7. Nukie (1987)
Two aliens crash to earth. One alien (Miko) is captured by the Space Federation of the United States and the other (Nukie) lands safely in the African Savannah. Nukie must find help from the inhabitants of this strange new world in order to retrieve his brother, before it’s too late. He finds help from two child brothers, who empathise with this special, familial bond.
Building on the groundwork laid by Steven Spielberg’s E.T. (and improving on it), Nukie is a beautiful and revolutionary film about brotherhood across cultures and even across species. What makes Nukie so revolutionary is its use of two aliens instead of one and it’s subtle mirroring of Nukie and Miko’s characteristics to those of humans on earth, inviting the audience to consider: What’s really the difference?
The film breaks down barriers and in the end, leaves audiences in a frame of mind to be better, kinder people.
8. Troll 2 (1990)
The first film in the Troll saga was a pretty good fantasy film, featuring a teenage boy named Harry Potter Jr, who finds out about a magical world and aspires to be a wizard (an idea before its time). Troll 2 takes all of the best elements of Troll to the next level.
A family of four visit a small town for a holiday, but something is terribly wrong. The only one who knows this is Joshua, the youngest son, who constantly receives warnings from the vision of his grandpa Seth.
Joshua does all he can to stop his family from eating the food offered to them, which turns out to be tainted with Troll magic that would turn the eater into a plant, suitable for consumption by the vegetarian Trolls. He has to keep this up for the whole holiday, by any means necessary, even as his family grow hungrier and more agitated.
Troll 2 is perhaps the most original concept ever filmed. It has a surreal, Lynchian quality (though this far surpasses any David Lynch film). When the family first arrives in the town, around midday, Holly observes that the town is entirely empty. Joshua’s father remarks that “This is a farming community. Remember, at this time of night everybody goes to sleep.” Moments like which unravel the viewer’s common sense create a dreamlike quality in which this film thrives.
9. Birdemic (2010)
By far the best romantic-thriller film about birds ever to be made (yes, superior to the Alfred Hitchcock time waster; The Birds (1963)). If one takes into account the budget constraints, it’s clear that this is a work displaying tremendous skill and understanding of film form.
Rod is a wealthy, young investor who falls in love with a model and ex-classmate named Nathalie. The film follows the slow blooming of their romance. Their careers improve along with everything else in their lives. Finally, they’re ready to be intimate with one another. They make love in a sweet, little motel room.
Then, as if to emphasise the gravity of this climax, a kind of apocalypse begins, in which birds have turned on people. They crash into cars and gas stations, causing explosions and enormous destruction. Rod and Nathalie must fight to survive, but the real question is left unanswered:
Why would these birds attack?
10. The Room (2003)
A harrowing drama that will have you in tears. Johnny is basically a perfect guy. He’s friends with everyone he meets and everyone respects him. He provides for his fiancée by bringing her fancy clothes and even pays the college fees for an orphan named Denni.
The only problem is his ungrateful fiancée, Lisa. For some reason she doesn’t love him. She wants to leave him and she forces Johnny’s best friend Greg to sleep with her. Johnny overhears that she is no longer in love with him, but perfect guy that he is, gives her a second chance. Perhaps a crucial mistake.
Denni, who sees Johnny as something of a father figure, gets involved with drugs, but everything ends up being okay. All of this comes to a head in a way that potently brings home the film’s themes.
It’s a story of the ugliest betrayal and the consequences of abusing the best qualities of good, flawless people like Johnny.
11. Elves (1989)
The Christmas story to bring about the end of all Christmas stories. Three teenage, virgin girls accidentally perform a ritual to summon an evil elf. Santa, a hard-boiled, ex-detective, uncovers a Nazi plot to have one of the virgin girls mate with a genetically created elf, give birth to the master race and bring about the apocalypse.
Elves is by far the most revolutionary of all noir films in cinema history. It adds a dark, neo-noir twist to the happy Christmas genre of movies. It also plays masterfully with all the tropes, from the femme-fatale being fatal to the entire world, to the detective talking to himself, in place of the voice-over.
The best part of the film is the sequence in which Santa Claus (the mall Santa, who shares many characteristics with the real Santa, which makes you wonder) researches the symbol he’s seen repeatedly, throughout the film. He discovers bit by bit, the entire conspiracy and all of its possibilities. This sequence’s brilliance is in its willingness to leave the question open: Is this simply the doing of a Nazi cult or is this a supernatural event? The film rides the line between the two, perfectly.
This is a Christmas-noir for the ages, well crafted and capable of contending with the best of them.
12. Wish Upon (2017)
Clare’s father has an embarrassing habit of digging through trash, because he’s a hoarder. One day his digging finds him a great gift for Clare; a strange, Chinese box that grants seven wishes, but the price (unbeknownst to Clare) is always the death of somebody she knows.
Clare gets everything she wishes for, while people around her die in freak, Final Destination type accidents. When Clare discovers the nature of the box and the consequences of her wishes, the dilemma becomes clear. She can destroy the box and have her wishes undone or she can keep the box and keep wishing, allowing people she loves to die. She also can’t keep the box without wishing, the movie explains why.
A stellar example of how deeply a philosophical concept can be explored in cinema, while still remaining entertaining and engaging. It’s a master work of pacing and tension.
Author Bio: Michael is a freelance videographer in South Africa, you can check out his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmuwiPYwP01F4GLUMJQgS2Q.