What Are Your Top 5 Desert Island DVDs?

by Maggie Kruger

Here in the UK, we’re known for 3 things – bad teeth, crappy weather, and Hugh Grant*. What really bothers me out of that list is the crappy weather. We’ve just had the wettest April in 100 years, but because of all the dry weather we’ve had up until then, we’re getting flood warnings that immediately follow drought warnings: go figure.

All I know is that I’ve spent a very damp month and I’m keeping my eye out for a guy with an Ark.

There’s a radio show here called Desert Island Discs, wherein celebrities name the pieces of music they’d take with them if stranded. Having grumpily woken up to yet more rain this morning, and wondering if I can call in hydrophobic to the office, I compiled my own list of “Desert Island DVDs”.

Is that a ferret in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Is that a ferret in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

If I could never leave my apartment again because London has turned into the set of Waterworld, and I could only choose 5 movies  to watch until Dennis Quaid comes to rescue me a la Day After Tomorrow, which movies would they be?

1. Beast Master – 1982

This is a total no-brainer and we’ve all waxed lyrical about it before (OK so it was just Joel and myself but we’re fairly loud, let’s face it).  I swear though I watched this movie every day for a year when I was 10, so I know it’s good for multiple viewings!

In a nutshell, if you haven’t seen it: Marc Singer talks to the animals in this sword and sorcery classic that also stars Rip Torn, Tanya Roberts and 2 marvellous ferrets.

 2. The Crow – 1994

I may have crapped on at length about this one as well, but with very good reason – I love it. Brandon Lee is brought back to life by a mystical crow one year after his murder to take revenge on the men that killed him and his fiancée, in increasingly violent ways (and accompanied by a frankly awesome soundtrack).

Sadly, it’s better known now for Lee’s tragic on-set death and several painfully bad sequels, but to my mind this original is a classic – give me enough beer and I’ll spend an hour telling you why the sequence set to The Cure’s ‘Burn’ is one of the finest pieces of cinematography known to man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWs8kdGUgDg (Nine Inch Nails/Fan Made Video)

 3. Toys – 1992

It’s easy to overlook Robin Williams’ stomach churning awfulness in Jack, Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man when you watch a movie like this – a surreal family film with a surprisingly dark heart, set in a toy factory that kicks the arse of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Sure, you’ve got an almost annoying amount of Williams’ trademark schtick, and sometimes its message is a little heavyhanded, but every time I see Toys on TV I stop to watch it – it’s glorious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhG-6UYkb9k (Trailer)

 4. The Last of the Mohicans – 1992

Despite its critical and commercial success, I think this movie has a tendency to get overlooked – both Michael Mann and Daniel Day Lewis have made much more prominent movies, and most people only remember Hawkeye shouting at Madeline Stowe through the waterfall (which, granted, was a little bit ridiculous).

However, I think this is a stunning film – beautifully shot, an amazing supporting cast (specifically Wes Studi and Russell Means), and any oversentimentality is tempered by some ferocious battle scenes. Well worth a watch.

 5. Dolores Claiborne – 1995

Again, I think I’ve crapped on at length about this before… but if I’m crapping on about something, it’s only because you need to watch it! Many’s the night I’ve been idly channel hopping before bed, only to find this is about to start and I have to stay up till 2am watching it.

Kathy Bates is charged with the murder of her employer, and her estranged daughter comes to help her out. Simple huh? Not in the least, but you have to see it for yourself. You’ll never look at that nice David Strathairn in the same way again.

So these are my five choices… But we want to know YOUR Desert Island DVDs: don’t be shy – stick them down in the comments section below!

*Once again on behalf of my country, I can’t apologise enough for Love Actually.

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About Joel Robertson

I'm the father of three boys and married to my high school sweetheart. I'm a former public school teacher (and still recovering from PTSD), reformed filmmaker, podcaster, writer, and fan of all things movie related.

7 comments to What Are Your Top 5 Desert Island DVDs?

  • Gail Pascaris

    Ok, here’s my list:
    1) Once – Indie Film, love the music , love the story
    2) Bull Durham, for baseball and Costner and Robbins too
    3) Die Hard, for the explosions
    4) Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister, a documentary that gives me hope
    and
    5) Running Time because who wouldn’t want to be stranded on a desert island with Bruce Campbell?

    There are more that I would love to take but since Mags said only 5, no series, and no TV shows, this is what I choose today. Ask me again tomorrow and I might have a different list of 5. But these are movies I have already watched over and over and over so I know I can watch them a hundred times more.

  • AMSchar

    Only 5?

    1. So I Married an Axe Murderer: true comic genius. Nancy Travis at her best as is Mike Myers. Quirky and fun.

    2. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: One has to admire Marilyn playing a dumb blonde. If I could I would definitely take a box set of Marilyn.

    3. From Dusk til Dawn: while not a die hard Clooney fan I have to say that this film was 1 of 5 that I took to watch while in labor with my daughter. If you haven’t seen it, just know that it starts as a spree killer film and then goes bad….:)

    4. Big Trouble in Little China: Who doesn’t love Kurt Russell. Enough action and bad puns for anyone. Plus, VERY dialogue driven. Kim Cattrell shows that she can memorize and deliver dialoge like no one else…

    5. Peggy Sue Got Married: the ultimate chick flick. Kathleen Turner remains a favorite (I could have also put “Romancing the Stone” in here.) She has fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously. I was almost having trouble and then remembered the many many hours I spent watching this movie.

    Now, if my husband and daugther are going with me the list has to be different (although not too much…)

  • Narrowing it down to five is very, very tough and like Gail said in her comment if you ask me tomorrow or even later today my list will likely change. :)

    In no particular order -

    Field of Dreams (1989) – I watch it every spring. Don’t think I need to explain why.
    The Matrix (1999) – Mind blowing visuals and concept that still gets me thinking today.
    Aliens (1986) – Roller coaster ride from hell. First time I saw this my hands were numb from holding on to the arm rests in the theater.
    Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – absolutely stunning visuals and performances
    Serenity (2005) – I never want to be too far away from this cast of characters

  • Mags

    Great lists everyone! Who else wants to let us know their choices?

  • Shannon

    ‎1. Swiss Family Robinson, because hey maybe I want to get some pointers on how to survive on a desert island even though if I have the electric output for at least 10 hours of dvd watching I must be doing pretty good.
    2. Shaun of the Dead, got to have my comedy and Simon Pegg fix together.
    3. Ghostbusters…Period.
    4. Evil Dead II, my Bruce Campbell quota, and
    5. The Monster Squad cause The Monster Squad is FOREVER!

  • Jay

    In no particular order

    Enter The Dragon.

    The Crow.

    Dogma

    Goodfellas

    Either Rocky 3 or 4.

    Damn that was hard. Hopefully add some explanation for them later.

  • Jay

    Right now I’m off the mobile device and not at work breaking their no phones rules :D

    In no particular order

    Enter The Dragon.
    IMO the best martial arts film made. I became a Jackie Chan fan early in life and even more so shortly after, a big Bruce Lee fan. This was the first port of call for Bruce Lee as it was the most famous film he’d made and had an international release.
    Sadly of course he passed away before this was released so he never did get to see how much of a great impact he made globally in the film world for the martial arts genre.

    The Crow
    Follow the father, follow the son. As time went on I also became a huge fan of Bruce Lee’s son Brandon. As Mags said, he sadly died during filming of this film. But to be honest if he had to go, he went out with a brilliant film.
    It has so many great points to it. A great soundtrack (Some real good artists on there, the cure, nine inch nails, Jane Siberry, stone temple pilots) and such a haunting score (I ended up buying both of them and pretty much wore them out). Some really good casting (Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly) and just a real perfect tone to the film. Even though its been chopped around quite severly in the editing room (ie no skull cowboy, Eric suddenly wearing tape round his arms and body) It certainly doesnt detract the enjoyment I get from watching this at all.

    PS Joel, Jason. We need an episode on Showdown in Little Tokyo :D

    Dogma

    Well Love him or hate him, I enjoy me some Kevin Smith movies. And it was a tough call between Jay and bob strike back or this. As much as I find JASBSB funny (hey we’re all allowed a little crude humour here) Dogma takes it. The whole Bartlebee/Loki set up is great. certainly entertaining when they slaughter the people in the coach and conference room.
    Also it has a brilliant cast. Alan Rickman as always shines like a diamond in his performance as the Metatron. Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, George Carlin and so many others. The film never fails to make me laugh.

    Goodfellas
    Well its either this or the godfather. and to be honest I find this an easier film to swallow. Whether it because its not all to do with ‘the family’ and not so stiff as Godfather I don’t know. But who cant enjoy a psychotic Joe Pesci? Babbling in the club about why he’s funny. Albeit a touch long at times I still find this a great film to watch. Very rare if I don’t like De Niro in a film even if he has made a few iffy choices over the years. And I dont think I’ve seen Ray Liotta better in any other film. so there we go.

    Either Rocky 3 or 4.

    Now this was hard. and I dont know if I can pick one over the other but I had both of these on a single purchased vhs tape so I’ll break the rules on this :D

    Now who doesnt like Rocky???? (hopefully none of you have your hands up right now). Fair enough the series started so honest, pure, and went completely supernova by the time we got part 4. But As I say Who doesnt likde Rocky? You get a great soundtrack some nice fighting, (although I dont think I’ve ever seen a fight where neither boxer blocks to defend themselves like this) you get the pain of loss, be it Mickey or Apollo. Which obviously takes us to the necessary training montage. Obviously Part 4 outshines the other films in this respect. But a Rocky montage is a Rocky montage. No film does them better. I’ve given up counting how many times I’ve watched these. They might not be clever films, but for me, they’re a joy to watch.

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