BASEMENT CHEETOH EATER
“Ash, that transmission… Mother’s deciphered part of it. It doesn’t look like an S.O.S.”
The ultimate haunted house movie. Lean, beautiful, well acted and ferocious. I don’t even know if it could work today with the internet spoiling every nasty surprise…but for its time (1979), it was shocking and effectively claustrophobic. And the miniatures and practical effects still hold up perfectly.
#2 BLADE RUNNER
The shit with the voice over and multiple cuts of this visual stunner have cheapened the experience over time; and that’s unfortunate because it attempted (and succeeded) in being the first sci-fi film since 2001 to effectively pose moral questions about what it is to be human. Ford’s weary turn as a gumshoe stalking murderous androids is superb – and Rutger Hauer crafted one of the most complex and vivid “villains” ever depicted.
#3 THE DUELISTS
Right at the start of his career, Sir Rid directed a film that was an amazing examination of the futility of grudges…and the inevitable nature of revenge. This movie (set during the Napoleanic wars) is visually delicious and each beat hits perfectly. And special praise has to be reserved for the battle scenes set in Russia during the winter – the depiction of a frozen hell is both staggering and haunting.
“Your job is to craft my doom. So I am not sure how well I should wish you but I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun.”
Yeah, Silence of the Lambs may be the best of the series but I’ll be fucked if Hannibal isn’t the most fun. Hats off to Moore for keeping Clarice stone-faced while every other character in the film gives it the full on batshit-nuts treatment.
#2 BWACK WAIN
The perfect storm of Lethal Weapon mullet, Andy Garcia, and Ridley’s ongoing Jap-Worship.
Great movie despite the complete lack of nudity and/or Japs.
“I can’t lie to you about your chances. But you have my sympathies.”
The script for this sci-fi horror classic owes more to Dan O’Bannon, who play the goofy astronaut in John Carpenter’s Dark Star and wanted to revisit the concept of a “star beast” terrorizing the crew of a spaceship. Other dudes added the extra stuff about the notorious (and then-unnamed) “company” clandestinely planting a robot onboard to assure delivery of the hostile organism for weapons research. The beautifully grotesque set and alien costume designed came from Swiss artist H.R. Giger, whose biomechanical Necronomicon images evoked sexuality—particularly the aspects of dominance and submission. Ah, but Ridley was the guy whose vision pulled all these elements together into a single brilliant outer space tragedy that inspires the deepest kind of fear: distrust of fellow humans. The miniatures were great. The now-iconic “chestburster” scene is still riveting, considering no digital trickery was involved. And the cast—featuring Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, and Harry Dean Stanton—was aces.
Are you not entertained? This swords-and-sandals epic thrilled the hell out of me in 2001. I walked in expected a middling affair about centurions and coliseums and left with my mind blown and spirits uplifted. I should have known better; this was Ridley—and Russell Crowe, in his first bona fide breakout blockbuster. Maxiumus Decimus is a faithful Roman soldier betrayed by his country and sold into slavery. His is a tale of revenge and redemption, but I always found it fitting the hero died along with the villain and went “home” to his family. The action is awesome. The sets, costumes, and cinematography sublime. Marvelous.
#3 BLADE RUNNER
I was ten years old in 1982 and couldn’t see this masterpiece in theatres. Harrison Ford was hot shit by this time, having played Han Solo in two Star Wars films and Indiana Jones in another. But Blade Runner—based on a novel by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick—wasn’t kid stuff, and I learned why when I caught the movie on video some years later. Loved it. Rather than dumb things down with a Terminator-like actioner, Ridley casts retired detective Rick Deckard in mystery. Why is he retired? What were his previous “skin job”-hunts like? Why so serious? We never learn. Indeed, we’re given just enough background to suspect Rick of being a replicant himself. Rutger Hauer is sensational as Roy, a combat-model android looking to prolong his four-year shelf life. Again, Ridley milks the poetry and—oddly enough—the humanism behind this predicament rather than focus on car chases and shootouts. The “tears in the rain” rooftop ending is like haiku on celluloid.
Runners-up Ridley movies: Legend, Black Hawk Down, Thelma and Louise.
“One good hand job deserves another.”
#1 BLACK FUCKING RAIN
I just found out about this thing 2 years ago, and it’s the first Ridley movie that impacted me like Alien and Blade Runner do most geeks. I’ve watched it a couple times now, and repeat viewings at my age are a rare treat, but I make the time for Nick Conklin. It’s wonderfully shot by the late great Jan De Bont, and scored by the now famous Han Zimmer. I know Nolan’s been hitting the rounds trying to play up Batman 3 connecting it to older greater films trying to show off just what a cinephile he is, but you wanna see the origin of the fucking Dark Knight, watch this movie and listen to the score. This is a great buddy cop movie, and in typical R. Scott fashion the detail work is insane. Most directors are content with showing a few shots of downtown Tokyo and some noodle shop, Ridley makes Japanese culture part of the experience. Where else would you fucking see Dekotora in a cop movie? Bad ass fucking movie. This is also a great Michael Douglas role. I think this is the first time the world ever heard the line “FUCK YOU VERY MUCH.” And why would you NOT wanna see a movie with that in it?
#2 WHITE SQUALL
This film has resonated with me ever since I saw it in theaters. Like any Ridley film, it’s beautiful to look at, and I love the boat setting and the way it’s shot. Jeff Bridges is epic as the boat captain leading these boys into manhood. Also look at the cast of future almost A-Listers who are now some of Hollywood’s leading B-list actors: Scott Wolf, Jeremy Sisto, Ryan Phillippe, Ethan Embry and Balthazar Getty. What really stuck with me are the interesting cast of characters, they weren’t your typical coming of age boys. Maybe it’s the beautiful ocean and island settings, the haunting storm, the lovely Sting opening song or just the true feeling of growth these boys go through once the epic storm hits, but this is one of Ridley’s most emotionally stirring and oddly one of his least seen.
#3 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE
Now I will admit I haven’t seen this since the theater, but that’s how long and well it’s stuck with me. I just butt-fucking love the American tale of fucking Christopher Columbus and this is the best movie made about that story. GDP is epic in his portrayal of CC, and yeah fuck I need to get the Criterion Edition of this fucking epic.
HAWAIIAN ORGAN DONOR
“Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd…and you will win your freedom.”
Yeah, I know. Choosing Gladiator seems like the safe choice. But it’s the Ridley movie I revisit the most. And every time I do I get the same chills during those moments where fates change with either bloodless patricide or gushing crimson rivers that elevate our heroes all the way to Rome. And what Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs, Gladiator did for the Colosseum. Twelve years later and the CG of 50,000 Romans packed inside that man made wonder still takes my breath away.
#2 A GOOD YEAR
I know I’m going to be laughed at for this one but to me this is the best version of Scrooge out there. It’s sweet, tender and possibly the best Crowe has ever been. He’s the perfect soul for redemption. And it’s the only time Coutillard has looked absolutely ravishing to me. And if this movie doesn’t make you want to move to southern Europe, then you obviously don’t appreciate wine, fresh baked bread and stunning panoramic villas.
#3 ROBIN HOOD
I’ll never understand the hate. This was absolutely everything I look for in a movie. It’s sweet, charming, rousing and full of characters I completely associate with. It’s also one of those wonderful lived in movies that Ridley does better than just about anyone. The grime on the walls and the faces feels 100% authentic. We deserved a whole trilogy to spend with these absolutely absorbing characters.
“This place holds more magic for me than any palace in the world.”
Jesus Christ. This movie man. I mean, a lot of 80s shit has that weird dream haze to it, but this gem hocked the spit between the tits. One of the few films I’d call a piece of visual art. Sure, Alien and Blade Runner looked good, and Ridley’s design background was always evident, but to me….they still just felt like movies. Legend is something else. It’s a 94 minute buttfuck of the mind through a gothic dreamscape. It’s the closest a film has come to conjuring a live-action grim fairy-tale world where evil is a very real thing. It’s beautiful and unsettling. A startlingly immersive experience, this fucking thing has haunted me since I was a kid. I was terrified of Darkness, but I couldn’t stop looking at him. He’s awesomely scary and seductive, as he should be. And Gump…something about that bizarre looking shirtless kid in the snow with that weird dubbed voice….FUCK. Everything works. It’s crazy as shit and fragmented like a faint recollection of a nightmare, but it hits you in the gut and sticks with you. This isn’t the typical fantasy shit we’ve grown accustomed to, where the bullshit CG action takes center stage and hobbits play tickle-dick while sitting in talking trees for three hours. No, this hits more on the classic cautionary fantasy-yarn level…where evil can never truly be vanquished. It will always be working against us under the surface. The final image of Jack and Lili waving goodbye to their friends in the distance as we dissolve to Darkness laughing his ass off in the netherworld….FUCK! Hollywood just isn’t putting out shit this trippy anymore. World-building has always been Ridley’s greatest asset, and even as a kid I realized Legend was something truly special, a film photographed in a living/breathing place where magic exists.
And anyone that prefers that generic piece of shit Goldsmith score over Tangerine Dream can eat a dick. The work they put out in the 70s and 80s was unfuckwithable, with Legend being their magnum cockus opus.
#2 A GOOD YEAR
Tis true, Ridley and Crowe are perhaps the best actor/director duo of all time, there’s is a working relationship that transcends genre. This was a first for both of them. Neither had attempted something so sugary, and thank fuck they did because they pretty much knocked the entire romantic-dramedy game on its ass. It’s the classic ‘rich cocksucker journeys back to a simpler place, discovers what’s life’s all about, finds love along the way, and ends up doing the right thing’ formula, except you factor in Crowe’s ass-fucking screen presence and Ridley’s usual enchanting visuals, and you end up with something very special. Watching this, I realized, the tone and the setting doesn’t really matter. Ridley’s gift is transporting the viewer, making us feel like we’re right there amongst the textures and sounds and smells. I’ve never seen France look better, and I’ve only come out of a film feeling this fucking optomistic about life, precious few times. Respect.
#3 ROBIN HOOD
Remember when this came out and everyone was suddenly an expert on Robin Hood mythology? Well those paraplegic fucks can choke on their feeding tube. This is an epic film, an adventure for grown-ups. The whimsical production design (yeah, no shit), the revamped backstory, MAX VON FUCKING SYDOW, slimeball French, the Magna Carta shit, the luminescent cunt of Léa Seydoux, the ball-pounding score, fucking Kevin Durant drunkenly moaning “I’M GONNA MAKE YOUUUUUU SMILE!!!” at local trim, the feral lost boys, the solid chemistry between Crowe and Blanchett burning up the screen….Jesus, how does this motherfucker continue to get SO MUCH RIGHT? Finally, a powerhouse with the right amount of talent came along and gave this character the film he deserved. It’s ironic, on the eve of the most eye-rolling cash-in put to celluloid (Pro-meh-theus), I remember walking out of the theater with a dumb ass smile on my face and thinking, now Robin Hood….THAT is how you fuckin’ bang out a prequel.