Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Five Favorite Films of 1964

1964 is not one of the best years of the '60s, but that doesn't mean some of the greatest films aren't truly amazing. 1965 is probably worse, too, so don't expect much from my next list either (whenever I get around to it, that is). Anyway, here are my favorites from 1964, one, two, three, GO!

5. The Masque Of The Red Death
Directed by Roger Corman

While House Of Usher is still probably my favorite Corman/Price/Poe movie, Masque of the Red Death is a very, very close second. Maybe watching it again I'll put this higher, but hey, it's not a competition. They aren't even on the same list, for goodness sake. But with that being said, I still hold this film in high regard and consider it one of the best movies Vincent Price was ever involved with. The dark setting and cynical nature of its lead subject make for an intriguing and twistedly enjoyable experience. With its vibrant use of the color red, in particular, much of this film comes across as a sort of Hammer-esque gothic thriller, though generally more fun to watch due to Vincent Price's totally evil and exaggerated performance. It's not terrifying, but it is creepy and visually one of the most impressive movies of its time. It would be higher on this list, but there's another movie that springs to mind which is even more visual. And that movie is called...

4. Soy Cuba
Directed by Mikhael Kalatozov

I've heard this referred to as the film with the greatest cinematography ever. While I would say that title is definitely up for debate, I wouldn't be opposed to including it in the argument. The free form feel of this movie makes it less of a narrative to focus on, and more just a visual experience to immerse yourself in. Three chapters, all of which tying in to the main subject of Cuba, but that really isn't the point of this movie. At least, not for the viewers. Shot in black and white with ahead-of-its-time use of camera angles and incredible uninterrupted long takes, the camera scales buildings, passes under water, and navigates busy streets. It's a film that needs to be seen at least by any fans of cinematography and the artistry going into creating magnificent visuals.

3. Blood And Black Lace
Directed by Mario Bava

And here's another visual stunner. Mario Bava (AKA one of the greatest, most visionary directors of all-time) earned my respect with Black Sunday, but it was with this film that he pretty much blew me away. The sense of dread and atmosphere this film offers is a significant cut above almost any other director of his time, and when you pair that with his incredible use of cinematography and skillful editing, you get one of the greatest early slashers ever made. As you can see from the image above, this movie combines bright color with high contrast lighting, giving it a surreal and vibrant visual style that helped define the giallo film. It is probably only my second favorite Bava, but that still puts it elite standinf, as far as I am concerned.

2. Kwaidan
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Okay, this one is also a fantastic looking movie, but much like some of the others on here it is far more than that. As far as horror movies go, this is among the greatest ever made. And if I were to make a list of the greatest movies of the 1960s as a whole, it would probably land somewhere near the top 10. Horror anthologies are rarely this consistent and the fact it was able to tell several tales so effectively is something of a small miracle. Each segment offers incredible visuals, thrills, and fleshed-out stories that never feel rushed or prolonged. This is a creepy and totally haunting experience that truly ranks among the finest ghost stories ever put to film.

1. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

If one person has said it, 10 million have: Dr. Strangelove is one of the greatest comedies ever made. Influential in a handful of ways and far too clever for just one movie, there are so many things to love about this Stanley Kubrick comedy, it becomes difficult to remember them all. Peter Sellers gives one of the great comedic performances of all time, with George C. Scott stealing every moment in a hilarious supporting role. Famously adapted from a serious Cold War novel, this movie showed how incredible Kubrick was at taking inspiration from one source and putting an ingenius new spin on it in the most entertaining way possible. And who can forget Slim Pickens riding the bomb like a mechanical bull? Or the titular Dr. Strangelove's attempts to strangle himself with his rogue nazi-hand? There are a handful of quotes from this movie I still use on a regular basis, and find myself coming back to it every year or two, laughing the entire way through. As far as comedies go this one holds up over time as well as any of them, and would still rank among my favorite movies of the '60s -- and of all-time.

Alright, there is my 1964 list. I know I didn't go into too many details here, but I have been focusing much more on my horror projects lately, so I didn't want to write too much about these movies just to (potentially) turn right around and do it again. So, again, I apologize if the descriptions were too short. But thank you for reading either way.

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