Posted by: Alan | November 5, 2011

The Top 50 Horror Films

Here’s how it works!

Our staff and our readers were asked to send me a list of their 25 favorite Horror Films of all time. 15 ballots were received, and the movies were ranked on a point system allowing 25 points for a #1 choice, 24 for a #2, and all the way down to 1 point for #25. The points were added up, and what follows are the selections.

Tiebreakers work like such: If two movies have equal pointage (and neither got a number 1 vote), the movie that appeared on the most lists ranks higher. If those characters appeared on the same amount of lists, I went with whatever ranked highest on the individual list. A character that was someone’s #4 beats another person’s #6, for example. And then if they still were tied I just picked one so shut up.

The countdown happened on our official facebook page, and here are the finished results!

“The girls will wake up…when they are hungry.”

50. House – (1977) – 25 points 
(2 of 15 lists. Highest ranking #7 – B)

House is a 1977 Japanese horror film directed and produced by Nobuhiko Obayashi. The film stars mostly non professional actors with only Kimiko Ikegami and Yōko Minamida having any notable previous acting experience. The film is about a schoolgirl traveling with her six classmates to her ailing aunt’s country home, where they come face to face with supernatural events as the girls are, one by one, devoured by the home.

The film company Toho approached Obayashi with the suggestion to make a film like Jaws. Influenced by ideas from his daughter Chigumi, Obayashi developed ideas for a script that was written by Chiho Katsura. After the script was green-lit, the film was put on hold for two years as no director at Toho wanted to direct House. Obayashi promoted the film during this time period until he was given the right to direct it from the studio. The film was a box office hit in Japan but received negative reviews from critics. House received a wide release in 2009 and 2010 in North America where it received more favorable reviews.

Read More…


The Top 50 Horror Films of All Time

If you’d like to participate, e-mail me at listing your personal top 25 horror films. I’ll compile all the lists and make a ‘consensus’ for the top 50 films of the decade.

This is a project we’ve done before (top films of the 2000s and top films of the 90s) and it usually turns out pretty interesting. It works best the more people who contribute, so DO IT!

For those curious, the way it works is this:

If you list a film at #1, it gets 25 points.
If you list a film at #2, it gets 24 points.
If you list a film at #25 it gets one point.

The completed list will be posted on For a full week, revealing ten films every day from Monday to Friday. So get picking, and get submitting!

Posted by: Alan | October 6, 2011

Ten Films I Can (and Will) Watch Anytime

I watch a fair amount of movies. I do my best to make it to the theatre when I can, if there’s something I am truly interested in seeing, but for the most part I watch more movies at home than elsewhere. I have accumulated a pretty decent collection of films on DVD (fuck Blu-ray) and while it’s gotten considerably smaller the past few years there are a large portion of DVDs I will NEVER part with. Most of them are simply my favorite movies, and therefore I always want the option to watch them at anytime I may feel in the mood.

However, there are a LARGE amount of films I love that I just cannot watch that often. Either due to the crippling emotional toll it may take on me (I’m looking at you, Requiem for a Dream) or the length of the film, or the personal decision to only watch them once every year at most. That said, there are some movies I can watch anytime, and some that I’ve been known to watch at least once a month. I’ve selected my top ten favorites, and encourage you to comment with some of your favorites as well.

10. I Love You, Man

From 2009, this will be the most recent entry on this list but it’s quickly been added to the ‘watch anytime’ repertoire. I think both Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are two of the funniest actors working right now, and putting them together in this pairing really pays off. Honestly, the movie would be awful if not for their banter and chemistry (the secondary characters are all pretty weak, actually). But it’s worth the watch just to see Rudd make ridiculous made-up ‘broisms’ (I hate myself for writing that) while talking to Segel’s character and the subsequent reaction to that. It’s been two years since release but I must have watched it 6-7 times already. Read More…

Posted by: criavolver | May 27, 2011

Coming to a Theater near you [sorta].

Summertime is blockbuster season. A time when matinées start appearing throughout the week and the popcorn machine acquires its annual greasing. Although the Southern Albertan weather may not be conspiring with the times, my anticipation for summertime has only gained momentum with the release of the following trailers.

The Tree of Life has been gaining some much buzz in Cannes that it inspired a quick google search for the trailer.

Canadian Release date: June 17th, 2011

From the 2:14 minutes of the trailer, Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life, promises to be a film with big, personal themes. Themes of the Cosmos, family, war, coming-of-age, religion, childhood struggles and hopefully Aliens (kid) all come into fruition and the film is suppose to last 138 minutes! From the literature that’s been written about this film (so far) it seems to be a thousand piece puzzle. Where the viewer gets to piece the film back together long after it has been viewed (or while viewing multiple times). The release date cannot come soon enough and it would be sacrilegious of me to cheat, wouldn’t it?

An ode to Jenni Miller (x2):

Canadian Release date: June 24th, 2011

Beginners, seems to meddle with the same themes of the trailer above but with the crafty editing of the trailer it seems to promise a more linear story. A story about finding out who you are late in life, or mid-way, seems to be central to the piece. Plus there’s a cute dog with a shade of humor in it. The trailer might inspire me to search for Thumbsucker (this is a Mike Mills story, ahem, film after all) next time I visit a pawn shop or a dying video rental store.

Canadian Release date: September 30th, 2011

Two adorable leading men. A dark comedy. A possible love story? And a soundtrack inspired by the semblance of Garden State (so, indie). This trailer promises to be a treat for the summertime blues.

He set twitter and the media on fire when he uttered those hideous Nazi statements at Cannes. But Kirsten Dunst’s reaction and forthcoming jokes have gotten me to watch the trailer.

Canadian Release date: unknown

Lars Von Trier never promises an enjoyable viewing experience, unless you enjoy experimental film execution, perhaps the theater (you know, plays) and depressing stories. Like Beginners and Tree of Life – once again the trailer points to the cosmos and brings forth the tales of familial human life. There is a hush about this film, blew some people’s minds, so naturally it made its way onto my radar.

Now for a dose of reality.

Canadian Release date: unknown

Perhaps this film will never make its way to Canada. Making its way to Cannes was a big feat for cinema and perhaps, even, human kind. Jafar Panahi, a man condemned by Iran for making remarkable films, has created a film that explores the concept of truth. Not a trailer but a clip from a scene of his life. Enough to inspire thoughts on why films like Offside are so important and to recall the love of film.

Posted by: criavolver | April 28, 2011

State of Cinema Address: Christine Vachon

A producer of over 60 titles and 25 years of being in the cinematic game, Christine Vachon delivered a provocatively progressive speech or a heaping pile of Donkey discard (it all depends on who you talk too) at the State of Cinema address during the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 24th. She’s been at the forefront of independent cinema by taking risks. She’s been putting hard-hitting titles under her belt, including one of my favorites, Hedwig and the Angry Inch throughout her career. She’s also been on the cutting edge of cinema with her own production company Killer Films. Continues to be committed to emotionally demanding and impossible projects within the industry, such as Mildred Pierce, which aired on HBO recently. So how is it that Vachon spurred such controversy at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and online?

Antiquity is always admired. (Not the Sundance Kabuki Cinema but the Castro).

Vachon addressed the audience on Easter Sunday with crude honesty. She delivered the ugly truth of cinema’s undeniable change, especially when it comes to independent cinema. She stated that independent or not cinema’s consumption is changing. The film world (established independent filmmakers, critics and distributors) must not just sit and watch it happen in theaters. “The state of cinema is not necessarily in theaters” she stated during her speech. “What’s happening now is we have to be: budget agnostic, format agnostic, content agnostic and platform agnostic and that’s really exciting” she stated as [I can only assume] started the shudder among the audience full of independent filmmakers and watchers.

Vachon championed filmmakers moving to the medium of television while raising eyebrows to her HBO payroll. Commented on how contracts are now incorporating tweeting and facebook updates as part of productions job when promoting certain films. Mentioned that the internet can help in pioneering relationships between filmmakers and their audience members. But what critics (both in film and towards this year’s State of Cinema address) can only fixate was the lack of address of increasing theater seats. What everyone missed is that she is starting the conversation on how the internet can work with filmmakers instead of against. Right now we are currently breaching on what the internet can do for independent filmmakers. Distributorship is just beginning to see the light in the internet venture (with youtube finally introducing a movie monthly-stipend channel). Not to mention the growing markets for Netflix, and hopefully, one day Hulu (who has “stolen” Criterion titles from Netflix).

As much as most of us want to fight it the internet is becoming an organic process. The experience of watching cinema within cinema will never truly die but it is drastically changing. How many of us are buying Data Projectors? Perhaps the backlash of Vachon’s speech was a mourn for the social aspect that the theater experience provides us. But the social is now moved onto a platform called twitter and it has everything to do with the internet.

Posted by: Jen Fedorowich | February 27, 2011

Oscar Picks 2011

So, it’s that time of the year again. The evening when we gather around the television to watch our favourite stars grace the Kodak stage and hand out the most prestigious awards for excellence in film. If that’s not what gets you going, then you can at least make fun of those who look sweaty & awkward or the fools who can’t read from a teleprompter. I have been nothing short of a mad woman this Oscar season – taking in as many nominated movies as I could. That being said, there are still some that slipped between my fingers. (I mean you Animal Kingdom. Where did you come from?). I was bang-on will all of my picks last year – so let’s see if I can do it again. After all, I do love to brag.


Jen Fedorowich.

Posted by: criavolver | October 28, 2010

Winnebago Man: the man behind the Winnebago

In the fair capital city of Canada its citizens have the opportunity of consuming tantalizing film, either at home or in the theatre. Just last night this fair citizen had the experience of witnessing a very enduring documentary called Winnebago Man.


The documentary is centered around a cultural icon, Jack Rebney, who’s been nicknamed the Winnebago Man because of his disastrous, yet hilarious, Winnebago commercial. The “commercial” are the outtakes/outbursts of Rebney’s failures of remembering or screwing up lines. His constant outburst into F-Bombs and wonderful saying such as “my mind is shit today” and “can you do me a kindness” are what earned him notoriety. A youtube phenomena that has elicited shamless laughter upon millions.

The documentary not only introduces the audience to this phenomena but it explores the man behind the character. Most importantly it brings out the humanity behind this caricature. By establishing a human element to this cultural phenomenon, it pins down a darker quality of humanity. The documentary exposes our natural ability of drawing out entertainment from disaster or humiliation while forgetting that what we are laughing at is an actual human being having a bad day. Perhaps the documentary is guilt-ridden but it serves to be a great biopic of someone who no one would have noticed if it was not for this outtake commercial. It may have not provided answers as to why we tend to find someone’s misery entertaining but it did put meaning behind our laughter. The documentary’s goal was accomplished and the audience left the theatre in smiles. It had the opportunity to laugh and have a small piece of this great man Jack Rebney.



***And hello Spotless Mind readers! New blogger from Ottawa who will most likely focus on snotty and the barely-notice-able-but-should-be film. Name’s Criacriavolvervolver, of course, name derived from two of the best of Spanish cinema.****

Posted by: Greg | October 23, 2010

The Spotcast Ep. 2 – The Social Network

In the second Spotless Minds yak-session Greg, James and Alan talk about the film “The Social Network”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted by: jamesodinwade | October 11, 2010

25 Things in Movies I am Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Reflecting on my life today I was thinking about my one true love and what she has given me over the years. Here are 25 things in movies I am thankful for.

1.    Any scene when a musical genius plays piano.

2.    The names the Coens come up with for their characters (Marge Gunderson, Harry Pfarrer, Walter Sobchak, Theodore Donald “Donny” Karabatsos)

3.    The way Martin Scorsese uses the Rolling Stones.

4.    Woody Allen’s speaking voice.

5.    Characters squinting in Sergio Leone films.

6.    Any time Sam Elliott plays a cowboy.

7.    That Billy Wilder met an actor named Jack Lemmon.

8.    The colour red, seen in technicolor.

9.    Mike Nichols’ adaptations of plays.

10.    The last scene of Rushmore.

11.    The 15-minute interrupted shot in Children of Men.

12.    Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos.

13.    The “kisses” scene in Cinema Paradiso.

14.    Werner Herzog’s narration.

15.    Opening sequences by Saul Bass.

16.    Sex in David Cronenberg movies.

17.    Ian Holm telling the story of Zoe and the spider in The Sweet Hereafter.

18.    Bruce Campbell’s chin.

19.    The song and clip they use in the opening sequence of Ghost World.

20.    Roberto Benigni dancing with his new love in Down By Law.

21.    Ryan and Tatum O’Neal (father and daughter) as Addie and Moses in Paper Moon.

22.    Wallace Shawn’s inconceivable voice.

23.    Pixar’s ongoing support of John Ratzenberger.

24.    Postmodern Bill Murray.

25.    Morgan Freeman voiceovers.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember…never get involved in a land war in Asia.


Posted by: jamesodinwade | August 11, 2010

In Defense of Nicolas Cage

It would be hard to ignore the recently fashionable trend of mocking or simply hating Nicolas Cage. I do not begrudge anyone the opportunity to make fun of Nicolas Cage, it is a past time I enjoy myself. However I feel like the contempt I hear when his name is mentioned has reached intolerable heights. Keep in mind as I talk about Cage I am defending his acting and not his off-screen persona or life (in which he plays a CRAZY PERSON).

Nicolas Cage is a terrific and very brave actor. One only need watch something like Adaptation or Raising Arizona to realize this. Not only is he a terrific actor but he may be one of the most relevant actors of our times…and here is where his critics run astray.

I don’t think I am overstating the case when I say that most films starring Nicolas Cage are pretty bad. Next, Knowing and Bangkok Dangerous could be viewed as recent examples of low points in contemporary American cinema. Hollywood today is by and large a creative wasteland, mostly re-booting dead franchises or adapting TV shows and boardgames (BOARDGAMES). Just like in the cinema depression of the 1960s Hollywood has reverted to using gimmicks such as 3D to get people to come to the movies. For the last couple of years Nicolas Cage has not made movies above this calibre and in the mind of many he has begun to embody the intellectually void spirit of Hollywood.

At first glance this might seem valid. His performances are often over-the-top, absurdly corny and unrealistic. But the same can be said about the movies those performances are contained in. Cage is in fact giving these movies precisely the kind of performances they require and that in itself is something most actors would hesitate to do. He is fearless in his roles. Even in something so obviously awful as the 2006 Wicker Man remake he radiates intensity so explosively you can’t help but marvel at the lengths he is willing to go to. An ordinary actor would no doubt approach the corniness, absurdity and melodrama of The Wicker Man with restraint and realism trying to bring believability to the story (when it obviously has none to begin with). Instead Cage gives it what it deserves and for it we have the unintentional comic gem that is The Wicker Man. If viewed from the right perspective, in his bad films, Cage’s acting actually works as an astute commentary on the film itself.

Recently some directors have begun to recognize and embrace the unique qualities of Nicolas Cage. Werner Herzog, one of the world’s best directors, recently cast Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans in which the actor gets the opportunity to play a charater so obsessed and hyperbolically depraved you can almost feel Cage rejoicing at the opportunity really stretch his muscles. The film, hand in hand with Cage’s performance comments sardonically on our expectations of the genre and ideas of morality. It’s an inspired if somewhat perplexing film. Kick Ass is another film in which you can see glimpses of Cage’s awareness of the ridiculous conventions of superhero movies, especially when he dons his hilarious “superhero voice”.

I urge the critics of Nic Cage to take a closer look at his work, especially in the movies we generally consider to be bad. Quite simply he has become an effigy symbolizing the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood which is an insult to his performances, which are often amazing. He gets a bad reputation simply for echoing the content of his films, which have been terrible many a time. We may not realize it but we need Nicolas Cage. Sometimes we need him to give us a beautifully nuanced performance, sometimes to go to lengths our other actors won’t and sometimes simply to tell us how bad a movie really is.


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