5. Tokyo Gore Police
A must-see for fans of gore-soaked ultra-violence, Tokyo Gore Police is a career high for special effects creator Yoshihiro Nishimura (who also directed), who designs the kind of creatures you don’t see in Hollywood fare, including a crocodile woman, a gangster with a six foot penis gun (whose lethal projectiles never miss) and breasts that produce flesh-devouring toxic waste.
Anyway, the plot: genetically modified super-criminals are on the loose in Japan and their ability to grow weapons from any injury means they’re proving tough to defeat. Known as “engineers”, they’re re hunted across Tokyo by Ruka (Eihi Shiina, who’s also in Takashi Miike’s Audition) a samurai sword-wielding heroine who self-mutilates in order to stave off flashbacks to her father’s murder.
Intercut with all this are fake TV advertisements that make Robocop seem subtle. Best of all is the ad extolling the virtues of Tokyo’s privatized police force (“We will protect you!”) who claim to have no mercy for criminals….and immediately gun down a murderer live on film.
“Privatizing the police force will lead to more plentiful lives for us,” claims the narrator. “For a better society – Tokyo Police Corporation!”
Blood, monsters and satire – why can’t Hollywood make films like this?
4. The Descent
The Descent has a shot at being the best British horror film since 28 Days Later, with which it bears comparison – it’s a grim, unrelenting survivalist drama, very different from director Neil Marshall’s earlier Dog Soldiers (2002).
Released in the UK shortly before The Cave, The Descent tells a very similar story about trapped explorers, but does so with more verve and conviction. Here, the characters don’t have “cannon fodder” written all over them, and since we care about whether or not they live, Marshall’s able to ratchet up the tension to almost unbearable levels.
In the US theatrical cut, the film ended abruptly and bizarrely, with Shauna Macdonald escaping the cavern and returning to her car, only to run into one of her supposedly dead friends. The original British ending, where Macdonald’s escape was revealed to have been a dream, makes more sense, even if it borrows heavily from Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.
3. Bad Milo
When office worker Duncan (Ken Marino) develops stomach pains, he doesn’t expect them to be caused by a demon living in his intestines, who periodically absconds to murder those causing Duncan stress at work. The only person who can help is Highsmith (Peter Stormare), a loony New Age therapist whose solution to every problem seems to lie in shouting and destroying furniture.
Lying somewhere between the films of Frank Henenlotter and Adam Green, Bad Milo isn’t exactly done in the best possible taste, but the film eschews cheap jokes and non-stop flatulence gags in order to tell a credible story – well, as credible as a movie about a butt demon named Milo can get, anyway.
There’s blood, pathos and never a dull moment as Duncan comes to realize that Milo is still connected to him – whatever anyone does to Milo, Duncan also feels. As you can imagine, this makes curtailing the little critter’s rampages a tad difficult.
2. Godzilla Resurgence
Kaiju fans rejoice: Godzilla Resurgence (aka Shin Godzilla) is the movie that Hollywood promised (and failed to deliver) in 1998 and 2014 – a fast-paced blockbuster short on build-up but long on city-smashing mayhem. Within the first 20 minutes, we’re watching Godzilla stomp cities and evade helicopter gunships, but the excellent effects mean we never feel like we’re watching footage from a video game.
Unregulated dumping of radioactive material has resulted in the creation of a creature codenamed Godzilla, but this is no po-faced American rehash that beats around the bush, this is a movie that cuts right to the action. The characters make sense, the plot has no room for nonsense and the effects will leave your jaw on the floor. This is spectacular stuff.
There’s no shortage of fun, but the movie has something else the American remakes failed to include – mischievous satire. When the Japanese turn to the US for support, an American team humourlessly deliver their verdict: the only way to stop Godzilla is by dropping a third bomb on the city.
1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
A contender for the greatest killer Santa movie ever, Rare Exports answers a question every horror fan has asked themselves: “What would happen if the Coen brothers decided to remake The Thing?”
When a villager finds several local reindeer torn to pieces, he resolves to find the perpetrator and soon captures a snarling, bearded old man. Could this be connected to a local archaeological dig where a creature was discovered trapped in ice? It is, it’s not long before the old man’s “little helpers” turn up to free him and assist him in wreaking havoc.
Digging considerably deeper into folklore than Silent Night Deadly Night, Black Christmas et al, this Finnish movie returns to Santa’s roots as a mythical character who was far more interested in punishing the naughty than rewarding the good. A prequel of sorts to director Jalmari Helander’s shorts Rare Exports Inc and The Official Rare Exports Inc (where wild Santas are captured by hunters and trained to be child-friendly bearers of seasonal gifts), Rare Exports will make everyone understand the true meaning of Christmas.