makes one a Chewer? It isn’t just reading CHUD.com regularly, although
that’s a great start. It definitely isn’t being an expert at
mastication. Being a Chewer requires a certain sensibility that’s
outside of the mainstream. Sure, a Chewer can hold his or her own in a Star Wars
OT vs PT argument with a standard movie geek, and sure, a Chewer can go
with the rest of the film snobs to an Ozu revival, but a Chewer also
gets really, really excited about the DVD release of The Manitou.
the next few weeks we’re going to be bringing you The CHUD.com
Essential Films Collection – the films that would be in our dream
Chewer DVD Box Set. These are 50 movies that we think every Chewer
should see and love. This is by no means the definitive list of movies
that make one a Chewer, but it’s a good start. It’s also in no order –
the first films that we list are just as essential as the last ones.
And it’s a list that will leave off the obvious as much as possible –
you don’t need us to tell you to see Lawrence of Arabia or Seven
fire up your Netflix or your Amazon accounts – every day we’ll be
bringing you two movies that are worth seeing, and probably worth
owning as well. Chew on, Chewers.
From Beyond (Where the hell is this DVD anyway?!)
Why it’s Essential:From Beyond comes from the same team that made the much better known and loved Re-Animator: it’s again based on an HP Lovecraft story, it’s again directed by Stuart Gordon, written by Dennis Paoli, stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton and is produced by Brian Yuzna. But where Re-Animator was a splattery romp, filled with plenty of macabre humor, From Beyond is just plain bizarre. There’s definitely tongue in cheek humor going on in the film, but it is more memorable for its strange methods of death, its odd and slimy monsters, and its rampant and deviant sexuality.
There are so many great moments in the film – Ken Foree being eaten alive by otherworldly insects, Jeffrey Combs running around with his pineal gland sticking out of his forehead like a skinny little dick while eating people’s brains, Barbara Crampton in the afore-mentioned leather outfit – but it’s From Beyond‘s general aesthetic, which is like David Cronenberg meets rubber suit monster movies, that makes it so special.
It’s easy to see why Re-Animator gets all the attention – it’s a better film, for one – but From Beyond is exactly the sort of utterly strange splatfest that kept me combing through the VHS tapes at the Video Van in Flushing, Queens when growing up. It’s a hidden gem, a movie that’s still not out on DVD (although we’ve been promised it forever), and the kind of film best watched with a friend so that, when it’s all over, you can turn to him and say, “We actually just saw that, right?”
Why it’s Essential: For one, it’s a brilliant movie. John Boorman has never made a more gorgeous film, and this was initially to be his version of The Lord of the Rings but everyone knows a film about that series wouldn’t be lucrative. Rebuffed, he told his account of the classic tale of a great king and a great quest aided by a great wizard, hobbits be damned. It was a good choice, because a live action Tolkien film shot in the ealry 80’s might have been compelled to have a Donna Summer tune somewhere and that would have been fucking bitchin’.
Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, and a cast of familiar names like Neeson, Byrne, and Mirren team up to create an amazing ensemble in a film that wisely adheres to an “R” rating. As a perky young squatter, I was blown away by the knockers and violence of the film, and it was the first film with that rating I saw in a movie theater. It was a life-changing experience, because I can’t imagine a childhood without a little Gabriel Byrne chameleon rape in it. The story of King Arthur is so damn rich and seeing it given this operatic treatment really allowed the cheesy fantasy of the 80’s to have a nice counterweight and in the same way that Rambo and Commando were muscle and gun porn this was wondrous and sensual armor and sword porn. Whether it’s the green-infused shiny armor worn by the nights, the unforgettable Mordred gold number (so sexy to wear it forced Charley Boorman to ride around the Earth on a bike with Obi-Wan just to recover), the sensual Helen Mirren knockerplate, or the little inverted porridge bowl donned by Merlin, this is a propmaster’s wet dream.
Excalibur has moments of 80’s cheese, but for the most part it’s a mature and slightly button pushing adaptation of classic literature that’s not only a rewarding cinematic experience but also an example of how odd it is that a legendary filmmaker like Boorman, who is still cranking out exceptional work, somehow doesn’t get the same respect and opportunities a lot of his contemporaries do.
Great. Great. Great.