Sam Ashurst – director, writer, podcaster – Frankenstein’s Creature, A Little More Flesh, A Little More Flesh II.
“Being asked to curate a selection of films for Arrow’s streaming service is like getting to break into your favorite video store after hours to pull from the best shelves. Limited to twenty rentals, this would be the stack coming home with me. So, brace yourself for crazy kung-fu, stoic heroes, lots of female rage, and some of the coolest movies ever made.”
"Do not drink or ingest drugs before watching this film, or you’ll find yourself going down a Toad Road you’ll never return from. But it’s well worth the trip, this is as great a piece of surreal art as anything you’ll find hanging in the Tate."
"If the title makes this one sound offensive, that’s probably because it is… if you take it at face value. But this is a live-action cartoon, an unofficial comic book, and it’s probably the most gloriously entertaining movie on this list. Very weird, very funny, I don’t know how Chang Cheh came up with this concept, but I’m so glad he did."
DAY OF ANGER
"Beautiful exploration of the dusty line between good and evil - with an all-timer soundtrack (starting with the stunning opening credits) that’ll rouse you right out of your saddle."
"A rare example of a comedy-action flick that’s both genuinely funny and supremely thrilling. The set-pieces equal the best of the genre - Dirty Ho’s a blast from the first kick to final punch."
"Psychologically rich character study with a final act that makes Lars von Trier feel like Peppa Pig. Disturbing, and genuinely disorientating - Torment is a true masterpiece, containing genuine evil in its dark heart."
"This Russian fairytale feels like a formative influence on Sam Raimi - it has the energy of Evil Dead II with some of the imagery of Drag Me To Hell. Which is another way of saying it’s perfect."
DEADBEAT AT DAWN
"Punk rock filmmaking at its finest, 100% proof positive you don’t need a budget to make an iconic action movie, just a maniac genius willing to do his own stunts."
"I know every line of this movie off by heart, I sincerely believe it to be the best Henenlotter picture, which automatically puts it in my top 10 of all time. When Graham Humphreys drew a fake VHS cover for an old horror column I used to have, I made sure he included Aylmer."
8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER
"Maybe my favorite Shaw Brothers movie (though there’s a lot of competition on that front), 8 Diagram Pole Fighter has a final set-piece that’ll make your jaw dislocate to your feet, whether it’s the first or thousandth time you’ve seen the movie. Great characters, including one of the coolest female fighters of the genre. Love, love, love this one."
"A slept-on slasher that combines the tone of Sleepaway Camp with the style of Twin(s) Peaks. Truly bizarre slice of American cheese (and turkey). Louise Lasser should have won at least five Oscars for her performance."
"Any list of recommendations is incomplete without Audition, a film that only becomes more powerful and relevant as the years pass. Vibrant, shocking, with a sly sense of humor, this was an influence on my own A Little More Flesh movies."
"Peak Argento, this is the movie that truly earns the Hitchcock comparisons - and might actually exceed them. It contains arguably the greatest example of the magic of misdirection in movie history - and that’s all I’ll say about this perfect, perfect film."
"The deceptively simple premise - a cursed VHS tape kills you after you watch it if you don’t pass it on - contains a slow-burn dread that gradually crawls towards you over the course of the narrative, thanks to Nakata’s somber delivery, and intense style. The result is a movie as terrifying on streaming as it was on VHS. Just make sure you send the link to someone when it’s done."
"High-energy exploration of the problems faced by women in poverty, Switchblade Sisters is sharp, smart, and influenced by Shakespeare. This arthouse meets grindhouse classic was an unofficial Othello remake, and it goes one better as far as I’m concerned - Othello didn’t have gang scraps, you see."
STRAY CAT ROCK: SEX HUNTER
"Featuring knife fights by torchlight, soft-focus serenades, and a satirical exploration of the clear connection between colonialism and racist sexual violence, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is A LOT. It also includes some of the coolest club sequences committed to celluloid. All of the Stray Cat Rock movies are worth your time, but this is probably the nastiest - and the best."
"A film about the fetishization of art, the power dynamic between the artist and their muse, and how obsession can destroy, this is an underseen warning from the past about the future of artistic creation. It’s also very wild and totally unpredictable, like all the best films."
"Whether you see this film as an explosion of energy or a popped zit, you can’t deny its power. Essentially Mad Max meets Akira, filtered through punk philosophy and biker morals, Burst City is my most chaotic comfort movie. A shared love of this film is one of the many reasons I married my wife, Shea."
"Alongside The Iron Rose, Jean Rollin’s Fascination was probably the biggest influence on my film A Little More Flesh. As ambient and illogical as a dream, Fascination’s erotic fairytale contains some of the most memorable imagery of Rollin’s career - it really feels like the most comprehensive expression of his vision."
HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO
"Before it became Claude Chabrol’s Torment, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished L’Enfer languished in limbo. Resurrected here in the form of found footage, costume tests, storyboard comparisons and talking heads, this documentary is as close as we’ll ever get to seeing Clouzot’s potential masterpiece completed.
Every rescued reel is gorgeous, every anecdote a testament to Clouzot’s (unhealthy) genius. As essential as the Orson Welles doc They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead - watch (the already incredible) Torment first, then weep for what could have been."
FEMALE PRISONER 701: SCORPION
"Roger Ebert once said that cinema is an empathy machine. Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion takes that machine and turns it into a torture device, before unplugging it to unleash enough catharsis to convince you strap back in for the rest of the (excellent) series. Super stylish, impossibly cool. Very harsh."
*not all titles are available in all territories