7. Il Diavolo in Corpo (Devil in The Flesh) (Italy, 1986)
Giuila is an Italian wife with a questionable mental stability and an overactive sex drive. While her husband is in jail and on trial for politically radical crimes, a high school boy, Andrea, develops an obsession with her. Andrea’s father, who is also Giuila’s psychoanalyst, expresses his disapproval of the union, but the two lovers’ relationship only intensifies.
Italian director Marco Bellocchio’s adaptation of “Le Diable Au Corps” by novelist Raymond Radiquet, is also a remake of a 1946 French feature of the same name. The 1986 Italian erotic drama gained a notorious reputation in addition to an X rating for its improvised scene involving fellatio. The French actress who plays Giuila (Maruschka Detmers) would later regret that cinematic first for a non-pornographic, mainstream film, being that it casted a negative shadow over her other career achievements.
8. Dogs in Space (Australia, 1986)
A suburban Melbourne chaotic squat punk house inhabited by band known as Dogs In Space, some of their friends, fans and extended family members.
At the center of the household is the singer Sam (Michael Hutchence of the Australian band INXS) and his girlfriend Anna (Saskia Post). Day to day existence is rather a party for most of the people, but others maintain jobs or are students. Sam’s mother checks in periodically and remain blissfully ignorant about her son’s self-destructive habits, but supportive of his artistic individuality.
Set in the heyday of Australia’s punk scene in the late 1970s, the script was based on director Richard Lowenstein’s experiences living in shared housing. The lead role was based on Sam Sejavka of the band The Ears and charismatically portrayed by Michael Hutchence, in one of his few acting performances.
Contributions to the out-of-print soundtrack were made by Australian bands from that scene, like the Boys Next Door (aka the Birthday Party), Thrush & The Cunts and the Primitive Caculators, in addition to Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, Gang Of Four and others. Due to an “R” rating, box office totals turned it into a sought after cult classic on video, until being released on DVD in 2009.
9. Dandy (Germany, 1988)
Within the countries of Germany, Spain, Japan, Egypt, Marrakesh, the Himalayas and the USA, an eclectic assortment of characters ponder the end of the world, the emptiness of alienation and the indifference or importance of love, spirituality, culture and war-minded politics. A merging of anarchistic and nihilistic philosophies blended with striking symbolisms and multi-layered metaphors, with a kaleidoscopic sensibility and soundtrack.
German-Australian director Peter Sempel’s “Dandy” is a dream-like journey and experimental documentary lucidly and loosely based interpretation of Voltaire’s “Candide”. Though seemingly plotless, but never not captivating or thought-provoking. The most coherent connecting factors are the music and performance pieces by Nina Hagen, Blixa Bargeld (of Einsturzende Neubauten and the Bad Seeds), Nick Cave, Lene Lovich, Dieter Meier (of Yello) and Kazuo Ohno.
10. Whoops Apocalypse (England, 1988)
The newly appointed President of the USA (Loretta Swit) is hoping to smooth out a conflict between England and a Caribbean Communist island. The British Prime Minister (Peter Cook) is clinically insane by bringing back public crucifixion and waging a war on pixies.
A nuclear air strike seems eminent after peace talks are sabotaged and the British Princess is taken hostage by the terrorist and master of disguise known as Lacrobat (Michael Richards). Meanwhile, two CIA agents posing as journalists wind up on a deserted island uncover a Soviet missile base.
Initially, “Whoops Apocalypse” was a British sitcom consisting of six episodes in 1982 that parodied Ronald Reagan, right wing fundamentalists, English leaders and Cold War politics. The unknown director Tom Bussmann was brought on for the 1988 feature, but never gained much distribution nor critical acceptance or be revered as a political premonition.
While there are differences between the film and the sitcom, some of the cast is retained in addition to some plot point commonalities, like the terrorist Lacrobat, originally played by John Cleese on the series.
11. Meet The Feebles (New Zealand, 1989)
Backstage at a variety hour show, the lives of the cast and crew are in a shambles. After being insulted by Trevor, a drug-dealing porn directing rat, the emotionally unstable main starlet, Heidi The Hippo, tells her lover and the show’s producer, Bletch The Walrus, who is having an affair with a Siamese cat named Samantha.
To make matters more chaotic, another important star, Harry The Rabbit, has contracted a mysterious disease and has a tabloid reporting fly buzzing around with intentions of blackmail and destroying the production. An over-worked director, Sebastian The Fox, grows increasingly frustrated with Wynyard The Frog, a heroin addicted knife-thrower who suffers flashbacks from being a POW in Vietnam.
What could be best described as The Muppets On Acid, “Meet The Feebles” is a gritty and gross, but darkly comedic satire on the personal lives of a problematic television show production crew. All the characters are either puppets or actors in animal costumes with the backdrop of colorful, yet grotesque sets.
Although a commercial flop upon its release, the feature would gain a cult following by the late 1990s. During the acceptance speech for winning multiple Academy Awards for “The Lord Of The Rings” in 2004, New Zealand director, Peter Jackson would joke that his second film (“The Feebles”) was over-looked by the committee.
12. Highway 61 (Canada, 1991)
Pokey is a lonely, naive barber living in a small town in Canada. One morning, he finds the frozen dead body of a metal head dude in his backyard. The local newspaper does a cover story on this discovery and is read by Jackie, a drug smuggling roadie. She enters Pokey’s sleepy barbershop, changes her blonde to red and tells him that the corpse is her brother.
Reluctantly, Pokey agrees to use his deceased parents’ car to drive Jackie and the coffin to New Orleans for the funeral, taking the famous route of travel, Highway 61. Meanwhile, Satan is hot on their tail, collecting souls and playing bingo for spending cash.
“Highway 61” is a dark, romantic road movie, that is entertaining and unpredictable. Plenty of colorful characters and cameos from musicians like Jello Biafra, Tav Falco and the late Tracy Wright. It is also part of the director Bruce MacDonald’s trilogy, which includes “Roadkill” and “Hard Core Logo”. In 2001, Playback Magazine had listed “Highway 61” at #15 on the Best Films from Canada.
13. Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on The Bridge) (France, 1991)
A homeless fire-blowing performer named Alex is also an alcoholic and addicted to sedatives. On the Pont-Neuf bridge, which is under re-construction, he squats with an older German drug dealer, Hans. Much to the elder’s dismay, another vagrant has moved into their closed off area and he aggressively wants the person to leave.
Alex discovers that it is a beautiful female painter, Michele, who is going blind and ended up on the streets after a failed relationship. The two artists become romantically involved, yet both continue to get drunk, sick and co-dependent. Michele’s family goes on a public campaign to find her for a potentially curable treatment, but Alex worries that she will leave him if she regains her sight.
Shot during the Bicentennial Celebrations in France of 1989, screenwriter and director, Leos Carax, creates a lyrically beautiful yet gritty love letter to Paris. It would go on to be one his successful film’s to date, despite an initial difficulty with securing the financing, bad weather and an actor’s injury. The performances are real, even if at times they are painful to endure.