My Year of Schlock

My Year of Schlock #5: Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)

As a huge fan of the Giallo genre, it’s interesting to watch the earliest examples and see its evolution from standard murder mysteries to bloody, fetishistic slashers. Though directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento seemed to kickstart the genre immediately with violent, sexy films like 1964’s Blood and Black Lace (considered a ‘proto-Giallo’) and 1969’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (the first Giallo proper), other filmmakers weren’t as inventive. While Aldo Lado’s 1971 debut Short Night of Glass Dolls offers a creepy plot and some weird imagery, it’s a fairly bland, bloodless affair, failing to be as intriguing or nasty as future efforts.

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Cult Horror Corner

My Year of Schlock #4: The Appointment (1981)

I am something of a connoisseur of weird films. Mulholland Drive is in my all-time top five. Charlie Kaufman is one of my favourite living screenwriters. I’ve watched everything from violent Japanese musicals (The Happiness of the Katakuris) to acid westerns (El Topo) to films narrated by dying fish (Dennis Villeneuve’s early effort Maelstrom). So when I tell you that Lindsey C. Vicker’s little seen 1981 film The Appointment is weird, believe me. This is a weird film.

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My Year of Schlock

My Year of Schlock #3: Road House (1989)

Before watching Road House, Rowdy Herrington’s 1989 story of a philosophising small town bouncer, I wrongly assumed some things. I thought I was in for a ‘fists first, questions later’ kind of action movie, where a slab of beef played by Patrick Swayze beats the crap out of an endless array of villains before getting the beautiful woman and riding out of town (probably on a motorbike). While Road House has its share of violence, half-naked women, and expensive motor vehicles, this is also a genuinely thoughtful, well-acted, bombastic slice of late 80s Americana in which a group of low income workers show class solidarity by taking down the capitalistic villain. Bet you didn’t expect that, did you?

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My Year of Schlock

My Year of Schlock #2: Terminator II A.K.A. Shocking Dark (1989)

Do you love Terminator 2? No, not James Cameron’s classic 1991 sequel, but the Italian rip-off of James Cameron’s other classic sequel, 1986’s Aliens. Confused? So am I, but that’s not going to stop me from informing you about Bruno Mattei’s terrible 1989 sci-fi, best known as Shocking Dark. Do you wish Aliens starred actors who sound like porn stars (Haven Tyler, anyone?), was filmed in a disused factory, and abruptly turned into a Terminator rip-off one hour in? If so, I have the film for you!

If you’ve never been exposed to Bruno Mattei, he was best known for writing and directing rip-offs of other, better American films, including the low budget Predator knock off Robowar and the shamelessly derivative Cruel Jaws. Despite taking place in dystopian Venice and being set mostly in the ‘sewers’, Shocking Dark accurately recreates the plot and characters of Aliens, though it goes without saying that you haven’t heard of any of these actors and none of them are good. I say ‘sewers’, but it’s very hard to figure out where much of the film is meant to be taking place. When the gang tool up, they hang out in what is definitely a men’s locker room, but the bulk of the action takes place in a factory, presumably to keep the budget low.

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My Year of Schlock

My Year of Schlock #1: The Beyond (1981)

I hated The Beyond when I first saw it as a teenage horror obsessive. Though it offered as much carnage as favourites like Suspiria and Dawn of the Dead, I just couldn’t get over it’s more… artless qualities: the shoddy acting/dubbing, lack of coherent narrative, and low production values. It was a treat, therefore, to rewatch Lucio Fulci’s bizarre 1981 supernatural thriller and discover that it’s actually one of the most hallucinatory horror films ever made, as well as the perfect introduction to My Year of Schlock.

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My Year of Schlock

Introducing My Year of Schlock

When I first started this blog back in 2013, I was a horror obsessive. As a teenager, I consumed absolutely everything I could get my hands on: 70s giallo, 80s slashers, postmodern 90s comedies, or the torture films of the 00s. Starting with my very first blog post, an angry screed against The Cabin in the Woods (a film I haven’t seen since but would probably enjoy more now), I used this blog to talk about classics, underrated gems, and some of the worst films I’ve ever seen. It was an important few years for me, as I received a film education through The Horror Channel, Arrow Video, and Empire Magazine.

However, after I went off to university to study film, I began exploring canon classics and gained access to a terrific independent cinema. Over the last few years, I must admit that I went off horror. I still love the films I grew up with, but modern horror cinema didn’t inspire me, and the video nasties and gore fests I once loved left me feeling uninspired.

Until now…

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End of Year Review

Links to the Ford On Film Awards 2020

The Ford On Film Awards 2020 have come to an end. If you’d like to read any articles you missed or find all the awards in one convenient location, here they are:

Best Film – Uncut Gems

Best Supporting Actress – Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actor – Malachi Kirby, Mangrove

Best Actress – Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Actor – Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Best Director – Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Best Scene – Returning to the airport, Tenet

Best TV Show – I May Destroy You

Best TV Episode – ‘The View From Halfway Down’, Bojack Horseman

Best Album – Yves Tumor, Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Best Song – Yves Tumor, ‘Kerosene’

Thanks for joining me. If all goes well, I hope you’ll return again at the end of 2021 for what will hopefully be a more straightforward, positive year for film, television and music. Join me again in a few days as I launch what is sure to be a year long project…

By Harry J. Ford

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

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End of Year Review

The Ford On Film Awards 2020: Best Song

Sadly, dear readers, we have reached the end of the Ford On Film Awards 2020. I initially thought this would be the first time since starting the blog that I wouldn’t run these awards. I hadn’t seen many films, I didn’t feel like pitting contenders against one another, and I didn’t know if I had the energy to devote hundreds of words to my favourite pop culture of the year. However, these awards aren’t just a chance to reflect on the brilliant films, television, and music I’ve enjoyed this year, but a chance to spread the word with those who might not have experienced my favourite media the first time around. If even one reader goes away and watches Uncut Gems, binges I May Destroy You, or listens to Heaven to a Tortured Mind, it’s worth it.

Onto the final award then: Best Song. Last year, the titanic ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish won the award. I’m not saying her success at the Ford On Film Awards was directly responsible for her sweeping the Grammys… I’m not saying that. As you’ll know from my Best Album list, I thought 2020 was a phenomenal year for music, and I could have listed fifty contenders for this award. I’ve narrowed it down to just nine nominees and a winner, but if you want to listen to my ’50 Best Songs of 2020′, I’ll link a Spotify playlist down below.

Car Seat Headrest – ‘Can’t Cool Me Down

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End of Year Review

The Ford On Film Awards 2020: Best Album

Hello, and welcome to the penultimate day of the Ford On Film Awards 2020! Today, I’m moving onto music by looking at my ten favourite albums of the year. Last year, the criminally underrated Ohtis won the top prize for their terrific debut Curve of Earth. Despite the world being ravaged by a pandemic, 2020 was an outstanding year for music; I could have listed a top 30 and still had honourable mentions. Painfully, I’ve allowed myself just ten albums and a handful of honourable mentions. It was tough , but I’m confident that all ten of my picks are absolute bangers. Here are my Best Albums of 2020:

Honourable Mentions

Bill Callahan’s Gold Record is exactly what you’d expect this deep into his career; gentle acoustic songs, witty lyrics, and baritone vocals. Another gorgeous acoustic album is The National frontman Matt Berninger’s debut solo album Serpentine Prison. If you want something faster and groovier, Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure? is my favourite dance record of 2020, sounding like a ‘Best of Disco and Funk’ compilation. Some find The Lemon Twigs’ pastiche of 70s rock too retro to take seriously, but I found Songs for the General Public to be a terrific rock n’ roll album. Finally, if you want an all-female band with attitude, energy, and a handful of catchy songs, check out Hinds’ The Prettiest Curse.

Damien Jurado – What’s New, Tomboy?

Damien Jurado has been releasing solid albums year after year for over a decade now. What’s New, Tomboy? isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it might be his finest collection yet. His delicate vocals, driving acoustic instrumentals, and evocative lyrics have never sounded more gorgeous.

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End of Year Review

The Ford On Film Awards 2020: Best TV Episode

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Ford On Film Awards 2020. After crowning the Best TV Show of 2020 yesterday, I’m now looking at the Best Episode of the year. Last year, hitman comedy Barry won the prize for the insane ‘ronny/lily’, a terrifically violent and funny episode. This year, we saw great shows come to an end, new favourites spark to life, and more terrific returning shows than ever before. It’s been competitive as always, but I’ve picked a fantastic winner. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order, and you can find the winner at the bottom of the page. Here are my picks for Best TV Episode of 2020:

Better Call Saul – ‘Bagman’

In perhaps the most intense hour of television this year, Saul Goodman finds himself stuck in the desert after his first experience with the cartel goes badly wrong. Tightening the noose with slow-burning ease, ‘Bagman’ puts Saul in an impossible situation, giving Bob Odenkirk some of his best silent acting to date, before ramping up the carnage with an unexpectedly badass return.

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