Every year, I see literally hundreds of movies. And, while that might seem like a lot of movies, it really doesn’t feel like so many. I am a true lover of movies, it’s been in my blood since I was a kid and it never went away. So, at the end of each year, I like to sit down and take a look at the list of movies that I’ve seen through the year and see which ones have stayed with me and which ones made that indelible mark that (in my mind) makes them a great movie. So, the following is (in no particular order) my favorite movies of 2011. Some of them you’ve heard of, some of them you might not have, but all of them are great movies that deserve more attention than it got. You’ll see no ‘Oscar winners’ and no ‘critically acclaimed’ movies here. These are movies that largely went under the mainstream radar, but, if you’re an indie film lover, they’re all movies that you need to hunt down and see for yourself. So, here’s my top 10-plus list of 2011!
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I love exploitation movies and it seems that, in the past few years, being a lover of exploitation movies has become less of a public embarrassment. So, I was thrilled to see Chillerama, a segmented film from writer/directors Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, Joe Lynch and Adam Rifkin. Each short movie is a different style of exploitation movie and each brings its own special charm. They’re all linked through a story about a drive in theater closing. It’s a very cool movie and a great tribute to those movies that I often sat in my car and enjoyed at the actual drive in! Grab a copy for yourself over at http://www.image-entertainment.com.
They say that the two things that they say you shouldn’t talk about in public, politics and religion. Well, if you’re like me and think that people get way too angry about religion, then you’ll probably enjoy Marty And Doug’s New Religion. The tale of two guys who start their own religion in order to meet a hot chick…and what better reason, I ask you? Check it out for yourself over at http://martyanddoug.squarespace.com.
Serial Killers remain popular this year, so it’s not a surprise that one shows up on my personal list. It’s Cyrus: Mind Of A Serial Killer and it’s one of the most original I saw this year. Brian Krause plays Cyrus to perfection, and the movie shows us the reasons why Cyrus is driven to kill. It’s truly a great movie that works as both a standard slasher film and a great serial killer film…two things that hardly ever cross paths well. If you enjoy a great serial killer movie and you missed Cyrus: Mind Of A Serial Killer then click on over to http://www.anchorbayent.com and grab a copy right now.
While some people I know get uncomfortable with gay-themed movies, I’ve discovered that, usually, these movies have less with being gay and more with themes of alienation and family. So, I was very pleasantly surprised with November Son: October Moon 2. A great story about Eli who’s returned to his home town for a job, only to become the center of some very strange family issues…both his own and his bosses! It’s an amazing indie movie from Jason Paul Collum that deserved a much bigger audience than it got! You can get a copy of November Son: October Moon 2…and October Moon, for that matter…over at http://www.tempevideo.com.
If you love movies as much as I do, then you’re probably in the same league as the guys from Deadpit.com. Well, I might not be in their league, but it’s something I aspire to. But, if you love to see the beginnings of something that’s grabbed a real cult audience on the web, then Into The Pit: The Shocking Story of Deadpit.com is a movie you might enjoy. This doc about the two guys who founded Deadpit.com, and followed their true passion for horror movies is a wonderful documentary that allows us to see the real sacrifice that’s made to follow a dream. It’s a fun doc that’s worth your time and will have you downloading podcasts just as fast as your mp3 player will allow! Find out about this movie over at http://www.intothepitthemovie.com.
Beer is a topic that always gets my attention, so when Chris LaMartina’s latest, Witch’s Brew, came into my inbox, I was immediately interested. And, it doesn’t disappoint, this story of some unfortunate micro-brewers who accidentally run over the local witch’s cat, only to then have their latest brew cursed by the witch’s. Now they have to get the brew back and get the curse removed…or lose their money on the beer. This is a very fun movie that will have you taking a second glance at that bottle before you take another drink! You can find out where to catch this cool indie movie over at http://www.facebook.com/witchsbrewmovie.
Do dolls creep you out? Well, if they don’t, check out the latest from Big Biting Pig Productions, named aptly, The Creepy Doll. The story of a newly married lady who can’t let go of the dolls from her childhood, even though it seems that one of them might be killing people! I always look forward to new movies from Big Biting Pig and this one does not disappoint. They always make really cool indie movies that feature a terrific story and a wonderful cast…kudos to Steve Hudgins and crew for keeping the quality high even if the budget is low!! Put this doll on your shelf by heading over to http://www.bigbitingpigproductions.com.
One of the few international movies I saw this year was called Xtrmntr, the tale of two exterminators, one of whom is sleeping with the others wife. And, what better place to have a tragic ‘accident’ than on a job site working with potentially fatal chemicals. This is a really cool short that had me wanting to see more. I’ve seen a few shorts from Australia, but this one is right at the top of the list! You can find out more over at http://www.facebook.com/pages/XTRMNTR/346914800442?sk=info .
Lloyd Kaufman is the godfather of indie film. But most of the time when you see Mr. Kaufman, he’s being wacky and fun. It’s pretty rare that you get to see Lloyd in a serious role. Well, my friend Randy DeFord managed to get Uncle Lloyd to appear in his short in a dramatic role! And (I’m not sure why this surprised me) Lloyd is very good in the role!! This story of a woman who knows some very delicate government secrets and is having an ‘exit interview’ with her counselor is a terrific short that’s been making the festival rounds. If it comes close to you, do yourself a favor and head over to see it or just click through to http://www.youtube.com/user/oakroadmm and watch it online!
Bullying has been in the news a lot lately. It seems that being different is driving teenagers to suicide and no one is more aware than Eric Casaccio, the writer/director of Freak. Freak is an amazing tale of a man who’s been different his whole life, only to discover that now it’s an asset rather than a liability! Casaccio takes a character that most people would turn into a caricature and makes him an oddly sympathetic hero. It’s a fantastic short that’s been acclaimed by festivals around the country and is sure to become more popular as it gathers more viewers. Find out where you can see ‘Freak’ by heading over to http://www.freakthefilm.com.
Sometimes the things that stay with you aren’t the most enjoyable. Trauma can cling to you like a bad rash! Well, that’s sort of how I felt after checking out Megan Is Missing. This story of a young girl, who meets the wrong person online, only to be stalked, tortured and eventually killed is extremely difficult to watch. But it’s make that way! Filmmaker Michael Goi teamed up with the Klaas Kids Foundation to make this movie to most realistic abduction film they could…and they did an amazing job, if you can sit comfortably through the last 10 minutes of this film…then there’s something very wrong with you! Megan Is Missing will really make you think about what your kids are doing online and who they might be talking to…it’s an important film as well as a frightening one. You can get a copy for yourself over at http://www.meganismissing.com.
Finally, there was a movie that I probably mentioned more than any other this year, it’s a movie that’s so well written that I actually watched it twice back to back…which is pretty rare for me. It’s a movie that I’ve told people that they MUST find and watch, it’s just that good. It’s Zack Parker’s latest, Scalene, and it’s one of the best indie movies that I’ve seen not only this year, but maybe ever…which is saying something, I watch a lot of indie movies every year!! This tale of a jilted woman becomes something more complicated and personal will stay with you and make you rewatch this amazing movie again and again. If you haven’t seen it yet, then don’t just sit there, head over to http://www.facebook.com/pages/SCALENE/186016059605 and find out where it’s showing next and go there…NOW!
Well, there they are, in no particular order, the best movies I saw this year. I don’t rank them from 1 to 10 because that would involve a lot of thinking on my part, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge a filmmaker who worked with next to no money with one who worked with a much larger budget. Each movie is like a child, it should be judged on its own merit….and that’s what I try to do. But, if you’re looking for something to check out to get your new year started off right, you can’t go wrong with any of these movies!
Happy New Movie Year….Brian.