Back in March, I watched all three of Edgar Wright’s major studio releases- Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)– with the trivia track on. Each time a film was referenced in the trivia track, I wrote it down. Then I used the info to create an infographic for each film, listing each film that influenced Wright’s movies. You can find the finished product here.
After I completed it, I showed it to my friend Marty. “Now”, he said, “you have to watch all of those movies”. I laughed it off at first. The last thing I need is another genre or list to binge upon. But he had a point. That list was ripe with potential for good films. And if those movies are good enough for Edgar Wright, they’re sure as hell good enough for me. Eventually, I started tackling the movies that I hadn’t already seen that were listed on those infographics. It’s a slow and steady process but it’s opened up my eyes to some really great movies that I never would have seen otherwise. Thankfully and not surprisingly, Edgar Wright is a damned good ambassador for some unknown films. So far, I’ve seen:
Straw Dogs (1971)
The Sam Peckinpah vengeance classic had been on my radar before I included it in the infographic for Hot Fuzz so it was a natural to watch first off of the list. It was phenomenal and the final 15 minutes left me speechless. It leapfrogged Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) as my favorite Peckinpah film.
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Stephen Chow’s kung fu-action-comedy about soccer has been the highlight so far. It’s a visual feast, it’s funny, and it’s extremely likable. I’d highly recommend it and it’s easy to see the impression it made upon Scott Pilgrim.
Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
I had never even heard of this film when it popped up on the trivia track to Hot Fuzz. I even paused the movie and re-read it to make sure I had written it down correctly because it’s such an odd, unique title. It turns out that it’s one of the kings of the cop movie genre and includes one of the best cop movie endings you’ll find. I’m convinced that somewhere in the desert, there’s a camera crew still pulling back from Robert Blake to amass more footage.
Five Fingers of Death (1972)
I had seen so few kung fu films beforehand and this was the film I caught just as my appreciation for the genre was coming into full bloom. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed Five Fingers of Death. The final act was downright spaghetti westernesque.
You can never ever go wrong with Alfred Hitchcock and he’s at his jolly old perverted best here, linking sexuality and sexual dysfunction with choking.
The Warriors (1979)
Walter Hill fused gangland battles with a comic book feel to create a cult classic. Wright has shown this film a few times at various double features, so he’s obviously a fan.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is apparently a kung fu classic, a must-see for anyone trying to tackle the genre. I know I’m glad I watched it.
Hard Boiled (1992)
It’s hard not to appreciate the incredible choreography of the action sequences and the eastern twist on the classic American cop.
There have also been a handful of genres in general that I’ve been introduced to thanks to those infographics. I’ve loved each of these and they weren’t even on my radar before the infographics:
Jackie Chan and Kung Fu films in general
Drunken Master (1978) was a total blast, sort of a Cantonese Buster Keaton movie featuring kung fu. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1980) was also a lot of fun and I’ve got several more Chan films on the near horizon. The kung fu genre had long been a hole in my movie-watching experience. In the last few months, I’ve managed to tackle a few heavyweights of the genre. In addition to the two listed above (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Five Fingers of Death) and Chan’s Drunken Master, I finally got around to watching Enter the Dragon (1973)
70’s Cop Movies
Thanks to Hot Fuzz and Electra Glide in Blue, I’ve learned to love this genre, so much so that I’m now seeking out 70’s cop films that weren’t specifically listed on the infographics. The most recent that I enjoyed was 1974’s The Super Cops.
I also think it’s worth noting that I now know what the hell a “Busby Berkeley number” is. I can no longer watch The Big Lebowski (1997) without instantly identifying the scene with dancing girls in bowling pin hats as a Busby Berkeley number.