My first exposure to the New Mexico independent film landscape was late in 2007 with a little film called Gimme Skelter. I saw an ad for the premiere at the Guild. The big draw was the fact that Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, would be at the premiere since he is in the film. It turns out I enjoyed the very low budget film and would go on to enjoy all the films done by the same group of people. Anyway, Gimme Skelter is about a guy who thinks he’s Charlie Manson’s son and wants to live up to his name. He gets a group of people together to go to a small town in New Mexico in order to kill everyone in the town in the course of the night. Of course things don’t quite go the way they plan and some of the locals fight back. This was my first exposure to now favorite local actors Billy Garberina, Mark Chavez (one half of local comedy duo the Pajama Men) and Kurly Tlapoyawa (owner of Burning Paradise Video). Between the three of them, someone has a hand in each of the local films I’ve come to enjoy. Some of which show up higher in this list.
The action of 2007’s Spanish horror film [REC] continues right where it left off in the sequel [REC]2. In the first film, a reporter is following some firefighters one night and they become quarantined in a building after responding to a call there. It turns out a virus is infecting the tenants and turning them into zombie-like creatures (think 28 Days Later). When one of the infected attacks someone and bites or cuts them, the person slowly dies and almost immediately comes back to life as a rabid mindless creature. The entire film was seen through the lens of the reporter’s camera. In the sequel, a SWAT team and medical officer are sent into the building to help control the situation. Continuing with the camera-style of the first film, the SWAT team is equipped with cameras on their helmets, and that is what the viewer sees. [REC]2is just as exhilarating as the first film, and definitely worth experiencing as a horror or zombie fan.
Before Black Ops brought Nazi zombies to the first-person shooter world, a little film from Norway brought them to the film world. Dead Snow takes place somewhere in the Norwegian wilderness. A group of young adults goes out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere for some young adult fun. Think Evil Dead except they are surrounded by deep snow and a former Nazi platoon that was trapped and frozen to death during World War II. This film definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, and thanks to that it is a gruesome fun time.
A couple years into the 5-year run of The Muppet Show, Jim Henson brought everyone’s favorite Muppets to the big screen for the first time. The Muppet Movie is a movie within a movie. The beginning shows the various colorful characters in a screening room. Kermit says this “film” is loosely based on how the Muppets all got together. The story of the film is about how Kermit went from his swamp to Hollywood, and how he met all of his friends in between. Like every Muppet film there are various guest appearances. There are also several musical numbers, including the Oscar-nominated Rainbow Connection. Opinions vary on the several Muppet films, but I’m willing to bet every Muppet fan believes The Muppet Movie is a classic.
In 2008, the first of a series of films was released ruining the image of vampires. Twilight became very popular and turned vampires into a fad among tweeny-boppers. However, unbeknownst to most people, another vampire film was released that same year. It came from Sweden, and told the tale of a boy who befriends a neighborhood girl. It turns out, however that the girl is a vampire. The imagery is like a Swedish winter, cold and dark. The boy and girl take turns saving each other, and this leads to an unbreakable bond. Let the Right One In would make true vampires proud. They don’t glitter and swoon over each other. There is no team so-and-so versus team so-and-so. The only real downside to how great this film was is that it took less than two years to have an American remake released in the United States.