“Color of Night” (1994) dir. Richard Rush

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“Color of Night” has a very bad reputation. In fact, it won Worst Picture of the Year at the 1994 Razzies (it’s only win … it lost in its other 8 categories). Roger Ebert said at the time: “I was, frankly, stupefied. To call it absurd would be missing the point, since any shred of credibility was obviously the first thing thrown overboard. It’s so lurid in its melodrama and so goofy in its plotting that with just a bit more trouble, it could have been a comedy.”

I agree with everything Ebert said, except for his last assertion. I would counter that “Color of Night” IS a comedy … a gleefully wild, bats–t crazy comedy that does for erotic thrillers what the Ebert-scripted and Russ Meyer-directed “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” did for Hollywood soap operas.

If you don’t agree, consider the pedigree of its creators. Director Richard Rush made the brilliantly demented “The Stuntman” in 1980, a labor of love that took many years to film and resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Best Director that year. One of the writers was Billy Ray who later wrote and directed the superior “Shattered Glass” and “Breach.” I’m not saying that talented people can’t make a bad movie. But when you create something this completely insane, it can’t be by accident.

I won’t rehash the plot because the less you know the better. Yes, you will probably see the big plot twists coming a mile away. But I would argue that’s part of the fun. To accuse this film of containing gratuitous sex and graphic violence is missing the point. Gratuitous sex and graphic violence IS the point. It pushes its R-rating beyond the breaking point. If you’re a prude or have no sense of humor, stay away. But if you let it, “Color of Night” will take you on a crazy, surreal trip … and leave you with a big idiotic grin.

8. “The Stunt Man” (1980) dir. Richard Rush

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Number 8 on Dave’s Strange World’s list of 10 favorite films comes Richard Rush’s bats–t crazy masterpiece from 1980, “The Stunt Man.” I saw this when it was in theaters in the fall of 1980, thanks to my Dad. Back in the day, my Dad was an avid “New Yorker” reader and likely wanted to see this based on Pauline Kael’s rave review of this film. Granted, this film was grossly inappropriate for a 10-year old to see, but I respect my Dad for trusting my intelligence and good taste in letting me see this.

Like “Pulp Fiction,” this is quite possibly the perfect film: action, suspense, comedy, violence, sex, and plot twists that seriously f–k with your brain and make you question reality. It’s cerebral, but ridiculously entertaining at the lowest common denominator as well. It’s what every Hollywood film should be like, but isn’t. Richly deserving of its 3 Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Peter O’Toole’s turn as the Satanic director. O’Toole could have easily walked off with the Best Actor Oscar that year, had it not been for DeNiro’s turn in “Raging Bull.” (Shaking fist in the air, Stephen Colbert-style: “DENIRO!!!!!!!”)

I think this is still available on Netflix instant and if you haven’t seen it, you’re in for one of the greatest treats of your life.