In celebration of Phase 4 Films’ release of Crave on VOD and in limited theaters this Friday, December 6, Bloody Disgusting caught up with director Charles de Lauzirika to talk about some of his favorite superhero movies.
Starring Josh Lawson (“House of Lies”, Anchorman 2), Emma Lung, Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”, Hellboy), and Edward Furlong (Night of the Demons, T2), the pseudo-superhero horror Crave follows a downtrodden photographer, haunted by the urban violence and decay around him, who retreats into an inner world of dark fantasies. Those dangerous visions explode in reality with deadly consequences when his intoxicating new relationship with a beautiful young woman goes sour.
“For me, the criteria for a superhero movie goes beyond just a mild mannered character putting on flashy tights and leaping into action to save the day,” explains Lauzirika. “It can be that, and has been mostly that, but as this subgenre continues to evolve and reinvent itself, I consider a “superhero” to be any character that uses special abilities, technology or powers in the service of good. So rather than limit my selections to guys in capes and masks (though there is certainly some of that on my list,) I figured I would discuss a few films I enjoy that explore what it means to be an extraordinary hero in an ordinary world.”
Without further adieu, here’s 5 awesome superhero films as selected by Charles de Lauzirika!
“It’s easy to look back at Paul Verhoeven’s ROBOCOP now and see it as the masterpiece of extreme action, genuine emotion and brilliant satire that it is. But there was nothing really like it before and there hasn’t really been much like it since: A comic book movie not actually adapted from a comic book – and for grown-ups, no less! It seems unheard of in this bleak era of studio filmmaking when virtually nothing but established franchises and “pre-awareness” titles see a greenlight, as evidenced by this film receiving its very own remake this year in the wake of two sequels and a TV show. But between an amazingly charismatic and engaging cast of both heroes and especially villains, some bleeding edge commentary on big business and American consumerism, and several absolutely thrilling action scenes – not to mention kick-ass work by the likes of Rob Bottin, Phil Tippett and Basil Poledouris – I came out of that first screening of ROBOCOP on a cinematic high I’ve rarely felt since. Side note: While making CRAVE, I often referred to ROBOCOP not because we were shooting on the mean streets of Detroit…but because I wanted our squibs to be like the fat, bloody woundgasms that Verhoeven employed. In particular, Mr. Kinney’s hilariously over-the-top demise at the “hands” of ED-209 was always a major discussion point whenever squibs were mentioned.”
“Although I was casually raised as a Catholic, more or less, I think it’s safe to say that my moral compass was at least partially calibrated by that other savior sent to Earth to protect us: Superman. And in particular, Richard Donner’s epic first film in this movie franchise. Jor-El’s message to his only son, “They’re a good people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way,” heavily resonated with me growing up. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be, as Christopher Reeve so perfectly delivered it, “a friend.” The sheer joy on Reeve’s face whenever he saved the day is what made me want to be (at least in theory) a do-gooder, something the recent moodier Superman movies haven’t tapped into quite yet. But then these are moodier times…and I have certainly found myself taking some darker paths in life, as my first feature might attest to. But that’s why Superman matters now more than ever. We seek the light. And even if we’ve perhaps grown beyond the simplistic desire for a savior, we still long for the ideal. The beacon that leads us forward out of the darkness. That this core message was lovingly wrapped up in a spectacular adventure that masterfully spanned, blended and contained entire genres within its brisk 143 minute run time, supported by a massively talented cast and one of John Williams’ essential top tier signature scores, was all a very welcome bonus. I still believe this man can fly, and I always will…no matter how dark the world (or his costume) becomes.”
“I have to be honest and say I was kind of dreading this movie. Like a lot of people, I’m pretty burned out on the found footage genre. And worse, based on the trailer, this seemed like it could be an especially douchey “brah” off-shoot of that tired breed. So it goes without saying that I was very pleasantly surprised and highly impressed by what Josh Trank did with the material. Not only did he capture an emotionally-engaging character study (thanks to a very talented cast, including the amazing Dane DeHaan) and managed to find very creative ways to break out of the limitations of the form, but he also delivered perhaps the most engaging super-fight I had ever seen on the big screen…all on a relatively meager budget! As The Fantastic Four was one of my favorite comic books growing up, I’m feeling quite optimistic that this property is now in Mr. Trank’s hands and I look forward to seeing him expand as a filmmaker beyond the superhero genre.”
“Two of my absolute favorite adventure films from childhood are RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the aforementioned SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. I also had a fondness for other random icons of the past, such as Bettie Page, air shows and test pilots, Giant Robot, Howard Hughes and, being a native Angelino, old Hollywood. Throw all those potent ingredients into a World War II era blender and out comes a delicious mix of nostalgia, spectacle and alternate history…otherwise known as THE ROCKETEER. I’ve always rooted for Joe Johnston as a director, having been a longtime fan of his work as a superb concept artist on the original STAR WARS films. To me, this film is still his best directorial effort. Based on the Dave Stevens comic, this film is a nonstop love letter to the spirit of an imagined history in which a world at war was heavily flavored with elements of fantasy and pulp adventure. Growing up, I could easily thrill to the exploits of Doc Savage, Indiana Jones or, in this case, Cliff Seacord. They made crushing the enemy not just a case of blue collar good versus globe-dominating evil, but they also made it incredibly fun. I was charmed by this film. “Doubly charmed.” ”
“Some people might not consider a story about an alien weapon of mass destruction who befriends a little boy to fall in the superhero category. Normally, I probably wouldn’t either. But nothing about Brad Bird’s underappreciated masterpiece should really be considered “normal.” It’s an entirely exceptional film about overcoming fear, looking deep within yourself and becoming the best “you” that you can. Released during a crowded summer when many fanboys angrily turned their backs on the long-awaited return of STAR WARS and instead embraced a more modern and stylized vision of fantastic cinema with THE MATRIX, it might be forgivable to have missed the quiet, humble release of THE IRON GIANT amidst the deafening clash of mega-hyped movies elsewhere. But if you love movies about heroes, or movies about what it means to be a hero…or hell, if you just love movies, period…then it’s unforgivable to miss this beautiful film now. And I defy anyone with a human heart to not crack a big wet-eyed smile of joy when our large mechanical friend leaps into action and utters the name of another famous superhero. In many ways, the best superheroes don’t just do the dirty work of fighting evil. They also inspire and uplift us. And in that regard, THE IRON GIANT is one of the best superheroes of all.”