60. Kiss of the Vampire (aka Kiss of Evil) (GB 1961) 

Honeymooners in nineteenth century Bavaria are drawn into a sinister (well, they're not going to be benevolent, are they?) vampiric cult.

As silly as all Hammer films, but stylistically elegant and successful due to and despite its rudimentary symbolism

A typical Anthony Hinds script - avoid alcohol or you become vulnerable to both figurative and literal vampires - and a sad little meditation on the nature of loss.

A poor quality climax to the film involving feeble-looking bats on strings doesn't destroy the overall effect.

A brilliant opening as well - vampire hunter Clifford Evans impales the body of his dead daughter with a gravedigger's spade during her miserable, dispiriting funeral.

Recommended.

 

61. Jaws (US 1975)

If ever a film changed the world's habits/psyche, it's Jaws. Every time I've swam in the sea*, I've been scared that a shark will attack me.

What a puff.

*Well, obviously not the North Sea or the Irish Sea (although 'Hookjaw' from banned 70s horror/gratuitous violence comic Action, made it as far as the English Channel, having swum 5,000 miles from the Caribbean).

62. Nosferatu (Ger 1919)

Films were not meant to be silent, although the best films let their imagery do the talking for them, rather than simply recording vast swathes of conversation or vocal narrative telegraphing.

Even a committed film fan finds it hard to sit through an extended silent film, and the addition of non diegetic organ music simply makes things worse. Much of Nosferatu needs to be watched using a fast forward button, but its most powerful scenes need to be savoured as they print indelible images on your sub-conscious.

Everyone knows the clutching heart/shadow scene and the resurrected Nosferatu on the Whitby-bound ship is still unsettling.

""I'm not going to tell you lot again. Go to fuckin' sleep."

Why Todd Browning opted for the Ray Reardon look in the 1930 Hollywood remake is anybody's business.

63. The Verdict (US 1982)

Possibly Sidney Lumet's finest moment and definitely Paul Newman's greatest ever performance.

Newman plays pisshead, ambulance chasing lawyer Frank Galvin, a man given a chance of redemption when he his given a medical negligence case to fight, but is up against a rascally Catholic church and Devil incarnate (again) legal genius James Mason.

Good sweary support from veteran, scrotum-faced veteran Jack Warden and a melancholic, understated performance from Charlotte Rampling as one of Mason's quisling operatives.

Watch this and then watch the dreadful 'A Time To Kill' if you want to see David St. Hubbins' fine line line between 'clever' and 'stupid'.

64. Macbeth (GB 1971)

Shakespearian adaptions for the 'big screen' are usually as unbearable as their stage counterparts and are usually produced for the same reasons (ego maniac wants to prove intellectual credibility and in lieu of creating something original, produces wanky or worthy-but-dull version of off the peg 'art').

Polanski's Macbeth is probably an exception: a blood soaked, introspective film which seems to make direct comments on the director's experiences following the Manson raid in 1969.

A good performance from the mysteriously vanished Jon Finch, top-notch violence and evocative cinematography (see 'Holy Grail'), and the only film on the list with Keith 'pooed the bed but not ashamed' 'Cheggers' Chegwin.

 

65. Zéro de Conduite (France 1933)

Jean Vigo's account of French public school life differs somewhat from that of Malle or Clouseau.

An odd film in terms of its rejection of established logic, but thankfully not 'surreal' (although it's often described as such). Little explanation is given for the non-conformist (in the best, non-egotistical manner) behaviour of its central characters and Vigo refuses to telegraph any of his visual jokes.

The film gives the impression that you are observing people who behave in this strange manner because that's what they are, rather than say a Hollywood star driven 'vehicle' where normally morose 'comedians' pretend to be whacky in order to be loved (hello messrs Murphy, Martin and Myers).

And with a running time of  just 45 minutes, Zéro de Conduite doesn't piss about.

66 (6?). Prince of Darkness (US 1987)

Satan has been imprisoned in in the cellar of a Californian church by the secretive 'Brotherhood of Sleep'. A group of physicists are recruited to monitor his/its awakening.

Much of this film is truly terrible. An attempt is made to replicate the skilful ensemble playing found in 'The Thing', but the script and acting talent are both below par. Particularly poor is Chinese/American comic actor Dennis Dun, whose performance is perhaps the unfunniest thing I have ever seen, both on screen and in real life.

The film's power rests in its imagery. Aliens are apparently using tachyons to send messages from the future to warn of the resurrection of Satan. This takes the form of an incoherent video imaged dream experienced by numerous characters throughout the film.

The final image of the Devil's bride (?) trying to reach her earthly lover through the real and hidden dimensions of an ordinary mirror is also very powerful and seems to suggest that sexual/romantic love is ultimately a selfish, anti-social activity obsession.

Sorry, I'll have to sit down after that.

 

67. Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Finland 1994)

Two strange Finnish men pick up two Russian women and go to Tallinn. Slowly.

The Finns are a taciturn lot and eschew polite conversation in favour of 'don't annoy me silences' as the more alcoholic and morose amongst them drink themselves to lonely, premature deaths in the long, dark winter months of the upper latitudes. Coffee replaces ale in Aki Kaurismaki's understated road movie, but the effect is the same.

Nothing of any narrative consequence happens in this film, and there's fuck-all dialogue worth talking about (so to 'speak'; God, I'm turning into little Noel Edmunds here), but if cinematic minimalism's your bag, this could be the Finnish film you've always been looking for.

68. House of Games (US 1989)

Psychologist falls foul of a group of confidence tricksters who prove to be her intellectual superiors.

Ghastly posters of the 80s: House of Games

David Mamet is America's second greatest living playwright. His film career is patchy but the better films in his directorial CV reveal the work of a true auteur. His sparsely populated cities are hermetically sealed worlds of epigrammatical speech patterns, pockets of silence and introspective, introverted ingenues. The Spanish Prisoner is good, but this is better.

Avoid The Winslow Boy: life's too short.

69. The Set Up (US 1947)

Ageing, loser boxer defies the gangsters who want him to take a fall.

One of the few films to be based on a poem. Robert Ryan's forte was playing middle aged narks with Lisa Riley sized chips on their shoulders. Here he plays Stoker Thompson, a 'no fucker tells me what to do' punchbag, in Robert Wise's more than decent film.

Good boxing scenes and a growing sense of tension and unease put The Set Up in a different league to the Sylvester Stallone world of boxing.

Robert Ryan's catalogue of mentally diseased loners is legion, but my favourites would include 'And Hope To Die', 'The Odds Against Tomorrow' and best of all 'Act of Violence'.

If you've ever been to the boxing, you'll be aware of the sociopaths with masked sexual tendencies who make up a good proportion of the crowd. Number one spectator nutjob in 'The Set Up' is a crazed blind man who keeps screaming "Go for his eyes!" at every opportunity.