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The Munificent Musings Of A Maniacal Mammal

Over the next who-knows-how-many months, I’m going to select one movie from every year since I was born to watch and recommend. But the catch is that I’m going to pick ones that either flew under the RADAR, or were unjustly box office failures, or have otherwise been completely forgotten to time. In other words, I’m going to try and pick ones that few-to-none of y’all have seen. I’m gonna try and do one or two of these a week.

Click the title of the film to go to its Wikipedia page.

1976: Massacre At Central High

Sigh. I kinda hit a brick wall on this project when it came to 1976. My plan was to post one of these every couple weeks, but the second year entry stopped me dead in my tracks. I spent months tossing on various movies from 1976 that I thought might fit the bill. For some years, I already have an entry in mind, and for others, like 1976, I had to hunt for one to feature. But here’s the problem, nothing completely fit the mold for me to pick. A number of them were close, but they either were a bit too well known or I didn’t quite like them well enough to recommend. My ultimate pick, the horror satire Massacre At Central High, is a bit of both. But for lack of a better pick, I’m going with it just so that I can finally move on to 1977. Before I comment on it, I’d like to at least mention one other film that came close to getting picked, but fell short. 1976 was essentially the year of Jodie Foster. She had 5 movies that year and they were EXTREMELY varied, all the way from Freaky Friday to Taxi Driver. However, she made a film called The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, which has a great central plot setup and an excellent cast, but the last half of the plot so completely undermines the intentions of the film that it totally falls apart.

The film I have semi-reluctantly chosen, Massacre At Central High, is a very R-rated and over-the-top and violent high school drama. It’s a low budget production that does well enough with what it’s got, and the cast is passable, but nothing special. Like The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, it has a fun central concept, but this one properly follows through on the idea. One of the most interesting things about the film is how much of a prototype it is for the superior genre film, Heathers. As an amusing side note, the writer of Heathers, Daniel Waters, stated that when he wrote Heathers, he hadn’t seen this film, but he had read a description of it. So, I suppose there is some direct influence from one to the other (it’s hard to believe there isn’t any, given a couple main plot concepts they share). And like Heathers, this one isn’t for people who are easily offended. This movie also isn’t a perfect pick for this series, because it’s somewhat notorious and has a pretty decent cult classic following. Anyway, time for me to finally put a fork in 1976 and move on to 1977…

1975: Picnic At Hanging Rock

To kick things off for this series, we have 1975, the year I was born. For this one, I’m going to pick a movie that actually did fairly well… in its country of origin, Australia. I figure very few in the USA have seen it. That movie is Picnic At Hanging Rock. It’s directed by the great Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Master & Commander, Witness, Fearless, Gallipoli, Dead Poets Society, etc) and is a solid period piece, taking place in 1900 in Victoria, Australia. It involves an afternoon picnic trip that the students at a local girls school take to a local location of “Hanging Rock”, resulting in a mysterious tragedy. The movie is one of those that is subtle and well crafted. Its main strength is the quasi-dreamlike style of the movie that Weir puts together. While not the greatest movie of its year (after all, we’re talking about the year of Jaws), it’s a solid little film that uses its modest budget and location well.

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