8. The Apple (1980) Directed by Menahem Golan
Ever seen a cinematic ‘perfect storm’, where a film is so awful that it becomes strangely compelling? “The Apple” is that perfect storm. Shot in Germany in the late Seventies and set in the futuristic year of 1994, it’s equal parts Genesis (bible, not the band), “1984” and Eurovision Song Contest. The choreography was done by a very young and impressionable Nigel Lythgoe from the American edition of “So You Think You Can Dance?”
Apparently, at a preview screening in the States, audience members were given copies of the soundtrack; this was pre CDs and back in the vinyl days. From all reports, there was extensive damage done to the screen due to people throwing their soundtracks at it!
A film that will make you slap yourself in the forehead repeatedly, “The Apple” is basically “Xanadu” on crack!
9. Inchon (1981) Directed by Terence Young
Funded by Korean money, this is an utterly absurd and borderline incompetent retelling of America’s invasion of Inchon during the Korean War in 1950. Featuring an awful, borderline surreal performance from Sir Laurence Olivier (during his late career ‘I’ll do anything for cash’ stage), Jaqueline Bissett and Ben Gazarra, this is a textbook example of how not to do a big epic war film.
Over the years, it has all but disappeared into obscurity. At the time, it was probably on par with Michael Cimino’s equally infamous “Heaven’s Gate” (also (1981) in regards to how exorbitant the cost to make it was in ratio to the meagre amount it made at the box office.
10. Big Meat Eater (1982) Directed by Chris Windsor
There was definitely something in the water back in 1982. A sci-fi comedy musical, “Big Meat Eater” truly defies categorisation, with enough ideas to run about ten films. A humble butcher discovers that some of his product is radioactive. Combine this with a psychotic apprentice and friendly aliens that visit to help the butcher and you’ve got one hell of a ride.
Very much a tribute to B-grade science fiction films of the low budget variety, “Big Meat Eater” is one of those films that has unfortunately slipped through the cracks over time.
11. Liquid Sky (1982) Directed by Slava Tsukerman
This one’s truly out of the box. A savage, unflinching satire of the early Eighties punk/fashion scene in New York, it has a unique take on the old science fiction template of aliens coming to Earth. Instead of wanting to conquer our race, they’re simply here looking for heroin! Coincidentally, the human brain creates the same chemical makeup of heroin at the point of orgasm! The alien craft land on the roof of a fashion model named Margaret, and pretty much kill anyone she’s intimate with.
A true original in that it was made by an entirely Russian crew in America, featuring a cast of unknown American actors, “Liquid Sky” is, by turns, startling, wildly unpredictable and a true ‘love it or hate it’ experience. Once seen, never forgotten.
12. Get Crazy (1983) Directed by Allan Arkush
Set at a New Year’s Eve rock concert in New York, this is truly a riotous, anarchic, anything goes comedy that has energy to burn. It’s one of those comedies that basically has everything but the kitchen sink, throwing anything it can against the wall for a laugh and, amazingly, most of it sticks.
Featuring drug dealing aliens, a priceless running gag about the blues standard “Hootchie Cootchie Man”, Lou Reed providing a deadpan and very funny pisstake on Bob Dylan playing a musician/poet named Auden (who said Lou Reed didn’t have a sense of humour to him?), this one is well worth hunting down.
13. In A Glass Cage (1986) Directed by Augusti Villaronga
A Spanish film from the mid-Eighties, this is one of those films that’s capable of leaving incision marks on your soul. While using little to no onscreen violence, “In A Glass Cage” is twenty times more disturbing and cathartic than any torture porn film you could care to name.
A former Nazi doctor and paedophile is befriended by a mysterious boy while hiding in Spain after a suicide attempt that has left the war criminal in an iron lung. A deeply disturbing look at the idea of evil transferring from generation to generation, for those that love their envelope pushing, challenging cinema, “In A Glass Cage” is truly essential viewing,
14. Santa Sangre (1989) Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky
When you fall in love with a director and his work, you never forget the first time you discovered him. Such was the case with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Santa Sangre”. Most famous for his early Seventies cult films, “El Topo” (1970) and “The Holy Mountain” (1973), this was his attempt to find a more mainstream audience.
“Santa Sangre” is a heady, intoxicating brew of a film, it’s set in Mexico and follows a family of circus performers. To tell you more would be a crime, except to say that thematically it bears a more than passing resemblance to the benchmark Alfred Hitchcock film “Psycho” (1960).
However, “Santa Sangre” is as wildly different to that aforementioned masterpiece as you can get. I can promise you from now, you’ve never seen anything in the cinematic landscape that looks and moves like this astounding work.
15. Tapeheads (1989) Directed by Bill Fishman
An early vehicle for both John Cusack and Tim Robbins, this is another of those gleefully playful music-based comedies with boundless energy. What sets this one apart is its satirical edge. Taking aim at late-Eighties America in general and, in particular, the music industry and MTV, it features a plethora of cameo appearances from musical identities of the time.
It’s dead on skewering of the music industry of the time is laser sharp and, at times, incredibly funny. An absolute gem, “Tapeheads” is one film that truly deserves a wider audience than the one that greeted it upon its release.
Author Bio: Neil is a journalist, labourer, forklift and truck driver. In a previous life, he was a projectionist for ten years. He is a lifelong student of cinema.