As you grow out of childhood and are exposed to more and more movies, you start to learn your likes and dislikes. Obviously, tastes change- part of the beauty of being human is that we grow emotionally and intellectually- and things we may not have liked at younger ages become the kinds of movies that we enjoy later. But there are always certain staples in movie tastes. These are the genres and storylines that make up the foundation of your movie tastes. There are some genres and storylines that I just can not resist. Even when they’re bad- even when I KNOW they’re going to be bad- I watch anyway. Here are my achilles’ heels:
I go bonkers for surrealist films. If you want to know how much I enjoy surrealist film, look no further than the TDYLF masthead, which playfully features Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou. It doesn’t matter who’s putting it out there, either. Buñuel is obviously a favorite but there’s also Guy Maddin, Alejandro Jodorowsky, the more eclectic works of Alain Resnais… Name any surrealist director and I guarantee that I don’t hate them.
Goodfellas (1990), the first two Godfather films, Scarface (1932), White Heat (1949)… the list could go on and on. They’re some of my favorite movies. I can’t resist the mob. How much do I enjoy films about La Cosa Nostra? I even make it a point to see things like Made (2001).
Universal Creature Features
Specifically, I love the Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Mummy. I’ll defend every one of those originals as legitimately damned good movies. But it doesn’t just stop there. Even though I know that the loads of sequels are mostly garbage (exception: The Bride of Frankenstein), I’ve watched and enjoyed most of them as well. It taps into the child-like wonder that you had the first time it was Halloween and you saw Boris Karloff’s ugly mug on the screen. More specifically…
I love werewolves more than any of the other horror monsters. It’s a really neat built-in character arc. The character starts as a regular schmoe and ends up a monster. It’s something everyone can relate to because we’ve all flown off the handle at one time or another. Admittedly, this is a relative newcomer to this list. It’s only been a few years that I’ve felt this way about werewolf films. And making matters worse, there really aren’t very many good werewolf movies. No problem. It makes the genuinely good ones that much better when you find them.
Alcoholics, Writers, and Alcoholic Writers
Either alcoholics or writers fascinate me to begin with. Put the two together and you’ve got movie magic, my favorite genre out there. It’s extremely clichéd by now but that certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be handled the right way. Somewhat similarly…
Insanity and the descent into insanity
It was this article specifically that prompted me to create this list. As I checked off all of the movies, I realized that seeing people go crazy on screen intrigues me a great deal. I can trace where this particular achilles’ heel started. It was when I was a high school senior taking an A.P. course in psychology. We watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Ken Kesey’s galaxy of goofy characters, brought (loosely) to life by Milos Forman, were a real eye-opener.
Beatniks and/or hippies
I don’t know that anyone would confuse me with a hippie but the spirit of the 50’s and 60’s counterculture has a lot of heart. It resonates for me, even if I don’t live their crazy lifestyle. It was a fascinating time in American history and when it’s brought to life in a movie, I have to see it.
I can’t think of a single baseball movie I won’t watch. Of all the achilles’ heels that I have, this is the strongest. There isn’t a single one of the lot that I’d rule out seeing at some point.
I think the genre name speaks for itself. Holy shit, what could be more scary than an undead creature who covets your brains? How about an undead creature who covets your brains BUT ALSO WAS A NAZI WHEN IT WAS ALIVE?!?! Nazi zombie movies are some of the crappiest viewing fun I’ve ever had.
I should probably note that this excludes J-horror. There are a few good J-horror ghost stories, no doubt, but I don’t have nearly the compulsion to watch them the way I do a classic ghost story. I can’t even begin to describe this compulsion but it’s very real (unlike ghosts themselves). And like some of these other genres, most of these films are mediocre or bad. The truly good ones, though- The Sixth Sense; The Others; Poltergeist; The Changeling– are like crack for me.
1970’s Cop movies
I love these because they’re such a neat little sociology lesson. They were the backlash to the aforementioned lawless hippie anti-heroes of late 60’s and early 70’s movies. It’s through these movie cops that we get an entertaining Moral Majority-eye view of society. I love it. And they’re a lot of fun to boot.
They’re like the classic American western but steeped in greater history and tradition. I can’t think of many samurai films that were truly bad, and that’s a noteworthy accomplishment.