You Have to See This! Juice (1992)

After years of working with Spike Lee, Director Ernest R. Dickerson was ripe to deliver some of his own films with taut social commentary. Out of his entire career, “Juice” is easily one of his best, if not his absolute best. While it’s not quite as darkly satirical as Spike Lee’s films tend to be, “Juice” is very much ahead of its time. It’s very much about economic impact on minority teens, and the idea of toxic masculinity. “Juice” is mainly seen as a crime drama, it’s also about boys growing up in to men and trying to figure out exactly where they fit in.

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You Have to See This! Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

My love affair with writing began with competitive spelling in grade school and evolved right in to middle school where I built my obsession with telling stories. I was always fond of the Scripps spelling bee and I always sought to maybe make it there someday. But you know… puberty happened. In either case, it‘s refreshing to see films in contemporary and modern that portray spelling bees as pure sport. There are more and more movies spotlighting the mental demand of spelling from 2002’s “Spellbound” to “Bee Season,” to “Spelling the Dream.”

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You Have to See This! A Clockwork Orange (1971)

With “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kubrick set forth a high bar and standard upon which all future gang warfare films would be based on. It’s a surprising fact considering “A Clockwork Orange” is not entirely about gang warfare at all. It’s a science fiction, dystopic, thriller about a predator of humanity who gets a taste of his own medicine a hundred fold once he is rehabilitated into a docile animal of society. Or so that’s what we’re led to believe up until the very ambiguous climax where Alex reverts to his classic recurring orgy fantasy.

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You Have to See This! Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

“She’s empowering herself… with cock.” – Leslie Vernon

Scott Glosserman’s horror masterpiece is a beautiful examination of the slasher sub-genre and its once simplistic genre elements takes a story, and provides a whole new twist to the axe wielding maniac. In the process, it presents us with dark humor that’s actually funny, great performances, and debuts from actors you’ll want to see more often after this. The humor in “Behind the Mask” is never smug of self-aware, and the movie never once breaks the fourth wall by making audiences aware that yes, they are watching a slasher film. Director Scott Glosserman breaks down the elements of the sub-genre forcing audiences to take a second look at the whole concept of the slasher film and the axe wielding maniac.

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You Have to See This! Terror Tract (2000)

Lance W. Dreesen and Clint Hutchison’s horror anthology is a movie that’s managed to slip under the radar and remain fairly obscure. Even in the age where old titles are being revived for physical releases, and even in the age of the anthology renaissance, not too many people talk about “Terror Tract.” It’s a shame, since the 2000 horror film is a bold mix of terror, dark comedy, and zany violence that make it feel like an EC Comic that is slowly losing its sanity as it unfolds. You wouldn’t think that the late John Ritter could have been a great person to lead such a stellar horror anthology, but he’s top notch in a film that’s so unfairly overlooked.

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You Have to See This! Rad (1986)

Although I was born in ’83, I’m old enough to remember when BMX bikes of all kinds were the biggest thing in pop culture. I also recall them inevitably seeping their way in to television and movies. I’m old enough to recall my cousins bickering about BMX Bikes, (and girls, and video games) so much so that Hollywood inevitably made a few movies to capitalize on the popularity. Along with “BMX Bandits,” 1986’s “Rad” is a bland and utterly silly attempt to grab some money out of one of the biggest eighties crazes of the decade.

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You Have to See This! Showgirls (1995)

The nineties had a weird trend where studios took classic films and attempted to rework them in to contemporary trash films. Pamela Anderson starred in a “Casablanca” remake with “Barb Wire,” Vanilla Ice tried for his own “Rebel Without a Cause” remake with “Cool as Ice,” and oddly enough Paul Verhoeven aims for a remake of “All About Eve” with the cult Joe Esterhas anomaly known as “Showgirls.” Simultaneously lambasted and praised for being so unabashedly stupid and sleazy, Verhoeven attempts to hide a narrative better suited Skinemax than world wide release in theaters beneath thin art house veneers that fool no one.

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You Have to See This! The Vast of Night (2020)

With the accessibility of independent filmmaking, often times filmmakers have chosen to pay homage to the Grindhouse era, and with often varying results. It’s not too often we can sit down to watch a genuinely scary film that pays tribute to the atomic age and the classic anthology series from the golden age of television. Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night” is absolute accomplishment. It’s a movie I reviewed during Slamdance 2019 and have yet to quit talking about or boasting about since it was scooped up by Amazon Video. It’s a cinematic gem filled with horror, mystery, science fiction, and pure suspense that will hook audiences the moment the film begins.

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