DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #25 – #21

My 50 Favourite Directors #25 – #21

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

Psychedelic, symbolic, poetic, comical, animated and strange; this quintet of directors are all visual mind-benders!

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#25. Tod Browning

What I’ve Seen: The Unholy Three (1925), The Blackbird (1926), London After Midnight (1927), The Unknown (1927), West of Zanzibar (1928), Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)

Tod Browning is a man after Goregirl’s heart with all his circus and carnival themed fare! I have seen a mere 9 of Tod Browning’s 50 full length feature films. It has been incredibly difficult finding Browning’s films on DVD or in any format frankly. What a shame because I thought all 9 of the films on my ‘seen’ list were excellent! Dracula is probably his best known film (and it is pretty fantastic) but The Unknown starring Lon Chaney (SR) as an armless knife-thrower is my personal favourite! I gave The Unknown, Freaks and The Devil-Doll perfect marks; Dracula and London after Midnight are not too far behind the trio. Browning’s filmmaking career began during the silent film era and he has a significant number of both silent and speaking titles in his resume. Come for the great stories and colourful characters but stay for the fantastic ground-breaking visuals! Tod Browning died October 6, 1962 at the age of 82. Browning is a legend!

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#24. Jan Svankmajer

What I’ve Seen: Alice (1988), Lesson Faust (1994), Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), Greedy Guts (2000), Lunacy (2005), Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)

I have reviewed three of Jan Svankmajer’s films and made two slideshows in his honour. You could say I am a fan. The following is a blurb from my review for Surviving Life that sums up Svankmajer pretty well; “Svankmajer is one of the most original film makers alive today who uses both animation and live action to create unique, surreal and often macabre images to compliment his imaginative stories.” I have seen all 6 full length feature films from Czech director Jan Svankmajer. Svankmajer also made a ton of shorts which I highly recommend seeking out! I love all six of these films but if forced to choose it would be a toss up between Alice, Conspirators of Pleasure and Surviving Life. Jan Svankmajer is incredibly unique and special; there aren’t enough adjectives out there to cover it.

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#23. Fritz Lang

What I’ve Seen: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922), Metropolis (1927), Woman in the Moon (1929), M (1931), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Hangmen Also Die! (1943), The Woman in the Window (1944), The Big Heat (1953), While the City Sleeps (1956)

I have seen 11 of Fritz Lang’s 46 full length feature films. What a list! The superb science fiction epic Metropolis, the mesmerizing crime-thriller Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, the gritty crime drama M and the gripping horror-mystery The Testament of Dr. Mabuse are nothing short of masterpieces. While nothing compares to the amazing visuals in his late 20s and early 30s films, he contributed some pretty freaking amazing and moody entries to the film-noir genre also; particularly The Big Heat which is a personal favourite. There are so many Lang films still for me to see and that warms the cockles of my heart. I am sixth in the library queue for The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse! Fritz Lang retired from filmmaking after filming Journey to the Lost City in 1960 and died August 2, 1976 at the age of 85 leaving behind a most impressive legacy!

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#22. Luis Buñuel

What I’ve Seen: The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), Belle de Jour (1967), The Milky Way (1969), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

If cinematic surrealism had a king it would have to be Buñuel. He made his first film Un chien andalou in 1929 with Salvador-freaking-Dali! Can’t get more surreal than that! Because Un chien andalou  is a short I did not include it on my list, but it is a real trippy treat! I have much ground to cover yet as I have seen just 7 of Luis Buñuel’s 30 full length feature films. I have loved the hell out of what I have seen thus far! The sexy and surprising (wow! What an ending!) Belle de Jour and Catherine Deneuve’s superb performance garnered a perfect score from me, likewise the funny and quirky The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz and The Exterminating Angel. You need not be a brain surgeon to surmise Mr. Buñuel had issue with the middle class and religion. Themes present in varying degrees in all 7 of the films I’ve seen. Buñuel’s films are funny, sexy, bizarre, disconcerting and always unique. I know little to nothing about Buñuel; but his unforgettable array of images could only come from a truly eccentric personality. I have L’âge d’or, The Brute and Tristana in my library queue and I look forward to one day seeing every last one of the brilliant Buñuel’s funky films!

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#21. Alejandro Jodorowsky

What I’ve Seen: Fando y Lis (1968), El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973), Tusk (1980), Santa Sangre (1989), The Rainbow Thief (1990)

I have seen all 6 full length feature films from director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Six freaking films? What the hell is up with that? I need more! More I tell you! I have given 4 of Jodorowsky’s 6 films a perfect score! There are films I love and than there are films I LOVE and El Topo is one of those films I LOVE. El Topo’s journey is a fascinating one on its own but it is also full of social, religious and political statements of a symbolic nature. Despite having seen El Topo multiple times it still mesmerizes and moves me in equal measure. I did not think Jodorowsky could top El Topo until I seen The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre and Fando y Lis all perfect films and like El Topo visual extravaganzas. Jodorowsky even made Santa Sangre with a carnival theme and horror elements! Thanks Jodorowsky! Jodorowsky is 83 years old and still going. There has long been a rumour that Jodorowsky was going to complete a “Son of El Topo” project. There was also a film listed on IMDB called King Shot which was to star Marilyn Manson, Nick Nolte, Asia Argento and Udo Kier, but has since been removed. It is one of my greatest desires to see one more film from Jodorowsky. If I won the lottery I would give Jodorowsky money to make that film.

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16 Responses to “DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #25 – #21”

  1. Love this series GG!

  2. The surrealists take over the top 50- I love it!

    I’ve only seen three from Browning, but they’re three of my favorites from that time period (The Unknown, Dracula, and Freaks). Gooble, gobble, gooble, gobble, one of us, one of us…

    Lang was one of the first arthouse guys I watched. M is a thing of beauty (insofar as a child murdering movie can be beautiful), and so is Metropolis, and so is The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and so is The Woman in the Window… The guy rocks. He’s the missing link between German Expressionism and American horror.

    Buñuel is almost a personal hero. The guy’s whole life was dedicated to making fun of… well, anything that people believed in. Nothing was sacred for him. My favorites not on your list of his movies that you’ve seen: Los Olvidados, Viridiana, Simon of the Desert, and Death in the Garden. Also, I think you’ll love The Brute. It’s got a hardcore Frankenstein vibe to it. Not the film, not the re-animated corpse stuff, but the whole “I’ve created an unstoppable monster” thing.

    Jodorowsky… what can be said? I think that scene in Holy Mountain where Jesus poops in a jar and it’s turned into gold kind of says it all. In fairness, the only Jodorowsky I’ve seen is El Topo and Holy Mountain. But holy shit… what an introduction.

    • goregirl Says:

      This was quite the group! Totally unintentional that they fell like this, but fell like this they did.

      So much more Buñuel still to see! I will have to see if the library has any of your recommendations. The library likes Mr. Buñuel!

      You should definitely see Santa Sangre…it has a carnival theme and a central character with some serious mother issues…an absolute freaking must see!!

  3. Tod Browning is my number 13 director in my personal list, He is one of the oldest directors that are horror masters, he just knew how to make great characters and nice atmospheres to perfection, he also worked with two of the best horror actors ever: Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Sr.. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “Freaks” (1932) which I rated 10/10.

    Jan Svanjkamer is my number 171 director in my personal list. Maybe the reason is that I’ve seen just his short film work, and while I liked some of it, I also some found others to be reprehensible in a political/moral sense, but that’s just me maybe, I’m an idiot, haha. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “Byt” (1968) which I rated 9/10.

    Fritz Lang is in number 273 in my personal list, but I think it’s because I’ve been missing the best of his stuff, and just getting the wrong end of the stick, to speak of, he still made one of my favorite movies of all time alongside one of the best film performances from all time. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “M” (1930) which I rated 10/10.

    Luis Buñuel is in the number 4!!!!!!! in my personal list, and he is one of my main inspirations and idols at my young (he) age and my filmmaking as well, he sure managed to bring everything that I love about the plots of films into fruition and with a great endeavour as well, he was a master of the imagery and the story and it’s all I can say about him, he just is one of the perfects. My favorite of the films he’s directed is “The Exterminating Angel” (1962) which I rated 10/10.

    Alejandro Jodorowsky is not listed as I’ve only seen one of his films.

    My 5:

    25. Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On, Ju-on) *Ju-On 10/10
    24. Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote) *Capote 10/10
    23. David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge over the River Kwai) *Lawrence of Arabia 10/10
    22. Akira Kurosawa (Red Beard, The Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashomon) *Red Beard 10/10
    21. Richard Kelly (The Box, Southland Tales, Donnie Darko, The Goodbye Place) *Donnie Darko is the best movie ever made (serious).

    • goregirl Says:

      How many directors do you have ranked? It is pretty damn impressive!

      Pleased that there are other Browning fans out there. Seems like a director who is not appreciated as much as he deserves. Chaney and Lugosi are two of my favourite actors without a doubt!

      I think my moral-political boundaries are pretty loose when it comes to film. Well, my moral boundaries anyway.

      You have ONE director in your top five that will be on one of my upcoming lists! You have definitely seen a lot more current films than myself, I’m curious to see who will be in your top 20!

  4. Jan Svankmajer’s Alice has a special place in my neurons, and I also love Bunuel’s The Phantom of Liberty.

    • goregirl Says:

      Svankmajer just does not get the love he deserves, glad someone else appreciates his version of Alice.

  5. So you’ve got rid of most of the surrealists in this part. I haven’t watched a Buñuel film but I have listened to Debaser by The Pixies a million times and Un Chien Andalou is in the chorus. If he;s awesome enough to inspire The Pixies perhaps I better start watching.

    Tod Browning (The Freaks) and Jan Svankmajer (Alice) gave me nightmares.

    The thing about this section of the list is that I have few ideas who is going to make the top ten although I’m hoping Takeshi Kitano and Kiyoshi Kurosawa are in there somewhere!

    • goregirl Says:

      As you know, I love the Pixies, but I think I actually discovered Bunuel before the Pixies…and yes you should definitely check out some Bunuel!

      I REALLY love Mr. Kitano, but I have seen more of his acting than his directing…sure did love Zatoichi. I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed…I have just one more Japanese director left…and he is in my top 10.

  6. Great reading as always,Goregirl! I have seen a smattering of each director listed,and was not disappointed with their work. It’s probably a tie between Tod Browning and Alejandro Jodorowsky as favorites in this group,but enjoy the film’s of Fritz Lang,Jan Svankmajer and Luis Bunuel(actually got to see The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in a theater way back when). I have seen Browning’s Dracula and Freaks numerous times. Mark of the Vampire I love save for the ending,but still a great film. Santa Sangre is mesmerizing beyond words. I too enjoy circus and carnival themes being seriously obsessed with both as a kid. I traveled with a carnival one Summer when I was in high school to fulfill my obsession. My poor Mom was worried sick about me,but I survived ,and it was fun!

    • goregirl Says:

      Neat! Of course I wanted to join a travelling carnival or circus as a kid but had to settle with 3 weeks a year as a carnival brat. Amoung my dad’s many entrepreneural endeavors he was a pitchman at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). Sold everything from jewellery cleaner to invisible dogs! He grew up working at Sunnyside park when he was a kid but only shared the odd story. I think he was running for bookies or something not quite legal. Here is a pic of old Sunnyside…

      Sunnyside Park

      • Great photo! I think that’s cool your Dad worked at Sunnyside park as a kid! I too would have liked to have joined a traveling circus for a Summer,but since that one Summer with the carnival gave my Mom grey hairs,I decided to forgo that notion.

  7. Jan Swankmeyer definitely creeps me out. I haven’t seen enough of his work to fully comment but I loved Little Otik about a family who raise a tree stump…weird but wonderful.

    Likewise, the only film I’ve seen of Tom Browning is Freaks which was great. The use of real life circus performers added to the surreal nature of that film.

    Alejandro Jodorowsky is a new one on me…I’ll have to check out some of his work.

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