2016 will go down in history as a pretty crap year, but outside of this year’s great mistakes (I won’t mention the obvious big one here) – 2016 was a year where I watched & rewound some great movies, flipped through some fantastic comics, and listened to music that was really good. So here’s my list of discoveries: 2016…
Favorite VHS: Heavenly Bodies – 1984
I watch a lot of movies, but it’s a rare day when I watch a movie that becomes one of my favorite films of all time. “Heavenly Bodies” is that good. It’s a hopeful movie with a positive message & a whole lot of aerobics. If you hate positive messages and/or aerobics then you’ll probably hate this movie. The plot is pretty typical 80s cliche: Big Corporate assholes vs small time folks with big hearts. But what sets it apart from a movie like “Flash dance” or “Perfect” is its electric energy that doesn’t quit until the credits roll. “Heavenly Bodies” is a movie with a soul, and I couldn’t recommend it more. This movie is just waiting for a big time/big art theater revival, but at the moment it’s only on VHS.
Favorite Horror VHS: The Sect (alt title: The Devil’s Daughter, Demons 4) – 1991
Here’s a movie directed by Dario Argento’s understudy, Michelle Soavi (see also “Cemetery Man” & the excellent slasher – “Stage Fright.” “The Sect” is a haze of murky sewers, giant killer birds, and secret cults. It has a lazy dubbing job typical of most American releases of European movies & full disclosure – I love bad dubbing. It’s actually hard for me to watch a subtitled Italian horror movie, because I miss the dream-like feel that comes out of having the voices not quite match the mouths of the actors. Also, the lead in the movie is Jamie Lee Curtis’ sister – which is a lot of fun because from certain angles they look remarkably similar. There’s really nothing stopping you from picking this one up, because it’s an incredibly cheap buy. I bought my copy on VHS under the title: THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER – it was still sealed and only $3 on Amazon. There’s still 6 copies left on there. Get into it before they raise the price to $5!
Favorite VHS that I watched online: Beyond the 7th Door – 1987
I’ve been looking for “Beyond the 7th Door” on VHS for around five years, but I’ve never found it. One day when browsing Amazon for a VHS copy – I discovered that they had the whole movie streaming on the site. So I finally got to watch this thing, and it did not let me down. The story involves a lowlife named Boris (played by the heavy accented & marvelously awkward looking – Lazar Rockwood), who plans to steal some treasure from a local rich recluse. He ropes in his ex-girlfriend, Wendy, and the two sneak into the mansion to steal their reward. The only problem is this rich guy has booby trapped his house, and the pair will have to make it through six rooms of puzzles and traps to get “beyond the 7th door” to where their prize awaits. It’s like that movie “Cube” or that other movie “Saw 2,” but with a heart of gold & a $15 budget. It involves booby traps and wooden set pieces and even woodier acting. It’s also very Canadian and more than a little sleepy. I don’t mind sleepy. If it were a Saw movie – it would be the only Saw movie that I like.
Favorite New Record: Japanese Breakfast – “Psycho-pomp” – 2016
Dreamy pop music at its best. Michelle Zauner builds an incredible 80s sound without ever dropping into that nostalgic trap that a lot of other bands fall into. Watch the video above, and then go to her bandcamp page and buy all of her albums.
Favorite Old Record: Cluster & Eno – 1977
I’m into Brian Eno & I’m into Cluster, so when I saw this combo platter on the record shelf (newly re-released) I had to get it. The whole thing is an ambient dream of pianos, blip bops and drones. It’s my morning music. Chill & perfect.
Best movie that I’ve owned for 15 years but never watched until this year: Amityville 2: The Possession
I’ve owned the entire Amityville DVD boxset for years. I watched the first movie. It’s a classic. I liked it just fine. But I never got around to watching the 2nd one until 2016. I kicked myself for waiting this long. It’s not just another boring haunted house movie. It’s a genuinely freaky movie that’s loaded with terrifying imagery and there’s also a trashy subplot involving an incestuous brother and sister duo. Don’t let the title fool you. This house stands on its own foundation. 😉
Best Comic: Ancestor by Malachi Ward & Matt Sheean – 2016
Originally “Ancestor” was published in Brandon Graham & Ema Rios’ hit or miss anthology comic, “Island.” Now it’s out in its own trade. It’s a tense sci-fi comic that keeps you on the edge of your seat until it ends. The future world Sheean and Ward build is believable, so when it grows and becomes more and more fantastical – the reader is along for the ride. Go buy it, and then if David Fincher makes this into a movie – you can say: “I read that before it was cool.”
Favorite Thrift Store find: A fanny pack full of Yoko Ono cassettes and 2 Something Weird videos
Three years ago I was digging around a thrift store in Oceanside, CA when I came across a fanny pack full of Yoko Ono albums on cassette. It was hidden in a box underneath some vintage flannel shirts. Most of them were dubs. I thought it was funny at the time, put them back, and bought a belt. But I kept thinking about those cassettes – wishing I would have bought them or at least asked about them.
Cut to 2016: I went back to the thrift store in Oceanside, and dug in the same spot under (the same?) flannel shirts, and there was the Yoko Ono filled fanny pack. I asked the owner of the store about it, and she asked me where and how I found them. They were her personal tapes, but she didn’t even have a tape player anymore, so they were mine if I wanted them. I did. Then she went to a back room and pulled out a Something Weird VHS, “Satan’s Bed.” “This seems like something you’d be interested in,” and she was right.
Three days later, I walked into a Los Angeles Goodwill and found another Something Weird tape, “Robin Hood and his Lusty Men and Bawdy Wenches.” Sorry Kevin Costner fans, but this version is way better than “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Hurray for those rare moments when collecting fun stuff doesn’t involve the internet.
Favorite Lifetime Movie: Girl in the Box – 2016
Most Lifetime movies fall into the “so bad they’re good” category, but sometimes a Lifetime movie comes around that’s actually good…like GOOD GOOD. “Girl in the Box” is one of the good ones…(ahem) one of the GOOD GOOD ones. It tells the insane true story of a young woman who gets kidnapped while hitchhiking in 1977 by a married couple. She’s, then, forced to live in a coffin sized box for 23 hours a day – every day, and she lives like that for years! It’s an intense little movie. I almost turned it off after about 20 minutes. But I stuck with it, and I was glad I did. The performances are incredible (especially for a Lifetime movie) and Zelda Williams (the daughter of the late great Robin Williams) delivers a memorable and haunting performance. Set your DVR for the rerun of this one!
Alright, that’s my list! Thanks for checking out my 2016 discoveries and make sure to check out the NIGHT VISITOR VIDEO store – http://nightvisitorvideo.storenvy.com/ for cool new video releases, comics, cassettes, ex-rental tapes, etc.
— NATHAN BUDDE (NIGHT VISITOR VIDEO)