rarely done well on film. I liked Michael Clayton, but George Clooney’s face at the end is too self-satisfied and prematurely world-weary. It’s like dude, the well runs deeper. They’re aliens! They Live is the There Will Be Blood of genre films. And then there is co-star Keith David. Nobody got Keith David like Carpenter, and hearing him narrate Ken Burns’s The War last year was almost prophetic. Of course, The New York Times would never make that connection! They aren’t awesome (especially T Magazine). They Live is possibly the awesomest fucking movie ever made, and besides visiting the set of Crystal Lake, I’ll I want to do in life is write a huge book, a ala Peter Bogdanovich on Orson Welles, on it. This is a movie for the people. Slashfilm bows down to Carpenter on this day of awesomeness.
Awesome Catchphrases: Brother, life’s a bitch…and she’s back in heat; I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all outta bubblegum. (Note: this last catchphrase is the only catchphrase my mum has ever repeated to me from a movie, so good is it.); We could be pets, we could be food, but all we really are is lifestock. (Take that, Soylent Green!)
Awesome Oddity: They Live
Fishing With John (1991)
Why It’s So Awesome: If you don’t believe in “zen,”watch Fishing With John every night for a month before you go to sleep. If you live in a small apartment/box in a major city, take this advice for sure. Originally aired on public television, Criterion has released all of the episodes on DVD complete with jaw-dropping, surreal commentary by the host and titular dude, John Lurie, a jazz musician and all around awesome, goofy guy.
Lurie escorts awesome talents Dennis Hopper, Matt Dillon, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe and Jim Jarmusch on exotic fishing trips around the globe, except John doesn’t know how to fish, plan, walk, smile, or laugh in a normal way. This amuses some guests (all are on friendly terms with John at the start), with Dafoe coming off particularly charming while ice fishing (and dying?) in Northern Maine, while others (Matt Dillon, Tom Waits) succumb to insular vanity upon realizing that John, is well, goofy as hell. I think, like, four fish are caught total. The theme song, “Fishing With John,” appears before each episode and it begins to seep into your head and after the disc is done, it’s akin to a religious experience. Combined with watching Dennis Hopper cast out from a long boat in Thailand as he waxes on drugs and Hollywood run-ins, the result is a mysterious, unlikely sauna of awesome. Oh yeah, and Hopper and John are hunting a giant squid (WTF?).
Awesome Quotes: It just is; Both fishermen are covered with sores and boners; Lon has two wooden legs but real feet
Awesome Oddity: Some of the fish on the show were not actually caught, but bought, put on a hook, dropped into the water and filmed being “caught.” This practice is not uncommon with fishing shows, but when the fishermen are this pathetic, it’s an almost awe-inspiring betrayal.
Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Why It’s So Damn Awesome: Here we go again. Cocaine and cannibals go together like Pop Rocks and Coke, and Italian director Umberto Lenzi keeps comedy and insanity balanced on the end of a needle pin while knee-deep in the Amazon. This movie is so unethical on so many levels, from the actual deaths of animals on screen, to the casual usage of the word “twat,” to the very illegal inflamed nostrils on display, to a guy losing his manhood on screen: you might actually grasp geek-jock Eli Roth’s taste in movies for once. This movie is Nikki Finke‘s mother’s worst nightmare. And again, this movie is so far beyond the “torture porn” niche that you’ll wonder why Comedy Central hasn’t aired it yet (besides the autopsy-like gore).
The eternal conflict of “Man vs. Society” shows up in a lot in awesome films, and here we find three Americans who trek out to Colombia to disprove the existence of cannibalism. Not only are they dead wrong, they find other vice-blinded Americans cannibalizing the cannibalistic natives in a search for (non-dick) jewels. The entire film is charged with madness comparable to hearing a man crunching on a giant bug (yes, that’s on screen as well), but what makes Cannibal Ferox trip into awesomeness is the performance given by actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice (> Gary Busey). With eyes that are literally discoing with bad thoughts, and teeth grinding from drug consumption, Radice makes you question whether everything on screen is as real as the filmmakers claimed. A movie like this will never be made again. Btw: Thanks PETA.
Awesome Quotes: Shut up Twat!; Get off my case motherfucker!; Then…then they ate his genitals!
Awesome Oddity: Turtles as dinner. A surprisingly effective score.
Problem Child 2 (1991)
Why It’s So Damn Awesome: Forcing audiences to listen to this kid’s fucking voice…again, is so awesome it’s practically not awesome. Even more awesome: what in the hell happened to kid actor Michael Oliver? That kid was the unlikable, deserving heir to Pee-wee Herman, and while he packed theaters in 1991, he hasn’t acted in a movie since 1995. I remember seeing PC2 with my dad and my lil’ redheaded brother, who randomly puked all over this lady on line in front of us, and yet we still went on to see the film. And then he puked again. It made the food fight with John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck even more awesome.
You could hear groans across the world when Problem Child 3 went straight to TV because Oliver was cut out of the equation. Forget Mac Culkin, this was an utter travesty. And then there’s actor Jack Warden playing ‘Big’ Ben Healey (in all three PC films), a character that is basically a rip-off/homage to his twin characters in the far shittier movie Used Cars. Sheer shit/awesome genius. The sequel also features a dog with massive bowel movement problems. All in all Problem Child 2 makes for an ideal double feature with Little Children or Sleepers.
Awesome Quotes: So many: Basically, if you meet a girl who can imitate Junior (Michael Oliver), marry her. If you meet a guy who can, run.
Awesome Oddity: This film is more true to life than The Pursuit of Happyness.