A Movie Collector’s Manifesto

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. My apologies, I can hear how frustrated you all are. The comments section is fuller than EVER! Some of you cannot bare to go on living. Chillax my people, calm your voices. Today you will recieve a list so great…so extended…so chock full of – whatever you want a list to be full of …that your head will go all ‘Exorcist‘. Yupp, right round baby, right round.

It’s the Top Twenty Film Franchises of all time – according to moi! Not five, not ten, but twenty. I worked overtime for you lucky bastards. I hear you holding your applause out of respect, well done! Complete silence is often the best show of support – oh look, a tumbleweed!

So first of all, what is a film franchise? To me a franchise is any movie with more than one sequel, preferably which are not pre-planned. That means that trilogies are fine, but not ones that are based on an original book trilogy. Make sense? Basically, I’m ruling out stuff like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films. There are movies with literary sources included in this list, but the books and comics were all written sequentially with no pre-planned plot arc in mind. Lord of the Rings on the other hand is basically one film in three parts and the Harry Potter films are of course based on a much larger story that J. K. Rowling herself  claims to have had all planned from the beginning. Maybe some of you will contest that, or maybe she’s just lying, either way it doesn’t matter. I don’t like Lord of the Rings and I’m not a big Harry Potter fan either, so you wouldn’t see them on this list either way. You could make an argument, however, for the James Bond movies. Not only are they almost all based on sequentially written books, but there are twenty-two of them! Surely that would make it the greatest film franchise of all time, no? No. With the exception of a few movies, James Bond is dead cold to me. Never have been, nor will I probably ever be, a big James Bond fan either.

So what do I consider a good franchise, and how do I decide where to rank them? It’s a complicated equation, cross-comparing the amount of films in the franchise with the individual quality of each one. It looks something like this:

It’s complicated, I know. Don’t worry about it, just trust me when I say – it works! Also, before you ask; yes, I have seen every film on this list. All the originals, all the sequels, all the remakes…everything. I’m just saying that so you’ll know that I’m qualified to have these opinions.

Ok, too much chit-chat not enough list-chat, let’s get going. Starting at the bottom we have a couple of essential classics…

Friday the 13th! A nice one for us to warm up on. It was the birth of the slasher formula, which went as such; big scary man with large knife chases innocent virgin girl and murders all her friends in increasing creative and elaborate ways. Yes, every single film followed that exact formula. Is it any wonder that the movies got wackier and wackier in every other way as they went on?

Over the course of his life on the screen, Jason Voorhees has died, died, died again at the hands of a child, died at the hands of a girl with psychic powers, been to New York, been to hell, and finally…been to space. For a mentally retarded zombie he’s accomplished quite a bit. Hell, he’s experienced more than I have in life, and I actually have a life. As in, I have a beating heart!

Parts I, II, and III are worth watching. I’d recommend them if for nothing else but some film history. It will help you to understand how Jason came to be, as well as how he happened upon his now iconic hockeymask-and-machete combo. Parts IV, V, VI, and VII, are a bizarre mix of weird and boring. They bring in telepathy and telekinesis, neither of which make the movies any more interesting. Finally, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X, all have their quirky little hooks. Actually, with Jason Takes Manhattan – once you’ve read the title you’ve seen the film, so on second thought don’t bother with that one. Jason Goes to Hell has a lot of fire in it…sooo if you like that – knock yourself out. Jason X is kinda fun though, I have to admit. Not only does he get cryogenically frozen and transported onto a spaceship, he…oh no wait, that’s it actually. The remake was ok, but not all I’d hoped it might be.

Not long after Friday the 13th, we had another terrific slasher debut with A Nightmare on Elm Street. The concept was that of a dead child molester appearing in the dreams of teenagers…and killing them, obviously. What made it unique was Freddy Krueger’s ability to reach his victims at their most vulnerable. You are never safe from him, even in your own mind. It was great the first time, okay the second time, not so great the third time…and the rest carried on from there.

Obviously the first one is a classic (and it features Johnny Depp, for you ladies out there…and men of that persuasion), but after that it went prettymuch straight downhill. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are about teenagers sharing in the same dreams, collectively, and fighting Freddy Krueger together. Inception, anyone?

In the end there was an interesting little improvement with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. This was a strange film, but oddly charming. It took a step out of the ‘Freddy world’ and instead created another Nightmare on Elm Street horror story around the day-to-day activities of the actors and crew who made the first film. Isn’t that weird? Wes Craven even plays a part in it – he plays Wes Craven, director of A Nightmare on Elm Street! It’s not great, but it’s an interesting idea at least.

Finally, there was the remake. Urgh…what a turd that was! Please don’t ever see it, I beg of you. Save yourself a nightmare. Hah! What, no drums to play me off? Lame.

From slasher to torture, number 18 is of course Saw, the modern killer franchise. I remember seeing the first saw on a crappy laptop with terrible speakers and a ‘PROPERTY OF LIONS GATE PICTURES’ logo stamped across the bottom of the screen. That’s right, I downloaded the fucker illegally. Whatever, I bought the film afterwards – so sue me!

The creator of Cinemarant would like to inform the affiliates of Lionsgate that this is not a proper lawsuit invitation.

Always gotta cover you ass, you know? So anyways, I loved it. I seriously consider the first Saw to be one of the best movies of the 2000’s. It’s a smart, simple, and yet revolutionary little serial killer movie. Then…there were the sequels…

I like how the posters kind of tell a little story in the middle there.

Saw, Saw II, and Saw III are all good enough to buy, I think. They work as a nice little trilogy. Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI, and Saw 3D are all derivative. That is, unless you want to see the lead singer of Linkin Park with his back-skin superglued to a car seat. In that case – watch Saw 3D.

These posters do not tell  story…

…unless the story is – “Mel and Danny have guns”, “Mel and Danny still have guns”, “Mel and Danny now have guns and Joe Pesci”, and finally ” Neither Mel, Danny, Joe, Chris, Rene, or Jet Li have guns anymore”.

Ok, they’re buddy-cop movies, but they’re good buddy-cop movies. The action is great and the humour is spot on. None of the films are terrible, they all have their moments, but I would say that the first and the fourth are the best.

Hands up, who saw the TV show? Pffft. Ok, I’ve seen a couple episodes of it, but sure – I saw the films first.

It was the mid-90’s, Tom Cruise was sane, Brian DePalma was known, and the Mission Impossible series was ripe for the big screen. The following is the result:

Movie adaptations of TV shows often land badly, but this one didn’t. It was a proper mixture of tension, espionage, paranoia, internal corruption, handsome characters, and ridiculously over-the-top action scenes. There’s so much to love about the first M:I film. M:I 2 only had the action and the style. Decent style, though, coming from John Woo. M:I 3  is a nicely gritty re-take on the material, complete with all new J. J. Abrams. Ghost Protocol is boring though, meh.

Alright, here’s another one of my outside-the-mainstream opinions which will more than likely make you vomit a little inside your mouth. I actually don’t think that Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are the best cinematic manifestations there are of the caped crusader. To explain why we must go thought the genealogy:

(Technically The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises can be considered remakes of Batman and Batman Returns, but I categorised them as prequels for simplicity’s sake.) Ok, so…

The original film, seen in the middle there, was pretty damn good. Tim Burton brought in the gothic sensibility, appealed to an adult audience, and removed all traces of the camp “shark repellant” approach. Then he stepped back, took a look at his work, and decided he hadn’t gone far enough. What followed was the best Batman movie ever: Batman Returns! It’s dark, cruel, unforgiving, and has a plot akin to a Greek tragedy. Great, wonderful, now what should we do? I know, let’s give the franchise to Joel Schumacher! Big mistake!

The name Schumacher comes from the German for “shoe maker”, no joke. In fact it’s quite appropriate seeing as these films marched their way into infamy for being the strangest, brightest, glossiest, gayest, and worst Batman renditions ever to be committed to celluloid. When I say gayest, i mean gayest! Check out the Chris O’Donnell section of my Top Ten Most Boring Male Actors Ever list for further detail.

So once Batman was officially declared dead by a panel of experts in 1997, along came a young Frankenstein names Christopher Nolan and attempted to zap life back into the fallen hero. It worked, both financially and culturally. Batman was cool again, and since then he’s made Warner Brothers over a billion dollars with The Dark Knight. I have yet to see The Dark Knight Rises,and I am interested to see how it will turn out, but let me just say this…

Batman Begins was very good, in fact I’d say it was possibly even better than the original Batman. The Dark Knight, on the other hand, had some major flaws I simply couldn’t overlook. I won’t harp on about it but the scene with the ships, and the many of you who have seen it will know what I’m talking about, is such a mistake. It’s a Teletubby “group hug” moment that makes me want to grab a razor and start off ‘down the stream’. Batman should not be a message of hope for all of humanity, I’m offended by that notion! Batman is about insanity, tragedy, desperation, and corruption. It’s about the irony of a man dressing as a bat and distinguishing himself from one who dresses like a clown. It’s about the need to descend into the world of those you’re trying to disempower and thereby risking your own moral perspective. It’s about motives, violence, senselssness, and uses Gotham as a metaphor for the coalition of human depravity – a modern Sodom and Gomorra to which Batman is the sole answer. It’s not about “the love inside each and every one of us, naaaww”. Urgh, someone give me a bucket, I feel my lunch coming back up. A good 85% of the film managed to explore these themes dead-on, but in the last few minutes it completely fell apart and I have trouble forgiving it for that.

Still, the series has been an epic one, travelling to hell and back. It certainly deserves its spot on the list.

This was always going to be here, there’s no denying that. The Back to the Future films make a great little cheesy trilogy. You can tell that everyone, including the person who made the poster thought “if it works, why change it?”

Alright, so the setting is shifted slightly from movie to movie, but the premise remains. Michael J. Fox has to get “back to the future”.

I’ve always wanted them to make a fourth Back to the Future movie while Christopher Lloyd is still acting and Michael J. Fox can still maintain his composure with enough medication. Too harsh?

Sorry Michael, I love you man. You’ve helped fortify some of my most cherished cinematic childhood memories, and for that alone you deserve all the help and support in the world. I can only hope that stem-cell research is pushed through and realised the way you and so many others desperately need it to be. In the meantime though, how about another Back to the Future, ey?

Now we’re talkin’! John Carpenter is a genius and Halloween is one of those movies that shaped the world of movies in more ways than you will probably ever understand. It features a killer with no purpose, no discernible goal, and no hesitation. After all, what’s more scary than a runaway train?

Then there was Halloween II, which Carpenter didn’t want to direct, but got forced into writing. As the movie literally picks up from the last frame of the first movie, the two films can be seen as one long one. Therefore, I like it. The first and second are great movies, end of story.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, comes Halloween III: Season of the Witch. This movie makes no sense. It doesn’t feature Michael Myers, nor any of the other characters. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other movies, it’s an outlier, a deviation, a freak. Plot?

“A large Halloween mask-making company has plans to kill millions of American children with something sinister hidden in Halloween masks.”

– IMDB

Who the hell thought that this would be a good direction for the Halloween movies to take? People must have been so confused when they saw it, waiting for Michael to show up.

Anyways the studio clearly realised the error of their ways and got back on track with Halloween 4, 5, and 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. Then Jamie Lee Curtis returned for two more Halloween film, H20, and Halloween: Resurrection.

Of course the standard reaction these days in Hollywood to a stale formula is a reboot! So, off they went with Rob Zombie to create a grimy, gory, gritty, and grotesque reinvention of the Michael Myers storyline. It wasn’t very good, as it focused on Michael’s childhood. Remember how I said the scary thing about Halloween was not knowing why he does what he does? Yeah, Rob didn’t understand that, and decided to tap into his motivations. Then he did it again, with a remake of a sequel to the original, Halloween II. Snore!

So, if you’re wondering which ones are ‘necessary viewing’, I’d say Halloween and Halloween II, followed by Halloween: H20 for a bit of nostalgic charm.

If you don’t like Die Hard then you should probably have that checked out by a doctor or something.

The idea behind the invention of John McClane was to introduce audiences with a hero they could identify with. Someone who was thrust into an action situation, and therefore became a hero against their will. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in a situation where I have to fight off domestic hostage-taking terrorists without so much as a pair of shoes.

On a side note: What happened to John McTiernan? He was all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s, directing hits like Die Hard, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, and The Last Action Hero. The guy had some serious skill with the action and thriller genre.

…now he’s in jail.

So anyways, yeah…Die Hard. It’s a great little action film which got a great lot of buzz. Everyone heard about Die Hard, so of course in Hollywood a hit means sequels, and sequels mean a franchise. Die Hard 2 (Die Harder – nicely done guys!) was pretty average. It featured a group of international criminals hijacking the airwaves of a major air traffic control station and running civilian planes into the ground. See, when the death count in an action movie starts to approach September 11th and yet it still decides to go for the happy ending, you know the third act is a little candy coated. Die Hard with a Vengeance was quite good though and dare I say it – I really liked Live Free or Die Hard.

You can’t do a Top Franchise list without mentioning Indiana Jones.

For those of you who may not know, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was Steven Spielberg’s comeback film. As strange as it may sound, after directing The Sugarland Express, Duel, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the golden child of Hollywood actually failed miserably with audiences and critics alike when he directed a monumental flop named 1941. Suddenly he wasn’t considered a safe directorial bet, and needed to re-prove his skills. So he and George Lucas joined forces to create their own version of James Bond – which became Indiana Jones.

Not only was it a successful effort, it was a monumentally thrifty one. The next time you watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, keep in mind that it was shot for $18 million (which is not a lot of money), with a small crew, utilising only 73 production days, and averaging 35 setups a day. 35 setups a day! Just so you know, 12 set ups a day is considered the average manageable rate of a major film production crew. Of course, once it made back $380 million the studios changed their tune into “Please Sir, can I have some more?”…

Unfortunately, our next encounter with Jones was in The Temple of Doom. Not good, not good at all. In fact it was so bad that Spielberg decided to make The Last Crusade as “an apology for the second one”. Apology accepted, Steven, the third one was pretty good.

Then 19 years went by and news of a fourth Indiana Jones revealed itself. Would it be any good? Would it feature other familiar characters? Would it have that same charm of the originals whilst still acknowledging Indy’s age and the shift to a new decade? For me – yes, yes, yes, and absolutely yes!

However, the negativity around it was tremendous! South Park even compared the experience of watching it to “witnessing the rape of a friend”. Ok, that’s fine, it’s the fanboy gag-reflex at work. Personally, though, I didn’t need sugar to help this medicine go down. It was a perfect way to bring Indy back on the big screen. I was thrilled and excited, laughing and hugging my popcorn bucket with pure delight. Ok, so the ‘refridgerator’ scene was a tad over-the-top, even for an Indiana Jones movie – but just about everything else was a perfect fit for me. Didn’t mind Shia LaBeouf, didn’t mind the tarzan-monkeys, and didn’t mind the aliens. I loved it almost as much as the original film.

What makes this film series an interesting one is the complete character 180 that happened between movies one and two.

The first Terminator was a simple idea about a killer robot sent back in time to assassinate a young woman before she gives birth to a child who will eventually become a powerful general in the war against the machines – phew! Okay, maybe not so simple when I say it like that, but certainly full of potential. James Cameron conceived the idea after having a dream about about a metallic torso dragging itself out of an explosion – which of course became the end of the movie.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, however, turned the original Terminator character into a hero. Bizarre thing to do, but considering that he’s a programmable robot…why not? It worked, and since then the Terminator has been thought of as a figure of salvation. It was also one of the movies which helped to push CGI technology into infamy.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was largely a rehash of Terminator 2, except with a female Terminator, but as such it was enjoyable enough.

But Terminator: Salvation was not, it was god-awful. Horrible story, horrible writing, horrible direction, horrible pacing, horrible effects, horrible acting, all coalescing into an utterly horrible movie. Watch the first, second, and third…leave the fourth one next to your lavatory for an emergency situation.

I was a little confused about how to list this one.

See, most people know about Silence of the Lambs, several people have heard about Hannibal, some people recognise the name Red Dragon, and a few unfortunate people are aware of Hannibal Rising.

But hardly anyone I know reacts to the title Manhunter. Manhunter is the very first time anyone depicted Hannibal Lecter on screen, and hence is the original film, based on the original book – from which all the others derive. Who directed it? Michael Mann (kinda funny, I know). And who played Hannibal Lecter? Brian Cox!

Then this weird thing happened where they decided to go ahead with the sequel, but with all new actors. Instead of Brian Cox, they placed their bets on Anthony Hopkins.

To say that it payed off would be an understatement. Everyone associates Hannibal Lecter with Anthony Hopkins. There’s no way anyone else would ever dare touch the role after he made it what it is. Silence of the Lambs was a masterpiece, and a definitive step forward for serial-killer films. It burnt its way into popular culture, being remembered almost as a horror film rather than what it actually was.

Then he, Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman teamed up to make Hannibal. I like Hannibal. It’s not great, but certain scenes definitely stick with you – like the one involving someone’s brain (I shall say no more).

Then the studios suddenly realised that they now had nowhere to go, as Thomas Harris’ new novel in the series wouldn’t turn up on book shelves until 2006. Hence, they went back and remade Manhunter. As the book was originally called Red Dragon, they had a fresh title to use. Red Dragon is actually very good, which is bizarre because it’s directed by Brett Ratner. Check that resume out and try to tell me you’re still intrigued. The critics largely hated it, and so what? Stuff em’. Anything with Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, and Ralph Fiennes in it is worth a watch. I liked it more than Manhunter and more than Hannibal.  Aside from Silence of the Lambs, which is viewer homework from me to you if you haven’t seen it yet, you can basically watch any of these films you like – in any order.

But do not, I repeat not, watch Hannibal Rising. Hannibal Rising is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever seen realised. They decided to make a Hannibal movie without Anthony Hopkins, and instead replace him with a young french boy? Are you out of your mind? What were you thinking? I’m not talking ‘technically french’, I mean proper proper french. The kid can hardly speak english, and you want me to believe that he’ll grow up to become the Hannibal Lecter? Get out of here.

But I won’t end on a downer, instead I’ll finish with a challenge. If you want to test the limits of your own psyche – I dare you to watch The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon all in one go. Set aside 6 hours and have a crack at it. In fact, you can even choose the order. If you want them in order of production then see them as listed above, but if you want them in order of narrative chronology, it’s – Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, then Hannibal. Let me know how it goes.

I look forward to hearing your tales of squirm.

If you have pupaphobia you should probably avoid this one . Yes, I’m looking at you Sheri. Pupaphobia is the fear of puppets, and these movies have plenty of that.

The original Child’s Play has one of the best horror movie premises I’ve ever heard.

“A single mother gives her son a beloved doll for his birthday, later they find out that the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer, who wants to put his soul into the boy’s body in order to become human again.”

– IMDB

I’m sure you film snobs out there who love your artsy-fartsy french films will turn you nose up at it and say “Que?” or “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”. (It’s the only french I know, so just go with it…)

But you elitist pigs with your tightened testicles and narrow palettes are missing out on one of the most entertaining movie series’ ever! Where else can you see a creepy child’s play toy sporting a 40-year-old mans voice and brutally homicidal tendencies? As far as I know Jean-Luc Godard hasn’t broken into that genre.

Child’s Play 1 and 2 are both terrific. If you haven’t noticed the pattern so far it’s this: I tend to like the first and second movies in a franchise.

Child’s Play 3 is not really worth your time.

But alas, Bride of Chucky was a delightful goodie-bag of a movie. Directed by Ronny Yu, it spends it’s time not only being scary, gory, and stylish in its own right – but it also pokes fun of other horror movies endlessly. Even the poster is a spoof of Scream 2.

Seed of Chucky was an interesting idea, as it was a Child’s Play movie about the Child’s Play movies. Postmodern? Yes. Consistently entertaining? No. The opening sequence is inspired, but after that the entire movie tumbles over a cliff.

I believe I’ve already detailed my feelings on this entire franchise elsewhere on this blog.

If you want to know which ones to watch, in which order, and why – check out my other post on it as well as my review of Prometheus.

Those of you who have followed this blog since its inception may be puzzled at finding Jurassic Park at the number 6 spot only. It’s understandably perplexing, as the original Jurassic Park is my favourite film of all time.

Well, as good as the original is, it can’t entirely overpower the shortcomings of the trilogy as a whole.

By that I mean, specifically, Jurassic Park III. It’s not all bad, but nowhere near as good as the first two. Also it has one of the worst endings to any movie ever. I don’t really want to spoil it for those of you who still haven’t seen it, but it’s like you can literally hear the scriptwriters say “we don’t have time, just finish it now!” and pull the last page from the typewriter in a hurry.

Alright, now we’re into the Top Five. This is when things start to get really good.

The original Evil Dead, even though it has one of the greatest posters of all time, is far from the greatest movie. I fully admit that it has some serious problems. It’s understandable, however, as it was made by a group of friends who just decided to pool their money and shoot it at a remote cabin in the woods. The impressive thing is the extensive makeup and practical effects on screen, given that there really wasn’t much of a budget for it. It’s scary at times, and of course funny occasionally as well, but ultimately it’s not really one of my favourite films. It’s a bit too clunky.

But then, when Sam Raimi achieved a bigger budget and rode out to direct the Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn – because of a bizarre legal dispute, he couldn’t obtain the rights from the studio to use footage from the original as a ‘previously on…” flashback for the sequel. I hope that sentence made perfect sense, I’m a little confused by it myself. Anyways, as a result he ended up having to re-shoot the entire plot of the original and squeeze it into the first 15 minutes of the sequel. What did this do? It made Evil Dead 2 into one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s a little hard to explain why, so I’ll just let Jack Black do it for me…

“…it’s a brilliant film. It’s so funny and violent, and the soundtrack kicks fucking ass!”

Jack Black in High Fidelity

True, true, all true. I’ll simplify that by saying that it’s the best horror comedy film ever made. I don’t mean horror comedy like Shaun of the Dead (which is a great film, but it’s more of a comedy-with-zombies than it is an actual horror film).  I mean it’s a true horror comedy, meaning it’s equally parts funny and scary – as well as gratifyingly gory. The bloodshed is as exaggerated as the acting, making it a hell of a thing to watch. To re-invoke the words of Jack Black yet again, if you haven’t seen it…

“…you’re a cinematic idiot, and I feel sorry for you!”

Jack Black in High Fidelity

So, now how about Army of Darkness? It’s almost better! It isn’t better, but it almost is. Instead of having Ash fight the evil dead in a cabin, they decided to suck him through a time portal into the 13th century – along with his chainsaw and his Oldsmobile Delta Royal 88. Now he has to fight an army of the undead which he himself unleashes by fumbling the words of an important magic chant. It brings the fun and outrageousness to a whole new scale. If you haven’t seen Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, you haven’t lived! Fortunately for you, because of Rami’s need to re-introduce the story in the second part, you can skip the first Evil Dead and go straight to the second one without missing out on anything.

Apparently there’s a remake of the original coming out. I know nothing about it other than that Sam Raimi is producing it and none of the original cast are in it. Could be good, could be crap – who knows?

But…we wouldn’t have Evil Dead, we wouldn’t have Shaun of the Dead, we wouldn’t have The Walking Dead28 Days Later, or any of the subsequent zombie or zombie-inspired films you know and love – without the original Romero Dead films.

George A. Romero, in the 1960’s, managed to scrape together a budget of $6,000 and shoot an indie horror film about the dead coming back to life – The Night of the Living Dead. He brought his own simplistic take on the idea, treating the zombie spread like an infection. Of course, since Romero is an unmatched genius, the movie is about more than just zombies chasing people. It’s about the internal struggles of the survivors being forced to exist together, and how they ultimately destroy each other.

Dawn of the Dead, the follow up, was a subtextual analysis of American consumerism. Then to cap it all off, he made his ultimate zombie movie: Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead is extraordinary. It’s everything you want out of a zombie film, with sympathetic zombies, a commentary on the military industrial complex, and groundbreaking practical effects. It’s my favourite of the originals, by far.

It was a perfect trilogy – until Romero decided to make Land of the Dead (which, by the way, features a cameo from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright). Now it had become the perfect Quadrilogy! Great, good, congratulations – now please stop.

“Hey, here you go…have some Diary of the Dead!” Oh god no, it’s terrible. Seriously George, please stop it now!

“What did you say? You want Survival of the Dead? Ok!” No, no, nooooooooo……!

There is some good news, though. The 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead was pretty good. How was the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead? Well, it’s my favourite zombie movie of all time – so that might give you a hint. Day of the Dead had a straight-to-DVD remake as well but…urgh…

We’re into the Top 3 now, it’s the home stretch.

Discovering the Scream movies for the first time is a revolution for one. It will alter your view on horror cinema as a whole. I remember watching the original film and thinking it was one of the greatest ideas I’d ever seen – made into a movie. It’s a movie which discusses the conventions of horror movies, follows them to-the-tee, and yet breaks every one at the same time. If Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t your thing, maybe this will be. I’m telling you – Wes Craven has too many tricks up his sleeve for his own good, no one man should be this influential. It’s not fair to the rest of us!

As if making a rule-breaking first film wasn’t enough, Scream 2 turned out to be just as good as the first. Wes, you sly dog! How are you doing this? No one can possibly maintain this for three film, can they?

Well, Wes Craven couldn’t, no. Scream 3 is not all that good. It’s alright, not terrible, but instead of simply spoofing the shortcomings of a third film in the series it also falls victim to them. Bringing in characters and story-lines from the past and exploring previously uncovered history doesn’t leave a lot of time for scares. All plot and no play makes Scream 3 a dull film.

Then…10 years passed…

…and Wes Craven decided it was time for Scream 4. It was orgasmic. Yeah, whatever, I don’t care if that creeps you out. Seeing another great Scream film after so long all but made me cream my pants. It has the greatest opening sequence since Scream 2 and doesn’t lose much steam from there, as it dives into the discussion over the torture porn and found-footage approach to horror. It’s exactly what Scream 4 needed to be, a brilliant end to a brilliant series. Apparently there are talks of a Scream 5, but the studio’s aren’t showing much interest. I’m not sure if I want it to happen or not, personally.

I’m not a big fan of drug-related movies or Television shows. It’s therefore strange to me that I love Breaking Bad and the Pusher Trilogy so much. I think it’s because they’re not actually about the drugs or the crime world at all. They’re about people making mistakes, getting in over their head, and trying to climb out of an ever-deepening hole.

I’ll be honest, I had heard of Pusher for a while but hadn’t actually seen it until about a year ago when a friend of mine recommended it. Plot:

“A drug pusher grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord.”

– IMDB

The first discovery was a tremendous one, but then I introduced my eyes and ears to the sequels. With the exception of certain moments in the third film, they’re all great! I understand that, if you’re like me, you’ll be cringing at the idea of watching criminal druggies be nasty to one another. It’s something that’s been done to death, right? It has, but not like this. Each one of these films is a 21st century fairytale following one characters emotional and narrative arc. It’s not about the drugs, the violence, or the sex – it’s about the story.

I need you all to hear this loud and clear: watch the Pusher films! All of them! Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Nicholas Winding Refn or not, you’ll be a fan of these showcases. Get ready to read subtitles, however, since they’re all in Danish.

Honestly, it’s the best trilogy I’ve ever seen. Other than…oh I don’t know…

How many lists have you seen that start with Friday the 13th and end with Toy Story, huh? Those of you out there who have an ounce of sense in your skulls will all nod your heads when I say that the Toy Story trilogy is the best movie franchise of all time!

Now, sure, there might be a little bit of nostalgic bias here. I grew up with these movies for crying out loud! In fact, I have been the same age as Andy in every movie at the time that they each came out.

Let’s get one thing straight, these are not kids films. They’re just great films! By the same token –  they’re not about toys,they’re about growing up, leaving your family, and loyalty versus the need to change and adapt. The beauties and hardships of life, love, family, friendship, and memories are all beautifully encapsulated by the stories of Woody, Buzz, and the gang. Complete with adult horror/action/adventure/romance movie references and jokes that work for audiences of all ages, everyone ends up enjoying this franchise!

Every ‘episode’ is great in its own way. My personal favourite is Toy Story 2, but that’s truly splitting hairs. A triple-bill of the entire trilogy would be the best way to cheer yourself up on a bad day, doctors should prescribe it to their patients! World leaders should announce it as a response to national tragedies! Are your parents getting divorced? Toy Story! Is your wife or husband leaving you? Toy Story! Were your arms and legs melted off in a horrific chemical-factory disaster? Well…first, seek medical attention – but then Toy Story!

So there we are. The Top Twenty Film Franchises ever! It was long, sorry about that, but I feel it was worth it. I’m interested to know if anyone else has other suggestions. I racked my brains to try and come up with this list, but maybe there’s one that you think I forgot about or misplaced. Let me know.

Rant Over!

One thought on “A Movie Collector’s Manifesto

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