1. Black Narcissus – 1947 / Dir: Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger
The greatest director, the greatest colour cinematographer and THAT red dress. A tale of repressed emotion and an unwisely positioned bell. Often overshadowed by The Red Shoes or Peeping Tom, this is Michael Powell at his most erotic and exotic. A tale of repressed sexuality and a blacked-up Jean Simmons. In his autobiography, Powell seemed a little dismissive of Narcissus, but, for me, it ranks with his best. About 1000 times better than any other Nunsploitation flick.
2. Ringu – 1998 / Dir: Hideo Nakata
The first horror film that actually frightened me since I was a youngster. The typical Japanese fears of women and the young are personified by Sadako, a long-haired, shuffling spirit of vengeance. I was so spooked out after watching it, that I felt a bit reluctant to watch the full-length version of the haunted videotape on the DVD extras. Ringu really bought Asian horror to Western attention, and is still one of the most potent supernatural films ever made.
3. RoboGeisha – 2009 / Dir: Noboru Iguchi
One part Robocop, one part Memoirs of a Geisha, and all parts absurd. Handicap Gun, Fried Shrimp, Geisha Transform, Butt Sword. Any film which features these, plus a building which climbs up Mount Fuji, has got to be awesome. A group of killer Geisha cyborgs, or something, but who cares? Iguchi, a one-time director of hardcore Japanese fetish porn, goes a little OTT, but RoboGeisha is still superb, if puerile, entertainment.
4. Double Indemnity – 1944 / Dir: Billy Wilder
Barbara Stanwyck plays upon a weak man’s passions and insecurity. Raymond Chandler always knew how to create memorable female characters, and this is one of his best. Insurance fraud in a film usually results in sub-Grisham tedium, but this is great stuff. Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson are superb, but Stanwyck‘s ice steals the show. Much has been made of Noir’s relationship with the fear of recently empowered women during the Second World War, but most will enjoy the convoluted plots, expressionist lighting and hard-boiled dialogue.
5. Tokyo Gore Police – 2008 / Dir: Yoshihiro Nishimura
The lovely Eihi Shiina fights a group of bizarre mutants who can fire eyeballs. You want a film with a gun which fires severed hands, a quadruple amputee gimp with katanas for limbs, snail-women and bitten-off penises. If you’re a newcomer to strange oriental films, then start here. The F/X look cheap, but Shiina is stunning, as usual, and the sheer imagination is staggering. One question, however: why are the police cars all old Saab 900s?