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15. Blood Simple (1984), d. Joel CoenThe Coen Brothers launched themselves upon an unsuspecting world with this noir throwback in 1984, and they haven't looked back. But all their subsequent success - and many of their trademark flourishes - can be dated back to this Texas-set tale of private eyes, murder most foul and more double (triple, and quadruple) crosses than you can count. The style is present and correct in the almost black-and-white locations and bright red blood, but it's the tone that stands out. Like Fargo without the warmth of Marge Gunderson, or Miller's Crossing without the qualms of conscience, Blood Simple is the darkest, and arguably up there with the best, of the Coens' films.
14. Stranger Than Paradise (1984, W. Ger/US), d. Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch is another in the small canon of American directors who have spent their entire career outside of the mainstream - hell, even when he's got Johnny Depp in his movie the box office seems relatively unperturbed. But it's this early work - just his second feature - that stands among the best. Possibly the biggest reason for Stranger Than Paradise's inclusion here is, despite all outward appearances, Jarmusch's craftily disguising that he knows exactly what he's on about. It wasn't for another film or two that his themes of the universality of humankind, regardless of race, creed or colour, became apparent. Consider also his legacy on the likes of Wayne Wang and Greg Araki.
13. Memento (2000), d. Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan's modestly budgeted sleeper hit managed to claw it's way over the indie fence and into mainstream recognition on pure ingenuity. Before Memento, the 'character with amnesia' subgenre was, generally, a rather tired one (and has become so again since), but using the simplest of devices - telling the story's episodic structure in reverse order - the filmmakers (Nolan's brother Jonathan wrote the basis of the screenplay) forged a tale that was arse-clenchingly compelling, and ironically, unforgettable. And let's not forget it was the first major breakthrough in screenwriting structure since Pulp Fiction and its many clones, which in itself deserves an award.
12. Eraserhead (1977), d. David Lynch
Another piecemeal movie - shot over five years on a virtually non-existent budget, prompting lead Jack Nance to keep that same distinctive pre-Marge Simpson haircut for the duration of the shoot - Eraserhead is one of the strangest, most perplexing movies you'll ever see. It's jam-packed with deeply unsettling imagery, a grating, scraping, percussive soundtrack and an almost omnipresent sense of dread and doom. Despite all that, it's one of Lynch's most complete, a true surrealist masterpiece for everybody, barring the guy who made it - in Lynch's world, this is probably the equivalent of Bad Boys 2.
11. Bad Taste (1987, NZ), d. Peter Jackson
Compared to the long hard slog that was making Bad Taste, the Rings trilogy was a walk in the park. Famously funded almost entirely by himself and shot on weekends over a period of FOUR YEARS, Jackson not only wrote, directed, and appeared in a couple of roles, but supervised the special effects, constructed makeshift 'steadicam' equipment and probably made the tea, too. The result is as ramshackle as you'd imagine, but is also an endlessly inventive, vibrant alien invasion movie with extraordinary levels of gore, black comedy and an early peek of the scampish, OTT sense of humour that is evident in even the most serious and worthy of PJ's canon. At times you can almost hear him giggle himself silly, behind the camera.
Monty Python's Life of Brian, Trailer