*DISCLAIMER* not a horror-exclusive post, so don’t @ me
If you listen to the show at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the ultimate in horror podcasts, Shock Waves (formerly Killer POV). Hosted by Blumhouse.com Editor-in-Chief, Rebekah McKendry, Blumhouse.com Managing Editor, Rob Galluzzo, Director of Development for Blumhouse Productions, Ryan Turek, and Elric Kane. Three of those hosts have other (excellent) podcasts, but my favorite is Elric’s other show, Pure Cinema Podcast.
PCP is the cult movie podcast to end all cult movie podcasts. Elric, along with Brian Saur (a.k.a. Rupert Pupkin, a.k.a. Bob Freelander), curate lists of movies you’ve likely never heard of if you’re a casual movie fan. And that’s the best part, I think – this is a show for absolute cinephiles, or the budding cinephile (me).
The first episode of PCP is an introduction to your hosts by way of the “Handshake Five.” The Handshake Five is a list of five movies that define you as a person. These are five movies you could turn on at any time and enjoy watching; five movies that you can refer to someone and say, “Oh, you wanna know about me? Watch these five movies.” It may sound silly and contrite, but for someone who loves movies as much as I (and countless others) do, it makes complete sense. With that in mind, here is my Handshake Five (in no particular order):
1. The Burbs, 1989
You know my love of this movie. You heard me rave about it on our 10/35 episode with Rob Bruns. It was my favorite horror movie of the past 35 years. (And, in fact, Rob loves it so much, it was his number two.) I remember seeing this as a kid, and thinking about how weird it was. “How could a movie be so silly and have these scary elements?” It wasn’t until our 10/35s that I realized how much I love a great horror-comedy. As great an actor as Tom Hanks is, early Hanks is my favorite. Bosom Buddies, Big, The ‘Burbs, other movies that start with the letter B – it’s Tom Hanks being silly, and I still use it as an excuse to act like I do at 35 years old. Joe Dante directed a true masterpiece in that it evokes a sense of normal, everyday life in a quaint, suburban neighborhood, along with a Hitchcockian vibe that some things just feel a little off.
2. When Harry Met Sally, 1989
(See, I told you this wasn’t a horror-exclusive post!) What can I say? I’m a sucker for a great romantic comedy. Oh, and Meg Ryan. Killer POV did an episode on childhood obsessions a few years ago. Meg Ryan. Meg Ryan was my childhood obsession. I’ll love almost any movie that takes place in New York City. It’s impossible for the greatest city in the world to NOT be a character in a movie. You have the near-deadpan comedy of Billy Crystal, the adorable and hysterical Meg Ryan, the no-bullshit Carrie Fisher, and the sexy mustache of Bruno Kirby, and you have a recipe for success. I don’t trust anyone who can’t find enjoyment in this movie.
3. Garden State, 2004
This was my first (realized) foray into indie filmmaking. There was a day in my early 20s where I watched this movie three times, back-to-back-to-back. Sickening, I know. I don’t believe I am anymore (thanks to marriage, and finally coming into the real world), but I used to be the biggest hopeless romantic in the world. A constant state of melancholia was my everyday. If my heart wasn’t broken, even a little bit, I wasn’t enjoying life. Garden State is… that. Written and directed by, and starring Zach Braff, this was (and still is, honestly), I found, extremely inspirational. The feat of creating on all levels plus the actual story itself is very moving. Plus, Natalie Portman is my pretend girlfriend.
4. Closer, 2004
Speaking of Natalie Portman… Did I mention that I love her? Because I do. Mike Nichols is most likely on my Mount Rushmore of directors. He’s artful, yet not too much that it takes away from the story and the feelings it make one feel (damn you, Nichols!). Based on the play by Patrick Marber (which is also great), the movie is not played for comedy but still explores true human instincts and emotions. It’s not hyperbole when I say that I think Closer is the truest piece of fiction I’ve ever read/seen. It’s a horror movie in its own right in that it shows us what we’re actually thinking/feeling on the inside. The cast of four (Julia Roberts, Portman, Clive Owen, and Jude Law) deliver performances that are so real, I was physically and mentally stunned after watching it in the theater. I’ve seen this movie a dozen times since then, so I’ve learned to combat that feeling, but I still draw so much inspiration from the writing, direction, and performances. Closer was the main inspiration for the musical I wrote. It is such a beautiful and sad film, I have to watch it once a year to remind myself how much of a piece of shit I can be.
5. Halloween, 1978
And it all comes back around to horror! A Handshake Five is supposed to define you as a person. I live for the haunting season, and no other movie defines the haunting season more than John Carpenter’s classic. The months of August and September are spent in my garage building new (and repairing old) set pieces and props for our yard display. I’m not putting on Garden State in the garage while I’m cutting PVC for a graveyard fence. Closer isn’t going up on the screen when I’m painting tombstones. It’s Halloween (or The American Scream). Carpenter joins Mike Nichols up on Rushmore for me, and Halloween is the reason. This man single-handedly created the modern slasher. Michael Myers is a pop culture icon. Jamie Lee Curtis created the “scream queen” (a term I don’t actually love). Carpenter’s theme is known the world over. There are only a handful of movies that are universally known, and Halloween is part of that exclusive club.