Dead Alive – (Peter Jackson) Before hitting it big with mainstream fare like Lord of the Rings, Jackson directed this ultra-campy zombie flick. Lionel’s life is made worse than it already was after his mother is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey and mutates into a vicious zombie. Soon she isn’t the only one. One of the goriest movies of all time and one of the few that can claim that the hero literally mows down endless hordes of the undead. Features a pile of internal organs begging for mercy with a contrite pair of lungs upraised and a look of remorse on its severed-ventricle face.
Artistry: ** Fun: **** Strangeness: **
Dead Man – (Jim Jarmusch) This B/W, existential take on the western remains one of the most unusual and yet compelling entries into the genre ever made. William Blake (Johnny Depp) plays a scholarly character completely out of his depth in the frontier. After killing a man, he escapes into the woods and becomes reliant on an Indian named Nobody. Humor, staccato violence, surprise cameos and religious imagery soon follow.
Artistry: **** Fun: *** Strangeness: *****
Death Race 2000 – (Paul Bartel) In the near future, benevolent dictator Mr. President hosts America’s most popular sport: the Death Race. The object isn’t who comes in first but who can kill the most civilians along the way (bonus points for women, children and the elderly). Cyborg hero Frankenstein (David Carradine) is favored to win but Machine-Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone), cowgirl Calamity Jane, neo-Nazi Mathilda the Hun and gladiator Nero the Hero are all hungry for victory. Meanwhile, a group of rebels attempt to halt the proceedings. Personalized cars, over-the-top violence, quotable quips and sexism made this an instant cult classic.
Artistry: ** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ****
Dead Ringers – (David Cronenberg) Although Elliot and Beverly Mantle, twin gynecologists, have identical bodies, their personalities are very much divergent. Confident Elliot seduces patients and then secretly switches places with shy Beverly. An encounter with a rare abnormality in an alluring patient brings tension to the relationship and before long the brothers’ personalities begin to merge and disintegrate in an unhealthy manner. Based on a true story.
Artistry: *** Fun: ** Strangeness: ****
Delicatessen – (Jean-Pierre Juenet) In a desperate portrait of near-future France, the hungry residents of a run-down apartment secretly agree to hire handymen and then kill them to be sold at the ground floor butcher shop. Macabre and delightfully humorous, Juenet uses music, idiosyncratic characters and an impeccable detailed mise-en-scene to create a world uniquely his own.
Artistry: **** Fun: ***** Strangeness: *****